Thursday, March 27, 2008

LFP Views On The Local News March 27 - 2008 - 24 Cent Airport Lease Deals Continue ! - Next Full Time Fire Halls? - Misc Musings

Cheap Airport Lease Deals Continue

Is wagon train master Mayor Kurt Alberts getting more township bureaucratic help now to circle his bargain basement Township airport leases wagon train? Is this perhaps to help stem against the ever growing chorus of financial critics' arrows that are aimed directly at our taxpayer subsidized 24 cent a square foot, 20 plus year municipal airport lease deal 'fire sales'? Sure looks like it to this LFP Editor, as reported in the Langley Times on March 26. BTW, kudos to the Langley Times and Al Irwin for reporting on this Taxpayer owned airport lease financial fiasco again.

What is amazing is not just the fact that there is an even larger chorus of partisan Township bureaucratic voices supporting their Mayor's majority slate Council's lease deal this time around, but that the story has changed around their defense of the airport 24 cents lease deal this time. To catch up to this story first in case you forgot the details look here for LFP's original postings on this bad deal here, here & here. As well see the initial Province story here and Vancouver Sun story here as well.

Recently, our first of the many anticipated challenging Mayorality election candidates, Rick Green, also revived the airport lease deal criticism (see his quoted letter to the editor within this link) of this subsidized business deal at the airport. In fact Mr. Green calculates that essentially in his opinion this infamous 24 cent lease rate loses us the taxpayers $19.62 million over the 20 year lease term!

This financial fiasco was initially revealed only as a result of Councillor Kim Richter's questioning of the prudence and business sense of the major expansion to the airport proposed in very early 2007 especially when leasing to larger corporate interests for a what seemed to her to be a ridiculous 24 cent a sq. ft. deal over a 20 plus years contract term with only an annual published CPI cost of living increase! All she asked for then was a sober second profesional opinion. NO SECONDER at that time, obviously as usual. She even quoted a renowned professional airport assesssment expert who said that the Langley airport leases deal was way too low and that it should have been approximately 4 times more the amount per square foot to approximately $1.00 a sq. ft. instead of 24 cents a sq. ft.!

Remember the first time around, Jan/Feb 2007, the collective Mayor Alberts' bureaucratic chorus of justifications and arguments triumphed against Richter as well against her airport assessment expert's opinion. They argued that all the other airports were charging the same or very similar sq. footage rate with the same or similar contracts. They were also telling us then that airport industrial leassors could not survive at fair market rates. This now infamous 24 cent Airport lease fiasco was for that moment quelled with only Councillor Kim Richter voting against this deal at that time on council.

Well guess what? It seems Richter, the airport leasing advisor, Rick Green and The Province newspaper columnist Kent Spencer articles were right all along based on new information. First of all mayor candidate Rick Green now confirms that Boundary bay airport (he in fact was once a councillor at that airports municipality apparently) indeed is leasing airport industrial land from 60 cents and up to around $1.00 a sq. ft. The Langley Times reports this as well! This is 150% to 400% more than we lease our industrial land at our Township airport!

Secondly we now also find out that the first of these slew of new buildings on the north side of the airport, directly across from LSS secondary, that are going up at the Township taxpayer owned Langley airport indeed is advertised for leasing at $10.50 a sq. ft when the realtor was phoned. Don't believe this? See here for the realtor's web-page leasing info and phone number found by yours truly at LFP! Wow, can't you get industrial space at gloucester industrial park at 264 and the freeway for about the same going rate or even less?! Betcha they don't have 24 cent sq. ft. 20 year deals fixed at CPI annual increases either!

Suddenly, fast & furiously, there are way more of Mayor Alberts' and his supporting bureaucrats spurting forth, defending his council's decisions on these airport leases once again! By the way this is because once again on a recent new aviation business that Council debated recently for the same infamous 24 cent, 20 year, CPI increase leases Richter once again spoke out about these new leases and voted against them once again.

