Council can’t function properly

Letter writers weigh in on Coun. Corisa Bell and Maple Ridge council.

Editor, The News:

Re: A chill on Maple Ridge council (The News, June 26).

I guess Coun. Corisa Bell really struck a nerve this time. From what I’ve read, here’s a basic timeline of the recent events at municipal hall:

• Coun. Bell files a complaint with the human resources department, after a June 10 incident involving CAO Jim Rule;

• in a letter to Mayor Ernie Daykin, she asks that Mr. Rule be suspended while the complaint is investigated;

• in a committee meeting June 17, someone upset someone else and a decision was made, by someone, to sequester the video from that meeting for legal review, to determine whether or not defamatory comments were made.

Confused yet? I sure am.

As a result, the video has never been posted for public scrutiny.

To date, there doesn’t appear to be any progress made regarding Coun. Bell’s original human resources complaint or with the alleged defamation concern, which occurred shortly after.

It’s not a big secret that Coun. Bell likes to have all the information before she makes important decisions. It’s also not a secret that she’s not afraid to ask specific questions about controversial topics.

The timing and circumstances of this alleged defamation is highly suspect, given her concerns for prudent fiscal management and the most recent events mentioned above.

What are the details surrounding Coun. Bell’s original complaint?

Has Mayor Daykin done anything to address or alleviate her concerns?

Who made defamatory comments? Who was defamed? Is there a formal complaint regarding defamation?  If not, who made the decision to withhold the video from the public and why?

All these questions need to be answered before council can function properly again.

Sean Orcutt

Maple Ridge


Hear the roar

Editor, The News:

Re: Libel over comments on video ‘unlikely’ (The News, July 3).

During the last municipal election campaign, a newcomer to the always lengthy list of Maple Ridge candidates for council caught the interest of voters.

Corisa Bell didn’t have the advantage of incumbency, years on the school board, or membership in a political party or a large-ballot-box-supportive organization like a local church, nor did her last name place her in the preferential top or bottom position on the ballot.

What Coun. Bell did have was a track record of fighting for accountability and fair process around the HST, and a well-articulated vision of the role of a city councillor.

Her large purple campaign signs along Abernethy didn’t just work for name recognition, she tapped into the core of voter apathy and scorn for politicians.

“Tired of politicians who say one thing and do another?” “Want to know how much our city actually spends on things? Vote for me and find out.”

Coun. Bell outlined exactly how she’d behave if elected. She set a high bar and against the odds – there were 27 other names on the ballot – voters rewarded her with a seat and three years to prove herself.

Once elected, Coun. Bell could easily have followed the well-worn path of least resistance, and gone along to get along, formed strategic alliances, and played backroom politics.

The establishment may argue this is how things get done.

Maybe, but that muted background roar is a public fed-up with traditional politicking and unsure how to affect change.

Demands for new voting systems and other reforms are, at their heart, a cry for a more issue-focused (rather than person and personality focused), transparent, fair and equitable vision from our elected representatives.

Coun. Bell asks questions as they come up, including the difficult ones. She raises constituent issues. She acts on behalf of the public in public, and this transparency sets her apart. It has also isolated her at the council table.

While many of us dream of quantum leap improvements to the political systems representing us, we realize that small, individual efforts to modernize our democracy add up. There is also a personal toll on politicians who challenge the status quo, and it appears that toll is being exacted on Coun. Bell.

Municipal councils and boards of education are the birthing and training grounds for a large number of provincial and federal politicians. It’s our responsibility as citizens to ensure this training produces the kind of politician we long for.

Citizens have a duty to support the kind of representation they want and not just at the ballot box.

Katherine Wagner

Maple Ridge


Listen and learn

Editor, The News:

Re: Libel over comments on video ‘unlikely’ (The News, July 3).

The best advice that Coun. Corisa Bell received was to look, listen and learn.

As a new councillor, you are required to vote on issues you don’t know much about. You are allowed to vote against something and have your negative vote recorded with your name and why. In this case, not enough information.

This will save you regretting you didn’t ask the right questions at the right time.

When you get an agenda, new councillor or seasoned councillor, and have questions, go to the staff member with the information. Waiting till a public meeting is too late as you are asking after the fact.

Inform yourself and let staff know you are going to ask a particular question so they can be prepared. From experience, staff do not like to be blindsided at public meetings. Nor should they be. It is a matter of respect for staff and, in return, you will be respected by staff.

Coun. Bell has a hard row to hoe in a council that is so overloaded with people in favour of development and are mostly Liberal and  Conservatives (in this community, the same thing) and generally kick left-leaning councillors to the curb, no matter what they are talking about.

She didn’t stand a chance from the outset.

Don’t get discouraged, Corisa.

Annette Code

Pitt Meadows


Editor’s note, both Ms. Wagner and Ms. Code are former school trustees.