Tall Tales From The Bully Pulpit Continue

By Wendy Bales. In regard to your column Stop The Witch Hunt Sharon

I meant to reply to this story sooner but this issue is so convoluted and full of side stories that it will take a mini-series to tell. I have also been waiting for some FOI’s – among other things.

Your common sense summation is closer to the truth in that director Adamson and I have the two biggest areas to cover. But added to that, is that in our first term we both volunteered to be on more committees then other electoral directors. Although we were not paid for time working on extra committees and they take up time that I would otherwise be using to make a normal working wage at my other job, we are allowed to claim expenses for gas and food. That budget comes out of either the FVRD budget of the whole or the electoral budget of the whole depending on the committee as we are representing – more than just our areas.

As I like to actually know from the people directly what they think as well as experts before voting on issues, I actually went to some forums and public meetings, many of which are over 100 km of travel to and from – some of which I funded myself as well. As you pointed out you can’t compare city councilors to electoral directors or even the huge difference in work and in miles traveled in different electoral areas from year to year. For instance in 2010, three directors expenses were higher than mine. Some years are busier than others … For me and more so for Director Adamson who has two areas far apart and several communities in between to serve.

Some of the numbers quoted in Alina’s Chilliwack Progress story are not worth the paper they are written on when taken out of context. I have asked several times that the FVRD make the $6090 KPMG report public. I have been denied both in public meetings and in writing. I have also asked in an FOI for the total cost of public funded legal fees to date that the FVRD paid for on this issue, but have been denied access to those totals.

Inquiring people may want to ask: Why did the FVRD, using public funds, need legal advice on this matter, and, if they followed that legal advice, what was it? Director Adamson and I have also consulted lawyers about defamation and harassment. We did that with our own funds. We have also asked for an independent inquiry into this issue.

Why was the FVRD allowed to cherry pick unexplained numbers out of the KPMG report, but then will not allow us the right to debate the report in public? Were the numbers based on the same policies that were applied to all electoral directors? The public should further ask; why, after all the staff time and money spent on this very public issue, do they just want to move on? Why are we being asked to do the right thing?

Below, from March’s Electoral Area Services Committee, is a direct quote from the CD recording. Why was this not reflected in the written minutes? Just around minute 13 of the March 2013 Electoral Services Committee recording, Lisa Pleadwell, head of finance said: “I’d just like to just update you on our current audit. Director Bales and I have met and we have gone through the 2011 and 2012 information as presented and shored up all the information that we required to answer the who, what, where, when and how much, so that’s been done.”

After my passing the staff audit, based on the same criteria as the other elected directors, people may want to ask why the FVRD further sent only limited information to KPMG for a second audit, instead of to the Municipal Auditor which was the first motion stated in the January 2013 Board? I waited for months for KPMG to phone and ask me for clarification on dates or to bring in receipts that only I retained, other than receipts that the FVRD had for all of us.

This is only the tip of this story. Director Adamson and I are both working on a detailed chronology of events with documentation to date. I hope that you at least will print our side. I long ago offered to share with Alina details and documentation before she went to print, but she didn’t take me up on the offer. She was at the September 2013 open Board meeting when I asked that the KPMG report be made public for debate. Why didn’t she report on that? Why, after months of calling the KPMG report an audit, did our CAO P. Gipps say: “The report generated by KPMG is not an audit, or even a engagement and review it is a report only for use by the FVRD”

So how is it that they can pull unexplained numbers from the report but we are not allowed to make the report public for debate?

I would suggest that if the Board wants to save money, they may want to get some mirrors and especially take them into closed door meetings.

Wendy Bales is the FVRD Director for Area C

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