Recent comments

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 4 days ago

    Below is Councillor Jill Spearn's reply to Andrew Bennett's open letter, reprinted here with Ms. Spearn's permission. Below this is Mr. Bennett's reply to Ms. Spearn.

    Well, I guess I will cautiously reply to you, Andrew. Clearly you haven't been writing to Council for a while so it is good to hear your writer's voice, speaking forthright and passionately. So, I'm going to respond for myself, only, as I haven't talked to any of Council since you wrote this.

    Firstly we, as a Council invited the AGLG to Rossland when we were apprised of the misdoings of a few people who worked for the City. The process was received by both staff and Council, looking for a 'healthy' approach to firstly understanding how some things didn't 'jive'. It was never the intention of this Councillor to ever not 'seek to understand' the comings and goings of all of the projects and the expectations of financial management on behalf of the citizens, including ourselves. I was immensely surprised and felt blindsided by the problems we faced. I do however hold myself accountable for the decisions made at Council despite the enormous frustration and disappointment in a situation that was complicated and guarded. As to your disapproval with the Press release, I was somewhat puzzled by the final edition.

    We did discuss it briefly, we had a sharp timeline, set by the AGLG to get that out. I have said a number of times some people were defensive and unwilling to accept fault, protecting some past employees, for a list of reasons. I will finish by telling you that despite your obvious dissatisfaction, I feel more positive that the City of Rossland has learned, accepts the AGLG process, which was challenging, and can move forward, yes perhaps while licking wounds, to make this whole experience benefit everyone in Rossland, overall.

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    Andrew Bennett's reply to Ms. Spearn.

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    Thanks Jill, it is very good to hear your perspective.

    First, I am glad that council chose to invite the AGLG to Rossland, it was an excellent decision. As you know, at that time I had already been convinced from the available evidence—now much expanded and fully verified—that not only did some elements not "jive," but that some serious wrongdoing was afoot.

    At the same point in time, some on council—like the mayor—steadfastly denied any problem, and got bright red in the face and shouted at anyone who suggested otherwise.

    I am certain your intention all along was to seek to understand. I have always been impressed by your ability to adjust your point of view to accord with the best information you have on hand. This is a great strength. I wish more people would continually assess and reassess their position as circumstances and information change around them. Unfortunately, most people are unable to adapt and unwilling to contradict opinions that earlier they may have voiced with conviction. It's the old fable of the oak and the reed in a great wind...

    I do not accept that you were "blindsided." There was plenty of evidence, and those of us who chose to see the evidence for what it was, and accept it for what it is, we were not blindsided. Everyone else chose to be blind.

    Yes, it happens, blindness is a choice people make, and they do it every day on many issues. The reason is always the same—it is easier to accept a comfortable fiction than an uncomfortable truth...until the fiction crumbles. Unfortunately, council as a whole was happily coddled for far too long by the fictions spun by Mr Granstrom and Mr Kumar.

    From day one that I covered council I remember Coun. Stradling and Coun. Charlton being quite firm that there had been and were ongoing expenses in the arena project that had not been approved by council. I recall Coun. Stradling demanding accountability from city staff and getting none. Council was cowed on each occasion by Mr Granstrom and Mr Kumar. At the time, fresh on the scene, I did not recognize this as a pattern. Now I do.

    Given my limited understanding of how this council operates, I am not surprised at your puzzlement over the "final edition." Mr Granstrom seems more than happy to take it upon himself to speak as if he had the voice of council, even when it has not been given to him. And yes, as you imply, he is very much defensive and unwilling to accept fault, in practically every instance I can think of. That, in a nutshell, is his chief fault! "Democracy" means as much to this mayor as "balanced meeting facilitation," neither his strong suit...

    Much as it is the mayor's duty to keep the CAO in check, so it is council's duty to keep the mayor in check. His response to the AGLG's report in this press release—and for the record, opinions and comment do not qualify for press releases—was childish to the point of being brattish. He did a disservice to Rossland and should be roundly chastised for this solo mission, which for now I will assume it was.

    Finally, like you I am very pleased, overall, with the recent progress this report and the Action Plan suggest for Rossland. Certainly the arena project was not the first scandal, just as it was not the last. Before it the Ophir reservoir was plagued by many similar inconsistencies, and no doubt the history of unprofessionalism, cronyism, and lackadaisical management stretches back far before that.

