Monday, October 27, 2008

LFP RUMOUR MILL - Two Langley School Board Election Silent Slates Face Off With Mayors' Silent Support

This Langley Municipal election on November 15th is all about the school board trustees folks. Nobody seems to care about the Langley City or Township municipal council elections at all this time around. Great news for the council incumbents but bad news for the newcomer council wannabees like Rick Green and all the other rookie council candidate hopefuls in both City & Township except for the vacant seats.

The real big news and the serious rumoured word on the street is that this election will pit two powerhouse Langley school board undercover and silent slates whose key slate members also are said to seriously dislike each other. Fireworks indeed are in store folks. This dramatic school board election stage was finally set with the controversial realignment of schools in Langley that culminated with the closing of H.D. Stafford (HDS) secondary school and introduced the middle school concept to all Langley parents and kids that created much anger, howls of protest, emotions and tears. So who are these slates?

One obvious strong rumour suggests that the "Stafford Closure Tag Team" on school board (Burton, Hogeterp, McVeigh, & Ross) who rammed through the closing of H.D. Stafford high school are one slate. Newcomer candidate Kari Medos who was also seen seated at the Rotary crab fest dinner with Burton, Hogeterp & McVeigh is also rumoured to be on their rumoured slate as well. They are also strongly rumoured to be very closely connected to the Langley Township Mayor Kurt Alberts Township council slate. Many go to each other's fundraisers and events. They are often seen seated together at many recent public functions pushing other independent candidates to far away tables by the washrooms. These new breed of silent non-declared slates was successfully first used by Mayor Kurt Alberts in his Township council elections.

FYI Mayor Alberts rumoured slate members are said to be at minimum councillors Bateman, Fox & Ward. The other rumour is that newcomer council candidate Bev Dornan, if she is elected, will replace Vickberg on Alberts silent slate, who decided not to run again. Lots of rumoured reports that Vickberg and Alberts are promoting and introducing Bev Dornan everywhere and anywhere. And if you don't believe that Mayor Alberts has a slate again this time see this previous advertisement of his just before the last election.

The other rumoured school board slate is the " Langley City & NDP Tag Team". This rumoured counter tag team slate is said to include key supporters like the past and present Langley City Mayors, Marlene Grinnell & Peter Fassbender as well as prominent trustee candidates Beck, Pona & Johnson who have strong NDP history and/or connections. It is rumoured that the Langley City Mayors are going to be instrumental in putting their political capital & machines behind this tag team to hopefully reverse the closing of the H.D. Stafford secondary school. The fact that Langley City advertises itself as a complete community has taken a major hit since the closure of its only high school, HDS. This is probably why this rumoured alliance of City & NDP candidate slate is occurring. If it is occurring. Remember it's a rumour. Strong rumour though. Oh by the way check out Joan Bech's website and note the picture of former Langley City Mayor Marlene Grinnell endorsing Joan!

So there you have it the big rumour of this election. Langley Township Mayor Alberts and his silent slate backing Burton, Hogeterp, McVeigh, Ross &
Medos the "Stafford Closure Tag Team" versus Langley City's Grinnell & Fassbender's " Langley City & NDP Tag Team". You decide if it's true or false. But which is worse? A School Board run by Langley City or one run by Alberts and his "Good Ole boy's Club"? Both sound scary, very scary and it's not even Halloween yet!

Another tidbit or perhaps evidence of slates is this website, LANGLEY EDUCATION ADVOCACY PROJECT - L.E.A.P. This group describes itself on their website as "an informal group of parents who have come together to look to the future and to spread the message that students and parents should be treated with respect and empathy in their endeavors to find the best education possible in the Langley school district". Now it doesn't say who they are but curiously LEAP links to the Keep Stafford Secondary website if the reader wants to further help out.

We noticed that LEAP provided their Langley Township School Trustee Endorsements and the Langley City School Trustee Endorsements. Curiously they copied and used our LFP Final Election Candidates List too. We don't mind that but we at LFP would certainly wish that who ever you LEAP people are, please publish credit for our creating that list that you used! We know you guys obviously read LFP too! Thanks, but please credit your source!

The interesting things on the LEAP endorsement list is the fact that they recommend Beck, Pona, Johnson & Shepherd with check marks and crossed out the names of Burton, Hogeterp, McVeigh, & Ross as well as Kari Medos. The suggestion is to basically plump the vote in this Editor' opinion. This is an old political tactic for first past the post elections. They left out the names of Petipas, Parker & Peterson though either way. They were not crossed out or endorsed. Does that essentially mean that these three are the only real independents running? Is this all curious speculation, or is this all further evidence of both slates? In any event this election in the Langleys is predominantly all about the school board trustees. Enjoy!

