$41 Million Of Watson Mismanagement



The fallout has begun on Mayor Jim Watson’s arbitrary budget targets that are not based on city need but on him looking good at election time.

Accordingly the city budget deficit is heading toward a whopping $41 million by the end of 2015.

And why is that?

Let’s let College Councillor Rick Chiarelli say it best:

“The amount we had foregone by not keeping taxes to our committed level and instead being hero for a day and bringing them in at slightly lower … that difference is pretty much equal to what the deficit is.”

Well gee whiz.

Who would have thought Your Worship that by bringing in the budget at below the targetted two per cent for political purposes that the city would run short by $41 million?

The prime directive at Ottawa City Hall is that whatever is going to be good for Watson and the development community is how an issue will be resolved. In this case, not only did Watson hold the tax increase to an arbitrary two per cent based on political expediency and not need, the mayor undershot that target to look like a hero.

Then strangely the man who can attend every bake sale in town, open a community garden during a disconcerting taxi job action and find time for 56,000 tweets was unavailable for comment on Thursday to address an issue of $41 million. Instead, he issued a written piece of pablum from his communications people that didn’t push the issue forward. Of course, Watson just hopes question goes away as it will over time.

Had it been a $41-million surplus, we expect Watson would discover a moment or two for a grip-and-grin photo op that would run prominently in the media. Hide during bad news but be up-front with good news. Now that’s leadership.

If one were to conclude generously on the deficit, one would argue that the shortfall is because of Watson’s political expediency … undershoot his already arbitrary low tax-increase figure to show he is being diligent on watching our tax money.

The ungenerous conclusion is that the administration of Ottawa City Hall is absolutely lost. That the city does not collect enough taxes to pay for adequate services (Could this be the reason the beach season was cut too weeks early? No money?) That it builds billions of dollars of light rail where nobody lives then tunnels it under a park. That it can’t build bridges well or on time.  Incredibly, it has not conducted ridership studies (a basic part of a transit project) on $5.1 billion of light rail lines. We could go on.

The latter appears to be operative.

Now the city is $41 million short due to the perpetual Watson re-election campaign mostly covered by the taxpayers’ dime. Look like a hero on the budget but leave the administration in a shambles. Get out there to press the flesh while the budget burns.

Ottawa has a mayor who is predicated on public relations and not on administration. Now that lack of administration has come back to bite us all on the posterior.

Watson must, if he is capable, tighten up the administration of this municipality.

If he can’t, he should leave the position.

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