Paula Havixbeck is the last person I want to criticize.
She recently played the role of champion for the tax payer in her criticism of a budget that proposed a 3.87% property tax hike and a generous $40,000 supplement to Councillors allowances. It was her outspoken criticism that undoubtedly ended up getting her kicked off the Executive Policy Committee.
Now, in an ugly turn of events, Havixbeck’s dirty laundry has been aired and its apparent she’s not the civically responsible beam of light that we once thought she was.
Of all the excess exposed in the City Counsillors’ 2012 expenditures disclosure report, Havixbeck’s $2,400 purchase of gingerbread cookies stands out as one of the most scandalous. Worse yet was the lack of personal insight displayed in the Twitter defense of her lack of judgement.
“Yes, inner city kids and kids in shelters deserve a small bit of happiness too,” she quipped on Twitter in response to criticism from Winnipeg Sun Assistant Managing Editor, Kevin Engstrom.
“What the heck were you thinking,” Engstrom asked.
That’s a very good question.
The last time I checked Paula Havixbeck was the City Councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge not the Executive Director of a Charitable Organization.
I won’t bother traversing into the world of the needs of inner City children as that debate already raged in the Winnipeg Sun’s Editorial column, “City Hall’s cookie crumbling.”
(The article revolved around the question; “What do inner City kids really need more; food, shelter, clothing, after school programs or $2,400 spent on gingerbread cookies.”)
No, no need for me to go there!
I know better than most what it’s like to come from a low-income family and can definitely relate to the plight of inner City kids. I’m not a heartless a–hole who doesn’t care about the needs of others, especially children. I have deep concern for our community and I’ve demonstrated that concern over the years. I’ve donated literally hundreds of hours working for charitable organizations and have sponsored a child with World Vision for almost a decade. Every year, my wife and I give generously to other charitable causes and organizations.
Call me Scrooge if you want but I just don’t believe tax payer dollars are meant to be used as charitable donations. I expect my tax dollars to pay for essential services like road construction. pot hole repairs, emergency flood preparedness and snow removal.
Paula Havixbeck is right, inner City kids and kids in shelters do deserve a “small bit of happiness,” especially around Christmas time. Providing that “small bit of happiness” is a duty for parents, relatives and social workers employed by one of the many social agencies tasked with that responsibility. It’s simply not the responsibility of a City Councillor from the suburbs.
Sadly, I find myself mourning the loss of a once respected fiscally responsible City Councillor who appears to have fallen prey to the temptations that come with Political office; the misguided sense of entitlement. For Havixbeck, her judgement on this one will undoubtedly translate to a loss of supporter confidence.
Politicians playing fast and loose with tax payers money is simply not acceptable.
There’s no excuse for Havixbeck’s lack of discretion and she’d be wise to reconsider her position. Rather than defend the indefensible on Twitter, she might want to think about making an apology to her constituents and returning the money to the City coffers.
In Politics, these kinds of misjudgments can have career implications.
In this paragraph I would normally be tempted to suggest that Mayor Katz might want to consider tightening the rules concerning the spending habits of our City Councillors, however, in light of the recent fiasco at Hu’s Restaurant, is there really any point?