Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed In Iraq

One day before the New Year in a secure facility in northern Baghdad, Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging while clutching a Quran and refusing a hood just before 0600 local time (0300GMT) Saturday December 30. The 69-year-old former Iraqi President strongman, convicted of crimes against humanity, mounted the gallows calmly and accepting his fate with a last defiant warning.
Iraq television while announcing the execution played patriotic music and showed images of national monuments and other landmarks. Photographs and video footage were taken of the whole procedure. Saddam mounted the gallows clad completely in black, with a jacket, trousers, white shirt and shoes, rather than prison garb.
Before being executed AFP reports "He said 'I hope you will be united, and I warn you not to trust the Iranian coalition, because they are dangerous'. He said he was not afraid of anyone," In Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, people danced in the streets while others fired guns in the air to celebrate the former dictator's death. Saddam Hussein, Iraq's former strongman was hated by many, mourned by few.
"The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders. History will judge the deeply flawed Dujail trial and this execution harshly," said Human Rights Watch spokesman Richard Dicker....

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Local Reported News in Review Time - Manure, Greetings & Political Correctness

Obviously political correctness is not a concern to Langley City who hoisted their annual huge lighted nativity scene high atop their City Hall building nor to the Langley Times that has a full front page picturing the nativity scene on their Christmas Eve 2006 edition. This editor wonders if they will both reciprocate equally for the other major religious holidays? I don't ever recall Mohammed or Ramadan on the front cover of the Times (never mind on the top of Langley City Hall)! What a great opportunity for an equal time court challenge to do the same by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. Don't you think?

When you hear any politician suddenly become a born-again environmentalist, don't you just feel like gagging? Get a load of the manure in this Langley Times posting. Our MP Mark Warawa has the audacity to suggest that "A greener future is possible ....... but it comes down to each and every Canadian taking responsibility for their lifestyles." So does he mean it's our fault? Are the Conservatives simply down loading Kyoto to us? What about the failed 40 or 50 year green plan he, Rona and Stevie tried to float just a month or so before? What happened to that piece of political fluff? And guess what, former democratic VP Al Gore of the environmental scary hit movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", seems to suddenly be our MP's iconic hero. Will wonders never cease! Do Stephen and George W. know? Later in the same paper, one again sees a terrific picture that basically perhaps says it all. Look closely at our MP's seemingly shiny and ever-changing chameleon-like suit jacket!

BC Hydro must be starting to feel the heat especially after local residents were repeatedly without power over several days that prompted Cllr. Richter to ask Hydro reps to come and tell Township Council why we had this lower level of service and what will be done better in future.

The Times posted a letter from Travellers Hotel's very own Wally Martin re the dreaded Langleys' hotel tax. This tax is courtesy of the 77% tax increase boys at Township Council! See his recent letter to LFP also.

Local Times Editor Frank Bucholtz (nicknamed Bucky by those who choose to love him or not!) today suggests Township Council move on to more important issues than trying to get emergency services paid for on the new Maple Ridge bridge by Translink. It seems to this Editor that both he and Township Council would both be better served by the old adage: 'take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves'! But who really cares about saving costs in Langley Township when it is much easier to just hike taxes year after year and by 77% over 10 years!

Then of course there is Bucky's Dec 24th editorial greeting to his list of 'Langley's special folks'! Amazing. Reading between the lines, it's interesting to try to draw your own conclusions as to who and why some were or were not named on Bucky's list. Is the Alberts Council Admiration Society hard at work again trying to influence your vote? Is this perhaps simply catty, petty and a thinly veiled revelation of prejudice and bias? You be the judge.

This Editor personally thinks the Times comments were as subtle as a slap in the face. (Do you think maybe the Times should turn over a new leaf and adopt a New Year's resolution to become objective as the Fifth Estate should be?). Obviously some of the Old Boys Club stalwarts think that if you do what the Mayor's silent slate says then you're OK especially if you do not question 77% tax increases and project cost overruns three times over budget. But most importantly you obviously must become a 'harmonious' drone to become a Club member!

In any event, 'the Old Boys Club' obviously still rules! And congratulations to Cllrs. Bateman and Fox - it's faint praise, but you have now been officially welcomed to this club by their press agent! In fact any politician trying to aggressively hold the line on costs and taxes is obviously not 'special Langley folks' worthy of specific mention because they obviously 'just play politics'! In this Editor's opinion, the Publisher should ask some tough questions or is this new Publisher placidly just standing by?

The Times did post these two irate Taxpayer letters - one of which did acknowledge Cllr Richter's efforts on their behalf! Maybe these greetings from the real "special Langley folks" are much more valuable and trustworthy!

Min. of Edu. News Release Special Report by Susan Semonick

(Susan Semonick is a previous DPAC President and a community activist working for the betterment of the Langley School District- EDITOR-LFP)

Here is a news release from the Ministry of Education(MoE) and a backgrounder.

I haven't had much time to go over these numbers in depth yet. However, having taken a brief glance at them, one thing just stands out in blinking lights. While Langley School District has the eighth highest enrolment, it received the fourth highest allocation for Teachers on Call - over 250% more than Abbotsford which is very similar in enrolment and over 500% more than Richmond which has only a 20% higher enrolment.

Clearly, things have been unbalanced in terms of TOCs (teachers on call) - as the Langley Teachers' Association have said for years. The implications are daunting. The MoE will not continue provide additional funds to alleviate inequities across the province in terms of salary. The district number crunchers have known about this Ready decision for a while now. While there have been indications that there is some reorganization within the district, I have yet to see where reduction in staffing or more effective use of staff has or will result in a reduction in staffing costs which constitute the majority of the district's budget.

As much as our local trustees lament the effect of declining enrolment, Langley School District is not as hard hit as most other districts. Three districts had increased enrolments since 2005/06. The provincial average decline in enrolment is just over 2% while Langley is 1.63% from the previous school year. One district had a decline of 9%, while Abbotsford had a decline of 2.88%.

As I continue to say, the district needs to look hard at all areas outside of the classroom, starting with its own backyard. A reduction of two trustees seats is not just a one time savings but over five years is an estimated half a million dollars.There are many other places to cut which I will identify over the course of the next few months before budget consultations occur.

In the meantime, I suggest that those who are interested attend the next School Board meeting as well as the next Annual General meeting of the School District Business Company (SDBC) which will be held on January 18th at the SBO at 4:30 pm. The SDBC is another white elephant that needs to be looked at with a critical eye.

At a glance the final numbers.....The base per pupil funding is far less than $7000.00. The MoE tends to put the most favourable spin on things for them, sound familiar.

Friday, December 22, 2006

2006 - The Year That Religious Monoliths Began to Break Down

"I dissent from having my faith co-opted and wielded by people whose politics I do not share and whose intolerance I abhor. The word Christian belongs to no political party. It's time the quiet majority of believers took it back." Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan writes in Time/CNN telling us "not to turn our back on faith but to instill it with the humility that it demands and that all the great religious figures have exemplified". He clarifies for us what we have seen happen in 2006. The recent US political election rebuke to the Bush Administration's "Fundamentalist Protestantism" culture, the Pope's attempt to bridge with Muslims after coming under attack, and the splintering of the Muslim religion dogmas have really all gone without real notice and are actually quite stunning. Even in Canada, we have seen Harper's Fundamentalist faction essentially getting lip service from their very own Conservative party leaders and being moved to the back of the bus (if not off the bus).

As Sullivan describes it: "In 2006, there was an unmistakable pause, a moment of self-examination, even the hint of a great humbling" [of religious theocracy]. The world according to religion has taken a much-needed step back. Religion has been trying to control state far too much and it's way past time that they take a step back. It needs to end. Now.

