22 September 2009

$200m is more than an 'error' - Miller is the error

I believe that the mayor needs to go back to school to learn the difference between 450 million and 250 million. At this point the mayor should also resign from office for a magnitude of this lie. I wonder how much the union paid off Osama bin Miller to stay 'mum' on this difference. Where is Miller going to get the money? Here's the solution: He resigns right now. The entire contract that was negotiated becomes null and void and all city employees go onto a disability insurance plan. Kill the complete sick-day program. Do it now.

From today's National Post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

$200m is more than an 'error'

Kelly McParland, National Post

http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.nationalpost.com/0909_miller.jpg Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Even in the daffy world of municipal politics, where satire is difficult because it seldom lives up to the reality, there is the occasional event that makes you rub your eyes and wonder if you're seeing straight.

Such is the news that the sum Toronto owes its workers for sick days they don't need is $450-million, not the $250-million originally believed.

You will recall the issue of sick days. It was the central area of dispute in the strike that dragged on for five weeks this summer, producing mounds of uncollected garbage and neighbourhoods full of cranky Torontonians upset at closed pools and shuttered daycares.

Public opinion sided heavily against the strikers, especially after people learned that the city's unionized workers get 18 sick days a year and can save up the unused ones until they retire, collecting a fat payoff. Mayor David Miller insisted the city could no longer afford such generosity, repeatedly citing the heavy cost in justifying the city's refusal to cave to the strikers.

Eventually the city did cave, letting the workers keep their sick leave (or get bought out), but eliminating it for new hires.

Now it turns out the sum is far higher than Mr. Miller admitted, even though he knew the real figure well before the strike.

The 2008 audited consolidated financial statements for the city reveals the higher figure, adding: "This error was discovered in advance of labour negotiations and staff were using the most current information during bargaining and the reporting of results."

But as the Post's Peter Kuitenbrouwer, who dug up the figures, notes: They didn't tell city council or reveal it during the strike, and Mr. Miller kept using the $250-million figure even though he knew the total was $450-million.

The city's chief financial officer blamed the discrepancy on a software error. A spokesman for David Miller says the Mayor kept mum on the gap because "the city didn't want to focus on just one aspect of the audited financial statements."

"The decision was made not to release financial results on a piecemeal basis," spokesman Stuart Green told the Toronto Star.

A software error? Worth $200-million? If that's an error, pal, what's a meltdown? Rogers bought SkyDome for about a fifth of that glitch.

It's $10-million more than Toronto got in stimulus money from Ottawa, for help on 500 infrastructure projects.

Nice error.

The justification from the Mayor's office is even more ludicrous: You're in the middle of a citywide strike; people are up in arms over the sick-leave benefit; the Mayor knows the cost of the benefit is $450-million but keeps pretending it's $250-million, and this is to avoid giving out figures piecemeal?

Well, the $250-million was the only figure dangled, so that's already piecemeal, isn't it?

How is $450-million piecemeal but $250-million isn't?

The Mayor, it is pretty clear, misled the people of Toronto, and it's hard not to conclude he did it deliberately.

"The Mayor made it the most high-profile issue of the strike. The city in the end wound up capitulating on it," says Councillor John Parker, who is a member of the city's audit committee.

"Now we find out that he wasn't coming clean with the magnitude of that liability. He was sitting with that knowledge all the way through," Mr. Parker says.

"There is one heck of a lot of spinning going on in this buildng and you're left wondering if you can believe anything that you're told. It begins to erode the confidence that people can have in their government."

Why would Mr. Miller pull such a stunt? Good question. Perhaps he was anxious about permanently alienating his friends in organized labour. They already considered him a turncoat for opposing their demands.

Turning up the heat might have produced a permanent rupture, costing Mr. Miller the campaign support he relies on to get elected.

Maybe he knew the real figure would reduce his ability to compromise in the end. Torontonians are plenty upset that Mr. Miller gave in on the $250-million. If they'd known the real figure, the strike might still be on.

In any event, it suggests a degree of dishonesty in the Mayor that puts him in a new light.

This is clearly not a man people in Toronto can trust to tell the truth.

Good intentions are one thing. Basic honesty is another.

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