Former Toronto City Councillor Bill Saundercook, former Toronto Budget Chief and current City Councillor Shelley Carroll, and Toronto's left-wing council leader Adam Vaughan, all partied-it-up in the Netherlands on the Toronto taxpayers' dime, showing once again that they have no problem shamefully continuing to reach for the "gravy" after Torontonians expressed their anger at the gravy train in the last municipal election.
All 3 of these scumbag former and current Toronto left-wing politicians supposedly attended the Walk21 Conference in the Netherlands on Pedestrians (???), and had no problem submitting for reimbursement for expenses incurred from this outrageous and useless trip.
Here's the story from the Toronto Sun:
Bill Saundercook’s Dutch treat: Levy
Three weeks after he was resoundingly defeated at the polls, incumbent councillor Bill Saundercook jetted off to The Hague on the taxpayer teat with his wife in tow.
And according to information received from the city’s Council Services office, the 22-year politician submitted a claim for eight days of accommodation and per diems, even though the Walk 21 conference he was attending only lasted three days.
Saundercook, the former co-chairman of council’s pedestrian sub-committee, asked to be reimbursed for $4,240.76 for his Nov. 12-21 trip, which ended just nine days before he officially left office.
The 56-year-old Ward 13 councillor was handily defeated by newbie Sarah Doucette on Oct. 25. She captured 47% of the vote to his 36.8%.
Reached late Thursday afternoon, Saundercook, now back teaching in Mississauga, dismissed the questionable optics of such a trip, saying he’d put hundreds of hours of volunteer time into a commitment that has benefitted Toronto “tremendously” — namely, helping to prevent pedestrian deaths.
“The optics were no different than had I won,” he said.
I would vehemently disagree.
In fact, I would suggest this is a perfect example of the kind of loophole in the councillor expense policy that must be tightened up following the review by deputy mayor Doug Holyday and council services staff.
If a councillor loses an election, junkets overseas should definitely not, I repeat not, be taken during his or her dying days in office — although I would have thought this did not need to be stated.
But there’s more.
While Saundercook led Council Services staff to believe he was a speaker at a conference session, he is not listed in the conference agenda.
He indicated Thursday he and another partner from Toronto actually introduced a four-minute video called “The Pedestrian Jar” — a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the friction between drivers and pedestrians.
Coun. Shelley Carroll, who also attended the conference, said the only occasion she was aware that her former colleague spoke was to introduce the video on behalf of the city’s pedestrian sub-committee — an introduction which took “all of two minutes.”
Carroll, who figures she spent $3,000, said she decided to go once she knew she was elected because she wanted to get as much information together as possible related to pedestrians and transit in preparation for the Sheppard LRT.
“I went with my own local agenda,” she said.
Coun. Adam Vaughan, who attended the conference while on a personal vacation, only claimed $747.76.
He said he went to engage planners from other cities on how to “manage streets that are in transition” and to look at real life examples of projects in The Hague that integrate different modes of transportation on busy downtown streets — projects which have parallels to work underway in his downtown ward.
Saundercook's actions -though not surprising- were pretty much criminal and he should definitely be charged as such. Meanwhile, Councillors Vaughan and Carroll disgracefully continue to cash in on taxpayer funds while pretending that their actions are for the benefit of Torontonians... And at the same time, they claim that there is no money in the budget to remove the Personal Vehicle Tax and etc... Yes, no money if they continue to sip that gravy off the backs of Torontonian taxpayers.
Not only should both Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll repay Toronto for this vacation that they took on the taxpayers' dime, they should also resign out of pure shame for their actions.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/markwatmough/4912726691/sizes/l/ by mark.watmough on flickr