Reporters Terry Pender and Frances Barrick ask the front-page question, What else is going on?
...Yesterday, the phone lines lit up on local radio talk shows. Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr found himself on national TV defending the move, and The Record received several letters to the editor (see a sampling on page A6) and e-mails sent to the newsroom.
Kitchener taxpayer Brenda Himburg says she isn't even a fan of Elton John, but in an interview following her e-mail, said, "Well I'm, like, how many other freebies are going in under the carpet? What else is going on?"
The reporters answer, "Apparently, not much."
This editorializing of the news is quite interesting and makes me wonder if the reporters received a fair amount of flack from someone high-up for putting this story under the microscope in the first place. This is Liberal-land after all. Home to Liberal MP Karen Redman and Andrew Telegdi, and MPP John Milloy. The heartland of socialism and entitlement.
The reporters seem to be suggesting that the following is barely worth mentioning:
...Councillors get free rounds of golf at city-owned courses. The rounds normally sell for $35 to $40, depending on the day. They also get free tickets to all events hosted at the Aud.
Some people wondered if councillors will get free tickets to the Memorial Cup in May -- the Stanley Cup of Junior A hockey.
A package of tickets for all the Memorial Cup games sells for about $498. Coun. Berry Vrbanovic said yesterday that since Kitchener is the host city for the event, councillors will have some roles to play.
"But what roles and what events I don't know," he said. "Those details have not been shared with us yet."
Vrbanovic said city councillors normally receive two complimentary tickets to all Aud events. That was scaled back to a single ticket for the Elton John show because of demand for the seats, Vrbanovic said.
But he said he was able to buy seven other tickets from the batch that was controlled by Aud management.
"On the general issue, I can appreciate that some folks are disappointed with the ticket situation," Vrbanovic said.
As you may recall, Councillor Vrbanovic was recently in Ottawa and on the MDL show pushing for more federal handouts to offset costs for city infrastructure.
Yet he gets a free Elton John ticket courtesy of the Kitchener taxpayer. Why not use it to fix a pothole instead?
More outrage here, here here and here.
Even the Record editorial board thinks that this policy of getting freebies should be reconsidered.
As John Gazzola, one of the few right-leaning council members noted, it is amazing how "serious issues are greeted with indifference, while the tickets issue generated so much buzz."
"When I see our water rates going up eight, nine or 10 per cent and people just sit back and go: 'So what,' " Gazzola said.
It appears that even Lemmings are capable of drawing a line in the sand.