Monday, 2 October 2017

Participatory Municipal Politics - A Fantasy

This post directly connects with
What DOES Matter (Part 1)
23 July, 2017 


Councillor and other local government officials tell of increasing harassment
                                                              Robert  Barron
                                                              Nelson Star from Cowichan Valley Citizen 
                                                              28 Sep, 2017

While one here could have expected far-ranging examples of BC municipal politicians' harassment by the unruly public - the headline is misleading, what with only 2 politicos quoted. Both from the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). And their recollections dramatically turning a few minor confrontations over a long time-span into harassment, intimidation, assault and defamation!
The rest is thinnishly anecdotal.


There's a - possibly unintended - kicker to be found in this write-up, making clear why what's often loudly objected to by many in Smallishtown politics.
It's the stranglehold re-re-elected often have on the decision-making process: either creating a deadzone by inertia - or monopolizing the process by pursuing self-glorifying agendas.

Usually those re-re-elected anywhere are so not because of the consistently impressive quality of their involvement, but because - over time - they have established a social feel-good support-base: never mind their ever-diminishing need-focused contributions to lulled-to-sleep segments of the greater whole.

Consistent re-election and cross-breeding of elected officials - both the case in Cowichan - can't fail but lead to stagnation.

Politico-Buddy 1
Bob Day - 10 years as Lake Cowichan Councillor and 4 as CVRD Vice-Chair - is confronted 7 years ago - gasp! - in the store where he still works today. A man "verbally assaulted" him on a "zoning issue".
And again recently: a repeat-complainant 2 days in a row - on a "traffic issue" - same store. The man carrying a placard and "making defamatory statements". Following Day up and down the aisles! This is funny! But maybe embarrassing to a clerk preferring to be known as Vice-Chair of something or other.
That's all - and Day does admit: neither incident was directed at him personally.

Politico-Buddy 2
Jon Lefebure - North Cowichan Mayor/CVRD Chair, previously Councillor - recollects "only one incident about 12 years ago - double-gasp! - when he was harassed in a public place". Also in a store! No, we don't know...
What we do know is that a person being Mayor and Regional District Chair - at the same time - is a bit much to many in whichever Cowichan. Constituents would have ample reason with this alone to express themselves forcefully.

Like - I mean - what the f**k!

Did nobody raise actual concerns in this "large crowd at a workshop at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) meeting being held in Vancouver this week, dealing with the rise of incivility in local government, and the conduct of the public toward elected officials and staff"?

Seeing that too often self-serving "incivility in local government" prompts the frustrated "conduct of the public" - this write-up could have made its point by intent, if the former had been dealt with first and strongly - instead of the latter only and weakly without context.

But then - it sort-of did make this point after all, just sneaking up on the reader!

The shelf-lives of these two examples of brutal public scrutiny were up years ago, what with Lefebure over 16 years as Councillor, then Mayor/CVRD Chair/Police Board Chair, all 3 concurrently - be still, poor heart! - and Day at it as Councillor and CVRD Vice-Chair for 14 in total.

So what's (not) to like and (not) to complain about (loudly!) in Cowichan politics?

Any elected BC office should only allow 2 terms tops - particularly now that a term is 4 years very-long. Term-limits conceivably supporting a higher energy-level, more urgency to accomplish something, and a light at the end of the tunnel - if.

That's what this and the previous UCBM meeting should have focused on. And the needed separation of Mayor's Office from Police Board. Aside from the obligatory housing and dope, of course.


Respect does not automatically come with the job of an elected official: it is earned by the official being respectful of the constituency.
Or else!

Often unsociable social media provide impatient users the opportunity to voice from a distance what they are too timid to do in person.
Or what they have next to no opportunity to voice at City Hall.

But if neither this nor placards will do: vote wisely - don't re-elect!

Image Credits:

Deb Kozak, Mayor

Jon Lefebure, Mayor/CVRD Chair

City Council

Andrea Rondeau   

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

You really want to be Councillor? Why?

According to Council's 3-year shelf-life of the past: there would be an election any day now. The third year always and inevitably sluggish - deep breath and enough already! On both sides.
With - from the current Council onward - a term stretching from 3 years to 4, the big question is: will their energy - demonstrably low at this point - stretch that far?

Mayor Kozak and Council - very conscious of the 3-year wall - recently held a meeting to take stock of what they accomplished over the last 3-years. So they're done? What's with the coming 4th?

