This is not a release from the City of Ottawa (though we wish it were):
Mayor Jim Watson will personally reimburse taxpayers for $1 million for the late light-rail project because of what he says are his own mistakes and guilt.
“I have lots of money … more than I need. This million bucks will be put to good use.
“Yes I said light rail would be on-time and on-budget though I knew it was neither,” the mayor said. “And yes I didn’t release during the budget debate news that the LRT was late, though I knew that long before the budget, and that the delay would have a profound effect on city finances.
“Furthermore we told people that the LRT costs were capped and that if the May 24 deadline was missed, the city would receive $1 million. In fact that wasn’t the case. Thus my donation.”
But the mayor said the reasons for the $1-million donation go further than the light-rail project.
“I’ve worked my almost my entire life in the public sector: first as a parliamentary assistant, then as a councillor, then mayor of Ottawa, then two Ontario cabinet portfolios and once again, mayor of Ottawa.
“During this period I have enjoyed generous salaries at public and others’ expense and such perks as chauffeur-driven limos, trips to China and Portland, rubber-chicken dinners, Timbits, brownies and food galore. Why recently I received a free lemon-meringue pie.
“I have lived well off the taxes of the people of Canada, Ontario and Ottawa. And because I have so few expenses, I have become very wealthy. Accordingly, I thought it was time to donate the $1 million because of the terrible mistakes and the way I misled the public on LRT lateness and other issues. Also I neglected to apologize for saying stupidly that: Would Ottawans rather have $1 million or LRT.
“I would also like to apologize for John Manconi.”
The mayor added that he has been inspired by the actions of others to make the donation.
“I’ve seen anonymous donors give millions of dollars to the Ottawa Public Library and generous corporate heads and employees contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to my various election campaigns. The least I could do I was donate a million dollars for the fine we told the public city coffers would receive if the light-rail project were late.
“Well, it’s late and here is my money. It’s the least I could do. I have more money than I need.”
“I have had no reason other than my own self-interest in telling the public LRT was on-time and on-budget. The hard-working people of this community need to know that their mayor cares and I want to thank the public for its votes as well as campaign and my salary dollars in years past.”
Watson said he did not know personally how difficult it is to make money in the private sector.
“I can only imagine but I realize now that people such as seniors must pay increasing property taxes on the homes they love as well as high electricity bills and skyrocketing water rates. The least I can do is donate $1 million of my earnings over my decades in the public sector to make up for the untrue utterance that LRT would be on-time and on-budget.”
“Ottawans have stepped up for me my entire life. Now it is time for me to step up for them.
“It is with great joy that I donate this million dollars. I’m sorry for what I have done.”
Watson has asked city staff that the money be used to fix the hideous number of potholes in the community and to help fund the civic charity, Save The Flying Pelvis.
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