City not as transparent as it claims

Dear Editor:

David Bond’s July 1 column on the lack of transparency at Kelowna City Hall hit the nail on the head.

Cities and companies have much in common and ultimately must protect the interests of their taxpayers and shareholders.

Colin Basran is both the mayor and chief executive officer of the corporation of the City of Kelowna.

Like all CEOs, Basran is the highest-ranking individual in the organization and is responsible for the overall success of the city and for making top-level managerial decisions.

Like all CEOs, Basran reports directly to and is accountable to a board of directors for Kelowna’s performance. Kelowna’s board is a group of individuals elected to represent taxpayers on council and Basran is chairperson and mayor.

Like all CEOs, Basran delegates day-to-day management to others, but is ultimately responsible for corporate performance, including the $477-million 10-year infrastructure deficit and the 40% tax hike he supported since first elected in 2011.

Apparently, Basran delegated city manager Doug Gilchrist to respond to Bond’s article in a July 16 letter to The Daily Courier.

Gilchrist’s response needs clarifying because it includes questionable claims about the oversight provided by the audit committee, the transparency of council meetings and the reliability of a 2018 citizen survey supporting city management performance.

First, the audit committee only meets once a year as a formality just before the annual financial report is prepared and the importance of its oversight role in city finances is highly exaggerated.

A city website search for committee minutes found only those for the May 2, 2017 meeting ó one that lasted only 2.5 hours — and none from 2018 and 2019 meetings.

Second, council meetings are not transparent. Staff reports to council omit social, economic or environmental assessments to justify the public need and necessity to support decisions on land use, zoning, variance, DCC subsidies, grants and 10-year tax exemptions that impact taxpayers.

Council meeting videos are also not posted in a timely manner, including those for the June 22 and July 13 Monday afternoon meetings. These omissions keep residents in the dark on critical issues and discourage resident involvement at public hearings.

Lastly, Kelowna has a long history of asking survey questions designed to elicit responses that city staff want council to hear. The 2018 citizen survey claims to be statistically relevant, but two things are missing from the report: the actual survey questions asked; and the statistical confidence levels for the replies from the 300 respondents. Using biased questions to skew responses is not meaningful public input and needs to be corrected by CEO Basran.

Bond is right. Kelowna’s leadership under Basran is not transparent.

Richard Drinnan, Kelowna

City can’t keep passing the buck on police matters

Dear Editor:

I listened with interest recently as Mayor Colin Basran was interviewed on CBC about the incident where a young lady in distress was dragged from her apartment by an RCMP constable.

Apparently there should be two teams, each consisting of a nurse and RCMP officer, with one available to handle that sort of call for help. However, the second nurse has not been hired, so there was no team on duty that night.

Basran said letters had been sent from the city to Interior Health in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but no additional nurse had been hired.

The mayor was pressed on who was responsible to follow up, and where does the buck stop, which was when the “skating” began and of course that was a grey area and in general he said all levels of government had to step up.

What I do recall is the January 2020 report on the study into the Kelowna RCMP conducted by a law enforcement expert who concluded that there was a complete lack of planning and communication within the local RCMP and between the RCMP and Kelowna city officials.

Since 30% of our city budget goes to pay for RCMP services, the coordination of their municipal inter-government activities is the responsibility of our mayor and council.

So Mr. Mayor, the buck stops with you. Put your real estate rubber stamp down for a while and fulfil all your municipal responsibilities.

Don Henderson, Kelowna

COVID response shouldn’t be left to a clown

Dear Editor:

When I was young I thought that Russia and China were the ones using propaganda to indoctrinate their people. As I grew older, I learned that all countries do this to a greater or lesser degree.

The clown president has taken it one step farther and now requires that only “his” words will be received by the people of the U.S. Forget scientific knowledge.

Considering the severity of this illness, I and many others find this reprehensible.

The distrust the people have is beginning to show in recent polls where the level of confidence in his leadership has plummeted.

I am hoping, and I believe that he will not see another term and when the people kick his sorry ass out of office, I hope he is charged for his reckless behaviour with “crimes against humanity.”

It is a truly sorry state our world is in when an individual like this can be elected and promote this atrocity on his own people.

Gary Blidook, Kelowna

Who’s to blame for out-of-control federal debt?

Dear Editor:

Yes, we are in desperate times with the virus and an upset economy.

The prime minister doling out $343-plus billion with very little control to who receives money from the government is not right. The amount of money pouring out of Ottawa is 10 times the money wasted in Canada’s involvement in the wrecking of Afghanistan.

Then, the PM wanted to launch a $900-million youth volunteer program to be managed by WE Charity. Connections to the PM family and other MPs was no problem — who would notice? Will it make Canadians want to re-elect him because he was so generous with taxpayer’s money? I think not.

The PM lied to us on the first election about electoral reform, so Canada will continue with the old British system because politicians can lie to us and get away with it.

How do we explain that our PM has increased our federal debt to more than $1 trillion? I blame much of this mess on lobbyists. There are 1,400 registered lobbyist in Victoria and 3,300 in Ottawa — friends of our politicians. Is there a spray for this?

Jorgen Hansen, Kelowna

Trudeau doesn’t care who collects the CERB

Dear Editor:

The House of Commons will finally sit, to discuss the relative merits of extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefits until December.

It has already been established CERB will cost an estimated $73.1 billion and that young people living with their parents could receive as much as $11.8 billion of that, without getting out of their beds in the morning, and without suffering a means test.

But the prime minister will not be there. He has gone fishing.

Prudent use of public finances should always be a top priority for any government, but Justin Trudeau’s contempt for the people and our democratic institutions has augured him into a corner without an exit.

With the federal budget deficit now projected to reach almost $350 billion, he has completely disconnected from the fiscal monster he created.

Attempting to manipulate a $900 million student jobs program that now has no forwarding address, while trying to administer that $600 million dedicated to awarding a media that would be “nice” to him only adds to the burden.

It’s obvious Trudeau is in way over his head, but running is not the answer, at this stage of the game, only resigning will be an acceptable exit.

Andy Thomsen, Kelowna