Mayor Nancy Cooper and I Have a Thing Going On Apparently … part three

A bit delayed but as promised  … On One Hand and On The Other

Before I begin the pointing and counter-pointing though, two over-arching beliefs of mine are behind all of this.

The first belief is best summed up by a quote from Goethe: “If you want a wise answer, ask a reasonable question“.

My second guideline wraps up this post.

On One Hand

On The Other

Mayor Cooper certainly doesn’t have to engage with me or anyone else. It’s her choice. Modern politicians are all about communicating in as many channels as possible. Apparently our mayor intends to be locked down in how she communicates. I hope if I asked her some of these pretty straight-forward and not vexatious questions when I see her on the street, she wouldn’t respond with “read the Observer” or “I’ll let you know in a few months” or just walk on by and ignore me. As noted in the previous posts, several of the councillors work hard to provide thoughtful responses for Aim High.
Mayor Cooper notes that I’m not a news professional like the Observer staff as one rationale for not engaging with Aim High …That the traditional media are a trusted source of information for the public. Full agreement there! I’m neither a reporter nor an editor. I get a lot of information from our established city media. I do think though that Aim High plays a role as a blog in exploring ideas that the other media don’t cover in a similar fashion.
Mayor Cooper feels that because I don’t pay business taxes or am a downtown business, that she will mainly support them by working with or through  them as they are an economic part of our community. I support downtown and local businesses like many of you as well. I’m not too sure of how having  ideas and questions should only count depending on where they are asked from. Also, I’m pretty sure that Aim High isn’t too high on the Observer’s economic competitor list. They have many more industry issues to consider than moi.
Mayor Cooper feels that because I don’t employ anyone, she will support the traditional media. Got me there! I’m not too sure how her stance affects her relationship with Lorne’s Friday AM or the Voice of the Shuswap for example. I don’t think that they are really ‘employers’ either. Perhaps the mayor will be going dark with them as well .
Finally (at least for the moment), Mayor Cooper has noted that her own blog on the city website also serves as a communication channel. It does in a press release sort of way and I do think that the mayor’s blog is a good idea. Here’s another idea Mayor Cooper. I don’t really care where reasonable questions are answered … just that they are responded to. How about posting responses to relevant and appropriate questions up on your blog ?  That could work.

Canadian politics are now grid-locked with strictly controlled messaging that does little to engage discussion let alone differing views. It’s no wonder that voters become disengaged with the spin, fluff and party line talking points.

Mayor Cooper is also attempting to control messaging – and poorly in my opinion.  While I do have my theories why, her narrowed approach is contrary to my sense of how things can and should indeed work.

My second underlying belief: I think that local government is the perfect place where the politicos can take the lead in truly connecting with residents and being innovative in doing so. Again, a number of the city councillors are indeed trying to do this.

I’m more than wondering if Mayor Cooper’s little thing with me is indeed part of a bigger picture of her struggling in her communications style and her leadership role as mayor.

Something seems to be amiss and I’m hearing of other rumblings from around.

More to come on this shortly. Please leave your own wise and reasonable points and counters in the Comments section. All comments are moderated.

* For other posts in this series, click on the Council category in the Browse Categories right side column

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

19 thoughts on “Mayor Nancy Cooper and I Have a Thing Going On Apparently … part three”

  1. Tim
    It’s straight up of you to make these concerns public.

    What strikes me is that when you run for office (something we both know about), you get e-mails from people you’ve never met asking about things you know little about. When I ran, I would be online till 11 pm- and by 7 am – have at least a dozen e-mails asking me about garbage and recycling, public transit, student housing, water quality, RV parking, you name it. All important because they are important issues for specific people.

    But these questions are most important, in my view, once you are elected. Being elected by your peers is a privilege. And a privilege is not a right. It’s something you earn and something you can keep. It’s also something you can lose. And it shouldn’t depend on how many people you employ or what your business license fees are or who has more influence on the public. That, in my view, is a fundamental misunderstanding of the privilege of representing citizens in your community.

    I believe that municipal government is the most accessible of all the levels of government. You cannot address the MLAs on the floor of Parliament, nor can you present to Members of Parliament with them in the House of Commons. You can, however, ask to speak to your municipal council in Council Chambers. So if there is an opportunity in this discussion it’s that as citizens, we can engage directly with Council, either in chamber or online, or in print or in person. And we can and should expect a reasonable and prompt reply. It doesn’t have to be an agreement or an endorsement. It merely needs to be an acknowledgment and an appreciation of the importance of public input in community building.

