Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toronto City Councillors giving Donations from Tax Payers' Wallets??




Don't get me wrong, I'm all for giving donations, and this post is in no way me saying don't give donations...

But something just seems a bit fishy about Toronto City Councillors giving out donations in their names, but paid for by the tax paying citizens of Toronto..

With the 2009 Toronto City Councillor Office Expenses out, I've been doing my share of reviewing it with a fine-toothed comb, and you may be seeing a few posts related to my findings in the next couple of days -if the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun don't get there first!

I figured I would talk about this 'donation' expense, as it's one of the more touchy subjects and the newspapers may therefore decide not to touch it... But if you know me, you know I love these "touchy" subjects..

So, let's look at the situation.

A certain organization regardless of what it is, whether it's a hospital, a community group, a club, an arts society, whatever it is, it is a group of people who would be very appreciative if they received a donation to support their cause. So, they approach City Councillors and ask for a donation, and the Councillor decides whether this group is worthy of getting that donation. Let's say they decide to give that donation to this group -however much it may be, now this group is very appreciative of that Councillor and has a reason to like him or her.

If it's a hospital, that's one thing, and I'm not going there... But, if it's a Club, or an Arts Society, or a Union, or an Association, or something related, does this donation not garner some kind of influence in a positive way towards this Councillor from this group? I mean, is that such a far-fetched hypothesis? I'm just saying... No, no.. I'm just asking... I'm just asking questions here...

I wonder, when it comes time for Elections, who are these groups most likely to throw their support behind? Will it be the Councillor who has been giving them donations every year (or every month in some cases), or will it be the challengers who haven't?? The funny thing is that if you think about it, the challengers have given a part of the Councillor's donation as well (via their taxes), but do they get the credit for it? Do you or I even get credit for it?? We're the ones paying for it after all.. It's not the Councillor...

You see, even though these Groups know that at the end of the day, the donation is from the City (as Councillors are required to use City of Toronto Cheques, and not their own personal ones), is it the City who is enabling this donation to be provided, or is it the Councillor (who is cutting the cheque)? You know what I mean? People are not dumb. They know that they need the Councillor in order to get that money, so they appreciate that the Councillor opens the public's wallet for them... It's basic human nature... People remember the person who is writing the cheque, not the people who are putting money into the cheque's account...

And this can no more be seen than in the invoices/letters that these groups send the Councillors requesting their donations... Rarely will you see the letters requesting a donation from the City of Toronto.. It's always something similar to, "We are grateful for YOUR continued support Councillor [whoever], and we truly appreciate that YOU'VE chosen to help us out again this year"... There's just something about quotes like that from these groups that makes my stomach turn... Something that just seems shady about it, you know...

I don't know, am I wrong here? Is it ok for Councillors to basically buy the support of Clubs and Organizations via donations, paid for by Torontonians? Something about that just seems wrong to me...

Again, people, give donations, help causes, save the world! I am all for that.

Councillors however, this really seems like crossing the ethics borderline... And if they get even one vote as a result of these donations to these various groups, then this is a definite problem that needs to be looked at...

--jackandcokewithalime

PS: I actually had a full list of examples of quotations from the letters from these groups to the Councillors requesting the donations, and some were really really thankful to the Councillors specifically, and that's what opened my eyes to what was going on here… I decided to exclude those examples because I didn’t want to single out any groups that were asking for donations… This is not about them. This is about the Councillors.

Now, if you wanted to take a look for yourself at the Councillor Expenses and their Donations (like who they gave donations to, and for how much, as well as to see the letters/invoices), visit the City of Toronto website link, Councillors: Office Expense Reporting. The Donation expenses are hidden under the section, “Other Expenses”…


(Image:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sookie/31219030/sizes/l/ by 416style on flickr
Copyright:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

1 comment:

Toronto.hiphopupdate said...

this is an extremely shady practice imo.
I appreciate you opening my eyes to this