Introduction - DARK CLOUDS GATHER
As the City Council Meeting for Tuesday, August 3rd was going in Camera, Merv Ritchie, editor of the Terrace Daily Newspaper who had been filming the meeting commented on a major difference between the Kitimat and Terrace City Councils.
In Kitimat, our councillors hold the administration accountable for their purchases and are always asking questions about the cheque register during this time. According to Ritchie, this practice having expenditures by the administrative staff questioned by any councillor is an infrequent occurrence in frequent occurrence. in fact, in the past four years it would be difficult to recall half a dozen questions on the cheque register in Terrace while there were more then half a dozen questions in one sitting at Kitimat Council. As impressed as he was, the meeting was about to take a turn down crazy street.
The next item was a series of reports written about other communities by George Cuff. Council still has not met with George Cuff and these reports had been submitted to Council for prior reading. Mayor Joanne Monaghan called upon Councillor Mario Feldhoff for a motion and he made one for this information to be received for information… And Councillor Gerd Gottschling and Councillor Randy Halyk immediately called FOUL!!! Part 1 - THUNDER AND LIGHTNING
Presentations were wrapping up at the City Council Meeting on August 3rd. Mayor Joanne Monaghan called for any public comments on upcoming Council items. Councillor Gerd Gottschling said he would like to speak to the George Cuff Reports which were scheduled for discussion later in the evening. Monaghan suggested he wait.
So when the time came for a motion, Monaghan called upon Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who was the first person with his hand in the air for a motion. He motioned for the information within to be received as background information for their meeting with George Cuff.
“I think I would like to speak, Madam Mayor, I’d like to…” began Gottschling
“Point of order Madam Mayor,” interrupted Councillor Mario Feldhoff. “You can speak to the motion once it’s…”
“Point of order,” exclaimed Councillor Randy Halyk. “The Mayor asked you specifically instead of asking Council.”
“The Mayor can ask whomever she wants to recommend. It’s her purgative as the Chair,” said Feldhoff. While he was speaking, Monaghan in the background was trying to talk over him: “No, he raised his hand.”
“Excuse me, he raised his hand and I asked him as I would anyone else sir,” said Monaghan.
Bob Corless seconded the motion.
“I don’t have anything to say at this time Madam Mayor,” said Feldhoff when asked if he wanted to speak to the motion.
Gottschling on the other hand wished to speak to the motion. He asked Monaghan when they would be meeting with Cuff. She replied they would be setting up the conference call when Trafford Hall returned from holidays and he could do this now with him back in town.
“I believe this is essential to clarify the role of the Mayor and Council to create a more collegial environment in our Council Chambers,” said Gottschling.
Gottschling had just started to speak when Feldhoff cut him off to remind him this was his motion, not Gottschling's. Gottschling said he had 15 minutes… “You didn’t ask me,” said Monaghan. Feldhoff stated Gottschling had only 5 minutes to speak to this motion. Gottschling reminded Monaghan he did ask to speak on this motion.
This protocol had been explained at a Council meeting a while ago. When a motion has been made and has been seconded, the person who made the motion has 15 minutes to speak to it, then each of the other Councillors can speak to it once for five minutes each, then the mover has a chance to close his discussion for 5 minutes before the motion is called. It is also often brought up that people who present to Council have 15 minutes to speak, not including time for questions and answers.
Why is this all so important? The person who submitted the report for the Council Package was Councillor Gerd Gottschling, he had come prepared to speak to this motion only to have Councillor Feldhoff beat him to the punch. Gottschling was permitted to speak to the motion and he was about to rock the Council Chambers.
To all present it appeared as if the Mayor turned to Feldoff in an attempt to obstruct fair judicial procedure.Part 2 - COUNCILLOR GOTTSCHLING'S SPEECH
To read the teaxt of Councillor Gottschling's speech CLICK HEREPart 3 - HIGH WINDS, SQUALLS AND SQUABBLES
Gottschling had finished reading his prepared statement, it was Tuesday August 3rd and the City Council Meeting was in full swing.
“Councillor Gottschling has put into the package a full length report by Mr. Cuff and the recommendation we have from staff is that this is to be received for background information as a motion. This is not the first time that Councillor Gottschling has surprised myself,” said Councillor Mario Feldhoff. “I look forward to the discussion with Mr. Cuff but I disagree with many of the statements made by Councillor Gottschling. I remind him, the next election for Mayor and Council is next November.”
Feldhoff quoted Cuff as Gottschling had in his speech: “On the other hand, the fact that the Mayor has been elected as the chief elected official would lead one to believe that the others on Council would be sure to accord the Mayor the respect the office entails and to attempt to work with the Mayor in the pursuit of common goals.”
“I see things quite a bit differently then you do and I too would like to move together cohesively. If you want to bring forward a motion on Alcan or Eurocan or whatever, bring them forward. We’ll just fold them in with everything else. I think it’s incorrect,” said Feldhoff. He apologized for speaking to Gottschling when he should be speaking through the chair.
Monaghan had her own retort: “I would like to thank you very much for that, when you called me incompetent, I thought that was quite interesting. You said many things in the letter that you have that were not true. I’m not going to even bother to say which ones they are because I want to… the issues that are facing our community right now, I want to work together. I think we have to get this community together, we have to help this community instead of going on and on and on about this issue. We’ve been going on now for a year and a half, it’s time that we helped this community and work together. Let’s get going on it. I just… why do you want to bring this up constantly, put my name in the mud, well that’s great if you want to do it,” said Monaghan.
