It makes you want to laugh, and cry.
Here’s the third story posted by CTV News on the subject of executive bonuses at TransLink: “TransLink exec salaries rise despite supposed ‘freeze’.” It’s such a fine example of Bateman Bait, it seems scripted:
TransLink executives are coming under fire from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for continued pay increases.
The Lower Mainland transit authority issued its 2013 salary disclosure documents last Friday afternoon and it shows many executives receiving “record-breaking pay”, according to the CTF.
“If that’s a pay freeze, sign me up,” said CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman in a release. “Only in TransLink’s crazy world a pay freeze mean a pay raise.”
CTV was not alone. CBC used the opportunity of their extended 5 pm newscast to run the whole Reel of Shame – the breakdowns, the delays, the expenditures – and mentioning, of course, the request for more money due to come in the spring referendum.
Ah, the referendum. Effectively, the referendum campaign has started – and at the moment it is about TransLink. And if it remains about TransLink, most believe, it loses. If it’s about our future, how we shape growth, about jobs, the economy and quality of life, it has a chance.
So how’s the campaign going?
CTV News requested an interview with Jarvis but was told he was unavailable.
“I don’t think the ceo needs to stand up and defend his salary.” said, Colleen Brennan TransLink’s Vice President of Communications. “I think the board made a decision on the CEO’s salary. The board’s decision stands and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.”
Ah, the board. The people who made the decisions, who are therefore accountable. They need to explain why what they do is the right thing to do. But like Jarvis, apparently unavailable, or at least not apparent.
The board consists of good, competent people, committed to a better community – leaders, in fact, whether in the private sector or civil society. They bring tested skills of a high order. (Disclosure: I was on the committee that put forward nominees for the board to the Mayors’ Council.)
Many of them do live in the world where executives are compensated in six and seven figures, where bonuses and incentives are considered good practice. It’s the way many believe it should be at a $10-billion corporation. At least if one is not a local politician, and understands that a bonus that’s greater than most people’s income isn’t going to go down well after recent events.
But I can understand why the board members find it distasteful and inappropriate to be slagging it out with the likes of Bateman, that it wasn’t what they were appointed for, that it’s best to have the PR people up front, sticking to the script.
There’s the tragedy. Given what’s at stake – minimally the economy, environment and quality of life of this region – these are leaders who can’t or won’t lead in a way that makes a difference.
And so, at the moment, the referendum is losing by default.