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REPORTING · 7th August 2010
Walter McFarlane
Dark Clouds on a Bright Summer’s Day: Part 2

The following is Councillor Gerd Gottschling’s prepared speech:

Mr. Cuff, has excellent credentials, has written 2 books as a Guide to Municipal Leaders and numerous manuals and publications. He is a well-known name in the world of Local Government. His experience includes 25 years of involvement with local governments in various roles, including that of a department head, and as a mayor. He has conducted over 1000 lecture and seminars, and has worked in all provinces of Canada, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Why is Council constantly fighting, wasting time and money, and not getting on with business? This is criticism I hear from the public, read in commentaries of our Local News Papers, and hear on radio and TV

So the Questions need to be asked?

Why is Council fighting amongst themselves? Why can't they get along? Why does Council appear to be dysfunctional, divisive and inept? What are the issues? What are the motivations? Are they personal, political, ambition, agendas, egos or antagonistic? Why the so apparent petulance, dysfunction or apparent personal interests?

Why would anyone need to make our Mayor or other Councillors look bad in Public? Maybe I should present the question another way. How can anyone make anyone look bad if there is no basis to the criticism unless it is true. If made up - based on lies - character assassination, are there no consequences?

What are the Council's and the Mayor's Roles?

What are the Rules and Codes of Conduct that we should be adhering to?

I could tolerate confusion if we had an inexperienced Council and there were no Rules and Codes of Conduct in place, but to know the Rules and to ignore proper conduct is unacceptable!

The District of Kitimat is a corporation overseeing an $ 18 million budget. It needs to be run in an orderly, efficient businesslike manner. This requires vision, direction and purpose - a business plan,

So what is Council's Purpose? Mr. Cuff and the Rules of Conduct say the following: The purpose of Council is to:

(a) provide good government

(b) provide safety, health and welfare to the people of Kitimat

(c) provide services , facilities or other things that are necessary for all and the welfare of the community

(d) to develop and maintain a safe, viable town

(e) to resolve the issues brought before the Council which lay within its jurisdiction and which require the judgment of the elected Council there is no room for egos and private agendas!

SO, what are the Issues facing our Town?

The real issue is varied opinions regarding Power Sales, Modernization, Increased Power Line Capacity, these issues have threatened our community with a vengeance. It pitted friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours and even Councillor against Councillor and unfortunately, Council against Rio Tinto Alcan and the Provincial Government in 1953 the Contract linked the Power to the Aluminum Industry and JOBS.

The aluminum Industry is the reason Kitimat was built and Power Sales are the possible reason for our community's death. It is just that simple. No Jobs, no families, no Kitimat. Look what happened to Eurocan when government de-linked the Tree Farm License from the production of Pulp in 2003. When West Fraser is allowed to harvest trees and export whole logs, overseas. West Fraser doesn't need to worry about Jobs, markets, a town. Look at the city of Stewart and see what happens when a resource is depleted and a major Industry leaves. Once a community of 10,000, now a village of less than 500 people. Could this happen to us?

There are proponents in town, who believe that Rio Tinto Alcan has every right to do whatever they want with the Power. Unfortunately so does Premier Campbell, the BC Courts and even some Members of this Council.

There are Councillors as well as our Mayor who believe that the capacity of the Power Line between Kitimat and Terrace should be increased and the facilities at Kemano completed. Rather than build a modern smelter, more power is made available for sale, at profits that are more lucrative than smelting aluminum.

Today, there are still some Councillors who believe that the Courts and Government robbed British Columbians of a precious resource - a Contract is a Contract, and that the Power was designated for the production of aluminum and Jobs. Governments of every stripe for over 50 years supported this position. And I agree with that position! The Voters of Kitimat also confirmed this position. In the 2 elections of Council, the electorate endorsed the elected Council with a 72% vote.

Even Alcan, then a Canadian Company, knew this and continued to promise a bigger smelter but behind closed doors, was successfully lobbying Mr. Campbell, our Premier, who has been successful in squandering away OUR precious resource, JOBS, and the future of our town.

This difference of opinion, loyalty and even conflicts of personal interest drives the agenda of our present Council's interaction and is at the heart of the discord in the Council Chamber.

Rules of Conduct are not heeded, and thus fighting, character assassination and rancour is evident at most of our Council meetings.

The Rules of Conduct are clear and well laid out (see the 2 books written by George Cuff and his report for the City of Lillooet and Cold Lake) yet sadly they are not upheld. We've invested a lot of money and previously hired 2 Consultants to help bring consensus to Council, and yet, despite good advice - nothing has changed.

My purpose is not to demean the Mayor in public. However, this does not mean that incompetence is to be tolerated. Doing so would be the death knell of our Council. Disregard for Protocol and Decorum is unacceptable. Council should be allowed to have differences of opinion, yet be able to function within the boundaries of legislation, procedural bylaws, policies and commonly accepted decorum.

The leadership provided by our Mayor is weak and lacking. Although I hold the office of Mayor in high regard, sadly, the present Mayor is unable to give leadership and bring unity and vision to the Council Chamber. The Mayor is intolerant of opposing views and constantly interrupts Councillors who voice the opinions of the voters they represent, the citizens of Kitimat - her town. The Mayor is unable to separate herself from her stand on Power Sales and the well being of our town, despite numerous thoughtful directions and Motions by Council.