So if you aren't going to vote for the "Stafford Closure Tag Team", consider also not voting for their rumored sister slate, the Mayor Kurt Alberts Township Council "Good Ole boy's Club"!

For more information on the trustee candidates go to the Langley DPAC website to see the candidates, get their contact info and website addresses as well as their individual responses to the DPAC qustionaire. Langley DPAC published a Master file containing responses by all candidates as well as Master file containing candidate responses by question .

Also note that the next public Trustee Candidates Meeting

Wednesday October 29, 2008
7:00 - 10:00 PM at Christian Life Assembly 21277 - 56 Avenue, Langley, BC
Moderated by Matt Brandon

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smartgrowth-Transportation Langley Township Council Candidates Debate Oct 21

Incumbent Candidate Kim Richter responds in this video on the question of her Langley transportation priorities. She takes moderator Frank Bucholtz (Times Editor) to task for plugging Bateman's blog and not Richter's blog (LFP) in his previous introductions. In this other Video, Kim Richter explains to the audience what she thinks Langley's great strengths are to build on. Also on transportation options, are videos of new Langley Township council candidates: businessman Glen Tomblin and firefighter Dan Sheel. View Glen's Video. View Dan's Video.

Langley Free Press will highlight other candidates from the next debates. Any preferences? LFP photographer, Bob Richter will attend with his trusty camera. Post your comments/suggestions below.

Vecchiato's Voice - Your Vote

On Tuesday, October 14, I cast my ballot in the Canadian federal election. On Wednesday, October 15, I smacked an Obama for President bumper sticker on the back of my Ford Escape. An element of gratitude is inherent in the juxtaposition of both acts. I have the best of both worlds, and despite doom and gloom south of the border, and foreboding angst seeping north of the 49th parallel, those of us living in the States or Canada thrive within countries that exceed the greatest dreams of most of the world's population. We have the right to vote.

So besides the U.S. election, an equally important ballot casting will take place in November right here in Langley. The powers delegated to municipalities in BC are mighty, and the representatives we choose can make or break the quality of life in our immediate vicinity. Having participated in candidate forums in the past three elections, I feel that a forum is not a place to bring a personal confrontation to an incumbent. I've seen it done and it does more harm than good. New candidates are denied exposure they desperately need to place them neck to neck with incumbents, who have gained publicity over their years of service.

Case in point is Tuesday evening's SmarthGrowth and South Fraser on Trax candidates' meeting. Questions ranged from freight (or fright) trains running through the core of the Langleys, road reconfiguration from 64th to Glover, preserving the ALR, the now-dead water management plan, to one suggesting a "spine" of trees/trails going from the 49th parallel to the Fraser River (huh?).

But what was noticeable was that new candidates were not privy to the same information as incumbents, and a lack of knowledge can appear as being uninformed, when, in fact, the information is not necessarily public. I'm leading to the issue of "in camera," which is a bureaucratic term for "behind closed doors."

I had to imagine myself up there and how I would respond to many of the questions posed by both the sponsoring organizations and individuals, whose questions were well-handled by Frank Bucholtz. In fact, Bucholtz left no room for personal dialogue between a voter and a candidate, which was a blessing. If you have a bone to pick, talk about it over coffee. Some of the questions were common knowledge to incumbents, but candidates would have had to spend lengthy hours researching every aspect of township business. There is no administrative staff for candidates to investigate issues whose answers might not even be public. I'd compare this to the Iraq War and those who voted for invading, then whined that they were given the incorrect information. It's their job to get the information if they are sitting in the U.S. Senate--a far cry from running for council in a moderately sized town like Langley.

Forum questions need to be posed so that an element of background information is given to each candidate beforehand. Leveling the playing field is the best thing we can do. Several of the new candidates are some of the brightest and most diligent people I know, but it's a lopsided playing field when one half of the candidates know the issue inside out and the other half possess a superficial knowledge of a topic that's make its way around the staff offices and into the "in camera" meetings.

So let's compensate and give some exposure to
Sukhi Dhami
Bev Dornan
Rick Green (mayor)
Murray Jones
Janet Megahy
Sonya Paterson
Dan Sheel
Glen Tomblin

Learning about these candidates is a responsibility to be carried by the media--both virtual and print--because none has a voting record...yet.
Cathleen Vecchiato has been an outspoken environmentalist for many years. She is the recognized champion of the environment and a community activist in Langley and other adjoining communities. View her full bio and read all her LFP postings at this link. Editor-LFP...