    Like you, and given the long history of mismanagement that seems to have been the norm for Rossland, I agree that there has been important progress in recent months—at least conceptually. We still await news of genuine implementation this year. So yes, let's move on for everyone's benefit, and really learn from the errors of these ways. Such hope and optimism are fundamental to a long term solution.

    Thank you again for your candid response. I have always appreciated how you speak from the heart, where you genuinely strive to hold the best interests of our community and then act on what you believe. Thank you.

    Andrew

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 4 days ago

    Adrian:

    I believe as a council we all support the AGLG Audit.  We requested it as a council and have responded with an Action plan.  It is also factual that Councillor Moore was the main proponent with regard to requesting the Audit..  I believe there are weakness in the AGLG process but after thoughtful reflection  any contrarian reply is not useful at this time.  The report points out fundamental weakness in oversight spanning more than one sitting term of council.  I believe that there is progress on the action plan already.  I can't comment on potential misconduct regarding the Jason Ward case because it is in court at the moment.

    However,  I can comment on the Columbia/Washington project.  This project again spans a couple councils and the reporting to council was not complete.  Councillor Moore did request on more than one occasion additional reporting regarding engineering.  From my perspective at the time their was a great deal of angst between Councillor Moore and Mayor Granstrom and the cities CAO.  Small town politics as it is causes people who I believe both have Rosslands best interests at heart to act and say things that cloud the real issue.  As of late I believe that Mayor Granstrom and Councillor Moore are both doing a much better job explaining their positions in a reasonable way.  While there are tensions council is far more productive now.  I will qualify that by saying we do have more work to do though.  A climate of distrust real or perceived creates a cloud for a new councillor.  I should have asked for more details on the engineering work myself prior to the construction contract being let.  For that I am deeply sorry.  I do believe now after the fact that Rossland got good value from the engineering.  I do not believe we were overcharged.  I do acknowledge that we should have had contracts approved by council.  As noted in the report from the AGLG our procurement policy was not followed.  This practice has been addressed and will continue to be addressed moving forward.

    There is much work to do but I strongly believe that the current council and Mayor are committed to getting this right.  Having said that I know that beating this issue up makes for great news and head lines.  Rossland City Council has had a history of making the news for negative things.  This is one of the reasons I ran for city council.  I thought I could attempt to bring a little peace making.  I also wanted to ensure we were looking forward at all the financial challenges in front of us.  I won't back down from a fight but I do choose to try and find solutions as a group.  There have been many times when it has not gone my way but I accept the will of council. 

    The City staff we have in place is also hard working and committed to make the changes necessary.  I specifically refer to our acting CAO and acting CFO.  Their names are Tracey Butler and Lois Hunter.  While the AGLG auditors were here in Rossland these two staff members worked tirelessly preparing documentation and answering questions.  At the same time they prepared our budget for the coming year.  Your readers should also be aware that we are without a CAO/CFO because she is on medical leave.  Under the circumstances I believe that Ms. Butler provides a solid history of the workings inside the city and Ms. Hunter provides solid financial accountability from experience in the private sector.  Ms. Hunter is a new member of the staff and was thrown into an untenable situation for which she has my gratitude and admiration. Rossland Tax payers are getting good value for money when it comes to these people.  I would be remise in not pointing out that all members of our staff currently at the City act in a professional manner and are providing good value.  This is a team that requires my support and I ask that the people of Rossland support and respect the work they are currently doing on our behalf.

    The AGLG provided answers and suggestions regarding the Procurement process at the City of Rossland.  It is a complete audit in this regard.  The City Council has provided an action plan with respect to the AGLG audit.  As a single councillor I am committed to implementing the action plan.  The proof of this will only be bourn in the coming days.  The only single issue I have concerns about with regard to the Auditor Generals comments are in regard to additional staff.  New staff or additional staff will not solve our issues.  Our issues around following policy.  It would have not delayed the Washington Columbia project at all if we had followed our existing procurement policy.  While this policy needs some work the fault is not in the policy itself but the implementation by council itself.  An increase in staff will only result in an increase in taxes.  I am not in favour of that suggestion.  We are a very small community with a residential tax base.  We are required to find creative solutions given our financial limitations. 

