Cortes Needs Some Answers
Issues and Unanswered Questions
January 17, 2019
If you are already concerned (or perhaps even outraged), know what you want to say, and just want to know how to contact SRD: Click Here
0. Arbitrary Freeze on Cortes Governance?
On January 24th 2019 at their regularly scheduled meeting, SRD voted to "table" all current Cortes Island business on their agenda. "Tabling" means these matters are deferred to some future date and cannot be discussed or acted on in the interim. The three agenda items explicitly tabled were the Hall Tax Referendum, the First Responders Referendum, and the appointment of APC members. SRD staff subsequently cited this tabling as their reason for not answering questions posed in correspondence received from Cortes community members. SRD tabled these matters until the "implications" of the ligitation against RD Anderson was "fully understood." They did not indicate what process would provide a full understanding, or how long this would take.
1. Irregular process at SRD affects Cortes Residents?
Brenda Leigh, representative for Oyster River, explained her vote on a Cortes Island issue as follows: She said she had heard concerns from Cortes residents via email. (Campbell River Mirror Nov 28 2018) What this means: some people on Cortes are lobbying a Regional Director other than their own, to influence SRD votes on Cortes affairs. Brenda Leigh has not made the number or contents of these emails public, has not entered them into the SRD record as Correspondence Received, has not shared them with other Board members or even with our own Regional Director. They are secret.
2. Delays and Inconsistencies in Referendum Process?
Despite a clear majority (in both the 2017 petitions and delegations and the October 2018 vote) in favour of proceeding with a referendum, SRD has delayed that referendum at considerable cost to the taxpayer. In the summer of 2018, SRD promised us that if the October vote passed, SRD would expedite the process so that we could have a deciding vote in the Spring of 2019. However, in November, further indefinite delay was imposed. Brenda Leigh cited her undisclosed emails (above) as the reason for her own vote for delay.
In early January 2019, 14 Cortes residents filed a petition to litigate against our re-elected Regional Director (RD) Noba Anderson, accusing her of bribery and corruption. The 14 signatures on this petition are entirely those of our director's political opponents. Meanwhile, a private investigator has appeared on the island, hired by SRD, to investigate these allegations against our RD.
4. Voter Harassment on Cortes Island?
In December 2018, RCMP appeared on Cortes Island, questioning selected people about their length of residence. They said a complaint had been filed alleging "illegal voting" in our most recent election, and that they had been given a list of names.
0) Tabling of Cortes Issues and Process:
- What constitutes a "full" understanding of the "implications" of the litigation against RD Anderson? Who decides when that understanding is adequately "full"?
- What process does SRD anticipate will give them a "full" understanding of the "implications" of the litigation against RD Anderson?
- How long do they expect to keep Cortes Island affairs on hold?
- Do they have a "full" understanding of the implications of this shutdown of Cortes Island governance?
- Are they aware that freezing our APC appointment process effectively denies us the opportunity to comment in a legally powerful way on land use issues?
- Are there individuals who welcome the shutdown of Cortes business at SRD, and are those individuals involved with the litigation against RD Anderson?
- If SRD no longer feels obliged to respond to questions asked by Cortes Islanders, are we to consider ourselves disenfranchised for an open-ended period?
- Why was this radical move proposed and passed with almost no discussion, over the objections of our elected Director?
1) Handling of Correspondence by SRD Board:
- Why are Directors from other Areas such as Oyster River receiving undisclosed lobbying emails from Cortes Island, and allowing these emails to influence their votes on Cortes affairs?
- Why are these emails not being shared with Cortes' elected RD and with the rest of the Board?
- How are we to know whether these emails are from a hundred people, or six people, or one person?
- How are we to fact-check their content?
- Do they represent in any way the majority opinion on Cortes?
- Is this normal operating procedure at SRD?
- Or is it only Cortes issues which are interfered with in this way?
- What is SRD's policy on Correspondence Received? Is there any policy?
- What does SRD's Code of Ethics for Directors say about this issue?
2) Delays and Inconsistencies:
- How many times has any Regional District held a referendum on whether to have a referendum? If this is as rare an event as local knowledge suggests, why was this costly half-measure used in the relatively simple matter of a tax service for Cortes Island?
- Why did SRD reverse its position between summer 2018 and Nov 2018, rescinding the promise that the long-delayed hall tax referendum would be expedited if the "non-binding" referendum passed?
- Why were we ever forced to go through the pointless non-binding referendum, whose results showed the same 66/33 percent Pro/Anti percentages that have been consistently demonstrated by petition?
- Why is the majority will on this issue being blocked and delayed?
- Is the minority opposition (to the tax service, and to the holding of a vote on the issue) somehow taking precedence at SRD, and if so how and why is this happening?
- Are Regional Directors in the habit of blocking and delaying voter initiatives from other Areas which do not affect their own Area? Or is this only happening to Cortes initiatives? If so, why?
- At what point were these allegations against RD Anderson made known to SRD?
- Why were they not made known immediately to the voters of Cortes? Why did we not find out about this until public record showed the filing of petition on Jan 2/3 2019?
- What process has taken place at SRD regarding this matter and why has it been kept secret?
The community could and would have responded sooner in defence of our RD's integrity if there had been more transparency in this process.
- Have there been in camera meetings and if so, how many?
- By what process was the private investigator hired, how much has all this cost, and when will his report be made public?
- Is SRD supporting its Board member who is under attack from a tiny handful of her constituents, or is it joining in the attack? If so, why?
- How can any elected representative do his or her job if SRD responds with credulity to any random accusation no matter how unlikely, from that rep's political opponents? Are libel and litigation to replace the democratic vote as our method of choosing an RD?
- How is our RD, who is not wealthy, expected to pay for her legal defence against these absurd allegations? If SRD is not going to follow normal Board practise (use Directors' Insurance to cover her legal fees), why not?
- If SRD refuses to bear our RD's legal fees, and her community rallies to support her by creating a legal defence fund, will we face further libellous accusatations of bribery?
- Since the case against RD Anderson is so flimsy, is the object to force her resignation by applying financial pressure?
4) Post-Election Harassment of Cortes Voters:
- Who made this claim of illegal voting and obliged RCMP to come to the island with a list of names to investigate?
- Is this an official claim by our legal scrutineers?
- If our scrutineers made the claim, why did they not raise the issue on voting day as per normal process (tallying questionable votes separately, pending voter verification)?
- Were any of these claims valid? Has anyone's vote been struck?
- What purpose was served by the expenditure of so much RCMP time and resources?
- How many of our scrutineers were political opponents of RD Anderson?
We have a few dots here;
when we connect them, the picture we get
doesn't look like a healthy democratic process.
Let's keep asking these questions until we get answers.
Where to Write
If you would like to communicate with SRD about these issues and questions, the address to write to is...
... and please note, your email should be clearly directed to "the Chair and Board of Directors" for it to be included in the public record.
Cortes Island BC
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