Another great read of Sullivan on North American Christian fundamentalism is also very relevant to all of us. These pertinent and thought-provoking ideas can be found in his earlier essay in May where he quotes others who say "that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power." His concerns call for us to "construct something called the religious left" which he says should be opposed to any politicization of the Gospels by any political organization.

If the religious left is about separating chuch and state, then I'm a convert. At this special time of year (to quote Sullivan): '"My kingdom is not of this world," Jesus insisted. What part of that do we not understand?'.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Letter To The Editor - Dec 21, 2006 - From Wally Martin, Innkeeper

Langley Hotel Tax is coming back in January 2007.

Where have all the American tourists gone?

The number of U.S. visitors to Canada in October was the lowest since 1972
See - Vancouver Sun December 21, 2006 – page C3

Editor :The reason the American tourists are staying away is “Killer Taxes”

Americans have heard about high Canadian taxes and the few that come experience it first hand. 1st at the gas pumps and then at the restaurants (GST on food) and then at the hotels. 10% plus GST = 16% on a room. You would stay away too.

Tourism BC has the perfect answer. Add even more taxes.

See page 21 of the Tourism BC annual report.

Tourism BC is also encouraging all municipalities to add the Municipal additional 2% hotel tax . This is called “Community Foundations (see page 15 of the same report)

We say lower hotel tax to 5% immediately and let all the goofy “Tourism Organizations” find their own dollars by selling quality service. Only with lower taxes will we see the return of the American Tourist.

Wally Martin, Innkeeper

Traveller’s Hotel (BC’s oldest hotel)

Coach Suspended For Asking His Hockey Players to Sign Flag For Our Troops

CP news reports that the coach of an Eastern Major Junior Hockey League team has been suspended for two games after players were asked to sign a Canadian flag destined for troops in Afghanistan. The Coach previously booted the team's left winger for refusing to sign the same flag upon which the Coach said, "To me, not signing it is disgraceful,". Canadian nationalism at it's best! PM Harper should be proud.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Willoughby Recreation Centre - Congratulations MLA Coleman

The web based Advance highlights Langley's MLA, Rich Coleman's picture on its cover page. Rightfully so, he has once again come through and delivered for Langley. He was able to orchestrate and bring in $15 million matching funds to the $15 million by the Township of Langley to build a $45 million new Willoughby Recreation Centre (WRC) to be hopefully completed by Nov 18 of 2008, the 150th birthday of BC. The remaining one third $15 million comes from an essentially P3 operating partner group, Langley Development Group, which is a joint venture of Jim Bond, president of Ventana Construction and Moray Keith, owner of Dueck GM. They also are owners of the BCHL Langley Chiefs and the WHL Chilliwack Bruins. So figure on a major priority single focus on sports and especially hockey at this new Rec Centre.

Some Township politicians will try to garner or cleave off some credit for the WRC, and will even behave in a giddy child like manner, but lets be clear the only hero and real hero to be congratulated here, sincerely, is the honourable Rich Coleman. Well done Rich!

We agree with Cllr, Kim Richter who is quoted saying "On the surface, it looks like a wonderful addition to the community," but she added "I'm very concerned about costs,".

She is right to worry because of the Township's financial abysmal track record . Most specifically, the concrete pig MAP Grandstand, which was also funded by a consortium of 4 parties including the Feds, the Province and Langley City. On that project everyone gushed long and hard as well about what a great deal that was for the Township at the time. Now you can't hear a peep from anyone on this fiasco as they try to bury and forget it. Fingers are classically pointed in every which way and a concerted effort at misdirecting the public on the overruns was floated to attempt to camouflage the real financial fiasco. Similar to the WRC, the Grandstand was a cost shared project with a township initial share cost budget planned to be only $800,000 of the total joint funded project's planned $3,000,000 estimate. In the final analysis the costs went out of control and the Township was left holding all of the financial baggage overruns. The so called wonderful grandstand deal's project total cost ballooned to almost double the cost and has cost the Township taxpayers just about $3 million to date compared to the initial planned $800k! Township taxpayers paid all the overruns and none of the other partners paid a cent more. The project is still not complete and the costs keep climbing. Therefore we echo Richter's opinions.

What guarantees does the Township have on cost control and on sharing of the WRC budget risks?
Obviously each and every one of Langleys' politicians is impressed and very praising of the project and no doubt will remain so if successfully built on time and on budget. The township taxpayers have essentially seen their taxes double in the last 10 or so years and the Township plan tragically is to increase our taxes by a further 77% over the next ten years! So either way we have, will and are paying for the WRC through our increased taxes. Don't believe any other doublespeak or otherwise. In fact if any Township Councilor ridiculously says it won't cost us a penny more in taxes or that we won't have to borrow, let's make sure to hold them personally responsible for any extra taxes as a result of this project!

The ongoing Township's published financial mis-management and chronic budget overruns along with this new project's costs and cost sharing arrangement outcomes will continue to be under a microscope and could lead to a significant fallout in the next municipal election predicts this editor even if this project's budget does come close to target which we sincerely hope it does.

Taxpayer fatigue is starting to snowball in Langley township especially by the longer term and mature residents. They vote! While this new project is a needed, desirable and a wonderful addition it may still be simply viewed at election time as another monument to the egos of Mayor & Township Council once again at the spiraling upward expense of Township taxpayer's taxes. The big question is what else is this Council going to spend our money on? What other costly surprise projects and acquisitions are in the pipeline? When will the taxpayers ever get a Township Council tax & spend breather. The Tax, Spend & Borrow money tree addiction habits will continue as long as our current Mayor & Council remain on Langley Township Council!

Otherwise thank you MLA Rich Coleman. A job well done.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"You" are Time Magazine's person of the year

Congratulations on your win! Time magazine has chosen YOU as the person of the year for 2006. Your control of the information age media with blogs, videos and social networks, is making a huge difference! Time's Editor says; "..It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes." Time also says the traditional Press "believe that this phenomenon is dangerous because it undermines the traditional authority of media institutions." Amateur hour is now leading not following. Look out Bucky & Bob! Congratulations, Readers & Contributors.

The Time Magazine Person of The Year announcement could not have been more fitting as at 3:52 AM in the morning on December 17th, 2005 Langley Free Press was officially born! Thanks to you, in only one year LFP's readership growth has been exponential. Happy birthday to us! And, thanks for all your support.

December Langley School District Board Report - Special Report by Susan Semonick

(Susan Semonick is a previous DPAC President and a community activist working for the betterment of the Langley School District- EDITOR-LFP)

I would like to clarify a portion of an article that was printed in the December 13, 2006 edition of the Langley Times (page 24). I did not state that Township people should not be elected in the city, only that there are. This makes the point of amalgamation even more logical and gives city voters a better voice. I hope that the readers will see that the Board is more concerned with their percentages than how to save reading programs or supply musical instruments to children. If they thought $50,000 was a trivial amount, why are they still trying to validate the exact amount and how I got to that figure? Regardless of exact figures, what they can't deny is that any amount would help. I still support that my figure is more accurate than what they state. I don't even get paid to do the research and have a harder time acquiring information than they do.
Nothing new except that several of the trustees went to a conference sponsored by the BCSTA. Nothing was stated as to what they may or may not have learned.

Thursday, January 18 Brookswood Secondary School
Thursday, February 8 H.D. Stafford
Thursday, February 22 Langley Secondary School
These are public consultation meetings. Coffee is served at 6:30 pm and meetings begin at 7:00 pm. All Aldergove Community Consultation participants were given a verbal special invitation to attend these meetings.

This report was missing a vital piece of information - administrative costs at LEC. This would tend to make us wonder if the program is losing money. Yet they report that they are doing fine. This was accepted unanimously by the trustees. One trustee questioned the vital missing information but received no illuminating response other than that the program is intended to break even. But, did it? We still don't know and no trustee asked for a follow-up.

