Monday, August 15, 2011

Mixed Priorities

The Mistress is currently out of town and will be returning to her blog Tuesday. Today we have another guest blogger:

I was surprised to see the wide reaction of Councillors in today's Star Phoenix (Councillors discuss Mendel's future) when it came to discussing the Mendel. Of particular shock was when Randy Donhauer mentioned the desire to keep it a public building. This is especially surprising due to the budget cuts being bandied about by Council. If the minutest of spending on services is being evaluated in terms of saving tax dollars, why on earth is the same not being done for the Mendel? I understand the "desire" to maintain the building as a public facility, but when the city is in such a financial crunch why is this of a top concern? Even more appalling is when Donhauer says they could rent it out as private office space for top dollar and have it rented out tomorrow. Excuse me? The City is, by all accounts, stretched to max in terms of financing and spending, are actively seeking on hand to cut spending on programs that impact those with the most needs (ie. ending subsidized bus passes) while on the other hand turning away 'top dollar' for renting a City owned facility because they prefer have it operated by a public organization.

The reason of Councillors on this topic is tough to grasp. They are turning away a potential opportunity to have the facility significantly reduce it's burden on the city finances, while at the same time potentially saving other programs from the chopping block. Even more discouraging is the lack of public organizations willing to step up to the Mendel, with two withdrawing their proposals due to already high rent rates/renovation costs.

City is broke, city owns a facility that will have no tenant, city is able to rent that facility out for 'top dollar' rent, city is choosing not to that but to (likely) increase operating costs and reserve the space for a public programming organization (while at the same time telling residents cuts are needed to public programming due to finances).....am I missing something here?

I guess the conundrum for Saskatonians is what further programming and services cuts will have to me made so that Council can keep their preference of having the Mendel building occupied by public programming.


30 comments:

  1. Getting top dollar for civic owned property is only one area these fouls can't achieve. All I have heard about cost cutting is to increase user fees or offload things that are picked up by taxes and move them to user pay. How is that the way to run a city. Oh so not having Christmas lights on city streets is a viable reduction. That really shows Saskatoon shines but not for the holidays sorry!!!! This council needs to look inward to the existing waste in the public service and come up with a plan on how to reduce costs without inconveniencing the user. To only look at taking things away just shows they aren't really interested in being serious. I don't see the city deleting all those "social" programs that the province should be paying for and yest subsidized bus passes are one of them. My property taxes aren't here to make it easier for the guy next door to get around town or live in a home he can't afford. Ghettos are produced because those living there don't pay an equal share of tax to live in this city. Encouraging people to live off the government T$T isn't something I should be paying for through property tax. STOP NOW PLEASE!

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  2. Cut the civic workforce (who generally work at half pace) and but a stop on all increases in wages at City Hall (from the Mayor's office to the guy who sweeps the floor). Control spending on workers and the problem will be solved much easier.

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  3. Hmmm... there are probably a lot of services provided by the city that I don't personally use so we should just cut those too. After all, they can't be THAT important...

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  4. "My property taxes aren't here to make it easier for the guy next door to get around town or live in a home he can't afford."

    And neither are my taxes! Quit dumping my tax money into $300 million freeway bridges that I likely will never travel across.

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  5. The ridiculousness of those who pout about stop spending my taxes on freeway bridges in response to people saying stop using my tax dollars on social programs.

    If they truly believe the two are comparable it just shows how out of touch they are with reality. There is a basic level infrastructure that is required to operate (be it roads, sewers, etc..). This infrastructure is paid through our taxes. Whether you drive the bridge or not, it is being used for your benefit (ie. bringing you your groceries, or shipping in other items you may use). Indirectly, you use the bridge regardless of whether you are driving on it or not.

    The next level of funding goes towards social programs. I think as Canadians there are a certain level of programs universally Canadians can agree on such as old age pension, health care, child protection, etc.. For these programs the issue revolves on how much funding is required. Some hope these programs are run efficiently, while others are simply happy to have them regardless of what they cost us.

    The next level includes supplemental programs that may vary from time to time, and at times increase and at times decrease. These could be women shelters, back to work programs, adult advanced education, programs for single parents, etc...

    If someone is already feeling the pinch from taxes and living expenses to fund the first two areas they are more likely going to oppose the novelty programs. Every person has a different opinion of the programs that should be funded or the amount of funding made available even. So for someone saying "I'm already paying an arm and a leg on taxes I cannot continue to afford paying more tax to continue funding all these novelty social programs", it is different than saying I don't want to chip in on my share of infrastructure.

