Some school trustees in New Westminster are still wondering what all the fuss was about regarding them using District funds to purchase personal computers
A few weeks back we reported on a controversy swirling around a couple of school board trustees who used public funds to purchase themselves new personal computer equipment. It was revealed by local media that Vice-Chair Michael Ewen had used $2,600 of New Westminster School District funds to purchase himself a new iMac computer in order that he could access his email. According to policy, the trustees were allowed up to $3000 per term in order to purchase themselves a computer which they could keep for their personal use.
It would appear that some trustees have now had a change of heart. A majority of them just voted to cancel what is known as the trustee "technology allowance". Casey Cook, a former city councillor, now school Trustee with Voice New Westminster, supported the motion to cancel the allowance. He states:
If the material belonged to the board, I would have an entirely different take.
It was trustee Jim Goring who actually made the request to cancel the fund and here is what he told the Royal City Record about the rationale for his decision:
Discretionary pools of money without guidelines are not in the public interest. Expenditures can be made when a business case is made and options are explored to avoid the expense.
Oddly enough the man in the middle of this controversy actually abstained from the vote. Ewen said he didn't want to be seen as a hypocrite by voting against the fund when he had already taken money from it to make a purchase.
We think if Ewen still believes that making the claim to the District for $2,600 for his computer was a good purchase, than rather from abstaining, he should have gone on the record as supporting it. Otherwise, he should have returned the funds to the District, then voted against the policy. To cop out now and say he couldn't vote after purchasing his new computer with taxpayer funds is simply disingenuous.
If you recall, Ewen originally argued he needed tax dollars to support his purchase:
I had to buy a new computer. My computer had died. If I didn't have it, I wouldn't be able to receive e-mails.
Trustees Brent Atkinson and Lori Watt (who works for CUPE) voted to retain the technology allowance, but they couldn't muster enough votes to keep the slush fund alive. According to the Record, Watts was concerned that without the technology allowance, some trustees would simply not be able to do District business.
- post by Daniel