Nenshi’s charade of consultation.

The Purple Peacock

It has been brutal watching Naheed Nenshi and his gang on Calgary’s city council circling like hyenas over the spoils of an unbudgeted $52 million tax increase that they acquired through essentially stealing a tax break given to Calgarians by the government of Alberta. As Calgarians took notice and began to show ire towards this sudden gouge upon their wallets, Nenshi and the rest of council scrambled to cobble together a supposed consultation process on what to do with this money they were absconding with. As it became evident that Calgarians were overwhelmingly choosing to demand that the ill-gained money be returned to them, Nenshi upped the ante and created a literal circus-like atmosphere and held an idiotic public game show where it was discussed how Calgary’s unbudgeted tax hike should be spent.

Despite Nenshi’s dog and pony show, it still was becoming abundantly clear that most Calgarians simply wanted their damned money back. In light of this, Nenshi turned this already foolish “consultation” process into a total joke by making it “qualitative” rather than “quantitative” in nature. What this is essentially saying is that they do not care what the majority of respondents to their little poll chose as those asking for things like a refund of stolen money clearly were giving answers of low quality. It does not matter if 90% of Calgarians wanted their money back in the city poll as those figures are apparently not important. In other words, Nenshi and his cronies can come up with whatever conclusion they like from this circus and claim that it was endorsed by over 10,000 Calgarians.

All of this is not surprising as Nenshi took part in a similar joke of a consultation with Calgarians only a few years ago. This multi-million dollar disaster was coined “ImagineCalgary” and supposedly the product was created through the input of no less than 18,000 Calgarians. Few things can better demonstrate the utter idiocy and waste with these supposedly “qualitative” consultations than the ridiculous ImagineCalgary document itself which can be found in full here.

Below are the five simple questions (familiar number) that were asked for ImagineCalgary.

 What do you value about Calgary?What is it like for you to live here?
What changes would you most like to see?
What are your hopes and dreams for the next 100 years?
How can you help make this happen?

From the above simple and fluffy questions Nenshi and others excreted the 210 page ImagineCalgary document that really is so bad that it can’t even be found in full on the ImagineCalgary website. Even those employed in promoting this mess are ashamed of the product of this exercise. Shouldn’t such brilliance be front and center on their site otherwise? Alas, it is hidden deeply in the bowels of the City of Calgary site. I provide it here too of course.

I don’t think I could possibly drop enough LSD to make sense of the mess created in ImagineCalgary. It truly is a crowning achievement in the concept of baffling with bullshit through only five simple questions. No wonder Nenshi was so eager to try and do it again to mask his sudden $52 million tax hike upon Albertans.

Below is a top 10 list of what came from apparently asking 18,000 Calgarians five simple questions. I am not sure which are worse, the ones that set targets so unrealistically high that they will never be achieved in a million years, the ones that would come with government interference so deep that Stalin would blush, or the ones that simply look like the product of a person who had just ingested a 1/2 pound of pot. I will list a few of each.

By 2016, 90 per cent of Calgarians report that they have opportunities to express their unique gifts and talents

Only three years to go here. Hope those barriers are torn down soon whatever the hell they are.

By 2036, 90 per cent of citizens agree that “Calgary is a city with soul,” which is defined as citizens having meaning and purpose in life and experiencing ongoing feelings of connectedness with some form of human, historic or natural system.

Oh good, we have a realistic timeline here. It will take at least another decade to get even 50% of Calgarians to give a shit if municipalities have souls much less wonder if their own has one.

By 2036, 100 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel respected and supported in their pursuits of meaning, purpose and connectedness, and that they extend respect and support to others who meet this need in ways different from their own.

No less than 100% here. Lofty indeed. I do hope that I can live until 2036 so that I can be the one asshole left in Calgary who did not feel supported in my pursuit of connectedness thus killing their goal. I am just nasty that way.

By 2016, 95 per cent of Calgarians report that they feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods and walking alone downtown after dark

This one will be tough as 50% of Calgarians will feel unsafe when approached by strangers after dark asking them if they feel safe. How else will Nenshi know if we have hit the 95% mark? This will be tougher if Pincott’s crusade against light pollution continues too.

By 2036, 95 per cent of children aged two to five years exhibit high levels of emotional well-being and age-appropriate levels of attention span and impulse control, as measured by the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.

I was thrilled when my two year old kids made a poopy all by themselves in a toilet. Can’t imagine 95% of them taking part in detailed questionnaires but who knows. I bet their answers will make more sense than most of those in this loony ImagineCalgary document.

