Surfing and the city that never learns

HRM gives $145,000 to O'Neill Cold Water Classic surf competition

The city of Halifax is in the midst of a two-pronged sponsorship scandal.

First, of course, is the concert loan scandal, which, among other things, involved secretly handing large amounts of taxpayer money to a private company in the bizarre hope that, well, I'm not sure what they were hoping. Photo ops with aging rock stars, maybe. We'll learn more about this any day now---auditor general Larry Munroe is expected to release his report on the scandal later this week.

The second prong of the sponsorship scandal was detailed in a report Munroe issued earlier this month. Titled Corporate Grants, Donations and Contributions, the report details how the city is wasting $800,000 a year because there's no clear aim of the grants, there's no correlation between the grants and council's focus areas, there's slipshod reporting of grants and a lack of transparency back to the public, among other problems. Munroe urged council to immediately address his concerns, but council has demurred.

So what have councillors done in the wake of this two-pronged sponsorship scandal?

It is unbelievable: caught up in a multi-million dollar scandal involving giving money to a private company, and criticized by their own auditor general for a sloppy grant system, councillors have... voted to give their biggest grant ever, in essence to a private company, for unclear reasons, in the face of a community that doesn't like the event being sponsored.