Sunday, 22 February 2015

Nelson Library: Keeping up with the Joneses!

Our library has a revamped website. The home-page jumping you: an overpowering, visually disjointed, way too large moving band of 5 never-changing items - much like and of the same purpose as the electronic board at the Front St. mall-entrance. Or to be found on Yahoo's or Youtube's home-page: except there you usually can Close Ad X - while here you can't.

As a whole this is an ambitious project - tied-in with the national library-thing. Eventually the kinks in this revamp - and there are those! - will be dealt with. The initial mind-numbing visuals of the home-page will probably do just that: numb the users' minds enough to let them get past this.

And there you are: ready to join a book-club with books predigested just for you. Ready to make BiblioCommons(!) friends: indicate likes and dislikes, post critiques of the latest Nora Roberts. Trend away: yes, your opinion is important to us - we take you very seriously! Somewhere between Twitter and Facebook. A little Telus like it is.

Yet there are some less sexy - while actually important - basics left unattended to.

Limited Shelf-Life
Shelving in Adult-Fiction - including lit, crime, mystery, spies - can be inconsistent when a decision wasn't made clearly which category an author's oeuvre fits: according to whoever responsible for the catalogue in the dark ages. So an author may be shelved in 2 separate sections. Did you know that! Spies - for instance - don't belong anywhere: even though they often are very literate, definitely mysterious, deal in fiction and approved crime. Decisions, decisions, decisions! 
This elementary problem has been known to those in charge since before the furniture was rearranged some years ago. Then it was: let's get the remodeling over with first - we'll look at this after. Well - this is after. And with all the additional services offered - the time for revisiting basic cataloguing/shelving now is appropriate.

You vill finish it now! Or else!
Although renewing/returning/fining is covered on the new website - time allotted to borrowers and why are not.
You borrow a book and have 2 weeks to finish reading it - no matter how thick it is, how much time you have to read it, regardless of you being a slow reader. Because if someone else put a reserve on this: you can't renew it and will be fined for every day you're over the red line! Finished or not! Because whoever next in line is more important than you are.

Let's say you obey! this rule - which goes totally against any per/conceivable purpose of reading - Hello, Library! - the next person may have similar reading-habits: this being War & Peace - and the scenario repeats. And possibly repeats. Or not - depending on whether you simply have to finish reading it - willing to pay accumulating fines. Which - incidentally - is one way of making money. WhateverCommons not so much.

Both issues are bottom-line in a library. Should be!

By the way - do not click on Email Us in the bottom-right corner of the home-page: your computer may crash!

  Guy Laramee

Thursday, 19 February 2015

NPD - Just Sayin'!

In a modern-era-Western-world first? - currently 17 (all?) police-officers of the Abbotsford Police Department - known to be tough on crime prior - are being seriously investigated, concerning 148 allegations of corruption, deceit and neglect of duty. One of them has adds-on. All allegations involve drugs.
Chief Constable Bob Rich - seemingly not among them - says he maybe could have provided better training for the officers.
I'll say! He and Darryl Plecas!

Plecas as Prof. of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and Lib. MLA for Abbotsford-South: strongly get-those-dopers! and overall guiding light in law-enforcement at the coast. In his next-door cop-shop too - one would think. 
The irony!

Some of his virulently anti-dope papers written at UFV - financed indirectly by the RCMP as RCMP Chair in Crime Reduction - have caused academic eyebrows to be raised elsewhere: what with that connection and his unorthodox research-methods.

No matter and irregardless!

His most recent How-To-Be-A-Real-Cop - published last fall as The Seven Essential Principles of Police-Based Crime Reduction - is also the guiding light in the NPD's Provisional Budget, 2015. In need of essential principles.
You don't actually have to read the book - these 7 essentials can be found on the Net. Lined-up kind of like the 7 commandments - without the burning shrubbery!
Or in post
Cop-Shop Deluxe
20 Jan, 2015

Just sayin'!


Monday, 16 February 2015

The NPD: Keeping On Keeping On!

An early-morning news-item on the CBC, Mon. 16 Feb, reports Chief Holland as saying: he wants to hire 2 constables to put on the streets. At 200K.

