Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Excuse me but why did he vote in favor of the lease weeks ago when he only now after the fact is finally "comfortable" with his voting decision? Was he just a little comfortable before but voted for it anyway? Does he always trust and vote with what the municipal administration recommends despite maybe not having all the information? Or does he have to spruce up on his homework more before he makes a decision? How about other past decisions? Same process? Or is there an alternative answer(s)?
Not knowing the answers to these questions and many obvious others, to save any undue finger pointing embarrassment without more information would be wrong. See, at least this Editor wants to have all the information before passing any judgement!
It seems to this Editor that perhaps a lot more councillors were not clear about the lease rates and their competiveness and comparison to industrial rates. Yet they still voted in favor! Maybe that's the explanation for the Grandstand fiasco. Yet only one councillor asked the hard questions. So now some partial answers are coming back weeks after it was voted on! Maybe the detailed correct answers would have been better served at that time before the vote!
We first commented about the airport on January 11th with tons of comments. But really $0.24 cents a sq foot! Still hard to believe. Even this Editor would still ask tons more questions like how come industrial and commercial tenants just down the street pay $8.00 to $18.00 a sq foot? What empirical facts on overall financial justification for the airport is there, direct & indirect? Do the mom & pop operations pay the same as the corporate biggies at the airport? Why & why not? And finally why not get an independent assessment on the lease rates as Richter asked? And finally what reasons are there not to tear it down to be replaced by a humongous resort casino or similar large scale developement to help out over taxed Township taxpayers? Only in Langley you say?...
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Some quotes from our born again green leader PM Harper:
"Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations," says the letter, signed by Harper."
Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia . . " Stephen Harper. Meanwhile "Millions to go hungry, waterless: climate report" prediction in other news! (Actually global warming may be great for our Langley property values because we will all have ocean views and beach front properties before too long! The ole boys are salivating about those high surtaxes I bet!)...
For those who forgot the history review these previous postings;
- Township Council Rushes To Spend Your Money Again?
- David (Wally Martin) VS Goliath (Langley Township)
- David VS Goliath - The Sequel: The Wagons Are Circling !
- David BEATS Goliath !
- Letter To The Editor - Dec 21, 2006 - From Wally Martin, Innkeeper
7 of the 9 hotel owners came; the same 2 owners as before did not show.
Of the 7 owners present, 4 were in favour of the tax and 3 were against. The 4 in favour represented 302 rooms of the total 568 rooms, or 53.2%.
For the vote to pass for the new tax the following must be met:
1) more than 50% of the owners show support; and
2) more than 50% of the total rooms show support.
The results from last night’s votes fail test number 1 and pass test number 2.
The Township staff have decided to go directly to the other 2 owners to obtain their vote. LFP wonders how fair is it for Township staff to after the fact try to solicit one more vote in person. Is this really fair? The vote failed in LFP's opinion. Now let it die. A 75% turnout is almost double the last Township municipal election. Let the results lie, the tax vote failed pure & simple. Otherwise let's vote every day until the ole boys club gets their tax! Or for example why not after the next municipal election let all the candidates who lost solicit those who did not vote until they get elected! This Township process is flawed and one sided and just plain ridiculous!
One thing LFP figures is that everyone has learned that Mr. Wally Martin of Traveller's hotel deserves a lot of credit in fighting this battle against taxes and bureaucracy. Go Wally Go! What is going to happen in round 3? Whatever happens you can bet your bottom $ that Wally won't let go of this tax bone.
Monday, January 29, 2007
- "We're driving the long-term resident out of this community," said Coun. Kim Richter.
- "We're facing the highest tax increases in the history of the township."
"New development loading on costs"
- "It seems like all we're doing is running up the credit card," she said."
- "Richter said the tax bill will be even higher for residents whose homes are valued above $420,000. Many of those homeowners have lived in the township the longest, according to Richter."
- "She said the 10-per-cent increase in spending is composed of the five-per-cent tax increase to cover existing expenses and a five-per-cent jump in spending created by new development."
Acting finance director Peter Vaughan is quoted, "The spending growth is in things like garbage collection, plowing roads, police and fire services and traffic lights," Excuse me? Plowing? It took our ice packed streets weeks to finally melt in the rain! Peter's greatest quoted line is;
"He said it would be unfair to compare it to the rate of inflation because new population growth makes hikes necessary."
So why are we growing if development just costs us more? Maybe he should tell the old boys club on council that they have been falsly saying and selling all of us for years that Langley's dynamic growth adds money to our bottom line! Guess again we now find out that run-a-way development adds rising costs, rising taxes and rising debt!
Friday, January 26, 2007
- Our property tax system is unfair, arbitrary and regressive.
- It's time for councils to adopt rational budgeting rules
- Budgeting should be about frugally allocating resources, not spending increasing amounts of taxpayers' money every year.
- Municipal councillors should be focused on fiscal restraint and accountability.
- Why not just deliver municipal services more cost-effectively?
