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!

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