Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dithering, major and minor, a rant

OK, fair warning. You might want to have a kleenex handy. Or maybe a drop cloth. There's almost certain to be some frothing here.

To bring you up to speed, a little while ago some people got the idea that it would be a good idea to bid for another Olympic Games to happen here. Calgary did it in 88 and a good time was had by all or so it was said. I lived here then, and mostly ignored it.

That was then, this is now.

It was a secretive affair right from the start. Mayor and Council pushed it, for whatever reasons. I'll be charitable about that. A committee was struck and hooves and snouts were firmly placed into the trough. They've stayed there through thick and thin, and there's been a lot of thin.

There's been a bit of Olympics boosting by the usual suspects, and those that can't add. People I chat to are uniformly against doing it. Commentary on social media is almost uniformly against it. The yes side denigrates the social media chatter, though I haven't heard them call it fake news. Maybe I missed it.

As was to be expected, there was a lot of squabbling about money. None of the levels of government involved have big pots of money to put to this, and the people involved are well aware of the potential (the certainty) of it all going over budget. There was lots of backing and forth-ing, and meanwhile the date of the plebiscite is growing closer.

There's been lots of midnight oil burned trying to make the ends meet, probably billed at double time. Eventually the committee recommended to Council they pull the plug on it, and cancel the plebiscite. That was Tuesday. They stayed up late Tuesday night, playing jiggery pokery with the numbers. Council meeting had a clear question Wednesday morning, to cancel or not. They allowed the bid committee in to explain the numbers as best they could. As near as I can tell from a distance it's sort of like squaring the circle. They were allowed shameless promotion, but wouldn't allow the No side in for even a presentation, let alone equal time.

It went on and on. Finally about 5 pm, they voted 8 to 7 to pull the plug. Unfortunately because of Council rules it took 10 votes. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement to the bid proposal. I fully expect the numbers to change more. We go to the polls November 13 to vote, and I beg my Calgary readers, put a stake in this vampire. Pity they don't allow all Canadian taxpayers a vote, since they've got a dog in this fight.

Why they dithered over such a simple question is beyond me. Say it with me. We don't have the money. Not as a city, not as a province, not as a country. Here in Alberta we are just coming out of a brutal recession, and lots of people are still stuck in it. Just the other day, one of my former co-workers was told he no longer works there, so the layoffs haven't ended.

I think they dithered because they knew it was a bad idea. They knew the numbers make no sense, and are not realistic. They knew the budget was a joke. They knew (or should know if they haven't been bought off) that the IOC is corrupt. But they also knew they didn't want to be seen as the ones pulling the plug on all the effort put into the bid so far.

There's a phrase for that, throwing good money after bad. That's what we're doing, and we've been doing it for a while. They are deeply invested in the sunk cost fallacy. It will come back to haunt them next election. Some of us will remember who voted to continue this shambles.

One of the hardest things in life is saying no. But there are times it's the right thing to do, and the sooner it happens the better for all involved. Then they can move on to something more productive. That's what Council is paid the big bucks to do, and they failed Calgary on this issue. They should have said no when the issue first came up. Yeah, sure it would have hurt the feelings of a few proto-trotters, but so what. Life is hard. Let them find another trough to put their snout into.

When you're in charge of a billion dollar budget it might like seem there has to be room for everything, but it isn't true. At $50 million or more for an interchange, (162 Ave was $78 million) it adds up quick. One needs to work from a set of priorities, and think about clever ways to save money, but often, the most important thing is to say no, and move on.

It's not like this is a one time thing. I remember the multi-decade fluoridation debacle. That went on and on, back and forth. Don't get me started on the secondary suites issue. It's quiet now, but it's sort of like a sleeping dragon. There are more issues. If you're on City Council you need to have a thick hide, be able to do the math, and vote accordingly.

As for me, I've got a couple minor league dithers on the go. There is Image of the Month to be considered, and there are several excellent candidates.

I'm still considering my goals. Whoops, I just realized I'm referencing a blog that I've written, but haven't published yet. You'll have to come back for that one. I'd rather get the rant up while it's timely.

I dithered about going for a run, or doing a spin session this morning. I rewrote a scene that hadn't been working, and now it mostly does. It needs a bit of dressing up but I'm pretty happy with it. When I looked up I realized it was a nice day out, and ended the dither. (Hear that, City Council!) I dressed, and ran. 5K, 34:30 with happy feet.

1 comment:

  1. I know, I know, the die has been cast but I haven't read that far yet. So number 10 is still a 5 and gets my vote for image of the month. Number 15 is so close but not quite a 5 so it is a runner up.
    I have made any number of sacrifices to the gods of common sense in the hopes that Calgary votes no. Unfortunately the gods are fickle and common sense is not that common. Let us hope. Cheers, Sean


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