Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lawyer to run in Seymour for NDP

By Benjamin Alldritt, North Shore News September 28, 2011

He won't get a chance to run for more than a year and a half, but Jim Hanson has still secured the B.C. NDP nomination in North Vancouver-Seymour.

"I believe we can do better," he said in an interview. "I have children in our school system. I'm the son of parents who are seniors on the North Shore and I have children who will be entering the labour market. I think we can do better."

Hanson, 50, is an Argyle secondary graduate and lives in the Blueridge neighbourhood

with his wife and two children. He holds law degrees from UBC and Oxford university in the U.K.

As the senior partner of Surrey's largest law firm, Hanson has represented the passengers of the doomed ferry Queen of the North, as well as suing the provincial lotteries corporation on behalf of gambling addicts.

"Jim always acts for individuals," his campaign release says, "and never for corporations. He has acted, and continues to act, for persons of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientations and occupations, and has had extensive contact with the province's less fortunate."

North Vancouver-Seymour's sitting MLA is B.C. Liberal Jane Thornthwaite.

The provincial election is scheduled for May 14, 2013.

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

Politicians feeding greedingly at the public trough

This from The Province newspaper today. Sue Cook on the front page. Sue used to be a regular commentor on this blog but, she has been strangely absent for some time unless of course she still comments as an 'Anonymous.'

Mayors and councillors from across the province seem to be having a grand old time in Vancouver this week for their annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. It's undoubtedly good for the downtown hotel and beverage trade.

But, given the worrying economy, I think they should have stayed home this year and held their meetings by teleconference, saving a ton of taxpayers' money.

This, of course, is not how outgoing UBCM president Barbara Steele sees it. The Surrey councillor told me Tuesday she didn't know what the convention budget was, but said the sessions have been jam-packed.

Steele added it was important for local politicians to network and share information: "What better place to do it once a year than face to face with everybody?"

I guess it all depends on whether you're paying taxes or spending them.

North Vancouver mom Sue Lakes Cook, for example, agrees with me that the real problem with B.C. municipal governments is they're living high off the hog, while many taxpayers are not. And I agree with her we need a municipal ombudsman to protect us from them.

Cook earns $13 hourly as a customer service rep. And she's appalled at the "insane" salaries enjoyed by employees of her local municipality, the City of North Vancouver, with many earning at least double those of the folks they're supposed to be serving.

Cook is also angry at the way city staff keep fobbing her off when she queries them about expenditures. She's now asked to go before Mayor Darrell Mussatto and council to get those questions answered. And Mussatto promised Tuesday to give her that chance.

Cook, in fact, would have been an ideal speaker at the UBCM convention — not simply because her dad was a longtime North Vancouver District councillor, but because she clearly knows the value of a dollar.

"I'm probably the only person in the whole world who actually gets the budget and goes through it page by page," Cook told me, noting city staff insisted on mailing her a copy this year, at a cost of $9. Indeed, on postage alone, the city spent almost $60,000 last year.

The City of North Vancouver is the smallest of the three North Shore municipalities. But Cook points out it has 480 employees, with 143 of them making $75,000 a year or more.

City manager Ken Tollstam made $254,000 last year. And Mussatto earned $119,000, $91,000 as mayor and $28,000 as a Metro Vancouver director.

Mussatto told me that city staff salaries were in line with those of the other Metro Vancouver municipalities. However, he said, the city had many long-serving staff, which "does push up the bill."

Cook said she's particularly concerned about the hefty salaries of the 66 employees in the fire department, given there were just 84 fires to fight last year. She knows of two young firefighters who made $90,000 and $93,000, respectively. Fire Chief Barrie Penman made $171,000.

But when she asked for the department's total wages and expenses, she was told the information "was not routinely or readily available."

"I guess the thing that annoys me the most is just the way they play with me with these answers," she said. "They have absolutely no respect at all . . . I know who the serf is, and it's not those folks at city hall."

I agree with most of what Cook has to say about city hall secrecy, arrogance and unsupportably high salaries, pensions and other benefits. They're shaping up to be major issues in the coming civic elections. And that's long overdue.

© Copyright (c) The Province

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Candidate Meetings, are they just a formality?

From the CNV website; 'All Candidates Meetings provide an opportunity during which all candidates explain their policies and answer questions from the audience.'

Isn't it really each candidates own networking that really does or does not get the votes?

Nomination documents are available at the City and District of North Vancouver. Nomination period is Oct. 4, 2011 to Oct. 14, 2011 during regular office hours (8:00 am – 4:30 pm). Statutory holidays excluded.

A list of candidates will be coming at the end of the nomination deadline on Oct. 14th, 2011.

Deadline for Advanced Elector Registration is September 27.

The CNV does not have any ACMs scheduled at this time.

All candidates meetings scheduled so far on the DNV site:

Hosted by The Association of Woodcroft Councils
Mayor & Councillors only
Thursday, November 17th
7 pm in the Capilano Room, Capilano Building,
2024 Fullerton Avenue, N.V.

Contact: Val Moller - 604.926.8063

Hosted by Edgemont and Upper Capilano Community Association
Mayor & Councillors only
Wednesday, November 16th
7 pm at Highlands United Church,
3255 Edgemont Boulevard, North Vancouver

Contact: James Walsh - 604.988.6318

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A streetcar desired by CNV Councillor Bob Fearnley

CNV Councillor Bob Fearnley is talking about a trolley line from Phibbs to Ambleside. CNV council has debated this in the past and decided against it. Has this issue become part of the 'silly season'?