Another meeting and still no financial statement was provided to the public other than a single page report stating that the Ministry has yet to provide the funds it promised. A monthly statement, which used to be provided, should include the additional costs of Trustees that have been incurred due to raises. They have a raise that is in effect December 1st and as of December 12th, they still don't even know the amount that it will be. I wonder how professionals in finance would view this type of fiscal management of a multi-million dollar budget. This board continuously approves things without even knowing the costs involved.

This letter to go out to parents has made it clearer regarding how the district intends to proceed for the balance of this year. They say that the apprenticeship courses may be cancelled. Yet, next on the agenda, they pass a new district approved course and state that they have 20 students already registered for it. Wonders never cease with this Board's lack of planning and vision. If you have no money, why are you passing things that you cannot afford and offering something that you do not have the resources to pay for? The Board Approved Course (Piping 12) was approved unanimously; again this is great and how wonderful. If I were a trustee, I would be asking if it can be maintained with our current budget restrictions. Offering things to students at what cost??? What other apprenticeship programs will be cancelled to be able to afford yet another one?

According to one Trustee, this is a fabulous plan but then they also stated they wouldn't pay to be part of this gig - not realizing that they are already paying for it as a taxpayer. I haven't the background to make a comment on this one.

Two new school buses were approved. I would have asked on what routes will they be replacing the old with new? (Or is this to accommodate the Fundamental students taking electives at Brookswood?)

Hurray for Trustee Hogeterp!!!! She at least showed she read the list by saying she wishes she would have the opportunity to read some of the books.

Trustee Paterson made some comments that I would like to respond to. She stated that the reduction of a trustee seat would cost approx. $16,000 and after receiving budget information from the secretary-treasurer, could not find where the quoted $25,000 came from. She alluded that a certain person was giving out wrong information. I will infer that her kettle has no water and is burning its bottom.

The estimated amount spent on trustees of $25,000.00 per year is actually pretty right on, if not on the low side. I call it cost accounting.

If you would like to send a loud and clear message to the Ministry that we are in crisis then sign the petition at:

Anyone who cares about the education of students should sign the petition as a moral and ethical stand, in support of our children's education.

To the regular bloggers, keep blogging and have a Merry Merry and a Happy
Happy New Year.
Susan Semonick...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Letter To The Editor - Dec 14, 2006 - From George Stainton

A very unhappy letter from a Fort Langley taxpayer. Courtesy of Cllr. Kim Richter.

Richter Report - Dec 14, 2006 - The Mad Hatter's Tax Party

"I guess I’m selfish. I’m here because taxpayers think I’m acting in the best interests of me.” - Old Boy's Club Councillor Quoted!

Council had another “tête-à-tête” on the budget again yesterday. All members were present except for Councillor Kositsky.

After the last budget meeting (December 4, 2006), Council had referred the budget back to staff to come up with ways to reduce the proposed 6.5% tax increase next year to 4.95% (which was the rate that the majority of Council (not me) had agreed to last year).

Staff presented options to Council to consider which would reduce the overall tax rate to 4.99%. They did a masterful job. Their reduction options included cutting $1.4M out of Engineering’s budget for highway pedestrian improvements and road works while leaving in (as Councillor Fox pointed out) such priority items as an $875,000 roof on the Lacrosse Box.

Doom and gloom predictions prevailed about how hard pressed the Township would be to maintain and enhance services if they were forced to live with a 4.99% increase. (Most of us would be ecstatic to have a 4.99% increase in our annual income!).

There was some discussion around the tax burden to the taxpayer and the need to be sensitive to those on fixed incomes. Staff pointed out that there is some relief available for seniors. Apparently, the disabled and widows can defer taxes until they sell their homes. Isn’t that a comforting thought?

It was also clear from the discussion that new growth in the community was only contributing a 4.55% revenue increase when a 9.72% increase was actually needed just to keep up. Obviously, we’re spending more than double what we’re bringing in and that is why we need such a substantial tax increase. So, once again I have to ask: “If new development is not paying for itself, then why are we developing?” (Given the tax burden that development is placing on seniors and long time residents of the Township, I think this is a critical question).

Yesterday’s meeting was an open meeting but no members of the media or the public were present which is too bad. Some of the highlights from the discussion included these gems from my colleagues on council:

Councillor U: “It’s wishful thinking to knock spending back. The papers have already announced a 6.6% increase. Let’s take advantage of it. We’re playing a fools game here (to cut spending).”

Councillor X: “A 6.5% increase is not out of line with surrounding communities. It might not be politically correct but it is correct.”
Councillor Y: “If there was ever a time to look at higher over lower taxes, this is the year because fulltime firefighting is being brought online. Now is the time to get our taxes up so they can compound yearly.”
Councillor Z: “Where I’m coming from, I guess I’m selfish. I’m here because taxpayers think I’m acting in the best interests of me.”
The upshot of the meeting was that the motion (by Mayor Alberts and Councillor Bateman) to limit the tax increase in 2007 to 4.99% was defeated. A second motion (by Councillors Long and Ferguson) to look at a tax increase somewhere between 4.99% and 6.5% (likely at the median of 5.74%) was passed.

I voted against both these motions as I still believe that the tax increase should be no higher than 2% (the cost of a fulltime firehall) and the Township should bring in an efficiency expert to review its programs and spending.

Budget discussions will continue in the New Year.

From my perspective, I’m beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter’s Tax Party. There is something drastically wrong here. Staff has told us that the cost of living increase in the Lower Mainland is about 1.7%. We know from the last Township survey done (October 2006) that the #1 issue in the Township (by a long shot) is transportation and traffic. We know that new development is providing less than half of the revenues needed just to keep pace. We know that construction costs are ridiculously high because of the Olympics.

So if we know all this, why are we spending the way that we’re spending? Why are we building an $875,000 Lacrosse Box cover when we need more roads? Why are we allowing new development to keep putting us deeper and deeper into the hole? Why are we kidding ourselves that there’s no ‘fat’ in this budget? Why are we supporting tax increases triple what the cost of living increase is?

It’s time to start looking at the equation a lot differently. Maintaining the status quo is just not economically viable anymore. The Township is living way beyond its means – ten more years of annual 6.5% compounded tax increases is neither affordable nor sustainable. We have to find out what the root of the problem is and fix it. Simply throwing more tax money at it is not the answer.

Something has to change – maybe it should be this council.
(Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.) ...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Richter Report - Dec 13, 2006 - Don't Dare Blame Tax Hikes On Firefighters

December 8, 2006
Dear Editor

Re: Langley Times Editorial – December 8, 2006

There are always two sides to every story.

As noted in your recent editorial, Langley Township Council is thinking about approving a budget that will increase the municipal portion of property taxes by either 4.95% or 6.5% this year and by 77% over the next 10 years. I think this is very unsettling news for all members of our community and especially for those who are currently on fixed incomes or who are single parents. As a baby boomer (and one of many who will probably be retiring in the next decade), I find this latest municipal budget frightening. It is sad to think that people must now consider their increasing property taxes as a key component of retirement planning if they hope to stay where they currently live once they do retire.

To me, what is even more distressing is that your editorial is laying the blame for these astronomical tax increases at the feet of our firefighting service – a service that we all rely on in this community, especially the elderly and anyone needing emergency services. After reading your editorial, I wonder if your source has given you all of the facts.

So, here’s the other side.

Last year (2005), Council directed the Fire Department to go out into the community and to hold public open houses on the question of full time firefighters. The Township’s Paid Call Fire Department did an exceptional job in carrying out this mandate.