For everybody's sake: Councillors now should be allowed 1 term only! While 2 consecutive 3-year terms were still doable - 2 consecutive 4-year terms decidedly are not.
Adjustment upward by 1 year just to bring municipal terms in convenient line with provincials shows extraordinary lack of interest in municipals by the provincial government.
What with provincial politicos professionally fulltime and very well-compensated - Smallishtown City Councillors are remunerated only so-so as parttimers: pensioners or those - by vital necessity - with primary focus on a fulltime job elsewhere.
But then - municipalities could/should have spoken up loudly in/through their Union of BC Municipalities and MLAs - yet did they? Were they consulted? Not that we and future Councillors know.

Despite public knowledge here that the current term was to be 4 years, a surprisingly large number of would-be Councillors presented their elect-me shtick. Go figure!
That may happen again next year, and it would be good for us Nelsonites if those even just vaguely considering running - to keep later surprises to a minimum and conserve energy - soon started to give it in-depth attention. Keeping in mind that Council - ostensibly! - has the power to shape Nelson. A hefty weight - best not carried lightly!

So - once campaigning: showing-up at a Council Meeting or two just before the election to see in person how it's done when/where it's done is irresponsible. Leading to unrealistic expectations. An unhealthy Council from the get-go.

Random Reasons For 
Is it that you have been attending Council Meetings as spectator, sitting through Agendas presented/passed - possibly without adequate cause-and-effect consideration - saying to yourself: WTF - I could do this better?

Is it that you don't have a life and feel being a Councillor would give you one?

Is it because you're frustrated with the way the current Council has been rubber-stamping big-ticket items, and as Councillor you would feel ready to - if need be - push for their full engagement, framed by diligence, transparency, accountability: with you totally ready to come from that place?

Is it that you are a control-freak?

Is it that you - with your biggish ego - feel underutilized in this here Smallishtown, thinking that as Councillor you could calm the restlessness within: channel it into positive changes and - what could be better! - get stroked for it publicly?

Is it that you have a hush-hush agenda not directly related to the responsibilities of a Councillor?

Is it that sitting on one board or another isn't cutting it any longer - you're frustrated with treading water: ready for the bigger pond?

Is it that you feel: good enough just isn't good enough?

Is it that you have an urge to prevent Nelson from doing itself in?

Or what?

Reality Of
A Councillor's job does not begin/end in Council Meetings - its nature is time/energy-consuming: if done circumspectly, often leaving little time for fun and games at home and the real job done conscientiously, if there is one. Something's gotta give - visible to the great unwashed is Council's performance in the public meetings only. They're rarely seen in the streets.

To arrive at a well-substantiated personal opinion on an Agenda item - a few days before it is tabled in Council - with material of frequently shallow and/or subjective depth provided by the CAO/Staff - needs a clear, logical head, extensive research - and time.

A focused two-prong approach - not only as Councillors but also as members of the community - is crucial.

As in: all Councillors consistently conscious of this basic position would lead to vigorous discussions, ending in solid decisions. Would.
Sadly - it's been Councillors up there and the community down here all along.

They frequently are superficially prepared, seemingly leaving a decision to bubble to the surface during meetings, or having been nudged in a particular direction by the CAO. In the backroom, just prior to the official vote on an item in public. Prepped.
An habitual lack of personal connectedness has led Councillors to approve items generally - specifics within big-ticket items usually left unaddressed. Meaning: once they approve the thing in principal (only), crucials undoubtedly arising later are no longer their business - their concern.

As in more and more Cottonwood Market funding - but still no acceptable toilets; Hall St. Phases 1/2 in bits and clumsy pieces; the Panhandling Bylaw without panhandlers; Wood-Chip Steam out of steam; the Solar Garden an invasive species.

Then there are committee-meetings at all hours, often little different from private-sector board-meetings: talk, talk, talk and the decision when to talk some more.


So Why?
One wonders what prompts Nelsonites to want to be Councillors: their by-rote election-rhetoric never a believable explanation.

So - the rare oddity knowing clearly what the job entails - endless stacks of stuff, endless meetings, endless in-house politicking, endless sacrifices in their personal lives and endless boredom - but still wanting to take it on, is to be enthusiastically embraced!

Image Credits:

City Council

Kevin Cormack, CAO

Deb Kozak, Mayor   

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Very Bad Cop - Very Free Donuts!

This post connects with
City paid part of convicted cop's legal fees
                                                  Nelson Star, Sep 2, 2017
More precisely: it was the tax-payer - not the City!

Criminal Cop
Local cop Drew Turner - while off-duty - beats a severely inebriated, about half-his-size, handcuffed woman unconscious, in front of two on-duty cops who do not participate in this. Finishing his assault with "That will shut her up!" he drives off, to repeat the same alpha-grunt later to a dispatcher. And then lies a lot.

