Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS -

ern­ment Of­fices, as well, do not ad­dress top­ics such as the con­duct of Mu­nic­i­pal Government of­fi­cials? In­ter­est­ingly, CAO Plach­ner did not pro­vide me with the doc­u­men­ta­tion sub­stan­ti­at­ing her claim so go­ing for­ward I would be com­pletely in­formed so as to share this reg­u­la­tion with oth­ers.

The en­tire theme of the Deputy Mayor’s post was to ma­lign and marginal­ize [at times re­sort­ing to name call­ing] those who he refers to in his post who have sought to ap­proach Mor­rin Vil­lage Coun­cil and ad­min­is­tra­tion with what they con­sider le­git­i­mate con­cerns and re­quests and in many cases right­ful ac­cess to doc­u­ments.

He in­di­cates that this [theme] ap­proach is en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate in “do­ing what is best for the Vil­lage”.

His method in deal­ing with the con­cerns pre­sented by th­ese per­sons he high­lights in his post is to con­sider their con­cerns, make a de­ter­mi­na­tion and rule the mat­ter closed or re­solved (term usu­ally doc­u­mented in meet­ing min­utes). More ‘the rule than the ex­cep­tion’ is there any tol­er­a­tion of fur­ther dis­cus­sion.

Deputy Macleod cham­pi­ons the ef­forts of the Vil­lage coun­cil, ad­min­is­tra­tion and their ‘re­porter’ [they all should be pre­pared to take in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions and de­ci­sions] while ig­nor­ing and den­i­grat­ing the ef­forts of those in­di­vid­u­als who want their demo­cratic rights up­held.

He is very clear in his opin­ions as to the mo­tives of the per­sons he ma­ligns.

How­ever, th­ese are in­deed only opin­ions as at no time does he of­fer any doc­u­men­ta­tion that would in­di­cate any fact.

In con­clu­sion, I con­cede that the Vil­lage fi­nances are be­ing taken care of very well and I am most ap­pre­cia­tive of that. How­ever, this is only a part of the re­spon­si­bil­ity th­ese local of­fi­cials have in serv­ing the Vil­lage. Some food for thought. Democ­racy, in its worst case, could be two wolves and a lamb vot­ing on what’s for din- ner. Lib­erty, in its best case, is an armed, well-trained lamb con­test­ing the vote. ANONY­MOUS

To learn who rules over you, sim­ply find out who you are not al­lowed to crit­i­cize. VOLTAIRE Re­spect­fully, Howard Hel­ton Dear Ed­i­tor ***

Who can we trust with pub­lic money?

Re­cently, a woman on Face­book asked: “Who can we trust with pub­lic money?”

She’d just learned that Brian Jean is re­spon­si­ble for a $322,000 deficit in the Wil­drose cau­cus bud­get. She’d also learned that prior to the dis­clo­sure, Wil­drose MLAs had sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion about that bud­get, only to be re­buffed or stonewalled.

Many peo­ple don’t seem to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween the Wil­drose party bud­get and the Wil­drose cau­cus bud­get. The party bud­get con­sists of vol­un­tary mem­ber­ships and do­na­tions, and is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the party pres­i­dent. The cau­cus bud­get is funded by tax­pay­ers, and is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the leg­isla­tive cau­cus leader—in this case, Brian Jean.

Not a dime of cau­cus money is sup­posed to be spent on par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. If a cau­cus leader did hire work­ers for party busi­ness or to cam­paign for some­one’s lead­er­ship bid, it’d be an in­frac­tion of the rules.

Yet bump­ing against the rules is ex­actly what many have ac­cused Jean of do­ing. Lead­ing up to the unity vote, Jean in­creased cau­cus staffing lev­els and spending by 30%.

Former Wil­drose MLA Scott Cyr was so con­cerned about Jean’s man­age­ment of cau­cus funds that he ear­lier sent a for­mal in­quiry ask­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion. The Ed- mon­ton Sun re­ports that even then, Cyr was never al­lowed open ac­cess to cau­cus bud­get doc­u­ments.

Rick Strankman, MLA for Drumheller-Stet­tler, made re­peated re­quests for a writ­ten flow­chart ex­plain­ing ex­actly who all the new peo­ple were, what they did, and to whom they re­ported. Par­tial in­for­ma­tion was pre­sented, yet Strankman never re­ceived a com­pre­hen­sive ex­pla­na­tion— nei­ther was the re­quested writ­ten flow­chart pro­vided.

Jean and his de­fend­ers in­sist that if Jean had been al­lowed to man­age the bud­get over a full one-year pe­riod, it would have ended in bal­ance. Yet there is no next year or six months from now for the Wil­drose cau­cus. It’s done. Jean de­lib­er­ately boosted spending, car­ried a huge deficit to the fin­ish line, and dropped it there.

Now that the two par­ties have merged, and MLAs Filde­brandt and Starke are in­de­pen­dents, the United Con­ser­va­tive Party (UCP) cau­cus bud­get for the rest of the year is about $1.9 mil­lion. Jean’s deficit must be taken from that, or got­ten from con­stituency bud­gets held by in­di­vid­ual MLAs.

Four can­di­dates are seek­ing lead­er­ship of the UCP: Brian Jean; Jeff Call­away, a former Wil­drose pres­i­dent; Doug Schweitzer, past CEO of Man­i­toba’s PC Party and cam­paign man­ager for short-term Pre­mier Jim Pren­tice; and Ja­son Ken­ney, a former leader of the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion who held four fed­eral cab­i­net po­si­tions. In Ot­tawa, Ken­ney man­aged huge port­fo­lios, com­ing in un­der bud­get ev­ery sin­gle year, even post­ing sur­pluses up to 25%.

So which of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als do you think we should—or should not—trust with pub­lic money? John Satink board­mem­ber/direc­tor of Grass­roots Al­berta, a pro­vin­cial non-profit so­ci­ety. (www.Grass­root­sAl­berta.ca)

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