- Both federal and provincial governments are subject to the scrutiny of an auditor-general. Municipal governments should face the same kind of review to encourage fiscal discipline
- An even better suggestion is to limit the increase in taxes to the rate of the consumer price index, a proposal championed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
CORRECTION NOTE: We have been informed that Trustee Paterson attended a Transportation meeting and not a VALTAC (which unfortunately was also spelled wrong in error) meeting as previously submitted. The correction has been made and highlighted in red in the posting body. Sincere apologies for the error. LFP and the posting author stand corrected and appreciate the correction advice and apologize for our misunderstanding of the comment and for the incorrect quote and any concerns arising from our error.
TRUSTEE ACTIVITY AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Trustee Bech on holidays will be back for February.
Still no report from the Community School Connections Ad Hoc Committee which Trustee Hogeterp sits on. She did give relevant information on the other meetings she attended.
Trustee Paterson mentioned celebrating Christmas and New Years and attending a Transportation meeting but did not mention the relevance this has to the education and achievement of students.
REPORT ON THE OUTCOME OF "BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE - ALDERGROVE AREA"
Trustees approved four recommendations that were developed as a result of the consultation report written by Mr. McAvoy. The recommendations include a notice of motion that the Board is considering the closure of Aldergrove Elementary. The consultation and review process is to be completed by March 27, 2007.
Anyone see the writing on the wall? Closing this school is estimated to save $400,000 annually. What did the closure of South Carvolth realize? The recommendation states “Should the District wish to dispose of (or lease out) surplus properties in the future, the Aldergrove site would be of greater real estate value than other Aldergrove school sites.” It foreshadows that “it may be a possibility or necessity to amalgamate elementary schools further within a reasonable period of time”.
A school-based committee that includes a PAC representative will discuss issues related to a closure. Tentatively scheduled are:
March 12, 2007 - Public meeting at Aldergrove Elementary School re possible closure
March 27, 2007 - Public Board Meeting – Presentation of Closure Review Report and
Board decision on closure.
The second recommendation was to bring back to the Board by October 2007, a report re the “examine the feasibility and sustainability of district programs in the Aldergrove area, including but not limited to: French Immersion, the District Behavior Program, Trades and Alternative Non-Traditional Programs” This will be something of great interest for all parents.
Also going back to the Board at the same time is “an educational and operational implementation plan for the delivery of a middle school program in Aldergrove, for a combined middle-secondary school located at Aldergrove Community Secondary School, for the 2008-2009 school year”
Ms. Beaumont gave four reasons for the middle-secondary school recommendation.
1. Allows maximization of capacity utilization at ACSS. A separate middle school would have eventually left ACSS emptier.
2. The students would only have to attend two schools, not three, throughout K-12.
3. District programs like French Immersion program would be able to be sustained.
4. Degree of capital expenditure would be minimized in facilitating a middle school.
I wonder though, the documentation I have read states that the Middle school philosophy is important and middle schools must be implemented for the right reasons. To have success it is suggested not to dual track as this has a low success rate.
Interestingly enough, rationale #2 would become invalid if recommendation #4 which is that “Aldergrove Community Secondary School and D.W. Poppy Secondary School develop common secondary timetables with a goal of implementation for September, 2007 and that those timetables allow for potential compatibility with other secondary programs in the District.” comes into effect. Some students would end up attending three schools anyway. It sounds as if busing will be a major component in this unless these courses can all be delivered online. It will be interesting to see how DW Poppy parents and students will feel. There was mention that the whole district should do this, which would mean that all schools in district would become semester. Maybe this will be one of the choices (semester and linear timetables) that students currently have that will be changed in the new Strategic plan. First consultation for the strategic plan will be February 26.
Two of the reports are to come back to the Board at the start of the consultations in the Walnut Grove area. Hopefully, no critical decisions will be made prior to the conclusion of ALL of the consultations. After all, this is ONE district and the decisions made in one area would affect and possibly limit the options in the other areas. Unfortunately, the district did not really take an all-encompassing approach to these consultations, as D.W. Poppy and its catchment area including Fort Langley Elem. were not explicitly included in any of the areas to be examined.
Many school districts have closed large numbers of schools in their districts. Prince George School District went through the consultation process and closed 16 schools all at once. They took a district-wide approach and many parents are happy that at least some degree of uncertainty has been removed for the next few years.
The district is trying desperately to avoid closure of a secondary school. How long are they going to try to move or add programs, change boundaries, try to attract more out-of district students, and otherwise “think outside the box” before they admit what they already know they will eventually have to do. A future-looking option might be to close not only one but two secondary schools in anticipation of the decline right now. Remove any portables needed as enrolment declines over the next couple of years. This will create stability. The Willoughby area will need a new secondary school. That’s where the students will be and where plans are in place to locate one. The Ministry will not fund it until the excess capacity issue is addressed. Why not address it sooner and get the new school built sooner? Technology changes quickly, communities change over time as well. We need to recognize this, accept this and deal with it. This is an opportunity to do it by design NOT by default. That is why municipalities have community plans. They affect people too... the school board could learn something here.