The report/eye-witness account of the 2 on-duty cops raises questions, and Turner is put on well-paid desk-duty for the eventually lengthy duration of investigations and his subsequent trial.
Nobody talks in public about possible drugs - roidrage? - or even just a breathalizer-test. Considering his way-out-of-proportion, explosive meltdown, it would seem appropriate to also have his mental health evaluated - before letting him loose on even just desk-duty. After all, there is at least the well-being of his 2 fellow cops - testifying against him - to be considered.
But he does not start any "counseling" until about 7 months after the attack, and it has not been made known who initiated it, why only then and what the results are.

Accumulating costs of legal proceedings against Turner are volunteered by the City - actually tax-payered - but not made public either at the time, with the Nelson Police Board (NPB) stating it MAY seek reimbursement later. While it actually has paid absolutely nothing towards the consequences of its employee's meltdown.


Judge Richard Hewson - on the job less than 2 years - finds Turner guilty, and after righteously proclaiming "When a police officer breaches the public trust and engages in illegal activities, even if off-duty, it undermines the public confidence in the police and the rule of law", promptly sentences him to 1 month of (still well-paid!) house-(ar)rest and 2 years probation, citing most bizarrely biased mitigating circumstances for his (poor) judgement.

Eventually Turner resigns from the Nelson Police Department (NPD) - staying on its payroll until he actually does leave. The extent of his severance-pay package also is not known to the public.

But now this public is told that part of the legal costs of $38.115 - as per confidential(!) agreement between the NPB and convicted assailant Drew Turner - will be carried by Nelson(ites). But not how much and orchestrated through whom at City Hall.

"The board considered the amount Mr. Turner offered, they got legal advice, and said they were satisfied and the matter was closed."
                                                              Deb Kozak, NPB Chair
                                                              Above-mentioned Star article

So - convicted criminal Turner OFFERED(!) to pay only so much for his own legal defense; the Board - after running the figure by legals (who?) - thought his offer was just fine, and whatever the hush-hush rest may be is stuck to Nelson taxpayers. These including Turner's victim Tawny Campbell!
Matter closed! 


While not so hush-hush, in
Mason v. Turner
(shortly before Turner's flesh-fest)
Court finds for the plaintiff and - wouldn't you know it! - City Hall pays Turner's fine of $500! Surely plus costs.

So - to be factored-in-but-not by the NPB/NPD: this cop's most vicious attack by/on a single person in Nelson's not so recent history is preceded by another run-in with the law. A quick one-two!

Considering the NPD's proactive efforts to gain the public's trust now - after the reign of the previous Chief then - have just begun to bear comforting fruit: this decision by the NPB - why it was reached and how (not) communicated - is a giant step back into days of habitual dissatisfaction with police - the NPD.

Seeing that Turner was employed by the NPB, and the NPB is in charge of the NPD, it is totally unacceptable that the public should get stuck with "part" of these legal fees for off-leash Turner. While - except for that - ignored, with no concern shown for those to be served, protected, etc.

The NPB compensating Tawny Who? Campbell and having Turner's legal costs come out of the NPD budget are non-issues.

Nelson Police Board
Following is some basic - while frequently irrational - info on the NPB - Nelsonites may know little of. More can be found on the City's website-mainpage, under Nelson Police Department.

Responsibilities of the Nelson Police Board
The Nelson Police Board is responsible for appointing the Chief Constable and evaluating his or her performance. The Board provides direction to the Nelson Police Department through the Chief Constable. The Chief is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the department.

The Nelson Police Board is accountable to the community of Nelson, the BC Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General, and the members and employees of the Nelson Police Department through senior management.

Municipal Police Boards are created independently from municipal councils and from provincial government. This removes boards from partisan council (sic) and politics, as well as recognizes that both the municipality and province have legitimate interests in municipal policing.

Legitimate interests in municipal policing? 
Where did this twaddle originate?

The Nelson Police Board is comprised of (sic) the mayor, who is designated chair (?), one person appointed by municipal council (?) and up to five persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council (?).

How City Council chooses its local "director" and the Lieutenant Governor in Victoria her Nelsonites for the province is not public knowledge. Clearly - province-appointed local "directors" are chosen based on local "recommendations" only. 
Secret Smallishtown handshakes?

None of our "directors" have a background in public safety, policing, criminal justice. 

Little of all of the above makes sense: Most NPB "directors" are appointed by the "province", and the NPB is overseen by the "provincial" Ministry of Public Security and the "provincial" Solicitor General. So how "independent" are they, and - by the way! - who creates these Boards "independently"?
Also - the NPB Chair is a "municipal" employee as Mayor: possibly "partisan" and undoubtedly "political".

