MAC'S MUSINGS: If councillors feel hard done by, maybe it's time to move on

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Claude McIntosh

Just weeks after learning that Cornwall has one of the lowest household incomes in the province, some city councillors are whining about not being compensated enough by taxpayers.

City councillors receive a stipend of about $15,000 a year with one-third of that untaxed. That gives them about what a single senior citizen relying only on Old Age Security and Canada Penson Plan, and there are many in this community, is expected to live on. And, it might surprise some councillors that there are people in the private sector who haven't received a pay increase in a couple of years, if not longer. They're just happy to have a job.

The difference of course, is that none of the 10 councillors and mayor, rely on the stipend to pay the rent, the heat and put food on the table. In fact, it is not outlandish to suggest that for all members of council, that $15,000 (and perks) is chump change. Ditto for the $52,900 base pay for the mayor.

Looking around the council table, I would suggest that the household income of most, if not all, council members is well above the city's average of $43,231. In some cases, it is at least double that figure.

So, there are no hardship cases. Nobody will see any of them parked at Pitt and Second with a tin cup.

In fact, in a few months the same councillors who feel hard done by will be spending money to keep their jobs, regardless of what the job pays. The idea that higher renumeration would help attract better councillors is bogus, especially when the people who are espousing the theory are current council members who want to keep their seats. There is no evidence that more money attracts better politicians, at any level.

It was interesting to hear some remind taxpayers that they are well worth the $15,000 they receive and that they work hard for their money. Of course. But so does the single breadwinner who is working at two minimum wage jobs while trying to raise three kids. Or the senior who has returned to the work force to pay the rent. In most cases, they don't have a choice. It's a matter of survival. That isn't the case with city councillors. I would like to believe that they do it because they like it and want to contribut to the community, and monetary compensation is at the bottom of the list.

To reinforce their bid for more money, a consultant will be hired, at a cost of $10,000, to try and come up with what Cornwall city councillors should be paid. It will be the old case of giving the people who pay you what they want to hear.

A simple solution would be for the mayor's salary and city council stipend to be given the same increase old age pensioners receive each January. This year, that would be about $9 a month.

Can't live on that? Don't ask for the job.

ROUND'N'BOUT Renee Fleming, who sang the national anthem at Sunday's Super Bowl game, is a 1981 graduate of the state university in Potsdam, N.Y., about 30 miles south of Cornwall. She is a four-time Grammy winner. ... Some of the language used around the council table this week vis-a-vis property tax bills for some of the city's biggest employers (and biggest taxpayers) was totally irresponsible, if not downright moronic and reeks of gunboat diplomacy. If the businesses believe they are being overcharged, why wouldn't they appeal? Homeowners do it all the time.

THIS & THAT Why do city councillor grab the best parking spots smack in front of city hall? Leave those spots for the regular folks. And, while we're on it, why do city councillors get free parking anywhere, anytime? ... The biggest political football in play during budget deliberations is wrapped up in the thousands of tax dollars made available to non-profit groups with councillors playing kingmakers. Hard to believe that some councillors aren't counting votes when deciding who gets or doesn't get on the gravy train.

HERE & THERE Next time Preem Kathy comes to the riding, probably in an anticipated spring election, why not take her and the local candidate out to meet hard-pressed folks, those trying to pay their skyrocketing hydro bills, and now suffocating propane heating bills, on modest incomes or paltry pensions. ... Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has been one of the biggest duds in recent federal government cabinet history. The Conservative Party had great expectations for the former Toronto police chief and OPP commissioner but soon found out his political skills were pretty dull. ...

SPORTS STUFF Some memorable quotes from a sports writer's journey: The time Royals' coach Floyd Crawford told super scout Gord Wood that he wanted Ray Sheppard traded because the all-star forward wouldn't backcheck. Shifting his familiar fedora back on his head, Woodsie bellowed, "Trade him, are you (censored) nuts. All he's going to do is score 50 goals." Wood was wrong. Sheppard finished the season with 81 goals and was named the OHL's most valuable player. ... When I asked Barry MacKenzie, the former national hockey team player who coached Notre Dame Hounds to the 1980 national midget championship in Cornwall, if the small private Catholic school, founded by the legendary Father Athol Murray, gave him a big advantage in recruiting players from across Canada, he fired back, "Have you ever ever been to Wilcox (Saskatchewan) in February?"

TRIVIA ANSWER At one minute after midnight on Jan. 1, 1945 Cornwall became (officially) a city. The population of Ontario's newest city was 15,118. This was when Cornwall was one square mile (Cumberland to Marlborough/Water to Ninth).

TRIVIA On Oct. 16, 1968 this became Cornwall's first enclosed shopping centre.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR The outdoor skating/hockey rinks on the Courtaulds property, complete with lights. In the summer the rinks were replaced by four softball diamonds, a soccer pitch and a horse-shoe pitch. ... The annual ice harvest on Cornwall canal. The blocks were stored in warehouses, one at Augustus and Water streets, by the ice companies and delivered year-round to homes with ice boxes that folks over 65 might remember. Refrigerators, black-and-white television sets and dial telephones were the major changes in households during the 1950s. ... Before clothes dryers, everybody used an environmentally friendly clothes line, even in the winter. Monday was wash day; Thursday was grocery day. ... The Beatty wringer washer and wash boards. ... Starched shirt collars.

FACT VS FICTION For the record I have never written a speech for the mayor or any other politician.



Organizations: Veterans Affairs, Conservative Party, Catholic school

Geographic location: Cornwall, Potsdam, N.Y., Toronto Notre Dame Canada Saskatchewan Ontario Marlborough

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Recent comments

  • Gerry Samson
    February 11, 2014 - 18:02

    The four councillors that voted against this motion were Councillors Samson, Dupelle, Clement. Thibeault!