They determined that the cost of full time firefighters in the Township would equal a 2% increase in the Township’s base tax rate for each fire hall that was brought onto full time status. They put together a plan of how many halls should be fulltime and when they should go “online”. They went to malls throughout the Township with complete information on costs, timelines, and budget implications. They had flip charts and questionnaires. They asked Township taxpayers if this was something they wanted and something they could financially support. They spent many hours talking to many people from all walks of life and from all corners in this community.

The answer that came back to Council from this very public process was a resounding “Yes – Do it”. In fact, the independent consultant that assisted the Township’s Fire Department throughout the public consultation process commented in his final written report (which is a matter of public record) that he has never seen stronger or more unified public support for an initiative like this. He said it was abundantly clear that this community supported the proposed graduated move to fulltime fire service.

I think your editorial belittles these efforts because all of the people involved in this process, whether firefighter or taxpayer, genuinely care about their community and are genuinely concerned about this important aspect of public safety. They know it’s not free.

Council decided to listen to the Fire Department, to the Consultant, and to the public. As a group, they decided to move in a graduated manner towards fulltime fire service. This clearly meant a 2% tax increase in each year that a new fire hall was brought into fulltime service. This is definitely a tax increase that I and the taxpaying public support. I have never disputed that.

What I do dispute and what your editorial fails to elaborate on is how a 2% per year tax increase for each year that a full time fire hall is implemented manages to balloon to a 4.95% increase, then to a 6.5% increase, then to a 7% increase and ultimately to a 77% increase over 10 years?

It is blatantly unfair to lay these astronomical tax increases at the feet of the firefighters. The Township got its first fulltime fire hall in October 2006. The tax year started in January 2006. Taxpayers throughout the township actually paid a 6.6% tax increase in 2006 for a quarter year of fulltime fire service when that service was only supposed to cost 2% for a full year.

In 2007, a second fire hall will come online but again not until October –another ¾’s of the way through the year. So why is it that another 6.5% tax increase is yet again being proposed for a quarter year of service? The third fulltime fire hall is not planned to be online until 2009 but the current budget being considered by Council also includes a 7% increase in taxes in 2008.

I think that fulltime firefighting is a tax smokescreen that the Township is hiding behind. The reality is that spending under the current Mayor is out-of-control. It has gotten progressively worse with each year that he has spent in office and with each Council that he has had more control over.

It is wrong to blame the financial problems currently faced by the Township on the firefighters. They have done nothing to deserve to be the scapegoats. All they ever wanted was to provide a safer community and they took a very reasonable and affordable approach to doing so.

Look instead to 2 mayor-controlled councils that have gone out of their way to say that compact lot development is OK when it’s obviously clear that new development is not paying for itself. Look instead at spending to buy a golf course. Look instead to $2+ Million cost overruns on a grandstand in front of a leaky $1 Million artificial turf field. Look instead to $700,000+ per year in policing subsidies to Langley City. These are just a few of the many Alberts Council spending decisions that should be questioned and investigated.

Yes, fulltime fire fighting is a significant cost driver in the Township’s budget. We all knew that it would be. But, it’s not the main cost driver and it’s not fair to lay the blame for a financially incompetent Council solely at the door of this vital community service.

Yours truly,
Kim Richter.
(Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Churches, Taxes, Unions, Police, Schools & Casino Reviews In The News

The most recent two local papers were full of the "Langley Boy's Clubs" in action. It's so reassuring to know that when we open up a community newspaper, we're getting such an objective and unbiased view of Langley.

In Club #1 - "The Advance Alumni", we see a lovely picture of rookie Councillor Jordan Bateman and his family. The corresponding article blatantly provides a generous free plug directing Advance readers to go visit Bateman's political website for more family pictures. (Subtle, real subtle!). Too bad the same plug doesn't also include a referral to Bateman's new Springbrook Church website . Have a gander at these pictures of the church that Jordan Bateman started this past summer - just half a year after he was sworn in as a councillor.

Do these pictures look familiar? They should. It's none other than our very own Township Hall and Council Chambers (which I never knew was so charismatic or crystal palace-like!). Services are held twice a month on Sundays. I guess the old adage you shouldn't mix religion and politics obviously doesn't apply to Councillor Bateman as he holds court with both political and religous services in the very same taxpayer-subsidized room back to back on Sundays and Mondays!

This Editor certainly hopes that Councillor Bateman is paying fair market value to rent the Council Chambers for his church services especially now that he's suddenly become a born again township advocate to save taxpayers money by marking down tax increases (to a mere 4.95%)!

Is there a question of equity here, not to mention conflict of interest? (Not that either of these appears to be an issue for the Advance Alumni Club!). Do all religious groups have equal access to the use of this taxpayer-funded room? How will priority use of the room as a church be determined (i.e. Can the Moonies bump Bateman?). Many other questions come to mind. If Township Council is so big on "multi-use buildings", maybe instead of spending $20+ million on a new hall and Council chambers, they should just simply have rented the Langley Christian Assembly church auditorium!

And while we're on the topic of free plugs for blogs, this Editor can't understand how the Advance (when they were looking at his blog's family photos), managed to miss Councillor Bateman's apparent new role as a key Township Labour Negotiator!

Specifically, rookie Councillor Bateman quotes on his blog that the CUPE salary increase will likely run the Township 3% or so. No doubt, the CUPE contract negotiators will be thrilled to now know what the minimum level to start negotiating from is. Gee whiz, such open disclosure in a bargaining year of the employer's bargaining position certainly is a very surprizing breath of fresh air. Who knows maybe CUPE will feature Bateman as the centerfold in their next national magazine! (At minimum, he should make the Township's CUPE poster of the month in their lunchroom.)

Finally, the Advance Alumni Club reports on Township Council's latest budget by prominently featuring several quotes from (you guessed it) - Alumnus Bateman! Bateman is being positioned as the saviour of the budget which is strange since he's the one proposing a 4.95% increase (which incidently is the same increase he proposed and voted for last year).

In our books, 4.95% was ridiculous last year and it is again this year. We agree with Councillor Richter's suggestion of 2% and some 'belt tightening'. This Editor thinks that Bateman's solution of 'marking down' taxes to a mere 4.95% doesn't fix the real problem of out-of-control spending. (However, we do appreciate his initiative of trying to stem the "77%-increase-over-10 years" flow unlike most other councillors who appear to be essentially saying: "Damn the torpedos! Go ahead and tax, spend & borrow!". And, we also want to thank Cllr. Bateman for finally joining in with Cllr. Richter and LFP's pleas that substantial action be taken to settle the Langley City police subsidies).

Meanwhile, over on the other side of town, Club #2 - "The Langley Times Alberts' Admiration Society (or AAS)" was in full gear with Bucky's latest editorial suggesting that a 6.5% tax increase next year and an overall 10 year tax increase of 77% were inevitable. Bucky who many always thought was a fiscal conservative, not once questions, or even alludes to the possibility of reigning in out-of-control spending or stopping over-budget projects.

Reading today's yet again pro-Alberts Silent Slate (or ASS) editorial makes one wonder if the Times Editor even pays taxes in Langley. Obviously, this is a great signal for the Langley Times employees that, in their case, 6.5% should be a very acceptable place for their union to start bargaining from with a 10 year end point of a 77% increase in mind! (How does one get a job there?) Bucky must have gone to the Bateman School of Labour Relations Bargaining. I wonder if he was their Valedictorian.

On a more reasonable note (and not one that this Editor usually attributes to the Times), Al Irwin's recent article on the budget was finally one of the most balanced reporting attempts that this LFP Editor has seen in a long time in their paper. Heck, it did not even seem very slanted and it even acknowledged that there is indeed more than just a mayor at Township Hall!

According to both papers, activities seem to be popping at the School Board with a lot of related school issues being reported on. But to get the real inside scoop, read over Susan Semonick's excellent insider's report on the November School Board meeting posted here.

