I find it amusing yet unnerving when municipal councillors obtain special perks (either through preferential access or given to them) then act puzzled when the public lambastes them.
A fine example is when Elton John oddly chose Sudbury and Kitchener as his two Canadian tour stops in 2008 and councillors in those towns had special advance purchase to what were sold-out concerts. The Sudbury Councillors then held a private meeting to figure out what they did wrong and how they could madly spin themselves out of the mess they authored. Council was divided when it came to vote on whether they should give up preferential access to events at the Sudbury Arena. The 6-6 tie was broken by the Mayor who decided giving up this perk would make City Council look less greasy.
Recently, the Central Ontario Building Trades (COBT) union, which represents over 25 trade unions, wanted Toronto councillors to hand out free Toronto Marlies tickets purchased by the COBT to youth groups. Hey, I know the building industry is taking a bit of beating in these recessionary times (remember, we don’t get infrastructure stimulus bucks from the feds unless cities front half the cash), but trying to curry favour with councillors through free hockey tickets is unethical.
Wisely, a councillor rejected the 4,500 tickets and told the COBT to give the tickets directly to community groups. Of course, if the COBT does that, then how are city councillors going to owe them favours?!
It feels odd congratulating a councillor for not being corrupt, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. As for the COBT, business manager Jay Peterson wins the clueless prize for stating: “"It's only the Marlies. They are $10 tickets. It's not like they are Platinum Lounge tickets to the ACC. It's not like we're giving councillors free things."
Umm, dude, 4,500 $10 tickets equals $45,000 worth of tickets. That’s $10,000 more than buying 10 Platinum Lounge Tickets at the ACC for 6 games.
And you are giving councillors “free things” unless you expected Councillor Ashton to fork out $45,000 from his own pocket and then ride around his ward tossing Marlies tickets off the back of a truck to hordes of children in rags chasing him.