By 2016, by the age of six years, 95 per cent of Calgary children exhibit school readiness, as reflected by physical well-being and appropriate motor development; emotional health and a positive approach to new experiences; age-appropriate social knowledge and competence; age-appropriate language skills; and age-appropriate general knowledge and cognitive skills.

Come on, how many of the 18,000 put down that mouthful as a priority? One? Two?

By 2036, the consumption of urban- and regionally produced food by Calgarians increases to 30 per cent.

Here come the food tariffs. Say goodbye to those bananas.

By 2016, governance is restructured to allow governments to create or reallocate authority so that effective decisions are made at the geographical scale that matches the processes involved.

Say that ten times quickly. Now drink until it makes sense or you pass out. Whatever comes first.

By 2036, 80 per cent of non-violent criminal offences are handled in the community in which the victim lives.

I guess courthouses for prostitutes, drug dealers and car thieves will be set up in every community. Nenshi had better let the other levels of government know he is bypassing the constitution and having the civic government assume authority of criminal issues. May cause a smidgen of confusion there.

By 2036, 85 per cent of Calgarians, in all age groups, maintain excellent or very good mental health.

All those in poor mental health shall be deported in order to achieve civic goals!

Well folks, there you have it. This is what Nenshi and his compatriots can compile through a qualitative analysis of five simple questions.

Nenshi and company will simply fabricate whatever outcome they like from this latest façade of “consultation”. After creating ImagineCalgary, coming up with ways to blow a $52 million tax hike will be a breeze.

Just call it what it is; a tax hike!

So there I lay ignominiously on the doctor’s table. My legs were splayed and  I was shaved in a spot I never anticipated ever having a razor near. The doctor noted that I was rather tense and uncomfortable from the nature and feeling of the steps of the procedure that had already been performed. In an effort to comfort me he said: “OK, you are going to feel a little pressure.”.

“A little pressure” I thought. “That can’t be so bad.”. I busied myself in the intense study of the ceiling tiles as the doctor took out a new instrument of torture, inserted it into my new incision, hooked onto part of my reproductive circuitry and proceeded to draw out what felt to be my very soul from a small cut in my scrotum!!!

That was “a little pressure”???? I never want to find out what he means when he says something will be painful.

Now that day I learned two lessons. One was never to get a vasectomy at a walk-in clinic (little risk of that now). The other lesson was that no matter how one tries to sugarcoat or understate something uncomfortable, it does not change the reality.

Politicians love trying to change terms in hopes of selling things to the electorate that they don’t actually want. The overpriced “Peace Bridge” is a wonderful example. As the public ire grew over the expenditure of scarce infrastructure dollars on a grossly overpriced bridge that we didn’t need, city council scrambled for a way to brand this grotesque waste of tax dollars. They decided to name the bridge after something that nobody could oppose: “Peace”. The new name did not change the reality in the end however.

The most gross and disingenuous example of this is the promotion of what tax-increase proponents are calling a “penny tax”. Mayor Nenshi and other tax-and-spend types in Calgary City Hall have been outright salivating at the prospect of gaining a pile of new taxation powers through a new municipal charter. Despite provincial officials telling him “no” in no uncertain terms, Mayor Nenshi continues to chirp and try to sell the benefits of his being able to tax us in new ways so he can fund more vanity projects and bike lanes.

Let’s call the “penny tax” what it is: A 20% INCREASE IN THE GST!

Sounds a little different in that light doesn’t it? Instead of thinking in terms of pennies, think of it this way, do you want to spend hundreds more per year on your total expenditures in an increased consumption tax?

The tax-and-spend gang does not want to stop simply by raising your GST by the way, that is just the tax that they are cloaking in terms such as “penny tax. Below are a few other ways Nenshi and company are hoping to tax us all more in a municipal charter.

Tourism levies:. Tax increase leading to decreased tourism

Green fees on fuel: Tax increase leading to increase in fuel costs for all and all products that need transport.

Increased motor vehicle registration fees: Tax increase on drivers.

Nenshi does have a keen nose for the political winds. The city is proposing a nearly 6% property tax hike this year and eventually Calgarian homeowners will hit their tipping point with constant tax increases that go well beyond the rate of inflation. Spending control is not a consideration for Calgary’s City Hall under Nenshi so in order to cloak their mass spending they want to spread the mass tax increases through a myriad of means where they can mask the name and nature of the tax increase.

Being forced to raise money through property taxes forces municipalities to be much more up-front in their taxation of citizens. Lets keep it that way. If Nenshi is convinced that we need a mass increase in spending and that Calgarians want it, then he should raise property taxes by 15% and run on that. It is much more honest than trying to hide the gouge in some BS “penny tax”.