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"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nothing closer to the truth

Danny Williams hated Eddie Joyce.

For reasons that are little-understood, but which would seem, from the outside, to go far beyond the mere fact that Eddie Joyce had the unmitigated gall to defeat Mike Monaghan in the 2003 election, Danny Williams hate-hate-hated Eddie Joyce.

Maybe it was because Eddie Joyce could, from time to time, really get under Danny's skin. The Premier's retorts to Joyce in the House of Assembly were, at best, juvenile; at worst — and more often than not that's where they were at — vicious, venemous, and vitriolic.

Who knows.

For some reason Danny Williams absolutely hated Eddie Joyce.

And what did he do about it?

Why, like any good Smallwood-Duplessis-style petty provincial despot, he took it out on the good residents of Eddie Joyce's district, that epicentre of Pavement Politics, Bay of Islands.

In 2004, the first full year during which Danny sat, Smallwood-like, on top of the public chest, Bay of Islands received a whopping $240,000 in Provincial Roads Improvement funding.

How do you like that, Eddie? Huh? Whattya gonna do about that, you Eddie-ot? Huh?

In 2005, either Bay of Islands got nothing under PRIP, or the amount was so embarassingly small that Open And Accountable Government™ never bothered to announce it publicly. Open and Accountable Government™ is more than welcome to correct the record on that point.

Open and Accountable Government did, however, see to it that criticism from the then-MHA, said, hated, Mr. Joyce, did not go uncondemned in its turn:

"If Mr. Joyce has an issue with road work in his district, then he should call myself or one of my senior staff directly," said the minister. "Our engineers will investigate any concern that one might have, whether it be a politician or someone in the general public. He doesn’t have to issue press releases to make his concerns known. That is simply a matter of professional courtesy."
In 2006, Open and Accountable Government™ once again failed to release an exact dollar amount for highways projects in Bay of Islands, instead lumping the district in with two other refusnik portions of the province which had also failed to vote correctly in 2003. The total amount for the three was $840,000, which works out to an average of $280,000 per district. Open and Accountable Government™, once again, is invited to correct the record on that point as well.

In any event, the share of that $840,000 which ended up under the wheels of Eddie Joyce's constituents could not have been more than $799,999. And why not? Because in 2007, the veil was lifted, and it was announced that Bay of Islands would get a generous $800,000 under PRIP, with the Minister responsible explaining:
"The need for funding in this district was apparent and we have responded with this significant investment," said Minister Hickey. "This is the largest allocation of funds in Bay of Islands for the Provincial Roads Improvement Program in the last six years."
"The last six years", of course, would include the four years, 2004 through 2007 inclusive, in which Open and Accountable Government™ was sitting on that famous public chest.

Which brings us to 2008.

Bay of Islands, formerly represented by Opposition Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce, was the subject of what really ought to have been a more infamous exchange during the last election.

On the campaign trail, accused of spending highways money in his own party's districts, the Premier protested, "no no no no no no no ... there's nothing further from the truth", and told the dissenter to "Mark your "X" for 'Eddiot'!"

Nothing further from the truth.

In 2008, having, as they say, "seen the light", and voted for Tory Terry Loder — Mr. Monaghan having been appointed to the provincial bench as compensation for his humiliation by Eddiot in 2003 — Bay of Islands is receiving $2,500,000 in PRIP funding. That amount would seem not just to exceed, but nearly double, its allocations during the entire previous four years of Williams Government™.

It was strange, though, to see Danny Williams protesting that dissenter's accusation.

After all, his former Minister of Porkbarrelling was quite blatant about the behaviour at the heart of the underlying criticism:
Minister Rideout says he offers no apologies for addressing transportation issues in government districts throughout the province. "When the previous administration was in power, opposition districts were highly neglected," said the minister. "This neglect now needs to be addressed, and that is exactly the action our department is taking.

"I had an analysis completed for the last five years that the previous administration was in office. Statistics from this analysis clearly indicate that the largest percentage of the allocated funding for roads went to government districts.

"I make no apologies now for addressing areas that were neglected when the previous administration was in power."
Open and Accountable Government™ might wish to release that 2005 analysis — ideally of its own volition, rather than, let's say, in response to an ATIP request.

It might also wish to update that analysis, using the same methodology, to include highways funding data up to at very least 2007. (Highways HappyMoney™ Announcement Season 2008 is far from over.)

Such an updated, and public, document could come in very useful. In that same 2005 press release, the Good Minister said:

"I have not received any recommendations from my senior officials to address the north shore road during this construction season. At no point has Route 440 been brought to my attention as requiring immediate upgrades by my senior officials or the MHA for the Bay of Islands District.
And the Premier himself pledged, in 2003 campaign-period press release which, totally unsurprisingly, is no longer on the PC Party web site:

Williams to address infrastructure needs under a new priority-based plan

Gander, October 2, 2003 - Progressive Conservative Party Leader and Humber West incumbent candidate Danny Williams says deteriorating or unfinished infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, will be brought up to an acceptable standard under a new priority-based plan that his government will implement if elected.

...

"... Our approach will be to identify what needs to be done, to prioritize projects based on their contribution to economic development - not political expediency and patronage as under the present government - and get on with their development as early as possible."

An updated analysis, on a district-by-district basis, up to and including 2007, and, when finalized, 2008 as well, would reveal just how much the recent Ministers of Highway HappyMoney™ have deferred to "recommendations from [their] senior officials", and just how successful Danny Williams has been at "addressing infrastructure needs", under a "priority-based plan", one that is not based on "political expediency and patronage".

So, how about it, Minister Openness? Minister Accountability?

Were the "priorities" in the "priority-based plan" partisan political priorities, and not economic and engineering ones?

Or was Eddiot's supporter right all along?

3 Comments:

At 7:57 PM, March 24, 2008 , Blogger Mark said...

Wally - of course it's NEEDS based.

As in: Ya NEEDS to vote the right way b'y.

 
At 4:15 PM, March 25, 2008 , Blogger Peter said...

Wallace:
Your dig at Peter Whittle is unfair, unless you feel you have a monopoly on sarcasm. If you read his whole post, you'll realize the line about residents "seeing the light" is clearly tongue in cheek.
-Peter Jackson

 
At 4:56 PM, March 25, 2008 , Blogger Mark said...

If I had a monopoly on sarcasm, I'd sell it to Ted Rogers.

 

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