Thursday, November 10, 2005

Election year budget creates moderate discomfort to special interest groups and propitiatory council

With a municipal election coming up next year, London city council is confused. Like a paramecium, it intuitively senses electoral pain from its taxpaying keepers and attempts to wriggle away from suggesting exhorbitant tax increases in next year's budget after non-election year increases of 5.9 and 6.6 per cent — this is known as avoidance behaviour in the field of micropolitical biology. At the same time, however, its primitive micronucleus, cultivated in an undernourishing wishy-washy social democratic culture, urges it towards the ruinous subsidization of social activist community group parasites that causes tax increases. Overwhelmed by the stimuli of competing interests, the organism

will seek public input at a meeting Nov. 9, at shopping malls Nov. 10 and at an open house at the London Convention Centre Nov. 12.
Unfortunately for council, its central nervous system is unequipped to interpret this additional sensory input:
Budget chief Tom Gosnell, deputy mayor, said the public often sends "mixed messages" at budget time, "so everything is on the table."
The organism is simple and does not recognize that its external environment is composed of thousands of separate entities instead of a blurry inchoate mass called "the public." The London environment, typical of all functioning societies unplagued by excessive internecine strife, is composed of independent adults who properly prefer to look after their own affairs and be left with the means to do so — consequently, they do not exert themselves into other adults' affairs and means, thus appearing to be a benign unitary mass. Unlike the strident clamourings of "the public" that actually shows up to public input meetings, giving an appearance of disproportionate consituency:
Among the groups making presentations yesterday:
  • Merrymount Children's Centre asked for another $50,000 a year for four years.
  • Thames Valley Children's Centre wants $300,000 a year for five years to add a third floor to its building to serve a growing number of disabled children, who last year numbered almost 6,000.
Also seeking funding at city hall yesterday were:
  • The Children's Museum, which requested $250,000 to reverse sagging attendance by improving exhibits and marketing.
  • The Boys' and Girls' Club of London, which wants $450,000 over three years to complete cleanup and construction of the Aquaplex.
  • The Palace Theatre, which wants $250,000 over three years for capital upgrades.
  • The Lambeth Community Recreation Council, which asked for $2.63 million to finish its arena redevelopment.
  • The Urban League of London, which presented its priorities, noting that this year and last, city spending has increased five times as fast as assessment.
  • A volunteer group called the Friends of the London Public Library, which asked for $100,000 for the library to add to collections that lag behind the Ontario average.
  • The South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, which serves a population that includes many immigrants, asked for $30,000 to hire two part-time co-ordinators so programs can be maintained.
  • The London Arts Council, which asked for $60,000 to enhance operations and fund a program that aids artists, fosters art appreciation and improves access to the arts.
  • The London Community and Neighbourhood Resource Centre Network, which wants $10,621 for its four community centres to bring the network back in line with 2003 funding levels.
  • Community Living London. which wants an undetermined amount to subsidize bus passes for 160 to 170 people on the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Note the tingling fear of council as it prepares to *gasp* pull of its leeches, prompting these hysterically mollifying ejaculations:
"Are these necessary to make a good community? Absolutely," Coun. Cheryl Miller said. But funding should be held off until 2007, when the capital grant budget has $400,000 available, she said.

Groups that don't get money next year shouldn't take that the wrong way, London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco said. "Whether or not we can help (Merrymount) again or not is not indicative of how much we value (the service)," she said.
Miller and DeCicco ought to be ashamed of their panicky unreason. Professional community group activists will understand that 2007 won't be an election year — the noise-making is reflexive, after which it is filed away in triplicate for their boards of directors.
One concern, said [Coun. Susan] Eagle, are proposed cuts to groups such as neighbourhood resource centres.

Cutting services to people in need often costs more in the long run, either through welfare, shelters or the criminal justice system, Eagle said.

[…] The centres argue every dollar spent in prevention saves $8 "in treatment, remediation and rehabilitation."
The dull sensation prickling council's receptors is the realization that most independent London adults are largely insensitive to these figures pulled out of some social scientists' asses. Speculative, produced with fanciful self-referential methodologies, and ultimately meaningless, these kinds of figures land with a soft plop in the worst kinds of peer-reviewed journals and without even a whisper in the ears of the taxpayers who fund this kind of nonsense. That $8 "in treatment, remediation and rehabilitation" is predicated on the assumption that these "costs" are to be forced on to everyone, a force that can only be implemented by political decision, not tolerated as any natural law. Nice try, though — council believes you, you'll just have to wait a year.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

...but what about the $80 million recreation time bomb?

http://www.london.ca/Council/Budgets/2005/12_CommunityServicesFinal.pdf

First up: a London Y operated fitness centre on ritzy Planetree Park. Competing with the private sector under the guise of being a 'non-profit' at taxpayer expense, coming (through tax funded construction) and going (through mis-appropriated funds intended for subsidized daycare, but really really supporting the fiscally unsound London Y fitness ops)...

MapMaster said...

Thanks for the comment. The above list is by no means exhaustive, just a selection for our readers' browsing pleasure. The city's funding of the YMCA is indeed a fiasco that has been underreported, or not reported at all.