STOP THE PRESSES!

We had to laugh when we saw the Record and NewsLeader’s sensationalized “news flash” stories about Bob Osterman and Betty McIntosh “leaving” Voice. News travels fast in this town, eh? Will they be reporting on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart or the landing of the first man on the moon next?

Bob Osterman hasn’t really been part of Voice since the election campaign two years ago. We don’t have any particular problem with Bob or the representation he has provided for the community, but Bob was really only onboard with Voice during the election — and only nominally so — as he really never fully bought into the concept of a team working together for a common purpose.

But for the record (no pun intended), Bob Osterman has never been central to Voice and we presume vice versa. Despite the slow news day “news flash” stories, things are pretty much as they always have been and no one ever expected that Bob would run with Voice again.

We can certainly appreciate the kind of strain that Bob and Betty have been under on council during the past two years. In the Record, Betty very eloquently alluded to the kind of bullying they’ve been subjected to at the hands of their council mates from the-slate-that-claims-they-aren’t-a-slate. We feel for Bob and Betty on this point and have always indicated our readiness to back them up on issues. They took a bold step in joining forces with Voice and stepping away, albeit tentatively, from the past and into the future.

Unfortunately, Bob and Betty didn’t have the same strongly developed connection to the Voice team the way the three Voice school trustees did and consequently Bob and Betty didn’t have the strength to stand up to the bullying. And based on what we’ve seen and heard over the past year or so, Bob seems to have been particularly shaken by the experience of stepping out from his old comfort zone.

Fortunately for the community, Lisa Graham, Jim Goring and Casey Cook have had a much more successful, more team-spirited relationship on the school board with solid support from the community and Voice members. As a result of that mutually supportive spirit they’ve demonstrated the kind of positive results that can be achieved when the community’s interests are put before special interests.

The strong community voice the Voice trustees have brought to the school board table is what got things on track with the middle school and high school projects after decades of watching these projects languish in a cloud of stale thinking and the patronizing “we-know-best” attitude of trustees from the-slate-that-claims-they-aren’t-a-slate slate.

So, contrary to amusingly sensationalized non-news stories on the subject in the NewsLeader and Record, Voice is very much alive; And slowly but surely the nepotism, cronyism and special interest agendas that have taken precedence over community interests in New Westminster for decades are being replaced by accountability, transparency and fresh thinking, and Voice is at the forefront of bringing about these positive changes.

We wish Bob and Betty all the best in the final year of their electoral term and we will continue to be ready to back them up on issues of importance to the community. But we’re also keeping our eyes open for fresh new talent that can help move our community into the future while building on the best of the past. And we’ll also be watching for any breaking news on the Amelia Earhart and moon landing stories!