COMMENT: Rebutting the rebuttal of my rebuttal ...
For those of you who haven’t been following this story, this is a response to the comment after my column last week, which can be read at https://castlegarsource.com/news/comment-rebuttal-letter-editor-26720#.Ul5BThDRUik
To the author of said comment:
My response is so late in coming because I’ve really been searching my soul over how frank I want to be in my reply. Friends have counselled me to be less honest and open than is my norm … and I considered the risk of serious political backlash … but that’s just not how I do business, as a journalist, or as a human being.
So, in the interests of absolute honesty, I would like to say that I believe with all my heart (although I can’t prove it) that you were the principal architect of the original letter, and that you have a personal agenda around the airport management role that you have not disclosed in your public comments, and I think that’s just wrong.
Furthermore, in my opinion, Rempel should consider suing you for defamation, although I think he’s too nice of a guy to do so. In my opinion, repeatedly saying he was demoted is either an outright lie, or a misunderstanding arising from what I perceive to be a refusal to bother gathering even the most basic facts before speaking in the public domain … either of which I find reprehensible, given what I perceive to be an attempt to diminish an upstanding citizen in the eyes of the public.
When speaking through the media about a dedicated public servant, I think you have a responsibility to make sure your facts are correct.
Rempel was not demoted, he was given added responsibility. One phone call to City Hall netted me the information that Rempel was, and remains, a full-time fire chief, as well as a part-time airport manager – a set of circumstances that has saved Castlegar taxpayers roughly $120,000 in airport costs alone over the past four years.
As for me providing facts of my own, I did just that – facts which, in my opinion, you tried to obfuscate with the statement, “to suggest that a properly equipped response vehicle can be obtained for $32-40,000 is questionable at best …”
I suggested no such thing – I was providing the facts about the cost of our current response vehicles to rebut the staggeringly untrue statement in the original letter indicating the cost of those two vehicles was close to $100,000 each.
You said, “For you to attack the author of the letter regarding IH vs BCAS is somewhat petty.”
I don’t know how to respond to someone who thinks it’s petty to require accuracy regarding the target of a public accusation of incompetence, especially in a news venue. In fact, I find that bizarre.
You said, “Like it or not there is a perception by many in this community that the first responder’s (sic) and the ambulance are chasing each other to accident scenes.”
As I’ve already pointed out, our fire fighters are trained for free because of our first responders agreement with the province, saving local taxpayers a great deal of money, and our fire department often saves lives by arriving before the ambulance, so I’m not sure what your objection here is about.
As for why we need another deputy chief, a simple perusal of public record will tell you that call volumes have steadily increased over the years, and given that our two paid fire department employees are expected to provide coverage 365 days a year, 24/7, for the safety of our residents, another part-time employee is hardly an extravagance. (I think it’s worth reiterating here that Nelson pays almost three times as much as we do for just over a third the firefighters we boast).
You asked about what happens when Rempel retires – had you involved yourself in the public discussion around the issue, you would know that hiring Lattanzio was largely a decision made around succession planning, to ensure that when Rempel retires, his 30+ years of experience, knowledge and skill don’t walk out the door with him.
As for the city hiring an outside consultant for car rental lease negotiation (that would be Shawn Sutherland, our former airport manager), I don’t think delegation is unreasonable for a man shouldering the degree of responsibility Rempel does for this community. In fact, I think it’s a show of wisdom and good management.
In response to your question about the increase in budget, it was increased by half a person year ($40,000), an amount which was highlighted in the public budget process and was vetted by, and ultimately approved by, our entire city council. There was ample opportunity, at that time, to express any objections – publicly and to the people making the decisions (it’s perhaps worth noting that Rempel had no vote in that process, beyond the one enjoyed by every member of the Castlegar electorate).
I hope this answers all your questions, and puts an end to what I see as ugly innuendos, slurs, and implications about our fire chief/airport manager.
I think he has earned better from his community.