The discussion around Victoria city council’s vote for a breathtaking raise, the size, the work, comparisons with other jurisdictions, all miss the point.
City council defines its work and now wants to use that work to justify deciding its own compensation. This is a conflict of interest and, by definition, is unethical decision-making and bad governance from our leaders.
In the past, elected officials behaved like they were responsible for protecting the ethics of decision making. We’d hold them accountable for good governance because it’s the foundation of western democracy, and our freedom. If not our elected officials, then who? We are less free today because of decisions like this.
Bad governance erodes trust in democratic institutions, creates cynicism, lowers engagement and polarizes the community. There is no greater crime against democratic office than to choose to erode trust by abandoning ethical decision-making. How are we free if we cannot trust our elected officials?
By the way, if you are an elected official reading this and the checklist above: Good governance is asking someone else (not yourselves) how you’re doing, ideally someone who will tell you the truth.