So, what are the new bureaucratic excuses and rationale now being floated again for this subsidized below market pricing airport leasing deal that Township taxpayers pay for? Mayor Alberts now says Township "may increase the rates over and above the CPI (consumer price index)"! Not that we are aware of or have read in the leases! But this questionable suggestion by Mayor Alberts does make one wonder where this is specified in the lease contracts because this Editor can't find it. Would you sign any lease that charges a variable rate? It also now makes this Editor wonder if the mayor suddenly also feels worried and also maybe questions the 24 cent leases himself a little bit now too? Little too late don't you think? But then a good defense is always a good offence! Do you the taxpaying public really buy any of these bureaucratic excuses? Here's some more new excuses floated.

Another new & fresh argument attempted to try to now justify these infamous 24 cent leases is that at the end of the leases the Township "obtains the buildings". Wow, 20 to 30 years down the road our grandchildren after subsidizing with our taxpayer dollars these developers' great financial lease deals will benefit with ownership of the structures. We wonder, what kind of ridiculous building liability and retained actual residual value there is indeed left that the owners would be stupid enough to ever relinquish after a generational cheap long term renewable leased buildings contract. Remember this will be mid this century with the contractual renewable 20 plus years lease terms in any event!

Also finally the Mayor's bureaucrats also now concede that our 20 year - 24 cent airport lease rate is indeed "lower than others". I never heard that admission a year or so ago! Wow, an admission finally! But a qualified admission no less! Also the next newest excuse never heard before is that the "size of runways and the length of runways" at these other airports should conveniently exclude airports like Boundary Bay airport from being compared to when considering lease rates! New one on me, never heard this one last year! Interesting how the story and excuses change and expand to try to justify just about everything don't you think? Once again, another attempt to rewrite financial bad decision making history perhaps? What do you think?
Next full-time fire hall Murrayville or Walnut Grove?
The March 26 Langley Times covers the upcoming decision for the third township fire hall to house a full time firefighter contingent. Will it be Murrayville or Walnut Grove next. Remember over the last few years that both Willoughby and Aldergrove fire halls have converted to full time firefighter contingents. This Editor also believes that Murrayville certainly should be next because geographically it will best serve center and south Langley as well as being closest to the Hospital (one block away) and the airport too. This is a no brainer. If in future a full time fourth hall is required then it would probably be Walnut Grove.
The interesting thing to note that surprised this Editor in the Times report is that last year there were 4100 calls and almost half (1500) were responded to by Willoughby fire hall! Does this mean that the full time contingent is doing most of the calls with subsequent far less call outs by the paid-on-call firefighters? Are there any complications or benefits due to this be it financially or motivational wise? For instance we understand that Otter fire hall no longer has a full time chief and that there is only one that serve both Aldergrove and Otter fire halls now. This obviously saves money and so does use of ore of each full-staffed fire hall in lieu of paid-on-call response. So when we hear that each new fully-staffed fire hall costs $1,5 million, what do we actually save in other staffing/operating costs and at what morale cost if any?
Langley Times Editorials and Letters Musings

The March 26 Langley Times Editor, Frank Bucholtz, agrees with our LFP columnist, Susan Semonick, that there should be a reduction of the quantity of School Board Trustees in the Langleys. In fact if you also agree go see Susan's petition link posted on the right LFP sidebar in the ads section and chime in to her or simply email your comments and thoughts to Susan.

Frank also speculates that the voters are satisfied essentially because the polls indicate the public's desire for a minority government because the Libs & Conservatives are still essentially tied in public support. We disagree because in our opinion the voters are dissatisfied because they obviously don't seem to like any party or any leader at all decisively! Curiously Frank reports on the fact that Kim Richter was seen cheering on Dion as seen on the Liberal web site video clip. You can also see our photo slide show of her attendance at the Surrey Liberal function that Liberal Leader Dion recently attended. What he does not mention is that Richter formally supported Michael Ignatieff in his leadership bid over Dion. The fact that she obviously applauds the current elected leader whoever he or she is at a Liberal event is not really unusual or significant at all, but it is a curious observation. I did not know that Frank regularly reads the official Liberal website! Is Frank a closet Liberal? Not!

