Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In one tin ear…

How long has she been Mayor again? In a fascinating exchange in Council chambers Monday night over Board of Control's recent recommendation to use only $815,000 or less than 10 per cent of last year's $9 million surplus revenue to offset this year's property tax rate increase, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best persisted in an ignorance of basic budget protocol that a grade school civics class could not match, despite repeated attempts to correct her. From the London Free Press:

Before council could vote on [Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen's] call to reconsider how much of the surplus should go to tax relief, DeCicco-Best intervened, asking the city clerk if such reconsideration risked reopening the entire 2008 budget to debate.

City clerk Kevin Bain said no — only the surplus would be open to debate — but the mayor persisted.

"If (tax relief from the surplus changed), would this not re-open the entire budget?" DeCicco-Best said.

Again Bain said no, then elaborated with an answer that confused council: reconsidering the surplus would reopen the budget but only as it relates to surplus.

Van Meerbergen and Coun. Nancy Branscombe said council could reconsider the surplus alone — but the mayor insisted that was [not] true. "It been made clear," DeCicco-Best said.

Controller Gina Barber pointed out that the mayor and controllers last week did exactly what DeCicco-Best said couldn't be done by council — moving money within the surplus without reopening the entire budget.
Emphasis added. Given DeCicco-Best's famous aptitude for politics during election time, this sudden insensitivity to rudimentary cognitive and linguistic skills can only be a willful exercise to avoid the embarrassment of having to vote against tax relief. This is what has passed for leadership in London over the past seven years.