    The take-away for me (with no ill will to Mayor Cooper) is that public office means you represent everyone. Those who elected you. Those who didn’t vote for you. Those who didn’t vote at all. To overlook this is akin to a mother only choosing to parent a favourite child or a teacher only teaching a student of promise. It’s not okay. It’s not how it supposed to work. And given the state of life as we know it, we need to do everything we can to make it work. There are lessons here for everyone. I can only hope we learn them. And learning starts with discussion. I’m grateful we can discuss here.

    With thanks


  2. As a representative of ALL Salmon Arm citizens, the Mayor owes an ‘open door’ or ‘open ear’ to all. If she doesn’t have an answer, just say so. And if she can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen. Democracy dies behind closed doors.

  3. Your blog is definitely a legitimate media channel where real issues are discussed by thoughtful (most of the time) and informed, contributors. The people that read your blog take an active interest in our community and want only the best for it. Unlike the 40% of citizens that neither read any local media nor drag their bums to the polling booth. Any elected official with a vision for this town would do well to read every scrap of local information where ever it is found.

  4. You seem quite disappointed Tim. Could you summarize the list of questions that you’ve asked the Mayor (ones that haven’t been answered).

  5. I find it sad that apparently our Mayor considers Tim’s questions to be adversarial. I personally find Aim High to be a much needed forum for those of us who wish to be informed citizens of Salmon Arm.

  6. Good to hear from you again Joe and thanks for going by your actual name while contributing here on Aim High.

    I think there’s a big difference between (1) not responding to non-controversial questions involving clarification of factual public information and (2) not responding to questions that were indeed answered but the responses weren’t liked because of adverserial opinions.

    As this post opened up with, reasonable questions usually get good answers.

    The nature of how questions are asked and the arena where that takes place are also pretty important imo. Politeness and civility are huge factors in promoting productive discussions. That certainly wasn’t the case in the vitriolic digital arenas that you and your main man were dwelling in.

    I know of very few people who participate in forums where crude remarks, ad hominem attacks and at times slanderous statements are viewed as being acceptable … and that was indeed the online context to which you are referring.

  7. Whew. I got dizzy reading that.
    I wonder what Cooper’s justification would sound like. Somewhat similar, I suspect. I find a number of entries here vitriolic, just with the added characteristic of disguise. Pretend that is politeness all you want.

    In any event, what on earth do you mean by “your main man”?
    Say, that’s not a tad slanderous or vitriolic, is it? I must say I find it a tad condescending but will admit I’m shy on the intent/meaning.

    And I’ve asked you before for your criteria in deeming Stantec Consulting a “gun for hire”. Do you have any basis whatsoever or is it simply that they were hired by SmartCentres?.

    As well as your basis for deeming OraclePoll, who was hired by Warren Bell, as “professional and independent” when I can find absolutely zero quantitatively suggesting that they are either.

    Both of those, among others, were not a case of not liking the answer, adversarial or not.

    1. Good morning Joe: As a quick background for readers, WA:TER published a poll that they commissioned about Salmon Arm residents’ “thoughts on shopping in general, Wal-Mart, First Nations and environmental stances” linked to SmartCentres’ development proposals on the Salmon River floodplain..

      This poll was 4 years or so ago amidst that rumble. Folks either agreed with the poll’s results or disagreed. Some of those who disagreed contested the professional credentials of the polling company/pollster. Joe, I believe, has long been one of those disagreers.

      Joe: Just so that I can respond to you with some context on your long-burning issue, – What do you consider to be an appropriate benchmark for the Canadian standards of an accredited and professional polling company or pollster? – given that you “… can find absolutely zero quantitatively suggesting that they are either.”.

      Thanks in advance. Tim

  8. I am far from the only one who finds entries here vitriolic.

    Again, you can proclaim fairness and balance all you want.
    The thing about those characteristics is, when they are legitimately encountered, not many, if any, fail to see it.

    For what it’s worth, suspecting not much…..

