I live in Calgary, Alberta, a city which I suspect is similar to other Canadian cities in that our civic affairs are governed by City Aldermen or Alderwomen, or for the politically correct, just plain Councillors.  Where these people come from is a mystery to me, but at least as far as Calgary is concerned, the Councillors are a collection of individuals who do not have the qualifications—or common sense—to be in charge of what has become a multimillion-dollar enterprise.  I am confident that anyone reading this blog who owns a company would not hire any of our Councillors—or our mayor—to work for them. Yet, these folks think they have the ability to manage the affairs of a major Canadian municipality. 

And events have proven that they clearly do not.

Besides being inept in business, these people do things to their citizens that are more than annoying and cost large sums of money to implement or study, and the citizens have little if any say in the decisions that are made.  Ten million tax dollars were frivolously spent on examining the viability of bidding for the Winter Olympic Games. Sixteen million dollars were recently allocated to study the viability of a Field House/Sports complex that has become the pet project of one of our councillors and which was approved by a majority of his colleagues even though our city is in the throes of the worst recession in the last fifty years.  One would reasonably think that this is the right time to be prudent with tax dollars.  The majority of Calgary’s Councillors obviously disagree.

The list goes on:

  • A multimillion-dollar library that is an incredibly expensive facility used by a small fraction of our population. It’s hard to get to (and difficult to find parking spot once you get there) and was probably obsolete the day it opened.
  • A one-hundred-million-dollar business development fund, which has the intended purpose of attracting employers to Calgary, is working at cross purposes while business taxes increase at a ridiculous rate. This particular fund is administered by people of questionable business acumen but who are part of Calgary’s “in crowd.”  
  • A debatably useless multimillion dollar vehicular tunnel that was the pet project of a mayor who spends money the city simply does not have and then becomes defensive and downright rude when anyone has the audacity to challenge his harebrained ideas. 
  • Overpaid civic employees with pensions and other perks the rest of us can only dream of. 
  • A multimillion-dollar bridge that continues to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to repair the vandalism that occurs on a regular basis. The bridge cannot be protected by our police department even though the Police Service appears to have sufficient manpower for officers to sit in their cars trying to catch unsuspecting motorists who may be exceeding the speed limit by a few kilometres per hour.

These are just some of the downright stupid decisions our city Councillors have made and which drive thinking persons to distraction.

But there are other annoyances imposed on our citizens by these “imposers” who continually get away with causing the rest of us grief over and over again.  Multiple garbage bins litter our city.  Garbage pick-up schedules have been reduced to the point that by Garbage Day, the bins are overflowing while at the same time, bins designated for compostable materials are virtually empty, especially during the winter months.  Yet every week, City of Calgary employees dutifully makes their rounds, dumping virtually nothing into their trucks.

The garbage issue is several-fold. Unlike Ottawa, for example, there are no rules regarding the storage of these bins. Although I put our bins in the garage, others leave these ugly looking, dirty, bug-infested receptacles in front of their houses, which adds a most unpleasant dimension to what was once a very nice-looking, well-kept street.  In Ottawa, these bins must be stored out of sight.  But that is not a requirement in Calgary.

A few years ago it was decided, without input from citizens, that both School Zones and Playground Zones would, henceforth, be called Playground Zones with a restricted speed limit from, I believe, 7:30am to 8:30 pm, seven days a week.  And of course, the police are out in full force to ensure that the speed limit is obeyed while, at the same time, filling their coffers with increased taxes masquerading as fines.  Even at 8 pm on a February evening when the temperature is 20 degrees below zero, you dare not exceed the posted, arbitrarily imposed speed limit; some so-called police officer, sitting in a unmarked van, will take a picture of your licence plate and you will receive a ticket in the mail.

These actions depreciate the role of the police in the minds of all those who are victimized by this kind of government-endorsed abuse of its citizens. In fact, I wrote a letter of complaint to the then-acting Chief of Police but was not favoured with a reply.  When I brought this discourtesy to the attention of my Ward’s councillor, he was, he said, reluctant to raise the matter with the interim Chief because he might get in trouble with the City’s Ethics Commissioner!  What a wonderful society in which we find ourselves in the 21st Century.  Only a few years ago, my Alderman would have picked up the phone and rattled the Interim Chief’s chain. That practical approach, it seems, is no longer politically correct and is considered unethical.

In Rancho Mirage, California, they have, of course, schools with signs limiting speed but only “when children are present.”  Doesn’t that make some sense even to the dullest of minds?