    Finally, I am not a career politician.  I ran because I was genuinely concerned about the future of Rossland and the greater region.  I ran because I saw constant controversy and a revolving door of staff members at upper management in the City.  This constant revolving has cost the City a tremendous amount of money.  I believed I could help.  I am hopeful that the AGLG report and the Action plan will assist us in getting to where we need to be.  I am sure this will not be a straight line of success.  We will likely make errors along the way but we are committed to improve for that I am certain.   I would request from the electorate of Rossland patience with this process.  If we are to be successful we will need the support of our citizens.  We know we must do better and with the support of the community we will.

    Sincerely,

    CaryFisher

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    Adrian's reply to Mr. Fisher

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    Thanks, Cary. Glad to run this thoughtful reply. I'd only like to say that, for my own part, I haven't been 'beating up' this issue. In fact, I take considerable personal offense at your implication that the Telegraph has been playing up these issues to make 'headlines'. To claim that our motivations are to benefit ourselves by making mountains out of molehills is character assassination that borders on the libellous. Lucky for you I'm not a litigious person (that's a joke). What you call 'beating up' the issue is us attempting to bring to light important information in the face of constant stonewalling from the City.

    I am not a career journalist and, like yourself, got involved in the Telegraph as a form of public service (I make less than you do as a councillor, if that matters, and don't aspire to make more) after the debacle of the golf course in the Red watershed. Like many, many Rosslanders I have been outraged by the lack of leadership and accountability displayed by City Hall since the Jason Ward Affair came to light (let alone the pool fiasco, etc). My own sincere view is that council has done an atrocious job of managing the problems that have come up and that such weakness in communication is very serious indeed in a democracy. The 'beating up' happened only when the problems began to crop up (some of which were only revealed due to Andrew Bennett's diligent reporting, along with the work of others like Kathy Moore and Laurie Charlton) and council closed ranks and refused to accept responsibility or clearly state their plans for resolving these issues.

    I'm sincerely sorry that you don't see the dangers inherent in such extremely poor communication. That said, as a taxpayer, I appreciate the apologies you make here.

    Adrian

     

    NOTE: This comment has been amended to fix an error. Mr. Fisher mistakenly referred to the 'Jason Moore' case in paragraph one when the case in question is, of course, concerned with 'Jason Ward'. Thanks.

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 4 days ago
    Yesterday, I posted a press release from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs as a comment to Andrew Bennett's open letter as an example of a press release about a tricky issue that is respectful, balanced, and conciliatory. It's also worth noting that this press release was signed by the people in power who either wrote it or were willing to go on record as endorsing its release. I can't understand why the City's recent press release wasn't signed by those on council or staff who wrote/agreed with its contents. I suggest you consider adopting a policy that all future press releases be signed by the appropriate parties.

    I know criticisms posted to the Telegraph must sound harsh to some of your ears (well, it IS harsh). I also know a few of you are proudly on record as refusing to engage views that differ significantly from your own as expressed in our paper, despite the fact that these stories are receiving reads in the thousands and comments are regularly made by respected and prominent citizens, thereby offering you a wide-open platform to engage your constituents. I must say I hope that those of you who refuse to engage views that differ from your own (and those of your friends) don't run for re-election, as people like that have no business being in public office. Cronyism is a danger in all small towns and only listening to one's friends is a dangerous way to go about public business. One could even argue that the whole Jason Ward mess has its roots in similar issues--insufficient oversight in a work environment where everybody knows everybody.

    No one in Rossland wants anything more from any of you than respectful, open communication and accountability.

    All of the misery that has come from this process has been a result of failures in these two essential areas, and the primary blame for this can be laid at the feet of Mr. Granstrom, as mayor. I don't know of anyone in town who would have looked at the Jason Ward Affair and not forgiven council and staff if they'd just fessed up to their errors and (sorry) incompetence in certain areas then pledged in very specific ways to get to the bottom of it and do things differently in the future. We all know this is a big job for largely-untrained people. It could have been so easy and if this issue won't go away, it's because people in town still don't have any tangible assurance from council that things will be different in the future. Instead, we get childish attacks on the AGLG in lieu of a substantive statement about the report itself! I feel my bile rising once more...
     
    That said, we're now close enough to election season to not have to worry about reforming the current council, but can look toward hopefully electing a new council that is capable of doing better in these areas, whether or not it ends up containing any members of the current one. I hope some of you will run again--I certainly don't blame individuals for a culture and dynamic that becomes highly dysfunctional and have always respected your efforts in such a thankless job. That said, I would need to see more communication and openness before considering voting for any of you.
     

