Monday, April 10, 2006

Contempt for taxpayers

Everything that London politicians and bureaucrats will ever know about leadership is right here on display in this article from today's London Free Press. I've never seen such a collection of half-assed excuses to blow taxes — like delinquent children with a credit card:

City councillors will decide today if the city should pay $10,000 to help defray costs of a London conference featuring the former mayor of New York City. In exchange for the donation to the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, city councillors would get free tickets to the April 21 leadership conference at which Rudy Giuliani will deliver the keynote address.

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco, city controllers and chief administrator Jeff Fielding have already endorsed the plan.

"Giuliani is a smart man, a very prominent person. It will bring a lot of focus to the city of London, a lot of attention. It's a good investment," Controller Bud Polhill said.

In exchange for $10,000, council members would get 10 tickets to hear Giuliani's keynote speech and another 10 to attend a private reception with him afterward limited to perhaps 100 people.

"This could be the future president of the United States here," Fielding said.

[Coun. Paul] Van Meerbergen is a fan of Giuliani but sees no reason taxpayers should fund an event that will happen with or without council's support. "The attention will come regardless -- it's not a function of local politicians attending," he said.

But while Giuliani is a role model, council members who want to learn his leadership philosophy can do so online or at a library, Van Meerbergen said.

Fielding said the city was twice asked to sponsor the conference, first by students, then by the dean of the business school. Though the conference will draw attention regardless of what council does, it's good to collaborate with leading local institutions, he said. "It's a question of whether we want to be seen as a partner," Fielding said.

With scientists worried about a future pandemic, council could benefit from seeing firsthand leaders who have shone during times of crisis, he said.

London taxpayers already subsidize building projects at the University of Western Ontario. In 1999, council voted to give UWO $10 million over 10 years, money school officials said would help them bag bigger bucks from private donors and public grants.
Update:David MacLean of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is on to this one with a proper ridiculing of council:
Watch while London politicians twist themselves into pretzels trying to justify a taxpayer-funded trip to see Rudy Guiliani.
Check out London, Ontario: Canada's craziest politicians?.


Brent Gilliard said...

I like this part:

"The irony is (some) want to shell out $10,000 in tax dollars to learn from someone who's a pillar of fiscal conservatism."

MapMaster said...

We're very fortunate in London to have such a comedy act centre-stage.