He’s already been heavily criticized for billing taxpayers more than $12,000 over two years for DaleTV, but Councillor Dale Henderson is now facing additional scrutiny over his gas expenses.
AM980 has learned Henderson charged taxpayers almost $5,000 for gas in 2013, or about $400 a month. The average Canadian spends approximately $225 a month at the pumps.
For each month in 2013, expense records show Henderson put forward bills totalling between $304 and $491.
AM980 contacted Councillor Henderson to give him an opportunity to comment on his car-related expenses, but he declined to speak about the matter. He said all of the information regarding his submitted expenses is posted online, available to the public and legal.
Those expenses, along with others billed by London City Councillors during 2013, will be discussed at the Corporate Services Committee meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
These vehicle-related expenses are just the latest of Henderson’s bills to come under fire.
Last week, it was discovered the councillor spent $4,500 on his infamous Dale TV YouTube series in 2013. He hasn’t produced a video in about 10 months.
Henderson was previously criticized for spending $7,800 of taxpayer money on the initiative in 2012.
A brief rundown shows the Ward 9 councillor spent the cash on video editing, broadcasting fees and broadcast equipment last year.
But what exactly has come from all of that remains to be seen.
Speaking with AM980 about the costs for Dale TV on Monday morning, Henderson says he feels the venture is a way to come up with new ideas about how to improve the city.
“When I got elected, I thought I could sit down and talk with other Councillors and come up with some ideas,” Henderson said. “I mean, I’ve got an idea a day for heaven’s sake for how to do better business in the city and to save, and get the best bang for the buck when it comes to taxpayer’s money.”
“But then I found out that oh geez, you can’t have three or four people sit down and have a breakfast without the Ombudsman coming at you from a political standpoint.”
He defended his choice to continue pouring money into the controversial venture.
“I think this is the best way that we can start talking to people in London about what’s going on, what’s the government doing, doesn’t matter which level of government, who’s going to say it. And the media, if they don’t pick it up as a story, you never hear about it, other than the internet, and of course who know how to find anything on the internet,” Henderson says.
“From this standpoint, I think it’s the way of the future.”
Henderson has indicated he will be keeping the equipment he purchased after he leaves office and has previously confirmed he will not be seeking re-election this fall.
That’s something that doesn’t sit will with Henderson’s council colleague Ward 5 Councillor Joni Baechler.
“I don’t believe (the equipment) should be the property of the councillor. (It’s) used in the service of the job. I think the appropriate thing is to see if someone else at the city can use (it), be it another councillor, in a different way that’s more interactive,” Baechler tells AM980.
“If I recall one of the videos I watched, there isn’t even the ability to comment. The comment portion is closed.”
Baechler says they’ve tried to close expense loopholes in the past, but it’s clear some questionable bills are still getting through.
“You almost need another task force to get together and say, ‘These are the things you can and can’t do’,” she says. “But it gets to the point where you’re trying to legislate common sense and that’s really frustrating.”
As for Henderson’s gas bills, Baechler doesn’t like those either.
“The reality is, you apply to be an elected official and your job is to go to City Hall and various meetings,” Baechler says. “That’s part of your job and to just start charging for what is incurred just as part of the job, I have a real problem with that.”
“If you’re running for election and you’re going to be charging for travel, tell people up front.”
With files from Trudy Shaw and Natalie Lovie