    Since this is intended to be a public discussion, I will post Kathy's and my replies to the Telegraph along with Jill's, if I receive her permission later in the day. I hope more of you will take advantage of this opportunity to discuss this issue with your constituents, especially if you plan on running again in November.

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 4 days ago

    NOTE: We will post any replies we get from councillors to the email thread initiated by Andrew Bennett. I will also post my own reply to that thread in the interests of openness and completeness.--ed.

    Hi Andrew-

    Thanks for your input. I agree with much of what you have to say. I do want to make the point that Council did have a discussion about this press release in a meeting. While the mayor (perhaps with the help of staff, I don't know) did craft the final piece, it did represent the bulk of the discussion. My contribution was to say that by making our focus on the weaknesses some of Council perceived in the AGLG's process it would be viewed as an attempt to deflect and distract from the real issues brought up in the report. From the response I've heard in the community, this is exactly what happened. Addressing the real issues in the report should be our priority. The mayor's comment was that those issues are addressed in our Action Plan. While this is true, the focus of the press release should have been to reassure the citizens of the steps we are taking to rectify the problems; not all of whom will read the Action Plan.

    I was ok with offering the suggestion that we be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the AGLG but that was the extent of it. We did not have a draft to work from, it was a discussion and the general consensus seemed to support the mayor's view. I understood that the final draft would not go overboard criticizing the AGLG. When the final version came out I did not comment because it was late (past the deadline for comments by time I checked my email) and quite frankly, I gave up. I had worked very hard making the statement from Council in the report sound reasonable (the early draft was not) and Council supported the final statement. This time I let others express what was important to them. I believe that if the process was long and arduous much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the City of Rossland; it was our records and processes that are so incomplete and so disorganized. That is not the fault of the AGLG. I found the AGLG people to be professional, cordial and polite. I am not saying it was a perfect process and I am confident that if the AGLG is willing to hear some constructive comments, we can provide them with some valuable feedback.

    km

  • AGLG issues report on 'serious' issues in Rossland governance   29 weeks 4 days ago

    Well, we've come a long way...backwards. But there's no reason we can't make a new start this fall after election day. This community needs to have a serious conversation about governance and city management and we need to go a lot deeper than 8 or 9 friendly faces at a single public event where everyone pays lip service to 'communication' and other such fine watch words, as happens each election season.

    I feel the next election will be pivotal. If we get another council that can't work effectively and openly people will just give up on democracy in this town. On the other hand, if we get a council that is open-minded, mature, and humble we can do wonders in a place like this.

    None of this is to condemn any particular member of the current council or to call for a total purge of incumbents, but we do need to identify and promote traits in councillors that will lead to better governance here in the Mountain Kingdom. And that will be the nature of the conversation the Telegraph hopes to start in the very near future.--ed.

  • AGLG issues report on 'serious' issues in Rossland governance   29 weeks 4 days ago

    The headline on the  front page of section "D" of the Globe and Mail (Focus) of May 21, 1994 was "Rossland's quiet revolution." At the head of the article, imposed on a picture of Columbia Avenue in front of the Sunshine Cafe, the Globe included this quote:

    "While most jurisdictions pay lip service to the idea of giving power to the people, a small B.C. city is actually breaking down the wall between government and the governed." The article, written by the Globe's Susan Delacourt, extended over 2 pages.

    This excerpt rom halfway through the article:

    "Mayor Profili says the city's new democracy is taken very seriouisly: 'People appreciate the cost of a referendum and they're reading the petitions because they understand they can bring consequences."

    From Constitution Bylaw to Delegation Bylaw (to paraphrase 1960's cigarette ad) you've come a long way, Rossland. 

  • What makes a politician?   29 weeks 5 days ago

    "......is the cry of unevolved, craven peoples frightened by the idea of individual responsibility. The sort of people who desire nothing better than a god or a divinely inspired chief to hold them to his bosom, or beter still hers, for protection and reassurance. " John Ralston Saul.

    Who said, " Bow down before the one you serve - your going to get what you deserve. " ?

  • What makes a politician?   29 weeks 5 days ago

    There are two aspects of leadership.

    Leadership linked to power is one; leadership linked to responsibility/accountability is the other.

    Voters who lack the will or opportunity to discern to what aspect of leadership political candidates on the ballot are attracted to will sooner or later pay a price.

