Did DWK violate election laws?

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occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
Posts: 2744
Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Westside Weekly about an election topic but, on enquiring as to why it has not been published, was informed that I have exceeded my quota of one a month. The letter concerned my reaction to the so-called "West Kelowna News" insert that we get with our quarterly utility bills, courtesy of the district's unnecessary if not bloated p.r. department. On longer reflection, I think the district may have broken the law, and I'm thinking of writing to Victoria to complain.

My heretofore unpublished letter:
Ah, politics. Ah, West Kelowna politics, bush league in the extreme. So I open my quarterly utilities bill the other day and out pops the usual insert “West Kelowna News” along with my utilities bill. “YOUR VOTE YOUR VOICE” greets me on the front page and I wonder, they wouldn’t be so rookie and/or cynical as to include the usual puffery about our council and the chatty “Mayor’s Message” inn this, the edition just before the election. Nope. I’m wrong of course. Three pictures of Mayor Findlater and various councillors on the second page, two on the third page, and “Mayor’s Message” and a picture of Mr. Findlater in a suit no less on the last page, along with a nice picture of council cutting a ribbon on Brown Road, one of the biggest boondoggles of the last three years.

I’d like to issue a request for information to see what co-operation or opposition, if any, that West Kelowna staff issued on this piece of election material on the public purse. I’d like to ask if the provincial Municipal Affairs department will be insisting that candidates report this benefit on their election expenses. Our West Kelowna mayor and council have had trouble with transparency from the beginning of the district, but I never expected to see them wander so boldly so quickly into this area of non-ethics. I’m disgusted.
Randall T
Grand Pooh-bah
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Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by Randall T »

A copy of West Kelowna News included with a utility bill from West Kelowna? Why send them separately when they can go together? And a reminder to vote, which by the way is also on the West Kelowna website. I'm confused what the perceived "conflict" is here and what laws you think are being broken.
I birn quil I se
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
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Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

Public money for 3 pages of pictures of mayor and councillors cutting ribbons on projects, and the mayor's message extolling the accomplishments of council over the past session. This is campaign material paid for by taxpayers. Do you live in WK? Take a look at it.
Randall T
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Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by Randall T »

Yes I do, and I've received the news circulars in the past. Therefore I fail to see any conflict here. If you haven't lived in West Kelowna for long, possibly you have never received the newsletter before. Personally I think the West Kelowna website should be sufficient, however there are still many people who are not connected for whatever reasons and prefer print material. Including it with the municipality utilities bill cuts some costs in getting it out there.
I birn quil I se
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
Posts: 2744
Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

I've lived here for 17+ years thank you. You? Obviously you don't get it. The insert this quarter, which was sent after the election nominations closed, is 3/4 pictures of mayor and council with ribbon cutting, touting its accomplishments, all stuff that belongs on campaign materials paid for by candidates and not by the public. This should have been off limits as soon as the election was called/nominations closed.
mystica
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Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by mystica »

I too saw the newsletter and commented to my partner that I thought this was really an underhand piece of electioneering work.

The council has access to every household in the municipality and used this knowledge to their advantage to promote the existing council.

Everyone has to open their bills and so the candidates were able to guarantee every household would receive the newsletter.

Furthermore, they did so without cost to themselves! We , the electorate, paid for the mailing of this.

I too believe the legitimacy of this newsletter should be questioned with Victoria.
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
Posts: 2744
Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

Thank you, Mystica. With the Randall T comments and challenges, I thought maybe I was losing my marbles or at least my ability to explain myself on a topic. The matter seemed pretty clear to me: taxpayer-funded 4-page newsletter in our utility bills, first page a reminder to vote, the next three pages all about the incumbent mayor and council cutting ribbons, smiling very widely for the camera, and the mayor's regular column on accomplishments. You put the points much more succinctly than my prose, but your comments are exact on. I have the newsletter by my computer and I think I will write a letter to Victoria shortly.
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
Posts: 2744
Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

I'm amused (not!) by the following excerpt from the municipal election financing act regarding political advertising provided by "the local jurisdiction" (such as District of West Kelowna):

Free advertising provided by the local jurisdiction
If the local jurisdiction provides free transmission of election
advertising and offers it equitably to all candidates in the election, the
following information must be disclosed:
„„ the date the election advertising was transmitted to the public
„„ the specific means by which the election advertising was
transmitted
„„ the jurisdiction that provided the election advertising

I think my first stop on this matter must be DWK and I think I'll get a letter to them tomorrow.
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
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Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

I've sent the following letter to the DWK administration today:

Chief Admin Officer
District of West Kelowna

Dear Sir:

I submit that approximately three-quarters of the recent West Kelowna News newsletter inserted with our last quarterly utility bill in October is an election contribution by the administration of the District of West Kelowna to the mayoral and councillor incumbents who are running for re-election in the upcoming municipal election on November 15.

