The Epistle of Q — Chapter 165

oh no… what to do

I need some advice or help – at least some useful insight. What does one do when their city council appears to be dementious (I am reluctant to use the word demented since I haven’t cleared it with my lawyers)?

Here’s the challenge: less than two months ago the Council unanimously agreed to institute a new policy on how to deal with contracts, particularly those resulting from RFP’s (request for proposals). It was a relatively straightforward policy, presumably to reduce the opportunity for politicians to meddle in, or micro-manage, the administration of city business. Most of us I think would agree that this is the proper way for governments to function: set a firm policy and then expect the staff to carry that policy out. In the case of Penticton, this has long been needed – watching poll results or pursuing personal vendettas never has led to a firm, consistent and effective municipal leadership process and has often impacted business investment and thus helpful growth in the economic underpinnings of the city.

So it definitely was a positive step from my perspective.

It’s now April, less than two months after the bold decision was made. City staff made a decision on the summer lease of The Peach. It is a concession stand down by the Okanagan Lake beach (for those not totally familiar with the city’s various attractions) – and it is in the shape of an enormous peach. It has been run for a number of years by a businessperson who also runs an amusement park along with an ice-cream shack at the other end of the beach (down closer to a host of motels, another city park, plus the SS Sicamous – a retired early last century paddle-wheeler) as well as a partner in the famed river raft/floatie business.

After receiving only three qualifying bids, the staff offered the contract to another firm based on the evaluation rubric that had been established for this RFP. Before the official announcement was made, someone leaked the decision to the former operator who immediately went on social media with some erroneous assertions. One member of City Council, who also is the editor of the local daily newspaper (don’t get me started on that ethical conflict of interest), immediately went to the Peach and made a recording that he posted on social media decrying the decision.

The successful bidder then had to make an announcement that stated none of the accusations were correct and that the Peach would be run, while with some variations, basically as it has been, with local students getting the jobs, etc. End of story? No!!

Aforementioned member of Council then announced that he would be bringing a notice of motion to Council to review this entire decision. When it was pointed out to him that this was the result of a policy he had recently voted in favour of, he professed ignorance and suggested that more education was needed. Then another member of Council chimed in and said she was stunned by the decision. She too thought more education was needed. When a third member of council chastised them for their inconsistencies they seemed to indicate he was the problem not them. In any event there is going to be a discussion of this at a public forum early next month.

My problem: I can’t be there as I will be on a trip elsewhere, so how do I ask the question – what is the memory issues of those councillors who can’t remember for two months a major policy they put in place? Should I ask the male member of Council if he is looking for an issue to run for mayor? Should I finally confront the female member who is supposed to be the Arts Rep yet only shows up when there is a reception or a meal, never for important meetings or workshops? Should I offer the other paper (a weekly) to provide an op-ed on this? Should I simply accept that Penticton will always be a small village and that’s the way politics works here?

Any advice would be welcome.

as always,