     

  • Canadians spend billions complying with personal income tax system   29 weeks 5 days ago

    Important to remember who the Fraser Institute serves. It's part of an international network of conservative think-tanks. In fact, it's not real conservatism, but they have aligned themselves with American conservatives to push forward Neoliberalism, whose purpose is to call for the elimination of social services, the privitization of all government services, lowering taxes to the rich and for greater deregulation or so-called "free enterprise."

    They are all funded by a handful of American right-wing foundations, chief among them the Rockefeller Foundation, part of the ExxonMobil empire.

    For more background, please read the following article, published in the Lone Sheep network of papers in 2010:

    The Fraser Institute and the subversion of Canadian values

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 5 days ago

    From the 'Just Sayin' Deparment. Here's an example of a press release with some real dignity and maturity to it. We haven't posted it as a story because we haven't been covering that story and it would lack context, but mystery writers in Rossland might want to take note of a dignified approach to disagreement:

    RE: OPEN LETTER OF SUPPORT AND GRATITUDE TO THE COMMUNITY OF FORT NELSON FIRST NATION

    Dear Elders, Youth, Community members and Chief and Council of the Fort Nelson First Nation,

    We are writing to thank you for your kind and generous hospitality during our stay and while attending your Shale Gas-LNG Summit in Fort Nelson on April 14-16th, 2014.  This gathering of First Nations, government and industry was an important opportunity for those involved to discuss and address issues in relation to the natural gas industry.  Although, as Chief Gale has indicated that the conference did not end in the spirit in which it began, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) Executive appreciates and supports Fort Nelson First Nation’s strong and principled position on the LNG issue.

    Further, the UBCIC Executive will continue to stand and support Fort Nelson First Nation as we move forward together on this path.  As Chief Gale has accurately articulated, First Nations are on the front lines of land, water and air protection in a world hungry for natural resources.  The strong stand that First Nations take across BC to protect their territories; we leverage our Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights for the benefit of all Canadians and British Columbians by forcing governments and industry to put environmental protections on par with economic growth. The UBCIC commends Fort Nelson First Nations proactive and strong approach on this issue and we are confident in the Solidarity and Elders Declarations put forward at the Forum.  Furthermore, we categorically reject any racist notions that the Fort Nelson First Nation acted inappropriately or has any reason to apologize for their strong and courageous stand.

    We welcome hearing that a meeting between Fort Nelson First Nation leadership and Premier Clark will occur in short order.  Finally, we fully agree that resource extraction strikes at the core of who we are as Indigenous Peoples and striking a balance is an important feature of the approach First Nations can take with industry and government while at the same time ensuring respect and recognition of our Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.

    On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS

    [Original signed]

    Grand Chief Stewart Phillip               Chief Robert Chamberlin                                Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

    President                                             Vice-President                                                Secretary-Treasurer

     

     

     

     

  • What makes a politician?   29 weeks 5 days ago

    "Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot are models of dreamers" Does this sentence strike anyone else out there as incongruous? I take issue with this, Charles! These men weren't 'dreamers' or utopians, they were maniacs who rode an ideology to power! A real idealist puts the idea first and follows it humbly. As I've noted before, the issue isn't our leaders but the idea of 'leadership' as a desirable thing. The moment we each offload our own responsibilities as citizens onto the shoulders of a Harper, a Ford, or a whoever, these people go power crazy. And who can blame them, really? But it's our fault for leaving all that power just lying around....I don't think power and 'leadership' are inevitable.

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 5 days ago

    Completely agree with Andrew Bennett; exactly the wrong reaction.  The AGLG report is solid, and damning (note: I've only read the summary).  The last thing you want to do in response is to lash out and look petty.  Rather, you want to say yes, we're delighted to have this great advice and we'll act on it immediately.  And then you want to actually do it.

  • ANALYSIS: The City’s ‘Press Release’ on the AGLG report is part of the problem, not the solution   29 weeks 5 days ago

    I wouldn't have signed my name to that press release either; Smacks of hubris? Nope, positively 'leaden' with it.

  • OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful   29 weeks 5 days ago

    For the sake of completeness, please find below the press release to which Mr. Bennett's letter refers...--ed.

     

    The newly formed Office of the Auditor General for Local Government has just released Part 1 of its performance audit for the City of Rossland on Capital Procurement Projects.
     
