January 20th, 2018

Voters actually change little at city hall

By Letter to the Editor on October 11, 2017.

Vince Kovacs’ Sept. 30, letter, “Time for change on city council,” speaks of high taxes residents pay, less-fortunate children in school with empty tummies, seniors unable to pay taxes – pills, food bank use increasing rapidly annually, et al, and city administration “patting itself on the back” for a job well done.

All valid points, but rest assured, taxpayers, your city manager is not suffering – he is right at the top of highest-paid city managers in the country, most by a significant margin regardless of population served. According to the city’s 2016 Annual Report, as of Dec. 31, 2016, the city manager of Lethbridge drew a salary of $311,000 plus benefits and allowances totalling $50,000 for a grandiose total of $361,000 (an increase of $11,000 over 2015). Do the arithmetic and observe an outrageous cheque one person draws monthly on the public nickel.

Adding to the travesty is that very few taxpayers in our fair city know the name of this person, what elected council OK’d the lavish wage, or names and salaries of multitudes junior to him secure in their cubbyholes who actually run this city. Taxpayers have long been fooled into thinking their vote counts – your “elected” council and selected mayor run the city – they don’t. Think about it!

On Oct. 16 your vote will not change much except a seat or two on council. Not much you do on that day will change anything the city manager and his administration has planned. Just as your voice and your opinion matter not much as you struggle with a horribly undemocratic agenda review committee vetting your words prior to your presentation in council chambers.

It’s all part of a tragic set of circumstances residents have been fooled into thinking they control by their vote every four years! On Oct. 17, residents will not have influenced much – we voted, sure – but we changed very little going on behind the big doors at city hall!

Alvin W. Shier


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11 Responses to “Voters actually change little at city hall”

  1. prairiebreze says:

    We pay Garth Sherwin obscene amounts of money yet he’s got us in massive financial trouble!! Will he be accountable to tax payers when they find their property taxes so high that it leaves them financially stressed- maybe even losing their homes? Not a chance. He’ll be off in the sunset not giving 2 hoots about the financial mess he’s left us in. What it shows is that its not the amount you pay a person that matters – its the integrity of the person and in this case I feel its solely lacking.

  2. Fedup Conservative says:

    Once again we see Albertans whining about their property taxes after they allowed the Alberta Conservative Party to give away billions in royalties and tax breaks to their rich friends , putting the province in financial ruin. I wonder how many of them supported Klein, Stelmach and Redford, allowing it to happen.

    I wonder why Norway and Alaska are so rich and we aren’t, or why Alaskans have some 70 Billion in their savings account, pay no state taxes, property taxes are next to nothing and every man, woman, and child has received some $42,000. in total annual oil dividends since 1982, and why Norway , with only a million more people than Alberta have over a Trillion in their saving account , pay nothing for schooling, and health care?

    Maybe these whiners should educate themselves about what they allowed happen in Alberta, with their blind support of a government that didn’t give a damn about their well being and they were too dumb to understand what they were doing to us.

    • George McCrea says:

      Oh be quiet Allan. I hope you will direct your rath to the current NDP government who did a 9 months review of royalties and changed nothing. Your friends in Edmonton and Ottawa have seen 56 billion in investment leave the country. Direct your rant there, it’s 2017!!!

  3. manby says:

    Fed up….sometimes you make me fed up!
    Why do you have to always bring most things local to your same cry? Then your last paragraph is quite insensitive! The past is past, this cannot change! The question becomes, how can we now change ? Scolding does nothing.
    Honestly because we now have a different party leading our Province, many people did educate themselves,yet you continue to whine about the past.
    I would rather see you put your educated mind, and present ideas of how to go forward, rather than keep looking backwards, which can’t be changed.
    Up for the challenge?

  4. meisplayfull2 says:

    Did you notice that Garth picked Jan 3 2018 as his last day. Nothing legally wrong but done this way to squeeze every last stat pay day from the tax payers. At $311,000 divided by 260 work days a year, this is a nice way to start retirement.

  5. biff says:

    well stated letter – council plays too little a role in our city affairs, other than the big role of legitimising admin’s priorities. they are kind of like the trained seals of the harper gov’t, or, for that matter, the trained seals that do as they are told within any party in this country. the party system needs to be supplanted by a system of independents that are free to represent their riding, and their values. here in lethbridge, we have an admin that runs the city, while council is basically comprised of people looking for an easy add on to their income every year – and worse: people that are using their position to further personal financial interests. consequently, the best thing we can do is stay home and not legitimise the present system with our “x”, the time honoured signature of the illierate. while this may be spun as apathy, it is in fact most about not supporting a broken, even corrupt, process and system.

