By Mike Archer. At Henry Braun’s press conference to kick off his campaign to be Mayor of Abbotsford all of the predictable (as well as some new, softball) questions were asked.
What are the issues you think should be dealt with? Are you running against Bruce Banman? If elected what will you deal with first? …
I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out, “Henry; we keep changing mayors but nothing happens. Why should we vote for you if we aren’t going to also replace the council which got us where we are; the members of the committee structure who have inordinate influence over how taxpayer cash is spent; or those behind the committee structure who actually control and benefit from the way tax dollars are spent in Abbotsford?”
To his credit, Henry didn’t flinch. He just smiled at me and said something profound …
“There are two empty seats on council. Simon (Gibson) is gone and I’m running for mayor so my seat is vacant. I urge the citizens of Abbotsford to fill those seats with people they think deserve to be there. In my experience when the people actually have the information they require to make a decision, they will make the right decision.”I can hear Bruce Banman asking, ‘What did he mean by that?’
I can hear Patricia Ross asking, ‘People can make decisions?’
I can hear John Smith asking, ‘Who is Henry Braun again?’
Henry was right.All it takes is the right information in the hands of the citizens and they will make the correct decision.
We have repeatedly replaced the woman or the man in the mayor’s job without paying attention to the men and women sitting around the council table who have actually made such a mess of this city or those running things from behind the scenes. The people we keep re-electing to Abbotsford council keep making things worse.It is time for a clean sweep.
Those who have either deliberately, or by foolish incompetence, built the city we live in should be ashamed of what they’ve done. Our own city doesn’t obey the law or enforce it fairly or competently.
We are the laughing stock of Canada for our willingness to pay Calgary millionaires to leave us alone and stop taking advantage of us. We bail out rich golf courses and attack homeless people with cops and lawyers. We empty our public bank accounts and spend all of our infrastructure reserves on making up for past mistakes rather than building infrastructure to allow real economic growth …We continually appear at top of the list for the highest unemployment in Western Canada; our housing starts, building permits and development community are treading water, and those businesses which believe what they are told find their expectations of making money dashed.
We have among the highest rates in the country for Hep C and HIV, the largest homeless population in the Fraser Valley (and it’s growing) and a track record of abusing the mentally ill and the victims of alcohol and drugs which cannot be swept away with a few press releases and photo ops.These are the misguided and diastrous results of the misuse of our resources by the incumbent councillors. They have either actively squandered our money on vanity projects; quietly acquiesced to years of civil rights abuses by our police and public servants; participated in breaking the law by supporting our ultra vires ‘Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw;’ actively participated in the forceful attempt at cleansing the downtown core of the poor and the homeless, and repeatedly voted to hide their massive over-spending by borrowing money from our DDC funds.
From Plan A to George Peary’s Deal with the Calgary Flames; from the Frank Pizzuto’s and Jay Teichroeb’s proposal to spend $300,000,000 on a new water supply in a rainforest, to Mark Taylor’s proposal to give millions to the YMCA in order to help them plop down a membership-driven not-for-profit which would have competed with existing business in Abbotsford; to the manner in which the airport authority appears to benefit members with either close ties to those who manage it or actually sit on the board, the power structure of this community, and the puppets who do their bidding, have an awful lot of explaining to do about the current state of this city and must be held accountable for what has been done over more than a decade of mismanagement, incompetence and frivolous waste.
The hallmarks of Bruce Banman’s short three-year stint as an Abbotsford politician include the YMCA fiasco; the Chicken Manure Incident, and the thumbing of our noses at $15.3 million for a low-barrier homeless shelter. Bruce Banman joined a minority of councillors – Bill MacGregor, Les Barkman and John Smith – to refuse the money and the project based on the ill-informed prejudices of those who run the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA).
John Smith, Patricia Ross and Dave Loewen have spent over a decade making an abominable mess of the City’s finances, our legal obligations, and our national and international reputation. They have squandered our financial reserves and killed economic development in this city. Smith’s pronouncements on pastors who feed the poor and the role of cops in solving homelessness set the tone for a decade of civil rights abuse and the large number of law suits and human rights complaints the City faces.
If ever there was a case for the citizens of Abbotsford taking responsibility for what goes on in the city by getting out and voting for people who can help us begin the long journey towards a properly functioning, ethical city which obeys the law, abides by its own bylaws and treats its citizens with basic human dignity, this election is the one.
If all we do in the 2014 municipal election is try out another new mayor without ridding ourselves of those who have made such a mess of our community, we will deserve to continue down the disastrous road on which we have embarked thanks to their incompetence.
Henry is right, when the people actually have the information they require to make a decision, they will make the right decision. Let’s just make sure we remember to do it. We no longer have the excuse of not knowing what has been being done in our name.