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VANCOUVER - Why is the City of Vancouver the ONLY city that had to waste taxpayer dollars to poll residents on something that we already know? Since a deal was reached in Richmond almost one month ago, everybody knows that the regional wage and term is 17.5% over 5 years. The problem is the City is trying to do everything BUT what 13 other Lower Mainland employers have done to date - NEGOTIATE a deal with their CUPE workers that addresses union issues, such as improvements for part-time workers, pay equity for library workers and language to protect city services and jobs from contracting out.

Currently, 85% of voters on CKNW’s free online poll are saying that the City’s Ipsos-Reid poll was a waste of taxpayer dollars. We agree.

City spokesperson Jerry Dobrovolny keeps repeating the results: 89% of residents feel 17.5% over 5 years is fair and 60% of residents are concerned about the effect on their taxes. When asked why the City conducted the poll Dobrovolny keeps repeating “at the end of the day, taxpayers have to foot the bill.” Does he hear what he is saying?

If the City truly respected taxpayer dollars, would they conduct such a wasteful and expensive poll, especially without democratic approval? Councilors knew nothing about it. When city government does polls, like at budget time, they need to have the poll costs approved by Council and the poll results available to the public - since they were publicly paid.

Not this time. All day yesterday the City would not fess up to having conducted the poll. Mayor Sullivan said it didn’t come out of his office. City officials said they didn’t know anything about it because staff does “stuff” all the time.

City Manager Judy Rogers wouldn’t respond to calls - in fact she hasn’t been seen at all during this labour dispute. Where is the City Manager? Could she be preparing another poll: this one asking what taxpayers think of her $100,000 wage increase over the past two years? Maybe she wants to know how residents feel about her getting paid $320,000 a year to be responsible for a city on strike - when she can’t even bring herself to attend a single bargaining table.

Finally, just before 5:00pm, the City of Vancouver admitted they did know something about it - in fact they were going to release two of the poll results.

Estimated cost of exclusive poll according to Ipsos-Reid: $15,000 x 8 questions = $120,000 *The City of Vancouver is now claiming that this is not true. CUPE can’t be faulted for doing the math. The public can’t be faulted for being concerned. This does beg the question, however, how much IS the City spending on paid advertising and public relations? Why not invest this energy, save taxpayer dollars and restore civic services by getting back to the bargaining table and negotiating a fair deal like Lower Mainland employers are doing all around them?

Read The Province reporter, Christina Mongomery’s story on this: Strike poll blasted as a “waste of money”