    As stated on the AGLG website the purpose of the Office is: “to conduct performance audits of the operations of local governments in order to provide local governments with objective information and relevant advice that will assist them in their accountability to their communities for the
    stewardship of public assets and the achievement of value for money in the operations”.
     
    The City of Rossland acknowledged the seriousness of past events that lead to issues Council and Staff did not want to repeat. Therefore, the City of Rossland invited the AGLG to assist in identifying system  improvements and to provide the City with recommendations regarding
    implementation.
     
    The City of Rossland has now incorporated the  few recommendations made by the AGLG into its Action Plan.
     
    The City of Rossland was aware the Office of the AGLG is a new organization and was aware there would be a learning curve for all during the audit process. What the City did not expect was a huge drain on resources to complete the first phase of this audit, which took more than six months, and an end result that was predetermined from the outset.
     
    The AGLG call their performance audits “value for money audits”. In order to ensure that municipalities and taxpayers receive value for money, the City of Rossland feels that BC citizens be informed of the costs associated with the AGLG audit process in all municipalities so that the costs involved can be compared with the benefits received.
     
    The City of Rossland’s Summary and Action Plan can be found starting on page 50 of the AGLG report on Capital Procurement Projects.
     
    The City of Rossland is currently working on completing the second part of the AGLG audit process on Asset Management Programs. This report is expected to be released at the end of August 2014.
     
    “The City hopes the AGLG completes a self-evaluation to ensure going forward they meet their own objectives,” Mayor Greg Granstrom said.
    “The City of Rossland will appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback from a small municipality perspective to the Board of the AGLG, as well as, to the Province of British Columbia and our fellow municipalities.”
  • AGLG issues report on 'serious' issues in Rossland governance   29 weeks 6 days ago

    If Rossland Council's response to the AGLG report is to give the AGLG a lecture on how to perform a value-for-money evaluation, then even if this audit cost the City of Rossland $1.00 it was a waste of time and money! 

  • AGLG issues report on 'serious' issues in Rossland governance   29 weeks 6 days ago

    For the sake of comparison, here's the City's press release...an interesting contrast between the government's press release and the city's. This press release makes it sound as though outrage belongs in the hands of the CIty due to their dissatisfaction with how the investigation into their shortcomings was handled.--ed.

    The newly formed Office of the Auditor General for Local Government has just released Part 1 of its performance audit for the City of Rossland on Capital Procurement Projects.
     
    As stated on the AGLG website the purpose of the Office is: “to conduct performance audits of the operations of local governments in order to provide local governments with objective information and relevant advice that will assist them in their accountability to their communities for the
    stewardship of public assets and the achievement of value for money in the operations”.
     
    The City of Rossland acknowledged the seriousness of past events that lead to issues Council and Staff did not want to repeat. Therefore, the City of Rossland invited the AGLG to assist in identifying system improvements and to provide the City with recommendations regarding
    implementation.
     
    The City of Rossland has now incorporated the  few recommendations made by the AGLG into its Action Plan.
     
    The City of Rossland was aware the Office of the AGLG is a new organization and was aware there would be a learning curve for all during the audit process. What the City did not expect was a huge drain on resources to complete the first phase of this audit, which took more than six months, and an end result that was predetermined from the outset.
     
    The AGLG call their performance audits “value for money audits”. In order to ensure that municipalities and taxpayers receive value for money, the City of Rossland feels that BC citizens be informed of the costs associated with the AGLG audit process in all municipalities so that the costs involved can be compared with the benefits received.
     
    The City of Rossland’s Summary and Action Plan can be found starting on page 50 of the AGLG report on Capital Procurement Projects.
     
    The City of Rossland is currently working on completing the second part of the AGLG audit process on Asset Management Programs. This report is expected to be released at the end of August 2014.
     
    “The City hopes the AGLG completes a self-evaluation to ensure going forward they meet their own objectives,” Mayor Greg Granstrom said.
    “The City of Rossland will appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback from a small municipality perspective to the Board of the AGLG, as well as, to the Province of British Columbia and our fellow municipalities.”
  • GF mom speaks at international global summit   30 weeks 6 days ago

    In addition to the panel being as far away as Kenya and Romania, the lead presenter was from Boston. 

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   30 weeks 6 days ago

    I used to have a blog; however, it became rather outdated so I stopped entering new posts and replies.  Once again however, I have been encouraged to get back into the blogging field. 

