Mr. Big lays an egg (part 2)

The Jim Watson speech in the Westcliffe community building was pretty dull – he didn’t mention Bells Corners at all. If anyone requests it I can put his complete speech up on this blog, but I know your time is valuable, so I’ll just post a highlights reel and a summary:

The mayor talked about the tunnel, Landsdowne and his budgetary PR campaign. He explained how he hated the tunnel when it was Larry’s idea, but now he thinks that it’s swell. He also loves the Landsdowne deal in spite of all the evidence that the taxpayer is going to get hosed big-time. He then assured us that he really, really wants our input on the 2012 budget.

In spite of my sarcasm satirical writings here, I confess to thinking that His Honour is not that bad a mayor, especially considering his immediate predecessor and some of the other less-than-savoury characters who have worn the chain of office.

I was amazed when Rick co-campaigned with Larry in Bells Corners last October. By then it was clear to everyone that Mr. ZeroMeansZero was going down – even Bill was dissing him! The trial, the transit strike, the foot-in-the-mouth moments and malapropisms, the tunnel folly, the inability to use our taxes wisely, the pile-on from the media – it was all too much for the disgruntled voter.

I guess Rick and his Bells Corners campaign manager felt that Larry still had legs in Bells Corners, where Lowell Green is revered as a god. They campaigned hard on the mayor’s behalf (it must have pissed-off Jim), but nobody was still buying the Mr. ZeroMeansZero brand except Rick, Harry and Lida. Jim won in a cakewalk, even in Bells Corners.

My biggest quarrel with Jim (apart, of course from the way he turned his back on Bells Corners businesses and residents by collaborating with Mary Pitt to remove Rick’s well-roasted chestnuts from the fire) is his poor record on electoral reform.

Jim Watson had a golden opportunity when he was working for Dalton to clean up electoral financing by banning multiple developer contributions to politicians.

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 war chest getting elected mayor of Ottawa.”

RC breathed a sigh of relief – a steady stream of developer money into his coffers is assured.

At least Jim didn’t take money directly from the companies that do business with the City, as Rick does.

But Jim did take lots of money (total contributions $601,795.06) from the executives who run the companies (and their spouses AND THEIR CHILDREN), with a hefty chunk kicked back to the donor courtesy of the taxpayer-screwing rebate programme. He got over $5000 from just one residence near Dow’s Lake.

A senior Citizen journalist recently took the mayor to task for this type of shameful fundraising:

One interesting side effect of Mayor Jim Watson’s decision to sort his list of election contributors by address is that while you’re in there looking for other things, you find families of extraordinarily generous donors like this:

Rob Ashe is the former Cognos CEO who’s now a senior executive at IBM, Sandra Herrick is his wife, and the other Ashes are, apparently, their very generous and politically involved children. A quick hit of the Citizen archives finds that a Charlotte Ashe was playing rugby for Ashbury as recently as 2008 and a Robbie Ashe played football and other sports there last year. Rob Ashe is on the board of governors there (along with, funnily enough, Jim Watson’s sister Jayne). On LinkedIn, a Frances Ashe says she graduated from Immaculata in 2007 before going to Dalhousie, and has had summer jobs at IBM/Cognos.

And they say young people aren’t interested in politics.

(As for the other Herricks, a Dom Herrick works for the E.R. Fisher men’s clothing store and a Ruth Herrick is an Ottawa teacher and school administrator, so they appear to be grown-ups.)

Incidentally, the only requirement for donating to a municipal election campaign is that you have to be an Ontario resident or corporation and one person can’t give more than $750 to one candidate. You don’t have to be of voting age or anything.

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One Response to Mr. Big lays an egg (part 2)

  1. wanderer says:

    Interesting how Jim categorizes his contributors, isn’t it? I guess making donations together/separately as a family keeps a family closer.

    I’m still ticked that they didn’t change the rules on electoral financing while Jim and Dalton were playing together in provincial politics. The corruption involved in big corporations donating to politicians, with the given expectation that there would be some form of reward in the way contracts are awarded, is as disgusting as ever.

    As you say, Jimmy backing up RC with a bit of arm-twisting by Mary Pitt (and I thought she was a more principled lady than the two guys!) was disappointing but to be expected, and decreased my already nearly non-existent opinion of the mayor.

    I can’t believe that you don’t have to be of voting age to donate, meaning parents have a great deal of control over how much the kids give, with the financial help of Mommy and Daddy, of course (sarcasm!).

    – Provincial and federal politics have been cleaned up to the extent that corporations and unions can no longer directly fund the politicians, so most of the contributions that Rick gets would be illegal.

    In Ottawa municipal politics anything goes, and the councillors and the mayor like it that way.

    Jim is a principled guy, so he would NEVER accept a donation from a company or a union that does business with the City.

    But if the president of the same company, his wife, his small children, his nieces, aunts and nephews and his chauffeur each give him $750 (with up to 70% refunded as a kickback courtesy of the poor taxpayer) then everything’s okay.

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