CALGARY (660 NEWS) – It was a wild afternoon Monday inside City Hall as councillors voted 14-1 to eject one of their own, Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas.
It all started earlier in the day over a motion for council to freeze their pay due to the tough economic times. Farkas had been operating under information provided to him by the HR leader of compensation.
City council salaries are determined by a formula and a citizen-led committee. It takes several things into account including the average weekly earnings of Albertans.
In documentation provided to the media by Farkas’ office, the municipal politician says he was told they would be looking at a 2.43 per cent pay increase. He was also warned there would be two more numbers to come for the months of November and December.
Later in the meeting, he was told by the Chief Financial Officer, that those figures were wrong and council would be looking at a pay cut.
Farkas posted the information to his Facebook page and after a brief break from their in-camera session it was revealed he had been ejected.
“We heard that it was just conjecture, back of the napkin calculations at this point, your guess is as good as mine until December 20 when we have that official information,” he said.
Farkas had asked to see if they could put the motion off until January but he couldn’t find anyone to second his motion.
“I won’t apologize for representing my constituents, I think it’s so important for council to lead by example,” said Farkas. “I stand by the fact that we need a pay freeze, or even more than that, a pay reduction.”
Farkas was asked what he took from the 14-1 vote, he called it a difference of opinion, an over-reaction on the part of his colleagues and added the move was undemocratic.
He was under the assumption that he would be ejected until the next election and planned to seek legal advice.
Being ejected meant he would not be able to vote on a motion from another councillor to reduce next year’s budget by $4-million.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi repeated his comments later outside to the media with the rest of council standing in behind him.
“What you saw was what members of council felt to be a violation of the code of conduct and in my capacity as chair, I asked for a rescinding of that action,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “I’m not going to say much more about that because a lot of things will happen from here on in, I will say that council passed a motion to ask Councillor Farkas to leave for the remainder of today’s meeting or until he issues an apology and a retraction of his statement, whichever comes earlier.”
One councillor appeared to suggest Farkas would be out until he makes that apology but Nenshi clarified in saying Farkas would be welcome to return at Wednesday’s council meeting.
“All of my colleagues on council, we disagree on many things, mostly we agree which is a funny thing, most of our resolutions are unanimous or near-unanimous on city council, but on this we stand united,” Nenshi added. “Which is that we live in an age of weaponized misinformation as Councillor Carra calls it. Every single one of us goes to work every single day in this place, for one simple reason. We do this because we love this city and we want what’s best for the city and we want what’s best for the citizens of the city.”
Council in the end, voted against Councillor Sutherland’s motion for a pay freeze instead opting to take the pay cut they were getting anyways and to leave it in the hands of the citizen-led committee.