LETTERS: Venom towards city staff needs to stop

Penticton Western News letters to the editor in the Sept. 10 issue.

Venom towards city staff needs to stop

Regarding the issue of city hall staff and Elvena Slump, there’s no doubt in my mind that city staff have been bullied far too long by Slump.

I’m referring to professionals that aren’t permitted to refute the malicious statements made by Slump in the media. Slump says our city manager doesn’t do her job properly. This same city manager last Friday was part of a team with human resources of whom successfully concluded negotiations on two major city union contracts (IBEW and CUPE) both for a term of five years.

Mayor Garry Litke chose to protect his senior staff as a human resources/employee issue because all workers in this province have a right to work without being bullied. Mayor Litke has not gone after a harmless 75-year-old lady, he has simply written a private note (on the advice of lawyers) asking for an apology from a taxpayer that almost weekly writes venomous letters in the paper about city staff.

Taxpayers may well ask themselves about the work-safe rights of all workers in this province, and their right to sue an employer that allows public abuse of staff. City staff did not sign on to see their professional decisions and reputations dragged through the mud in the media. Instead, city councillors are elected by us, and paid to hear our queries and problems.

Slump recently called into question the Penticton corporate officer’s decisions regarding in camera meetings. How does Slump know what was discussed in camera that she can doubt the appropriateness of the meeting?

I know that one of the corporate officer’s concerns (and she addressed the issue) is that something that belongs in camera can accidently be said in a public council meeting instead of in camera and therefore she may sometimes err on the side of caution and schedule the issue for an in camera meeting. This city’s corporate officer is a professional, and has in no way ever given us any reason to doubt her decisions.

The city CFO, our communications officer, and even the community centre general manager have had their professional decisions called into question in public by Slump.

What many city taxpayers don’t realize is that all city staff take their direction from our elected city council, not the other way around, and if you were to attend council meetings you would see evidence of this democratic process in action.

Penticton city staff have private lives and families that live amongst us, and they simply ask to be respected like everyone else.

Alan Kidd



Wasting taxpayers’ money,

Poor Elvena Slump. I cannot believe the city is going to waste some more money on another lawsuit.

Seriously, how ridiculous is that?

Do we really need to take a 75-year-old woman to court?

Can we not use our taxpayers’ money more resourcefully?

If you are a public employee you are paid for by the public, expect the public to watch and potentially criticize your actions, staff or council.

I also work in public service and I have to deal with criticism, such is life. Criticism can be constructive, not to take it personal if possible is the key.

As far as I am concerned, whoever initiated the lawsuit against Elvena Slump should have to pay that money back. Time for City of Penticton staffers and council to stop using taxpayer funded resources to support their own personal agendas.

I think it is time to restructure our representation at the City of Penticton, and not just city council. Elvena Slump let me assure you that freedom of speech in Penticton is not dead.

Annemarie Krenger



How much is a life worth?

What is it going to take before bus companies are required to install seat belts?

Some time ago I contacted ICBC and several bus companies on this issue. The main reason I was given for not installing seat belts was too costly.

How much is a life worth?

I’m sure there will be lawsuits as a result of injuries in the recent horrific bus crash near Merritt. Seat belts would have most certainly reduced the number of injuries.

Dorothy Percy


Time to show education matters

Why won’t the BC Liberal government accept binding arbitration in the education dispute?

The BCTF has offered to hand the decision on wages and benefits over to an arbitrator.  The government continues, although incorrectly, to claim that the teachers’ proposals are “out of line” with other settlements.  The government would be allowed to make their case for lowering these cost items.

The BCTF has also offered to negotiate an interim amount to support class size and composition, an area that the premier has said is the number one priority in education.

This call for arbitration seems very reasonable, yet, the government is stalling, likely, if we are to believe pundits, to refuse the offer.

The real motive behind saying no may have nothing to do with wages, benefits, or even putting a little bit more money into class composition.  It likely has everything to do with the government’s proposal, labelled E.80, which would nullify the two court rulings that teachers have won, finding among other things that the government broke the law, bargained in bad faith, and sought to provoke teachers into strike action in 2011.

If the BCTF were to accept this proposal, the government would not only avoid the ramifications and potential damages from the upcoming appeal, or appeals, class size and composition funding would remain unchanged.

While the government has announced they’ll invest $375 million dollars over the course of the agreement, this is not new money but rather currently budgeted money.  Finally, why would anyone sign away two court victories for nothing?  What is standing in the way of schools opening in a matter of days is the government’s refusal to let the courts decide, something both the premier and the minister of education claim they want to happen.

It’s far past the time that the government demonstrate that they truly care about education, let the court decide the outcome of the issues before it, and enter arbitration on the remaining matters.

Kevin Epp


Another spike in Mother Earth

Sorry, small minority, but I told you so.

And it came to pass as the future starts  spilling the truth about second chance Christy Clark and her dreams of riches squeezed from the fracking for LNG

I tried as one voice directed toward  P.T. Barnum’s people to reject Clark’s bid for election as she was rejected in her own riding in Vancouver for the second time.

Now it comes to pass that lines followed by cracks are per usual starting to appear in the make-up on the face of a hidden nightmare.