Then there is now the almost regular letter written to the Editor by our very own Mayor Kurt Alberts. Yes folks, the election fever is in full force. You can in his letter clearly read his main 2008 election platform line preview. Specifically; "example of the the community working together", "the Township put significant funds into the project", "Township taxpayers benefited with cost savings", "it takes vision but it also takes a lot of working together.." . He in this Editor's humble opinion probably won't mention that his Township council's "Good Ole boys Club" is also working together behind closed doors to provide historically the highest ever year after year compounded tax increases, out-of-control spending increases and debt increases along with continual out-of-control project cost overruns and financial fiascoes like the infamous 24 cent airport leases and very questionable land purchases and sales.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rick Mercer Report: Rick's Rant: Harper-Cadman

PM, Conservatives & Langley MP Warawa Provoke UCFV Scientists "concerned about the apparent anti-science stance of the Canadian government"

LFP EDITOR: The following "Open letter" to the Editor was sent to PM Harper, Conservative MPs and news media like the Chilliwack Times . Does this mean scientists and Phd's and professors may re-consider voting Conservative?

An open letter to: The Right Hon. Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada, The Hon. Chuck Strahl MP, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, Ed Fast MP, Abbotsford, Russ Hiebert MP, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, Randy Kamp MP, Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, Mark Warawa MP, Langley.

As scientists within the Faculty of Science at the University College of the Fraser Valley, we (the undersigned) are increasingly concerned about the apparent anti-science stance of the Canadian government.

Over the past year, a number of events have transpired that have provoked our collective unease:

- May 2007: In a pamphlet sent to every home in Chilliwack, what appears to be an official government statement on the science of global warming notes that "Baird's plan is also notable for its focus on reducing air pollution, which arguably has a bigger negative impact on Canadians today than global warming ever will."

This is exactly the opposite of the consensus of climate scientists whose research shows how global warming, of our own making, represents the biggest danger yet to face humanity. Scientists are predicting that failure to act on global warming would probably lead to the ultimate extinction of most species on Earth, with the survival of our own species not assured.

- Jan 2008: Although Canadian scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) share in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, Canadian government representatives refuse to meet with them.

- Jan 2008: Canada's nuclear watchdog, Linda Keen, is fired for shutting down a reactor she finds to be in clear breach of safety requirements.

- Jan 2008: When scientists at Environment Canada try to communicate the science of global warming to tax-paying Canadians, they are "muzzled."

- Feb 2008: The position of Science Advisor is eliminated completely, indicating that there is no interest in Ottawa in hearing any additional research results related to climate change or other science issues.
While we understand that some of you may--at a very personal level--not accept or respect the scientific process or our nation's scientists, we believe that Canadians at large do. On behalf of your constituents, we urge you to reconsider some of your more extreme decisions and allow science to have a voice in our nation's government.
(Signed by:)
Chris Bertram (PhD), Kinesiology and Physical Education, Jason Brandenburg (PhD), Kinesiology and Physical Education, Diane Burton (BSc), Biology, Tim Cooper (PhD), Physics, Christine Dalton (MSc), Biology, Nigel Dance (PhD), Chemistry, David Fenske (PhD), Chemistry, Graham Fletcher (PhD), Kinesiology and Physical Education, Michael Gaetz (PhD), Kinesiology and Physical Education, Beth Gillespie (MSc), Biology, Derek Harnett (PhD), Physics, Carmen Herman (BSc), Physics, Barbara Moon (PhD), Biology, Rose Morrison (MSc P.Ag.), Agriculture, Alison Pritchard Orr (MSc), Kinesiology and Physical Education, Greg Schlitt (PhD), Mathematics, Lesley Spier (PhD), Chemistry, Tony Stea (PhD), Biology, Erik Talvila (PhD), Mathematics, Norm Taylor (BSc), Physics, Steve Thomas (PhD), Biology , Jane Webb (BSc), Chemistry, Debbie Wheeler (PhD), Biology, Ron Wilen (PhD), Biology, Leslie Wood (MSc), Biology, Rob Woodside (PhD), Physics

