Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kitchener Council Freeloaders - With CTV update

The politics of entitlement are alive and flourishing in Kitchener.

Thousands of Sir Elton John fans were shut out in the skirmish to snatch up tickets for his March 3 concert at the Kitchener Auditorium. The tickets sold out in less than an hour causing many fans to be literally left out in the cold after having lined up for hours in the freezing temperatures for the privilege of paying $137.25 each - had they actually made it to the ticket booth.

On the other hand, if you were privileged enough to belong to Kitchener City Council, you got yours FREE, with an option to buy extra tickets from a special reserve. (Record - Couldn't get a ticket to see Sir Elton?)

A similar ruckus developed in Sudbury, where city councillors were given a jump start on a batch of reserve tickets, but they actually paid for theirs.

Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr justifies the situation by pointing to standard Aud practice. The Record article quotes the Aud's general manager, Kim Kugler as stating that this is a routine matter - that councillors are always invited to Aud events and given free tickets:

"We always encourage them to come," Kugler said.

No complimentary tickets were made available from the promoter of the Elton John show.

So the Aud had to buy the tickets that were given to councillors. The Aud is a city-owned, tax-supported facility.

"In every community, there is a need to take care of some community sponsors and leaders," Kugler said.

I would respectfully submit that a Kitchener Rangers game is not quite on the same level as an Elton John concert, no matter how well our team is doing.

In any case, the double-whammy here for anyone who tried to get tickets and was shut out just before reaching that magic window, is that they will not only be missing the concert, but will be also subsidizing the City Council members' freebies through their taxes.

I guess that's why they call it the blues.


* * * *
Update: Jeff Allan covered this story this morning. I'm going to append some of the highlights over the course of the day.

Mayor Carl Zehr was interviewed and offered the following statement (plus or minus a few ums and ahs):
"...the attention that's being given to all of this, uh, I'm having a little ... er, difficulty in understanding it in terms of how it relates to the overall workings of the city."
(Translation: Don't bother me with these petty details)

We are making available tickets to those people who have business relationships with the Auditorium. I think that is fairy normal practice...
(Translation: I am entitled to my entitlements)


One caller said that the practice is corrupt, and that councillors should pay for their own tickets. There isn't enough money for important things like fixing the potholes and getting rid of ice-ruts that are ruining our cars.


* * * *

More from CTV where Carl Zehr was interviewed on Canada AM.

Starbursidereus - Free Elton for everyone!


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you found a way to blame this on McGuinty yet?

Steph said...

Very appropriate last line in that post. That made me chuckle, even despite my irritation with the situation.

It seems obvious to me that an event like that should be exempted from any policy that gives free tickets to city councillors. Both the cost and demand for these tickets should have made it a no-brainer that all tickets should have been made available to the freezing, paying public.

What a glaring conflict of interest it is that the city-owned Aud would give these tickets to the city council members.

Keep your eyes open for Carl Zehr outside the Aud on the evening of the concert scalping tickets.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Not to side-step your legitimate critique, but I also wonder about people waiting in line in the cold only to get to the window and have the tickets be sold out. They didn't have wristbands or something? That seems totally insane!?!?! Surely the Aud could have handled that better!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Keep your eyes open for Carl Zehr outside the Aud on the evening of the concert scalping tickets.

Keep your eyes open for Kitchener residents scalping Carl Zehr!

Bruce from Cambridge said...

just what would you expect in a toilet like Kitchener

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Care to elaborate on that thought, Bruce?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Have you found a way to blame this on McGuinty yet?

Still working on it.

Anonymous said...

TangoJuliette sez:

Hey Anon:

with Carl being a Liberal Supporter and possible replacement for Karen or Andy sometime soon, and most of the city council being more of the Lib-type entitlement wanksters, I'd say you'd be looking to hang greedy little fiasco this on Mike Harris, or Steve Harper, No?

But more than likely this is no more than a tempest in douche-bag, I'd say.