The promised trail of fracking liquid natural gas is turning into political diarrhea to be followed by a honey wagon leaking effluent and a vapor trail that will block the magnificence and weaken the very foundation of our super natural B.C. forever more by pounding just another spike in Mother Earth’s coffin.

Tom Isherwood


Mental health support is available

The Mental Wellness Centre, 203 Martin St., Penticton, collaborates with both Canadian Mental Health Association and Mental Health and Addictions Services to assist people with a mental health concern and their support system to get the help they need.

I commend Olivia Bravi (Loved ones play vital role in seeking help for mental illness, Aug. 22 issue of the Penticton Western News) for reaching out to the community to encourage more awareness.

In the South Okanagan Similkameen, occurrences of mental health issues in the age group (16-30) suggests that there are 1,855 persons who will experience a mental health issue (using the 15 per cent occurrence from the Child & Youth Mental Health pages of MCFD).

However, only one in six will seek help. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with a mental health concern talk to a parent, a teacher, a school counselor, your family doctor and get the help you need.

If one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime then four out of five Canadians know someone with a mental health issue. We invite you to join to create a caring community when a person has a mental illness.

Preparations are underway for Mental Illness Awareness Week Oct. 5-11. Join the conversation.


Sharon Evans, president BC Schizophrenia Society,

Penticton Branch

Teachers will continue to suffer

The rank and file members of the teachers union however just their cause have lost their strike and will only suffer more the longer they’re out, it’s over.

People of such a noble profession deserve the best in realistic innovative leadership. Not leadership that invites $500,000 fines for defying a court order or presently leading the membership over their financial cliff during a worldwide fragile economy coupled with political instability.

How this level of astounding leadership incompetence, which couldn’t be found even  in the least of flea markets, came about and seemingly bamboozeled the teachers, will probably remain forever the painful costly mystery.

Joe Schwarz


Voters need to know the facts

I believe there is a larger issue here.

We have a private (union) organization attempting to take over B.C. politics.

I and many others did not vote the BCTF or any other organization to run our province. The government was duly elected by the people of  B.C., not only the trade unionists and other socialists.

When will the facts about the demands the BCTF are making be made public so the voters of B.C. can be aware of the potential cost to taxpayers?

Gerald Prior


What is happening at city hall?

I cannot believe the Mayor has hired a high-priced Vancouver lawyer to threaten to sue a little old lady for the crime of having an opinion.

Mayor Litke, have you truly lost your mind?  The mere fact that you did not see fit to consult your city councillors in this matter shows that, like so many other small-minded tyrants before you, you have decided that you and you alone know what’s best for the peasants you rule over.

In my humble opinion you are a bully, and the worst excuse for a mayor this city has ever had. Step down or wait to be defeated in the next election. Though I would prefer the former, I can wait till the latter.

Meanwhile try not to get the city into any more losing court fights. The day that a Canadian senior citizen is not allowed to express an opinion, right or wrong, in a letter to the editor, without fear of lawsuits, is the day that Canada ceases to exist as a democracy.  And Elvena, if this soon-to-be ex-mayor decides to make good on his threats, I am in the phone book, phone me and I will gladly donate to your defence fund.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” — Voltaire (1694-1778)

Mike Hanley


Paying teachers will leave a big debt to the children

According to Lindsay Peterson in her letter of Sept. 5, she indicates that she has done a lot of research on the school strike.

She asks how many of us believe that teachers and support staff are helping to raise our children to be productive members of our society.  Well if they are not, then they should be fired as should anyone else that is not doing their job.

I would like Lindsay to let us know how much it will cost each taxpayer per year if the government gives the teachers what they are asking for. How much more per year is it going to cost us for a similar contract for the health care workers and other contracts to follow?

Maybe her Grade 5 daughter who is standing with the teachers can explain how her generation is going to pay the debt that we leave behind.

David Baldock


Democracy is not perfect

Based on her impressive track record, I was predisposed to be supportive of Connie Denesiuk. Despite that, I found that I could not agree with her on two points.

First, she takes a shot at Prime Minister Stephen Harper for proroguing parliament for political reasons. She does not seem to be aware that Jean Chretien did the same thing. He prorogued parliament to call a snap election for the purpose of catching the Alliance Party before they had a chance to get organized. The Liberal mission was to protect the gold-plated pensions. You could hardly call that a worthy cause. The Liberals cannot afford to throw stones because they live in glass house.

My second objection has to do with Pierre Trudeau’s famous line, “The tyranny of the majority.” That is a direct attack on democracy. Thanks to him, the unelected Supreme Court is passing laws over the head of the duly elected prime minister. In a democracy, if the prime minister does not live up to our expectations, we can vote him out. In a dictatorship, there is nothing short of a revolution that the voting public can do to change the leadership.

If a referendum were held today, the polls indicate that a large majority would vote to eliminate the Senate. What if the Supreme Court says, “No,” can they overrule the voting public? Are they the ones who pay the bill?

Democracy is not perfect but it beats dictatorship. Any move to erode democracy is dangerous. I cannot support that and nobody should.

Gerry Lepine