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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yes, I do believe hell has frozen over

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Leave Name of Paper Withheld alone. They're actually doing their jobs for once.

You might want to bookmark this post, because it's a bit unusual. You see, I'm about to defend Name of Paper Withheld. This doesn't happen often.

The paper has taken some criticism for pointing out that one of our city councilors is -- how shall I put it? -- ridiculous. Now, I'm glad that people feel free to criticise the paper, because that's part of democracy, but in this case I think the paper's in the right.

Councilor Kevin Kennedy and I tend to be on the opposite ends of the political scale. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for sustainable living. I personally wouldn't have voted for Mr. Kennedy or half of the yahoos on city council, but they were elected fairly and now represent me and all of my neighbours.

During the Association of Communities meeting a few months ago, Mr. Kennedy spent $2,859.66, more than any other city councilor. He vowed that when he travelled to Calgary for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting this summer, he would save money AND greenhouse-gas emissions. Yes, you are allowed to snicker.

At the time, I suggested to Steve that if Mr. Kennedy really wanted to save money and greenhouse-gas emissions, he could have stayed away from the meeting entirely. I still doubt that we really needed to send seven councilors to it. However, our elected leaders are not ready to make that kind of sacrifice in the name of saving money. Miss a meeting in a city with malls? It would be easier to just cut wages at the swimming pool!

Mr. Kennedy announced that he would take the bus and stay in a hostel, saving tons of tax money. We later found out that he had no real plans for getting home, so he ended up hitchhiking back. Total cost: $600. Meanwhile, the other councilors bought plane tickets during a seat sale at a price of $450-500. Mr. Kennedy's total costs were $2,393.99. This was indeed less than the average cost of $2,438.

Name of Paper Withheld covered the story in what I thought was a pretty fair way, although I cannot vouch for its accuracy. However, some people were not amused. They felt it was mean to pick on a poor city councilor.

Sorry, but Mr. Kennedy is a public figure, and he set himself up for it. I do not like it when the newspaper picks on average Joes, but elected representatives need to be held accountable. Normally, I don't like it when expense statements are picked over, either, but considering all of the grand pronouncements about saving money and the planet, it was appropriate.

So write this down, because it might not happen again for a long time: Good job, Name of Paper Withheld. Your critics are wrong.