    Public debating during or pre the municiple election does sound appealing.  I may have to resurrect my rusty, blood stained sword once again:  I have too many friends anyhow.

    Les

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 5 hours ago

    Thanks, Les! Here's the bit that made me think you were worried about us censoring:

    "To remove, manipulate or suppress those little thumbs would be a clear step in the direction of censorship.  When a person posts  a comment on a public forum or discussion board, that person should not have the right to ban or censor a replying comment because that person can not handle someone disagreeing with him or her.  “That is censoeship, no matter how you dress up the action."

    I took the implication to mean that I was so thin-skinned I'd remove comments/thumbs that displeased me but I'm glad to hear that wasn't your intention!

    As for retrieving content from a blog...do you have a blog at the moment?

    You may be interested to know that we'll be hosting a public discussion (or series of discussions) soon about the municipal elections coming up this fall. I'll be posting a piece about it later this week. The hope is to get some discussion going that will result in a healthy field of candidates!

    --ed.

     

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 11 hours ago

    Adrian, I am not upset by any stretching of the imagination.  I merely replied to a  post in regards to the little thumbs thingy.  As you have probably learned by now, I am very much a call it like it is person and respond publicly with great care in my effort to stay away from personal insults; likewise, I do not comment publicly on matters that compel me to base my comments on rumours or innuendos.  This is why I rarely involve myself in discussions involving political parties and/or religious beliefs.  Both topics are built on and around personal ideologies.

     I must again thank you for opportunity to contribute to your news paper by way of a column.  If I was invited to retrieve from a blog that expresses my personal views on everyday matters, I would consider the opportunity.

     Censorship??????????  I re-read my comment above and cannot find where I accused you of censorship.  My comment indicated that any suppression of a disagreement or agreement indication is a form of censorship.

     My offer is still open to use the Seniors Hall for a couple of healthy, public debating forums if anyone  would like to go that route.

     Have a great day my friend and let’s sit down over a cup of coffee and see what else we can disagree about.

     Les Anderson

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 2 days ago

    Once more, Les, I'm not sure what I've said to upset you! I did comment that I thought the thumbs were silly (when we post a story about a car crash and get 19 up and 16 down what on Earth does it mean?) but I didn't threaten to pull them off our sites.

    As for censorship, I've no idea what you mean! We've never censored anybody for anything other than slander (and even then only twice in five years). In fact, Les, a couple of years ago we approached you about writing a column for this paper! The offer is still open if you or anyone else out there is interested! I'm pretty keen to have a columnist who regularly disagrees with me...

    As for my opinions, I'm surprised how regularly people express dismay that the editor of a paper expresses them! Editors are SUPPOSED to express opinions--it's all part of the journalism game. Editors write 'editor-ials'. Perhaps we're a little too used to the neutered reportage that passes for journalism in certain other local media outlets, where the editorial of the week is likely to feature think pieces on topics like 'spring is here' or 'drive safely' or, perennially, 'go Smokies!'. Oh dear.

    Finally, I wish people would stop assuming I'm a Liberal or NDPer or Green supporter or something! It's humiliating! I don't think we live in a functioning democracy and so don't support any of the existing parties. In terms of where I fall on the hackneyed 'left-right' spectrum, I have some views that are pretty left (I support universal health care!) and views that are pretty right (I believe in the primacy of the family unit!).  Maybe I'm a socialist-libertarian-anarchist or something like that. No idea!

    Now let fly with the thumbs....

    Thanks for commenting.--ed.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 2 days ago

    I may be misunderstanding your position, and I certainly do not hold my views to be the correct ones. In fact, if we were to ask the US Supreme Court to rule on our disagreement, you would win – hands down.

    In Buckley v. Valeo (1976) it ruled that freedom of speech includes spending money.

    In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995) it ruled remaining anonymous to be an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.

    In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014) it held that political contributions are protected by the First Amendment and may therefore not be regulated, except to protect against corruption.

    The US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees the “…freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances.” I cannot know what those who wrote these words, and those who adopted them, may have envisaged. I am reasonably certain that they did not anticipate the Internet. What worries me is the reality created (in the US at least) by successive US Supreme Court decisions which today all corporations to make unlimited anonymous political contributions.

    I don’t know how you protect against corruption in such a reality. Ralph Nader’s discussion with Michael Enright on CBC’s Sunday Edition this morning painted a picture of what that looks like.