Gottschling wanted to know what was untrue in his statement. Monaghan said she would like a copy of his statement and go through it and tell him after. She refused to argue in public and stated there was a rule which prevented Councillors from defaming each other in public and it should have gone in camera.
Gottschling asked her if she understood the issues that he was talking about and said it was important that she share which things were untrue. Council began to argue over what was wrong. Feldhoff wanted this speech in writing so they could go through it. Monaghan wanted to know where she was incompetent. Gottschling referenced when she spoke to the Kitimat Terrace Industrial Development Society’s slide show, #21, Kemano Modernization.
He pointed out this was not one of Council’s decisions but was KTIDS telling her what to say. “That was not Council’s Decision, that was KTIDS telling you what to say,” said Gottschling.
Monaghan disagreed. “I did not say to have Kemano Completion finished, what I said was that the pump house at Kemano had to be refurbished and to get completed. This is not a place to go into a bunch of rhetoric…” said Monaghan before Gottschling tried to cut her off. She wanted to go forward.
Corless repeated the motion and asked Council to stick to it. Monaghan called the question and it was carried. Notably opposed was Gottschling. Part 4 - EYE OF THE STORM
Walter McFarlane, writer for the Kitimat Daily glanced at the other reporters in the room wondering how they had been able to keep a straight face through all of this before biting his lip and continuing to type. “If they disagree with what Councillor Gottschling said,” he thought to himself. “Then why are they going to such trouble to prove him right.”
Gottschling had argued the rules of conduct were not being followed and Councillors were arguing. This was followed by more breaking the rules of conduct and more Councillors arguing.
Long story short: Gottschling provided Council with a report and intended to speak to it. Councillor Mario Feldhoff beat him to the punch. This appeared intentional as Feldhoff had nothing to say to his motion and tried to cut Gottschling off several times. Gottschling read a prepared statement. Then Council began to argue again.
These events at Council are best summed up by an anonymous poster to our website who posted a great analogy which we cannot print because we do not know who posted it. ‘Ocean’ posted: “Here we are elected officials, still unaware of procedure and protocol at Council meetings. Sounding more like a grade 5 classroom. I had my hand up first, you talked too long, it's my turn, no it’s my turn, teacher, and they’re not playing fair. Kitimat is going to be a city of empty homes and business's and Council will be completely oblivious. Is there an agenda to screw Kitimat by one or more council members? They are doing more to destroy Kitimat’s hopes than the departure of Methanex and Eurocan.”
Ocean also requested the community come together to embrace Enbridge… But there in lies the problem. Enbridge is great… or is terrible depending on how you see things. However, we cannot accept that someone else might have an opinion which differs from our own. All arguments have counter arguments and no one can take the time to see eye to eye with each other without trying to gouge an eye out.
The City Council is made up from 7 different people with 7 different backgrounds who see the world through 7 different sets of eyes. They are not going to agree all the time. The problem is, Kitimat is a community divided. We drew lines over power sales and once again, we are drawing lines over Enbridge and our Council reflects this.
So what is the problem? Well, since 2009, The Mayor and the Council appear to have conflicting agendas. Monaghan is endorsing projects such as Enbridge without Council’s approval and has even gone against the will of Council when she presented to the Northern Development Initiative Trust on Kemano Modernization. Remember, Council passed a motion in summer 2009 to oppose power sales.
“Further advancement of the Kemano Powerhouse should be encouraged through the incentives such as the 2007 Energy Purchase Agreement between BC Hydro and Rio Tinto Alcan to increase excess power at the facility while maintaining full production of the smelter in Kitimat,” read the slide she presented too.
The speaking notes suggested by increasing the output of Kemano as well as the North West Transmission Line, Rio Tinto would be able to supply power to mining facilities while being able to maintain the power level at the smelter. Yet when Gottschling mentioned this to her at the Council, she made the slide sound less like increasing power and more like general maintenance.
“I did not say to have Kemano Completion finished,
what I said was that the pump house at Kemano had to be refurbished and to get completed.
This is not a place to go into a bunch of rhetoric…” said Monaghan when Gottschling mentioned slide 21 on August 3rd.
Look at the bolded words above… I’m speechless…
It was defiantly odd to hear the word ‘Liar’ thrown around the Council Chambers again. This had happened before. In January, Gottschling was interrogating Monaghan in the Council Chambers after it appeared she had asked the Provincial Government for little to no money to help fund the viability study. Gottschling was asking Councillors who were involved in the study to confirm what he had told. Monaghan on the other hand maintained she had asked for the full amount.
Council dissolved into a shouting match and Monaghan exclaimed: “Are you calling me a Liar?”
McLellen had stood and said: “Actually madam Mayor, I understand this came up before and words were used that were unparliamentarily and in our system is a number of words you can’t use, “idiot” is one, “inspired by 40 broad whiskey” is always one of my favourites but "Liar" has been on the list since the 1800’s so it’s a word that simply can’t be used. If it is used, the person realizes it and says “withdraw the word” and moves on without using that word.”
“Ok,” said Monaghan, “I’ll say: ‘Do you think I’m a stranger to the truth then?’”
“That’s on the list too,” added McLellen.
So there we have it. Words exchanged, accusations made, characters assassinated and the Council moves on. But unfortunately, this proved only to be the eye of the storm and it would not take long for the winds to blow again.
It's about trust...