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Neighbours blame new subdivision for flooding (The Province, 20 Mar 2008, Page A9)

This Mayor Alberts' "Good Ole boys Club" (GObC) Township council have essentially been allowing uncontrolled clear cutting for all new housing developements which has been causing severe flooding situations all over the township. To boot this same gaggle of the GObC council has now been even seperately taxing us for basically storm water fixes and then also increasing this tax 12 to 17 % compounded each year because they are creating a bigger compounded problem each & every year by allowing even more clear cutting! Face it this council has ignored the real problem and to remediate it as best possible, has the gall to add a ever increasing storm water tax too to boot! Then you even have some ridiculous letter writer that complains that the recent tax break considerations for not logging (clear cutting) existing rural tracks of land is stupid & political grandstanding! And it even looks like we may have Cllr. Bateman (he was not at the initial meeting) probably wade in to criticize this too based on his what appears to be his negative leaning comments about this Richter motion that passed to look at providing some incentives to those that retain their treed acreages! Who needs trees Jordan? Heck, we might as well elimimate garbage blue boxes too. Why not even forget about building to environmentaly smart silver LEED standards while we are at it! As the letter writer suggests even these environmental initiatives equally don't amount to a hill of beans either on the larger scheme of things, so why do we do it? How ludicrous is the letter writer's closed mind suggestions and anyone else that supports his crap! Read below about this Mayor Alberts' council slate storm water problems created by uncontrolled developement.

Neighbours blame new subdivision for flooding
The Province
20 Mar 2008

Massive runoff from the new High Point development in south Langley is flooding yards and suffocating fish, say critics. “The development is not going smoothly. It’s very awkward,” Langley Township director of community development Ramin Seifi said... read more...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Susan Semonick On Schools - March 19, 2008 - Langley Board Correcting Mistake

Finally, it appears that Langley Board of Education is admitting to a mistake and is taking action to correct it, even if it is after the Minister of Education had to make them see reason. The Board has extended an invitation to meet with members of the Special Needs Steering Committee. The meeting is to take place, some would say fittingly, on April 1, 2008.

Now, if only other actions could be corrected before major cost is incurred and/or damage is done. We currently have a Board of Education that, during its term, has purchased an old school, spent considerable funds to refurbish and upgrade it, and are now closing other schools that I have been told are newer. This Board has also approved a non-comprehensive curriculum to be offered at Langley Fundamental Middle Secondary School. Does that meet their mandate to improve student achievement? How does this simple streamlining of course offerings and limiting choice benefit these students, when in all of the arguments to date for other areas in the school district, the mantra has been to create more choice?

With respect to the Building for the Future Consultations that school communities have endured, we have Board members making public comparisons between various groups of constituents and deeming two completely different scenarios as the same situation when in fact one geographic area was treated completely differently than the other. You would think it would be appropriate for Board members to admit that maybe one area consultation was handled to meet the needs of a community and the process given adequate time while the other was not. Or, has the community in compliance with (or submission to) the majority of the Board's wishes for their area, been promised things that will not happen? Time will tell and I hope that these decisions are not detrimental to the students involved.

Many have suggested to me that in all likelihood those currently sitting on the Board will not be re-elected. Everyone should be gravely concerned in regards to the ability of those board members should they have the nerve to stand for re-election. Was making these comparisons truly appropriate behaviour by an elected official? Have they breached their Code of Conduct? Is this an example of how they make decisions that are life altering to the students? If your own answers to any of these questions are disconcerting to you as parents and/or as taxpayers, I hope you make your voice heard when elections roll around in November. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to vote for new candidates who will have open minds.

