Last week, CBC reporter Joanne Chianello did a series of posts on the spending of local councillors. Their budgets are a quarter of a million dollars and they have few limitations on how their spending. The articles did a good job detailing the various ways the money is being spent, and questioning if it’s all really appropriate (short answer: no).
The reports also did their best to highlight/expose the spending of a wide variety of councillors, picking on no one councillor, exclusively.
Despite the efforts, though, it kind of was the Michael Qaqish show. From buying tickets for sporting events to giant personalized ads on bus shelters, he just kept on popping up.
In terms of the overall city budget, these expenses aren’t actually a big deal, money-wise. The few thousand a councillor wastes on hockey tickets for him and a guest isn’t going to make or break the city’s budget. Spending less on advertising isn’t going to suddenly free up money to properly maintain all our roads and parks. But it’s really a question of common sense, entitlement and respect for the public.
Qaqish’s dumbest, most self-aggrandizing and absolutely-freaking-useless expense was, in fact, only $35.
Qaqish defended his reckless spending by noting that he didn’t accept the parking allowance that all city councillors are offered, thus saving the city $6,900 a year, $27,600 over the course of the term. Great. Excellent.
It was such a nice gesture, Qaqish decided to celebrate it by having a photo op in which he hands over a giant novelty cheque made out to the city:
He expensed the city $35, the cost of making the cheque. Probably should have made it out for $27,565, I guess.