By Mike Archer. This is Part 3 in a series on the way news is reported in Abbotsford and its effect on the historical record. What will future citizens or students of the history of Abbotsford make of current Abbotsford news and the impact current events have on the future? In the past, newspapers were the first source of information for researchers trying to figure how or why seminal events had occurred.
A case can be made that the last ten years represent the worst decade in our city’s history. It will be difficult to understand based on what the local, out-of-town, corporate newspapers have had to say about it and what they have not told their readers.
For those who have access to some of those in the power structure there is now no doubt that everybody who is anybody in Abbotsford knows a few things for sure about the city. Though they know these things to be true, most have yet to break their public silence and speak these truths to the people who have trusted them with their money – their friends and neighbours – the taxpayers and citizens of Abbotsford.
What We Know To Be True
1) Plan A was an abject failure and John Smith and Bruce Beck were horribly wrong
2) George Peary’s Deal to have his friends and neighbours financially support the Abbotsford Heat was a horrible mistake
3) The internal borrowing which has emptied our DCC fund and hidden the true nature and extent of the financial problems at City Hall was a mistake designed to help people who hadn’t a clue what they were doing get re-elected
4) Abbotsford’s water, sewer and road infrastructure has been ignored by politicians intent on using their friends’ and neighbours’ money to build vanity projects
5) The purely fictitious graphs extrapolating figures from 1995 to 2005 across a 20-year spectrum showing endless growth which passed for planning in Abbotsford must be thrown out and replaced with plans based on facts and reality, i.e. professional, accountable planning professionals must be hired if we are to avoid the miserable performance of the last decade.
6) Because of the above pattern of incompetence, Abbotsford’s economic outlook is poor over the short and medium term and someone in a position to know ought to speak the truth to the people of Abbotsford about the shape their City is in. Councillor Henry Braun has been doing that but he is a lone voice on Council and he has faced and is facing an enormous amount of opposition and pressure from fellow councillors and, until recently, senior staff.
Hard To Hide From RealityAny incumbents brave enough to run in the next municipal election despite their records of either incompetence or willful blindness, will have a hard time avoiding these truths, even if the majority of citizens may or may not have been told about them by their newspapers.
Almost all of the bureaucrats responsible for the mess the City is now in have either left their jobs without explanation or were included in George Murray’s Putsch. Whether because of the almost universally negative Economic Indicators which don’t lie or the ongoing Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident or some other transgression is no longer of any concern.Bureaucratic Responsibility
As John H. Redekop said so succinctly in July, “We Have A Right To Know”
Even though the newspapers have hardly spoken about most of the issues listed above, people do have ways of finding out what is really going on in their city and they have proven they will make up their own minds no matter waht they are told to think by corporate media.
Depending on the amount of play these issues are given during the election, if the corporate media raises them at all, the gap between what the voters know and what the newspapers tell them has grown wider and wider over the last two administrations.
Despite all of the news stories about its success, people have learned that John Smith’s Plan A has been a failure. Despite weeks of pro-water lobby news and opinions in the corporate media the voters of Abbotsford rejected former mayor George Peary’s plan to spend $300,000,000 on a new water source we didn’t need.
Political ResponsibilityDespite dismissing those who have been pointing out the truth about George Peary’ Deal to finance the Calgary Flames; John Smith’s plan to take on as much as $500,000,000 worth of long term debt and other financial commitments for a money-losing and mostly empty hockey rink; and all of the other blunders of the last decade as naysayers and people who ought not be taken seriously, people have seen past what they have been being told and decided otherwise.
George Murray’s Putsch of the summer of 2013 will probably go down as the biggest political surprise in the newspaper version of the historical record for it will come at future students and historians as if out of the blue since none of the facts which lead up to it will have been reported by those newspapers.
From Plan A to the decision to invest their friends’ and neighbours’ money building two federal overpasses over a federal highway in order to benefit Chamber members and the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) Abbotsford’s political business leaders have an enormous amount of responsibility for the state of the City’s finances and the fact that all economic indicators are sinking.
There is plenty of blame to spread around among those who should have known better and those who should have taken responsibility for telling their freinds and neighbours what was actually going on.
If the newspaper coverage of Abbotsford politics over the last ten years will leave a confusing mark on the historical record, it is also worth asking – would the mismanagement, bad decisions and incompetence have been tolerated for so long had the newspapers told the citizens about it?