Then - how much circumspect oversight there is from Public Safety and the Solicitor General is debatable, considering that every municipality's Board in BC may be set-up following the same muddled model. And recently reinvented Victoria is busy. So our Board certainly can - and does - act like a singular entity in there somewhere.
We'll never know!

Like - being "accountable to the community" does not mean the NPB is - has ever been - accountable to the community: this Turner disaster being the latest example.

NPB Decision-Makers

 Deb Kozak, Chair - since elected Mayor 


Barb Henry, Director - 6 years

Bill Reid, Director - 5 years

Hilda Taylor, Director - 5 years

Elizabeth Edwards, Director - 2 years

Amed Naqvi, Director - 1 year

Having the mayor of a municipality automatically be its Police Board's Chair is a most growth-inhibiting - seemingly colonial - institution in municipal BC politics. Leaving her/him no room to decisively move forward as either in relation to the other.
A number of years ago a meeting of BC police chiefs overwhelmingly voted against the practice - but so far there has been no political will for change.

Next NPB meeting:
Nelson Police Department/Boardroom
19 Sep, 2017 - 15:00
Open to the public

Tel. 250.354.3919


You don't like what's going on? Go tell them: you'll get 10 minutes!

Image Credit:
City of Nelson

Deb Kozak, Mayor/NPB Chair

Paul Burkart, NPD - Chief Constable

Nelson Police Board

City Council   

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Sir John A(ryan) Macdonald

Pareja says he acknowledges Macdonald's foundational role in the country's Confederation, but having public schools bearing his name leaves out his role in the starvation of Indigenous people along the railway to facilitate its construction, along with Macdonald's - "central role as architect, really, of what was genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island."

"At no point, when it came to learning about the Confederation of Canada, the Fathers of Confederation, was any of that part of our history," he said, recalling his own time in the elementary school system.

This being the heart of the matter, while

Former foreign affairs minister John Baird called it "political correctness on steroids."
"It's one of the most crazy and ridiculous things I've ever heard - just simply trying to erase Canadian history in the guise of an extreme and radical political correctness."

He's considered Canada's founding father, but many Ontario teachers want his name stripped from public schools.
                                           CBC, Aug 23, 2017

Aside from reaching production goals through them by any means - literally, not mentioned are the Chinese either, without whom - despite the horrific conditions they worked in and abusive treatment they were habitually subjected to, frequently resulting in (officially uncounted) at-work deaths (which until 1897 did not have to be reported) - the BC segment of the transcontinental railway most definitely would not have been completed by when it had to be completed: Macdonald's stipulation for BC becoming part of the Confederation.

While he clearly was aware of the absolutely necessary Chinese part in the process: he was not inclined to allow them to stay on in Canada - after he had got his little steam engine that could.

It is not advantageous to the country that the Chinese should come and settle in Canada, producing a mongrel race and interfering very much with white labour in Canada.
I do not think it would be to the advantage of Canada or any other country occupied by Aryans, for members of the Mongolian race to become permanent inhabitants of the country.
                                    Sir John A. Macdonald

Forsooth - (pre-Hitler) Aryans? Scarily same message - and here we are!

Whether-or-not (any longer) having public schools in Ontario named after Macdonald has nothing to do with "trying to erase Canadian history" - but everything with a possible step towards the country's maturity. And we for sure could do ourselves with some of that, Mr. Baird-With-Recently-Acquired-Vocabulary!
... a pair of surveys reveal some of us have the national awareness of a fruit fly.
A basic contextual knowledge of Canadian history and geography is essential for us to understand the nature of this country, its differences from its neighbour, its ties and connections to the citizens' ancestral homelands, and even the fundamental choices we collectively make and collectively face.
Lack of national awareness - and ignorance of Canada's history, dimensions, texture, origins and peoples - is a disgrace, it's also a handicap as we build for the future.
                               Our ignorance is no excuse
                               Editorial, Hamilton Spectator
                                                    July 2, 2009

Could have been written now!

A people whose main selling-point today is that they're "nice" - either are a very limited people, or they're just not up to facing their reflection in the mirror. 


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Of Course You Can Be White, Too!

What keeps getting so many upset about Charlottesville?

Was it the cosplay creeps with their predictable mantra; was it the predictable death of one white person; was it American-democracy elected Donald Trump being his predictable self? 

Was it politicians predictably getting on the predictable media-train as an opportunity to self-promote - while not actually having to do something constructive?

Nothing new in any of it!

Racism is the foundation of Canada and the US: the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) ethos of superiority in all and everything has shaped them both from the beginning - with God on their side - to become part of their (supremely) white social fabric.

