Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Follow Up To A Comment I Received Defending Council Spending

I have gotten a lot of responses from my story about how the town spends our money and almost everyone seemed to agree that it was inappropriate to spend money in that way except for one person....who by the way posted anonymous disagreed with me and tried to justify it because public servants work hard. This is the first part of the comment but it goes on and I think I will address it. First of all I would like to say that anyone who supports this type of spending and feels that strongly about should put their name on it....especially if they happen to be a councilor or member of the staff at the town. Stand up and be counted for your beliefs and don’t' hide behind an anonymous comment.

This excerpt from the comment

I feel that if a person wishes to dedicate 25+ years of their life to servicing the people of Torbay, St. John's, Newfoundland or the people of Canada as a public servant they certainly deserve to be recognized by their colleagues and by the people they served. What most people do not realize is that public servants often times have to balance the needs of the people, the demands of the politicians, and the resources available in order to ensure the safety and well being of the residents of the communities in which they work and live. It is quite easy for people to criticize the work of public servants, the manner in which they handle resources or the politicians that run for office. However I would ask anyone of these critics to spend a day in the shoes of any public servant or politician. You would certainly have a different attitude.

Well I work as a public servant and know many people who also work as public servants and you can be assured that if they work for the province or the Federal Government they are NOT getting retirement parties paid for by the tax payer. Only in municipal government where there is lax oversight on how public funds are being spent can this type of thing happen.

As for a person dedicating 25+ years of their life to serve the public I agree that they should be recognized but let’s be realistic here, they didn't do it for free. Nobody forced them to work in the public service and they could have left the job at any time so don’t' give me the old song and dance about how hard it is and the long hours and limited resources and spend a day in the shoes of a public servant.

As for politicians they have a duty to serve the town and their employers which are the tax payers. They have a duty to spend the money that we give them for the good of all the residents of the community and to provide value for our tax dollars. Value like cleaning up our beach, ensuring we have clean water, clearing our roads of snow in the winter among other essential services. In order to provide these services we need to have employees at the town and they have a clear job description that may include overtime and working long hours. I have no problem with council workers, I know lots of them and I agree that at times they work extremely hard in difficult conditions.

Then there was this excerpt from the comment

The only difference in a public servant and an individual working for a private company is public servants are always under the scrutiny of the public eye. So everyone complains about how the taxes they pay are spent so frivolously yet I ask you how much a year do you pay for telephone, internet or cable TV? Probably as much or more as you pay for taxes and how many of you contact Rogers or Bell or any other service providers to find out how they are spending that money?

Of course public servants are under the scrutiny of the public eye, they are paid with public money...we are the employers not the council or the other town employees, the money comes from our pocket. As for how much money we pay to Bell or Rogers what the hell has that got to do with anything? Those are private for profit companies that operate as a business and as such have to provide a service for their customers or that customer will go somewhere else. I am not forced by law to give one red cent to Bell or Rogers or any other service coming to my home. I am forced however to pay my taxes and that is the difference, I have no choice so it is incumbent on me or any other tax payer to question how our money gets spent. If people can't recognize the difference and they want to make these analogies then I think they should not be involved in the decisions on how public monies are being spent.

This person goes on to say that it is totally appropriate for the town to budget 1/2 of 1% to honor a long standing employee. This little admission tells me that this commenter is indeed either a member of council or someone in the town who has access to the actual cost of this party. Again I say put your name on it especially if you are a councilor so that you can be properly addressed in this matter instead of cowardly hiding under an anonymous moniker.

Finally the commenter ends with this

Do you REALLY know what is going on in this Town or are you basing your opinions on the comments or the bloggers in this forum?? If you really think that this long term employee deserves to be recognized then who do you think should pay for it?? I would say the people for whom the services were provided. A resident grateful for the services we have and hopeful that we will continue to grow and prosper in this wonderful Community that we have.

