COMMENTARY · 16th November 2011
In less then four days, the people of Kitimat will be asked to make a decision on where to guide the town for the next three years. These three years are going to be important as our community is fighting to recover from a loss of jobs at one industry and the complete shut down of another.
I can not tell you how to vote, but it is important to know all the facts. I sit through a lot of Council Meetings. I have been to every public meeting in the last three years with the exception of two of them. I attend many functions in this community where I see Councillors and Mayor and hard working people of our community.
The role of Mayor, as defined by numerous documents, is to be the figurehead of the community, to follow the will of Council when representing the community and to keep the secrets of the in camera sessions, not because they are withholding information from the public, but because if these secrets get out, the good works which our Council does for the community could be compromised.
I have no doubt that the current Mayor, Joanne Monaghan, while she was an outstanding City Councillor, is not suited for the position of Mayor. She does not carry out the will of Council, she does not chair the meetings and she does not keep the secrets entrusted to her. Most importantly, if there is any dysfunction in Council, it always revolves around her.
There are two incidents which spring to mind when she did not carry out the will of Council. One involved the Northern Development Initiative Trust and the other involved Enbridge.
In the beginning of 2010, several Councillors raised issues concerning a presentation she made at a gathering hosted by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDI Trust). NDI Trust had canvassed the economic development committees for ideal projects and Monaghan spoke on six of them. However, three of the projects she promoted were contrary to Council’s agenda at the time.
Several Councillors took issue including the late Councillor Richard McLaren. One of the projects was Kemano Modernization. Monaghan had not read the notes in advance, and asked her husband what she should do. He is neither a sitting Councillor or an employee of the city. He told her to go for it. In the long run, she blamed Municipal Manager Trafford Hall for leaving the notes on her desk.
Hall stood by her. He said she was able to speak to items, such as these, provided she makes it clear she is not doing it as the Mayor of Kitimat. The conference she spoke at had other Mayors making these presentations as well.
Unfortunately, she did not appear learn from this mistake. Being seen in the Enbridge Proponent Brochure wearing the Mayoral Regalia and giving a statement was not seen as remaining neutral by several City Councillors. She argued she was expressing Council’s viewpoint but was countered by Councillors saying she appeared to be supportive of the project.
It was this incident which triggered the third of the three consultants. Monaghan made a motion to contact George Cuff shortly afterwards.
There is no provision in the Districts Bylaws for the Mayor to campaign for her re-election… I mean… provide a report on her private meetings to the community at the beginning of each meeting without a notice of motion. However, she has been doing this at the beginning of each meeting without fail since the election year started.
I should point out at this time, when Councillor Corrine Scott wishes to deliver a report, she does so under new business and it requires a motion. When Councillor Gerd Gottschling tried to deliver a similar report in 2010, he was postponed to the next meeting and told he needed notice of motion.
There is no consistency in Council as we at the Kitimat Daily have watched the meeting rules change from Council meeting to Council meeting. Monaghan has shown no respect for the proper procedure dictated by the District of Kitimat Bylaws. There have been numerous procedural discussions in Council.
The Councillor who moves a motion has 15 minutes to speak, then each councillor has 5 minutes to speak for, or against a motion, then the Councillor who made the motion has 5 minutes to close. Councillors often speak to a motion before the mover of the motion has a chance to speak. In addition Councillors speak multiple times to a motion. Somewhere in all of this, the Mayor puts her two cents in.
However, as Chair, this is not her job. In order to comment on something, she has to step down from the chair.
Procedurally, she has been told that any member of Council, who does not raise their hand in favour or opposed to a motion is in favour of the motion. However, there have been a number of times when a motion has passed because she has not raised her hand in opposition when she has intended to vote opposed. Then she negates the vote and calls a revote because she did not like the outcome. This blatantly disrespects rules of order, as well as democracy.
She sets people up. There was a meeting where a member of public stepped up to criticize the representative of a government ministry. Monaghan insisted the officer stick around when he tried to leave. She let the community member criticize the officer for several minutes before she asked the person to tone it town. She waited another couple of minutes while he continued his offensive before she finally told him to stop.
The whole event appeared that she was setting up this individual to be attacked and publicly shamed. Perhaps this is because his organization has placed charges against her under the wildlife act. This whole drama is set to take place in the Terrace courthouse this December, get your tickets now.