Resident to challenge Walton for mayor’s chair

November 19 is almost here and at least one District of North Vancouver resident is determined not to let Mayor Richard Walton weather another election season alone.

Margie Goodman, 67, of Deep Cove announced her candidacy for the mayor’s chair to The Outlook on Monday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Councillor Rod Clark mostly at odds with his CNV colleagues

Councillor Rod Clark had 3 out of his 5 motions on density, twinning, and the election go to defeat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bob Rae and the Ghost of Charlottetown

A common lament is that if not for his record as premier of Ontario, Bob Rae would make a great leader. It is said in this regard that he a good debater, charismatic, well spoken, and funny. He is all that and his decision to focus on the big issues rather than minor scandals is a freshening change. But Rae is also emblematic of everything that is wrong with the Liberal party.

Rae has always been an enthusiastic backer of a asymmetrical federalism, collective rights, and equity, i.e., affirmative action. His support for all three shape his ideas about what the Liberal party is and should continue to be.

The first two are wholly inconsistent with Pearson Trudeau tradition and make a mockery of the Liberal's attempt to draw a line from them to present times. Worse, support for both has real political consequences that the Liberals are blissfully unaware of.

Indeed, the Liberals have never fully absorbed what happened to Liberal level of support in Western Canada following the 1974 election. Some blamed the NEP and others have even claimed the gun registry played a part. The latter claim is ridiculous. The gun registry had no impact on the Liberals share of the popular vote or their seat totals. Most important of all it was passed 16 years after the Liberals first showed a significant decline in their level of support. As for the former, the chronology is also wrong. It was the fact that the Liberal vote collapsed in Western Canada in 1979 that paved the way for the NEP politically and not the other way around. The NEP was introduced after the 1980 election. The Liberals took 1 seat in the three most western provinces in 1979 election and 0 in 1980.

The source of the collapse was the more emphasis Trudeau placed on individual rights and a commitment to linguistic equality the more the rest of the country, particularly the West, resented the Liberals' inability to put a stop to bill 178 and and 101 and its willingness to make special accommodations for Quebec. Quebec's Official Language Act spelled doom for the Liberals in Western Canada from the mid 70s until collapse of the Progressive Conservatives in 1993. Ironically, it was the Mulroney's willingness to go even further in pandering to Quebec, particularly the Charlottetown Accord, that gave the Liberals some life again. 60.2% Albertans voted against the Charlottetown Accord, and 68.3% of British Colombians did. The later figure was by far the highest in country and the voter turn out in BC was second only to Quebec.

Let the "coalition" be a warning to the Liberals; these feelings are still deeply felt in "Western" Canada. The Liberals need to learn from history. They need to vigorously oppose the NDP's flirtation with extending bill 101 to federal intuitions in Quebec and their suggestion that Quebec's share of the House of Commons be fixed at 25%.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is it possible that all North Shore mayors will be acclaimed in November?

Will the North Vancouver November Municipal elections at the Mayoral level be another snore fest? Darrell Mussatto and Richard Walton, mayors of the City and District of North Vancouver respectively, were unopposed in 2008. With two months to this years municipal elections will anyone step up to the plate? The two candidates who were going to challenge Richard Walton for his seat in 2008 both backed out at the last minute.

Even in West Vancouver it is slow so far. Former Coun. Vivian Vaughan has mused about a run for Mayor but, on further musing, likely will run for a council seat instead. Only Coun. Michael Smith seeks the office of Mayor with Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones leaving.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Question of Ethics for Municipal politicians

Even though Premier Christy Clark about faced and quashed the idea of an Autumn election, previously DNV Councillor Mike Little 'confirmed his interest' to run in North Van-Seymour and CNV Councillor Craig Keating was nominated for North Van-Lonsdale. Is it a question of ethics for municipal politicians to attempt to re-elect themselves when obviously they have designs on moving up the political ladder causing by-elections? Would it be the right ethical decision for Mr. Keating and Mr. Little not to run this November, allowing other candidates to vie for their seats, who on behalf of those voters who cast a ballot for them, do intend to complete their 3 year municipal terms?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

In North Van, slow growth would be a welcome development

There is a lot of truth in this letter to the editor.

Dear Editor (NS News, Sept. 7th):

There is no shortage of voices from the density wilderness, but the majority are overpowered by those of the pro-development lobby: made up of developers themselves, municipal councillors, and City Hall bureaucracy.

Most councillors gladly accept donations from developers at election time. It is no surprise, then, that they happily nix the Official Community Plan and obligingly rezone at their behest.

Likewise, our bureaucracy is dependent on development fees and the higher taxes that can be collected from higher density developments to support their overstaffed departments and handsome salaries. Municipal unions also donate generously to most councillors at election time, meaning councillors and bureaucrats are very much on the same page.

The general public is too busy earning a living to take much interest in civic politics. They readily accept the myth that new developments provide affordable housing for young families, seniors and low-income earners of the North Shore, in addition to the myth that it is greener than low density.

Conveniently overlooked is the fact that higher density will mean thousands of additional automobiles idling at traffic bottlenecks, especially at the approaches to North Shore's two bridges.

What is really needed here is a slow-growth party to field a slate of candidates come election time.

Reimar Kroecher North Vancouver

Building for density without the proper infrastructure in place, first, is asking for trouble. Growing development along the Sea to Sky Corridor can also be added to the mix of growing density. We are simply at the mercy of our two bridges across the strait.