Joe Voter delivers a box of chocolates to his local ward councillor for keeping taxes low
Our crack CityCaucus.com researchers made their way down to Vancouver City Hall earlier today to check out what kind of gifts our elected officials have been accepting lately. All civic politicians must promptly declare any freebies they receive by completing the requisite paperwork in the City Clerk's Office.
According to records at City Hall (that can only be viewed in-person), Vision Councillor Heather Deal declared she accepted two gifts valued at approximately $1000. Those include 2 tickets valued at $700 she received from "Karen Pighin - Project Manager for Music from Sea to Sky" . In addition, she received a ticket valued at $250 for an event put on by the Sports Hall of Fame.
It would appear from City records that Deal is the only elected official to accept a freebie from an external source since the last election. There were no other records on file from the other 10 elected officials including Mayor Gregor Robertson. The rules regarding disclosing gifts are very clear:
2.3 Requirement to disclose gifts: Section 145.8 of the Vancouver Charter also
requires Council members and Board members to disclose gifts they have
received that exceed a certain value. Disclosure statements must be filed
with the City Clerk as soon as reasonably practicable. The City Clerk has
created a form which may be used to file disclosures.
In terms of what politicians can and cannot accept as gifts, the Vancouver Charter states:
Restrictions on accepting gifts
145.7 (1) A Council member must not, directly or indirectly, accept a fee, gift or personal benefit that is connected with the member's performance of the duties of office.
And what happens if a civic politician in Vancouver contravenes the Act?
(3) A person who contravenes this section is disqualified from holding an office described in, and for the period established by, section 141 (2) [disqualification], unless the contravention was done inadvertently or because of an error in judgment made in good faith.
Okay...we know what you're thinking. That part about "an error in judgment made in good faith" is big enough to drive a truck through.
We at CityCaucus.com applaud Deal for filling out the necessary paperwork and letting the public know what type of gifts she has accepted as an elected official.
Tune back here over the coming weeks, we'll have more to report on the story of elected official disclosure at Vancouver City Hall. We think you'll find what we discovered of interest.