Operating Budget Update, for January, 2007
Finally, something to sink your teeth into, even though it is only a teaser. The district did not receive the million dollars in holdback that it was anticipating and had budgeted for as their share and therefore have to make it up somehow. It did qualify for and received an unexpected supplement for a decreased enrolment of 1.6% this year. All said and done, they ended up with a projected deficit of $981,224. This deficit will be offset by an increase in revenue from the International Students Program and other investment income, as well as taking $75,944 from the unrestricted surplus from last year.
The Board approved $390,000 in one-time only expenditures from 2006/2007 unallocated funds. The breakdown is as follows:
Second semester course fees 90,000
Restorative Action/Counseling 25,000
Recruiting/Advertising – Human Resources 30,000
Trades Programs – equipment needs 25,000
International Baccalaureate Program 35,000
Allocations to small schools 65,000
Snow removal equipment and supplies 30,000
Portables (maintenance & refurb.) 40,000
Allocation to Foundation from ISP Program 50,000
Portables costs may only be $15,000 in the end. There was a question as to why there are 6 portables at Mountain Sec. when we have empty schools. I believe the chair may have missed the point that the parent was trying to make and that is that they should not be supplying portables to schools but should be moving programs to other locations that would be able to accommodate them. The choice program could be accommodated elsewhere. I believe the parent may have been thinking of HD Stafford since he is a parent from there.
The $30,000 for Human Resources, I suspect, is in addition to the considerable amount already allocated in the original budget proposal.
In regards to the Foundation…
I actually have the 2001/04/17 recommendation where the board stated that any fund-raising initiatives to be considered are not intended to displace or interfere with any established school based or PAC initiatives. At tonight’s board meeting they allotted yet another $50,000.00 from the International Students’ Program to the School District Foundation. So that makes $125,000 from School District funds this year. I wonder if that amount will be subtracted when the Foundation reports out on revenue generated since they didn't really generate it. The School District generated it through the ISP program. Not sure if you have to add the wage for the Executive Administrator in the grand total. The Board was not clear about that when I asked tonight. So, in reality, I wonder if there is a deficit after you account for the costs that the District has incurred or “contributed” in fundraising activities.
They did not mention anything about the additional costs for trustee raises. I guess the 34% raise for Trustees was included with the monies for the Teachers 2% raises. Politicians get 34% and Teachers get 2%. Sound right to you? So, any help spreading the word about amalgamation would be appreciated. http://members.shaw.ca/amalgamateschoolboard/.
2007-2008 BUDGET CONSULTATION CALENDAR
The Calendar for budget consultation was received. Should be posted on the district’s site soon. This meeting has traditionally not been very well attended. It would be nice if more of the public would go and hear where the district is spending our money. Tell them how you feel and what you think.
Other Educational Items
The following are excerpted from Emery Dosdall’s Education Report of Jan. 5th and may be of interest to those concerned with the future of education in BC
Excerpt #1 – re BC Progress Board’s report entitled “Working Together to Improve Performance: Preparing BC’s Public Education System For The Future”
Dr. Jago’s report provides several recommendations on how various components of the provincial education system can be changed or modified to improve student outcomes. A key suggestion underlying all of the report’s recommendations is... ”Working together, rather than at cross purposes, is something that we, as British Columbians, can do to ensure a better future for our children, our schools, and the province as a whole. After all, it is for the sake of the kids.” If all partner groups focused on the children’s achievement as a common purpose, imagine the success we could have in our province.
Excerpt #2 - Comments from Deputy Minister Emery Dosdall “Last year in the Throne Speech, reference was made to the need for “Transformative Change” of the education system. These reports will obviously be major considerations in any change agenda. Also the Premier in a year-end statement indicated that a priority of government will be to focus on improving education in 2007.
So 2007 promises to be an exciting year with changes to the system as we know it. But the real excitement comes from your ability to ensure that learning is alive and well in your school, in every classroom and for every child. Expanding the life chances of our young people is the real challenge and the real excitement in education.”
(Susan Semonick is a previous DPAC President and a community activist working for the betterment of the Langley School District- EDITOR-LFP)Respectfully submitted by Susan Semonick...
Today's Province writes about Richmond Councillor Bill McNulty lobbying for a 1% tax hike to add 6 more cops to help out with the dramatic increase of violence, assaults, shootings and loan-sharking based out of the Richmond River Rock casino resort. They are talking about a dedicated police unit for the River Rock casino too. How much of this is happening in Langley City's casino and how far behind Richmond are the City's casino related crime expectations?
Meanwhile in little old Langley some of our Township politicians reversed themselves on police funding recently when they voted in our all time historic tax hike that added more cops to help out Langley City in their increasing crime problem at Township taxpayer's expense. The author of both last year's and this year's ~5% Township tax hikes is the most prominent councillor to have reversed himself on adding these cops for the city courtesy of you the Township taxpayer. Expect the tired old line "I ran on public safety as my platform and will not reduce police services" excuse from this Councillor and others. These same politicians first said they would hold off and not approve adding this increased taxpayer tax burden of more cops because Langley City is still being subsidized by the Township for cop costs and essentially our new cops would also be increasingly sucked in to responding to city crime at Township's expense.
