Wednesday, November 01, 2006

David BEATS Goliath !

Congratulations Wally Martin of the Traveller's Hotel! He (temporarily) beat back the Bureaucratic Tax & Spend Philistines and got them to eat some crow too! Well Done!

After Monday night's delegations, the Township Council had no choice but to ask for a properly held and properly scrutinized re-vote by the 9 or so hotels in the Township. The previous vote was clearly a sham and heads should role because of the half-assed voting procedure used. One has to ask: "How often has this happened in the past?"

In our previous postings here, here and here, we said that Council voted to go ahead with the tax despite valid concerns raised by Wally Martin over the process used to collect the votes. But rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman led the Council's immature and hasty rush to implement this newest tax and spend plan despite the prudent advice of Councillor's Richter, Ferguson and Mayor Alberts to get more information and buy-in first.

Well Mayor Alberts got a little jab in at Bateman and Bateman's "lets-hurry-to-tax-the-hotels" Council group at the end of Monday's council meeting after they reversed their initial vote. He essentially chided their full speed ahead urgency with a back handed 'I told you so' comment. There goes Bateman's Brownie Points with the Mayor!

Even the Langley Times Editor in today's Times says that this tax was "hasty" and suggests that all businesses benefiting from increased tourism should be taxed. Gee, where the heck was he? Both Martin and Richter have been singing this song way before Bucky suddenly picked up the same tune. They raised it several times on Monday night. Of course, this was not mentioned in the Irwin article or the editorial. They really should give credit where credit is due. Isn't that fair journalism, boys?

Jordan Bateman's latest LP posting tries saying (perhaps to save some face) that the tax was not "hasty" at all and that Bucky's comments are wrong. B---! To make matters worse, Bateman once again rushes in where fools fear to tread (and puts his foot in his mouth once again) by saying that he is confident the hotels will agree with the 2% tax in their re-vote and that 7 of the 9 hotels will be in favour. We at LFP certainly hope he never gets the job of Chief Returning Officer in the Township! (However, there are probably some banana republics who would be interested in recruiting his predictive skill sets).

Councillor Bateman, let the hotels decide it in a fair and inclusive process. Don't jeopardize it ahead of time one way or the other with your premature predictions and obvious biases.

The delegations that came to argue the Hotel tax increase were fascinating. On the one hand, you had Wally Martin (and those who spoke in agreement with his opposition to the tax) providing strong financial, business-like and experience-based facts against the tax increase. On the other hand, you had the Chamber of Commerce essentially admitting a lack of knowledge and experience with the empirical values of the taxation plan and its financial outcomes. They did use emotion and motherhood arguments and implied 'we are too fatigued to do this on our own anymore but we are sure it will help. We have a lot of anecdoctal evidence but really have no substantial proof or measurements ready to make sure it does'. (I'm not sure I'd want this group as a jury in a trial making a decision based on no conclusive hard facts!)

In fact one of the pro tax increase Councillors obviously saw the same dreadful lack of financial evidence or financial management in the proposed tax increase and shockingly said that it would be difilcult to get any evidence except subjective stuff! Hey everybody, this is one of your Councillors who obviously is very capable and ready to made the decision to spend $450,000.00 of your tax money annually on this Tourism plan with essentially no solid financial justification! He also previously voted to increase the $3-4-5 million Grandstand budget! Makes you feel warm and comfy about the financial acumen and financial decisions that our Councillors make, doesn't it?

Councillor Kim Richter's comment, which we are sure the local press will not report on but should, was that "You can't manage what you can't measure." Dead on. One of the hoteliers against the tax said that he feared they would pay the tax into a black hole with no payback, just like they're already doing with the provincial 8% hotel tax. He and Richter are right. If Council does go ahead with it, let the hoteliers and the taxpayers see the financial plan and measure the financial outcomes annually and then react accordingly. Otherwise we have just created another black hole bureaucracy in Langley at taxpayer's expense.

Let's measure what we manage and report annually. In fact, let's do this on everything in the municipality. But heck, that would make no sense because it is not the bureaucratic way - it's just way too business-like!

(P.S. Bucky and Al: Your front page headline is wrong. The hoteliers already voted. They're now being asked to revote because the first vote was screwy! Your headline should have included the word "Again" at the end. Were you worried that by including this word, you'd make your favorite council look too stupid? Too late!)

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