Proposal for task force on economy hits a nerve

I have no wish to get into a feud with Peter Milobar and Terry Lake, but some of their comments in a pair of letters to the editor in today’s Daily News require a response. Both letters take exception to an editorial in Monday’s paper suggesting neither the incumbent council nor candidates have done enough to address the economy. Milobar made similar comments on this blog Monday.

I have a great deal of respect for Peter’s abilities. He approaches issues intelligently and analytically, avoiding any temptation to rush in. If he’d been in command, the Charge of the Light Brigade might have ended much differently. These are qualities that can be helpful in the mayor’s office.

However, in answering the editorial, and my follow-up comments on this blog, he misses the point. He says that, while he hasn’t proposed a task force on the economy, he has clearly stated he’s in favour of continuing to work with local agencies “in order to share common, positive goals.”

That’s not action, that’s the status quo. If a candidate were to declare he or she will end cooperation with local agencies, that would be news. What’s needed is leadership to focus specifically on a community plan for the economy over the next couple of years.

At least Murphy Kennedy and Arjun Singh acknowledge a task force might have merit.

There’s nothing magical or brilliant about a task force — it’s fundamental. Candidates might, instead, propose a community forum to talk about the issue. Or a round table. Or a 10-point plan, or even a five- or three-point plan (politicians love those). But give us something to let us know you’re on the case.

Lake makes reference to “a reactionary ‘task force’ that may give the impression of action but cannot match the results achieved to date.”

Yet it was a task force that laid the groundwork for the Kamloops Centre for Water Quality. It was a task force that worked as the Kamloops Air Services Committee and was instrumental in negotiating with Horizon Air and WestJet. A task force tackled the prostitution issue and became the Kamloops Community Action Team (though that group has been disbanded by council). The Graffiti Task Force took on the challenging task of eradicating graffiti, and continues to operate under that name as a community society.

In the wake of the tsunami, the community came together to help, and the original task force now works as the Kamloops Tangalle Friendship Committee. The Tournament Capital Centre and the other new tournament facilities might never have happened if a task force hadn’t come together to support a “yes” vote on approval of funding.

Do I make my point?

Lake claims The Daily News has criticized “trips to China that have helped, and will continue to help our local economy ride the seas of uncertainty.” In fact, The Daily News has supported the China initiative.

It’s true that, as a columnist, while supporting the China protocol, I’ve been critical of the penchant of some members of council for using it as an excuse to travel. Lake knows why — when I was mayor I initiated the City’s relationship with Changping, co-authored the agreement, and signed it on behalf of the City. Concerned both that the public might see it as just another junket, and that council might use it as exactly that, I made sure to negotiate into the agreement wording that would discourage a stream of City government delegations. It was supposed to be all about business.

Despite the fact the council of the day voted in favour of the agreement, Lake insists on the importance of members of council going to China.

When confronted with ideas you don’t like, why not blame the media for not publishing enough “positive” stories?  Look, of course we have a great city, and good things continue to happen here. What’s at issue is preparation to make sure Kamloops can make it through the storm in good shape. That requires bringing people together.

I’m not saying I have all the answers because I definitely do not. I write only as someone who has covered local politics for close to 40 years and has a particular interest in local government, and as someone concerned about Kamloops.

Who would have thought a simple suggestion of a task force would hit such a nerve?

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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