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City council manager


I have read your recent coverage about the $75,000 office renovation for city manager George Duncan.

After 32 years in Richmond I thought nothing could be dumber than the decision to rehire Mr. Duncan and pay his expenses to return to Richmond with a big salary increase. Let us not forget that he also received an office at home and car allowance.

But city council has now made an even worse decision, when it authorized his $75,000 office renovation. That is a lot of money.

If Mr. Duncan needs to be closer to his staff at city hall, perhaps his home office should be renovated so some city staff could be there also.

The news story proves George Duncan is an effective manager. I propose he get a new title"city council manager"with a new office closer to the people he really does manage: the mayor and city council.

Helmut Weber

Gravy train


Gee, it warms my heart to hear that the city will spend "only" 80 grand on the renovations to George Duncan's office. When we consider that this, according to Duncan, will cover 21 staff, we arrive at nearly $4,000 per head for the changes. Some economy!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but was Mr. Duncan not in the same job when the Taj Mahal was being planned and constructed? In other words, we are now being forced to correct his previous mistakes at considerable cost. And for this, we have given him a massive increase in both salary and benefits.

Hey, where do I go to get on this gravy train?

Terry Murphy

Education helps create more responsible youth


In light of this past AIDS Awareness Week, I would like to applaud and show my support for organizations within our community that progressively approach the subject of teenage sexual practice.

Adolescence can be a confusing and awkward time, and sexual health is something that our youth can't afford to be confused about. It's important for us to create a dialogue with our youth about the importance of safe sex, so that they are aware of the health risks associated without the practice of it.

I was recently able to see a local organization distribute relevant educational material to teenagers, that was also fun and interactive. They were able to make sexuality a little less uncomfortable to talk about, and I was able to witness some really positive reactions from the youth.

Teenage sex can be a difficult subject for parents and educators to approach, but fact of the matter is, they are out there having sex, and we can help create more responsible youth by giving them knowledge and support.

Emily Kwok

Shocking ruling


After reading that Maximo Rebagliati ("Driver cleared of hit-and-run charge," Richmond Review, Nov. 29-30) was found by a jury not guilty of leaving the scene of his hit-and-run accident I just shook my head. Am I missing something?

The man hits a pedestrian with enough force to damage his automobile, throwing the victim through the air, and then contrary to the law and human decency continues on his way home, using as an excuse that he was in shock!

Damn right he was in shock.

Anyone of us who would have been in the same circumstances would have been in shock, but the law demands that we stop and render assistance, not leaving the victim in the gutter, hopefully for someone else to render assistance and call for help.

Even after arriving home he still didn't contact the authorities, but instead went to some friend's home to ask for advice. Ask for advice! Give me a break! There was no choice. Now we're to feel sorry for him.

I for one feel sorry for the victim, Robert Mack, run down and left to die at the side of the road as if he was no better than a dog. (Most of us have the decency to stop even for a dog).

The icing on the cake of this whole story was to read Mr. Rebagliati's lawyer Mr. Bethell's little aside that the victim's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit, as if this in somewhat mitigates his client's actions! The old blame the victim routine.

E.J. Baarschers

Be careful

Re: "A meaningful task," Editorial, Nov. 6.

Many people feel that we are not well served by our existing electoral system. Proportional representation is the name of the system that is most often proposed to correct this flaw.

I wonder how many people think we would be better governed under a system in which elections would produce minority governments as a matter of course, and majority governments would be the exception rather than the rule? That is what would have happened if we had had proportional representation. Is it what we want? Let the debate begin.

As for the transferrable ballot, a party that was the first choice of only a few can somehow become the government. Isn't that the exact problem with the system we have now?

We should be careful of what we wish for, in case we get it. It's easy to find defects in our current voting system, not so easy to find solutions that are really an improvement.

Glen Porter

Enough gas gouging


Richmond council is being sold a bill of goods and increasing gas prices to the consumer is the hidden agenda

I work in Delta and live in Richmond and with the slot machine ride of gas prices over a 24 hour period (which is a whole other issue of monopolizing a necessary consumer good) I know that I can purchase gas at the same price for full serve in Richmond that I can get at self serve in Deltaalmost consistently! And for those of us wearing suits to work we don't end up smelling like gas all day.

If you approve self-serve you are approving a price increase in an industry already fraught with gouging the consumer. How else can the daily ebb and flow of the price of a litre of gas be explained?

Oh, and on the fast food chains self-serve would bring? We all need that like another hole in our heads.

Wayne W. Kinna

The tide is high


It's time to face facts. The environment is changing. The result? Higher tides, stronger storms and more frequent flooding in parts of the city.

Perhaps the city management and council should stop worrying so much about traffic on No. 3 Road and start paying attention to the need to: reinforce, raise and earthquake proof the dikes. After viewing water levels around the city this past week, I would put out raising the dikes at the top of the list.

Leslie Donald

Come together


Last week, all the "education partner groups" in Vancouver launched a "Blue Ribbon Campaign" in support of adequate funding for the Education Ministry and Children and Family Services Ministry. A postcard and explanation were sent home to every family.

