Former Alderman evades reporters on surplus

Former Ward 11 Ald. Barry Erskine hasn’t returned numerous phone calls from reporters who want to ask him what he’s going to do with his campaign surplus.

Fast Forward has been trying to contact Erskine since late September when we began investigating campaign financing. We have left numerous messages at his aldermanic office as well as his cellphone voicemail. He hasn’t returned our calls. Other reporters have had similar experiences.

After the 2004 election Erskine had a $6094 surplus. Calgary’s campaign financing laws allow him to keep this money as well as any money he fundraised between 2004 and September 2007 when he announced he wouldn’t run for re-election. Because he didn’t declare candidacy Erskine doesn’t legally have to disclose how much he raised or who it came from.

In addition to his campaign surplus and pension Erskine is also walking away with almost $50000 in “transition allowance.” After aldermen leave office they get two weeks salary for every year they spent in office. Since Erskine was in office for 15 years and his 2007 salary was $82745 he’ll get a transition allowance of $47738. “It’s a double standard” says Scott Hennig the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “No one working in the private sector — no one working for the city government either — if they quit their job or retire would get paid a severance…. There shouldn’t be one set of rules for politicians and another set of rules for everyone else.” (JK)