Hodge: Columnist happy to be free of media’s council coverage
I must admit it is with mixed emotions I now find myself attempting to (once again) listen to the local news—or glimpse at a newspaper.
For the better part of the last three years, I have sadly learned to avoid paying a whole lot of attention to what most of the media said. It was largely brutal, biased or lazily ill-informed coverage. Ironically, the best ‘news’ coverage regarding city council the past few years has come from the pen of Wayne Moore, at Castanet.
For a few councillors, it got to the point where we did not bother to listen or read what was reported because it was either incredibly frustrating or just plain depressing.
Now that I am out of the public council spotlight (and relative harm’s way), I’m curious on the spin that will be painted on the new members at the council table.
Rest assured, over the next while I will certainly have my say on council issues—and not all of it nice. My hope is to be a lot more accurate and thorough in my comments compared to what I endured.
I’ll likely reflect on a number of council issues that caught your attention the past few years including the recent election, FourChange, the CD 21, Bernard Streetscape, the evil and dreaded city logo, Cedar Avenue park and other misadventures.
As well, I’ll likely turn the pen’s angle on some of the interesting and unique characters I met inside and outside of city hall and at the Central Okanagan Regional District, on the various committees, or just plain folks around town.
However, for the next few weeks my energy will focus on the positive, healing stuff of Christmas and leave the council thrashings until the new year. That said, let me leave you with this pearl of pensive thought.
A few weeks prior to the election, now former council members previewed the upcoming budget and directed staff to come back in the next stage with their budgets aimed at targeting a zero per cent tax increase.
What cuts or changes would be needed on priority one or priority two funding requests? What cuts would be needed to services or possibly staff to not increase taxes one iota? I also desired a zero per cent budget but did not feel it was possible without huge cuts to services—cuts so deep I was not prepared to go there.
I informed other councillors that I was prepared to aim towards a 1.5 per cent increase, which still would likely mean some cuts to services.
As was common during my term in office, I was not in the majority with my fellow councillors, who remained adamant about no increase. If memory serves me right, at least two of the three re-elected councillors favoured a zero per cent budget and said so during the campaign. However, following his inauguration ceremony, Mayor Walter Gray told media members: “Some people have suggested it should be a zero per cent increase. I can’t for the life of me believe that’s possible, nor did the citizens demand that.”
Hmmm…sounds like rumbles of trouble. Or is that indecision? Does the wheel already have a wobble? Oh, and by the way Mr. Mayor, if you do not think a large number of taxpayers are demanding a zero per cent budget increase next year, then you’d better clean out your ears. Ah yes, it is going to be an interesting three years. Strap yourself in folks.
Sincere congratulation to Jimmy LeGuilloux, the staff at Whisky Jacks pub in West Kelowna, and all the many bands that took part in last weekend’s Rock for Kids. Jimmy and the bands raised an outstanding $24,000 plus.
Awesome boys and girls. Way to go!
If it’s December then it’s almost time for my annual Charlie’s Angels Angel List. Every year, I take total pleasure in acknowledging those people in my life, and the lives of others, who have taken time to help others, to lend a hand, share a moment or many, and make a real difference.
I have been scribing those names in lists for more than 20 years now, and it has become tagged Charlie’s Angels Christmas List. Therefore, I need your suggestions in preparing this year’s list.
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the names of your angels and why they deserve the title, and I will print them in my Dec. 23 column.