Spring arrives in Calgary, and after long cold winters, homeowners start work on their properties.  Lawns are raked, aerated, fertilized, weeded, cut and watered.  Just when the grass begins to grow and change colour from brown to green, along comes this year’s crop of dandelions, a particularly annoying and ugly weed which left unattended, will ruin a lawn by choking out the grass. So, many of us head to Canadian Tire to purchase Killex to spray on our dandelions to get rid of them and return our lawns to what they were intended to be.  But this is a losing battle, a fool’s errand.  You know why? The great stone brains who populate our City Hall have decided not to spay dandelions on city property, and our school boards follow suit. It doesn’t matter to these so-called decision makers whether we like the result or not. They have bowed to the wishes of a small minority, and we are forced to look at what can best be described as a total blight throughout our City, a situation you never encounter in the aforementioned beautiful, exceedingly well-run City of Rancho Mirage.

As previously noted, business taxes are increasing to ridiculous levels.  That, coupled with parking restrictions in areas such as 4th Street, Inglewood, Kensington and 17th Avenue— locations where small businesses once prospered—makes one wonder if the City decision makers are purposely devising plans that are adverse to business interests and their success.  Everywhere one turns, the City has its hand out for parking fees or is issuing parking tickets to those attempting to support small businesses that populate the areas mentioned.  And we accept this nonsense without fighting back.

How about security lines at various airports, Calgary’s included?  It seems to me that without question, the terrorists have been successful in inconveniencing millions of people as they are subjected to the indignity of luggage searches, body scanners and interrogation by people who look, and sometimes sound, like the very people you would be nervous sitting next to on an aircraft. 

Now, I understand the necessity for proper security, but this security issue has taken on a life of its own.  And we bow to this indignity without a whimper.  We dutifully get to the airport at least two hours before departure. We are required to do our own check-in and bag tagging, and to take our luggage to a drop-off point before heading to a long, annoying security line to welcome the aforementioned abuse by grumpy security personnel who appear to hate their jobs and treat us with disdain. When we return home from our trip, we are once again required to satisfy the authorities that we are not importing illegal or dangerous stuff.  These people with a uniform and a badge seldom welcome you home but instead, treat you like an international criminal, hell-bent on destroying society as we know it. Many of these people should seriously consider finding a job they like.

My point is, we put up with this inconvenience and abuse and have become not unlike those in captivity, being marched to their deaths without as much as a peep of protest.  Aren’t you sick of being a sheep?  Don’t you think there are ways to satisfy security concerns while treating us with just a modicum of respect?

I could go on with example after example after example, but here’s one last annoyance.  The City of Calgary is involved in businesses it should never, ever participate in.  Golf courses should not be part of the City’s business plan. The aforesaid garbage pickup should be privatized. The City of Calgary owns a company called Enmax, which provides electricity and water services to its citizens and in the process, gouges the recipients of its services to a criminal extent.  We get charged ridiculously excessive fees by this outfit.  We have no idea if what we are being charged is fair or legitimate.  If we question a bill (once we finally get to talk to a live person), we are given what amounts to mumbo jumbo by some youngster on the other end of the phone who would probably have trouble telling you what day it is, never mind answering your inquiry about why your bill was so high when you had been away from Calgary for three months. Ultimately, you give up and just write the experience off as just one more hidden tax grab, compliments of the duds who purport to run our city.

I know my frustrations are shared by the majority of others.  I talk to people and my concerns are their concerns.  However, the common thread is that no one knows what to do about the raving incompetence that pervades much of our lives.  My premise is that the State has made us sheep-like.  I believe the egomaniacs who think they know how to run an enterprise like the City of Calgary know we can do little to oppose these moronic decisions except, every few years, to vote for someone else.  We, the citizens of Calgary (and I suspect other Canadian cities), should have known better years ago and done our best to encourage good people to seek the office of Mayor or Councillors.  In Rancho Mirage, for example, the Mayor and Councillors are retired successful business people who know how to govern in a businesslike manner without a desire for excessive salaries and pensions.  Rancho Mirage has no debt; in fact, it has a huge surplus.  Its roadways are beautifully paved with stunning landscaping throughout the City.  Its traffic lights are coordinated, allowing for the smooth flow of traffic. The city supports the arts and outstanding speaker’s forums.  And it has a functional library that did not come with a multimillion-dollar price tag. 

Granted, Rancho Mirage is much smaller than Calgary and no doubt easier to administer, but the idea of successful, retired former business people, combined in the form of a civic political party running candidates in all wards and advancing a unified agenda for our city, would do away with much of the annoyances endured by those who take the time to think about what alternatives to our present debacle might just work.

Unless you enjoy being abused by high taxes, various indignities inflicted on you by government or quasi government employees, or you are happy with incompetent leadership at all levels, do something!  Write your elected officials, protest their inept ideas, and fight back when you are abused by some supercilious, power-hungry rent-a-cop who delights in causing you grief.  If you do not fight back, the annoyances I have described will only get worse.