Wednesday, February 06, 2008

LFP Views On The Local News Feb 6 - 2008

A tidal wave of change is coming to Langley politics. Look out boys. It’s heading your way to flush you out of office in November’s municipal election. This voter wave of anger is a clear desire for a real competent change. A call for something completely new and fresh seems to be the voters' desire in Langley. The US Presidential primaries race where voters are demanding substantial establishment change will also accelerate and fuel Langley's voters to even more so demand renewal and change in our local Langley Political establishment. This local high level of discontent has not been seen for many a year.

Today’s Langley Times amply displays the public’s anger and frustration with local politicians. Quite frankly, most local papers for many months have displayed this oftentimes. The alarm bells and warning messages from the likes of Kim Richter, Susan Semonick and Dave Hall are finally making a difference and resonating with the public. Unfortunately though, many times the messengers also become the targets especially by the press! The large quantity of letters to the Editor in the local papers point to a lot of brewing voter dissatisfaction with the present status quo of our local politicians on the City of Langley council, the School Board Trustees and most especially the Township Mayor & Council. Further below after this main posting is a sampling of four letters to the editor by Ed Monteith, J. Findlay, Rick Green and Dave Hall.

Meanwhile, the Editors of the Langley Advance and Langley Times are still shooting at the loudest, most consistent and most courageous messenger of change in Langley, Councillor Kim Richter. This has also provided great glee for a partisan Provincial Liberal back room publicist and advocate, Jordan Bateman, as amply demonstrated on his website of late.

It now appears to this LFP Editor that the Times Editor, Frank Bucholtz, to his good credit, is starting to show some of his substantial my Mayor Alberts right or wrong, shine tarnish off his previous affection and support for Mayor Alberts. The Advance Editor, Bob Groeneveld, seems to just dislike any of the existing options out there at all for Mayor. Especially it seems if anyone would have the temerity to even contemplate running for election as the mayor! But they both do have the right of their own opinions just as this Editor does.

For Bob Croeneveld's edification, in talks with Councillor Richter yesterday she told me that she still has not decided whether or not to run for Mayor. Curiously in my humble opinion it seems that you Bob now criticizes and questions her motives and tactics just because she just may just be considering a run for Mayor!

Richter does confirm that she is suddenly flooded with emails and calls from the public indeed supporting her decision whatever she decides. She did say that the Mayor is only one vote on council and her concern is that his previously endorsed slate of councilors may be neglected and overlooked in this upcoming election. She is rightly concerned that the focus may solely be on the Mayors' campaigns.

This Editor however is once again concerned about some malicious commentary creeping in. The purely personal attacks, innuendo and otherwise, about Richter are starting up again and are patently unfair and as said before in LFP is clearly a systemic and unprofessional personal attack at minimum. Why don’t these same critics focus on the politics and not the personal attributes of Kim Richter.

It again reminds this Editor of the time that Jordan Bateman on his blog site published a very demeaning and humiliating reference to Richter’s breasts, about when she was handing out candies in a municipal parade to children. He initially allowed one of his regular blog commenters to publish this trash at that time. I don’t see similar comments EVER permitted about any of the boys on council.

Why don’t we also ever hear similar derogatory personal comments about competency, lack of work ethic, lack of charm or ambition about any of the boys on council by these critics? Ambition and strategy seems to be admired when used by the boys and ridiculed when used by women. Why? The only words that I can attribute to these comments about Richter are systemic, sexist and extremely unprofessional and uncalled for cheap commentary. It reminds me of our our previous LFP posting on this issue, which by the way was the most read and commented on posting to date in LFP.

Meanwhile Mayor Kurt Alberts has finally surfaced from his political foxhole momentarily to write in to the local papers this very short letter.

“As mayor of the Township, I do not have a slate on council. I have never run with a slate. I have always been an independent.
However, I believe in working together for the betterment of the community. That’s the approach I bring to the council table.
When it comes to community building, much more can be achieved through partnerships and working together.”

Do true independents run ads like this one in the last election? Note that Richter was the only one of the incumbents to not be endorsed by him either in this questiuonable publication. By the way he has essentially done similar endorsements in all three elections!

These tactics remind me of MP Pat Martin, the NDP's Ethics and Privacy critic and MP for Winnipeg Centre who addressed former PM Brian Mulroney in the recent parliamentary ethics hearing by saying:

"I'm not calling you a liar, Mr. Mulroney, but I don't want anybody here to think I believe you,".

Langley Times Editor Frank Bucholtz in today’s editorial once again supports Mayor Alberts in his claim of not hosting a slate. This Editor wonders if Times Editor Frank Bucholtz would back up Richter as well if she had run the very same type of ad and used the same questionable tactics?