Deja voo all over again: the Provisional Budget, Oct. 2014 - with an increase of 311K for 2 constables and 1 admin coordinator - this time minus the admin coordinator thus minus 100K. Just for you - cheap!
One immediately questions this as a spin to ingratiate - and wonders how long they would actually be on the streets if not busy. Of course - having a visible police-presence is a good idea. Unfortunately not Chief Holland's. If it were - they already would have been out there for ages.
Neither the Provisional Budget nor Car 87 proved doable - so what's left to put in a budget? A blog-post idea presented repeatedly as a no-brainer?
Will this then be the mojo of the unavoidably soon really real budget presentation?

Clearly - the NPD has major in-house issues. Expressed through Sergeant Falcone as

We're so reactive that we're running all over not really focusing on anything!

Indeed - the NPD frequently gives that impression over the last 4 months: verbalizing effusively - while communicating little.

If it isn't one budget - it's another!


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Dawn of the Dead

Previous post
Cop-Shop Deluxe
20 Jan. 2015
introduces the following. 

Focus of the Nelson Police Department's (NPD) Provisional Budget 2015 (PB) presented to Council, Oct. 2014, is on a requested budget-increase of $311.000 - largely to be used for hiring 2 constables and 1 admin coordinator.

There are 2 - clearly different - versions of this budget-proposal: a written and a verbal.

The stated reasons behind additional hiring are NOT increase in mental-illness calls, drugs and street-disorder! Car 87 does NOT enter! Adding personnel oddly aims at in-house attitude-changes and convenience only!
Under WHAT WOULD THAT INCREASE ALLOW US TO DO? - a list of general strategies, almost verbatim lifted from a book (is this legal?) recently published at the coast: these strategies have no bearing on our NPD-declared mental-health crisis - on Nelson's hands-on policing-work right now - period.
311K for that?
The written version is the one currently on record.

Mind you - something positive: #6 and 7 would allow the NPD to become proactive and accountable. Which - ones surmises - they haven't been allowed to be thus far.

In the verbal presentation to Council the above 7 reasons/justifications as such are not mentioned. Here the need for additional personnel is backed by endless statistics and comparisons between Nelson and other places. The way the NPD usually reasons/justifies: making itself seem stretched to its limits and spiraling off into exceptionalism.
The presentation lacks hard facts, figures directly pertaining to a coherent-cohesive game-plan for the coming year!

Neither - Nor
Seemingly - the NPD and Nelson Police Board (NPB) have realized that this neither-here-nor-there budget will never fly. That - in fact - they may end-up with very little approved in the final version - by Police Act having to be locked-in in 1 month. Now Police Chief Holland's narrative - not including the 311K any longer! - is an attempt to gain sympathy for the NPD's fumbled pitches. With: the answer to steeply rising numbers of mentally ill arriving in Nelson can only be 1 (cure-all/save-all) Car 87! Handled!

It will be interesting to learn what the definitive budget is based on. Seeing that this car - already once rejected by Council - is not part of the PB! And surely 311K for non-essential hiring are out!

If the increase in hordes of mentally disturbed - roaming the streets drugged and disorderly - is as dramatic as lately claimed by Holland in the Nelson Star and on the CBC: 1 car with 1 cop and 1 psych nurse - having to cover the whole town and that impossibly 24/7 - surely couldn't stem the looming DAWN OF THE DEAD-at-the-mall onslaught!

Neither could 2 additional cops - although theoretically  useful as a visible police-presence downtownish. Where supposedly much drugged mental illness plays-out. I wouldn't know. Although downtown almost daily - I haven't witnessed any of that. Anyway - a police-presence downtown has not been part of any plan.
Neither has non-physical first-responder conflict-intervention/resolution training. Which should have been a no-brainer since an increase of mentals was first noticed by the NPD. Cross-training for all cops: immediately effective/affective as part of a cop's job anywhere at any time. And relatively cheap - but no!

 Either - Or
 According to Holland, our multitudes of THEM are (practically overnight!) the largest in BC - along with those in the Vancouver Eastside. Depending on who at the NPD is talking: the increase in January has been either by 62% or doubled over the previous January. While recently Holland talked about approximately 1.000 mental illness calls per year - he now says for the 5th year in a row the police are dealing with more mental health calls. The NPD's communication is consistently disjointed, has been all along since before the PB.

