Thursday, September 29, 2005

Does that free meal also come with a golf membership and chewing gum?

These days it is the exception rather than the rule when the daily news fails to contain some account of a politician or Mandarin gorging at our expense. Yesterday was no exception. For example, a very quick glance through the online version of The People's Press revealed a story about the cost of the city bistro and the cafeteria at the Dearness nursing home.

London could stop eating its losses and save money if its own staff operated the cafeterias at city hall and the city's home for the aged, staff say.

And the food could be "just as good and, hopefully, better" than that provided by a contractor, says Ross Fair, general manager of community services.

In a report to board of control today, Fair recommends the city take over dietary and laundry services at Dearness Home for a savings of $41,697 a year.

Another $28,000 could be saved at the city hall cafeteria where politicians, staff, guests and media dine on Monday meeting nights.

"It's clear we need to do better and this would get us closer to breaking even," Fair said yesterday. "The numbers are the numbers and this is where it drives us to . . . I don't think people (taxpayers) want to be subsidizing that particular service."
Mr. 'not so' Fair is correct when he says that taxpayers no longer wish to pay for the meals of overpaid politicians. So stop the funding for self congratulatory elected representatives, as you can be sure there won't be any savings to Londoners if the city takes over. City dollars are our dollars.

I will also point out there might be more funds to feed the elderly if our governors didn't gobble up all the grub. From an article back in June:
At $22 a meal, the cost at city hall towers over the $5 a resident Dearness Services receives from the province to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.

[..] Tuesday night's meal in London was typical, featuring chicken cordon bleu, vegetables in a phyllo pastry, fish served on a red pepper sauce with coconut shrimp, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetable, bread, salad and a wide assortment of drinks and deserts.

Asked after the meal if London was spending too much compared with other cities, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco became upset, saying, "We had some vegetables and salad and turnovers . . . I'm not going to have this discussion."

Also from yesterday, David Dingwall, the president of the Royal Mint resigns after getting caught with both hands in the cookie jar:

Canada's Dingwall Quits Mint After Company Deal, Golf Report
David Dingwall, a former cabinet minister, quit as head of Canada's mint after he helped a company collect government money without registering as a lobbyist and a report questioned his billing taxpayers for membership in a private golf club.

Dingwall earned C$350,000 ($298,000) for aiding Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., an Ontario drug company, to obtain C$17.2 million in financing, the Globe and Mail reported Sept. 23. Dingwall, in addition to failing to register, broke terms of the program that awarded the 2001 grant by agreeing to a fee only if he succeeded in getting his client the money, the paper said.

[..] Dingwall, 53, also faces questions after Canadian Press reported yesterday that he claimed C$740,000 in expenses last year for himself and his top aides, including membership fees for a private golf club. He was a cabinet minister under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who appointed him to the mint post.
According to an article from the Commie Broadcasting Centre, Dingwall's expenses included:
130,000 for travel, $14,000 for meals and $11,000 for hospitality.

The Mint also apparently paid $1,400 for Dingwall to join an Ottawa golf club, and $1,500 for his membership in the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.
And via Reuters:
Dingwall -- who earned C$277,000 (134,000 pounds) a year in salary and allowance -- quit the day that the Journal de Montreal newspaper revealed he had charged the cost of a C$1.29 pack of chewing gum to his official expense account.