Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before...

Wednesday: "Snow is in the forecast for this week-end..."

Thursday: "City roads department says it's prepared for the upcoming weather."

Friday: Weather hits. City roads department caught unprepared. Half a THOUSAND collisions on city roads. E.S. takes 3 hours to get home, spends 2 of them on 16th Avenue North, sees a total of... wait for it... ZERO sanders or city trucks of any kind.

Saturday: "We did the best that we could... just stay off the roads, and buy winter tires."

Monday: "We couldn't have done any better. But we've learned something, and we hope to improve..." (huh?)

Wow... good thing we boosted the snow removal budget by a whole $1 Million.

The excuse, as always, is that "in order to boost spending on snow removal, we'd have to increase taxes". Which is, of course, total bull. We could find that money by cutting somewhere else, and have a net impact on taxpayers of ZERO.

Bronco at least had the political survival instinct to come out on Monday and say (contrary to just about everything he's been saying for the past few months) that the snow removal efforts weren't good enough on Friday. Whether it's a long-term conversion or a sudden change of opinion during an election year is anyone's guess (if you're betting money, bet on option "b").

Jeremy had a really good take on this over at his blog - which I've become very impressed by in recent weeks. While I was gone, he MORE than picked up my slack - I'm just trying not to get lapped at this point. :)

You can tell it's an election year, because all of a sudden, civic politicians who are going to be running (declared or not) next October are front-and-centre on just about every imaginable issue. Consider that normally, issues like instituting user fees for dog off-leash areas would be a perfect opportunity to trot out "Bylaw Boss Bill Bruce", the only unelected man in Calgary who gets more airtime and print than my friend Naheed Nenshi (seriously, why do I hear more from Billy than I do from Calgary's Chief of Police?). Now, though, it's Brian Pincott who brings the issue forward at Council, and dog owner and all-around good guy John Mar who slaps down the suggestion in the papers.

Full disclosure: I'm a dog owner. Or, at least, I'm married to a dog owner.

Nation, the idea of "user pay" as a means of funding our infrastructure certainly has merit. But where do we draw the line? My taxes go to pay for roads that I will never, ever use. Should we erect toll booths all over the city, to pay for maintenance of those roads?

My parents, who are way, WAY past having children in school, still pay school taxes. Should they be allowed to opt out, and we just bring in school tuition fees, so the users pay for their own services?

My best friend hasn't set foot in a provincial park in over 15 years - should he be allowed to opt out of that portion of his income taxes, and have the province set up park gates and entry tolls for Kananaskis, like the Feds do for national parks?

I know for a fact that my taxes pay for snow clearing in Mount Royal - because they sure don't pay for snow removal in Woodlands. Should we let community associations pass the hat, and hire their own plow companies?

At some point, we have to come to some sort of consensus on what is in the best public interest, and find a way to fund those things appropriately.

Now, I'm all for having the discussion. Alderman Pincott should be applauded for being the catalyst for this conversation. But it's we, the PEOPLE, who should get the say - not the tall foreheads in City Hall.

On a side note - did you ever notice that, when an elected (or, sometimes, UNelected, such as a Canadian Senator) official has a stated opinion on an issue, they'll often be able to throw the weight of "thousands" of phone calls and letters behind their opinion? I wonder if any politician, in the history of EVER, has stood up and said "Mr. Speaker/My Fellow Council Members, as you all know, I'm in favour of banning the scourge of black licorice from our convenience stores. I have here 35 letters of support, and a listing of 42,000 phone calls and emails calling me an unqualified dupe. So I will be voting AGAINST the motion I brought forward earlier

Nah, can't be.

That would be downright democratic. Can't let the PEOPLE get the last word... they'd start to think they had actual power.

Viva la Revolucion.

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