Re. forcing victims of criminals pay for crime to appease politicians' vanity:
Predatory bylaw likely to remain
The bylaw against overnight street parking is being revisited again this year as Coun. Cheryl Miller "succeeded in convincing members of council's environment and transportation committee to ask staff for a report" on lifting it during the summer, according to the London Free Press today. What a lot of bother! It seems that no business can ever be conducted at city hall without first creating make-work projects for the idle army of bureaucrats that inhabit it… and no better way to disengage anyone's attention to the subject long enough for the idea to be shelved yet again. After all, staff delivered a report on exactly the same proposal to the same committee just last year, after which it was rejected for the simple reason that city hall would lose upwards of $100,000 in fine revenue. The probity and authority of the law are cheapened when laws are sustained, not for any principle of defending right and punishing wrong, nor even for any genuine considerations of safety or utility, but only for the pinching and grasping of cold hard cash. So why should anyone suppose, on the face of it, that any of the other hundreds or thousands of bylaws enforced by fines are motivated by any greater purpose?
"second-tier destinations" but first-rate money pits
The Free Press also reports that $3 million in municipal taxes last year went to support London's five apparent tourist "destinations," although destination seems like a strong word for any hole-in-the-ground that requires such gross subsidization to survive. According to the Free Press, municipal subsidies to Fanshawe Pioneer Village and Museum London (which also operates Eldon House) amounted to $13 per visitor in 2006, and $9 and 95¢ per visitor to the Guy Lombardo Museum and the London Regional Children's Museum respectively. The city-run Storybook Gardens also faced a revenue shortfall of about $200,000 last year, and will be receiving a $199,000 capital upgrade in 2007.
The economic benefits of these handouts are enjoyed in part by the handful of visitors who receive a subsidized entertainment, but the primary benefits accrue, as always, as sinecures enjoyed by administrators. Ensconced in taxpayer-funded comfort, they are ever ready to leap to the defence of their privileges with the trusty tools of inscrutable vagaries and attempted sentiments:
Any cost, however, is small considering the kind of experience those places offer people, said Sheila Johnson, the executive director of Fanshawe Pioneer Village.
"Support is essential . . . as a cultural investment, but also as an economic investment," Brian Meehan said yesterday, adding such sites are "critical for the city to be a livable place."
"The reasons individuals and companies cite for moving to a particular community is, what kind of culture do they have?" Meehan said. "What can you do after five o'clock?"
Incidentally, Museum London received $1.458 million from taxpayers last year to support 142,000 in general and public program attendance, and will receive $1.503 million this year (Boards & Commissions PDF). In addition, it received $364,000 in government grants and subsidies as part of its $2.806 million expenditures last year, meaning that well more than half of its operation is dependent on taxpayers. Similarly, most of the other deadweights on London's subsidized list also receive grants and subsidies from tax-funded agencies like the Canadian and Ontario Arts Councils, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Trillium Foundation.
In response to the city's community and protective services committee decision to approve $25,000 in new funding to the Springbank Gardens development project to create "new displays and features" for the Lombardo Museum, Ian Gillespie notes that
As it stands, the city pays about $13,000 a year to keep the Lombardo centre open 35 hours a week from June until Labour Day, and Sunday afternoons thereafter. About 1,000 people visit the museum every year.
"It's not ever going to be a major tourist attraction," says John Winston, director of Tourism London. "It never has been and it never will be."
[…] Ken Palmer is former artistic director of the Home County Folk Festival and a founding member of the Dixie Flyers. He's also an avid musicologist and Lombardo fan. But he harbours no illusions about the Lombardo museum.
"That thing (the museum) has been there forever and nobody's showing up," says Palmer. "Nobody goes to it because nobody cares . . . and it's not going to get any better."
If Gillespie's idea won't fly, though, there's always this tried and trusted revenue approach…