When it comes to cost saving measures in the city’s snow clearing budget, apparently transportation committee chair Keith Egli has no trouble talking out of both sides of his mouth, depending of course on who he’s talking to!
You may recall that Egli – as transportation chair – led the charge last summer in calling for cost-saving measures for snow clearing that would have seen the city reduce its standards on when to implement snow clearing.
There’s little doubt that Mayor Jim Watson is desperate to find cost savings within the city’s budget to continue with his promise of a 2% tax increase.
Was Egli simply doing the mayor’s bidding? Or did he really believe cutting the standard was the right thing to do? That’s pretty hard to believe.
Impossible to believe actually when you look at more than 200 hundred of pages of e-mails Egli and his staff sent calling on city employees to clear up roads and sidewalks within his ward in the months proceeding the tabling of the report.
The e-mails obtained by On the City, From the Burbs reveal that while Egli was chair of the transportation committee and ultimately in charge of the report on snow clearing standards, he had no qualms directing staff to respond to his demands to take care of his residents’ desires, even when his residents were receiving the level of service the city’s standards dictated. But to make countless demands on city staff to pick up the level of service in his ward – and then stick handle a report calling for reduced service, well – that seems incredibly disingenuous. And politically opportunistic.
Here’s what he said to the media when discussing the issue of cost savings. “We wanted to maintain as much of that service as we still could but at the same time recognize there are financial constraints on what we can and cannot do.”
Snow clearing is one of those services that residents perceive to be a basic and essential services the city is supposed to deliver. “Pay more, get less,” one upset resident wrote to Egli. He’s not alone in that belief for sure. But it’s impossible to both respond affirmatively to each and every demand and then call on the rest of the city to see reduced service. Seldom can you appease everyone. But judging by Egli’s emails, easy to believe he wanted his residents to receive whatever standard they deemed to be appropriate.
Apparently he believes the squeaky wheel should get the snow plow. His office staff followed his lead. “Please take care of it today,” Egli wrote on one occasion.
Look, this column will likely garner the Knoxdale-Merivale councillor praise from his constituents. And certainly, it’s his job to respond to concerns in his ward. Several of the e-mails directed staff to deal with the problem as soon as possible, in one case asking if the work could be done within hours and questioning why it hadn’t been done earlier. Page after page, Egli and his staff do their best to get increased service into his ward.
In the end, the cost saving report died a spectacular death. Despite bringing the report forward in a sun-filled sleepy July, the public had their say. And they weren’t prepared to see reduced service.
End of story.