This Editor believes that a year or two ago Cllr. Kim Richter made a motion to review the police sharing agreement and move to sever the agreement and go it alone to probably no seconders! Of course the ole boys never did so and since then the City has severed tons of parks & rec agreements that will be costing us millions more of taxpayer dollars while city residents still get free sudsidized use of our pools and the like. The Mayor Alberts council slate did a superb job of jaw dropping on this one since these Jenuises never even saw it coming. Go back to sleep boys.
Keep in mind that the City is still doing a stellar job of dragging their feet in negotiating a better financial police sharing agreement with the Township. Equally the Township Mayor and Council are doing an equally traditionally stellar job of just doing nothing on the issue as usual and spending more and taxing us more as usual. Way to go boys.
Each and every year Township taxpayers are estimated to be paying $700,000.00 and climbing to subsidize the Langley City policing needs. This has been going on for 3 or 4 years. Do the math on the cumulative costs to Township taxpayers. But then again we are all used to paying more like $3,000,000.00 instead of $800,000.00 for a grandstand fiasco not to mention our now traditional annual ~5% tax increases and our target goal of "10 years for 77% tax Hike!)!
LFP predicts that this Editor will still be writing about this Township/City negotiations on cop sharing at the same time as Harper's Conservatives swing into actually addressing the global warming solution in 2050. Peter Fassbender the much more astute Mayor of Langley City must be smiling all the way to the bank. More power to him. He's doing his job well for his citizens and doing it very well indeed. Unlike our Mayor Alberts Council slate whose knuckle dragging solution to everything is to tax, spend and borrow us to death. We wrote about the police funding inequity quite a few times before most recently here with more details. So see you again on this topic in six months. Why? Just because it will still be there!...
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The 1st audio clip (1:44 minutes) is her final summation of why she could not support the budget tax hikes and what she identified as the real problem causing the historic township tax hikes. She finally states that in passing this budget, council has essentially declared war on the Langley township taxpayers.
The 2nd audio clip (2:03 minutes) is her ignored and un-seconded (even for any discussion) amendment to Cllr. Bateman's 2nd annual historic tax increase motion. Her un-seconded amendment motion was to hire efficiency experts to recommend changes to get these dramatic and escalating consecutive high tax increases under control before the next election.
The 3rd audio clip (1:57 minutes) is her amendment motion for council to 'show leadership' and fund adequate and better snow removal township services by cutting council's salaries by 1/3 and rolling back their benefits! This motion was also ignored and not seconded by the good ole boys club council slate. It's much easier for them to hike our taxes each year and increase their own council member's wages and benefits. Not considering any roll backs is part of this Council's problem - they see the taxpayer as an unlimited trough.
Not only were Richter's motions ignored at the meeting, but they weren't even recorded in the official minutes of that meeting. Yet, as we can hear, these motions were certainly made. No wonder Richter is feeling censored!
NOTE: We at LFP will soon be adding a new sidebar listing on LFP of all motions that were not seconded and hence never discussed in order to highlight and audit this significant censorship concern identified by Cllr. Richter. This issue was also recently reported on by Langley Times reporter, Al Irwin (kudos for reporting it Al!) on this now very common political tactic of censoring Richter's input by the current Mayor Albert's council slate. Not only is this simply rude and disrespectful but it clearly censures any proper democratic due diligence and discussion on Township council - unless of course you are a compliant member in good standing with the ruling ole boys club. This Editor wonders how this relates to proper Township Council fiduciary responsibility? Or is this just simply a blatant sexist thing by the ole boys?
You decide if Richter's motions were frivolous and not even worthy of any discussion, comment, investigation or amendments friendly or otherwise by the ruling Langley Township Mayor Alberts' council slate. Is this censorship of the only dissident opposition voice on Township council? This Editor certainly thinks so: sell out and you'll be heard.
Sadly and unfortunately all of the above Cllr. Richter 2007 budget meeting comments also got no coverage or quotes in the local papers either. Why not? Shouldn't the taxpayers and readers of the local press be equally informed of reasonable and lost taxpayer opportunities that were not seconded or discussed? Doesn't this lack of proper information just propogate the continuation of censorship and more importantly blind the voters at election time by favourably colourizing the incumbent group-think councilors and especially those club members who don't even think or speak at all?...
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Well, it’s official. The School Board is now looking at closing Aldergrove Elementary without even considering looking in their own backyard first.
The first meeting in the round of consultations for the South Central area of the school district was held on Jan.18th. People who attended were told that the average household incomes for most in this area were in the upper end of the scale. I wonder where the 48.19% of the families in the Township with annual household incomes below $50,000.00 (2003 Census data) are, and how they feel when one trustee is reported to say that the $50,000.00 in savings, which a reduction of two trustee seats could generate, is not a significant amount. http://members.shaw.ca/amalgamateschoolboard
On December 6th, the School District Foundation had their AGM. The interesting thing is that they are still receiving $75,000.00 from the ISP (International student Program) program. Moreover, the School District donates the services of one of their employees, as an Executive Director of the Foundation, at a cost of $41,941. I suspect the Foundation also uses office space and supplies donated by the District. On their statements, there is no accounting for these contributions that I could see.
