Penticton taxpayers being kept in the dark

Penticton residents need to file a Freedom of Information request with the city to obtain a list of legal expenses

The City of Penticton responded to my Freedom of Information request. Request denied, not in compliance with FOI rules and client/solicitor privilege. I expected this reply, but with assistance from Penticton taxpayers, I thought the city might bend. Possibly FOI rules must be changed. Enclosed with the FOI request was the same time line and letter that has been published for all to read — at least council moved slightly on transparency and honesty.

If council can sleep with themselves at night as to how contractors were treated, then so be it. I am sure contractors will know what a “Notice of Interest” represents in any future contract negotiations that involve the city.

All Penticton voters can do is wait for three years or get mad as hell if we are assessed any costs and occupy a meeting of council in the future. Voters can probably make better decisions at the table than are being made by the present council. Voters must decide if they are happy with actions of council. Possibly some members of council will vacate in order to avoid the heat.

I am concerned with the possible conflict in comments in the letter to Penticton taxpayers, time line facts and exclusive interview with the Penticton Western News. Readers need to pay attention to time line dating and comments from the CAO regarding possible liability on the Western News web page.

Comments by the CAO, dated Nov. 29, 2011 appear to be in conflict with comments made by the mayor recently. To the mayor’s credit, Mayor Ashton sent me a memo stating that there is no conflict in the information that has been presented and released to date. Taxpayers need to read and interpret the facts, we all see things differently.

Comments are lacking as to who will pay for staff time and legal fees in resolving liens, if any are placed on title. Are these not costs that will be paid by city taxpayers. Are lawyers volunteering their time in this matter? Hide you wallets and bank account information if you really think that will be the case.

Could someone please write council or send an FOI request for a fact sheet on the legal expense account in the accounting records of the City of Penticton. Request that the fact sheet information be posted weekly to the web page so that taxpayers are kept informed on how well the Penticton taxpayers have been protected from any costs. Don’t accept “Client/Solicitor Privilege”.

I feel I have done my civic duty on this matter and someone else needs to step forward and bear the anger of council. Will we ever know the full story? Hopefully James Miller of the Penticton Herald and the Western News will keep up the pressure on council and break the solidarity stance taken by councillors. The solidarity stance makes me ill.

I need to leave this letter and this matter at this point; I might say something that I will regret. Council is looking for someone to blame or hold responsible in this matter and I do not want that person to be me.

If Penticton taxpayers are embarrassed to send and sign a letter to the editor, send it to mayor@penticton.ca. You need to make your views known. Set up a memo page on your computer and note all of the screw-ups by council. Before you vote next time, refer to your notes and make an informed decision as to your selections.

Based on Coun. Litke’s comments in his apology letter to the editor, the next controversy will be here on March 19. Probably the “loud crowd” (Helena Konanz quote) will be waiting with baited breath. I have sent an email to her to name the loud crowd. I received a reply and I am included.

Ted Wiltse

 

Penticton