    1. Com’on, cut with the spin.
      What the heck does my criteria have to do with anything? It is totally irrelevant.

      I asked you, as a participant on a public forum (dwelling in same said vitriolic digital arena) campaigning for public office, what your criteria is (was) for concluding:

      1. OraclePoll was “professional” and “independent”.
      2. Stantec was a “hired gun” and by direct implication, was in fact neither professional or independent.
      3. what constituted a “main man” exactly, and why you felt I was in possession of one.

      They were simple questions then (#1 & #2) and along with #3, which is particularly intriguing, remain simple, albeit mysteriously unanswered, questions.

      You can play quid pro quo all you like, but at the moment, the ball is in your court.

    2. Joe: Actually, I was trying to cut to the chase given that you indicated that you had looked extensively for relevant information with no results. No sense trying to duplicate your exhaustive searches for “professional benchmarks” if you wanted to list them. That’s ok though.

      At the time that the poll was released ~ four years ago , the pollster in question was a member of the same association – an organization that states that it promotes professional standards – as the big players in Canadian marketing research.

      The pollster’s own website, as I just checked this evening, indicates that the pollster has a membership in that national association.

      Dr. Seccaspina is a member of MRIA (Marketing Research and Intelligence Association)

      Far be it for me to question this association’s credentialing or scrutiny of membership claims – then or now.

      I noticed that a search for the name of the pollster or his company indeed doesn’t show up in the search results of the association’s database.

      When I inquired about that previously, I was informed that the database displays companies and not individuals and also that individuals could register with the association as an individual without necessarily registering their companies. I have no idea if that is the case now.

      So there you go Joe.

      Apparently a member of that professional association way back when this all occurred and a statement by the pollster of current membership in that body as well.

      Perhaps you can follow-up on all of this and send in your data as an update.

      I think for most though, this is a pretty minor and dated sidebar mainly involving your own axes to grind.

      * This thread is in danger of getting even more diffuse as the placement of “Replies” can get out of synch. It’s easy to happen!

  9. Joe ( aka Shuck, John) you are probably aware that Stantec’s engineer is currently under investigation with the Association of Professional Engineers
    & Geoscientists of BC with complaints by at least three reputable member engineers. I will spare you the same disparaging remarks that you have dished out on your “Say Yes” site towards this stalwart group of local professionals and suffice to say pursuing it here is a bit like closing the barn door when the horse is already grazing on his expensive and greatly reduced 16 and a half acres.

  10. I could sure go to town with that Dunc.

    But I’ll just leave it at what does any of that have to do with Lavery being perplexed by Cooper’s non-answers when he does precisely the same, as justified as he may think he is?

    What, did he round up all the groupies here and take a vote on what were appropriate questions and what weren’t? Sure seems like it.

  11. And do me a favour Dunc and ask Lavery what the H-E-double L
    “your main man” is supposed to mean. He won’t answer me.

  12. Tim, that has to be one of the most disingenuous retorts I’ve ever encountered.

    Notwithstanding whether OraclePoll has professional credentials or not (more on that later), surely the likewise courtesy must be extended to Stantec. You’v offered nada with regards to an explanation of why Stantec is a hired gun, as separate from OraclePoll.

    Perhaps a little teaser on the MRIA is in order.
    It exists to establish a code of professional conduct in order that the general public may have some degree of confidence that any particular poll is an accurate reflection of reality vs. propaganda, as polls have the rather strong characteristic of influencing public opinion.
    It does so by registering individual polls and publicizing criteria and methodology etc. This is done on a organization basis vs individual standing. Individual membership reflects an individual’s dedication to professionalism and has nothing at all to do with registering and tracking particular polls.

    Oddly, OraclePoll, as an organization, has never had membership in MRIA and as such, has never registered a poll. The very reason MRIA exists.

    The MRIA shows one individual, which happens to be associated with OraclePoll (which, as explained, is meaningless for the most part) for 2014. It’s records show no individuals for 2013 and one for 2012, which is not the same individual listed for 2014.

    That’s it. No organizational membership ever, and a history of 2 individual memberships,at this point both for one year each (granting 2014 as a year).

    Also oddly, several e-mail requests to OraclePoll for a synopsis of their professional associations of any sort resulted in no response whatsoever.

    Similarly to Stantec’s long association to SmartCentres, OraclePoll has a long-standing association with Dr. Bell, which is readily researchable.

    Professional standing and past associations are not what you want to use to deem OraclePoll as “professional and independent” and provide no basis for deeming Stantec “hired guns”.

    So there you go.

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