Monday, 13 October 2014

DISPELLING THE MYTHS (1 )

1.  Mayor handpicked the slate of candidates

I fundamentally believe in the democratic process and when asked to form or join a slate this year, I declined the invitation. It is incumbent upon the Mayor to be able to work with all members of Council.  Needless to say, some will be easier than others to work with, but as long as we stick to the issues, do not get personal, and are respectful of each other and our governance processes , it can work. 
 Did I hand pick the "pro-development" slate ?  In short, the answer is absolutely not - it was done without my involvement, or agreement.

2. Council voted itself a big fat raise. 

Early in 2013, Councillor Fathers asked for a review of Council indemnities. In response, Council asked the staff to look at the salaries of elected officials of several municipalities that were approximately the same size as White Rock . Initially, the staff  picked : Pitt Meadows, Langley City, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver City. This resulted in substantial increases for the Councillors, and a large increase for the Mayor.
 I asked that staff redo their numbers because the latter two municipalities (North Van & PoCo) were too large to be valid comparators and their inclusion created compensation numbers that were too high. 
The next question was, if the salaries were to be adjusted, when should that take place?  I argued successfully that no increase should take place during our term of office - we knew what the pay was going into it, and should not be seeking to feather our own nests while in office. Consequently, Council agreed to have the pay increase take effect after the 2014 election.
As an aside, I currently earn about $59,900, which is less than my administrative assistant makes. The last pay raise I got amounted to about  twelve cents on every bi-weekly pay cheque.

3.  I accept money from "greedy developers".

 I do accept money from some developers. 
 My personal policy is that I will NOT accept money from anyone who has a project that is currently before Council or has the potential to go for a rezoning or anything requiring Council approval.
 I accepted money from two developers last election because their projects were already approved by the previous Council (which I had no involvement in because I was not an elected official) and there was little if any likelihood of either of them coming back to Council again         ( Bosa Properties and the Avra Project).
 I did return one other donation from another owner who I believed to have a development proposal in line for Council approval (as it turned out he did not).

4. Council gets a ton of benefits as employees of the City.

Members of Council receive no pension, medical, dental,  or long term disability benefits at all. They do get a staff parking decal , and some Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance in case they get hurt or killed while performing their duties, ( for example, if they were driving to a meeting and had an accident) .
 Members of Council do not have expense accounts, although they can be reimbursed for expenses incurred while attending conferences or educational sessions. Spousal/ partner expenses incurred while attending functions are 100% paid by the individual member of Council. Mileage is paid at the prevailing staff rate if a member of council is attending to business outside of White Rock.

There continue to be many misconceptions about matters associated with being an elected member of Council. It is not an easy job, and is sometimes a thankless one, but it is a necessary one.
Regardless, it is incumbent upon all of us to acquaint themselves with the candidates and to exercise your vote for those who have shown they care enough to put their names forward.

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