Finally, the only real news in Langley City is the ever-swirling controversy over the only single City issue focus that Langley City Council ever really cares about. Yes, you're right - once again it's Communities in Bloom! Never mind the fact that the City's cash cow Casino (that the neighbouring financially stressed Langley Township Council would now die for) just continually seems to be bringing all the right kind of residents and visitors to the Langleys. As long as the Township keeps paying for City cops, everyone's happy - including the "Times AAS club" which, of course is located in Langley City.

So in summary, it was just another boring political week in non-partisan Langley!

Is Big Brother Causing Slow Snow Removal?

You Heard it here first. Sources suggest that the reason snow removal has been slow to non-existant in many areas of Langley Township is because the upper ecelons in township hall are now too closely supervising (micro managing) the staff. It has been suggested that Township staff are now only doing what they are told to do as opposed to what they used to do before (where they would do primary routes and then they would take iniative for efficiency's sake to do nearby surrounding areas at the same time). In fact we understand that the installation of GPS locators in Township vehicles is essentially driving the crews to work to rule. Crews now only do what they are told to do and nothing more because Big Brother is watching them!

This Editor has noticed that after the recent snow storm, service levels have been the poorest ever. Even now, 13 days after the storm, many roads still have not seen a plow. Complaint galore as per this Langley Times article. For my 6.6% tax increase last year and my 77% planned increase for 10 years to come, this is simply unacceptable.

Maybe Township hall should start recording all phone calls too. I'm sure this will also improve staff's efficiencies when serving taxpayers on the phone! Sometimes when technology is used supposedly for safety or other so called subtle or soft reasons, the real result is anxiety, distrust and reduced motivation. Maybe GPS locators should be placed on all senior staff provided vehicles as well to see how long their lunches last and how well they like it!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

November Langley School District Board Report - Special Report by Susan Semonick

Well, another Langley School District board meeting where everyone was in agreement - wonders never cease. All debate was probably held behind closed doors, in the "planning meetings" If not, we have a herd of sheep, not an elected board. The tone of the meeting was unchanged since the election of this board. All were complaining about declining enrolment, not having money, and the Ministry that they say is mandating what they do with the money. (I wonder why we need a board at all, the way they talk.)

The two delegations that spoke against moving LEC (Langley Education Center) to a secondary school environment were passionate, and their words, heartfelt. During all this, the Board looked as if they could not wait till the delegations were finished. Once a minute for the last 3 minutes of the delegations’ time, Mr. Burton interrupted them to remind them to wrap it up. I view Mr. Burton's treatment of both of these delegations as rude and impatient. These people came out in inclement weather to participate in the process with the hope that they would change the board’s minds. It appeared obvious to me that the trustee's minds were already set as I witnessed the tapping of toes, fidgeting of feet; rifling through papers, and curious eye movements. There are a total of 5 delegations permitted per meeting. Each delegation is allotted 10 minutes. It seems a bit questionable to me why Chair Burton felt he had to cut these people short.

What shocked me was that after the delegations were done within their allotted time of ten minutes - no more, we had to sit and listen to Mr. Burton complaining at length about staff members who called him about not closing the schools on Monday. He commented that he made it to work and would not be paid if he didn’t. What was interesting was that he did make it to a 7:30 am breakfast at Ricky's with two local MLA’s to complain about the government mandating things and then not funding them. As usual, no real resolutions were found except to blame the Ministry. I wonder if the breakfast was compliments of the Ministry of Education money, more than likely. (I wonder how many musical instruments could have been bought for music programs with that bill.) Then we were told that the Superintendent spent the night in a hotel so that she could make the decision of whether to close schools or not. Funny, that the staff that she must confer with could not have advised her of the situation over the phone at her home. What would have happened if she were out of town at a conference? (Savings of about $142.00 for the night would buy about 14 recorders, enough for half a class).

Why are there not more people interested in protecting the funds the Ministry allocates for the education of students; the same monies that are being used for trustees’ raises, donations to the School District Foundation and loans to School District Business Company that has made very little return? Maybe every constituent should be asking to know what exactly Trustees are doing behind those closed doors.

If you are interested in the amalgamation of the trustee electoral area for the School Board and reduction of 2 trustees as a viable option that would put approximately $50,000 annually back into the budget, you can find the petition at:

Click here for my more in depth review of the latest School Board meeting.
Susan Semonick (Susan, a previous DPAC President is a community activist working for the betterment of the Langley School District- EDITOR-LFP)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Letter To The Editor - Dec 6, 2006 - From Paper Bag Reporter - Re:“Township Mark-Down Taxes Special"

<- This is the simplest yet most eloquent letter this Editor has yet received! Obviously this contributor compares the Township Council's annual Taxpayers tax hike game with the equally onerous Xmas boxing day sale flyers! Both are equally a rip-off! LFP's suggested caption is; "LOOK, what we on Township Council are saving you in tax increases for 2007 - LIMITED TIME OFFER also includes the same 4.95 % increase for each of 10 more years to come!". Comment on a better caption or forward a better cartoon , to EDITOR-LFP.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Budget 2007 "Tax & Spin"

Get a load of rookie Councillor Bateman's 'Tax & Spin' comments! He links to 5 previous articles on his website in which he discussed the budget details and issues as he saw them. He was also at the meeting 3 weeks ago that led to this budget going to the public for their input. (Councillor Richter was away).

Note that Bateman only now for the FIRST TIME uses the 6.5% tax increase number that Richter ferreted out after her return! Until Richter got back and got the Finance Department to consolidate their numbers and change their summary sheet no one had this number, used it or publicized it! Ask yourself why?

Face it, now that they all understand the importance of these numbers (due to Richter's insistance on getting them), they will all now panic and repackage their positions. Watch and see. It would seem that Bateman is just the first.

As Richter recently pointed out on this website, the 'Jeniuses' on Council sent out a 77.5% tax increase over 10 years to the public! The numbers Richter (not Bateman) ferreted out also show a 119+% tax increase in long term financial planning since Mayor Alberts was elected to his second term. Why did Bateman not highlight these numbers in his earlier postings? Why does he not give credit where credit is due? Did he perhaps not see them? Why did nobody else not see the implications? Not even the local Press apparently. In fact it will be curious to see now how the papers report on today's budget developments. I'm not holding my breathe but I guarantee you that this Editor will report on their coverage biases.

All these numbers come directly out of the Township Budget. In fairness it now seems that Rookie Councillor Bateman is finally starting to agree with Richter that they can no longer sustain these tax increases and that the line has to be held somewhere. Finally! Maybe there is some hope after all for the Rookie Councillor. Councillor Richter has in fact also confirmed with us that none of the absolutely ridiculous comments that she recorded and quoted from certain Councillors in her posting came from Bateman. So sleuth & match the quotes with the remaining 6 Councillors!

Richter Report - Dec 4, 2006 - Township Budget 2007 - The Tax & Spend Games Begin

(Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant. EDITOR-LFP)
Yesterday, I wrote a response to a reader of this blog about the Township’s 2007 budget and its planned tax increases. I expressed my continuing concern about the unsustainable and non-affordable tax increases that this Mayor and Council seem to have a penchant for. I said in my response that I had asked staff for summary information on the overall % tax increase proposed and that I was still waiting to receive it.

Today we had a Special Meeting of Council to discuss the budget and the information I requested was distributed to all members of Council. See attached sheet.

I have highlighted two key lines in this sheet. The top line gives the total municipal taxes for a typical household (assessed value of $420,000) from 2002 Actual to 2016 Draft Planned. The typical household paid $1565 in municipal taxes in 2002. This covers the General levy, the (new) Transportation levy, the (new) Protective Services levy, and the Water, Sewer, Stormwater and Garbage utilities. It does NOT include School, GVRD or Translink taxes. According to this same chart, by 2016 the typical Township Household will be paying $3,439 in municipal taxes. (Again, this figure does not include School, GVRD or Translink taxes).