It would be wonderful to see Richmond partners launch a similar campaign!

There were massive cuts to teachers, support staff and programs here in Richmond two years ago. The school district hasn't recovered from those cuts and will not recover unless funding is restored. Sure, teachers and administrators are working hard to minimize the effects of those cuts.

The district has been fiscally responsible reducing services, teachers, support staff and closing schools, but it is the students who no longer have the "depth" of educational support they may need.

Our education partner groups in Richmond have been very good at "grinning and bearing" the effects these cuts have had. Most children have as well.

However, when parents take the time to talk to their children, teachers and administrators they see that the changes are not as insignificant as the Honourable Christy Clark would have them believe.

I implore the Richmond education partner groups to start working together for change! Change will only come about with strength of numbers and unity in purpose. Let's see the individual parents, PACs, RDPA, RASA, RTA, CUPE and the trustees come together and take a stand togetherfor the children and our future.

And while we're at it, how about stating that the changes to the B.C. College of Teachers go too far, and should not have been done without greater consultation!

Olwen Walker

Not so collegial atmosphere


As an association of principals and vice principals in the Richmond School District we are deeply concerned about issues surrounding the new College of Teachers and the impact the dissent over these issues is having on our schools and the learning situation of our students.

We feel that the majority of the College council should be elected from those actively engaged in the education profession, rather that the new process whereby the majority are appointed by the government. This may mean that teachers elect a certain portion, school administrators another portion, and school district personnel (superintendents, assistant superintendents) still a further portion.

We also feel that in dealing with issues of personal misconduct, the College needs to make use of those processes that are presently working effectively at the local school level to deal with such issues. To ignore these would be foolish, and create greater hardship to all of those involved.

Our school district, as other school districts, has agreed upon a process that has worked effectively in the past to deal with issues of personal misconduct at the local level. The new College needs to incorporate these existing processes as it establishes for dealing with such complaints.

As of Dec. 1st, there are a large number of teachers in our district, as in other districts across the province, who are no longer eligible to teach in our schools because they have withheld the $90 fee to the College of Teachers in protest of the changes the government has made. The impact will not be immediately felt as it will take weeks before the College will be able to report to school boards which teachers have paid and which have not.

At some point, however, school board will be faced with taking action. As school administrators we see the anxiety and distraction these issues are having on our teachers. All of this is taking away from our focus on the learner.

We strongly urge both the Ministry of Education and the B.C. Teachers Federation to work together to resolve the issue of the College of Teachers as soon as possible so that teachers can work in a positive, supportive environment where they are able to give all their attention to the needs of our learners.

Mark Porter
Richmond Association of School Administrators

Take a stand


Re: Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt's article ("Significant trees need protection," City of Richmond's Council Update ad in The Richmond Review, Nov. 22-23).

I agree with Coun. Halsey-Brandt when she writes the need for some regulation for the protection of trees. This issue has been before council for the last several years. The majority of councillors feel it is too expensive for developers. This is nonsense.

What we need is a tree bylaw that has some teeth and education programs to enlighten residents and developers.

Currently, developers are required to include landscaping designs when they are going to develop property. We need to put into practice the same rule for single-family homes before any demolition permit is issued.

With a tree bylaw on the books, we can all benefit before development begins.

The time has come for a majority of councillors to get behind this issue. The Local Government Act, sec. 708-715 outlines their authority to manage trees on individual residential properties. Now all we need is to find four more members of council who are brave enough to take a stand.

Doug Lough

Church commended for aiding poverty-stricken


This past Saturday, an event unlike other events took place in our community.

Gilmore Park United Church hosted its second annual Dream Auction to raise poverty awareness and to directly contribute to poverty initiatives in Richmond.

This up-beat social event was put on by the church and supported by local business and community groups to raise funds for Poverty Response Committee food programs in schools and for the Richmond Food Bank's programs that provide appropriate foods to infants and healthy snack foods for children.

It is easy to forget that close to 25 per cent of families in Richmond live in poverty. Gilmore Park is to be commended for its willingness to tackle this issue and devote the energy and talents of its congregation to raising funds for the benefit of children of poverty in Richmond.

Kudos to Gilmore Park United Church and to those who participated by volunteering, making donations and generous bids.

Annie McKitrick & Chris Salgado
Poverty Response Committee

Green thumb can't wait until the spring


Fall used to be the time to tidy up the garden. I used to cut the perennials down to the ground, remove the spent hydrangeas flowers, rake up all the leaves and leave the flower beds nice and clean. It made my garden look very prim and so much larger and I liked it that way. Everything was ready for winter and the following spring.

Then came the day the "Western Gardener" said: Don't clean up the garden too much in the fall. Plants survive the winter better if their crowns are not so exposed to the cold during the frozen days of mid winter. That got my attention. It makes sense.

So now my garden looks very different in the fall, and it looks actually better than before. I cut the plants back at different heights. Joy Pye weed is cut back to about three feet, the Shasta daisies to six inches and the white phlox somewhere between. This gives the garden different heights and textures for a much interesting look.

