Top cop’s dirty laundry aired in council

It’s my job to make municipal politics interesting; to sift through bylaw amendments and filter out the painfully dull language

It’s my job to make municipal politics interesting; to sift through bylaw amendments and committee agendas and filter out the painfully dull language of bureaucracy to bring you the slightly more biased and considerably more palatable soundbites to which we’re all accustomed.

Sometimes the news lends itself to this process, usually with the help of organizations like the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group. Last week, the folks responsible for the research-project-turned-campaign Out of Sight: Policing Poverty in Victoria turned their attention to near-infamous Chief Jamie Graham of the VicPD with a presentation detailing the former Vancouver chief’s turbulent history.

“Jamie Graham has a notorious reputation for promoting discrimination against street-involved people,” said VIPIRG committee member Gordon O’Connor. “He still refuses to apologize for widespread police violence during his tenure as Vancouver police chief. Since coming to Victoria, Graham has actively persecuted addicts by cutting off access to harm reduction services.”

The workshop came on the heels of a presentation to Victoria City Council requesting several dramatic changes to bylaws which VIPIRG says unfairly impact the city’s homeless population. The resulting motion by councillor Ben Isitt to repeal bylaws banning nearly any physical presence on Pandora Green boulevard and allowing for the confiscation of inconveniently placed possessions will be discussed on April 19.

That’s the news that makes my job easy. More often than not, current events here in the capital are far less accommodating — something I had ample time to dwell on this week at a presentation entitled “Distribution of Property Taxes amoung Tax Classes.” Fortunately, it’s a short leap from discussing taxes to expounding on the myriad ways in which we the public are left to deal with the haphazard expenditures of local government.

The presentation outlines changes to the city’s tax policy, which, if implemented, would decrease the portion of the city’s income drawn from the business community and peg future tax collection to the city’s desired levels rather than the assessed values of homes and businesses in the community. In short, this new policy would ensure that ratepayers rather than the city bear the brunt of any major decline in the city’s economic health.

It may be bias that ensures the moral to every story is “You’re getting screwed,” but I prefer to think I’m just doing my job. M

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