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Doing the right thing once you get caught, doesn't make it right
Cameron Stolz did what a lot of business people do when they are faced with tough economic times.
He made a choice of which creditors to pay first and which to put off to another day. Businesses, even highly profitable ones, often choose to let accounts payable reach 90 days or more before paying the bills.
The choice Stolz made was to put off paying his property taxes. He waited until the city was about to put his property up in a tax sale before paying his taxes.
If Stolz was simply Joe Businessman juggling payables in order to stay afloat, it wouldn’t be a story.
But Stolz isn’t an Ordinary Joe … he’s a second-term city councillor who, to top it off, chaired the finance and audit committee.
He’s been the guy leading the charge to squeeze extra dollars out of every citizen in Prince George in order for the city to balance its books. Remember pay parking?
There is a certain irony in the city’s finance committee chair not paying his property taxes.
And just for the record, this is more than waiting 90 days before paying your bill … you have to be in arrears for a considerable amount of time before the city prepares to seize your property.
Stolz was in arrears in his taxes for most, if not all, of his time as finance and audit committee chair.
While there is irony in that, there is hypocrisy in Stolz leading the charge to get more money out of taxpayers while he was delinquent in his taxes.
When I talked to Stolz about this issue he apologized, but is, in my opinion, unrepentant.
In his mind, letting your taxes lapse for a few years is a legitimate course of action.
He doesn’t feel that he did anything wrong.
He was in a tough situation and he did what he had to do.
He just doesn’t get it.
As a city councillor he is entrusted with the job of setting the policies, bylaws, rules, and regulations that govern all citizens. City councillors have to lead by example and make sure that they abide by the rules they set out for everyone else. To not do so is where the hypocrisy comes in.
The other sour pill in this melodrama is the fact that Stolz has stepped down from the finance and audit committee now. He was clear that he is stepping down because of concerns raised over the issue.
When I asked him why he didn’t step down two years ago when he was first in non-payment of his taxes, which if it’s appropriate to step down now it was certainly appropriate to step down then, he didn’t have an answer.
According to 250 News, who get full credit for breaking this story, Stolz informed Mayor Shari Green he would be stepping down September 12. The story broke on 250 News shortly thereafter.
Could it be that, like a lot of politicians, Stolz did the honourable thing and stepped down … after he knew it would become public?
One of my favourite lines is a definition of integrity: Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.