There is another concern that is more of a question of ethics. This is that the School District does not allow parents or parent groups that are fundraising for student related activities to advertise alcohol-related functions through the schools, or use a school’s name in advertising these kinds of functions. The District even created a policy to disallow such conduct. Yet, the Board permits the Langley School District Foundation to advertise a Wine and Cheese function on web space on the school district’s website which it provides to the foundation - again at no charge that I could find recorded. The school district even expects students to take advertising home for this obviously alcohol-related function. The organization is called the Langley School District Foundation. Does that not cover all schools in its name? How much consideration did the directors, and in particular the trustees on the foundation board, give to doing this and how it would appear to students whom they are supposedly supporting? At what cost do they chase the almighty dollar?
To date, the only thing different by establishing the foundation is that we now have an employee costing close to $42,000 dollars assigned to do the work that normally volunteer directors would do. I still have not seen any events or initiatives that the district wasn’t doing or couldn’t do prior to the foundation’s creation.
When the foundation was created, I questioned the possibility that the foundation could go into areas that would take away from PAC fundraising. One trustee even personally guaranteed me that the foundation was being created to access corporate partnerships and would not be taking away from traditional PAC fundraising sources. The notice that was sent via district mail regarding the Wine and Cheese asked for donations and participation from individuals and local businesses. If individuals and local small businesses are not the traditional revenue source for PAC’s then what is?
The SDBC (School District Business Company) had its annual general meeting on January 18th. They reported a net loss of $8,774.00, and at fiscal year end have $63,247.00 owing to the school district on its $100,000 line of credit. The president of the SDBC did state that 2007 would be a critical year for its operations. The District originally committed approximately $300,000 dollar for the in-house development of products, which it anticipated that the SDBC could market for the school district. Since then the district has transferred to the SDBC the rights to the World Kids series of materials. The original projections for anticipated revenue from the sales of this material were reported to be 160,000 in 2005 and $288,400 in 2006. The SDBC realized a zero net income in 2004, $214 in 2005, and a net deficit of $8,774 in 2006. Clearly, a business plan gone awry. A plan, by the way, that when a member of the public requested to review it, the directorship declined to reveal, claiming it contained information which could give away any edge it may have to possible competitors. The SDBC has one inactive subsidiary and anticipates that there could be another subsidiary created in the coming fiscal year.
Let’s hope that if another year of loss occurs, the sole shareholder (the Langley School District) will decide to dissolve the company and chalk it up to “not their line of business”.
The storm clouds are forming. The cold front of this tax, spend and borrow council is about to collide with the warm front of the veteran Township residents, rural residents and especially the seniors of Langley Township who will respond strongly to the 'sticker shock'. What this old boys club Council has not yet fully realized is that these are the voters that will get out and vote and mark their x's on the ballot in two years. They will see the current Township tax bill which will include the 5% tax Township increase, the assessment increase, the GVRD tax increases, the translink tax increases etc. all as the direct responsibility of the Alberts council slate. They unlike the new residents of Willougby will definitely vote and they will have a big grudge because many of them are seniors who are closer to being forced out of their homes.
The pathetic attempt at trying to mask this tax grab by reducing it from 6% to 5% is a desperate public relations ploy on the part of some Councillors that this Editor predicts won't work. Imagine if the sole opposition critic, Cllr. Richter, were not there - the tax hike would have definitely increased by +6% and no masking attempt would have been neccesary or even entertained.
This Editor especially enjoyed the Langley Advance's editorial comment about the 'muti-million-dollar concrete box' (MAP Grandstand).
Cllr. Richter has told this Editor that she has never received as many calls from long term Langley residents. They all tell her that she should not give up and to keep on fighting against this tax, borrow and spend Mayor & council....
Friday, January 19, 2007
But to be fair in today's Langley Times there seemed almost to be the dawning of a new awareness and attitude by the Times as reflected by the Editor's own comments.
Kudos and congratulations to Langley Times Editor Frank Bucholtz who in is his editorial today for the first time ever acknowledged and quoted some of the following;
- 'a number of people will be seeing substantial tax increases.' & 'sharp tax increases'
- Rural residents are being hit the hardest on taxes and provided the least services
- 'Council needs to take a close look at the costs of new growth,'
- 'shift more of that tax burden onto those who actually receive the urban services'
- Consider levies for those areas that get better services
- 'look at the costs of operating recreational facilities'
- On recreation costs 'the costs are very high'
- 'The Township must do its best to keep the lid on costs'
Take note Albert's council slate. Even the Times is starting to agree with much of what Councillor Richter has been advocating. It's time that Albert's council slate take the blinders off, be non-partisan and seriously consider Richter's motion on Monday to go along with the CTF tax increase cap motion. Or at least acknowledge the problem and co-operatively discuss solutions to address escalating tax and spend habits of Township Council. We hope that the Albert's council slate will put the taxpayers' needs first and foremost.
