A year-end expense report, which was on the executive committee agenda last week, shows that Councillor Michael Thompson’s jet-setting cost taxpayers $30,000 in 2018.
Even during an election year, the councillor and economic development chairman managed to fly off twice and three times a month to such exotic places as Buenos Aires, Panama, Mexico City, Nice, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Chengdu, China.
A South American-Mexico trip — labelled the Argentina Mexico Advance Trade Mission — occurred during the depths of winter from Feb. 17-23. That trip cost taxpayers $5,230.
Less than a month later, from March 10-19, he jetted off to France, Turkey and the Netherlands to a real estate conference — to apparently showcase Toronto’s real estate opportunities.
Too bad, he isn’t going this year. I understand there are several empty storefronts on King St., between Bathurst and Jarvis Sts. — courtesy of the pilot project he, Joe Cressy, the city’s transportation bureaucrats and Mayor John Tory have supported which chases cars away from this once vibrant thoroughfare.
This trip only cost taxpayers $5,640. According to city documents, Thompson’s jaunt to Turkey was paid for by the Consultate of Turkey.
There must have been a heckuva lot of showcasing to do since former councillor Michelle Holland joined him, spending $9,234 doing so.
Thompson also accompanied the mayor on a two-day film business mission in April of last year, spending $1,373 on that. The mayor’s tab for the same trip was $2,084.
That doesn’t include two staffers from the mayor’s office who accompanied him — Vic Gupta and Emily Hillstrom. They cost taxpayers $4,449 altogether.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the efforts by Thompson and the mayor to attract the Collision (tech) conference to Toronto this May.
The mayor’s spokesman Don Peat called Collision North America’s “fastest growing tech conference.” He said hosting the conference will provide a “perfect opportunity to promote Toronto as a place for global investment.”
Toronto will be a sponsor of the conference, although Peat said that amount has yet to be determined.
Thompson went to the Collision web submit last May in New Orleans. He was there from May 1-6, costing taxpayers $3,727. The web summit was from April 30-May 1.
Just days after he was re-elected, the economic development jet-setter headed to Lisbon, Portugal — along with Tory and his former chief of staff Chris Eby — to yet again “attract Collision.”
Thompson stayed from Nov. 2-9, racking up a bill of $4,543. Tory cost taxpayers $1,716 for his stay from Nov. 3-6 and Eby spent $2,887 for his Nov. 3-7 stay.
The summit in Lisbon was from Nov. 4-7.
I tried to reach Thompson through e-mails and calls to his office to ask whether he’d penned any reports to council on the value-added of his trips. I was also interested to know why he stayed longer than the actual summit in New Orleans and in Lisbon.
I didn’t even get the courtesy of an acknowledgement.
Meanwhile, the report also shows some pretty high payments to certain nominees to Toronto agencies, boards and commissions.
David McFadden, chairman of Toronto Hydro, took in $75,000 last year for a part-time gig.
Toronto police services board chairman Andy Pringle — Tory’s long-time friend — made $90,963.
The Toronto Local Appeal Body — which was formed in 2017 and hears appeals on committee of adjustment matters — has a slew of municipal lawyers on it.
Ian Lord, a specialist in municipal planning law, took home $106,792 for his efforts last year. Lawyer Stan Makuch made $53,485.
David Wilson, a former director on the Rogers Communications board, made a whopping $180,000 last year to act as chairman of the GTAA. His expenses totalled $20,551.