May 2, 2014
Editorial comment to Rocky View weekly
Councillors should recuse themselves – NO Councillor bias at Watermark hearings.
Since the election I have had the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for the work our Councillors do. It’s a tough job. It’s a thankless job. I have observed they do it with the best of intent for every person in Rocky View even if they don’t always agree. I’ve been impressed by the character, diligence and sincere commitment to public service. That is why it was recently so offensive to see the character of these individuals repeatedly attacked without any credible foundation or evidence of any kind.
The Rocky View Weekly’s April 29th editorial position, Councillor Jerry Arshinoff and former Councillor Kim Magnuson aided by Gloria Wilkinson all of Springbank, have done a disservice to the Council and the County by implying bias and “bribing” of respected long-serving Councillors of our County. The Rocky View Weekly should know better and Councillor Arshinoff should be ashamed and apologize.
Councillor Arshinoff’s position is that those who had received a campaign donation from Watermark Developments ($2000) should be not be allowed to vote on Watermark amendments that included Watermark helping to provide much-needed water servicing to Bearspaw acreages. He named specific Councillors were operating under bias. His clear implication was that Councillors like Earl Solberg, in his 13th year of service to Rocky View, Councillor Rolly Ashdown, former Reeve, and other respected members of Council, had been bought through this contribution to their campaign. Clearly these members of Council, and others, were rightly offended.
Reeve Bahcheli handled the issue expertly and did the right thing. As per the legally required protocol, she pointedly asked each Councillor, named by Arshinoff, if they had any “bias”. She got each Councillor on public record denying any bias. That should have ended it.
That was not enough for Springbank residents Magnuson and Wilkinson. When the Reeve opened the meeting for those opposed to the amendments Watermark was requesting, these two came to the mic and did not address the amendments but continued to imply a lack of integrity and bias on the part of Council members who have served us all well for many years. They had no facts. They had no specifics. Yet they continue to imply some sort of wrongdoing by members of Council who had accepted a donation well below the legal limits, public declared it, and who had gone on official record that they had no bias because of any donation. These Councillors have an excellent track record to support their integrity. What was implied was offensive and boarders on slander. It’s why good people often don’t want to take on this type of thankless public service position. Magnuson and Wilkinson should have been ruled out of order.
Does Councillor Arshinoff suggested every campaign contribution someone receives precludes them from participating in decisions that affect the County? If he is really that committed to this he should work to change the election rules. Don’t resort to unfounded character assignation on your fellow Councillors. It is destructive.
By the way it is interesting to note that regarding the amendments Watermark brought forward all Councillors, including Councillor Arshinoff, were in full support of Watermark.
Eric Lowther – Rocky View resident and Executive Director of Rocky View 2020.