What Mr. Bucholtz doesn’t say is that yes, a few other voters groups did endorse Richter as well as many variable others on council. But Mayor Alberts’ so called advisory group ad indeed was not a real or valid group and was simply a manufactured smokescreen to elect HIS chosen slate members. One of his advisory group was quoted essentially saying this at the time. Bucholtz fails to mention this. This is the fundamental difference.

When Editor Bucholtz says that “four members of council opposed the tax increase last year “ he forgets to mention that three of these voted against the tax hike because they wanted it even higher! Only Richter voted against the Mayor's GROUP OF 8 SLATE on council for the last historic tax hike! He also fails to mention the consistent 8 – 1 voting pattern on all major issues by this same Mayor Alberts driven council.

Regarding Times Editor Bucholtz’s comment about the firefighters driving the cost and tax increases. This Editor does not agree at all with him. Blaming firefighters is the mayor Kurt Alberts slogan and does not address all of the other out of control expenses, spending and growth of the bureaucracy of Langley Township. As Richter says if only 5% cuts were sought on the Township budget it would essentially be the equivalent of a 8% tax increase. Planning for five years ahead for annual 5% tax hikes means at least 50 % compounded growth of overall tax increases since Alberts became Mayor! Is this what Mayor Alberts means by “working together”?

But to be fair it sounds like Mr. Bucholtz as said before is starting to perhaps question the overall financial management of Mayor Alberts council and slate. Yes, I said Slate! Kudos for Bucholtz however when he says:

“Richter made some important points about council’s role in overseeing municipal spending.”

Please Mr. Bucholtz be more specific and I look forward to your elaboration on this sometime soon as well to be afair and unbiased evaluation.

Langley desperately needs political change on all fronts in this community. The political wave of change is coming and is heralded by the obvious anger expressed by the community of late in the press. Kudos and congratulations to the voters of Langley for finally realizing and expressing their dissatisfaction. Real change will only come in November by voting out those politicians that don't listen to the public, hide their real agendas and tax, spend and borrow our taxpaying future.

Sampling of Four letters in The Local Press
Today's letter writer Mr. Ed Monteith says:

“In Langley Township, it seems that management (mayor and council) are told by their departmental bureaucrats what money they want, and they are then rewarded with their wishes. This process is simply upside down, and has to be ended.

Langley Township needs a mayor with business management skills, not just another bureaucrat who takes orders from his departments. Will somebody please run for the mayor’s office and get things back on track?”

And letter writer J. Findlay today says:

“There seems to be a groundswell of opinion that this development-mad Township council has to go.
Tax increases, water management, rampant development, closed sessions and millions being spent on non-essential services are all issues.

My taxes have increased drastically in the last 17 years, with essentially nothing to show for it. I am still on a well, there is no garbage pickup, no sewer, no snow ploughing and my road is in poor shape.
Increased development brings stresses on the infrastructure, roads, crime, utilities and so on, and is never covered by the increased tax revenue from he additional residents.

The only councillor who consistently appears to be on the side of the taxpayer is Kim Richter, who seldom gets a seconder for her motions favouring the taxpayer.

I voted for Kurt Alberts. I won’t make that mistake a second time.”

And letter writer Mr. Rick Green says:

“This is another bungled land deal, only this time it is at our own airport, reflecting lost revenue of close to $1 million per year. The consistent municipal mismanagement is shown in signing 20-year and 40-year leases at rates that are 25 per cent of market rates. It defies logic.

The issue? In the wisdom (or in my opinion, the lack of wisdom) of our council, it adopted a lease policy for bare land, serviced business lots of 24 cents per square foot, with 20-year leases (plus a five-year option) with an annual inflation increase per the Vancouver CPI (Cost of Living Index).

Is this market value? No. As mentioned, the Boundary Bay Airport (depending on size) runs at $1 per square foot. This is four times the rate being charged by the Township.

This is another example of this mayor and council not protecting taxpayers’ assets, by not receiving market rates in return. Not only are we not controlling our expenses (which is another issue), we are bungling our municipal revenues at the taxpayers’ expense.

So how does this affect the taxpayer? If you use the lease rates set by municipal policy and you extrapolate those numbers by the current market rates, times the amount of lots and square footage we lease on site, the potential lost revenue over the terms of those 20-year leases amounts to approximately $19.620 million.
This is another case of selling a municipal asset at a fraction of market rates, just like the recent questionable Dickson Pit land sale.

The issues cry out for change in November. We need transparency in local government.”

Meanwhile in the City of Langley we hear from letter writer Dave Hall:

“Residents of Langley City face the prospect of a third year of successively-increasing levels of local taxation, and a mayor and council that seemingly plunge to deeper levels of complacency.

This council is a collection of very pleasant individuals who admirably co-operate with each other in a manner very reminiscent of a volunteer bureau. Hopefully Langley City electors expect more than another addition to the cheerleading ranks, and elect some candidates who express a critical alternative to the group think that now exists, a dissenting voice, or for that matter, a voice, period.”

No comments:

Post a Comment