Waters: Don’t shoot the messenger

Disgruntled Rutland Park Society members deflect rather than admit their recent meeting was badly run

Alistair Waters

I’ve been in this business long enough to see the tactic used many times.

If you don’t like how your behaviour looks in print or on the screen, attack the reporter. It’s commonly known as “shoot the messenger.”

Disgruntled Rutland Park Society members decided to use the tactic last week after I reported how badly run their meeting was.

At the gathering, they named six men whom they claim to have now replaced some of RPS directors who quit the board two weeks earlier. But embattled out-going RPS president Todd Sanderson says he does not recognize the six, so the he-said-she-said feud between him and former RPS treasurer and current board member Wendi Swarbrick continues.

Swarbrick chaired last week’s meeting and complained the coverage was “negative” because, according to her, Sanderson and I are friends. Not true. RPS member and former local transit union president Les Milton called for my replacement with a “cub” reporter because I did not recognize those present were not “politicians and parliamentarians.”

That was more than evident. And, in his usual flurry of emails following any story about the RPS, self-appointed Swarbrick defender and RPS mouth-piece David Buckna complained I should not have been so hard on Swarbrick because she’s new at chairing meetings.

Fair enough. But don’t announce you are conducting a meeting under rules of order that you later admit you are not familiar with. Kinda hard to enforce them in that case.

To her credit, Swarbrick conceded the meeting got off to a “rocky start.” But it wasn’t just the start. The entire meeting was chaotic. People talked over one another, they made motions when other motions were already on the floor, for the most part their actions were not challenged by the chair, people nominated others in the audience to be directors without knowing if the person they pointed to even wanted the job or was eligible to be a director.

But, I guess, I wasn’t supposed to tell you that—at least not according to Swarbrick, Milton, Buckna and anyone else who thought last week’s meeting was an orderly affair.

Since then, Sanderson and Swarbrick have held the face-to-face meeting Swarbrick said just a few weeks ago would never happen, the one where she responded to Sanderson’s accusations of conflict of interest. He’s accused her and she denies having any conflict. And, in a shocking surprise, both have now apparently agreed not to talk publicly.

Maybe saner heads are finally prevailing in the shambles that is the current state of Rutland Park Society.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.