There has been no report in the Star of mental incidents for days.

Yes, often the problematics feel drawn to Nelson - advertised as land of good dope and gluten-free tree-hugging hippies. As rumored: even nudged in this direction by relevant agencies elsewhere. This influx brought-up in Holland's CBC interview. Yet when Chris Walker asks him whether he has raised the issue with the local MLA - certainly the way to go - Holland sidesteps an answer with: all politicians know. Proactive?

The narrative of the NPD's attempts at damage-control is getting shriller. Changes in emphasis and volume must make the public wonder why there is little cohesion, continuity in all this. Ultimately raising questions around vision, legitimacy of claims and - yes - accountability.
All this whingeing!

Mayor Kozak inherited this muddle from John Dooley, her predecessor as NPB Chair. She - quite rightly - says: mental health now is a world-wide issue - NOT Kootenay-specific.

So, Chief Holland, how about letting go of the exceptionalism-perspective to dispassionately accept the local situation-as-actually-is and within a proactive and accountable - thus supportable - step forward.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Grrrrr!!! Woof!!! Grrrrr!!!

Nelsonites ever so righteously coming awake: this time - a man and his constitutional dog-or-not.
If you do have a dog - an honest look at why you got one may be an evolutionary step. Instead of hyperventilating over Sparky's rights as a member of your family on Baker. I mean..... really!
If you don't have one but - like many - tut-tut anyway against the no-dogs-downtown bylaw just because facebooking gives meaning to your life - why not call Mom instead.


And all consider the following:

Local Dogs Downtown: "Owner's" Job
Sparky lies around in an unhealthy-for-dogs situation: shop, office. A couch-potato thing - without tv - all day, most days. Sparky gets sluggish - loses his spark. Infrequently taken out for a pee/poo. Poo may be picked-up - may be! - pee not so much! Downtown. Back alleys. 

Local Dogs Downtown: "Owner's" Convenience
You're too lazy to give Sparky the exercise you quite well know he needs - so you schlep him along downtown instead. On your terms. Pretending.
Tying-up Sparky somewhere - with all the variables tying him up and leaving him on his own for some time present. Energizing - not! Depending on how long you're gone - a must pee/poo-right-now! will have unpleasant consequences. For Sparky: he can only do it within the range of his leash. And for people: stepping in it. While you're on your 2nd Americano elsewhere!

Local Dogs Downtown: More Reasons
You feel guilty over leaving Sparky alone at home.
Leaving him alone at home means major damage to your stuff.
Sparky drives the neighbors nuts with his never-ending howling out of loneliness/frustration/boredom.
But your backyard is not secure enough to keep him contained: he may get out, wreak havoc. Having to round him up is a time-consuming bummer you don't need when you get home!
Barking at anybody/anything for attention - when tied-up outside for the day. The mail-carrier scenario.

                                                       The inconvenient truth of Sparky!


So Why Have A Dog In Nelson?
It's understandable that a senior or person with disabilities has a basic dog: company.
While it's less understandable why an active Nelsonite - a family yet - has a dog, with all issues above inevitably to arise, when the cute-cute-cute! puppy turns into a long-term commitment with a dog's ever-growing (ever-expensive!) needs.
It's irresponsible and selfish to sort-of make a (big!) dog fit into an urban situation for the "owner's" amusement: for starters - soon after birth - a life-changing surgical modification performed on Sparky! The tail has to go as well! And parts of the ears! After his kind was possibly overbred to begin with: punched-in nose and/or crippling skeletal aberrations.

Dogs - when treated reasonably well - are obedient and unconditionally affectionate. Obedience as a given combined with unconditional affection rarely found in humans: a dog often is called man' best friend.

If you think this is so - you've got issues around relationships and control!

I mean - people also describe their life going to the dogs: treated worse than a dog in a dog-eat-dog world! Nothing best-friend there!

