Will the Mayor and our 8 city Councillors have the discipline to stand by their principles and convictions of fiscal conservatism? I hope so.
We have all suffered and we feel their pain. We all know of someone who has lost a job, shown up at their workplace to find it padlocked, had hours cut, pay roll backed, gone bankrupt, had medical expenses go skyrocketing, seniors boarding up rooms to save on extreme heating costs, had their vehicles repossessed, homes foreclosed, forced to go to food banks, forced to take on a second or third job to feed children, forced into early retirement, or just lost their life savings.
City council has talked about declining resources and rising costs for increasing taxes, franchise fees, bus fares, recreational fees, and other services even if you lost your job, seen hours cut, your rent increased, and had your car repossessed.
The Mayor and Councillors have all seen or heard these tales and have used them to cut spending and services for the good people of Red Deer.
On Monday November 26, 2018 they will be given the chance to prove their mettle, show their disciplined convictions to fiscal conservatism and not vote them selves a raise to cover the end of a tax subsidy, only they and not the average citizen enjoyed for years.
Unlike many of us who lose jobs, income, or bonuses suddenly and unexpectedly, they saw it coming.
Will the Mayor and our 8 city councillors suffer a perceived salary cut? Every business owner, tradesman and even the Alberta Government employees saw roll backs, cuts and decreased profits. Didn’t former Conservative Premier Ralph Klein roll back all government employees pay by 5% and kept frozen for years afterwards?
I say perceived because they are not actually seeing a salary cut but an equalization of taxes, compared to non-politicians. They had the benefit of a 1/3 tax free earnings subsidy which ceases to exist on January 1 2019.
The subsidy was granted to offset personal expenses peculiar to the role of being a politician. Politicians were also given expense accounts to cover the costs of these same personal expenses so the benefit was rather redundant. Some would call this unintentional double-dipping.
Being human they became accustomed to having the extra funds, forgetting the reason for them.
Now they are like the rest of society and facing a possible net pay decrease. So the question is; “If they do not vote themselves a raise, who will stay and who will go?”
October 2017 there were 2 candidates for mayor and 29 candidates for city council, how many of them ran for the pay cheque and how many would have withdrawn their nomination papers if they knew that the 1/3 exemption would end in 2019?
I do not believe any one would have withdrawn from the campaign and I do not think our mayor or any of our councillors will resign due to this hardship. Do you?
On November 26, 2018 will the Mayor and Councillors have the discipline and convictions to stand by their fiscal conservative oratories or will they just stick their hands back in the public trough for more money to sustain their rather nice life style? I hope not. Just saying.
The 5 Stages to an Alberta Party Election Loss
The Alberta Party managed to attain 5x more votes than they did in 2015. Yet were the biggest losers of the 2019 election cycle. To be honest I believe we would have been well served to have the AB Party win a couple seats in the legislature. However, that is certainly not how things went down on April 16th. They gained 5x the votes and lost all three of their seats.
I have seen some curious behaviour from former Alberta Party candidates as of late and it got me to thinking: ‘What is the AB Party (both party and individual candidates) going through right now?’ Lets explore what I believe to be happening and where I think they need to go to turn (what is now a fringe party) into the opposition.
5 Stages of the Alberta Party Loss
As mentioned The AB Party went into the election holding 3 seats, hoping to build upon their party growth. What they attained was actually pretty incredible. They recieved over 5x the amount of votes they had in 2015. From 33,867 to 170,872. The response to attaining 0 seats was not surprising and was somewhat humble In my opinion. Mandel cited being proud of the AB Party brand and, frankly, they should be. However, he was wrong for blaming polarization as the reason for the loss. You cannot simultaneously gain 5x the votes and blame polarization. The one thing missing here is that there has been no recognition that their platform was extremely weak. They continue to be in denial that their ideas were not inspiring, their vision was lacking, and their boldness was not focussed on any areas of importance. The AB Party is currently in denial. I do, however, think they are moving past this. Slowly but surely.
Although we have not seen a direct example of anger from the Party we have started seeing some pretty broad examples of anger throughout the AB Party team/former candidates. I have seen individual candidates who have generally touted themselves as the calm and collected type start to lash out. I have seen insults directed towards conservatives and towards anyone who disagrees with them in general. It is clear that after a couple weeks individuals are starting to feel angry. This is to be expected it is, after all, a human trait. It is now a month after the election. Candidates who worked so hard for so long are realizing what the election cost them both financially, and emotionally. They find it freeing not to be under the “do no harm” mantra of the party system anymore and are beginning to say how they really feel. This is where the rubber really hits the road. The AB party was supposed to be different, made up of candidates who respond with thoughtfulness and consideration. The blinders are being pulled off and we are finding out that the AB party is just another party. They are no different than anyone else. They have their spin, they have their ideology, and ultimately they were fooling themselves into thinking they were different. Perhaps this is an opportunity for their candidates to prove me wrong and pull back on some of the over the top anger and remember that anger is in general, just not worth it.
