OPEN LETTER: The City's 'trash talkin' swagger' in the face of AGLG report is shameful

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
May 1st, 2014

[NOTE: This is an open letter that was sent the mayor and council. We will post any replies from our elected leaders to this article–ed.]


I am writing to see if council is actually onside with the comments our mayor made in the so-called “press release” that turned up in my inbox a couple minutes ago. Did council okay this trash talkin’ swagger? 


It’s quite a passive aggressive turnaround from the much more reasonable City of Rossland response officially published in the AGLG report itself.


The last time I heard the mayor on CBC, back in January 2013, he made himself a laughing stock. If he’s planning to go on air with these opinions (apparently “news” worthy of a release) get ready for a contract with Juste Pour Rire…


But if council actually supports the mayor’s release, I would find that both fascinating and enormously disappointing.


There’s no doubt Mr Granstrom’s specious arguments will go down well among other mayors and city managers: why wouldn’t they? National leaders resent the UN, the provinces resent the feds, the mob resents the police…


It just goes to reason that municipal leaders would resent a provincial auditor. Particularly when it pulls their pants down. Or shows them to not be wearing pants in the first place.


I can hear the moaning at the UBCM now, “What’s wrong with the municipal auditors (whose contracts we control)?”


Citizens, however, will sing another tune. Apparently Rossland very, very much needed policing. Several citizens sounded the alarm for years, but Mr Granstrom led the charge against sensible reforms. 


One council meeting after another in late 2011 and through 2012 I only saw one councillor trying to do anything about these problems, calling for an “Action Plan” all along. She got occasional support from other councillors, but where we are today is evidence that the tide never turned.


She hunted through the non-existent paperwork. She sniffed out Jason Ward. She called foul on Victor Kumar. She raised difficult questions and so the ire and harangues of Mr Granstrom. 


Thank you Coun. Moore, your persistence was not in vain.


The AGLG’s report is unassailable. It’s well-written and laid out as clear as our hot spring sun. The evidence is overwhelming and obvious—and important to have been collected and disseminated. Value for money indeed.


The point of the AGLG is to take on cases that will lead to object lessons for other municipalities. For Rossland, perhaps there is some honour in not only being one of the few towns selected for scrutiny, but to be selected as the biggest scoundrel of the bunch! It’s like winning a gold medal! (Or pyrite anyway.)


Now, perhaps largely due to Mr Granstrom’s sweep-it-under-the-rug “leadership”, Rossland will go down in BC as a textbook case in municipal incompetence that verges on corruption.


Any attempt to colour this as Rossland suffering the AGLG’s growing pains, (new on the beat and all,) well that’s silly and transparent. Go ahead, we could all use a big belly laugh, but that’s all you’ll get for your spin.


Mr Granstrom argues that the audit was a “huge drain on resources.” Seems to me that what was wasting time (and money) is the discombobulated filing cabinets at City Hall. Many files couldn’t be found or were incomplete. When you look for something that doesn’t exist, it tends to take a long time to find.


Or forge? Where did those 19 unsigned change orders—the ones that apparently justified the cost overruns—suddenly appear from anyway? That was worth a good giggle. “Oh wait, here they are…seems we forgot to get them signed, but hey…”


What about the huge drain on resources in the hundreds of thousands of dollars the audit points to as poorly spent? What about the huge drain on resources of an excessively paid and absentee CAO? What about the drain on resources in the same substandard systems continuing today?


The AGLG tells it like it is: there are urgent and serious problems.


Perhaps, Mr Granstrom, you feel the AGLG’s “few” recommendations are of no great import. Boiled down to ten meaty mandates, each one looks like weighty stuff to me, tackling the problems: Reams of paperwork missing. Bypassed procedures. Money for nothing. Unacceptable risks. Strong potential for cronyism. A distinct lack of oversight by council.


I can just hear it now: “Oh, we were on our way to reforms anyway, with or without the AGLG breathing down our necks.” 


Yeah right. That’s exactly why the AGLG not only investigated the arena project and the downtown renovations, but also delved into five more recent projects. And whaddya know, “There it isn’t,” incomplete documentation again. The problem persists!


I urge council to pull the mayor off his prickly attack-the-AGLG pedestal. Just roll with the punches and move on.


The AGLG’s report is factual, highly informative, and the epitome of professionalism. This isn’t some Liberal scheme to target an NDP riding. This isn’t some elaborate off-the-starting-block justification of the AGLG’s existence. This is exactly, absolutely exactly what was asked of the AGLG, and exactly what was needed for Rossland—and likely the province’s municipalities as a whole, since I’m sure we’re not alone in these terms.


Mr Granstrom’s comments reflect poorly on Rossland. You can’t call yourself a leader and then abdicate responsibility or shift blame when your mistakes are made public. Take control and show some humility by saying, “I’m sorry, I made mistakes, others in the city made mistakes, and we’re working to correct them.” And leave it at that! 


It takes real strength to own up to mistakes made, and to do so again and again as required. That’s the kind of strength that garners broad respect, not the outward show of “strength” that blusters around waggling self-righteous fingers.


So own your errors, Council and Mayor Granstrom. Don’t lash back at the AGLG like a scolded child with injured self esteem. Buck up, and get down to that Action Plan you would have prepared anyway even if the AGLG weren’t hovering behind you. LOL.




Andrew Bennett



**The editorial note at the top of this article was added after original publication for the sake of clarity

This post was syndicated from https://rosslandtelegraph.com
Categories: GeneralOp/Ed