She was quite willing to hop on, partly because she reads my blog and wanted to tell me about her personal experience with the councillor. She has phoned his office and emailed Rick multiple times about a pressing concern. Weeks later she’s still waiting for a response. This is a familiar refrain that I’ve heard from a lot of Bells Corners residents – Rick only helps those who are on his team. If there’s no political advantage to Team Chiarelli he won’t bother to get back to you.
My passenger wasn’t too happy, as she knows from reading this blog that Rick has many full-time employees and an office budget of $233,000 a year. Some of those tax dollars are supposed to be spent on helping constituents, but Rick spends most of it on self-promotion and spin doctoring.
If the constituent is important enough it’s a good excuse to fire up the expense account and provide some ‘hospitality’ at the taxpayers expense.
To pick one example out of many, he met with a constituent on May 4 to “discuss economic development” and the taxpayer picked up the $52 tab – couldn’t they have chatted over a coffee or in one of Rick’s three offices? Can’t the councillor afford to buy his own lunch on his paltry six-figure salary?
Another shady practice is his ‘Municipal Government Outreach Programme’ (translation: he drops into classrooms to talk about what a wonderful politician he is). The kids find his little talks boring but, since he never comes empty-handed, they don’t heckle him too much. The students at St. Paul’s call him Mr. Doughnut, as he always swaggers into the classroom with boxes of Timmy’s Treats – a healthy snack to reward the students for pretending to pay attention as he struts his stuff.
Some recent examples of the cost to taxpayers of the ‘refreshments’ that Rick brings into class to bribe Bells Corners kids:
March 2, Our Lady of Peace Elementary School, $59
March 11, Bell High School, $30
March 21, St. Paul High School, $45
May 9, St. Paul High School, $19
Sure, pretty small stuff, but it’s the principle of the thing, and, as far as I know, the other councillors don’t ply students with doughnuts and pop. And they don’t use our taxes to buy expensive $66 gifts for coop students either.
Gord Hunter was famous for only spending a small fraction of his office budget, whereas Rick and some of his colleagues never hesitate to head for the trough.
By August our champion of fiscal restraint had managed to spend $130,229 of our money:
Special Events, Community Receptions and Doughnuts, $958
Donations, Sponsorships and Memberships, $1355
Propaganda (“Constituent Communications”), $7686
Materials, Office Supplies and Related Services, $6209
Political Advisers and Spin Doctors, $113,924