August 25, 2014
Councillor Mr. J. Arshinoff
Rocky View County
32nd Ave NE
Calgary, AB, T2E 6X6
Re: Clarification for your August 18th editorial comments in the Rocky View Weekly
Dear Councillor Arshinoff,
Thank you for being willing to serve in Public Office as a Councillor for Rocky View County. I have noted your personal commitment at Council Meetings. Rocky View 2020 is also committed to serve and as such I attend the Council Meetings and work to understand the dynamics on Council.
I read your August 18th, 2014 letter to the Editor in response to my previous (August 11th) letter in the Rocky View Weekly. I am concerned you misinterpreted my comments and I am compelled to directly communicate to clarify and provide you with a more accurate understanding of our position.
You stated that “Eric Lowther’s attack on Councillor Al Sacuta is not surprising – those who tell the truth are a definite threat to Lowther and his organization”. Councillor Arshinoff, as I stated in my published letter I was simply “disappointed” that Councillor Sacuta (my Councillor) did not present a balanced view, in his advertisement, of what took place at the Council meeting. My appeal was a reminder that elected officials are responsible to serve “all taxpayers” by presenting the whole story and working collaboratively with their peers as much as possible. I trust we can agree that presenting the “truth” is good and presenting a biased partial truth is destructive.
Elected officials are responsible to serve “all taxpayers” by presenting the whole story and working collaboratively with their peers as much as possible.
You stated in your letter that I claimed “to speak for all Rocky View”. You must have misheard me. I never said this. I clearly stated several times that I was representing members of Rocky View 2020. I also stated our members are made up of taxpayers and residents in various parts of the County. I never said we represent “all of Rocky View” as you claim. My statements and the questions posed to me can be heard in the recordings of the Council meeting which I have provided here for your convenience. (1 Recording). (Click to listen now if you are viewing this on-line.)
In the July 15th Council Meeting, you asked how many of our executive (Directors) live in Rocky View. As I made clear in the Council meeting, (2 Recording) the current directors of Rocky View 2020 represent taxpaying landholders in the County. Although these four Directors don’t currently live in the County, the majority of Rocky View 2020 supporters do. The taxes are paid to Rocky View County therefore I trust you agree that as taxpayers, (landowners and residents) they have every right to be heard and fairly represented by those they pay taxes to, including yourself and Councillor Sacuta.
You make the claim that the executive (Directors) of Rocky View 2020 “must approve of all memberships” This is not the case. They do not. Members are asked to confirm that they agree with our Mission Statement, Vision and Values. That is all. You may want to review the Mission, Vision and Values of Rocky View 2020. (See http://www.rockyview2020.com/about/vision/ ).
You claim the “The list of members is kept secret by the executive”. That is not accurate. Rocky View 2020 simply respects that it is the members prerogative to be public or not about their participation in RV2020. It is likely that some members decide not to be public about their support of Rocky View 2020 because that don’t want to be targeted by the few vehemently opposed to our Mission, Vision and Values. For example I know I was certainly hurt, insulted and deeply offended by you drawing an analogy between myself and the current atrocities and darkness of Vladimir Putin in your letter. Is this approach intended to intimidate good people and prevent them from speaking up?
I was grateful that you noted that the funding for the Municipal Campus cannot be used for anything else without first getting permission from the Alberta Government. You stated that I “left out other facts. Lowther has conveniently forgotten or distorted”. Nothing was forgotten or distorted. From my discussions with County Administration and from the information presented to Council my understanding is that the funds were applied for and specifically allotted for a new County Office and related infrastructure. That is the intended purpose of this specific approved funding. Using it for something else would require a complete re-application and there is some risk, at this time, that it may not be approved for other items. May I suggest you can also confirm this with General Manager Byron Riemann, as I did.
I was grateful that you noted that the funding for the Municipal Campus cannot be used for anything else without first getting permission from the Alberta Government.
You stated that I was the only one who spoke in favor. The fact is that Gordon Branson (past Councillor) also spoke in favor of proceeding to obtaining a detailed cost breakdown for the new Municipal Office, which is all Manager Kent Robinson was requesting. Perhaps you did not hear Mr. Branson. (Here is the 3 Recording). The majority of Councillors were also supportive of moving forward with the complete detailed cost analysis for the proposed new Municipal Office. I thought Councillor Lois Habberfield spoke the most succinctly with a complete summary of the rational to go forward with getting detail costing. (4 Recording)
You state that I was “endlessly critical of (Councillor) Sacuta for advising about the distinct possibility of cost over runs.” This is not the case. In fact my comments on behalf of the members of Rocky View 2020 stated that our support for any eventual moving forward on the new Municipal Office be conditional upon controls being in place to see that it came in on budget. (5 Recording). Again, on July 15th the Administration was only asking for approval to proceed with a complete detail cost analysis before any subsequent decision to proceed or not. It seemed to me confirming the detailed costs before proceeding would serve us all to reach the common objective of staying within budget. This makes me wonder why you and Councillor Sacuta voted against getting the detailed cost evaluation done.
You stated that you see “why cautions can be so easily dismissed by the 2020 crowd – because we don’t live here so it’s not their money”. The fact is that, as mentioned, Rocky View 2020 members own land and pay taxes to the County and the majority of members do live in the county. Therefore it is our money. Aren’t you obligated to represent every taxpayer equitably and responsibly? (Municipal Gov. Act).
Rocky View 2020 members own land and pay taxes to the County and the majority of members do live in the County
You stated my “ultimate distortion is claiming RV would gain financially by building new offices and selling the current facility”. If this is my ultimate distortion, then please forgive me for failing to be clear as no distortion was intended; in fact just the opposite. As stated Rocky View County has a commitment it will receive provincial grant money ($31 million) for the new office campus. In addition the existing properties will generate $15 to $19 million for unrestricted use by the County. It seems to me as a lifetime taxpayer in Rocky View, we get an overdue County office, in our County instead of in Calgary, without any impact on our property taxes and in addition the County has somewhere between 15 and 19 million dollars from the sale of the old properties to use for any other priorities, again without an impact on my property taxes. It seems we are net ahead. No distortion.
You state “There is some obscure truth to his claim that “the large majority share our vision…” “The question is – the large majority of whom?” As stated in my comments in my published letter it is the large majority of the folks I have been speaking to. Not everyone in Rocky View, but the majority of the people I have met with. I hope and trust that you are also open to embracing the RV 2020 vision “of a vibrant County open to positive growth with strengthened communities, a unique heritage and enhanced value.” If not, what did you have in mind? Councillor Al Sacuta was quoted on his blog that he intends to either “fix Rocky View County or make sure it ceased to exist.” Is that your objective as well? If so can you define what it means to me and other taxpaying residents who are hoping for the best?
Let’s work together to build a more prosperous future for all.
You stated that “More often than not, those who distort facts end with a statement typical of Lowther’s. Let’s work together to build a more prosperous future for all. Always be cautious of such flowery but empty, unverifiable, meaningless assertions”. Councillor, please be assured Rocky View 2020’s intent is to get the facts out in the open and stop the distortion. In addition my appeal to work together is genuine. I hope someday you will consider a more collaborative approach for mutual benefit.
Thank you again for being will to serve,
Eric Lowther – Executive Director – Rocky View 2020.
cc. Rocky View Council, County General Managers.