How can increased capacity of a Power Line be good for Kitimat? Why did the Mayor not get an audience with the Premier and Cabinet when she claimed to have a great working relationship with the Premier? Why did the Mayor not demand a meeting with Cabinet and the Premier in order to help save Eurocan? The role of Mayor places the expectation of leadership upon that person. The Mayor is the chief elected official, and needs to make sure that their leadership does everything within their ability to preserve the welfare and interests of the municipality that the Mayor should represent.

I would like to quote from Mr. Cuff's Report (Cold Lake - Alberta)- The Role of a Mayor

" The Mayor's leadership requires them to have good ideas, sound vision, and a desire to cooperate with their Council and be willing to be shown a better way.

The Mayor has only one vote on each matter, however, when the Mayor speaks, the community presumes that she is uttering the will of Council and regardless of how committed to a particular course of action, needs to ensure that the will of Council is presented, rather than their own opinions.

It needs to be understood that the ability of the Mayor to be influential on Council is highly dependent on the willingness of the rest of Council to follow the lead of the Mayor. Though the Mayor is entitled to their own views on most issues, the challenge for a Mayor is to be able to reflect the will of Council."

"The danger facing the Mayor is to boldly step forward in expressing a viewpoint which is not held by other members of Council and then to find out that the view is not substantiated by their colleagues."

" The most logical way to ensure that this does not happen is to develop a policy framework on the key issues such that each member knows what the Council stands for on that topic with sufficient confidence so as to express those views publicly without fear of contradiction:” end of quote

These guidelines are fundamental and well known to our Mayor with over 30 years of Public service. We all know that democracy, only survives on the compliance of laws and regulations, yet, I am saddened, by violating the Code of Conduct it is expected that order and unity in our Council meetings will result. Therefore I am pointing out again, as I have in the past, that unless we comply with the Rules of Conduct, our Council will continue to fail to bring transparency, commitment and accountability to our constituency.

Without strong and united leadership we will continue to experience discord in the Council Chamber, to the detriment of Kitimat. And we will continue to be rightfully criticized, by the public and the media.

We owe it to the voters to behave like leaders, to conduct business under proven Rules of Conduct and focus on the work rather than on egos or individual agendas.

For the benefit of our community, let's take Mr. Cuff's advice and expend our energies on the issues rather than on personalities.

It is time for change. It is up to us, to make this work for the benefit of those who elected us.
whens the next mayoral election again?
Comment by Chris Gielens on 8th August 2010
Maybe next time around people will vote for someone based on the issues they represent, rather then the pillow talk we received last time. As an elect, one should be a representative of the people like Councilor Gottschling, as opposed to others that seem driven by personal and/or financial gain.
Comment by Mike Forward on 7th August 2010
Councilor Gottschling...

This is all my opinion. But have we not seen various members of all levels of government challenge Alcan's rights(be it under the flag of the Aluminum Corporation of Canada or Rio Tinto) to do what they are doing over the years? Did we not have a case heard in court(which was rejected) followed by an appeal(which was also rejected) that cost the tax payers of Kitimat no small amount in cash?

Was there not also a motion passed last year by this very Council-a motion which sparked a very long, very public, very juvenile dispute between two elected officials-that Kitimat City Council oppose the sale of power by Alcan?

I ask, Mr. Gottschling, what more does he want? And will he ever stop? Is there a topic that can be discussed without Mr. Gottschling turning it BACK to waging a verabl war with the biggest employer in this town?

This was a discussion about a very particular issue...the issue being that the Mayor's visage was used in a brochure promoting the Enrbidge Pipeline when Mayor and Council had not officially set a stance on the issue yet due to the numerous envorionmental/safety/etc. hurdles facing it. And Mr. Gottschling sees fit to somehow take this back to his personal grudge with the Alcan issue?

Mr. Gottschling calls the Alcan powersales/etc. issue the biggest one facing Kitimat. I must have missed the individuals paddling out on canoes or kayaks to stop Alcan tankers from bringing crude oil into the area...the protesters lining up at Alcan offices in the lower Mainland to propose the Alcan Oil Pipeline...the fact that Mayor Monaghan appeared in a brochure for Alcan promoting their ability to sell power.

The big issue here, the reason Mr. Cuff is being consulted, is Enbridge. Not Alcan. Mr. Gottschling already had his day with Council where they passed the motion to oppose power sales as a matter of principle. By bringing it up once again here, Mr. Gottschling is simply sounding like a broken record. And if he is unable to stop very publicly trying to defame his own colleagues, who is he really hoping to pursuade to listen at Alcan?

EDIT: I just remembered that Mayor Monaghan's name did, in fact, appear in a presentation advocating the KCP. I also recall that that item saw its day in council as well several months ago.
Councillor Gottschling recent "speech"
Comment by Larry Walker on 7th August 2010
I must say, I am impressed by his articulate presentation and agree 100% with his vision of the future of Kitimat.

However, this is now history and the Mayor and Council "must focus" on the challenges we are or will face in the future if Kitimat is to grow and prosper.

Larry Walker
(new resident and proud of it)