Wally's Words - Langley Tourism, Taxes, Water Forum & Sidewalk To Nowhere

Langley Tourism
It was recently revealed (report #08-166 presented to Township Council September 29,2008) that Tourism Langley spent $60,000 ( sixty thousand - yes you read it right) to create a web site. The vast majority of businesses spend less than $500 to do the same thing. This is a typical example of out of control government spending which has spiraled out of control in Langley township. We need big change at township hall to reign in spending.

Tourism Taxation
Recently Premier Campbell announced some changes to the provinces taxation for hotels. The change for inn keepers reduces the cost of a nights stay by less than 50 cents. A saving of 50 cents will do nothing to stop the bleeding of the provinces tourism sector that is now on life support. This rate of saving would take our hotel 500 years to pay the cost of the Tourism Langley website recently revealed to cost a mind numbing $60,000 We need a lot more change than 50 cents.

Water Worries
I went to this week's water forum at D.W. Poppy school. What I heard was that the new water management plan was going to cost a lot of money. The spokesperson for the Province said they would need to hire more staff. That would mean they also need more new pickup trucks. That is code for higher TAXES.The amount that will be spent on 'administration' will probably be more than to proceed with a system upgrade to connect the east and west systems and increase capacity from the Fort Langley basin. Start laying pipe now.

Sidewalk to Nowhere3 photos attached
- This image was taken Oct 23 2008 and shows hidden in the weeds the "sidewalk to nowhere" in the center of the 5 corners roundabout in Murrayville.
- The further below images 0449 and 0508 were taken 2 years ago.

Below is the letter I sent to Mayor and Council 2 years ago. It is obvious that they paid no attention to my concern of saving tax dollars and went ahead with this ridiculous project. This extravagant waste must end now. In addition, every week the township sends a crew equipped with ride on mower, leaf blowers (yes more than one) pick ups (yes more than one) to trim the sidewalks around the 5 corners. These are all private land frontages. Why are tax dollars spent to maintain private frontages?? By the way, the workmen who installed the sidewalk to nowhere told me it cost $17,000! End this waste now.

From: Traveller's Hotel
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 3:27 PM
Subject: 5 Corners

Mayor and Councillors
Langley Township

Attached are 2 photos. One is the new roundabout at 5 Corners (photo was taken on September 2 2006) and the other is in Surrey at King George and 8th Ave (photo was taken August 15 2006)
It seems that a concrete pathway is being installed across the roundabout at 5 Corners. This is a bad idea. Pedestrians are not to be walking about in the centre of the roundabout. Getting to the centre is dangerous and is sure to cause an accident. Installing any kind of pathway will be an allurement to persons and the Township will be held liable if an accident occurs. The entire centre should be planted with vegetation similar to the Surrey example.
Note the tree planted in the Surrey example. I also want to see a tree that can serve as a Murrayville Christmas tree. I have discussed this with numerous neighbours and they agree with the idea of a tree.

Yours Truly

Wally Martin

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Langley Civic Election Candidates - Final Lists in Actual Ballot Order

Mouseclick the above final candidate's lists to better view each of the above 2 lists and to seperately enlarge and/or to then print them. Election day is Nov 15,2008.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kim Richter : "On the Taxpayer's Side...Making Every Dollar Count" Election 2008 Video

Kim Richter, Professor of Business Management at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and 3 term Councillor in Langley Township, has decided to seek one more term as Councillor for the Township of Langley in the November 15, 2008 Municipal election. Choose this link to see or print out Kim's press release.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Susan Semonick Says Goodbye To LFP Readers & Susan Is Not Running For Langley School Board

With great sadness this LFP Editor says goodbye and thank you to Susan Semonick for her excellent LFP coverage of School Board issues since 2006. Her contributions will remain in LFP archives for all to refer to. If anyone in the Langleys would wish to become the Langley School Board/Education LFP critic or anything else, email the LFP EDITOR or even contact Susan herself for info. Again, Susan thank you so very much, it's been indeed a pleasure! Following is Susan's final LFP submission. We welcome LFP reader comments, far below, wishing to thank Susan for her demonstrated passion for education excellence in the Langleys. - LFP EDITOR

Well readers, it is my time to say adieu to you. After the last Board meeting, I left so disappointed that despite the urgings of many people, I have decided not to run in the next election. It would be great if LFP is able to find someone to replace me as a contributor. I have enjoyed trying to give the public insight into the Board and advising you of issues.

Now, the antics at the Board table have become more of a gong show than ever expected. All I can say to whoever wins at the polls is start fresh - hold respect for the community who elected you and take the steps to correct past errors in changes to policy #1204.