Our mayor has shown she cannot keep a secret. If it is In Camera, it is in camera, it remains off the public record until Council decides, not the Mayor. Prime examples are the Hospital Lands and the Eurocan Wharf.
At a luncheon during Senior’s Week in 2009, Monaghan told the people assembled that there was an investor considering putting a conference centre on the old hospital lands and it was a done deal. However, about two weeks later, a press release from Kitamaat Village expressed they had secured the old hospital lands.
While this might just be an odd coincidence, it is not the only one. During the Christmas season of 2010, Monaghan opened her first campaign statement by telling the community and Council that she had 5 investors looking to ship out of the Eurocan wharf. Low and behold, the wharf was bought by Rio Tinto Alcan shortly afterwards.
She has lied to the community. When she insulted the people of Kitimat who cannot make ends meet by telling British Columbia on CBC Radio, everyone in Kitimat has all kinds of fancy toys, she denied making the statement in Council when challenged.
She told use she had been asked a question and she responded “Yes.” However, she said she was accused of saying. It was disrespectful to the community, and if she was really just agreeing with the reporter, she should not have said those exact words because they are OFFENSIVE!
But low and behold, this is not the only time she lied to the community. In 2010, when this community was scrambling to save jobs lost at Eurocan, she was encouraged to call up the premier for support. She told Council, “You can’t call the premier.” She would however, write his office a letter.
While campaigning this year, she was talking about a group from China who wanted to build a wharf in Kitimat. They wanted to meet with the Premier so she called up her office. This contradicts her earlier statement that one cannot call the premier and shows she willingly sabotaged Eurocan’s resurrection. As Mary Murphy told Council, if the Premier had been involved, there would be 200 more jobs in Kitimat.
In my opinion, a vote for Monaghan is a vote for continued dysfunction. Almost every event in Council which the public sees as dysfunctional involves her in some way, shape or form. She was the first person to use the word in relation to Council and phrase stuck because of her unprofessional behaviour.
Better choices are Jim Thom who clearly provided the best answers at the forum, Randy Halyk who tells it like it is to a community who can not handle the truth or Danny Nunes who simply does not want the position.
Comment by Danny Nunes on 19th November 2011
How cute....waffle boy
More of this towns bull about wanting unity and against negativity and mudslinging.
My friend Walter has more integrity and cares more for this town than you could imagine and its people like you who are the real dividers of this place. i feel sorry for him always working so hard and trying to provide the real facts and information to the ears of the ignorant.
Go ahead and re elect Joanne. I cant think of a more deserving punishment for all of you.
Comment by Danny Nunes on 18th November 2011
I thought anon commenters were not going to be allowed any further during this election as was stated on this website by its owner.
Cause I would like to know if commenter "Jim" has a last name that belongs to one of the candidates for mayor.
Comment by Michael Avery on 18th November 2011
There is some I agree and disagree about Walter said in his blog. That's what makes this town interesting. When I moved here people were debating power sales with political cartoons(incredible) .
I am always amazed on how people are still trying to assign blame to the Eurocan closure to anyone but Westfraser who actually closed it and owned the company.
Kitimat is reeling from the last economic downturn. That's a given, how about we move forward and not backwards.
Unfortunately with this election I had to move laterally because no candidates that are running against Joanne are plausible at this time.
Unlike Walter however, I will not begin some character assassination designed to sully the reputation of the individuals involved. I will say however that she is the lesser of four evils, that will give you my opinion of the the other three candidates (with waffle-boy on the bottom).
We need a united front and I am hoping that whoever does get elected will show some restraint and work for the good of this community.
Leran from history - but let's move forward.
Comment by Janice Robinson on 17th November 2011
Greetings from Terrace. It's funny how Joanne Monaghan is connected to Kitimat, Terrace, Kitamaat Village, Enbridge, Lach Gels Hotsprings, the Haisla Nation, The Tsimshian Nation, Kitsumkalum. I have never met her, however she has a lot of input in my life. If she loses the election, will she be disconnected, or like other defeated politicians and turn around and "lobby."
Comment by Jim on 17th November 2011
I thought reporters were suppose to just report all the facts and be impartial, not form opinions and tell me who a better choice would be for me to vote for I guess I was wrong.
