Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Edmonton Mayoral Candidates: Daryl Bonar

It is the Municipal election season in Edmonton once more, but since I do not currently reside in Edmonton, I am unable to vote. Apparently I can pay taxes, but not have a say in where they go. Where's Lady Gaga when I need her support?
Since there's only so much time one can dedicate to examination of the issues, I've kept it down to just looking at the Mayoral Candidates, although this does mean there is no chance I'll get to use the word "gubernatorial", wait, there we go.

First up in my alphabetical quest for familiarity is Daryl Bonar.
A second lieutenant in the Canadian Forces, he completed two tours of duty in Bosnia, each six months, and is now employed as a community relations officer. I feel it also pertinent to note his MMA record is 4/3/0. He's being campaigned as a sort of "working everyman", appealing to small businessmen, family men, students with debt, and street performers.
He promises to fight public spending on private projects, like the Expo, Indy, and the new arena, which I'm pretty in favour of, since I will not be patronizing any of those, and a few have already been shown to be a profit loss. However, as has been explained to me in the past, the reason these continue is because of their impact on the local businesses. Both hotel and tourist revenue are increased by these public events, especially considering the out of town people. On the other hand, I've heard that out of town attendance for most events is negligible, and in town people have an inelastic budget for entertainment, implying that if they spend it on one of these events, it is simply taking money from somewhere else, and simply redistributing rather than increasing the total profit for the city.

He's anti-photo radar, which, let's be honest, who, really, is not? But he plans to replace it with a higher level of traffic enforcement from actual police officers, which has been shown to be more effective, and also pledged more community-oriented officers, but he seems to have no clear plan for how to achieve this, since the latest aggressive hiring campaign has not garnered much change, and that included a financial hiring incentive. More police is fine, but where are they going to come from? We have, in the past, been recognized for our outstanding community program, but this has fallen by the wayside as the manpower dwindled. (EDIT: I've discovered that he aims to encourage neighbourhood peace officers, who are empowered with certain rights above citizens but below officers. It's a tentative step between police and the guardian angels, however)

His next fight is for integrity in municipal planning. This ties quite closely to his first argument against using public funds for private purposes, and he also pledges that all councillors will be required to attend a monthly community meeting to encourage open discussion and accountability, but whether attendance will be enough to justify the meeting is debatable; there are other things I would rather have the councellors working on then hearing the complaints of people who, if they really wanted  to, would make their concerns known. This smacks of an idealistic campaign promise that is unfeasible, and will likely be abandoned as soon as possible. It does tie in to his promise to "follow through on the public will", however. He does promise a financial incentive for departments that stay within their budget.

The third campaign promise is to fight "unfair bylaws" but I could find no information on what those might consist of.

Finally, he's hoping to fight neighbourhood crime rates and urban decay in our inner city by promoting low-income housing, while also promoting open air-spaces, of which we don't have enough, apparently, and street performers. There have been two numbers bandied about; an 80% or 90% reduction in homelessness by three years, but trying to lower homelessness beyond it's natural rate is like trying to reduce unemployment too far; you will never eliminate it, and it will always resist being moved too far from it's natural line by taking it out elsewhere, hurting the economy. It sucks, but it's true. 

He is, on the positive side, pro-city center airport, but for the reason that it's wrong  to violate your contractual obligations, which is an odd reason to keep something like this open. He does intend to bring in more business, more aerospace and green initiatives, but he may find it difficult to entice businesses in without breaking his promise to not spend public funds on private endeavours, the big enough ones are likely to go through Edmonton International, but the smaller ones will need municipal grants to assist their start up.

The other initiative he is involved with is the idea that he will credit post-secondary students for up to $5000 off their student debt, if they remain in Edmonton and work two consecutive years in their chosen field. Now, I likely won't have tuition debt, so a fat lot of good it does me, but I can appreciate the idea, and I have a large number of friends who would likely benefit. Still, it does mean we wouldn't be attracting the students that were bright or fortunate enough to be careful, plan ahead, and save the money to avoid debt. I should stop whining though.

He aims to help the disabled, by providing a quick reaction team (QRT) that will shovel the walks of disabled people and by ensuring handicapped parking stalls are used only by the legitimately handicapped.

There is also consideration in the works for an alliance with the railroad company to reopen some old tracks for use as LRT lines, how feasible this plan is, I'm not sure, but I hope in coming days to do some research into it. 

Finally, he is also pro-childcare, but in a sensible fashion; he intends to check through local bylaws to assist home-based childcare companies to become registered faster, thus providing greater services to Edmonton.
There is some vague lip service to green initiatives, physical fitness in schools, and a greater awareness of city services available to the public.

This is a pretty ambitious platform, but obviously they are issues close to his heart, which is good and bad. the only problem I can foresee, is the fact that his last campaign promise is to fight tax increases during his first term. Green Initiatives and opening up more spaces to loiter in around town are great, but they take money, and I see no places where money could be taken from in the budget that could not have a limiting effect on his other plans or vice versa. In his nomination speech, he says that this is a pivotal time for Edmonton, that this election and the subsequent years will shape our identity for years to come, but I see precisely no reason why this one is suddenly our "graduating from high school" moment. He aims to create a sense of urgency by insisting this "may be our last chance to create a city in which all off us can thrive". He claims to represent the majority, but he's sadly in the rear when it comes to supporters. He is idealistic but unfortunately the realities of office might prove  to be too much.

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