TRACKS AND SPEND
From Mexico City to Cornerbrook, N.L. to Harrison Hot Springs, your 2011 version of city council spent a bit of time and money on the road last year, according to the most recent annual report on council remuneration and expenses.
In fact, if you add it up, Mayor Gregor Robertson and his 10 councillors spent a combined $55,988.82 on travel and conferences in 2011, with Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal dropping the most coin at $11,544.05.
Deal's bill is fairly typical for a Vancouver city councillor who is also a delegate with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a member of two of the organization's committees. Former councillors Jim Green and George Puil, who were FCM directors, were their council's biggest spenders.
So where did Deal go?
Victoria, Cornerbrook, Halifax, Nelson, Ottawa, Harrison Hot Springs and Whistler, which hosted the Lower Mainland Local Government Association Conference last May, where Deal spent $803.93.
No surprise the FCM-related trips to Cornerbrook ($2,289.40) and Halifax ($2,804.53) were the most expensive. (Halifax was also the most embarrassing for Deal, who was the target of a public backlash by anti-poverty groups after she posted a picture on Twitter of the carnage left on a table after a lobster feast.)
Vision Coun. Raymond Louie attended the same East Coast conferences as the chairperson of three FCM committees. Louie's total tab for travel and conferences in 2011, which included $686.81 he spent at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver last September, was $10,793.19. Vision Coun. Tim Stevenson, also an FCM committee member, wracked up the third highest tab at $8,807.95.
The mayor's bill came in at $6,683.80, with more than half-$3,506.99- spent on the same trip to Halifax as Deal and others to attend the FCM conference and participate in the Big City Mayors' Caucus; Robertson is chairperson of the mayors' caucus.
Vision Coun. Kerry Jang was the most frugal council member, spending $544.36 for the UBCM conference in Vancouver and $187.56 he had to pay on a non-refundable hotel deposit in Halifax; he cancelled his trip for personal reasons.
David Cadman, whose COPE party ousted him in a nomination meeting before the 2011 civic election, travelled the furthest south of any council member. Cadman spent $521.03 to attend the International Association of Peace Messenger of Cities in Mexico City last May.
Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer travelled to one of the most interesting places on earth-New York City-last May for a Board of Trade "community affairs committee urban study trip" and spent $2,142.03.
The purpose of the trip was not to attend the Late Show with David Letterman or a New York Yankees ball game but to "examine green transportation and economic development initiatives in New York City as well as the Harlem Children's Zone, a recognized model of place-based early childhood care and learning," according to a council report about the trip.
I mentioned Jim Green near the top of this entry.
As city hall watchers are keenly aware, Green died in February of cancer.
Plans have been finalized for a public memorial April 14 at the Orpheum to honour the former city councillor and longtime advocate of improving life for low-income people in the Downtown Eastside.
The event runs from 1: 30 to 3: 30 p.m. Doors open at 12: 30. Attendees are asked to rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org. Condolences and memories may be sent to friendsofjimgreen@gmail. com. Those wishing to make a donation in Green's memory are asked to contribute to The Cultch-The Jim Green Fund, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver V5L 2H6.
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