Yes, Virginia, slates do exist

A letter in today’s Record from New Westminster resident MaryAnn Mortensen (who, by the way, is not a Voice member) nicely counters the notion that a strong voice for accountability and transparency in civic affairs, and offering critical analysis of the issues facing our community, is not the same thing as being “negative” as some who are clearly very uncomfortable with the mere existence of Voice have simplistically tried to portray.

As Mortensen states in her letter, before moving to B.C. 13 years ago she lived in a much larger city where no one questioned the existence of municipal election slates or “dubbed them as negative because they opposed those in power.”

Despite the fact that the District Labour Council has run highly organized and well-resourced slates and slate campaigns in New Westminster for many years (all the while pretending their candidates are all “independents”), New Westminster remains a notable exception in the world of civic politics in maintaining the illusion and pretense that organized election slates don’t exist in the community.

Our thanks to MaryAnn Mortensen for weighing in on the subject and for addressing the question of slates thoughtfully and eloquently.

Congrats to 2008 Voice Candidate, Maylen Crespo, for Her Continued Community Involvement

Recently Voice spoke about how we will be striving to bring New Westminster some fresh and talented school board trustees and city councilors. Candidates who are not beholden to special interest groups but whose primary focus is putting the community’s interests first and foremost. Well, one of our 2008 Voice School Trustee candidates, Maylen Crespo, was recently honoured with an award for her contributions to community life.
Thanks to The Record for announcing Maylen’s award.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas

Sources watching the Walia trial closely say a decision is not expected before Christmas.

Three days in October were set aside to conclude the trial, with two of those days taken up by expert testimony on the nature and value of liquor licenses.

The third day was taken up by closing arguments.

In our last report we promised our readers updates as information became available.

We will continue to watch this story closely because of the serious financial implications it has for New Westminster taxpayers.


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!

Walia vs. New Westminster Final Arguments

This summer we reported on the case of local businessman, Nirmal Walia, suing the City over the 12th Street Liquor Store relocation. After three weeks in court and various witnesses, City staff and elected officials, being called the case was adjourned until October 13, 2010. Three days were reserved for lawyers to present final arguments. This means that the last of the final arguments should be happening tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted as developments take place.