Well the point of having this discussion and my reason for having this site is to explore what is going on in the town for the very reason that people don't know what is going on and we share our opinions. As for this employee deserving to be recognized by all means recognize them with a plaque and a public acknowledgment and maybe a small gift in the $50 dollar range. NOT a dinner costing possibly thousands of tax payer’s dollars. If you must go out to dinner then get the employees to chip in and pay for the dinner for the retiring employee and pay for their own dinners too.........That is how it works in the real world and in other branches of the public service.

This entire story has absolutely nothing to do with the retiring employee or any other employees of the town. It has to do with council because they are the ones who are approving the budget with this expenditure in it. They are the ones who we elect to represent us in council chamber and entrust with the public purse to spend our dollars with the utmost respect for every resident of Torbay.

You want to talk about how hard it is to be a councilor or a town employee and how hard it is to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go plow a road so people can enjoy Christmas. You say we should all walk a mile in you’re shoes. Are you for real?

Why don't you try walking in the shoes of a single mother who can't afford to put $3 in the school lunch program envelope to give their child a nutritious lunch? How about the struggling family who need to go to the church to get a Christmas Basket so they can sit down and have a Christmas dinner? How about the families that have to go to the salvation army to get cloths to put on their children’s back so they can send them to school? How about the elderly people in our town who have to choose between paying their electrical bill or buying their prescriptions or groceries? How about the people in our town who have to regularly use the food bank to be able to put decent meals on the table on a regular basis?

Maybe council should be thinking of these people who live in our town who get served with a tax bill each year and have no choice but to try and pay it for fear of losing the roof over their heads before deciding to budget for employee social events like a retirement party. Yes we have a wonderful town with many appealing and attractive amenities. But we also have our problems and trying to ignore them or sweeping them under the rug will not make them go away.

Anyone who thinks I am going to stop pointing out deficiencies I see in how our town is being run and that I can be swept under the rug or just ignored is sadly mistaken. I will acknowledge the good I see and will give credit where credit is due but people have to learn to take the good with the bad. That includes council members who make decisions that effect us all and those decision makers who don’t' have the guts to defend their positions publically but instead choose to make anonymous comments attacking my positions on my website.


  1. Way to go Craig! I couldn't have said it better myself.

  2. It's fine to recognize a public servant, give them a party a gift and a free meal but does the town need to pay for 60+ other people to have a meal with this person.

    I'd be fine with the town holding a retirement party at the Kinsmen Centre and giving this person, and their spouse, a free meal along with their retirement gift. Anyone else in attendance though, council included, should pay for their own meal and ride home.

    If the party was held at our own community centre there would be know problem to throw a party, gift included, for a few hundred dollars. I'd say this party the town held in St. John's easily cost $3000.

  3. I also work for the public service and we have to pay for any event that we go to. We throw in money to buy the meal for the person who is retiring and we all have to pay for our own meals. It is crazy that they would think spending tax payers dollars is acceptable for a long time employee--so do not agree with that. How would they feel if the federal government were doing that for every employee that worked there. Spending their tax paying dollars.

  4. I am, along with many other people in this beautiful community,very grateful to our town workers who put in many hours keeping our community running as smoothly as possible! But these dedicated employees are just that...employees...they have been paid for their work! I do realise that some people put extra time and go over and above what is expected of them but it is a choice and they didn't do it to be recognised! Everybody wants to be appreciated but I am in agreement with Craig and a few more who know that the right thing to do with taxpayer's money is a dinner paid for by the staff and a plaque with probably a $50.00 certficate. I work at a drugstore in St.John's and when an employee leaves we collect money among the staff and whatever is collected is used. The company puts no funds in!This is not an affront against town employees..this is about how funds in the budget are used and our opinion on that matter!
    We all work hard for our pay checks and it doesn`t matter if it`s for a public or private position. I just want to know that my taxes are not being spent unwisely!

  5. I don't know about you but I believe this person was paid for their service and didn't do the job for free??


Please try and be respectful with your comments