We have seen a very very clear example of bargaining this week. The AB Party refuses to accept the fact that they are no longer in the Legislature. They have asked for money from they LAO with the intent of being a quasi opposition without a seat in the legislature. They want the funding to do the research while they no longer represent anyone. This is just part of the steps of grief that the AB Party is facing. They are trying to hold on to what once was but no longer is.
I don’t think the AB party is here yet. Depression in the party sense is devastating. We are going to see growing disinterest from individuals who gave so much before the election. We are going to see folks question ‘What is the point?’. They are going to question the AB party principles, they are going to ask themselves if they should just try to change the NDP or UCP from within. There will be some individuals who pull back and you won’t hear from them again. This is the stage that the Party’s head brass need to address head on. They need to quickly work on inspiring individuals and they need to come up with a plan to allow individuals the time to “shut-off” after a tough election while ensuring they don’t lose touch. If the depression symptom spirals out of control their party will die. On an individual sense, and with sincerity, I do ask anyone who finds themselves getting into this stage to take the time to reflect on the greater good in life. Please seek help if you need to. Depression is nothing to joke about and, yes, an election loss is a legitimate reason for someone to become depressed.
I do hope the AB party is able to move to acceptance quickly. Let’s look at a few things that the AB party needs to accept.
1. They ran a terrible platform – Yes, there were things in their platform that were amenable. However, it was choppy there was no consistency. It focussed on things that Albertans didn’t care enough about. They were bold in all the wrong areas.
2. The AB party made a mistake kicking out Greg Clarke as leader – There was no opposition MLA that I liked more than Greg. Make no mistake, (while Greg may not admit it himself) Greg’s demotion was a result of a coup from old PC members who didn’t like Jason Kenney. They were quick to join the AB party and place their own person in the position of leadership. Stephen Mandel may have carried the party to 5x more votes but there is no doubt it was on the kindness and likability of former MLA Greg Clarke.
3. They cannot blame polarization for their loss – If they knew that the election was going to be a polarizing one they were perfectly positioned to create themselves as the opposing pole. Instead they positioned themselves as an outlier. The election was polarizing, yes. However, as I already said, they cannot simultaneously blame polarization while championing 5x more votes.
4. They are not different than other parties. – Trying to run a party as though Ideology doesn’t exist is a fools errand. The thought that they are going to do politics differently and its all going to turn out does not come from humility but rather just a vain attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Trudeau is a perfect example of the AB party narrative. He was going to do politics differently too. The AB party just isn’t different from other parties and the idea that they think they are is actually quite frightening.
5. They need to stop talking, and start working – The AB party is doing themselves no favours by silly maneuvers such as asking for money from the LAO. They need to stop this nonsense and come to grips with the fact that they are now no different than the FCP, the AAP, and the AIP. They should look at the votes they attained as an opportunity to fundraise, not as a passage to being taxpayer funded.
In Conclusion: There is a lot of room for the Alberta party to grow and become the official opposition in 2023. However, this will never happen if they get stuck where they are. They need to move beyond the Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression stages and start to accept their failures so they can embrace the reasons for their incredible success at achieving 5x more votes than they did in 2015.
City Hall, Big decisions, projects, city manager replacement @ Glacial Speed
March 2018, City Manager Craig Curtis announced his planned retirement for July 31, 2018, He stayed under separate contract til March 2019 and it cost the city around $400,000 and then putting in 2 temporary city managers before a new city manager could be in place. 14 months to replace a city manager?
March 2017, the federal government announces the end of a 1/3 tax free subsidy for politicians slated for December 31` 2018. Council addressed that issue by giving themselves a double digit raise in the eleventh hour, November 2018 and it cost the city taxpayers dearly. To be fair Councillor Wyntjes, Councillor Handley, Councillor Higham and Councillor Dawe did vote against these pay increases.
The first thought would be how those at the top of the food chain down at city hall are well compensated, especially in these difficult times.
The second thought is how everything moves at a glacial pace down at city hall.
Besides these 2 issues look at issues like the Riverlands, look at the north of 11A development, look at the proposed aquatic centre for examples to remind us of extreme lengthy decision making.
What is it about city hall that sees it move at glacial speed then expensive decisions in the eleventh hour? Is it fear, natural procrastination, lack of vision or living in a bubble?
Would this contribute to our increased taxes and lack of growth? Just asking.
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