So - it's hard to believe that all sudden demonstrators in Vancouver - before hitting the streets - actually went through a catharsis overnight and came out cleansed of their habitual complicity-at-least-by-silence: regarding from-the-top-down punishing disregard for Canada's indigenous nations. And others of color. Ongoing since the Colonials' arrival.

If they didn't - they've hardly had time since Charlottesville - they are and remain white supremacists (with better haircuts): if only by background, environment, association, voting - and dithering.

Does not having had large-scale demonstrations all along specifically in support of aboriginals mean: they have not been victims of racism?

"Supremacism is the worldview that a particular age, race, species, ethnicity, religion, ideology, nation, or culture is superior to other variations of that trait, and it advocates that those who identify with it dominate, control and subjugate those who do not."

The Germans attempted to export their particular brand of white supremacy all over the world; the British actually did; and the Americans are still at it with what Obama openly bragged about as American exceptionalism - another word for white supremacism.

The man in Charlottesville - driving his car into a crowd and killing one - a small number by today's terrorism "standards" - was not using a specifically southern-white-supremacist game-plan: he copied that from run-of-the-mill terrorists, who originally objected enough-is-enough to white supremacism in the Middle East.

So - wouldn't it be more clear-headed to call those pathetic southern whack-jobs what the are - racist nationalists - instead of empowering them uniquely with a label way too large for them to carry.

In Vancouver - taking selfies in the crowd and sending them to Friends as proof of having been there - having done the righteous thing - may provide a momentary rush - but then what? When these things are over - they're usually over, and everybody heads for Starbuck's.

Wouldn't those professing concerns in front of city hall have been more on point by taking these concerns to the Eastside?

There doing something small and quiet and personal about neighborhood racism.

If you can't love the present locals - you can't love the arriving Syrians.


We're all guilty!


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I Am White - You're Not!

While the extreme white-supremacist state of mind and how it expresses itself is abhorrent - at least it is clearly visible, thus could at least be contained, if there were a (politically advantageous) will to do so.

And if the general public - there and here - took steps beyond conveniently short twitterings and righteous Likes to show their support for (politically expedient) media-posturing.

After all, down there - habitual neighborhood racism - usually not as visually/audibly dramatic as the in-your-face of white supremacists - still is a form of slavery, over time spread from the few to the many. Including those against slavery - like: everybody is involved!

Up here - systemic/systematic state-sponsored racism has been in force against the real Canadians - and not only! - since day one.
In the process surely having spawned our very own - and while Canadians are ever so nice - thus-far-media-ignored white supremacists.

Sudden - within days after Charlottesville - mass-removals of statues and plaques - down there/up here - are a quickie guilt-born attempt at out-of-sight/out-of-mind. 
Sudden ideological removal is another matter entirely.
Donald Trump is not the issue - but just one pimple that burst!

Jonathan Lemire/AP 

Monday, 31 July 2017

What DOES Matter! (Part 2)

"What was your motivation for running for the office of mayor?"

"I'd been on council for 6 years, and it seemed like the logical next step. The last few years had been kind of frustrating for me, because I'd seen Rossland council make some decisions that I didn't necessarily think were in the best interest of the community, and I wanted an opportunity to make some changes."

                                                             Moore for Rossland
                                                                      Kristen Mitchell
                                                                      KOOTENAY BUSINESS, 2014

Following is a rerun of
Kathy Moore, City Councillor
1 May, 2014,
continuing from
What DOES Matter! (Part 1)
23 July, 2017,
the post directly below this.

When Councillor Moore over time perceives irregularities in the City of Rossland procurement-, contracting-, governance-processes, she - pretty much single-handed - brings her concerns to City Council - nothing! -  then the Mayor - nothing! - then up/down/across City Hall - nothing! - and all along the local/regional political food-chain - always nothing!

Resistance from/in all directions must often feel insurmountable: she persists!

In ever widening circles - she ends-up with the Auditor General for Local Governments in Victoria, which investigates and decides to support her concerns, to then publish a report for all to see. With court cases and tough recommendations in the works: those in charge of this-and-that in fair Rossland are hyperventilating.

I deeply admire Councillor Moore for her sense of integrity: safely taking her through all-interrelated political/business/social Smallishtown potholes. Yet all this comes down to: Kathy Moore simply doing the job she was elected to do!

End of post


In Nov. 2014, Kathy Moore is elected mayor of Rossland, taking office together with an entirely new Council.

Image Credit:
Sean Heisler

Councillor Bob Adams

Councillor Robin Cherbo

Councillor Michael Dailly

Councillor  Janice Morrison

Councillor Anna Purcell

Councillor Valerie Warmington