Citizens have said repeatedly over the past three months that they want city councillors to cut perks and office budgets and impose some in-house belt-tightening before imposing new and higher taxes.Attempts to cut perks are offensive, Mr. Mayor? What is offensive is the lack of independent accountability.
But yesterday, all motions recommending this were consistently ruled out of order, preventing them from getting to a vote. Stunningly, the mayor's most passionate moment came in defending the perks, calling attempts to cut them "offensive. To call the things like their office budget, which allows them to communicate with people, (a perk) is really unworthy of any member of council," he said.
What we need is an arm's-length officer to serve the role of an Auditor General, much like Sylvia Fraser in Ottawa. At the federal level, the Auditor General is an officer of Parliament. That model doesn't quite work at the municipal level, I think. The strong mayor model means that, effectively, having an officer reporting to council means having said officer report to the Mayor and his cabinet. Amending the City of Toronto Act, an act of the provincial legislature, to appoint an Auditor General as a provincial officer might attract cries of partisan politics. It is, I think, the only way to ensure sufficient transparency on Le Roi de Balai (King Broom) and his reign.
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