City council ejects councillor Jeromy Farkas from Monday meeting

Dec 19 2018, 4:22 am

Calgary city council finished up their Monday meeting one councillor short, as Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas had been ejected in a near-unanimous vote of the council — Farkas being the sole member to vote for him to stay in his seat.

The ejection came after a motion to freeze councillors salaries heading into the new year, which failed in a vote of nine to six.

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Calgary city councillors are paid according to the 12-month average weekly earnings of Albertans, and their salaries are adjusted as such every January.

Farkas had called for a 5% reduction in salary at the meeting, though his motion was not seconded by any other councillor. Following the failed motion, Farkas posted on Facebook stating that the council was expecting to see an estimated 2.3% raise in 2019, as those were the figures sent to him by November by the City’s HR department.

However, the city’s chief financial officer stated at Monday’s meeting of council that a more recent estimation found that council would actually see a slight decrease in salary in 2019, though the official estimate would not be available until December 20.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi called on Farkas to rescind what he said in the Facebook post and to apologize, which Farkas refused to do, leading to his eventual ejection from the meeting.

“To rely on the old information when you know […] that there is newer information is dishonest and irresponsible,” Nenshi told Farkas at the council meeting shortly before accepting the motion that resulted in his ejection.

Farkas doubled down on Facebook afterwards, posting a screenshot of his email to the city’s HR department on November 21, which stated that “according to my tracking at this time the number is sitting at 2.34%,” though the email also noted that the percentage had not yet taken November and December data into account, nor had it been cross-checked.

Following the meeting, Nenshi was joined by the remaining 13 councillors to speak to media about the ejection, stating that Farkas’ post was untrue, as there had been more recent information on the salary estimate available at the meeting.

“We abide by a code of conduct that says we treat everyone with respect, that we treat everyone with honesty, we treat everyone with dignity,” Nenshi said following the meeting. “In an age of misinformation, it’s important that every single one of us abides by a real simple tenant; we tell the truth every day.”

Still, Farkas’ latest Facebook post shows that he is not budging on the idea that the November 21 email was the last official update:

“We disagree on the numbers, and council wants me to retract what I posted. What I posted is the most recent official information available, direct from the City’s Human Resources team,” Farkas said in a December 18 Facebook post.

“While this is NOT final, I will post what the official number is, once it is available on December 20th. There is speculation that the number will come in to be lower, or even a reduction, but that has not been confirmed.”

Whether or not Farkas will be sitting in his regular seat alongside his fellow councillors at the next meeting on Wednesday remains to be seen.

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