The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
A lot has happened down at City Hall over the past few days - you can really tell we're less than a year away from the next municipal election.
Here's a quick rundown on the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly at City Council:
City Council has flip-flopped on cutting the Calgary Police budget following a huge outcry from Calgarians worried about their families and communities.
When Save Calgary first launched its petition to Defend the Police, some Councillors were angry we had shared their voting record with their constituents.
They called it "weaponized misinformation," a "distortion of the facts" and even "an assault on democracy."
Save Calgary was pleased to be part of the effort to ensure our law enforcement has the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
But we also know that this won't be the only time that some extremist Councillors try to defund the police - Save Calgary will be ready to fight back when they try again.
City Council had the opportunity to really help struggling Calgary families and businesses in a meaningful way for the next year - but, once again, they blew it.
They could have cut property taxes for homeowners - they didn't. While City Council did decide to keep residential taxes more or less the same, this is little comfort to those who have lost their jobs or seen their incomes drop substantially due to COVID-19.
They could have frozen property taxes for businesses barely staying afloat - they didn't. Instead, many businesses will see their property taxes increase by a whopping 10% while literally teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
They could have made significant spending cuts - they didn't. After patting themselves on the back for making small cuts (or smaller spending increases since that's how they define a "cut" at the City of Calgary), they didn't implement any major spending reforms.
They could have announced that they would be seeking wage concessions and benefit cuts from City employees - they didn't. The major cost driver for City Hall is employee salaries, wages, pensions, and benefits, which have climbed 40% since 2010. However, once again, City politicians were afraid to take a tough stand and ask bureaucrats to get by on a little bit less.
In fact, despite the cratering economy and massive disruptions wreaking havoc on our daily lives, City Council mostly went on with business as usual and avoided making any of the tough decisions we expect our leaders to make in times of crisis.
It's no secret that a lot of our City Council dislikes Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas.
His commitment to fiscal responsibility and accountability continues to make many of them look incredibly bad by comparison.
In the past, they've gone out of their way to criticize and punish him for standing up for his principles and his constituents.
Now, following his decision to run for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election, they've decided to try and make it impossible for him to campaign across the city.
On December 14th, City Council will consider adopting a policy which would ban Councillors from holding or attending political events outside their ward, limit their ability to communicate with constituents outside their ward, and generally preclude them from campaigning outside of their ward.
They might as well call it the "Stop Jeromy from Becoming Mayor" policy.
The is a monstrous action which, in our opinion, isn't just unfair or petty towards Councillor Farkas, but is a full-on assault against democracy and the right of anyone to freely seek elected office.
Any City Councillor who supports this motion is putting their own ego and self-interest ahead of the democratic rights of both voters and candidates.
We will be watching this motion and letting you know how your Councillor votes when it comes before Council in a couple weeks.
In the mean time, we wanted to express our thanks to Calgarians for supporting Save Calgary and the work we're doing.
We know these aren't easy times, especially with City Council picking your pockets at every opportunity.
If you're able to, we would ask you to make a donation to Save Calgary to keep up the fight for honest and accountable local government here in Calgary - with the next election less than a year away, this fight has never been more important for our city.
P.S. Please consider forwarding these e-mails to your family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers and help spread the news about what's really happening down at City Hall. They can sign-up to receive our weekly e-mails by clicking here!