LETTERS: Decisions should be criticized

Slump says public has every right to comment on how people paid with tax dollars go about their work

In newspaper reports the NDP claim we are not getting our money’s worth from Ben Stewart.

You will remember that Ben Stewart was formerly the MLA in West Kelowna. He stepped down so Christy Clark could run for his seat. Mr. Stewart has been appointed to a position in the government as the Asia Trade Commissioner.

In my opinion his job description should be compared to a top-level civil servant. After all we can’t vote him out. As an example: The deputy minister of finance, would be second under Finance Minister Mike Dejong; the highest civil servant in the finance ministry and responsible for the running of that department.

Many of you will remember during the 2008 election that one of the planks in David Perry’s platform when running for a seat on School Board 67 was ending double dipping. The double dipper at the time was retired superintendent Gary Doi.

Some time after the election Mr. Doi ceased his employment with the school board and isn’t it strange I don’t recall Mr. Doi or the school board suing anyone for defamation even though letters were written criticizing him in the newspapers and he was an issue in the 2008 election.

Because David Perry specifically addressed the issue of double dipping in the run-up to the election and was subsequently elected, Gary Doi’s termination became an almost automatic response as civil servants realize that once the voter has spoken and expressed their desire on an issue that desire must be fulfilled. Only in Penticton are senior civil servants spending our tax dollars and making decisions that affect all of us beyond criticism. And, if we do criticize them they spend our tax dollars suing us for defamation.

Elvena Slump

Penticton

*****

Oust the politicians

First of all, I wish to thank Barbara Pigeon for her kind words in today’s Western News (Friday, Sept. 19) and I appreciate her willingness to share her own experiences with us through the paper.

A caring community should take care of each individual in its midst regardless of income, living circumstances or situation whenever that care or help is necessary.

I’m thankful that when I have really needed help there have been people who were there for me whether it was those whom you’d expect (like family or close friends) or for that matter those who surprise you with their kindness/helpfulness whether acquaintances or even relative/complete strangers.  I have been fortunate throughout my life in that sense though I have also experienced times when I’ve been let down, whether by the government or company system(s) or even friends or relations.

I have tried, whenever needed, to help others from family to friends or even strangers.  What often saddens me is how people in visible need will be ignored by others (the homeless etc.).  An example is a couple of Jehovah Witnesses standing near a sleeping homeless person. I witnessed that at Surrey Central Station in Surrey, B.C.

I’ve experienced poor treatment by employers similar to what Barbara has described.  One employer failed to maintain their vehicles in a safe and healthy condition, another more recent employer failed to pay me what I had earned — they never reimbursed me — they also failed to keep promises of “gifts” for achieving 10 years of service.

The company also failed to keep a professional and safe environment for many if not all of their workers.  This particular employer was so negligent in how they treated front line staff that I almost lost my life on two separate occasions.

I accept my responsibility for myself in those two occasions and I could/should have been more careful but definitely the company proved to be a negligent and arrogant firm. Sadly they have managed to succeed on the backs of their employees and spread across Canada and perhaps elsewhere.

We need to hold governments and businesses accountable for their actions — it is not so easy for an individual to do so alone.

Given the recent scandals of the local, provincial and federal governments, whether it is the Liberals’ handling of the strike/lockout, Harper’s actions throughout his reign or Mayor Litke and the seemingly unaccountable Penticton council, I strongly believe that at each upcoming election there must be a thorough and complete housecleaning of the respective governments which rarely if ever earn their titles of “honourable”.

None of the present council in Penticton should be re-elected.  The same should occur in the provincial and federal elections, not one Liberal nor one Conservative should be re-elected.

Patrick Longworth

Okanagan Falls

*****

UBCM a must

Regarding the issue of how many UBCM delegates Penticton sends each year: I feel that this annual conference should be a must attend for all of our city councillors.

How often during the year will this city’s elected representatives have an audience with busy provincial ministers?  Not often is my guess. As of Tuesday morning three very important Penticton issues have already been discussed with provincial ministers at this conference. My question is if city council members don’t attend UBCM, can we possibly expect them to accomplish as much by staying in town? I think not.

The reason Kelowna has not sent as many delegates is that they obviously have not been overlooked in the provincial handouts department. We need all of our city council members on point at UBCM.

Alan Kidd

Penticton

*****

Support for Vassilaki

In response to John Vassilaki’s decision to refrain from attending the UBCM meeting I offer my comments in support of this decision.

I served on the executive of the DPA for a number of years and attended every annual conference and gained a wealth of information useful to the organization. However, after nine years on council we are fortunate to have a candidate for Mayor that knows all there is to know about the operation of a City. Indeed barring time conflicts I am sure John could teach every seminar and lead every discussion at the conference.

I would also like to applaud his fiscal prudence. As a former business owner I always like to “do the math” on business decisions. John’s estimate on the cost of attending was between $2,000 and $3,000 so I assumed $2,500. If I divide this among the 35,000 citizens of Penticton this is 8 cents per person. I am not sure where the 8 cents will show up but I appreciate it.

All this leaves me in a quandary as I am not sure whether to vote for John or not, because if he is elected he will most likely have to go and I will be faced with the challenge of incorporating an extra 8 cents every year in my budget for the next four years. However I have decided to throw caution to the wind. Go John, go.

Cliff Bristow

Penticton

*****

Courts have only one role

Justice Susan Griffin’s findings that removing legislation that regulates class size and composition from the B.C. teachers collective agreement is a violation of the teachers basic human rights of freedom of association is nothing less than bizarre.

The government is the employer, not the union, and it will always be the employer’s prerogative and responsibility to determine job descriptions, class sizes and composition, and the amount of money required to deliver public education. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation claim that collective agreement entitlements become constitutionally protected in perpetuity is equally bizarre, but not surprising.

Governments write all legislation for, and on behalf of the people, and expired collective agreements only serve as templates in future contract negotiations.

The only mandate the courts have, is to defend that legislation whenever it is being challenged. If our judges so desperately want to write our laws, they should put their names on the ballot and ask the people for a mandate to represent them in the legislatures. The courts have only one role to play in the B.C. teacher’s relationship with the union, and that is simply to enforce the teacher’s basic human rights to freedom of association, and ban mandatory membership in the union. Governments, the courts, and unions do not change our human rights.

Andy Thomsen

Summerland

*****

Toastmasters at the market

This Saturday Penticton Toastmasters is hosting a table at the Penticton Farmers Market. We would like to invite community members to listen to prepared speeches, try their hand at impromptu speaking, and get acquainted with the Toastmasters programme and people.

Toastmaster’s International is a non-profit society that has been operating in communities around the world since 1924.  While widely known as a place to develop public speaking skills, it is truly a comprehensive personal and professional development programme.

Sean Wurz

President, Penticton Toastmasters