Clegg’s Corner – $118.17 is all about accountability

Town of High Prairie Councillor Brian Gilroy makes a valid point, as unpopular as it is.
At High Prairie town council’s meeting March 27, a discussion ensued over whether town council was going to attend a workshop in Slave Lake April 5 featuring Doug Griffiths.
Griffiths is the author of 13 Ways to Kill a Community. He is also a former MLA and former Minister of Municipal Affairs. He has a lot to offer. Former Councillor Jeff Burgar is one of many, many people who say that Griffiths is well worth listening to. Readers of Burgar’s editorials already know this.
The cost to the taxpayers to attend this? A whopping $118.17 per person! Chicken feed, so to speak.
The discussion that followed was interesting. Gilroy questioned the value of attending.
“I’ve read his book,” said Gilroy. “I’m not sure it’s the best use of our time.”
Gilroy’s thinking certainly appears to go against the grain regarding what most people think of Griffiths.
Councillor Debbie Rose was first to speak and urged everyone to attend. She said she has heard him speak twice and described him as a “dynamic” speaker. And, she added the cost was only $118.
Her target toward Gilroy scored a direct hit.
“That thinking…keeps our community small.”
Councillor Arlen Quartly agreed with Rose.
“I have to agree with you. He has a lot to offer. It’s a win-win…and very inexpensive.”
Gilroy fired back.
“We’ve had two councillors who have already heard him speak,” noted Gilroy.
Rewind to a few months ago. Council discussed the High Prairie & Area Chamber of Commerce and downtown town revitalization, yet no ideas came forward except to meet with the chamber and discuss ideas. It was not lost on Gilroy.
“We had no ideas on downtown revitalization. If he was such a dynamic speaker, I didn’t hear reports.”
Double ouch!
Councillor Donna Deynaka weighed in, leaving Gilroy on a island by himself.
“[Griffiths] is quite good at what he does. [It will be] beneficial to anyone who can make it. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to get more information and more ideas.”
Council allowed to send up to two members with only Gilroy opposed.
It seems silly to argue so much about such a small ticket item. The point Gilroy is trying to make, however, is very, very important. Just exactly where were the ideas?
If any councillor does make the trip to Slave Lake April 5, they had best be advised to file a decent report to council citing several ideas. If they don’t, it will only add fuel to Gilroy’s fire.
There is the added issue of accountability. If you are spending taxpayer’s money – no matter if it’s $100 or $5,000 – you had better prove some value. Or, if a speaker or conference is a waste of time, just say so. Then future councils won’t be tossing money into the fireplace.

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