    We have a different constitution, but our reality is not all that different. In my view anonymity does not equate corruption, but it facilitates corrupt practices. Accepting the consequences of what say (or write) means that I have to think about it first, weigh the pros and cons of my gut feelings. If I make a comment anonymously, what I say need not be true as there are no consequences. However, that does not mean that I am an open book. There is stuff in my head I do not care to publicize, and that stuff stays in my head.

     

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 2 days ago

    Open, unanonymous voting may work in small groups, but it's neither practical or desirable in larger groups where people are expected to vote freely.

    In a town council or other forms of government or association meetings, yes how you vote is a matter of record. That's because your vote is a representation of your views, for which you got elected or which otherwise reflect your position. This keeps you accountable to the electorate. 

    But the general public is accountable to no one but themselves when voting or expressing their opinion. In theory anyway. When open voting takes place this invites voter manipulation, either explicitly (buying votes either with beers or actual money), or less directly ("this is the last time I lend that neighbour a tool, or invite them over for a beer"). Wishing it were otherwise is to be blind to human nature.

    Just because someone does something anonymously doesn't mean they don't stand behind what they say. In fact, just the opposite - it is probably a truer representation of their views than if they had to concern themselves with offending so-and-so, or fearing the wrath of what's-his-name. Of course, the flip side IS that we will offend, and that we will anger some people. But if we fear to offend, we will drift into an evermore polite, politically correct, and unimaginative dialog of ideas.

    I pity you if your bookshelf doesn't have at least a few works written anonymously or under a pseudonym. No slave diary (which may have played a role in creating empathy towards slave leading to their eventual emancipation)? A more contemporary example which I highly recommend is a collection of photographs from Banksy, compiled and annotated by him. It sits proudly on my bookshelf should you ever want to peruse it and understand why he has to remain anonymous.

    But in the end, what's in a name? If a person calls themselves Banksy, or John Smith, either way you know them only by what they reveal of themselves. You may even be unaware that some of the authors on your bookshelf are writing under a pseudonym. Would what they wrote mean less if all of a sudden you found out they were written under an assumed name?

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 2 days ago

    Voting is not debating, and it does not a comment on anything.

    We must distinguish between voting on issues (referendums) and elections.

    Most of the voting we do is in elections. We are given a choice of candidates, and (if we bother to vote at all) we lend our support to one of the candidates. That’s it.

    Unfortunately the MSM and political parties tend to misrepresent elections with claims that the outcome amounts to a mandate for this or that. The fact is, that once elected, a councillor, mayor, MLA, or MP is not bound in any way by anything for the duration of the term to which she or he was elected. I may vote for X because of her position on the environment, and you may vote for Y because of his stand immigration, but none of that matters as the person elected to office is not bound by any promise made during the election campaign or any undertaking of any kind. Surely most citizens should be aware of that reality by now.

    As to voting in a referendum, here again, there is no debate, no comment, and no discussion. You are either for or against what is being proposed. There is plenty of opportunity for debate and discussion beforehand, but the vote itself is a simple matter of take it or leave it.

    The secrecy in balloting is to protect the rights of those who do not wish to disclose their decision. It is illegal for the state to disclose how I have voted, or even whether I bothered to vote at all. It is perfectly legal for me to declare openly that I did not bother to vote, or to state whom I voted for, and to either give nor not give any reason for that decision.

    There is a difference between the state enforcing anonymity at the ballot box, and the state enforcing anonymity of the person (e.g., burqa).

    There is a difference between the state giving me the right to protect my privacy, and a person’s need (real or perceived) to protect his or her identity out of fear of any kind. The former contributes to my freedom, the latter is an admission that my freedom of expression is limited.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   31 weeks 2 days ago

    Thumbs may indicate agreement or disagreement, but that has little to do with debating. What can participants in a debate learn out of a thumbs down reaction to a comment? It does indicate that somebody out there, maybe in Rossland or (in the age of internet) maybe in Panama, disagrees with a comment, but on what basis? How can we test a reasoning, a rationale, or a conclusion, if all we get is a "no"? Where is the weakness in the comment and where is the strength in the "no" response? What has the author failed to consider? How did what the author meant to say not come across in the way it was meant? It may be that a disagreement is based on the respondent's misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the author's position, or it may be that the respondent's views are based on partial, irrelevant, or outright wrong information.

    Thumbs contribute little to nothing of value to "a public debate between opposing sides."