By Mike Archer. A couple of the conversations I’ve had with municipal officials and politicians in the last month have an eerie resemblance to the columns and editorials I have been reading by Abbotsford News editor Andrew Holota – the City portion of the conversation anyway.
Last month it was his list of technicalities, rules and regulations which will keep the City from being able to have anything to do with allowing a private property owner and the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society provide temporary housing for some of Abbotsford’s homeless at Valley Road.
This week, as if returning from a meeting with City lawyers, Holota is lecturing the community on why the courts shouldn’t be used as a way of forcing the City to stop abusing its homeless citizens.
Holota cavalierly dismisses the idea of allowing homeless people to use public land because … well … because the City has bylaws against that and … well … what would the nice people who want to use the parks do?
Well first of all Andrew; the bylaws allowing only certain members of the public to access and use publicly owned land for certain narrowly defined purposes, while at the same time refusing to provide shelter for large numbers of the homeless men and women who do not fit in to Abbotsford’s restrictive definitions of acceptable behavior and clear rules against drug addicts or alcoholics, create a situation whereby a growing number of Abbotsford citizens are simply illegal by being alive. They have nowhere legal to go and are thus a criminal matter.
And we all now know how Bob Rich’s cops deal with homeless drug addicts.
Not that long ago (and still, in some parts of the world) public land was for all citizens to use – whether or not you had a mortgage.
Then Holota goes too far.“As well, I’m told that successful efforts by local social workers to relocate some of the homeless into proper accommodation are being countered, with street people from out of town being encouraged, if not actually assisted, to relocate here.
“We have no evidence of that, and can’t point a finger, but it’s clear to see the lawsuit would lose its punch if the problem went away before it gets to court.” – Andrew Holota, July 13, 2014
Whatever this is – it ain’t journalism by any acceptable standard.
There are two occasions I specifically remember when the Abbotsford News has used the ‘I’m told’ or ‘We’ve been told’ shields for disseminating lies.
1) In 2006 when the Abbotsford Post revealed that then-Mayor George Ferguson had told the City Manager he would be ‘given his walking papers’ if another ad ever appeared in the Abbotsford News with his signature on it without his approval. The News wrote, in an editorial, that from what they had been told it simply didn’t happen and demanded an apology from the Abbotsford Post.
Three weeks later Ferguson read an apology at a council meeting, for discussing personnel matters in public and confirmed that everything The Post had reported was true. The News never corrected the public record nor explained why they had misled their readers.
“We are led to believe this was the work of a handful of lower level authorities in city hall who thought they were taking affirmative action on a long-standing problem.”
Despite overwhelming proof (see below) lower level city staff were not to blame, The News has never recanted or explained why it blamed city employees for the biggest stain on Abbotsford’s reputation in modern times when clearly it simply wasn’t true:
- AmbrÖse Bierce: A Handful Of Lower Level Authorities … Who’s Kidding Whom?
- CBC Reveals Contents Of Chicken Manure Emails – UPDATE (2)
- Who Wasn’t Involved In The Chicken Manure Incident?
- Email Reveals Sally Ann Approved Of Chicken Manure Dump On Homeless
- Abbotsford Police Emails Reveal Demeaning Attitude Toward The Homeless
- Who Told The News City Workers Were Responsible?
Holota has now played two of the major legal and political cards in the City’s arsenal in its war on it’s homeless citizens for them without bothering to question whether or not they make any sense, are in the best interests of Abbotsford citizens or whether or not the statements are even true.
To paraphrase …
1) Existing rules and regulations don’t allow us to stop abusing these people and treating them horribly so we have to continue.
2) Most or many of them aren’t even from here anyway so it doesn’t matter.
So … rules forcing us to abuse people must stay and be defended in order protect the status quo? Some of them are from away so we should be allowed to abuse them?
Using a phrase like “I’m told” followed by “We have no evidence of that” to make a wild and dangerous accusation that is, not only unproven but moot, is the most disgusting form of elitism on the part of a newspaper I can remember reading in 25 years in the media.
Not only must Holota apologize for his blind and baseless accusations, he should resign for spreading falsehoods and giving the interests of the City administration and the power structure the benefit, of whatever value an editorial in the Abbotsford News still has, over the rights of the powerless and the destitute … a group of Abbotsford citizens which the City keeps sending its cops to go after, moving 50 yards at a time, ruining lives into the bargain, as its peculiar solution to homelessness.
A comment from Today Media Group co-owner Vince Dimanno:
Abbotsford Today has written many hard-lined and aggressively worded editorials. You may enjoy those columns and you may not. In some of those columns we clearly seek to publicly eviscerate our subject. We confess this to you, our readers, knowing full well that this is already no secret to you. However, without exception, our intent is to protect a group of people without a voice. We look to protect taxpayers, business owners, under-paid workers, under-privileged children and families, and the homeless … just to name a few. We advocate for these groups, and others, and we do so by taking aim at the people responsible for victimizing them. Mr. Holota plainly states that the solution to the homeless issue is to further victimize them. Most of these people have mental illness and cannot defend themselves.
Speaking on behalf of people who are ignored, people who are victimized, or people who can’t speak for themselves, is one of the founding reasons behind Abbotsford Today. So…today…we are standing up to protect the homeless by clearly defining for them who is victimizing them. Andrew Holota took up perhaps the most valuable space in the Abbotsford News publication to defend the rights of the City of Abbotsford to keep spreading manure on the homeless camps, to keep sending out the police to harass them and steal their possessions, and to keep apologizing for one of the most despicable treatments of our fellow human beings in this entire country.
We call on you, our readers, to send a letter to Black Press, and tell them what you think of Mr. Holota’s editorial. You can contact them here:
#309 – 5460 152nd St.,
Surrey, B.C. V3S 5J9