News / Calgary

Jeromy Farkas takes aim at councillors expensing Flames tickets

Councillors get complimentary use of a Saddledome Box once each year

Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas fist bumps an audience member as he walks into the official swearing-in ceremony for Calgary city council on Oct. 23, 2017. Farkas has already renounced his council pension and transition allowance and is now promising not to attend Flames games on taxpayers' dime.

ELIZABETH CAMERON / Calgary Freelance

Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas fist bumps an audience member as he walks into the official swearing-in ceremony for Calgary city council on Oct. 23, 2017. Farkas has already renounced his council pension and transition allowance and is now promising not to attend Flames games on taxpayers' dime.

Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas says he’ll be holding monthly town halls in his ward, and eschewing “exclusive” events such as meetings at Calgary Flames games.

In a Facebook post, Farkas said he’s not comfortable with the practice of spending many thousands of dollars to bring relatively few people to exclusive events such as Calgary Flames games.

Tickets for Flames games have shown up on councillor’s expense claims in the past.

Farkas said he’s planning on holding his first town hall in January, though they’re still working out the details.

“Right now we’re envisioning community halls, libraries, anywhere people would be willing to host us,” he said. “The point is that we can engage with Calgarians at a low cost way.”

Farkas said he can’t speak for other councillors, but he does know that tens of thousands of dollars have been spent on hosting members of the public at hockey games.

He said it’s not so much about the games, but about setting the tone of how his office will act.

“I just know that our money in our Ward 11 office gives as many people as possible an opportunity to be involved.”

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he respects Farkas’ decision, but he’s also not apologetic for taking people from his ward to the games.

Carra explained that the Saddledome Foundation has a box which is used for charity and other city uses.

Each city councillor gets use of the box for one randomly selected game throughout the season.

“I’ve taken the Flames box, which is one of the rights and privileges that city councillors enjoy once a year, to bring my Community Association presidents and business community leaders to a Flames game so we can all have an informal conversation,” said Carra.

This April, Carra expensed eight tickets at a cost of $890 dollars. He explained that he was bringing more guests than there were seats in the box.

He also expensed $1,145 for food for 20 people at the Chrysler Club, a Saddledome restaurant. The expense was listed as 'volunteer appreciation.'

He noted that no alcohol was purchased out of his city budget – it’s something he pays for out of his own pocket, or out of his campaign funds.

Carra said rules and regulations are in place. People have to meet them and some choose to exceed them.

When asked if he would use the Saddledome box when his turn came, Farkas was not ready to say one way or the other.

"There's a lot of stuff I need to be briefed on. I'm not familiar with that at this point."

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