My 2 cents
Comment by Linda on 17th November 2011
Joanne Monoghan has worked tirelessly for this community for many,many years, at the expense of her business and family. Although I dont always agree with her position on issues, I think she has always tried to think in the best interests of all our citizens. Its very hard to support both business leaders, as well as people on social assistance when the two always seem to be on opposite sides of an issue, yet somehow she manages to do it.
Her contributions to the welfare of Kitimat is undisputed. Now Im not suggesting she should get the Mayors job just because of her longevity, but no one has proven their suitability for the job, and their willingness to make the hard desicions more than her.
This nitpicking over proceedure is just that, nitpicking. I think a lot of the proceedural errors mentioned have come about because of familiarity , not disrespect.
One thing did make me laugh hartily on Jim Thoms campaign pamplet. He refers to his "Fellow"council members. Jim Thom has no fellow council members, hes not on council, and to make a run for the mayors job without putting in his dues on council is the height of arrogance. Yes he worked on council years ago, but what has he done for us lately?
Sorry Walter, but I figger if you can put in your unbiased 2 cents here, then I should be able to as well.
Petty Issues? Maybe...
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 16th November 2011
Maybe this "comment" should appear as a stand-alone artical.
All those "things she did" are not serious, blatant lies or crimes. Maybe poor choices of words sometimes...but really...every second or third house in Kitimat DOES have a boat or a motorhome in the driveway and skidoos, seadoos and/or quads in the shed. This is still a rich town.
A mayor, whether for or against any project or business must appear cordial toward the project managers and business owners if/when they come to town. The mayor's personal feelings about Enbridge or anything else should not affect her ability to do her job which is to represent her town and the council. So, when she shows up at an Enbridge meeting "appearing" supportive, that's part of the job. Obviously SOMEBODY wants Enbridge here...I don't but that's not the issue. I can express my dislike for their project...the mayor shouldn't. And how she APPEARS to someone may not be indicitive of her personal opinions.
I think also, Joanne tries to NOT rule the council meetings with an iron fist so the rules of order are sometimes inconsistent...oh well, that's not a big problem for me. Rules should be bent a little now and then I think. She has to make a call sometimes on which ones and when...Did she make a few mistakes? Sure. Again, not a big deal for me.
She didn't "set up" the conservation officer to get lambasted...she allowed the ones lambasting him to get their concerns off their chests so the anger would not escalate. That was a good choice, I think.
Hey, you know what? No matter who is on the council or who the mayor is, the next three years are GOING to be TOUGH and will appear dysfunctional in anyways. There are too many hot button issues for any council to handle perfectly. I think political EXPERIENCE and the ability to remain calm, cool and collected are going to be the important factors in making sure the majority is served...but we all know, the majority will not be served on the Enbridge issue. They are are going to get their pipeline and the tankers are coming....UNLESS THE COMMUNITY UNITES...
Can we stop waiting and watching for someone in charge to make a mistake and then destroy them in the media because of it? I hope so...
Let's get behind our council and vote with our heads...not our hearts.
Comment by Brenda Mitchell on 16th November 2011
Well last week I voted and put an X right next to Joanne Monaghans name.And what sealed the deal for me was all she has done and continues to do for our community- plus all the mudslinging that has been a big part of this election she has not taken part in which says a lot.So sad we live in a world where some people feel the need to put down others in order to build themselves up.Disrespect and arrogance-cant imagine those traits would help anyone running for public office win an election.Keep up the good work Joanne.
Comment by Jimmy on 16th November 2011
Well said Walter. The one point I don't agree with is Jim Thom as mayor. He as well does not have a great track record.
I voted for Randy Halyk
Comment by Danny Nunes on 16th November 2011
Today I went to the advance polls and voted and I put and X next to Randy Halyk...and you know what sealed the deal for me?
I walked past Super Valu this afternoon and there was a man in that cold and with the snow coming down handing out pamphlets and talking to people.
I didnt see the current mayor, Jim Thom or even myself doing that.
I am sure the cynics out there will say oh big deal...I say yes its a big deal...he proved to me he is willing to put himself out there and make the real effort.
Not one of us also running for mayor can make the same claim.
Comment by susan on 16th November 2011
Thank you for a well thought out article. I have been going back & forth as to who to vote for. Although I still do not know who to vote for, I think I can cross 1 name off of my list. I think the Mayor, has put in alot of time and effort into the community, perhaps it is time for a change.