Calgary City Hall News

Calgary City Hall News

Who Voted to Release The Olympics

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What Garbage Service

Have you met City Hall's newest millionaires

Have you met City Hall's newest millionaires?

They're currently sitting on our City Council.

As Save Calgary has pointed out before, the City Council pension is one of the best perks of the job. In fact, some have likened it to the platinum pension plans that Alberta MLAs used to enjoy before taxpayers rose up in anger and nearly booted the government from office.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has released a new report into Calgary City Council pensions, and it shows that at least three of our Councillors are destined to become millionaires under the current plan. The CTF assessed what the total pension payout to the current City Councillors would be if they collected until age 85.

Which Councillors are in line for the million dollar payouts?

Ray Jones (Ward 10) - $1,250,704.00
Druh Farrell (Ward 7) - $1,259,863.00
Mayor Naheed Nenshi - $1,415,791.00

In each case, Councillors only contributed a fraction of what taxpayers did towards these lavish pensions.

In fact, on average, Councillors only put in $1 for every $5 put in by taxpayers.

The only exception is Councillor Jeromy Farkas (Ward 11) who opted out of the plan, citing its high cost to taxpayers.

This is completely unacceptable - especially as Calgary continues to struggle with high unemployment, business closures, and sluggish economy.

We don't actually know what the final cost will be for taxpayers, because periodically the City dumps in a bunch of extra taxpayer money into the pension plan to top it up. Millions of extra dollars have been paid into the City Council pension plan, with the costs going directly onto the backs of taxpayers in the form of higher property taxes, hiked up fees, larger surcharges, and bigger levies to the City.

However, the news gets worse when it comes to Mayor Nenshi.

He doesn't receive just one taxpayer-funded golden handshake - he gets two!

Because Mayor Nenshi is so highly paid - at a salary over $200,000 per year, he's one of Canada's highest paid mayors - he qualifies for the City of Calgary's "Supplementary Pension Plan for Elected Officials".

This second special pension plan is even more generous than the one Councillors receive - and both are funded nearly entirely by taxpayers.

The Mayor has suggested in previous public statements that the level of taxpayer funding for his pension - sorry, pensions - is pretty well standard for any pension plan.

That's just not the case.

First of all, how common is having two pension plans for a Mayor? Let's see what other cities do.

Brampton? No.
Edmonton? No.
Hamilton? No.
Mississauga? No.
Montreal? Non.
Ottawa? No.
Toronto? No.
Vancouver? No.
Winnipeg? No.

Also, for most pension plans, the ratio of funding is generally about 1:1 employer contribution per employee contribution - and that's if you're lucky enough to work for a company that offers a pension plan. In some really generous companies, that contribution ratio rises to 2:1.

But it's only in the taxpayer trough that is Calgary's City Hall that you see a ratio of $5 taxpayer dollars per $1 put in by a Councillor.

Calgary taxpayers can't afford to keep making our City Councillors millionaires.

When Save Calgary first raised the alarm on this issue last year, we started a petition demanding that City Council scrap the platinum pension plan.

Today, we're renewing our call and demanding that City Council do away with this overly generous taxpayer-funded perk.

Will you sign our petition and share this e-mail with your family, friends, and neighbours?

As Calgarians continue to struggle to find jobs, pay their bills, and make ends meet during these tough economic times, shouldn't our City Council at least take a break from putting our hard-earned tax dollars right into their pockets?

We'll keep pushing on this issue and how City Councillors respond - as a City Hall watchdog, that's our mission.



Save Calgary

Report: Councillors Behaving Badly

Release The Report Now
Friend --
After years of trying to keep it under wraps, a heavily redacted copy of the City of Calgary's report into City Councillor Misconduct has been posted to the City's website.
The report provides some limited insight into the behavior of some Councillors who were on Council before the 2017 election.
In the opening paragraph of the report, the investigators stated that:
"The problems are sufficiently widespread to sustain a finding of systemic problems in the workplace. Since the problems are known to many in the workplace, all those working in the Council Office are affected by the environment. There are indications that these types of issues are not new."
Only one City Councillor - Evan Woolley (Ward 8) - agreed to let his name be revealed in the report. He indicated that he once "yelled" at a City Councillor staff, recognizing this wasn't appropriate.
Here is how this incident is reflected in the version of the report released by the City (the letter/number sequences in the redactions are the sections of the Privacy Act being cited by City to justify why the information is being kept hidden):
Sadly, this is the most informative section of the report.
The name of every other Councillor and their bad behavior is hidden behind a wall of redactions.
The City claims that these redactions are in place to protect the identity of the whistleblowers. However, this is pretty clearly a smokescreen to keep the names of those councilors who engaged in inappropriate behavior secret - shielding them from real accountability and transparency.
The version of the report released by the City contains virtually no useful information.
Here, for example, is a section on the findings of abuse committed by members of Council:
And here, for example, is a section of the conclusions from the report about the bad behavior of City Councillors:
This is completely unacceptable.
When asked about the fact that no Councillors faced sanctions because of their misconduct - something which would not be the case in any large business, Mayor Nenshi brushed off the incidents, saying:
"I'm not so sure they got away with it if I would use that term, because certainly, you know, we went through training for all of council."
Voters have a right to know which City Councillors engaged in misconduct and what their misconduct was.
We call on all Councillors to agree to have their sections of the report released, and to provide details on the incidents.
The following Councillors who currently sit on City Council were also in office at the time this investigation was performed and the report was drafted:
Save Calgary has also been fighting to get this report released, we've been told that our copy of the report will be available to us on June 28th. We'll see if the City is providing any additional information on the identities of those Councillors who engaged in misconduct, and what their misconduct was.
In the meantime, contact your Councillor and demand that they agree to have their information in the report made public.
Calgarians demand real accountability - what the City has provided so far doesn't come close to meeting that standard.
Save Calgary
PS. Summer may be here in Calgary, but Save Calgary isn't taking a vacation - we'll keep working to hold City Hall to account and to stand up for Calgary taxpayers. If you support our work, please consider donating $135, $75, or $45 to help us with our work!