Kudos and congratulations also to MP Mark Warawa for coming up with and holding a passport clinic to better serve Langleyites. Our MP has been struggling for years to find something substantial to do and be acknowledeged for. This is the chronic back-bencher syndrome. He has aimed too high and often stumbled. But this passport clinic was brilliant and a wonderful thing to do for residents of the community. This just goes to prove that simple things affecting the daily lives of residents are more important after all. LFP acknowleges and respects this clinic initiative and encourages MP Warawa to do much more of this type of public service. Not only does it suit him better but it must also bring him and his Langley office a terrific feeling of serving the public and doing the right thing.
Kudos and congratulations to both Mark and Bucky for jobs well done!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
- Township of Langley support the initiatives proposed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) by voluntarily resolving to limit all future tax increases to the CPI(Consumer Price Index) and by implementing annual value for dollar audits as a key part of the annual budget process;
- Township of Langley write to the Provincial Government and the UBCM supporting amendment of the Community Charter to include provisions for the limitation of annual municipal tax increases to the cost of living and the implementation of annual value for dollar audits by all municipalities in the province.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Cllr. Richter should take heart though. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) on January 5th proposed a cap on property tax bills - limiting annual increases to the rate of the consumer price index (CPI). Finally a credible source who backs up and agrees with the long time pleadings of Cllr. Richter on Langley Township council. As usual Richter is way ahead of her time and her Council colleagues . She also has the backing of many local taxpayers as revealed by the letters to the local press such as William Marr's and The Robinsons.
CTF says: "As other levels of government have improved financial reporting, transparency and accountability, municipalities have escaped the grasp of reform. It's time for local governments to improve their budgeting and tighten their fiscal belts." Again Richter was ahead of her time to no avail.
CTF also says: "Ratepayers must also be assured that they are getting value for their tax dollars, therefore the CTF is recommending that the purview of the Auditor General be extended to municipal services." Richter would have been happy with a simple external efficiency expert. As usual: No seconder & No discussion. The Township Grandstand fiasco begs for an Auditor General!
CTF in conclusion says: "It's time to end the uncertainty and reign in the discretion of local governments and adopt a cap on property tax bills."
The CTF's study (detailed report here) also points out that municipal tax revenue is up 44% between 2001-2004. "Spend-thrift municipal governments should not be let off the hook," added MacIntyre (Provincial Director, CTF - BC). The CTF recommends local cost saving measures including Alternative Service Delivery, P3s, privatization and greater use of user-based fee application for services like water and garbage collection. Finally, the CTF says that the province's Community Charter should be amended to mandate consultation of financial plans, value for money audits and local initiative and referenda provisions.
Value for money audits is exactly what Richter was trying to get the Township Council to implement. Even yesterday, Richter tried to amend the tax increase motion to include an efficiency expert to look for best practices and incorporate operational and program cost cutting measures. This was again not seconded even for discussion (interesting to note though that Cllr Richter graciously seconded Bateman's motion so it could be discussed). Worse still, her ammendment motions were not even reported on at all by either of the local press ( Times nor the Advance) which only said, 'Coun. Kim Richter was vocally opposed' to both rates, considering them too high. More than ever our previous posting conclusions seem very accurate indeed!
In reference to this historic second annual 5% tax increase, Richter said that "Council has declared war on the Township taxpayer". Also not quoted by any of the local press. Meanwhile the press merrily reports attempts to minimize this latest Township Council tax grab with ridiculous statements like 'it is only a $91 increase' (this year) per Cllr. Bateman! Another wonderful quote from Cllr. Grant Ward says he will not vote for a tax increase of less than 5.74%! Then there is Cllr. Fox who is quoted saying "that most people living on larger properties have made a lifestyle choice, and they are not unwilling to pay the extra Township is asking."! Maybe some longer term residents without supplemental Council salaries and generous benefits who are on fixed incomes aren't as thrilled as Cllr. Fox suggests. When can we expect a Township Council old boys club member to next blurt out, 'Let them eat cake'?
Help out The CTF, and you, the taxpayers by sending in the CTF petition today. Send the petition to a friend too. Better still send an email or letter expressing your concerns to Mayor & Council as well as to the local papers (Advance - Times - Star)....
Monday, January 15, 2007
Rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman has the dubious honour of successfully leading the charge that tonight passed the historic highest tax increase for two consecutive years in Langley Township. Once again the tax hike is for all intents and purposes the same as last year, 5%. Congratulations taxpayers you are now well on your way towards this Mayor Albert's led council's ultimate 10 year plan of a total of 77% tax hikes. Councillors Ferguson, Ward & Long voted against the Bateman ~5% hike because they wanted it even higher at ~6%! Councillor Richter is the only one who was opposed to both taxes saying that she wanted to address the root cause of the problem: Over spending and the need for cost control. Her motion to investigate doing so was not seconded and therefore not discussed. Way to go boys!...