  6. snowman says:

    the final approval on salary is city council on managerial and employees
    look to them for blame.The City council is required to do a yearly evaluation
    on the City Manager they determine the outcome of salary bonus’s etc.
    The question should be in 2008 Mr. Sherwin became City Manager in in 2009
    City Council approved a new Hierachy The Director of City Managers office
    two titles two hefty salaries. Moving the former Director of Human Resources
    and later Director of Community Services to new Director of City Manager
    office.The City council of the day approved positions and salaries.
    The question then was why do we need a Director of City Manager office
    and when new City Manager is hired will this secondary position be
    removed by council as not needed? can you answer that?

  7. Fedup Conservative says:

    I fully agree with manby also but why are our councilors footing the blame every time we turn around when they are trying to do their very best with very little to work with, while we allowed the conservatives to put us in this financial mess? I support the councilors who were brave enough to take on these jobs, while they are attacked constantly, by fools who aren’t man enough to take on these job. I wouldn’t take them on either, but I don’t bad mouth the councilors who do, I know why their jobs are so difficult and why we don’t have the money to make it easier for them. If they did everything the people want them to do, your property tax would triple.

    • biff says:

      the way i see it, the issue with councilors, fed up, is the okaying of far too many unnecessary spending projects, and all the while the infrastructure we presently have is neglected.

  8. Montreal13 says:

    Totally correct ,Mr. Shier. Do you think they care about apathy? The mayor might ,if he sees : Spearman 6000 votes and 2-3 councilors with 10,000,8000 and 7000 respectively. Although after they are elected each vote has equal weight.
    Because Mr. Shier is soo correct ,is exactly why you need to vote. Some on council will spin the apathy into approval. The people approve ,didn’t want change so they didn’t see the point in bothering, kind of rubbish. ” I guess they approve because they are not complaining,we are not hearing from them with their votes”.
    We have one councilor, Parker who has been on council for 19 years. His wife works at city hall as well.
    As the saying goes ,if you are not part of the solution, maybe you are part of the problem? You have to be a part of something to help change it. Although,too many people blindly vote back in incumbents. And those who go to their church or their kid goes to school with the candidate’s kids etc. If they actually followed some council meetings and councilor’s votes, you would be able to see thru some of their campaign garbage. Some will say anything because they know most voters can be sold anything. That said there is acouple of incumbents with backbone. Very, very few of the newbies have any idea of how things really go down at city hall. It is not because a mayor and council can’t change anything. It’s because not enough of them want to. Why change the system that is working for them: VIP passes, 20 hour weeks,benefits etc.? Don’t think that a councilor or mayor being out on the street hugging babies is taking care of the main business. We can hire any clown to do that.
    People are dropping out because they are tired of the same old,same old. Let them know you don’t buy their crap by voting in at least a very few people that know the municipal government act and have some idea about what a real councilor’s job even is.
    Or should we just save alot of time ,money and drama by getting rid of mayors and councilors? Have a city ombudsman and independent financial overseer that polices city admin? The point about do we even need councilors at all ,let alone “real” ones ,is coming up alot. Are they over rated and expensive? You wonder if most people feel that way? With barely a 25% voter turnout, some kind of wonder about that.
    A citizen’s assembly not long ago decided that we did not need full time councilors. They didn’t want to ok full time.Especially if mostly all taxpayers are going to get is more babyhuggers,instead of them hitting the books and doing research about what they are suppose to be doing and knowing. If there was more accountability those real councilors hopefully would get the recognition they reserve. Full time , a ward system is no guarantee of any better quality of service. There may be some more accountability in a ward system. But the taxpayers are still stuck with that councilor for 4 years.
    The agenda review committee is the group of people , who set up the resolutions , items, requests etc. and their order to be presented to council on Monday afternoons in council chambers. A staff member, the mayor and a rotating councilor put their heads together and work this out. In a democracy the theory goes, you have a right to make a presentation to your elected representatives. While all the meatheads in Lethbridge are busy tweeting about Donald Trump sometimes it appears these “gatekeepers” try to control what and who gets an audience with the kings and queens in council chambers . Perhaps, they wouldn’t want to be embarrassed or troubled with differing opinions,it seems. Plus once a committee lets them thru the gate they can’t be blocked like on social media.

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