I have previously requested that the Langley Board of Education have a public forum to openly discuss the possibility of amalgamation of electoral areas so that every voter in the school district can vote for all of the Board members (trustees). Let us also discuss the reduction of two seats so that the savings of an estimated $50,000 per annum can be placed back into the classroom.

Supporting our Students

Monday, March 17, 2008

Letter To The Editor - Mar 17, 2008 - From Ed Monteith - RE: IMPROVING TRAFFIC FLOW IN SOUTH LANGLEY

While listening to CKNW Radio on Thursday, March 13, I heard the traffic reporter saying that he was quite surprised by the heavy truck traffic using 16th Avenue. At the time he was reporting about the road rage incident where a young man was run down by a white Ford pick-up. He remarked that for a rural collector road, it sure looked awfully busy. This is not the first time that I have heard someone comment about the constant rush of traffic on that narrow east/west roadway, and the dangers that the situation presents.

I then read in the Wednesday edition of the Times, that the Langley City Engineering Department expressed the opinion that using speed bumps to solve a traffic hazard at a corner on 44th Avenue is not likely in the cards. They are apparently discouraged form any use of speed bumps on collector roads. An interesting comment I thought, given that Zero Avenue is a Minor Collector Road that was speed bumped by our thoughtless township council because of pressure from the few residents with frontage on this road. I have always considered them as rather selfish in their attitude to fellow Langley residents, and not the best of neighbors. They seemed to think that the people living on 16th Avenue should simply accept the traffic that chose that route rather than beat the heck out of their vehicles. They are NIMBYS of the first category in my opinion.

There has been taxpayer money allocated to put in a traffic circle at 16th Avenue and 216th Street due to the high accident rate at that intersection. I think, like others, that this will indeed reduce the number of fatal accidents at that intersection. Over the coming years, as they build more of these circles along 16th Avenue, we will probably see fewer serious accidents along its whole length. The downside is that we can look forward to two problems as a result. The first one is that the traffic circles will slow the traffic quite noticeable at each intersection where a circle is installed. The second one is that as the years pass, and the numbers of circles increase, the traffic will also increase to the point where it approaches gridlock. In the meantime Zero Avenue traffic remains purposely discouraged, and is little used in spite of the fact that it could easily handle a much heavier share of the east/west traffic! That’s plain and simple logic, yet it seems not to be understood by Mayor Alberts and his faithful circle of councilors.

What kind of wake up call will it take to get the attention of councilors Ferguson, Kositsky, Vickberg, Ward, and Mayor Alberts? Will it be when another parent experiences her daughter’s life lost because a careless young driver does not notice a speed bump, and catapults end over end as a result? I saw the aftermath of that needless tragedy, and I am still haunted by it.

Ed Monteith

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Letter To The Editor - Mar 6, 2008 - From Mary Hartman - RE: We Need Mental Health Clinics in BC - (Where's MLA Mary Polak?)

LFP Editor's note: Mary Hartman's letter below to us raises great issues of very much needed mental health clinics. If countries like Australia see the previous errors of their ways and now recognise and do something about this, why can not Canada or simply BC add much needed community mental health clinics. This crisis causes our front line police and emergency rooms far too much time and money. MP Mark Warawa and MLA's Rich Coleman & Mary Polak (LOL....the conversation on health advocate!) where are you on this issue? Another great opportunity (lost?) for you Mary to take a stand and be a champion, finally! You need one otherwise reconsider your political career & 'get out of the way' since you have 'not yet led but only choose to follow' & please stop wasting OUR money on basically full page baking sale ads! Read the attached link to see what Australia is now doing on this issue. They even have a poster shown here on the upper right!
The Editor,
Langley Free Press,

If the original mentally ill Canadians released from institutionalization had been treated, stabilized, housed & monitored as soon as the flood gates were thrown open, we would probably, not have the degrading situation which exists today. Instead they were left to wander the streets, lonely, sick, unmediated, unstabilized & homeless. Can we wonder why they turned to drugs with the help of dealers pouncing on the confused & helpless, becoming infected with multiple diseases & HIV/AIDS. To have these people now being arrested & jailed is nothing more than shocking. Where has the Mental Health Department been in all of these most critical years ?

