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Peg Orcherton Responds: "Not All Trustees Fumble Alpha Issue

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Peg Orcherton Responds: "Not All Trustees Fumble Alpha Issue

Postby Dead tired Dad on Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:54 am

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/le ... story.html

Not all trustees fumbled Alpha issue

Times ColonistJune 25, 2009

Re: "Trustees fumbled byelection," June 23

Your editorial mainly hit the mark on the mess leading up to the court decision in which Justice Robert Metzger rightfully reinstated trustee Catherine Alpha to the Greater Victoria Board of Education. However, I wish to clarify the implication that all of the trustees ousted her and called for a hasty, disruptive (and unnecessarily expensive) byelection.

I and two other trustees, Bev Horsman and John Young, voiced our dissent early and often on the hastiness of calling this byelection.

I asked for two meetings with the board to discuss what had occurred, how the disclosure issue had taken so long to be uncovered and brought to the board's attention and why Alpha was not provided the opportunity to correct any deficiencies.

I prepared a lengthy report for the board that raised two serious issues: The district's failure to have proper election reporting processes in place; and actions taken by some board members without the authority of the board (like the placing of a byelection advertisement well before the board had decided on a byelection).

I provided a similar report to members of the media after a board meeting on May 11. That report outlined my concerns and four recommended resolutions. Three of these resolutions were defeated and one, to immediately draft specific directions for the administration to follow for future elections, was tabled by the majority on the board.

This majority has consistently turned a deaf ear to the board's and the administration's responsibility with respect to the issue of Alpha. Further, the majority of this board took a neutral position with respect to her petition to the Supreme Court, when there was the opportunity to support her.

Fortunately justice and common sense prevailed with Metzger's decision.

While all of us on the board have to accept the will of the majority, it is important for the public to know which trustees made these decisions that the Times Colonist characterized as "fumbling." They are trustees Tom Ferris, Jim Holland, Elaine Leonard, Michael McEvoy and Dave Pitre.

Peg Orcherton

Trustee, Greater Victoria school board
*************************************************************************************************************
Written in response to this article: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/Tr ... story.html
Trustees fumbled byelection


Times ColonistJune 23, 2009

Catherine Alpha's reinstatement as a Greater Victoria school trustee is welcome. Her failure to use the proper forms to declare $350 in campaign expenses was no reason to overturn the voters' decision and bar her from office.

Alpha bears responsibility for not meeting the letter of the Local Government Act requirements.

But the school district and her fellow trustees should be embarrassed by their handling of this case.

Alpha was elected to her first term last November. Her campaign was run through the Victoria Public Education Coalition, which supported three candidates. (The other two were unsuccessful.) All the details of her campaign finances were reported, as required, to the district, as part of the coalition filing.

She should have reported individually. The trustees' response was to declare her seat vacant and call a byelection in which she would be barred from running.

But the trustees and the district had options. Staff could have notified her of the problem before the deadline. Other local governments have passed resolutions allowing councillors to continue sitting despite filing problems.

Or at the least it could have exercised the option, available under the Local Government Act, of allowing Alpha to remain on the board pending a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court.

It didn't. Instead, trustees ousted her and called a hasty, disruptive byelection, scheduled for Saturday. It is now cancelled, after significant preparation and campaigns by candidates.

Supreme Court Justice Robert Metzger found Alpha had addressed the filing error within 24 hours of learning of the problem and acted in good faith.

This entire affair was unnecessary. Common sense, an understanding of the available options and respect for the choice made by voters should have allowed the board to deal with this in a much a different way. We hope a lesson has been learned.
Dead tired Dad
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