    To those defending the social programs, realize that funding for social programs (ie. taxes) can range anywhere from 0% to 100% of your income. Where do you draw the line? What amount of tax is sufficient for people to pay? If I'm paying almost 50% of money to taxes and stretched to the limit am I bad person for opposing more social programming?

    Then again, it is easier to lob insults than to have a serious discussion on topic.

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  6. ...that being said, I do agree with Anon 1:21 about seriously questioning the wisdom of whether a North bridge is required.

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  7. How, exactly, are "women shelters" - in your words - nothing more than "novelty programs"?

    Interesting theory - I'd really like you to elaborate.

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  8. Anon 2:08,

    I mean it is a novelty program because it above the basic infrastructure and needs of society, and to keep the smooth operation of society running. In terms of societal necessities in today's day and age include, roads, water, sewer, gas/electricity, policing, fire patrol, health care, etc..

    After those basic programs have been satisfied we can begin to fund programs that we value a a society and believe make for a better society (don't confuse better with necessary)(I also understand in theory no service is needed, however the basic function of society and their safety requires certain programs). Having women shelters is one such program that we value as a society, as such funding is often made available to women shelters.

    Perhaps a better way to understand it would be to consider what basic infrastructure and programs are consistent in most cultures. Regardless of where you are the sewer and water are likely necessities, as are policing and sanitation services (obviously to varying degrees). But consider, how many women shelters are there in Tehran? What about Sudan? or Nepal? In they end, they are not required for society to operate, but rather represent our beliefs and reflect our culture in Canada. It is a novelty program, that we don't necessarily need but want to have in place. Just like subsidizing or providing funding for animal rescue or offering help to new home purchasers.

    We cannot sponsor every program so we pick and choose the ones we can afford to.

    Ps- when you use phrases like 'nothing more' to attempt to trivialize what I say you are doing nothing more but taking credibility away from yourself and demonstrating that you really have no use for me response. In any event, I there it is.

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  9. Okay, so you believe that women's shelters are
    "a novelty program, that we don't necessarily need."

    Then you cite such bastions of society as Sudan, Nepal, and Tehran as evidence they are not required???

    Give your head a shake.

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  10. Also disturbing is how you have equated in your self-constructed matrix of public services that providing shelter for abused women is "Just like subsidizing or providing funding for animal rescue"

    You've got to be kidding.

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  11. Are you dense Anon 3:24?

    Where did I cite Sudan, Tehran, Nepal as 'bastions of society'.

    My point simply was that if every woman's shelter in Canada closed theirs doors tomorrow the country will continue to move along. Closing women's shelter would not impact society the same as if....say....

    -water was cut off from all residents
    -every road between cities was crumbled
    -there was no police force
    -health care was dropped

    My argument has never been we don't need women shelters. I simply intended to point out the difference between a program that we fund because it is deemed a requirement for a functional society and one that is funded because it is something we value.

    The fact that you continue to spin words to imply that I am against women shelters just shows your level of ignorance. I have not once stated as such. I'm simply trying to show the differentiation between social programs.

    You are the one needing to give your head a shake.

    By your continued (ignorant) ramblings am I to assume you are of the opinion that women shelters are a necessity for the function of a society?

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  12. "Also disturbing is how you have equated in your self-constructed matrix of public services that providing shelter for abused women is "Just like subsidizing or providing funding for animal rescue"

    You've got to be kidding."

    What is wrong with that? I also categorize sheltering abused women in the same category of discretionary funding as adult education programs, sage injection sites.

    Step back from your personal issue for 2 second to consider what I am saying. Any social program be it women shelters be safe injection sites be it animal rescue are all conceived and implemented because WE BELIEVE IN THEM AS A SOCIETY AND BELIEVE THAT THEY SHOULD BE FUNDED TO ALLOW THOSE IN NEED THE SUPPORT WHEN REQUIRED.

    I never said one was more important than the other, nor that all are on a level playing field. I simply pointed out that they all share a similar link in that their offering is due to our cultural belief system as opposed to their necessity for the operation of society.

    You seem to be offended because I won't say that women shelters are mandatory for the operation of society. Every single program outside the necessary ones are novelty programs that we choose to fund. Societies ranking of each program can (probably) be best judged by which ones we choose to fund over others (for example, I assume there would more outrage if the City closed women shelters while still continuing to fund the animal rescue). Ask yourself this, are you actually able to sit down and evaluate programs realistically on their societal value. If so rank the following publicly funded programs in order of importance:

    sewer services, sanitation services, policing, womens shelters, animal rescue, safe injection sites, and child protection services.

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  13. To put it in terms you may understand (since you obviously have no concept of discretionary spending). When a family gets their pay cheque hey have so many bills which constitute required expenses, for example food, rent, and other bills to survive. The remainder of their income is used for discretionary spending.

