Saturday February 5, 2011

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday February 5, 2011

Mayor’s donation may skirt rules

Mayor Bob Bratina’s $10,000 donation to the local United Way campaign appears to violate a city rule about charitable giving by elected officials.

Councillors and the mayor are permitted to give as much of their office budgets to charity as they choose, but individual donations to a single organization are capped at $350 per year. To give more than that, councillors are required to seek council approval.

But the mayor and his staff vigorously defend his actions.

Bratina said during a media conference Wednesday morning that he chose the United Way of Greater Hamilton and Burlington because it is an umbrella organization that funnels money to 75 organizations across the two cities.

“We don’t have time to assess individual projects … Thanks to the United Way for making this easy for us to give.”

When asked whether it’s appropriate to use tax dollars for charity, Bratina responded: “It’s ridiculous. I’d rather not answer that question. The public can judge for themselves.”

Rob Rossini, the city’s general manager of finance, said Bratina’s office could choose to break the total down into roughly 29 cheques of $350 earmarked to specific charities funded by United Way.

Bratina said he also made a personal donation to the charity, but declined to reveal the amount.

Senior city staff were aware of Bratina’s intentions before he called the media to his office to hand over a ceremonial cheque to United Way CEO Len Lifchus. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)