NOTE: I.M.H.O., Carl looked truly feeble on Canada AM. Hais sequivocating explanation certainly left a lot to be desired.

Carl, you and your council wanna know how your venue handles different presentations? Simple. Do a "tour" with the operators, during diferent events, but don't make the freezing fans in the line-ups in the snow look like patsies, by queue-jumping on ticket aquisitions. This frozen denizens are citizen-voter, chuckle-head.

tj

t.e.&o.e.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Not to side-step your legitimate critique, but I also wonder about people waiting in line in the cold only to get to the window and have the tickets be sold out.

LKO - That you agree with the outrage only proves how totally disconnected this mayor is with the real world.

As to the ticket policy, I'm not sure how that worked but I know for a fact that each venue had surprisingly few tickets to sell to the public. I hope to update the main post this afternoon with more information.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

: I.M.H.O., Carl looked truly feeble on Canada AM.

He sounded pretty desperate on Jeff Allen too, TJ.

starbursidereus said...

it's BS. Thanks for adding that update, I just finished my own little post about the "free tickets paid for by your Kitchener tax dollars".

Seriously, do people in Kitchener NEED to be encouraged to come out and have a good time? Seriously? This makes me mad.

-Lisa
http://starbursidereus.livejournal.com

Dave said...

Reminds me of a concert at Centre-Square a couple years ago ... I was there with my wife and daughter, and my daughter really loved the singer, and wanted to try and meet her and get a CD signed after the show.

So afterwards we went to the backstage door ... hoping they would let at least my daughter back there. The person 'guarding' the door made it clear there was NO WAY we would get a chance to meet her.

At that moment who comes marching down the hall, but our good Major ... Mr. Carl Zehr, followed by a rather large entourage of what I pressume were family and/or friends, The backstage door was quickly flung open, so he didn't even need to break stride.

I can only assume Mr. Zehr and his "helpers" were working that night and he was simply going backstage to check on how things were "being run" at this City funded venue?! ... and if you believe that, well I have this property in .... awe never mind.

Caveat said...

I think it must be a breach of ethics, if they have a code of ethics in Kitchener.

These people are public servants, not successful businessmen or community leaders. There must be some provision about accepting bribes/gifts/incentives from service providers - even if the City (which means the public) owns the facility.

If a developer gave free Elton John tickets to a councillor, it would be front page news.

Oink oink is really all I needed to say.

They should get nothing for free.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Great rant, Lisa! I hear your frustration. I'll set up a link to your blog on the main post here.

Anonymous said...

I wondered what would happen in Kitchener. Sudbury is still pissed over this. I read on National Newswatch on Sunday that the concert may be cancelled. You'd think that going by Sudbury's example they'd be more careful.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Caveat, on the Jeff Allan show this morning he was saying that he is planning to follow up with Revenue Canada and make sure these guys declare the tickets as taxable benefits.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I wondered what would happen in Kitchener. Sudbury is still pissed over this

And remember - those Sudbury city councillors actually paid for their tickets! The only 'perk' they got was a jump-start on the tickets ahead of the ordinary Joe-Shmoes.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

"LKO - That you agree with the outrage only proves how totally disconnected this mayor is with the real world."

That I agree???

You couldn't have thrown a smiley face there?!?! I'd at least like to know for sure that you're smiling when you express your shock that "even someone like me" would object to what appears to be a pretty clearly corrupt practice! ;-)

[and just to be clear... :-) :-) :-)]

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Also Joanne,

On a more serious note, let's not let the people running the Aud off the hook either. Surely the councilors should have refused such perks, but it's worth noting that they didn't request the tickets. This whole scheme was put together by the people running the Aud (a venue owned by the city). As the people running a taxpayer funded entity, the folks running the Aud (I'm looking at you Kim Kugler) ought to know better than to have used taxpayers' money to buy these councilors a free lunch.

Not to let Zehr et al off the hook of course, they never should have accepted this "gift". But the gift never should have been offered either, and those doing the offering have at least as much to explain, imho.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good point, LKO - On all fronts. ;)