Penticton: city that sued itself

Dear Editor:

Those of us that have reached the senior’s stage in life will recall classic slap stick comedies like “The Three Stooges”, “Abbott and Costello”, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and more recently ”Mr. Bean.”

I guess that they were considered humorous because the situations and participants were so ridiculous. It now seems that these “so called” classics were pikers when compared to the comic opera that is now being played out at Penticton city hall.

The script proceeds as follows:

Act 1: The Mayor, in spite of major opposition and protests, previous failed similar enterprises, and a costly failed lease agreement to do with dormitories (known as the Ekhart Avenue dormitory fiasco), proceeds to sign an agreement to lease out parkland for a waterslide. The revenue that the City receives from the waterslides, if any, will be used to purchase future parkland. In other words we are taking a risk to raise money to buy what we already had and lost in the leasing agreement. I may be losing it, but the logic here escapes me.

Act 2: The Mayor, in spite of signing the lease agreement rather than conducting further study and holding a referendum as requested by many residents, announces that a committee will be struck to study future parkland activities. Of course he will appoint the committee, and their findings will undoubtedly be non-binding. In politics this is known as creating a smoke screen diversion. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is long gone.

Act 3: Various subplots develop such as the Mayor’s temporary loss of memory to do with non-disclosure agreements that apparently cannot be found, and allegations of liberties being taken by city staff. More smoke and mirrors.

Act 4: The public citizens that oppose the loss of parkland and fearing monetary loss, begin to raise money to hire a lawyer to sue the City and prevent the project from proceeding. In effect, we are essentially suing ourselves as the mayor and council are supposedly our employees and representatives, and our tax dollars are being used to pay for the defense. This may be the first recorded incident of a city suing itself, and may be the mayor’s legacy for his hopefully brief term in office.

Act 5: To be determined.

I would suggest that the mayor and council take this comic opera on a three-year road show, as I’m sure that it will perform to rave reviews. Perhaps the mayor will be asked to appear on one of the late night talk shows in the U.S. similar to Rob Ford, the ex-Toronto mayor. He could be cast as the mayor of the city that sued itself.

While all the notoriety may be embarrassing, as they say in politics, any publicity is good publicity. It may even attract some of those sought-after tourists that will come to visit “the city that sued itself.”

Claude Bergman

Penticton