To now have to treat these poor sick diseased mentally ill souls will be a very complicated process, which could have been avoided, if the grossly overpaid members of the Mental Health Department had done their work at the time of De-institutionalization, when all mentally ill should have been monitored, treated, kept on record & never allowed to become homeless or unstabilized, - &, as in Australia - given a reasonable disability pension for life, somewhere to live in a clean & healthy atmosphere, with a psychiatric nurse to visit regularly, giving medication or monitoring it's intake.

There are over 60 Mental Health clinics in Western Australia alone (see the Internet), both residential for those who have gone off medication & been collected by the Psychiatric Emergency Teams & returned for stabilization, plus walk-in clinics, where they can see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse if worried or need help. The Canadian Mental Health Department should take note of an excellently progressive country like Australia, instead of looking towards the U.K. only for new ideas.
If most people do not agree that the Police Report is such a powerfully written document ever to come out of the Vancouver Police Department & a severe indictment of a mental health system unable to help those who need it, we should all take our blinkers off & stand up & be counted. The report demands our attention & is a vital condemnation of the province & those who are supposedly running the Mental Health Department.

To think that young policemen & women, inexperienced in the psychiatric needs of our mentally ill Canadians, who are roaming, sleeping & in mental pain on the streets of British Columbia, are being cared for with such kindness, compassion, understanding & dedication, is extraordinary. It could make one sit down & cry with shame. We should all thank these young men & women for their tireless & thankless perseverance.

The Mental Health Department of B.C. should be severely castigated & hide their heads in shame, that these young men & women have had to step in & shoulder such difficult & complex responsibilities when psychiatrists, mental health nurses ( both male & female ), psychologists & associated personnel, should be operating mental health clinics - both residential & walk- in -, over the whole of B.C. especially in Vancouver's Downtown East side & suburbs, where so many of the mentally ill have congregated, & are living in such squalor & degradation.

The graphs, showing one year in the life of someone mentally ill going through so many arrests & so little contact with those supposedly responsible for giving mentally ill people treatment, is absolutely shocking. If each arrested mentally ill person had such a graph, there is no reason why the mental health department could not do the same thing for every mentally ill person in B.C. & have them medicated & monitored regularly by psychiatric staff.

A mentally ill Canadian should not have to be arrested. There should be P.E.T. teams available - psychiatric emergency teams - able to respond immediately, pick up any delinquent who has gone off medication, take them to a residential mental health clinic for stabilization, followed by regular monitoring later.

In comparison, Western Australia, which has one of the best Mental Health Departments available today - population approximately 2 million (2006) - has over 60 mental health clinics scattered over the whole state. Perth's population is around 1& 1/2 million & the mentally ill do not sleep in the streets or walk around unmedicated, but are housed by many church groups & the government, receiving excellent disability pensions. Psychiatric nurses visit regularly & the mentally ill are encouraged to visit their Dr's. once a month.



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Harper's Conservative Canada - "A kinder, gentler America" ? The downside of Mandatory Minimums - Vecchiato's Voice

Let's put it point blank: there is no up side to mandatory minimums--formulated prison sentences based on a grid and exempt for judicial wisdom. Having to calculate a sentence is rather like figuring out your body mass index. It's about the same mentality.