From 2007 to 2016, municipal taxes on the average will increase 77.5%. From 2002 to 2016, they will have increased by 119.7% if this proposed budget is approved. I don’t think this is either sustainable or affordable and I said so today in Council. (Those people who are looking forward to retiring in the next 10 years had better include escalating property taxes in their retirement planning if they hope to stay in their current homes.)

The second line I have highlighted in the attached chart shows the combined % tax increase from 2003 to 2016. Note that in 2003, our combined tax increase (for municipal services only) was 3.4%. In 2004, it was 2.6%. In 2005, it was 2.8%. In 2006, it jumped to 6.6%. By 2008, it will be 7.0%. Then it drops back down to 6.5% and will hover around this mark EACH year through to 2016.

I brought these numbers to my fellow councilors attention in today’s meeting. Here are some of the comments I received.

Councillor A: “We’re holding the line. What staff is presenting is really quite reasonable.”

Councillor B: “People proposing Zero or negative tax increases were defeated in the last election. A Council supporting tax increases was elected.”

Councillor C: “We have the lowest taxes in the region plus a 3% growth rate. We’re really only talking about a .1% change from last year. I sympathize with lower tax rates but that’s more for re-election purposes.”

Councillor D: “This is a tremendously political issue: growth and inequity. Things are out of whack and we need to get some semblance of order and structure.” (No kidding)

Can you guess which councilor said what?

I’d like to think that my contribution made a difference today. Because I asked for and discussed these summary numbers, Council made a decision to refer the budget back to staff and to present a view of the budget limiting the total tax increase to 4.95%. (Councillors Kositsky, Vickberg and Ward were opposed). Kudos to Councillor Bateman for being brave enough to break out of the “Boys Club” by putting the motion forward to limit the total increase to 4.95% and kudos as well for putting forward a motion to freeze police costs until the issue with the City is resolved. (I seconded both his motions).

It’s clear to me that development is NOT paying for itself (staff as much as admitted that today). And, if development is not paying for itself, then why are we growing? It’s also clear to me that Council and staff are in dire need of some solid external advice from efficiency experts. What can and should be cut to keep service and tax levels reasonable? I believe that taxes should be limited to cost of living increases (which staff confirmed today is about 2%) and that we should be living within our means. We’re clearly not.

This budget is a long way from being over yet. We still have to wait and see what tax increase is ultimately agreed to. Should be interesting. Stay tuned.

Police Costs - Who's Fooling Who?

Sunday's Langley Times says "Langley City is getting better police coverage than the Township, but it’s paying more for it, according to newly-released statistics." LFP says, Balderdash!

Our Township Mayor and Council keep dramatically raising our taxes each and every year now and plan to equally keep doing so for at least the next ten years. Yet not one of the boys on Council has made any concerted attempt to reduce Township costs. Specifically they have made no effort to recoup police costs spent by Township Taxpayers for the benefit of Langley City despite the concerns expressed by only one Councillor, Kim Richter. Richter has even put forward motions to sever the policing arrangements with the City in order to protect the Township taxpayer. These of course have been ignored by the current Mayor and his silent slates.

A study was done 3 or 4 year ago that concluded that the Township was subsidizing Langley City with 7 man years of policing each year. At a then estimated annual cost per officer of $100,000, this equaled a $700,000 subsidy from the Township taxpayers to Langley City each year because the City had a higher crime rate and the Township and the City share a joint RCMP police detachment. The Township finally complained to the city and then Mayor Marlene Grinnell said she would look into it. Since then there have been no further reports to the Township to rectify this inequity.

Each year the Township pays for more cops on the road at a now current cost of $125,000 each per year and each year the Township still does not know when and if they will be paid back for the extra 7 cops or maybe even more cops now, in the City. Hence Township policing costs keep increasing while the crime stats are higher in the city than in the Township. Simple math of 3 years, times 7 cops, times $100,000 cost annually equals at least $2,100,000 subsidized to date ( equivalent to 1/3 of the $3-4-5-6 million Township Grandstand fiasco)! Maybe the City should just turn over their annual casino profits to the Township to rectify this stupid and costly inequity that the existing Township Mayor & Council are asleep at the wheel on.

Meanwhile the much sharper Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender (please Peter run for Township Council Mayor!) is further quoted in the same Langley Times article saying, “It’s not an exact science. Oftentimes a City officer will help out in the Township and vice versa,". Wake up Township Council! These statements mean another many more years of subsidies and a larger repayment that will go by unanswered in this humble LFP Editor's opinion. We last wrote about this in our February 22nd LFP posting as well, to no avail! Meanwhile these bozos on Township Council just keep on cranking up our tax bill each year!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cllr. Richter Answers Critic and Clarifies Her Tax Increase Position

We posted herein a survey result amongst which tax increases were discussed. Well it caused a few salacious comments in rebuttal. This editor specifically enjoyed the point-counterpoint between a Richter critic and Councillor Richter herself in the comments section. Her clarification on tax hikes once again reminded us of how scary the Township tax increase predicament is. Not just this year and next year but over the next ten years! Her clarification was pointed, dramatic, revealing and in summary cuts to the chase. It's very sad indeed how the Township Council bureaucratic smokescreen has for the most part obscured these tax hikes to the public and especially the local press. Therefore we repost her important comments (just below left, mouseclick read more);

Liberal Federal Party or LFP(The Richter Critic) 12.03.06 - 4:51
Another glass half full statement! I remember distinctly that one Kim Richter (the female council member) so vehemently campaigning for improved public safety, more police, full time fire etc. etc. And you folks are so foolish as to believe this comes at no cost to tax payers. Do the math, if you campaign for it, then you must accept the cost.....Therefore expect Kim R. To back the budget as she wanted the items that cost the most! If she doesn't support these items then she is one fickle councillor!

Kim Richter(Richter's Response) Email 12.03.06 - 6:43 pm
Dear Federal Liberal Party or FLP:
You seem to have a pretty short memory. I campaigned for tax restraints because I believed then as I do now that a little bit of efficiency can go a long way.

I said then that I supported full time fire service because the people in this community after a lengthy and detailed public input process said they supported full time fire fighters and were prepared to pay the extra 2% tax increase per hall to be able to do so. I said that I felt that we could find this extra 2% without having to resort to tax increases.

In the budget last year, staff requested tax increases well in excess of 2% and Council in its infinite wisdom agreed to a 4.95% increase in the General Levy EACH year over the next 10 years. So what happened to 2%? We only brought one full time fire hall on and it did not start until 3/4's of the way through the year (October 2006).

Now flash forward 1 year. What is Council being asked to approve this year? No easy-to-read-one-line summary figures have yet been given to Council. Instead, the General Levy has now been split into 3: General, Transportation and Protective Services. Projected increases in each of these new levies are:

  • General - 3% across the board each year to 2016;
  • Transportation- 11% increase each year to 2009 then 10.5% increase each year to 2016;
  • Protective Services - a 10.5% increase each year to 2008, then an 8% increase to 2016.
Is this clear as mud to you? It is to me too. From what I can determine, the 4.95% increase in the general levy approved last year has just ballooned to: 7.4% this year, 7.6% next year and 7.7% the following year.
And let's not forget that the:

  • Water rate is projected to increase 6% each year to 2016;
  • Sewer rate will also increase 6% each year to 2016;
  • Stormwater rate is projected to increase 12% each year to 2009, then 6% to 2016; and
  • Garbage rate is projected to increase now at 3.5% each year to 2016.
I've requested some clarifications from staff on these numbers and a total overall % increase. I'm still waiting for that information.