Also see post
Nelson Going To The Dogs
5 Feb. 2013


Local Dogs Downtown: Animal Control Bylaw
If/when dogs are allowed again - 3 most basic rules:
All dogs are leashed at all times and registered/tagged.
Fees for this registration and its annual renewal (handled like a license-plate) are so high that people go from isn't-he-just-the-cutest impulse to must-we-really-have-a dog deliberation. This cuts down on dogs thus dog-issues in Nelson - while still maintaining revenue-flow.
Color-coded tags - easily visible - automatically checked by Bylaw Officers, while they do parking-meters. Tickets given without fail for dogs off-leash, unattended turds, outdated (wrong-color) or no tags.
Fines - raised substantially with repeat-abuse of the rules - are clearly defined and fixed within the amended bylaw!


Woof!!! Grrrrr!!! Woof!!!

                                      Get over here! NOW!!!

                                                     Woof!!! Grrrrr!!! Woof!!!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cop-Shop Deluxe

This post comprises the material to the Committee-of-the-Whole (COW), 19 Jan. 2015, and additions with knock-your-socks-off revelations guaranteed following it.

Fund-a-mental Nelson
31 Dec. 2014
is a lead-in.

2015 NPD Budget/$311.000 Increase
Police Chief Holland says: Nelson has a relatively low crime-rate - referring to the 2013 National Crime Severity Index. But - also according to him - this is not indicative of the Nelson Police Department's (NPD) actual work. Because there is an overwhelming case-load of mental illness, drugs and street-disorder.
In other words: the majority of the NPD's work does not register as crimes. Just a nuisance, really! So - no matter how much of a nuisance - the NDP is just busy. As it should be!

While mental illness, drugs and street-disorder seem to be the public fulcrum for the budget-increase; it's all vague and anecdotal. With Holland at best claiming in 2014: Nelson police officers respond to approximately 1.000 mental illness calls per year.
Several significant problems in this statement are:
Approximately 1.000 means: either there are no exact records - which year, how many? - or the NPD does not find it necessary to tell us. If we accept 1.000 in 2013 - about 3 per day every day - they seem to be dealt with rarely witnessed by the general public and do not show-up in the Nelson Star's routinely bundled NPD-activities. An occasional case yes - daily multiples no!
Mental illness calls - aside from the profiling-issue - is a blanket classification of people by the NPD: consistently making judgements it is unqualified to make.
So - how many drug-related calls are there? How many street-disorder calls? Seeing he does not mention calls about those: are mental-illness/drug/street-disorder-issues basically the same? As many surely are: 1.000 responses per year represent a low case-load in the majority of the NPD's work.
Assuming that by calls he means phone-calls - after all, how else would the generally invisible police-presence know of these unruly, drugged mentally-ill: who is making these calls 3 times per day every day, and what are they based on? Who qualifies these public-nuisances as mentally-ill: callers or NPD?

To solidify claims as to a publicly declared mental-health-and-whatever-crisis - the Nelson Police Board (NPB) has yet to produce records substantiating the need for the tremendous budget-increase because of said crisis.
While the to Council declared purpose of hiring 2 additional constables plus 1 administrative coordinator actually is not emphasis on this crisis but spreading case-loads to enable the NPD to get ahead of crime by making all  proactive and accountable. This according to the 2015 Provisional Budget! Get ahead of what crime we don't have? While being proactive and accountable is expected in any job - not so in the NPD! Even though Accountability has been listed for ages by the NPB as a core Value of the NPD!
What's really going on here?

Although the NPD hasn't added any officers in 20 years - at least one addition comes to mind: Constable Lisa Schmidtke, hired in March 2013.
Supposedly the long-suffering NPD has been functioning with between 14 and 16 officers since 2011 - this fluctuation partly due to injuries. While not telling how many are in or out or what right now. Raising the question: How many are currently budgeted for - while not physically on the job? A need for hiring additional personnel should not be based on the who-knows-how-long absence of some because of whatever union-approved issues.
Currently wages and benefits of police-officers represent 86 cents of every budget-dollar. It is arrogant to attempt saddling the taxpayer with this massive budget-increase to convenience an already extremely well-provided-for police-force, kept busy with generally low-voltage case-loads

The NPD habitually compares its poor-me-I-work-so-hard premises to those of other cities. Budgets soon to be an issue - with all due respect I urge Mayor Kozak - NPB Chair - and Council to increase the NPD's budget objectively, based on actual explicitly documented need in Nelson only.

