Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner has ruled that Councillor Rob Ford is violating City policy by not revealing his expenses.
Official records indicate he spent none ($0.00) of his permitted $53,100 in annual office expenses. Ford, “a principal of a successful Etobicoke business" who claims to bring “a bottom line and customer focus” to city hall, is well off and covers expenses out of his own pocket. A December 12th meeting will look at what can be done to Councillors like Ford who ignore policy. Sanctions, including loss of salary, are permitted under the new City of Toronto Act.
I suspect this will get sorted out. Meanwhile Ford has posted each Councillor’s expenses on his website robford.ca
I’ll allow that context is important but…here are some of my favourite Toronto Councillor expenses:
$$$ 1 meal, 2 coffees, 2 glasses of wine and two martinis at the Crush Wine Bar. The bill came to $112.12.
$$$ 10,000 magnets for only $2,904.27.
$$$ $34.19 for a blue case for a Blackberry.
$$$ Twenty dollars and one cent ($20.01) of gas from a Shell station.
$$$ More than thirteen hundred dollars in annual kilometrage for one Councillor who bills from his own doorstep. Didn’t you always pay your own way to get to the office?
$$$ Consumption of one chicken quesdellia, two lbs. of wings and 1 - 20 ounce beer (Keith’s), 1 - 13.5 ounce beer (Keith’s), 3- 20 ounce beer (Stellas) and one small Stella at a meeting with constituents. (Call me cheap but I never treated my constituents so well. Not with public dollars. )
$$$ Purchase of books – like the Undercover Economist whose first chapter is titled (ironically?) “Who pays for your Coffee?”
$$$ Subscriptions to the Star, Globe and Mail, Sun, National Post and MacLeans and a $35.00 for a subscription to Toronto Life magazine.
$$$ French language training at a cost of $1,576.80. Incroyable.
Look it up for yourself. You're guaranteed to find some expenses that will amaze.
OK, Some Context
Above the office expenses Toronto Councillors earn $95,000 annually, get three office staff with nearly $200,000 in salaries, receive a month severance for each year they serve when they leave and an additional $3,500 in adjustment expenses.
A case can be made for transparency and the need to report all expenses but surely an equally strong case can be made for tightening up on what a legitimate expense is.