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The Mayor’s Salary and Darryl Wolk

Darryl Wolk is making a career out of baiting Tony Van Bynen about the Mayor’s salary.

In a furious broadside of tweets today he tells his readers that Van Bynen “refuses to justify his outrageous salary” which is “greedy and corrupt”. He says the Mayor, Council and staff are lining their own pockets and the CAO, Bob Shelton, should perhaps be replaced on the grounds that there are “no financial controls at all. Expense fraud common. Mayor salary top secret.”

All this is completely and wildly over the top.

I like Darryl Wolk. Even though his politics are all over the place he adds to the gaiety of the nation. He is in perpetual campaign mode and refuses to go away. I like that. It keeps people on their toes. But by spraying around allegations of corruption and by endlessly repeating the so-called “fact” that Tony Van Bynen is the fourth highest paid Mayor in Canada is to undermine his more general case against the current incumbents at Mulock Drive – that he considers they are totally useless.

The Mayor’s salary and benefits are now posted on the Town’s website. I approve. Until earlier this year, we never got the whole story and it was only after I had written to the Council’s Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Shelton, pointing out that the Municipal Act required the publication of the Mayor’s remuneration from Newmarket Hydro, that Van Bynen’s total package was revealed.

Wolk’s poison darts aimed at the Mayor miss their mark when it is perfectly clear Van Bynen is not even the highest paid Mayor in York Region. Van Bynen gets more than enough to keep the wolf from the door but it is not a King’s ransom. In fact, there are police constables in York Region bringing in over $160,000 a year.  Wolk needs to keep a sense of proportion and some perspective. (If the Sunshine List's $100,000 threshold had been uprated for inflation it would be at $145,000 by now.)

Van Bynen is an intelligent man

The Mayor has some significant strengths. He appears avuncular, projecting a persona which suggests the Town is safe in his hands. He is good at chairing meetings – in the sense of keeping order and getting through the business. Van Bynen is an intelligent man so when he chooses to say nothing about some boiling controversy, or makes himself scarce, this is done out of calculation not inadvertence.

The Mayor believes openness and transparency are the enemies of good public administration instead of being a prerequisite. When changes are made - such as the new remuneration page on the Town’s website - he probably agrees reluctantly. The initiative most certainly did not come from him.

But instead of getting worked up into a lather about Van Bynen’s ranking in the salary league table of Canada’s Mayors we should concentrate laser-like on the way he runs the Town.

There are enough examples to fill a book but I select here one or two of the most egregious. Van Bynen did not give any explanation to the Glenway Lessons learned meeting about the extent of his prior knowledge of the boycott of the OMB Glenway Hearing by the Town’s top planning staff. The Town spent $500,000 going to the OMB when Van Bynen already knew it was doomed to fail and a quiet, leafy neighbourhood would be transformed beyond all recognition.

Van Bynen also has a track record of knowingly withholding relevant information from the OMB when Newmarket matters are before it and up for decision.

It will be a moment to savour if Van Bynen ever summons up the courage to campaign for his third term priority - the reform of the OMB.

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