Open letter to city councillor Kerry Diotte

Hello, Mr. Diotte.  Or should I call you councillor? Or is it your majesty?

Whatever. I hope you’re enjoying your new role as decision maker, as opposed to your old role as decision questioner when you were with the Sun. I see they’ve put you right to work.

I’ve always found it funny that the very first thing a new council does is tackle the budget, which is the single biggest issue council has to deal with. Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the political pool.

But you’re an old hand at budgets, which is why I’m writing to you. I remember your old columns in the Sun when you used to go over the budget, line by tedious line, and find examples of wasteful spending. Or at least, what you thought were examples of wasteful spending.

Well, pal (you don’t mind if I call you pal, do you?), now it’s your time to shine! Instead of just complaining about the budget, you can now do something about it. And I’m here to help. I have a few questions regarding how the city spends its — or, more accurately, our — money that you might want to ask.

For starters, how about this Racism Free Edmonton initiative? You know, the one with all the ‘white privilege’ stuff that has people so upset? Frankly, I don’t care about the white privilege remark; I’m white, and I’m not offended. What offends me is that the city of Edmonton is spending time and money on a website that it thinks will combat racism. Seriously? Racism has been around since caveman days, and the city thinks a website will eliminate racism? My question, Kerry, is how much money is the city spending on this well intentioned by naive project? Or, for that matter, how about the bottomless number of other city initiatives that involve expensive ad campaigns and websites. Is this where city tax dollars should be spent? Just wondering is all.

And how about road construction? Maybe you can find out why the city spent untold millions of dollars on adding an extra lane to a few blocks of 170th Street, from WEM to the Whitemud? I’ve driven down that road thousands of times, and I can see no need for an extra lane. Maybe, as a councillor, you can question the value and reasoning of the city’s myriad of road projects BEFORE they go ahead. Ask some questions.

And you might want to poke around into overtime for road construction crews. Paying somebody $40 an hour to lean on a sign that says ‘Slow” (describing their work progress, perhaps) doesn’t seem like a good way to use tax dollars.

Kerry, you were quoted in the Journal today as saying that you are going to go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb (judging from your hairline, you don’t use it for grooming) and maybe bring the budget down to zero. I honestly wish you luck. The proposed tax hike of 5% is, realistically, not much, but I’m baffled as to why city taxes go up, without fail, every year, while federal and provincial taxes do not. Why, I wonder, doesn’t city council just tell the administration to bring in a budget at zero increase, or somebody will lose their job? Just a thought.

So good luck, Kerry. Hone that axe and get at ‘er. I’ll be watching. Just don’t touch anything I like.

Maurice Tougas, taxpayer

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