Following is an excerpt from the Guide to Local Elections Campaign Financing in B.C. which in and of itself does not address the circumstance of a local administration that makes a partisan contribution in a local election, but does provide some semblance of what an intelligent person might expect to see (equitability) if an administration wandered into election campaign waters:

Free advertising provided by the local jurisdiction
If the local jurisdiction provides free transmission of election advertising and offers it equitably to all candidates in the election, the following information must be disclosed:
the date the election advertising was transmitted to the public
the specific means by which the election advertising was transmitted
the jurisdiction that provided the election advertising

I would like to know if and why the civic newsletter is legitimate under the provincial legislation and guidelines. I am also requesting records that show the chain of command and their instructions that gave effect to this so-obviously inappropriate intrusion into the current election campaign, and if any internal opposition or concern was expressed. My purpose is to ensure that the public knows the behind-the-scenes attitudes of politicians and administrators in our district to matters of ethics in campaign financing in our district.

Sincerely,
beancounter
Board Meister
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Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by beancounter »

I'm not understanding what the issue is. There have been similar newsletters in every DWK utility bill I have received. Why would there not be one with the October billing? There is a mayor's message in every one, as well as pictures of ribbon cutting etc. I suppose you can read into it what you want, but this was just another newsletter, in my opinion. http://www.districtofwestkelowna.ca/index.aspx?page=362
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
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Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

In the opinion of others, including myself, it was a hamhanded attempt to publicize the incumbents, and without complying with provincial election financing laws.
nextimeround
Generalissimo Postalot
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Joined: Dec 7th, 2011, 1:20 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by nextimeround »

occasional thoughts wrote:In the opinion of others, including myself, it was a hamhanded attempt to publicize the incumbents, and without complying with provincial election financing laws.


You're not in the minority here - I agree with you completely. Regardless of what is included in previous newsletters it is clearly inappropriate to publish a newsletter featuring such photos and grandstanding during an election period. Delay the newsletter or alter it to not focus on mayor and council achievements. It is without a doubt impossible to publish such a newsletter during an election without having a bias toward the incumbents. What's worse this newsletter in particular featured an elevated level of grandstanding and in particular by Findlater and a few council members.

Please post the response you get (if any). And thank you for pursuing this cause.
occasional thoughts
Grand Pooh-bah
Posts: 2744
Joined: Sep 6th, 2006, 11:07 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by occasional thoughts »

I've received what I would categorize as a non-response which I'll endeavour to post here shortly. It says almost nothing, and points me to the election finance people in Victoria if I'm concerned, which I knew was my option, but I wanted to put it to DWK first. If that's what they want, so be it, that's what I'll be doing. Circle the wagons, admit nothing, deny deny, when in doubt mumble. That's what we've hired and employ and pay big bucks for in DWK head office. I'd have been satisfied with an acknowledgement that the newsletter was inappropriate under the circumstances. As it stands, it was a misuse of public funds in my view, and if any incumbent politician seeking re-election had a hand in approving it, an abuse of public office.
heather yeats
Fledgling
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Joined: Aug 8th, 2010, 10:37 pm

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by heather yeats »

Well done Occasional Thoughts!

I fully agree that this should be taken further.

It is unfair that the council should use our money to act in such a blatant self serving manner.
Piggy backing on a bill that everyone has to open is unfair on candidates that do not have that opportunity to make use of "free" electioneering (and in at least one case would not use it if they could)

It will be interesting to see what response you get.
waterwings
Übergod
Posts: 1069
Joined: Jun 12th, 2009, 11:22 am

Re: Did DWK violate election laws?

Post by waterwings »

Guess what? I dug out other newsletters from the DWK over the past 4 years and they all have exactly the same type of photographs. You people are making a mountain out of a molehill.

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