#ReleaseTheReport into Councillor misconduct now!

Some City Councillors have been behaving badly.
So badly, in fact, that they decided that something had to be done about it - so the City did what it always does when it encounters a problem, a complaint, or a lawsuit.
They wrote a report.
The report on City Councillor Misconduct was completed a long time ago - before the last election in fact - but it was kept under lock and key, far from the curious public.
Clearly, this was a Council that didn't want its dirty laundry aired in public, and they really didn't want voters to know about it when they had the chance to kick them out of office.
For the last year, Save Calgary has been fighting to have this report made public.
We filed a Freedom of Information request with the City to release the report.
And that's when the waiting began.
Our initial FOIP request was put forward on March 28, 2018, and under the law governing Freedom of Information, the City had 30 days to respond.
That first 30 days came and went, and the City asked for an extension. And then another one. And then even another one.
Save Calgary spent thousands of dollars to get this report released - a report which we knew existed, and which required little to no effort on the part of the City to produce.
We guess that's just the current cost of accountability in Calgary these days.
It was clear that the City didn't want to release the report, and didn't care that it was violating Alberta's Freedom of Information laws in the process.
Save Calgary believes that everyday Calgarians have the right to know about their local government, and the behavior (or misbehavior) of their elected City Councillors, so we filed a complaint with Alberta's Privacy Commissions regarding the unacceptable (and unlawful) delay to our FOIP request.
After dragging its heels kicking and screaming, the City finally informed us that they would be releasing the report on June 28, 2018 - but this was only the beginning of the story.
In the last few days, rumors have begun circulating that copies of the report have been leaked and are in the possession of a handful of media outlets, who have started approaching City Councillors about their content.
This suggests that the report is ready for distribution and that the City is sitting on it until the middle of the summer, while also making it available to some reporters (officially or unofficially).
Here's our theory:
The City knows that this report is damaging. They didn't put it out before the last election because they knew it might impact who voters elected to City Council (every single incumbent City Councillor who ran for re-election was re-elected).
The City knows that voters will be outraged when they learn what some City Councillors have been up to, and the lack of professionalism some of them have displayed while in office.
And the City knows that outraged voters will demand change from City Hall and insist on more transparency and accountability.
So, to soften the blow of this report and to minimize the fall-out of this story, the report is being selectively leaked to some reporters so that h the information comes out in small dribbles and with less fanfare than if the report were to be released fully and openly.
Now, it's important to note that this is just our theory - we have no evidence that the City is engaging in this behaviour (although some journalists DO have copies of an unreleased report) - but if City Hall wanted to end any and all speculation about this issue, their behaviour, and the perception that they are engaging in a game of political damage control, they could do so with one simple act.
They could release the report. In full. Today.
Until they do, Save Calgary will continue to do what we've done for the past year - keep up the pressure on a City Hall that prefers silence to disclosure.
If you believe - like we do - that our City Councillors need to transparent and accountable for their behavior, then reach out to them and demand that the City release the report into Councillor misconduct immediately.
It's time for fresh air at City Hall, and the first step is to #ReleaseTheReport

Save Calgary
PS. If you haven't already done so, sign our #ReleaseTheReport petition to demand that City Hall release the report into Councillor misconduct! Sign it here and share with your friends!

Who Paid for Mayor Nenshi's Europe Trip?

Last week, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was in Europe attending something called the "CityXCHange Summit", hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation. The conference, held in the picturesque Italian town of Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como, is described by organizers as "a venue for bringing together some of the world’s most forward-thinking leaders from ten global cities with technology innovators to unpack common urban challenges and identify new ways to leverage the latest tech in service of urban resilience."
Read more

Calgary's War on the Car

Friend --
It started with the War on Parking.
The City decided to make parking hard to find and extremely expensive in much of downtown Calgary.
Read more

Meet Calgary's New Tax Hike Posse

Meet Calgary's new Tax Hike Posse - the group of City Councillors who recently decided that you had just too much money in your pockets.
Recently, Calgary's City Council met to decide what this year's tax increase would be - but they did much more than that. They voted in support of a multi-year plan that contained tax increases each and every year between now and the next election.
Read more

Calgary residents need to stand up to property tax increases: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Calgary Mayor Nenshi and local MP Michelle Rempel at odds over who is responsible for the shrunken Green Line



Read more

Council approves de-designating Eau Claire smokestack as historic resource

Crowchild Trail improvement project approved by Calgary council

The City of Calgary has approved a $1.5-billion plan which would see improvements made on Crowchild Trail from 24 Avenue northwest to 17 Avenue southwest.

The first phase of the work involves the addition of new ramps and adding a lane in both directions over the Bow River.


Read more

City officials recommend council approve two-per-cent tax hike

Read more

Calgary secondary suites approved 83% of the time: analysis

Andre Chabot proposes plebiscite on tax room debates

Nenshi weighs in on Bowfort Towers controversy calling it a 'lynch mob'

City council exploring Flames arena 'Plan B' option in Victoria Park while CalgaryNEXT stays alive