So will I vote in favour of this budget? The way it stands now, not a chance.

I believe the public is being misled. I believe there are efficiencies that need to be investigated. I believe new development should be paying for itself. I don't believe Council needs Blackberry's and other perks. I believe we should hire an efficiency expert like Alexander Proudfoot to go through Township's books and programs with a fine tooth comb and make some unbiased recommendations to Council on programs and services that offer value for dollar, and those that don't. Then and only then will I consider a tax increase necessary.

I hope this clarifies my position on this latest greedy budget. There is a limit to what the taxpayer can bear. In Ottawa, they just threw out a long-serving Mayor for continually increasing taxes above the cost of living. Should Langley start thinking the same way?
Kim Richter

Letter To The Editor - Dec 3, 2006 - From Melanie Lynch - Re:“Unsafe In This City"

LFP will post Letters to the Editor prominently. Send Email letters to EDITOR-LFP.

Subject: Unsafe in this City
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 21:13:53 -0800

Dear Mayor Fassbender:
I am sure you receive a lot of mail. I am hoping you will make time for this letter of mine.

I have met you a couple times. The last time was the Arthritis Society Tea, where I was helping out.

Anyway, I am quite concerned about the lack of safety in Langley. I have been witness to a couple of bad accidents at night, and in broad daylight. Time seems to make no difference.

Three times last week while I was walking my two dogs, I almost got hit. I was in the pedestrian crosswalk, and had the signal to walk. TWICE cars came screeching to a halt,
inches from hitting me. It also happened one evening. I don't wear dark clothing and most people/businesses in the downtown core know me to see me. I am going to get a
flashlight and start using it; yes, even in the daytime.

The arrogance I encounter is incredulous. I have had people gesture to me to get out of the way, (ie. come on, come on,) to being sworn at. It is as if I am the big inconvenience.
I am fairly fit for fifty because of all the walking I do. Rage is all the age lately.

Last night I was walking behind the park just north of the Rogers Video store at Fraser Crossing. Yup; me and my two dogs. I saw a lady get out of her car, (rental) and she
was swarmed by five kids on bicycles. Another couple closer to her saw what happened, and the kids were hurling racial slurs at her. She was terrified. I saw this from the
corner by the dental office and called the RCMP, kept them on the phone, walking towards the woman in the parking lot. Something was obviously wrong. One of the kids had scraped her rental car and she was upset because she thought she would have to pay for the damage.

The other couple who had pulled up by the park were there to walk their dog. They were the only people who helped. I asked them to speak to the Constable I had on my cell phone, since they were witnesses. They were more than co-operative.

How did Langley get to be so indifferent to the safety of its citizens? Too many people want to complain, are in a hurry and will purposely NOT do anything about something
that is so blatantly amiss. And don't get me started on drivers who yak on their cell and steer............or try] to. The brain cannot engage in several tasks at once and stay focused. THAT is why employees who do a lot of overtime start making mistakes after a certain number of hours worked. Their concentration is not as sharp.

I have never encountered anything like the apathy I have found here. I have lived in Fredericton, Moncton, Halifax, Ottawa, Kingston, Kitchener, and Waterloo. We moved here six years ago and it used to be a nice community to live in. If Langley is the Place to Be, etc, etc, etc., I think you will find many people living with fear. Even my neighbours
tell me (I live in a condo) they NEVER go out walking at night anymore.

When we moved here from Waterloo, ONT, many of my friends said, "Oh, you're going to La-la Land." Now I understand what that really means; la-la-la-la-la; we'll just continue along ....... and get out of my way. Oh yeah; funny thing is the most popular phrase here is "No Worries".

And after having said all that, I have met some exceptional people here and have some terrific friends. Some of those dedicated people are the Parks and Recreation crew, who do such a wonderful job of maintaining the Off-Leash Dog Park @ 206 ,merchants in the downtown core who love have us visit and some of my neighbours, and my dog walking buddies. They are congenial, and never complain. And they stop to pat my dogs!

I am still going to walk my dogs when they need to go out. If anyone physically comes after me, I assure you they will be ready to act.

What is the City of Langley going to act on?

Sincerely yours,
A Maritimer out of Water
(Melanie Lynch)

Letter To The Editor - Dec 3, 2006 - From Pierre Moyen - Re:“Nationhood For Quebec"

Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 19:31:19 -0800

To LFP Editor,
I once lived in Quebec, but I moved away so that my children would not live with the bigotry that was brewing darkly among the separatists in the nineteen seventies. In earlier, days the Montreal area had a good mixture of ethnic groups, and I seldom felt badly treated by French speaking Canadians any more than other Canadians. Unseen by most people though, there was a strong undercurrent working methodically to obtain nationhood status when the time was right. The emotion factor had a strong bearing on the mood change that came over many French speaking Canadians, and a tide of distrust and even violence was the result. A person could write a couple of books on the emotional and political maneuvering that has lead up to the present, but that would best be discussed at another time. The question now is how to rid Canada of this ulcer that will not go away.

The latest suggestion on parliament hill is to give Quebec nation status within Canada.. What good does nation status do anyone other than the blood suckers in Quebec politics who milk the rest of Canada constantly in one way or another? Quebec would then have license to do the same thing legally and methodically, while still scheming towards the next step in total separation. I suppose we would also have a Minister of Quebec Affairs in the next office to the Minister of Indian Affairs, and he would assure us all that the money that his office doled out was for a good cause.

It would be interesting to have readers join in and explain why Canada should not simply say to Quebec: “Go your own way, but settle your debts with Ottawa as you close the door behind you”. What are the pros and cons?
Pierre Moyen

Ed Stelmach Replaces King Ralph Klein

Canada's political landscape has changed dramatically this weekend. See Ed's website. Ed Stelmach becomes the new Alberta conservative party leader. What others say; CP article , Social Insider, U of A, ASBA, Calgary Sun Before , Calgary Sun after. Steady Eddie like Dion pulled off a come-from-behind win!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dion WINS, The Little Engine That Could!

(Left mouse click above chart to enlarge.)
The anyone but IGGY forces won with Michael Ignatieff going down to defeat to Stéphane Dion as the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. They succeeded in making him the leader of the party. But can they make Dion the leader that beats the Conservative's Stephen Harper? That's the million dollar question. Dion's king maker was Gerard Kennedy (the newest powerhouse in the Liberal party) who bailed and delivered all his votes to Dion after the 2nd ballot.
Because Dion was only the first choice of 18% of all the delegates on the 1st ballot his first crucial task will be to get everyone into one big tent together and prove that he is truely worthy as their new leader. Dion's people on the move to climb and to watch are Don Boudria who was Dion's right hand campaign man from the get go and the other powerhouse in his camp out west is Mark Marrisen (Christy Clark's husband) who also helped run his campaign.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Do You Want More Tax Hikes? Get Ready!

This Public document (total pages 13) was given to us courtesy of Councillor Kim Richter and will be publicly discussed by Township Council at Township Hall this coming Monday at 2 PM.
(Click on above Graph for full view.) (Click HERE to see all 13 pages.)
LFP Points of note below:
  1. The above poll results report heading quotes, "Langley's tolerance for tax increase is lower....than...other BC municipalities". About time!
  2. Are Langley taxpayers finally clueing in? Is the tax hike tide finally turning? Is the perpetual annual tax increase ending? Not on your life! We bet Tax hikes are looming again!
  3. 49% is not a resounding approval level! Quebec Seperatists lost with a 49% vote years ago! While certainly not resounding support it still will not make any difference. Your taxes will surely increase again just like the $3-4-5-6 million Township grandstand budget inevitably doubled! The real question how much will taxes increase.
  4. Transportation and traffic are key concerns as always.

