There are a few aspects to this story, but I thought that since one aspect is the idea that women's voices need to be "fixed" to sound less "shrill" if they're public speakers, I'd put it here in the feminism forum, although I have no problem with people talking about the other major aspect of the case (whether she should have charged taxpayers for the lessons).
My feelings on the spending part is that if councillors are allowed to use their annual budget for professional development expenses as well as office expenses, then there's no reason why she shouldn't have charged this training to the city. Public speaking is an essential part of the job. I notice that the article mentions another (male) politician spending close to that amount on French lessons from his budget, but he's not getting front page headlines because of it, making a big deal about whether the funds were misappropriated. And likely other city politicians have professional development expenses as well. I think that the fact that hers was highlighted among all the others might have to do with sexism.
Now, about whether women SHOULD change their voices if they get involved in politics - this is problematic. She said that she got feedback from her constituents that she speaks too fast and sounds "shrill" when she brings their issues forward. Personally, I wish women would stop buying into that "shrill" thing. Our voices are higher than men's. And on an individual level, people have varying degrees of tone/timber to their voices, so some of us have more "velvety" tones, and others of us have more ... I don't know what the word would be that doesn't have a negative connotation to it - shrill, harsh, whatever. I have a problem with the prejudice against women's public voices.
However, vocal coaching isn't just about "shrill". It's also about speaking slowly, clearly, pausing in the right places for emphasis, sounding "natural", squashing "uptalk" (where you make every statement sound like a question), etc. (It is also controversial to criticize "uptalk" since that's a very pervasive "young woman" dialect.)
Anyhow, just wondering what people's thoughts are on this.