I hope the discussion and debates will actually focus on reporting on real issues and developing constructive ideas on how to improve conditions within the school district. Please put aside your egos, grudges, hurt feelings, etc. and concentrate on what is important - delivering a high quality public education to each and every one of our students in this district. Dissolve the SDBC; and stop contributing money that can be used directly in the classroom to outside (at arm length) interest groups namely the School District Foundation. Let the Foundation stand on its own feet.

Request that the Ministry of Education amalgamate the electoral ballot for the Board of Education in School District 35 for the next election so that true voter parity and democracy can be served. Good luck to the students; I wish them all a well-balanced, high-quality education.

I leave you with a suggestion to improve the Board’s communication and behavior toward the public - that is, to lobby the Board to record into the Board meeting minutes all questions asked during question period along with the responses provided. This will give a snap shot for reference in the future. I believe this would also be a small step toward repairing what damage has been done and begin to restore the trust of the public in the Board of Education.

Thought of the day: Providing choice does have a cost. What must be determined is, is it really worth it?

So long, Adieu, Auf Wiedersehen

Susan Semonick

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Injector's Incredulous Inserts! - Letter To The Editor - Langley's Federal Debates So Far

LFP Editor invited Injector loved by one and all (lol) readers of LFP for his read of the recent federal candidates debate. So here it is!

OK, here are Injector's bottom line of the debates thus far by candidate:

MARK WARAWA - Conservative
Part Read from his tab-indexed party binder like a good choir boy would. Nothing new and touting the same old party line and rehash of spending to date. Claimed to have worked on many issues close to Langley, but I think the audience was left scratching to see where. Talked much about sending people to prison and being tough on crime. The funniest comment at Kwantlen last night was made by Mark during a discussion about genetically modified foods. Mark claims that broccoli is a GMF. A 20 year old study laughed out loud and asked if he was serious. Pretty much summed up what everyone was thinking. Mark was able to get his student organizers to nicely line supporters up at the microphones to only ask Mark questions. This lead to more choir practice from Warawa and the party song sheets (yawn).

RON GRAY - Christian Heritage Party
Some good points raise from a practical standpoint, but sometimes uses some hair-brained facts and statements to get his points out there. Ron claims that there is far more abuse in couples outside traditional marriage (including domestic partners and gays). When he furthered this at Kwantlen there were significant booing from the audience. He had no binder to sing from and spoke from his heart I believe. Ron claims that global warming is a myth and that the ice cap is actually expanding. He says that farms actually need the carbon that we are trying to get rid of!

Andrew is a young ESL teacher that seems like a genuine nice guy and by appearance and the way he speaks, reminds me of Robin Williams. I would say he is the spitting image of a Langley version of Patch Adams. Andrew is strong on the education and transit parts of his platform and managed to not dig into his binder. A nice guy in the wrong party.

RICK MEYER - Green Party
Patrick also seems like a nice guy, but as he uses long lead-ins to his answers he never seems able to give a whole response to things. He prefaced many of his answers with, "that's a difficult question" or "that's a real good question". I don't see him standing in parliament and raising a fair argument for something.

JAKE GRAY - Liberal Party
Jake is young and sometimes comes off as a cocky kid. But the more I listen to him, the more I see Jake as someone who could and would represent LANGLEY in Ottawa. He knows the subjects fairly well and doesn't require a party song sheet or adult supervision. He brought forth meaningful ideas and discussion on a host of issues. I'm starting to like this guy.

Tomatoes and other vegetables were handed out by the Kwantlen horticultural program in the lobby before the debate. I think our MP should be thankful that no one decided to create a food fight. I'm certain his arrogance and old party lines would have turned his suit into something that Carmen Miranda would have been proud of.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Vecchiato's Voice - Is The Township of Langley a Big Fat Liar?

Who can forget Al Franken's book, specifically the chapter titled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar? Franken, known as 12-stepper Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live make the easy transition from SNL to politics and is currently running for Minnesota U.S. Senator.

So is the Township of Langley a big fat liar, too?

In the September 17, 2008, edition of The Province, the lead story is about the reprehensible mutilation of 100 turkeys at a farm on 24th and 196th. From what I understand, the owners practice ethical animal husbandry, and the violation exceeds any act that would be socially acceptable. Their land sits right on the border of what used to be Stokes Pit, which is slowly transforming into Campbell Heights.

