Coun. Kathy Wallace: "Telegraph readers do not represent the whole community"

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
February 2nd, 2013

City Hall was packed for Monday’s council evening as residents turned up in force to request that council pursue a third-party investigation of the arena scandal, but also to directly address comments made by Coun. Kathy Wallace two weeks ago.

At that time, as council voted 4-3 against apologizing to Rosslanders for the way the arena scandal was handled by council until the anomalies were finally made public in December, Wallace said, “I think there is an assumption on Coun. [Kathy] Moore’s part that the people who were at that meeting [on Jan. 4 at the Seniors’ Hall] were representative of the community. I do not agree that they are.”

“I am hearing a very strong voice from this community,” Wallace said, “that they do not like the media attention that this has generated, and et cetera. When I hear this presentation that ‘We’ve let the community down,’ there are a lot of people in this community who don’t hold that perspective.”

Public response in the Telegraph

The response on the Rossland Telegraph site was emphatic: “Councillor Wallace,” resident Sue Wrigley commented, “if the people at the meeting weren’t representative of the community, where were the people who are representative? And where are all their comments supporting you and your side? I don’t see them in the Telegraph!”

At the time of publication of this story, Wrigley’s comment—in which she also rebuked Coun. Cary Fisher for accusing Coun. Kathy Moore of harbouring an ulterior motive—had received 42 “thumbs up” and two down, a voting mechanism used by the Telegraph for readers to identify comments with which they agree or disagree.

Public response at council

Of 11 residents who spoke to the arena issue during the public input period on Monday, two specifically addressed Wallace’s statements from two weeks ago.

Bill Micklethwaite said, “A lot of people talk to me in the street and by email and, contrary to Coun. Kathy Wallace’s assertions, many citizens really are quite concerned over the arena contract issues.”

“Because of the small venue at the Seniors’ Hall,” he added, referring to at least 70 people crammed into a space on Jan. 4 that would normally accommodate fewer than 50, “many people came and left—a remarkable number for a specific issue.”

Dave Diplock said he felt compelled to speak to council upon “hearing that it was felt that this meeting at the senior’s centre did not represent the true Rosslander.”

“I have yet to meet anyone who is not appalled by what they’ve heard about what’s going on,” he said. He noted that “the press” is “the way I get most of my information.” Diplock said.

“I feel that all the great press the town has received this year has been nullified by this negative cloud that’s hanging over the town right now, and we need to get to the bottom of it and move on from there,” he said.

Diplock was likely referring to positive press coverage such as the Rossland-Nelson win of Powder Magazine’s Ski Town Throw-down, the New York Times’ No. 8 ranking for Rossland in top 2013 destinations worldwide, and CTV’s extensive coverage of the 116th Rossland Winter Carnival on Canada AM.

Coun. Kathy Wallace responds

“I’m going to take the opportunity to defend [against] a misinterpretation of words I spoke at the last meeting,” Wallace said. “I said that I felt the people who attended that meeting at the Seniors’ Hall were not a direct representation of the community. I still feel that way.”

“The only people who were at that meeting were ones who read the Telegraph. And the readers of the Telegraph, in my opinion, do not pose a fair representation of the whole community,” she said.

Mayor Granstrom used his gavel and called for order as the residents in the gallery laughed or expressed surprise, and one said loudly, “Excuse me?”

Wallace continued, “I’m not saying the opinions of those people…don’t count. But as far as Coun. Moore’s request for this council to make a formal apology to the whole community, I don’t think that was appropriate at that point in time.”

“Misinterpret me, whatever,” Wallace concluded. “I know there are many people in the community who agree with the position that was taken.”

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