Smart politicos normally release the bad news on Friday
It's Friday, so it's officially Take Out the Trash Day. This is the day clever politicos normally reveal any bad news in the hope that it gets lost over a weekend filled with leisure activities. Political masterminds at Vancouver City Hall not only regularly partake in Take Out the Trash Day, they're also now participating in Recycle Previous Government Accomplishments Day. I guess when you say your're committed to "green" policies, recycling previous accomplishments just makes good enviro-sense. We'll have more to say on that in the coming days.
In honour of Take Out the Trash Day, our strategy team located on the 18th floor of CityCaucus.com tower decided we'd try and sneak in some bad news in just before a warm and sunny weekend on the west coast.
As part of our regular accountability check on Metro Vancouver, we placed a freedom of information request to see if any of our favourite directors were doing any foreign travel lately. We're still pouring over the piles of paper we've received, however, a couple of interesting items did pop out at us.
If you recall, Vancouver Councillor David "carbon" Cadman got in hot water with Metro Vancouver a while ago for all of his travel expenses to far off lands to attend obscure conferences. It got so bad that a special resolution was passed at Metro Vancouver limiting how much Cadman could claim for his world travel. In addition, they imposed new rules requiring him to seek pre-approval from the Board of Directors before booking any more trips to exotic destinations.
CityCaucus.com has obtained copies of a series of letters written between Cadman and Metro Vancouver whereby he is pleading with them to reconsider their decision to limit how much he can claim for travel. In one letter, he is asking if they can pay him directors fees ($632 bucks a day) for a conference he attended:
I would then make 2 specific requests:
Whereas the Metro Board allocated $8,500 for me to perform my ICLEI duties as ICLEI President, and
Whereas they allocated $7,900 each for 2 directors to attend the ICLEI World Congress with only one being able to attend, I would ask that consideration be given to assigning the allocated $7,900 to cover my uncovered directors fees.
The World Congress took place from June 14-18th last year. If Cadman were claiming directors fees for this conference, he would be entitled to at least $3,160 in additional remuneration. The FOI reveals that Cadman already claimed $5,689 worth of attendance fees to participate in the EcoProcura Conference and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In response, Paulette Vetleson, Corporate Secretary for the MV Board of Directors writes to Cadman and states:
At its March 27, 2009 meeting the Board authorized a maximum budget of $8,500 for remuneration and expenses for your attendance at ICLEI Board and Executive Committee meetings in Edmonton in June; expenses after June would have to be pre-approved by the Board with full information. You will receive a payment of $6,437.25 on your October 16th, 2009 pay cheque for your Executive Board meeting in Edmonton representing 9 days at $83.25/day for per diem payment, and $632/day for meeting attendance payment.
As for your other requests for additional funding, these will now be forwarded to Committee for consideration under the provisions of the Remuneration Bylaw.
Vetleson also goes on to note that only "qualifying" meetings would be eligible for future payment. It is worth noting that Councillor Carbon Cadman isn't even a Director on the Metro Vancouver Board.
On the other hand, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is a senior member of that organization. Although he hasn't claimed much in the way of travel over the last year or so, we did stumble upon one claim he made for a trip to Spain to attend the International Regions Benchmarking Consortium meeting.
According to documents we received from Metro Vancouver, Corrigan's flight cost taxpayers just over $6,000 as he booked a business class ticket on Air Canada for his journey. His total claim for expenses including per diems was $8,007.48. We checked out a series of discount travel websites and economy flights to Spain are currently costing anywhere from about $1000-1,400 bucks.
The forecast is for sunny skies in most of British Columbia this weekend. Enjoy what's left of Take Out the Trash Friday and be sure to get out and enjoy the fine weather.