I happened to be at "The Pit" walking Wally the dog on Tuesday, and emerged to find CTV, City TV and the Province retreating from the desecrated property. We got into a conversation, and I'd thought about who could do such a thing. You think teens, then satanic cults, and then stories I've heard about Fernridge came to mind: Fernridge is being bought up on spec with hopes for fruition increased since Township endorsed sewer to run down 200th Street, thus opening the door for development. Intimidation tactics are nothing new. In the Willoughby area, a landowner who would not sell (for parcel assembly) received an anonymous note in his mail box saying, "He who sells last gets the least." The water wars of Southern California depicted in the film Chinatown realistically recall the dirty fights that go on in the monied world.

Our Director of Community Development is quoted in The Province as saying that there are no development plans for the area. Why, then, are ads like the following being run in the Langley Advance's real estate section (9/10/08)?

2.49 ACRES


20552 24TH AVENUE

… Located in Brookswood/Fernridge NP and designated 4 UPA

Excellent holding property … live here until time to develop and then enjoy the benefits of principle residence tax treatment.

Because I live in the area, I go through Fernridge a lot, and every week, there are more signs posted in front of forests. Development potential! The most joyous moment of the speculators was the approved sewer. Prices have skyrocketed and I'm sure that buyers will be more fortunate than those of us who bought Nortel.

Frank Bucholtz, editor of the Langley Times, wrote an editorial in March 2005, "Brookswood area could become a hotspot." He rightly says that "A sewer line down 200 Street will shape the future of South Langley, and it is hard to see how it won't involve massive urbanization...South Brookswood area (south of 36th) is...even more ready. Properties there are much larger and many have been held by investors for years. They were anxious for Vicwood (the old name for High Point) to go ahead in 1997, and I'm sure they are just as interested in development now."

In 2000, a Langley Times article entitled "South's development dreams return/Residents say perfect opportunity exists to tie services into Surrey's plan. To be fair, I must say that Mayor Alberts stated at the time that there was no time frame for development, and asked, "Why do detailed planning where development isn't going to happen for 10 to 15 years?" Despite has stand (and his stand has been to develop one area at a time), why is there a Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan on the township website at all? Some of the information includes:
24th Avenue.............. Arterial.............................. 4
32nd Avenue............. Arterial.............................. 4
36th Avenue.............. Arterial.............................. 4
40th Avenue.............. Arterial.............................. 4
196th Street.............. Collector............................ 2

In addition, the width of 24th is proposed to increase from 20 to 24 meters, and 196 is proposed to increase from 20 to 22 meters.

The Community Plan begins with the statement:

This Plan details the Township's policies for the development of Brookswood/Fernridge. The Brookswood/Fernridge Community

Plan conforms to the goals and objectives of the Langley Official Community Plan and provides more detailed land use policies.

and continues:

Brookswood/Fernridge is seen, in the long term, as a community of 35,000 people functioning

as a southern satellite of the Langley Regional Town (Langley City and adjacent Township

commercial and industrial areas). The Langley Regional Town because of its substantial

head-start in overall development and with its ultimate hinterland population will be the major

commercial and service area.

According to the file, this particular segment of Fernridge on 196th north of 24th has a proposed zoning of Service Commercial. The complete specifications for the area can be found on the Township of Langley website

Another reason I know the area fairly well (because talking to locals) is the carnage called Campbell Heights. Earlier this year, by default, I ended up leading a tour through what used to be Stokes Pit, with Ramin Seifi (Director, Community Services), Brad Badelt (Engineering), Mark Bakken (Township Administrator), and Councilor Kim Richter. Richter had already seen the poor quality of excavation--lowering the water table, building new canals (the old ones were fish bearing) without a tree in site because they were all dead due to the water table change, a move that has increased the water temperature and becomes useless as salmon habitat--and was concerned about its impact on Langley and the buffer between the two municipalities(according to staff, it is 60 meters). 24th Avenue sits amid the desert-like setting of Campbell Heights, just waiting to be pushed through to Langley. I also noted on the Community Plan that Item 2.6.4 Conservation Areas was deleted by #4485 27.03.06

Land assembly is a precarious venture in which only the big players can participate. Although I merely speculate that land may be the catalyst behind arson (further up the street) and animal desecration, suspecting players getting punks to do their dirty work holds an element of feasibility. Nothing surprises me.

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...

Stealing The National Anthem? - Letter To The Editor by Wally Martin

Dear Editor
To all Canadians

Melissa and Paul of Port Coquitlam, recent guests at Princess and the Pea B & B, were unanimous in the opinion that no person or entity had the right to attempt to exclude others from using all or part of the national anthem. As a hockey player, Paul went on to say it was disrespectful to hockey players and all Canadians to attempt to 'steal or take' part of the national anthem for exclusive use. I agree 100%. Pride of country belongs to all Canadians. Does this mean we can no longer sing the national anthem?
Wally Martin