Picture imperfect

Fallout continues from the removal and replacement of portraits of past mayors on city hall walls last August. - File photo
Fallout continues from the removal and replacement of portraits of past mayors on city hall walls last August.
— image credit: File photo


Re: Mayor rebuked over staff criticism, Jan. 12.

It looks like another round of finger-pointing took place last week at city hall and a White Rock council meeting broke out.

This time the “pointers” were the council members themselves, who conveniently ignored their participation in last summer’s ‘scandal’ involving the removal of pictures of past mayors from those hallowed halls, and instead decided to take Mayor Catherine Ferguson to task for her seemingly one-man-band mishandling of the situation.

Now I ask you, does this council really want to pass the buck so badly on this issue that they need to be on record about it?

D.C. Lascelle, Surrey

• • •

Six-to-one. That was the vote in White Rock council on the motion to express to the mayor that her actions could have been better dealt with by working through staff and council in the unfortunate incident of the wall of mayors’ photographs.

You may remember the situation of the employee that was reprimanded by the mayor in a rather public manner (Forefathers’ photo flap at White Rock city hall, Aug. 11).

Without being at the in-camera meetings and understanding completely what occurred in this unfortunate picture/employee/mayor situation, one would think in a democratic society that the six-to-one vote would have ended with the mayor accepting the will of council and the situation being resolved.

Having been at the council meeting on Jan. 10, it appeared to me most people were surprised the mayor chose to make this a public airing.

Instead of working with her council to solve this unfortunate dilemma, the mayor decided to hire a lawyer. This bodes very poorly for her relationship with council.

The fact that long-serving and respected councillors like Mary-Wade Anderson spoke about the need to keep a code-of-conduct bylaw for situations like this, and newbie Grant Meyer’s heartfelt comments regarding the angst felt by standing strong for the rights of the employee against the ruling mayor were touching. Lynn Sinclair’s thoughtful description of what happened when the employee was attempting to make room for Ferguson’s picture, and Al Campbell’s statement that all the mayor had to do was answer some questions and this matter would have long since been resolved, did not in anyway look to me like aiming to get elections votes – as the Mayor suggested – but instead attempting to make council and city hall work in a democratic way.

To me it looked like all the mayor had to do was say “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.”

Instead, we have this very unproductive fiasco.

Peace Arch News has the live footage of portions of the meeting on its video clips at www.peacearchnews.com. You should have a look at it and decide for yourself if lawyers needed to be brought in.

We are starting to make this situation the norm rather than the last resort, and I think it is time to put an end to legal wrangling and work as a group of seven mature elected officials working for the city’s welfare.

Susan Potzold, White Rock

• • •

It appears Coun. Al Campbell has either a short or a selective memory. He was leading the investigation, and, at his request, on Sept. 28 I wrote him the following letter:

“You asked me to write you a letter telling what I was told by a city hall staff member…

“I came in to city hall on Monday morning to drop off something for the mayor. While there I noticed the walls were blank and asked (the staff member) where all the pictures were. She told me they were being sent down to the museum. I asked why and she said ‘that is where they belong.’ I said that I thought that was wrong. They should be at city hall.

“She asked why and I said ‘because they belong there.’ She said, ‘no they belonged in the museum.’ There were several people in the office when the conversation took place.”

I left thinking this was wrong and called a PAN reporter because I thought people needed be aware.

If it was clear the removal of the pictures was temporary – as claimed by Coun. Lynne Sinclair at the time – it seems only to have been clear to her. The city staff I spoke with were convinced the pictures were moving to the museum and that the museum was the appropriate place for them.

Even Coun. Helen Fathers told PAN: “Sinclair implied that we all knew they were coming down. Maybe she knows something that I don’t.” (Photo fallout continues at city hall, Aug. 13)

This investigation and subsequent rebuke by city council is just one more example of council’s campaign to undermine the efforts of the mayor, as were the tactics employed by Sinclair at the time of the incident.

The mayor works so hard to make White Rock a better place to live.

Her efforts would be so much more effective if council would just work with her rather than constantly resisting, for whatever their ulterior motives might be.

Ruth Gable, Surrey

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