Chair: I'd like to call to order this special meeting of the TransLink board of directors. Does everyone have a cocktail? Good. Now I know that we're only scheduled to meet officially four times in this calendar year, but these are extraordinary circumstances. As you all know, the goal here is to do something – anything – to try to restore public confidence in TransLink. So this week we decided to get rid of our CEO – who also happens to be the most expensive person on the payroll and as such is a lightning rod for criticism. We've done that. Ian Jarvis is no more, but in order to abide by the terms of our contract with him we have to keep him around as a consultant until next June.
Board Member 1: You mean this June, right? June of 2015?
Chair: No, next June, 2016. Until then he'll be paid his full salary.
Board Member 2: And he makes what – $420,000 a year?
Chair: (Pouring champagne into a tall crystal flute) That's right. (Holds up bottle) Anyone?
Board Member 5: Ta.
Chair: Yes, something like that. Let's call it half a million. In the meantime, we've appointed Doug Allen to be our interim CEO. We're going to pay him $35,000 a month until we find someone to replace Mr. Jarvis.
Board Member 3: So we're essentially paying for two CEOs for the next 16 months then?
Board Member 3: (Polishing his monocle) Well, two CEOs are better than one, I've always said! Especially if I'm one of them! (All laugh.)
Board Member 1: (Pulling a snuff-box from his breast pocket.) This is going to go a long way toward restoring the public's confidence in the financial management of TransLink!
Chair: That's precisely what we're hoping to do. I agree, paying an interim CEO roughly 10 times the annual wage of an average British Columbian should be a clear signal that we care about the little people, you know, the ones who ride buses and such.
Board Member 4: (Adjusting his cufflinks) And doing it with barely a month left before we ask the public whether they would like to pay more taxes to fund transit – a stroke of genius, really.
Board Member 2: (Clipping a cigar) Yes, top of mind!
Board Member 5: Certainly. Oh, sorry, I thought you said "top up mine!" (All laugh.)
Chair: The question today, ladies and gentlemen, is now what? We have the public's attention. What else can we do to demonstrate that TransLink not only deserves the confidence of the public, but also deserves a "yes" vote in our referendum?
(Long period of silence.)
Board Member 7: We could fire ourselves and return control of transportation planning to elected officials who can be held accountable, hold their meetings in public 12 times per year instead of four, make decisions that best serve the region and support our regional growth strategy. (Uproarious laughter)
Chair: No, seriously.
Board Member 3: Could we send everyone a cheque for $40?
Board Member 2: We could have a contest to name a new Transit Police Dog?
Board Member 1: Involve Trevor Linden somehow? Or we could all wear jerseys or some such thing?
Chair: All good ideas, but we need something that will demonstrate to the public that we are listening. The public hates fat-cat CEOs, so we tossed Jarvis under the bus.
Board Member 8: Yes, after waiting 40 minutes for that bus to arrive! (All laugh)
Board Member 6: Could we blame the mayors? (Laughter suddenly stops)
Chair: Yes, go on – I'm listening …
Board Member 6: We could blame the mayors. They are, after all, the ones who have to sign off on executive compensation. They were tasked with coming up with the question for the referendum. They're the ones who wanted the increase in the sales tax. They should be wearing this mess.
Chair: Hmm. It may not get us any more yes votes, but it's not like we're going to win this thing anyway. Get communications to draft a press release. Blame the mayors! Let's see if anyone bites. Meeting adjourned! (Taps her cellphone.) Jarvis, bring the car around, won't you?
Speakerphone: Yes, ma'am.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.