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Langley Times article proves that the Alberts-led Township Council silent slate of good ole boys blatantly ignores any reasonable suggestion for proper due diligence and business common sense. When Business Professor/Councillor Richter asks that they get an independent second opinion on the 24 cents a square foot lease rate for the prime new Township airport industrial complex, a deafening conspiracy of silence is heard at the Council table. Not even a seconder for discussion! Not even on questions about a 40 year lease at only annual CPI increases! What happened to market rates? Show us any business that would not die to get terms like these.
Obviously Times Reporter Al Irwin (kudos to Irwin and the Times finally!) along with Councillor Richter were the only two that found the municipal airport lease terms and conditions incredible and a question worth looking into at least. This editor would suggest that even the Langley Times is paying most likely between $12 and $18 a square foot for their offices in Langley as is probably their competition at the Langley Advance. So how does $00.24 a square foot seem even remotely reasonable for prime limited airport space and especially for a 40 year long lease term?
One would think that Township council would at least get some independent advice on the advisability of such a lease. Property values in Langley are so high now that a lease rate of 24 cents per square foot over 40 years should at minumum be questionned! In 40 years, the lease rate under this contract will still be less than a buck per square foot - one hell of a deal! Does the Vancouver airport lease for less than a buck? What about Abbotsford? Why can't Council at least ask?
Perhaps this Council should be renamed the "Everything-for-less-than-a-buck-store (except for your taxes)" slate.
Clearly this whole situation leads this editor to several conclusions:
A - There is no business or financial common sense on township council.
B - There is a definite and clear slate on Township Council.
C - There is no financial oversight whatsoever on Township Council.
D - Councillor Richter is the only critical thinker on Township Council.
E - Councillor Richter is obviously the only voice of opposition on Township Council.
F - Common sense thoughts and questions will not be entertained by the Council Slate.
G - Or is Council perhaps unfortunately simply just sexist and or just plain stupid?...
Sunday, January 07, 2007
They also plan to expand the organization to include like minded concerned community activists. (If interested or if you want to give them some advice let this Editor know and I will forward your name & comments). They apparently have picked a spokesman already who I am told has always been very controversial politically and is well known locally and have even chosen an appropriate organization name. The source did say that the taxpayer group had tentatively been named which believe it or not would be only four letters starting with F---! Knowing this source very well I know it could not be what you and I are thinking it is! We don't know all the details yet but can assure you that we were told that the Mayor and his Council slate have not been included!...
Thursday, January 04, 2007
She in the video (view it in full in posting below) said the Liberal Government sometimes made health care policy "on the run"! She also said that the system is killing people because of poor prescribing of drugs. She admits that she thought the video that is shown below was only for a limited health care professionals audience.
It is great to see that this initial Public Eye Online (kudos to Sean Holman) story made the front page news of the Sun. What this editor finds distressing is that the Liberal Government easily made a decision to tear up health care workers collective agreements to reduce costs but yet refused to establish logical performance targets for Doctors that not only would save money but may have more importantly saved lives and improved health care!
Meanwhile the BC Liberal's sham of this "conversation on health" continues when this Government clearly choses not to listen to it's own top respected Doctor, Deputy Minister and trained leader of our provincial health care system. Do you now really believe they will listen to the public instead. And Pigs Fly too!...
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
For the real health care political gurus and those that just plain really care, play the whole hour long speech below in the next posting that Penny gave recently in Toronto to Ontario health care executives. She also criticizes the medical advisory committees at British Columbia's hospitals who she says should be working to improve patient care rather than worrying about labour relations.
She is critical of BC doctors getting a bonus and a raise in their salary when they've got a 40 per cent alignment with the best practice rate in sample medical procedures and that only 20 per cent of patients leaving hospitals after a heart attack "get the right drugs.” These are drugs, she says, that “actually save lives, prevent re-admission and make a difference in the long-term. It's like a duh. But 20 per cent of the patients are getting them.” So administrators need to "take that data to your local institutions, to your MAC and say what are you going to do about this? You're killing people."
The real travesty is that she is right on all counts and clearly, at least to this Editor, the BC Conversation on health is one big "BS" expensive public relations excercise promoted by self serving politicians and their party hacks, and now even party faithful Liberal blogging spin doctors. Instead of wasting our time and money on this BS they should have tried to retain quality people like Ballam and taken her sage advice and direction. One has to really wonder if this "Conversation" crap is just a smoke screen to open up more privatization or something even worse that Dr. Ballem was referring to as "unsound plans" that the premier and his deputy minister have?