Every year I let some of my asparagus grow into trees. They get about seven feet tall and look wispy and fine, and at this time of they year they turn a golden yellow and are full of red berries. I cut them back after the birds had their feast.

I leave the roses alone and don't fall prune them anymore. After September I remove just the spent flower heads. If you cut more of the stem they put our new tender shoots which are sure to die in cold of winter. Now my roses get pruned in the early part of March, just before the new bud's swell.

I wait to trim my grapevine and the fruit trees until cold spells of early January. The cut ends will freeze dry and this prevents disease to enter the stems. This year's branch growth of fruit trees should be cut by two thirds. The new growth of the grape vine gets cut back to three buds from the main stem, and I remove weak stems all together. I take the long wines of the grape and wind them into a bucket to let them dry. Then they keep that round shape forever and make great wreaths.

I don't touch the lavender or the dusty miller. The die-back get cut off in the spring. But the lily of the valley bushes, the firebush and my rhododendrons are trimmed in the fall. It's not the real pruning, more like a soft shaping. I step back after cutting a few branches to see if that is what I would like them to look like. I like the natural look and I have never appreciated the severity of totally coiffed renaissance gardens ^ la Louis XIV.

In my opinion nature cannot be improved upon, especially not by cutting trees and hedges into unnatural shapes or geometric forms.

My garden is more like an English country garden, nice and relaxed. A garden of many colours. A comfortable place. Oh, I can't wait until spring!

Erika Simm

Joe is a jumper


How is Joe Peschisolido not an opportunist? ("MP's questionnaire was right on track," Letters, Nov. 15).

To begin with, here's a little history of Joe Peschisolido's political career.

He started out as a Liberal, then switched to Alliance over a disagreement in internal politics.

As an Alliance member, he tried running for MP in a riding in Ontario, but lost. (He ran for Reform in Ontarioed.)

So what does he do? Moves out to west and tries running for MP here. Well, he won in Richmond this time around, but at a time when the Alliance party was losing its appeal.

So what does he do this time? Instead of being loyal to his new-found Alliance roots, he claims a different policy than the Alliance, then jumps ship and swims over to the Liberals. Very loyal.

Might I mention that at the time, Peschisolido wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms by the Liberals? The only reason that Peschisolido, a virtual unknown at the time, won in our riding was because he represented the Alliance, a party whose policies the majority of Richmond voters believed in at the time?

A few other points:

While Joe Peschisolido's view on same-sex marriage is in opposition to the main Liberal view, his opinion is in fact, very similar to the Alliance. If the Alliance makes an astonishing comeback next year, would the citizens of Richmond have to suffer through another "Jumping Joe" stunt?

In his letter, Anthony Oluwatoyin accused Mr. Chan of "playing the race card." Although Mr. Chan is indeed Asian, he is associated with Caucasians as much as with Asians. When Mr. Chan held the position of MP a couple of elections back, there were complaints from the Asian community that he didn't always side with them!

At least Mr. Chan has connections. I doubt Mr. Peschisolido has any on his account. He's played both parties (Alliance and Liberal) to his own benefit, and I have valid reservations that any party would agree to help him.

Mr. Peschisolido is no slouch at acquiring funding for local projects. He's no slouch, either, at claiming advance credit for long-term projects such as the issue with the DFO land transfer. Isn't he modest?

"What Richmond needs to be." A city known for it's honesty and loyalty. How about that? I like it.

Pui Wai

New hopes for NDP


Time is a great healer. This adage is so true for a party like the NDP, which was nearly annihilated at the polls in May 2001.

The upswing in the fortunes of NDP was clearly evident at the recently held convention in Vancouver.

More than 800 enthusiastic delegates representing 79 constituencies from all over B.C. engaged in very productive discussions to chart a new course for the party.

The keynote addresses by Joy MacPhail and federal NDP leader Jack Layton to on-going standing ovations was certainly one of the major highlights of the convention.

Of course, the main agenda for the gathering was to pick a successor to outgoing leader Joy MacPhail, who has done an unbelievable job for the party, from six contenders for her job.

Carole James, 45, a childcare worker and mother of two young adults, brings very impressive credentials to her new position, as leader of the NDP. She is a very caring, capable and competent person. Ms. James has a proven track record in public service. Her experience as chairperson of the Victoria school board for seven years is a great asset.

On top of that, Ms. James was elected as chairperson of the B.C. School Trustees Association five time during some of the most difficult times in the BCSTA's history.

These experiences should prove to be extremely valuable to her as leader of the NDP.

Since the last provincial election, Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan have done a commendable job in rebuilding the party. Thus the stage is well set for Carole James to continue the process already under way. Between the three of them they should be able to give the NDP a much-needed boost in regaining public trust and confidence. In this regard, Carole Jamesā fresh approach to doing things should prove to be extremely valuable.There is no doubt that revitalizing and re-building the NDP is going to be a big challenge. However, the new leader, with a pragmatic approach and no prior baggage is very well suited to do the job. She is up to the challenge. Carole James brings hope and optimism not only to the New Democrats but also to a lot of other British Columbians who are looking for a viable alternative to the party currently in power.

Balwant Sanghera

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