So it seems Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Michael Qaqish was so proud of saving taxpayers almost $7,000 by returning his allowed gas allowance, he just had to record his goodness by having a photo taken with a giant-sized cheque.
Sure would be too bad to save the taxpayers’ money and not have them notice, now wouldn’t it?
Qaqish has a bit of reputation for being a photo op hog.
This is just another example.
But here’s the thing. Qaqish spent $35 on the giant cheque!
Now of course, in the scheme of Qaqish’s spending, the $35 is just a drop in the taxpayers’ bucket.
But the optics are just all wrong. Using our money to promote himself is simply distasteful – and wrong.
And it’s bound to make taxpayers wonder if he’s returning the gas allowance because he believes it’s the right thing to do or if he’s just trying to curry favour with his residents.
(And as I always do, need to point out I ran against Qaqish in the last 2014 election, he won, I lost.)
Qaqish’s crazy spending of our tax dollars is outlined in a story by the CBCs municipal analyst Joanne Chianello.
Only thing wrong with the article is that I didn’t write it first!
I’ve long paid attention to excessive spending of our money by city councillors. And I’ve written about it often.
“As the city’s sports commissioner, (Innes Coun. Jody) Mitic ordered up a four-year supply of vitamins worth more than $1,000 — maybe to be used with the $300-plus protein he bought to make shakes for any visitor dropping by his office,” I wrote while working for the Sun.
City staff took issue with the purchasing and the money for the vitamins was reimbursed to taxpayers.
Mitic also spruced the office up by buying a new refrigerator, two televisions and a $200 Cuisinart coffee machine.
He also charged a night at the Sheraton Hotel, just minutes away from Ottawa City Hall — then reimbursed the city for the $237 bill he’d put on his city credit card.
Mitic said the entire thing was a misunderstanding, that he’d had a busy day, had an evening event — and so asked hotel staff for a quiet place to take off his prosthetic legs and rest for half an hour — but didn’t realize he was getting charged for the night. He reimbursed the amount.
Mitic isn’t the only city councillor whose expenses have been questioned by city staff.
And councillors’ ability to make charitable donations with our money makes me absolutely crazy.
Very important to point out that Qaqish does, from time to time, bill taxpayers for gas when he’s using someone else’s car.
Transparency, all important.
No photo op to go with that little piece of news.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper also decided not to take the car allowance, but sure don’t remember him posing for a photo op to publicize that.
Certainly, I was but one of Qaqish’s residents who would drive by the enormous bus shelter ads plastered with a ‘ginormous’ picture of the councillor. The Gloucester-South Nepean councillor has spent more than $6,500 to decorate the shelter with his face.
And in fact, he spent more than $90,000 on advertising and promotional items – more than three times the median of any other councillor according to the CBC, even more than the mayor who has a far greater budget and represents the entire city.
Qaqish isn’t stupid. He wants to get re-elected. He’s already out canvassing. And he’s able to use our money in pursuit of re-election.
How crazy is that?
In explaining his spending habits to Chianello, Qaqish is quoted as saying “as a new councillor, not everybody knows who I am.”
And that’s our fault?
Sadly, instead of finding ways to acquaint himself with his residents, Qaqish is simply throwing our money about in a blatant attempt at self-promotion.