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Raise property taxes all you want…

…but don’t mess with hockey. I am at home recovering from the flu, so I missed yesterday’s storm at city hall—but even from my recovery bed I could hear disaster brewing. Tuesday morning’s news of a proposed 18 per cent fee hike for ice time at city rinks was the main topic on The Fan 590. I urge you to pause and digest that information: the all-sports talk radio station—normally devoted to hockey, basketball, football, soccer, fighting, lacrosse and on down to tiddlywinks—was doing a call-in show about municipal user fee policy, and the lines were lit up like the ACC Jumbotron.

Intending to post on the subject (convalescence be damned—hockey’s at stake here), yesterday morning I e-mailed a jolly chap in the city’s strategic communications department with a couple of questions. Normally he calls back right away; yesterday he responded promptly as always, but this time he perfunctorily passed my request on to an anonymous location called the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Media Hotline. For all I know, the PFR hotline is a phantom office created to throw reporters off the scent of this story, because I didn’t hear back from them all day, not even to acknowledge receipt of my e-mail. I’m not the only one waiting: apparently the department was supposed to issue a clarification yesterday afternoon but decided instead to leave the media twisting in the wind until today—never a good idea, because it just turns the focus of the story toward their own incompetence. I actually intended to say something substantial about the user fee policies, but the circus now has me thoroughly entertained, and I wouldn’t want to spoil such a big, silly, hot-air balloon of media spectacle by popping it with a lance of substance.

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