Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FAMILY FIRST



An article in the Weekend Telegram decrying that departing Premier's receive "plenty" of "perks" became the focus of a hot discussion on #nlpoli yesterday. 

I do not think that former Premier's are getting "plenty" of anything.  I tried to bring some substance  to the across the board condemnation of the perks by trying to focus on each "perk" and whether or not it was excessive to the tax payer.

A lot of people felt that an extra pay cheque, a three month extension of the departed Premier's car allowance and an annual moose/salmon/rabbit/bear license was unnecessary.  I argued that neither was excessive, but there was probably no justification for the extended pay period or car allowance. 

The hunting/fishing perks really do not cost the public anything at all. Yes, no one put a gun to their heads and said do they job,  they volunteered for it. They seem like a very small token of appreciation for stepping up to the demanding and arguably thankless job of leading the province.

The issue of major contention was the provision of a private secretary for up to three years at a salary of $70,000 a year. I do not have an issue with this at all. I did spark a bit of controversy when I suggested that former Premier Dunderdale should not have hired her daughter for the job. 

As a researcher, writer, historian and archivist, I can not stress the importance of maintaining records from public and private sources which have enduring value to the history of the province. 

Too often, we have lost important documents due to shortsightedness or not having the necessary infrastructure to preserve these documents. One example that I have never forgotten involves Sir Leonard Outerbridge. A retired outside worker with the city told me how they were instructed to fill-up their trucks with all the junk and papers and bring it to the dump. God only knows what was lost!

Yes, information management costs money, what doesn't?  The public and private records of a premier are important historical holdings. They provide insight into why, when and how decisions were made. They provide context and interpretation. 

We need to save important documents for future generations. They can be paper documents such as letters, diaries, reports, minute books, or memos, or they may include other media items such as photographic images, maps, architectural records, films and videotapes, paintings and drawings, phonograph records and cassette tapes, pamphlets, newsletters, brochures, and even machine-
readable records generated by computers. 

The Premier's archival information needs to be organized, categorized and professionally documented. That is the whole purpose of providing a staff person to do that work. This is not a perk of the job. It is a reflection of the public importance of preserving the premier's records. The job needs to be done, no question.
However, it becomes a perk when a direct family member is hired to do the job, no matter how qualified that person may be.  

If the process unfolds over three years, the value of the contract will be nearly a quarter of a million dollars! 

To me that is the cost of doing business.....but giving that business to your daughter is steering a direct benefit of your public position to a family member.  
It is nepotism on the public purse, and AS such should be unacceptable. It is with out a doubt the bestowing of $210,000 of public money on the basis of a family relationship. It further creatures cynicism about politicians trying to drain every bit of personal gain possible from their public purse.  
In closing, I have no issue with the so called "perks" but I do have to roll my eyes at Premier Dunderdale's parting blast of nepotism. 



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