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Hey, wait a minute!
General News · 28th January 2019
De Clarke
As reported earlier by Christine Robinson:  at its regular meeting on Thursday, January 24th, the Board of Directors of SRD voted to table all three significant current Cortes-related agenda items “until the implications of the legal petition filed by Cortes Island constituents is [sic] fully understood by the Board.”  (Quote from response from Tom Yates, CSM, to John Sprungman, following day, Jan 25th)

One island resident had written to SRD with a list of questions about the referendum process. Mr Yates replied, “I think it best to defer a response to the questions you [Cortes resident] have raised until the Board is able to provide clear direction regarding this matter.”  The tabling action apparently extends even to communications about current Cortes issues.

Since we are all trying to understand implications:  it seems to me that the SRD Board is using their alleged lack of understanding of the “implications” of the litigation attempt currently under way against RD Anderson, as an excuse for shutting down normal governance for our island.  Presumably SRD can take as long as they wish to obtain a “full” understanding. They offer no definition of what would constitute a “full” understanding. They offer no projected date by which they will obtain a “full” understanding.  Will it take weeks, or months, or… ?  Litigation, as they and we are all well aware, can drag on for years. 

Director Anderson challenged this decision during the Jan 24 meeting, objecting that it was irresponsible to halt normal Cortes business because of unresolved allegations;  she pointed out that in a small community like Cortes Island, most issues and people are somehow connected, so a tabling of Cortes business with any connection to the present litigation could be interpreted as grounds to halt all Cortes governance indefinitely.  The SRD Board response, in my personal view, could be summarised as “Too bad.” 

It appears that Cortes Island has for the moment -and for some unspecified time to come - ceased to exist as a political entity.  It seems reasonable to assume that no active issue affecting Cortes Island will move forward...  both referenda will remain on hold with no further public process... no investigation will be made into the handling of correspondence received from Cortes Island by other Regional Directors(s) and influencing his/her vote on Cortes issues.  Questions posed by those concerned residents of Cortes who have taken the time to write to SRD openly and correctly may be entered into Correspondence Received, but SRD will feel no obligation to answer.

Presumably life will go on — we may have missed the boat yet again for any new tax services, but community groups will still receive routine annual funding. Our property taxes will be collected as usual, and funded services will continue to operate. But if SRD interprets this tabling decision with their current level of enthusiasm, we can expect very little current or new business to be handled. My translation: our Regional Director will not be permitted to do her job.

As part of this “tabling” manoeuvre, SRD will also not confirm our APC membership as recommended by RD Anderson. This means we will be deprived of the representative power of this committee, which participates in policy discussions about land use and bylaw revision.  Thanks to its democratic process, extended deliberations and diverse makeup, APC recommendations are more convincing and useful in the planning process than letters from isolated individuals or hand-counts at town hall meetings.  It has been since the 70’s an essential and effective tool for Cortes Island self-governance.  SRD has just shut it down.

While this SRD “freeze” on Cortes affairs may please a few locals — for example, those who have been grimly determined for years to prevent a referendum on a hall tax service — their satisfaction comes with a potentially high price tag for the island as a whole.   My personal opinion is that SRD has stepped outside its mandate in acting with no public debate or discussion to put a freeze on governance issues for our Area.  

What do you think?  If SRD now declines even to answer questions from this constituency, has Cortes Island been effectively disenfranchised? In whose interest is it to do this? Are we being well-served by our Regional District? Is our Regional District upholding the Core Values from their Mission Statement page?

Core Values

In fulfilling our Mission, we are guided at all levels by the Core Values of Teamwork, Respect, Integrity, Effectiveness and Accountability as defined by these principles:

* We work as a committed team in a spirit of collaboration and community.
* We are caring and respectful in all our interactions and relationships.
* We are open and honest. We adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct.
* We deliver effective public service through professionalism and creativity.
* We are accountable to our constituents and to the region as a whole.

so, what was the Boston tea party about?
Comment by mike m on 29th January 2019