Like columnist Ian Mulgrew, I saw the statistic in the Vancouver Sun that shows one out of every 100 Americans is incarcerated, a rate that surpasses even China. Even 15 years ago, the U.S. had flown past former apartheid South Africa in its quest for incarcerating as many people as possible. The Sun reported this statistic the day before it reported the imposition of mandatory minimums. Watch for accidental juxtapositions. You have to subscribe to Harper's Magazine to see them paralleled on purpose.

Tough on crime advocates may feel that this is the only choice left. Think again.

I recall a story about a middle-aged devout Mormon had taken his RV to Mexico. He'd met a fellow American whose car had broken down, if I remember correctly, and he agreed to take some of the man's possessions back as the man would have to fly. Needless to say, the possessions included illicit substances. The judge was nearly in tears for he knew the man was innocent (just naive and too Christian perhaps). The laws governing mandatory minimums bound the hands of justice; he was unable to intervene.

The legal system for the aforementioned policy is set up so that the maximum sentence is imposed, then downward departures are applied, including items such as "First time offender" or "Did the perpetrator show remorse?" Battling the system is for the rich only, and there are attorneys who are making big bucks reading through briefs and finding the missed downward departure. It's like a millionaire's game of legal hide and seek.

The biggest problem with this sort of sentencing, besides not using the wisdom of the bench, is the effect it has on families. First-time offenders may have used bad judgment; their crime may have not resulted in a victim, but the intent was there. When we incarcerate so many people we, as a society, are throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. The annual cost of incarceration is the same as a year at Harvard. If the inmate worked, the community loses the tax contributions. What is worse is the possibility of his having a wife and children, who now sit in prison visiting rooms, go on public assistance if the man was the major bread winner, thus the punishment expands beyond the scope of merely punishing the individuals. In order to fund this surge of sentencing, our public servants who make these decisions need money. In California's case with its Three Strikes and You're Out law, the money was there. They just took it out of the education till.

Don't think I'm soft of crime: One of my high school friends was murdered by Ted Bundy; an old boyfriend and his wife and 18 month old child were tortured and murdered by Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. In cases like these, there is little comparison with the sort of infractions governed by mandatory minimums.

On the other hand, I have a brother who has started the in and outs of the state prison system. He suffers from chronic addiction, progressive mental illness, and a brain injury--a result of an auto accident 30 years ago. He is the homeless sort with the bicycle who stands in front of the convenience store and gets arrested for loitering. He's a nuisance, I'm sure. However, a recent CNN report on the mentally ill in Florida filmed a judge who is tired of recycling the mentally ill through the penal system. Our politicians seem to think imprisonment is the be all and end all of curing our social ills. Is this to get votes, or is throwing hands in the air with total exasperation.

Canada's leap to enact mandatory minimum sentencing is a sad reflection on Canada, which someone once called, "A kinder, gentler America." Although the sentencing only applies to certain crimes, it is the start of something that can spread like wildfire. So I ask my fellow Canadians and politicians: Are you going to foot the bill for the penal colony? Hey, you can be even more American and farm out the prison business to private enterprise. Buy stock on the TSX! Why not? They've been doing it in the States for years.

Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for many years. She is a very well recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley as well as in other adjoining communities. Cathleen formed and leads the Langley Conservation Network. Editor-LFP...

Langley MP Mark Warawa's Mail That You Won't Hear About!

Previously LFP posted commentary about the outrageous full page ads paid for by taxpayer dollars for Langley MP Mary Polak. She is not alone. Read this letter sent to Langley MP Mark Warawa complaining about his wasteful spending on thousands and thousands of taxpayer paid for newsletters sent by Laila Yuile and also posted on her blog site. Kudos, your dead on Laila! This is no longer communicating pertinent and important news with constituents. This is all about partisan self serving and preserving their gross salaries for their negligible efforts as our elected representatives. I guess many politicians especially obscure backbencers, have to subscribe to please "spell my name right" for the next election so that they can keep getting their fat paychecks and do very little else!...