Do you ever think, as you read, hear or watch various media reports, that politicians are increasingly making short-sighted decisions that carry with them an unintended (at least I hope it is unintended) consequence of undermining the basic fabric of our society?
Thoughts like that occurred to me when I became aware of provincial decisions to cut back on the employment of judges, Crown prosecutors and sheriffs to the extent that criminal cases are so delayed that persons charged are getting off scot-free simply because too much time has elapsed between a charge and a trial.
Similarly, I wonder about political decisions to defer adding hospital beds to a region such as the North Okanagan that is both growing and graying and expected to keep on doing so for the foreseeable future. It boggled my mind to learn that we now have, on a per capita basis, fewer hospital beds than we had several decades ago.
I’m sure you can come up with other examples where financial cutbacks have led to an erosion of the common good. My worry is that too many politicians are too focused on dollars and their venality is a whip that keeps them slaves to the party line.
They have lost sight of non-monetary values that are so essential to feed our souls and to maintain our quality of life; in fact, I worry that we have elected too many venal party hacks attracted by six figure salaries and much envied pension entitlements at the MP and MLA political levels. Even at the municipal level, remuneration is considerably more than we are led to believe.
Take the case of Vernon. A councillor is paid about $20,000 but one-third of that is tax free so that equates to about $25,000 for what is essentially a part-time job. On top of that, a Vernon councillor appointed to a Greater Vernon committee is entitled to between $10,000 and $15,000 more.
That was news to me; I thought serving on regional district boards was an intrinsic part of a Vernon councillor’s job but, nope, they get to double dip.
I mention these numbers so public spirited individuals who thought they couldn’t afford to run for council maybe have some second thoughts. Given all the bickering amongst our local politicians it seems obvious our North Okanagan political gene pool needs revitalizing so I hope to see significant changes after the November elections.
A particular area of local concern is our ongoing water woes. We taxpayers are on the hook for $29 million for a water works that continues to issue boil water advisories because it cannot get the water sufficiently clean to meet mandated drinking water standards. So Interior Health is demanding that taxpayers cough up another $20 million to filter the water to enhance its clarity.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. That is inevitable when your water gurus decide to turn the former Grey Canal water source built for agricultural irrigation into a drinking water source.
We need people to run for local office who use what’s between their ears for something other than rubber stamping staff demands for ill conceived pet projects that soak up mega tax dollars without actually doing what needs doing.
Ideally, we will elect people who demand results and are not afraid to use a few F words such as, “Act frugally,” “Don’t fiddle the facts,” “Find a better way” and “You’re fired.”