    This could include saving money for your kids education and it could include money for beer (entertainment). How they choose to spend it depends on their values and priorities. Saying that I don't equate beer and education savings as being the same. But they are both discretionary expenditures. Similarly, with social programs I don't necessarily equate women shelters and animal rescue to be one and the same, but both are discretionary social programs. Some societies value some more than others. My point is women shelters are necessary for the function of society, they are more a discretionary program we fund because we highly value what they provide to society.

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  14. If you believe so strongly in your women's shelters as "novelties" hypothesis, you should shop your theory around to any number of women's organizations and women in general.

    Good luck.

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  15. I guess one person's infrastructure is another's luxury. Personally, I don't believe we live in a vacuum - social ills can greatly affect the quality of life for all. Therefore, I believe that a city runs on more than bricks and mortar.If you pretend otherwise you are only fooling yourself.

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  16. I notice your reluctance to take any firm position on any issue. Sorry for the greater part of the world, 'women shelters' aren't the top priority.

    If it came down to choosing between child protection and women shelters, I would choose child protection all day.

    It is sad that you would put women ahead of children who have no means to protect themselves and who's options are even more limited when being abused.

    Sad that you think so lowly of children.

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  17. To the Anon that has been defending women shelters as a mandatory institution in society you are some kind of a kook.

    I worked with Tamara's House while it was open and firmly believe in the benefit of shelters. But your position is absolutely off base with regard to the position you are taking (which is hard to even figure out)

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  18. Wow- how can you conclusively separate women's issues from children's issues? They are often inextricably linked. Do you not think the welfare of a woman / mother can impact the welfare of her children?

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  19. Not all women have children idiot.

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  20. You have no concept of relevant issues, women's issues are of utmost importance. The fact that you would support building roads ahead of building women's shelters shows your lack of understanding of what is relevant in society.

    As I said, a city consists of more than bricks and mortar. It is the social infrastructure that makes a city what it is. Building women's shelters is as important as building schools.

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  21. "Building women's shelters is as important as building schools"

    .... I think we've reached our breaking point. Cannot agree with that position.

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  22. No, not all women have children but many do. Are you going to then punish all women for this? Do you advocate shelters for women with children and leave women without children to fend for themselves? Who polices this? It is also possible that some of these women are only barely out of childhood themselves and need to be kept off the streets for their own good and the good of the community itself. All levels of government should contribute to this.
    Maybe you should be careful who you call an idiot.

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  23. What are you going to do, use your Anonymous internet trolling identity to seek revenge.....idiot.

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  24. Why do people like you always resort to bullying and name calling to make a point? You do realize that it doesn't make you look particularly intelligent don't you?

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  25. ....and furthermore, you are a contemptible person in how you view women and women rights.

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  26. Good grief.

    I left this debate (as anon@4:52) yesterday upon pointing out the complete stupidity of the "novelty" argument, but it appears the debate has carried on and the hole has been dug even further.

    You should re-read your posts - especially those related to that bizarre and manufactured accusation about women vs. children - then do some serious reflecting, and engage in some peer-reviewed reading on the role of public goods and services in a functioning society.

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  27. We're not the ones who separated these issues- you did. We just pointed out how difficult this is to do in the real world versus a book- or maybe you have some kind of manual. What does peer-reviewed reading mean anyway? I think this is one of those phrases that is supposed to tell people how much smarter you are than everyone else.

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  28. " then do some serious reflecting, and engage in some peer-reviewed reading on the role of public goods and services in a functioning society"

    The role? Have you not been following the thread? Without women's shelters it would be anarchy in society.

    Women's shelters are the glue that hold holds society together.

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  29. Ok, back to the issue od the Mendel re-use, I'm not sure that the Mistress realizes that the Children's Museum group is essentially offering to create a major new venue, free of cost to the city. every other major city in western canada has one, including Regina's Science Centre, but usually it costs the city a lot of money. the reason cities help pay for science centers and children's museums is because they stimulate the econonomy through tourism and by helping draw young families to move here. certainly,there is an opportunity cost of not renting the space to business, but do we really want a lulu lemon outlet in our prized building in the heart of our downtown central park that is about to be completely revamped as a children's park thanks to massive donations from pcs? the group proposing the children's museum is legit, composed of professionals across all spectrums. They would really make this happen, and it would draw more people than our $84m art gallery

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  30. Put out tenders!! - heck the city gave station 20 west prime real estate land for a $1 - give the museum the mendel building and let them fundraise the operational costs and ownership. Taxpayers cannot afford to pay for anything else. We are broke!

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