If you’re a masochist, this is the job for you!

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - If you’re a masochist, this is the job for you!
City coun­cil might have to seek out mem­bers of a self-flag­el­la­tion club in or­der to live up to a mo­tion passed Tues­day night.Be­sides vot­ing to freeze their 2019 salaries at 2018 lev­els (an im­por­tant and laud­able ges­ture of lead­er­ship in a hurt­ing city) coun­cil also voted in favour of re­con­ven­ing the Coun­cil Com­pen­sa­tion Re­view Com­mit­tee (CCRC) in the first quar­ter of 2020.The fact that a CCRC of five ded­i­cated vol­un­teers is­sued a re­port in May 2017, and then promptly had al­most all of their rec­om­men­da­tions dis­re­garded by coun­cil af­ter re­ceiv­ing an un­war­ranted tongue-lash­ing at city hall, was not men­tioned, though Ward 13 Coun. Diane Col­ley-Urquhart al­luded to the dys­func­tion at Tues­day’s meet­ing.Peter Bowal, the chair of that com­mit­tee and a law pro­fes­sor in the busi­ness and en­vi­ron­ment area at the Univer­sity of Cal­gary’s Haskayne School of Busi­ness, says he doesn’t rec­om­mend any sane Cal­gar­ian to vol­un­teer “to be used as win­dow dress­ing ” and then “can­non fod­der” the way he and his com­mit­tee were in 2017.“I wouldn’t rec­om­mend any­one to do­nate their time and ef­fort on that com­mit­tee be­cause I don’t think it would make any dif­fer­ence,” said Bowal, who was in­ter­viewed Tues­day via tele­phone.In Oc­to­ber 2017, coun­cil ap­pointed five Cal­gar­i­ans to the CCRC and those mem­bers ap­pointed Bowal as chair. They did not re­ceive one cent of com­pen­sa­tion, at­tended 12 meet­ings at city hall with ab­surd pro­ce­dural rules that hin­dered their progress, took time off work, ded­i­cated hun­dreds of hours re­search­ing the mayor and coun­cil’s com­pen­sa­tion pack­age, and Bowal even used his own money to ini­ti­ate free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quests.At the end of all that, not only was the com­mit­tee not thanked, it was “vil­i­fied” by coun­cil when it pre­sented its re­port. Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi was not present, and coun­cil quickly voted in favour of cut­ting his com­pen­sa­tion by six per cent but re­jected low­er­ing their own, in­clud­ing many other of the com­mit­tee’s sug­ges­tions that would have low­ered coun­cil com­pen­sa­tion from be­ing the top in Canada to be­ing in the 75th per­centile.“Af­ter you’ve ded­i­cated your­self to this pub­lic ser­vice, the like­li­hood is that you will be de­spised at the end of it be­cause the coun­cil­lors don’t like the re­sults,” said Bowal, who holds law de­grees from Os­goode Hall Law School in Toronto and the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, as well as a com­merce de­gree from the Univer­sity of Al­berta.“It be­came very per­sonal, very vi­cious against us,” said Bowal. “If they didn’t like a par­tic­u­lar rec­om­men­da­tion they said it was bi­ased, that we were bi­ased. Bi­ased? What were we bi­ased about? We didn’t have any axe to grind in this at all, we had no skin in the game other than the fact that we are tax­pay­ers, so we value pru­dence,” added Bowal.The day the com­mit­tee pre­sented its re­port to coun­cil, Bowal and the other vol­un­teers took the day off work be­cause they were told to be seated in coun­cil cham­bers by 9:30 a.m. The is­sue of coun­cil pay, how­ever, was put at the end of the day’s agenda — as most con­tentious is­sues are.“They were jump­ing up and giv­ing greet­ings to ev­ery school kid who popped by and sat in the gallery for 10 min­utes,” said Bowal.“The items of busi­ness be­fore ours mostly in­volved city em­ploy­ees speak­ing to coun­cil. It was ex­tremely in­con­sid­er­ate of them,” he said.“We’re vol­un­teers. We’re the ones who have out­side jobs, we’re the ones who were do­ing this out of the good­ness of our hearts, and I re­al­ized af­ter­wards that we were just can­non fod­der for them that went on and on. The ques­tions they asked us weren’t about clar­i­fi­ca­tions about our rec­om­men­da­tions but about our qual­i­fi­ca­tions. They threw as­per­sions on our char­ac­ter and qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Iron­i­cally, they turned on the very same peo­ple they ap­pointed.”In coun­cil Tues­day, be­fore vot­ing in favour of re-es­tab­lish­ing the CCRC “to per­form a com­plete eval­u­a­tion of coun­cil’s over­all ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to: pen­sion for elected of­fi­cials,” one of the coun­cil­lors said that what­ever rec­om­men­da­tions are made should be ac­cepted. That, how­ever, is not in the mo­tion. Without it, says Bowal, the en­tire ex­er­cise is point­less.Bowal says there should be a strong pre­sump­tion to ac­cept the rec­om­men­da­tions. “They should have to have a good rea­son to re­ject a rec­om­men­da­tion, oth­er­wise it’s just a pub­lic-re­la­tions ex­er­cise — it’s just win­dow dress­ing — which is what hap­pened in our case.”On Tues­day night, many coun­cil­lors stood up and said that when they said or did some­thing wrong they were quick to apol­o­gize “in front of the tele­vi­sion cam­eras” in coun­cil. This was said be­cause Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas did not apol­o­gize for in­cor­rectly post­ing on his Face­book page in De­cem­ber that his col­leagues voted for a pay raise, when they thought they were vot­ing for a pay cut.Be­cause Farkas did not say sorry, all but Sean Chu and Farkas re­jected a mo­tion to call off the city’s in­tegrity com­mis­sioner from look­ing into his ac­tions.Iron­i­cally, Bowal and the other com­mit­tee mem­bers — who were pub­licly dressed down and hu­mil­i­ated — have never re­ceived a pri­vate apol­ogy, let alone a pub­lic one from any mem­bers of coun­cil for their treat­ment.Bowal com­plained to the city’s in­tegrity com­mis­sioner, who said two coun­cil­lors did write pri­vate apolo­gies but Bowal has never re­ceived them.Like I said, if you’re a masochist, vol­un­teer­ing for Cal­gary’s Coun­cil Com­pen­sa­tion Re­view Com­mit­tee is the job for you.

“I wouldn’t rec­om­mend any­one to do­nate their time and ef­fort on (the new CCRC),” says Peter Bowal, the pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee’s chair.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.