Thursday, February 4, 2016

COMMON SENSE MISSING ON CITY COUNCIL ETHICS

The leaked report on conflict of interest prepared for the City of St. John's by former Chief Justice Clyde Wells pointed out a number of twisted ethical issues that made me shake my head.

The top two:

Apparently, candidates for council face a spending limit but not on how much they can raise. If a candidate raises money above the limit they do not have to return it to the contributors or donate it to charity. They can spend it as they please. What are the tax implications? Seems more than a little dicey to me. 

The mayor is getting paid directly for performing civil unions at City Hall. This is on top of his renumeration for wearing the chain of office. While I do not think he should get paid for doing his job, it bothers me as a taxpayer that city facilities are used and city staff put it all together - but the mayor gets the loot.  Even in the hospitality industry, the servers have to kick back some of the tips to the kitchen! 

As for some of the faux outrage from councillors that it was unethical that a report on ethics was leaked to the media - come on, the report might not have been released in whole if left to council. We might not have ever have learned that councillors can pocket campaign funds and the mayor has a side business staffed by city employees. 

Seriously, why would we have to pay for a report to point out that these behaviours are wrong? 

Is there any doubt that City Hall needs an ethics officer?

 I have a suggestion on how we can pay for it, lets reduce council salaries to pay for it!

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