Rick’s expense account

Up until now there hasn’t been nearly enough accountability or transparency. Rick Chiarelli has been spending a couple of hundred grand a year on his entourage and miscellaneous office expenses, with only some perfunctory oversight by an anonymous City bureaucrat. YOUR tax dollars! It’s NOT supposed to be used for partisan purposes (in fact, it’s illegal), but not many at City Hall really care.

For example, when the councillor held the secret/public skateboard park meeting just before the last election, how did he account for the free pizza, pop and City trinkets that he ployed the kids with? Who paid for the sk8ter boy costumes his staff members wore as they tried to recruit the kids for Team Chiarelli fundraising activities?

What was the bill for the free hot dogs, hamburgers and pop for the kids who showed up for RC’s rename-a-park-for-your-friends photo op in Hillside Park? Since the taxpayer always foots the bill, shouldn’t non-Catholics have been invited too to this pre-election taxpayer-funded rally? Correction – the councillor did not organize this event. In fact, he was a reluctant participant in the community-based movement to honour a popular local community volunteer who wasn’t a politician or part of Rick’s team. My apologies for the error.

I’m not too impressed with the mayor’s meek reform, a half-hearted baby step in the right direction. From now on the details won’t be be quite so hidden. But we’re NOT talking a new era of transparency, accountability, efficiency and respect for the taxpayer.

I’m not surprised. Jim Watson’s record on electoral reform is nothing to be proud of – just before he resigned from the provincial government he had a golden opportunity to clean up electoral financing by banning multiple developer contributions to councillor friends.

But he dropped the ball. Apart from a bit of tinkering, he just said “Great idea to reduce corruption, sleazy politics and backroom deals! But let’s do it NEXT election AFTER I’ve spent my massive corporate-financed war chest getting elected mayor of Ottawa.”

Here’s how Chiarelli spent about $12,000 in tax dollars in 31 days:

Not a lot of detail, since everything is lumped together into ‘staff costs’ with no break-down as to the proportion of staff time spent on constituency work (not much) versus politicking, wheeling/dealing and rewarding friends of friends.

The councillor only spent 5% of his annual office budget in January, saving it up so there’s lots of money in reserve to produce and distribute self-congratulatory newsletters and buy lots of candy, pizza, and pop that he can distribute on his rounds.

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One Response to Rick’s expense account

  1. ottawaowl says:

    from this story in the Sun by Jon Willing:

    Each councillor has an annual office budget of $233,874, while the mayor’s is $778,000.

    Expenses are only itemized for categories related to hospitality, donations and travel. The other categories show a total amount without details of each transaction.

    Itemizing costs for consulting, communications and office materials would be too much work for staff right now, Watson said.

    In comparison, Toronto publishes the actual invoices for its councillor expenses each quarter.

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