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Ward 11 - Jeromy Farkas

Ask Jeromy Feb. 2020 Questions

Ask Jeromy
What Jeromy likes the most about serving on council is hearing from citizens. Below are the top five questions/themes/topics we heard from you during the month of February.
 
While Jeromy does his best to answer each constituent question individually, below are what we thought you wanted answers on the most.
 
Where do you stand on the expense scandal regarding Councillor Magliocca?
I have heard from many of you regarding the recent situation and like you, I am disappointed in what I have heard to date. I am in support of an independent investigation. I want you to understand this is not because I condone any frivolous spending of taxpayer dollar, but because I believe in due process and fairness. I also believe this must be impartial and independent, and that is why I cannot support Mayor and Council acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Rather than isolate one Councillor, I called for all my colleagues to come together and act swiftly in an effort to restore public trust. This is why I introduced a motion, co-sponsored by Coun. Sean Chu, to have all of Council, including the Mayor, audited.
We are moving forward with a forensic audit of Coun. Magliocca’s expenses under the supervision of the City Auditor, who will also be taking a high-level look at the expenses of all of Council and creating a centralized disclosure of all expenses. While this is not the deep dive into all of our spending that Coun. Chu and I originally proposed, I am glad that the City Auditor will be reviewing Council’s expenses should there be other red flags.
 
How are you advocating for council conference spending restrictions?
Last month, I brought forward a notice of motion to restrict spending at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference. This motion was also co-sponsored by Chu.
The motion sought to limit the number of representatives who could attend each year, place a spending cap on each representative who went, require a public presentation on what was learned at the conference upon return and prohibit any expensing of alcohol.
Here is the outcome:
FAILED: Require councillors to present publicly on what they learned (there is currently no enforced accountability requirement).
FAILED: Cap number of councillors who can attend conference (City budgets for all 15 to attend).
FAILED: Disallow new bookings for this year.
PASSED: Ban expensing of alcohol.
PASSED: Cap expenses per Councillor at $3,000 (Council amended this limit to be higher, my original number was $2800).
PASSED: Disclose conference related expenses.
I am grateful that we were able to make some steps forward, but I remain confident that with technology and innovation there is no need for an unrestricted number of members to attend the annual FCM conference, instead of taking part in some of the continued learning virtually.
 
Do you support the Guidebook for Great Communities?
No.
The Guidebook for Great Communities has been one of the most far-reaching topics of interest in Ward 11 and beyond over the last several weeks.
This document, which is looking to become the guiding statutory document for how our communities develop in the future, has resulted in many meetings with our Community Associations (CAs) and it has been a hot topic at our monthly Town Halls.
At this time, I remain concerned with the ambiguity of the language in the Guidebook and its focus on driving density without community support, or the needed infrastructure in place to support it. Other concerns specific to Ward 11, such as heritage preservation, flood concerns, and restrictive covenants remain inadequately addressed.
At the March 4 Planning and Urban Development Committee meeting I attempted to place amendments to address these community concerns, but these ultimately failed by a vote of 4-2.
I will continue to meet with community volunteers on this issue and I encourage you to reach out to your CA, as well. If you would like to speak on the Guidebook, your opportunity to do so will be at the public hearing in Council Chambers on April 27 th, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
 
What became of your motion to track council’s meeting attendance?
Council voted 5-4 against allowing debate on my move to track council meeting attendance.
The City Clerk said this would require ‘months of manual verification’ and a cost of ‘around $20,000’ in staff time to accomplish the task of accounting for meeting attendance since the beginning of this term. I was advised it would also ‘derail existing work’ that the Clerk’s office is doing on electronic voting, which they aim to complete and implement by September of this year.
This information has been independently compiled by Common Sense Calgary in a matter of days, demonstrating that the time and cost statements were overblown.
 
What are your thoughts on the Ward Boundary review?
Wikipedia definition of ‘Gerrymandering’: “a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries.”
Council is quietly gearing up to decide new ward boundaries itself, instead of employing the standard practice of an independent, arms-length citizen committee. I strongly feel that this is a conflict of interest and affront to democracy.
You have until March 19 to send in your say to wardboundaries@calgary.ca . I would appreciate it if you would also send your thoughts in to my office at ward11@calgary.ca .
Click HERE to check out Scenarios A and B proposed by the City’s Engage team and submit your input online.
 
 



This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.
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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.