Included in the Township Council report were these direct budget open house response quotes written in by just one happy Township taxpayer;

  • 'Your draft budget is a rip off for tax increase.'
  • 'the only way you can think is increase taxes year after year?'
  • 'In 1990 my taxes (were) $1070.79. In 2006 my taxes (were) $2601.52. Now you want another increase for 2007.'
  • 'The (Township) finance department can be changed to tax increase department.'
  • 'You should not get paid for poor management of tax dollars.'

Could not have said it better myself! Maybe we should all go to the 2 PM Council meeting Monday to watch this tax increase rubber stamp process begin! I can see the Township Council vote now: 8 males say yes and one female says no!

What's your prediction on our new Langley Township tax hike increase? Select your choice on this Website's right sidebar poll below.

Mayor Of Fort Langley? No Surprise At All!

Did this Developer make a mistake or are they trying to tell us the obvious?
(To see this picture more clearly click on it to go full screen.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Langley School District Controversial

UPDATE Nov 30: CKNW this morning reports that for the 4th day now some confusion seems to reign supreme at Langley School District. Specifically they once again closed all elementary schools today for "resource reasons" this time! Unbelievable! After Sunday and Monday's major record breaking snow storm they kept all schools open Monday, and on the subsequent days closed most schools because of weather safety concerns despite wonderfully clearer roads and sunny conditions and now they keep most schools closed again because of undefined "resource reasons".

Meanwhile we hear through the grapevine that at least one high school that was to be open today essentially had some kids go back home this morning because of a lack of students and teachers and we also hear that some teachers are grumbling at the administration's recent decisions as well. Someone better get on top of this and find out what they been thinking of at Administration. Wonder which courageous Trustee has the guts to ask these difficult questions publicly? Let's see if there really is blind groupthink amongst Langley School Trustees.

Meanwhile over across the street rookie Councilor Jordan Bateman definitely makes this editor wonder if he may be trying to justify his recent entry into Langley School District affairs after the fact. Am I correct to assume that he is saying is his blog that because his child will attend school in the next few years he will get even more involved and be prepared to ask even more questions of the School District? In his same blog posting he goes on to suggest that the Township Council amongst others and the School District together 'show the same"can-do" spirit' to make sure that they essentially I assume work together to keep Aldergrove a strong community! I'm sure this must warm the School Trustees and Administration cockles to know that Councillor Bateman may in future become even more questioning than now of the School District activities and they will obviously also look very forward to working with Councillor Bateman's Township Council cooperatively! Way to go Councilor to motivate cooperation!

UPDATE Nov 29: Today's Langley Times quotes Langley School District who say Schools were closed Tuesday for safety reasons! So do they now want us to believe Tuesday was more dangerous than Monday for students!? See this angry letter in today's Times as well re schools all staying open on Monday. Even the Editor at the Times is being generous in his questioning comments at the end of his editorial today. Come on get real, school closed Tuesday because of the heat from Monday's decision as far as this Editor is concerned. We believe they made a mistake and they should simply admit it.

Now who wants to play Russian roulette as to whether they are closed after tonight's snow and freezing rain. My bet is they close some again just to be on the safe side politically! But who knows with this bunch. Are all their decisions as well thought out and as well justified after the fact as this one? Food for thought.

P.S. As hard as this is to say for this Editor, kudos to the Times Editor Frank Bucholtz and especially Times reporter Natasha Jones for bringing this to the public's attention as well. You guys need to do more of this reporting and more hard hitting in your editorials especially. Will you guys now do an in depth piece on the Township Orwellian Newsspeak Attempt on the $3-4-5-6 million grandstand fiasco?
Things must be popping over at the Langley School district executive echelons now-a-days. First you have a former DPAC President, Susan Semonick, rightfully taking on the Langley School Board publicly and promoting in an Advance letter to the editor a petition which we covered in our previous posting (By the Way LFP agrees with her concerns and suggest you consider signing the petition).

Then you now have a rookie Township Councillor, Jordan Bateman, once again rushing in where others would normally fear to tread by essentially sticking his nose into the Langley School District business by covering the petition on his website blog last week and yesterday. Councillor Bateman even reports that he has met with Susan Semonick as well! Maybe some one (School Board) should remind him he ran for Township Councillor not a School Board Trustee! He quotes Susan's 'main concern is dollars and cents' yet this is the same Councillor that has been moving and approving the $3-4-5-6 million Grandstand cost overruns fiasco! What's the old adage about throwing bricks at glass homes? Want to bet that that the School Board is pissed, and is probably discussing the intervention of a Township Councilor into their business? This should really help in better School Board/Township relations, Jordan! LFP predicts that the School Board may now stick their nose into Township business by suggesting Township Councilors butt out of theirs! Hey Jordan, do you think the School Board Trustees may be peed off now? In any case this LFP editor does support Susan's petition and suggest you all have a read of it.

On another front, concurrently, the Langley School District blew it big time and peed off lots of parents this week. In their inane wisdom the administration yesterday during the height one of the worst ever dumps of a foot to two of snow decided to keep all the schools open! Meanwhile just about every other school district including neighbours such as Surrey & Abbotsford and all the Lower Mainland Universities and Colleges decided to shut their schools down very wisely. Yesterday on CKNW hoards of angry parents berated this stupid decision of Langley Schools.

So what do these brianics at Langley School District do today? This Editor suggests they obviously over reacted to CKNW callers because, you guessed it, they shut down all the elementary schools and two high schools in Langley today, one day too late! What we hear are that these parents are really pissed now because after keeping the school open yesterday Langley Schools administration surprised the parents when the kids had to come back home today after being rejected at the school doors! Yup, the streets were pretty clean and dry on a beautiful sunny day and nobody would have ever thought that Langley Schools would be shut down today after being open at the height of the snowstorm yesterday! So how many poor little toddlers walked to school and back home again in minus 10 to 15 degrees? How do you spell stupidity?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Schmaltz Brothers In Arms

Today's Advance pictures Ottawa's Mr. Dressup coming to town. Did you ever notice that he and Langley's Mr. Dressup seemingly attended the same cheap political schooling of schmaltz.

Langley's Conservative MP Mark Warawa & Township Mayor Kurt Alberts
But then again they are politically joined at the hip after all! Wonder what else they share besides the seemingly same tailor and political advisors? (Picture of Election Night Victory from Kwantlen College Newspaper.) ( - Schmaltz; exaggerated sentimentalism, as in music or soap operas...Maudlin sentimentality.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Langley Times Finally Asks A Tough Question?

The Times Editorial writer either saw our posting last week and got a creative idea or decided to for a very rare change to question an establishment status quo in the Times Sunday editorial. Although timid by our standards Bucky's article seems to agree with us that having Langleyites without power 2 days or more is very questionable. He says in the Times that slow power restoration 'raises several questions which have yet to be answered satisfactorily...For starters, why did it take so long to restore power to so many customers?' We at LFP say that our politicians should demand a comprehensive report on why our citizens had to wait 2 days or more.

Otherwise today's paper descends into its traditional pablum like the City's retiring fire chief's poetry (warning do not choose this link!) and retirement...yawn. Gee, and we were hoping the new Times Publisher would change the homey don't rock the boat Readers Digest look-a-like Martha Stewart pablum! Otherwise lots on the November wind storm. Bucky's almost quasi investigative reporting attempt on power restoration makes me want to believe that he may finally move up to asking even tougher investigative questions from Langley Township Mayor & Council on the $3-4-5-6 million Grandstand fiasco or Warawa's Environmental ministry's pathetic action on the environment or how Warawa justifies his house of commons question period non-answers. We have to wonder though if Mayor & Council and our MP Warawa were professed Liberals would The Langley Times have been on their case with lengthy tirades? Do you think?