COLUMN: ‘Y’all can feed yourselves’

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A call for bids from local food-service providers to cater to the hunger of municipal councillors has created a social media stir.

Chatham-Kent officials put the word out on Facebook asking for local eateries and food-prep companies to bid on providing the pre-council meals.

Here’s what the municipality posted:

“Respondents will provide high-quality, nutritious, light dinners for approximately 26 people with the ability to accommodate special dietary requests such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.”

The post also said it was for 26 meals for council meetings and budget committee meetings.

Most responding C-K citizens were outraged that taxpayers have to shell out to pay for these meals.

Matt Catton said: “You have a failing community and this is how you feel spending our tax money makes the most sense…I’m really doubting this council and CAO (on their) ability to properly run this city.”

“We have little to no affordable housing. Two-income households are drowning. Homelessness is at an all time high in Chatham Kent,” Brit Jackson wrote. “But let’s cater the municipal meetings. Taxpayers’ money well spent.”

Following these and similar comments, the municipality updated its post by saying, “These meals are for councillors who often have primary jobs and attend council meetings that sometimes run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and come directly from their primary job with no time to prepare meals in between.

And that elicited a firestorm of response.

“Most people attending a meeting eat before. Now we pay you and feed you? Enough waste of our taxpayers’ money…grrrrrrrr,” wrote Linda Patterson.

“Ridiculous. Instead of being catered to, maybe they should tour the local shelters and see that people are actually struggling to get a hot meal,” offered Doug Tofflemire.

First off, we encourage people to not blame the current council for the catered meals. This has been going on since amalgamation.

Second, in terms of taxpayer-funded catered meals for council, what do you expect for people who are coming from one full-time job to a part-time job that pays them a mere $36,900? I mean, so what if a person earning minimum wage would have to work 43 hours a week to match that “part-time” income?

Yeah, that last bit was very sarcastic. There is no way taxpayers should have to pay for catered meals for councillors.

What’s worse is the fact we are paying for these meals for members of the executive management team. If you are angry at the $36,900 part time income-makers getting free meals, how about the likes of folks making $200,000 a year, or more?

That’s right, we’re paying about $20,000 a year for Monday feedings of 17 councillors, our mayor, and eight municipal staff that have healthy six-figure salaries, great benefits and a gold-plated retirement plan.

We encourage municipal councillors to step up here, and also the members of the executive management team. Pay for your own dinners, or bring your own food. We here at The Voice aren’t alone in that mindset.

“Pack a lunch. This is ridiculous.” – Nancy Pereira Matteis.

“Do like most other people who have two jobs just to stay above water in this economy. Hit a drive-thru, pack an extra lunch, wait to eat,” Laura Webb said. “This is not the problem of the taxpayers.”

“I vote on municipal potlucks. Y’all can feed yourselves.” – Mike Myers

A final parting word. CK Public Health recently released information that stated one out of every five Chatham-Kent residents suffer from food insecurity. Do they pay for food or for heat and hydro? When 20 per cent of the electorate is in such a dire predicament, is it not incumbent upon our councillors, our mayor and our top municipal managers to pay for their dinners on council nights?

1 COMMENT

  1. We need the support of the OMB. We also need to take advantage of the FIA to expose the highly unethical practices occurring among elected officials and senior administration personnel. In my mind, the nefarious activities related to the Town Hall deal. We have councilors who deliberately and boldly broke the Municipality Code of Conduct. Are their consequences for that? No. It goes right up to the mayor’s office. I am shocked that so many have sold their personal integrity for bargain basement prices. I am angry at the brash arrogance of those who purchase them. We so normally need anyone who values personal integrity so little. Not only should they not be in positions of responsibility. Citizens of Chatham-kent you are being duped, cheated, and contemptuously treated by the current administration. We deserve a whole lot more consideration, respect, and responsibility from this administration and senior administrative personnel then they have been providing. We have similar issues within the Chatham-Kent police services. When you have an entity that requires no accountability to anyone for anything you have a message. And you have a whole citizenship suffering from the unethical, bankrupt of integrity, selfish people within municipal government City hall is the final straw. Changes are in the wind

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