Armed with signs accusing the Thompson-Nicola Regional District of “corruption” and “negligence,” Jacob Adams met KTW on Saturday morning (Feb. 20) outside the TNRD Building downtown to discuss frustration over revelations about five years’ worth of spending via former TNRD CAO Sukh Gill’s taxpayer-funded credit card.
The Kamloops This Week series of stories detailed more than a half-million dollars charged — including on big parties, high-end restaurants, regular coffee shop visits, luxury hotels and expensive gifts — in five years before Gill left the regional district under murky circumstances last year.
After reading the story, Adams, 25, said he couldn’t sit at home on a Saturday.
“I just kind of decided that going down here and putting a sign up and at least getting my voice out — it might not be the most effective way, but at least I’m doing something and I’m not just letting it slide,” he said.
Adams, a Queen’s University business grad, grew up in Kamloops and moved back to the city a year ago. He owns a house and pays property taxes, including to the TNRD. Adams also works in the private sector and has a corporate credit card. When he looked at the regional district’s spending, he questioned the lack of receipt itemization and oversight, along with frequency and dollar figures attached to the expenses, noting the private company for which he works has stricter spending protocols and is not funded by taxpayers.
The regional district maintains Gill’s spending occurred within policy and policy changes have since been made. It is not good enough, however, for Adams.
“If your judgment is, ‘Ah, it’s fine to spend $10,000 at these dinners,’ what is their judgment on issues that are going to affect us in the long term?” he asked. “What is your judgment on waste management in the regional district? Are they going to be cheap on things that people actually need because they’ve got to fund their dinners?”
Adams wants to know why more than a half-million dollars was spent on severance for Gill, whose departure was officially labelled a “retirement” as part of a legal agreement between him and the TNRD. Adams also wants money repaid to taxpayers.
“These people are the leaders in our city,” Adams said. “They set the bar for ethics. They set the bar for how people should behave and we follow our leaders. When our leaders are this shady, how do you expect other people in this community to act responsibly?”