We have to get the straight goods on these "Plans" from our MLAs! Maybe our Langley MLA Mary Polak who was recently appointed parliamentary secretary for the Conversation on Health can tell us what these "unsound plans" could be and hopefully lay our concerns to rest. Or is it simply possible that Dr. Ballem perhaps saw the "Conversation On Health" as a purely political "unsound" initiative that would not help at all and that perhaps could even be harmful?...
|Dr. Penny J Ballem is the longest serving Deputy Minister of Health in Canada in the last 15 years and for the last 22 years in British Columbia. Dr. Ballem suddenly and unexpectedly resigned the top BC bureaucrat Government Health Care job last June, charging that the plans the premier and his deputy minister "have established for the organization of the Ministry of Health are unsound and reflect a lack of confidence in my leadership on your part" - this according to The Vancouver Sun's Miro Cernetig as quoted in Public Eye Online. |
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
First, it was announced that there were insufficient funds for park land purchases in Willoughby. Then a department manager said they could not acquire land until the DCC's came in (in the interim, we agreed to a long-term golf course purchase, and Engineering has dug up 200th near 40th three times, twice at our expense, not to mention having to relandscape due to design oversights.)
Another department head told me that he knew nothing of parkland south of Mountain Secondary on 202A; however, I know the seller, know the land, and what he was told upon the sale of his property.
In the interim, Township has used the legal arm of eminent domain along 202B and 68th, so that a diagonal four-lane road can connect the soon-to-be-busy 202A with the yellow-brick road swooping down to Wal-mart. Now which DCC's did that purchase come from, and why is the land not being asphalted being sold back to the development community with more bonus density given for underground services instead of green space and wildlife corridors?
There are planners and there are developers and I am afraid that they become either deliberate or coerced co-conspirators, each wearing one another's clothes. Urban planning cross dressing, perhaps. It's nothing new; California's metropolitan areas were paved over in the '60s, and an exact replica is being formed in the Lower Mainland. Official Community Plans in Langley, Surrey, and other municipalities need to be re-examined; no OCP should be written in stone ever (this was the point of view of the Planning Director in North Vancouver); and eyes pointed at future developable areas such as Fernridge need to be scrutinized for their long term impact, not only on habitat and water protection, but a measurable appreciation in the quality of life.
The extraordinary recreation facilities Langley has cannot be underappreciated, for their benefits do exist. However, the ability to verbally skirt around an issue, to postpone, to avoid seem like prerequisites for municipal positions.
In the interim, I keep staring at the rendering of the future Willoughby arena, thinking, "God, it looks like Frank Lloyd Wright did some post-mortem design after just one too many cups of coffee."
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for the past 6 years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP ...
"My fellow Canadians.We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle -- a prime minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance.This is not how a prime minister should act."
And what would Stephen Harper say now that the Conservative Party of Canada is in a similar position of party corruption? In a recently revised Elections Canada financial report for 2005, the CPC acknowledges that the party did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention as donations, contrary to political financing laws.
More disturbing is their abysmal and near fraudulent accounting of "other revenue" and "other expenses".
In their amended report to Elections Canada, the Conservatives have "reclassified revenue related to the 2005 convention". The report now includes $539,915 in previously unreported donations, an extra $913,710 in "other revenue as well as a further $1.45 million in "other expenses."
In other words, they've just been caught in failing to disclose several of hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) of donations. Much of this stems from not including delegate fees in their submissions to Elections Canada.
As a result, many Conservative financial donors, including Stephen Harper, have now been placed in the position of exceeding their annual political contributions limit.
The party has been required to send belated 2005 tax receipts to approximately 3,000 convention delegates. This will cause untold joy for those who now have to re-file their 2005 income tax return.
But worse than trying to skirt around on whether convention fees are donations or not, is the failure to disclose some $2,364710 in "other revenue" and "other expenses". That's a huge pile of cash to try and hide, especially when politicians place transparency in government on such a high pedestal.
It is remarkably ironic that this political financing chicanery has taken place by a party that proclaims its Federal Accountability Act as an ethical compass.
If only they had followed the rules, in the same manner that they have demanded the Liberals and others adhere to. But alas no.
The Conservatives, to their credit have tried to remedy some of this situation by acknowledging they must adhere to Elections Canada regulations. But it's not enough to send in an amended report and send out a few tax receipts.
We've yet to have an explanation of the "other revenue" and "other expenses". Imagine the outrageous and sanctimonious howls from Conservatives if the Liberals, New Democrats or Bloc Qubeccois had dodged reporting almost $1.5 in donations and other revenue.
In a November 8, 2005 news release, Langley MP Mark Warawa said: "People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules have been let down by the Liberals. Canadians deserve nothing less than accountable government. The Conservative Party has a plan to renew faith in government; to instill a culture of accountability in Ottawa.
Well perhaps I can give one bit of advice to the Conservatives on this issue. It only takes a few Conservatives to come forward and say "Let's hold ourselves up to the same standards that we expect of other parties. Let's ask the Auditor General or maybe John Gomery to sort this mess out. We should deposit $1.5.M in a trust until a complete and independent audit establishes the exact amount that was improperly contributed to CPC bank accounts."
Unfortunately, not one Conservative will take the high road on this issue, even though it's the right thing to do.I guess the Conservatives can no longer throw the first stone when it comes to ethics.
Shane Dyson ...