Across-the-board training in first-responder conflict-resolution is more labor/time and cost-effective than hiring more personnel to spread the work-load.

End of presentation

Although community-involvement is commendable - actual policing must have priority over all else. Unless they're not busy! And not on overtime! The NPD is not a taxi-service for little old ladies' mall-itch!
Clearly - the more "community" stuff they do on the clock - the less real police-work seems to need doing.

Following are  t h e  reasons given in the 2015 Provisional Budget for increasing the force to the tune of $311.000:
Be information-led as opposed to reactive
Be intelligence-led and integrated in our operational deployment
Focus on our main (chronic) "frequent-flyer" offenders
Focus on the key-drivers of a problem/issue/crime
Identify new and leverage existing partnerships to achieve reduction in an integrated manner
We would be more able to "get ahead of crime" and be proactive against criminal events and trends
We will assign our personnel to performance-based standards - this makes them accountable and focus us on "outcomes" - not "inputs"

If all this sounds iffily generic - here is why:
Source: Dr. Irwin Cohen - Dr. Daryl Plecas
"The Seven Essential Principles of Police-Based Crime-Reduction" - 2014.
> Who are these guys???
Answer: They're both connected to the University of the Fraser Valley, where they publish a book in 7 parts/name above, Fall 2014 - around the same time the NPD-budget is put together - the book not Nelson-specific.
Both teach/taught there, while Darryl Plecas (double-r in Darryl, NPB!) is also Liberal member of the BC Legislature for Abbotsford South.
> What is their direct connection with the Nelson-beat???
Answer: No connection.


Plecas is an interesting fellow - having made a dubious name for himself with his tough stance against decriminalization of marijuana.
Killer Weed: Marijuana Grow Ops, Media and Justice
Dr. Susan Boyd and Dr. Connie Carter
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014. 304 pages)

Reviewed by - Chuck Reasons J.D, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor, Criminology
Kwanten Polytechnic University, May 2014
The authors note that a major supporter of getting tough on grow-ops is Dr. Darryl Plecas, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Fraser Valley who authored/co-authored several of the RCMP reports that have been used to justify harsher penalties and a get-tough approach toward marijuana grow-ops. In fact, he was RCMP University Chair in Crime Reduction at Fraser Valley. Apart from the potential appearance of lack of independence/objectivity, Boyd and Carter note that these studies are not published and peer-reviewed as is normal in academic research. Nonetheless, they are widely cited by law enforcement and others promoting a get-tough approach as authoritative/valid evidence of the harms of grow-ops. In fact Plecas himself was often cited in newspapers, reaffirming the findings. But the authors of this book show that certain reports lack scientific rigor and, in fact, mislead the reader due, in part, to faulty methods of research. However, they were widely cited and acknowledged as the real facts about marijuana grow-ops.
In an interesting review of international literature on marijuana grow-ops, the authors contrast scholarly research (elsewhere) with the slanted view of the RCMP research.

 I am not advocating for grow-ops - this is only to provide an introduction of Plecas as the direct source of our NPB's sudden 7 commandments from the mount. Backbone of the budget proposal. Justification for the increase, the projected purpose/gain, reason: lifted almost verbatim - without Nelson-context!
The rest of the budget: vagueness and statistical fillers - smoke and mirrors.

The NPD/NPB - by the Police Act - can still make as many changes as they wish. Before March 1. Within little more than 1 month! 
How could they now justify another approach to the same $311.000?
Or else rewrite the whole thing with a totally different scenario for totally different goals - without the 311K?
Major loss of trust, confidence - face - no matter which way they turn-or-not!

This clearly is the time to support our new Council with thoughtful input.
Go to:
Home-Page - Contact Mayor & Council
Email All (single message) - Mayor & Council

Home-Page - Police Department
Police Staff Directory
Email - Wayne Holland, Police Chief

May the leaner Force be with you!

Jim Baldwin
Jason Bullard
Kevin Curtis
Perre et Gilles 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

... tax-exempt, too!

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

                                             Blaise Pascal
                                             1623 - 1662 

Pierre et Gilles