- Elsay Performs SaturdayPosted 20 hours ago
- The Austerity Trap … It Doesn’t WorkPosted 1 day ago
- More Than Two Thousand Graduate From UFVPosted 1 day ago
- George Murray Responds To Questions On Chicken Manure Homeless InicidentPosted 2 days ago
- Books: New Research Institute Explores Works Of Lewis And TolkienPosted 3 days ago
- Our Collective SilencePosted 5 days ago
- Ernie’s ChallengePosted 6 days ago
- Free Mental Health Training Program Receives Extended Life From Local DoctorsPosted 7 days ago
Columns: Frank PIzzuto Seems To Get It Wrong … Alot
UPDATED 19/07/12 – COMMENTS RECEIVED – By Mike Archer. Abbotsford’s City Manager Frank Pizzuto is developing a worrisome track record for getting it wrong on some pretty enormous issues of political importance to the citizens of Abbotsford.
They are issues which are pretty fundamental to citizens and the City has repeatedly defined them as crucial to Abbotsford’s future as a city.
There are also hundreds of millions of dollars riding on his ability to get it right.
The Disappearing Water Crisis
In a story by Neil Corbett published in the Abbotsford News this week it was revealed that the water crisis we were all warned about – remember … the one that was going to grind development to a halt by 2016 – is actually not going to have to be dealt with until 2020 according to staff report presented to Council.
Prior to the P3 Water Referendum Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeab put it very succinctly – Teichroeb Repeats His Threat – No P3 … No Water.
Here we are without a P3 and … we’ve got plenty of water?
Pizzuto, who ran the Vote Yes Campaign on behalf of the water lobby, got some Op Ed coverage in The Abbotsford News telling voters how to vote on a major election issue during the middle of a municipal election campaign and spent some $200,000 advertising and promoting the pro water lobby vote.
It was a full court press with dire warnings about economic disaster, sky high water rates and critical water shortages if citizens didn’t agree with his position on the controversial question. Even backroom political kingmaker Dave Holmberg got editorial space in The News to help sell the pro water lobby vote.
The incumbent politicians were smart enough to distance themselves from the issue, knowing full well how unpopular the idea was becoming.
Turns out the warnings from the City of Abbotsford senior staff and Abbotsford Council in the run up to last year’s P3 Water Referendum were wrong.
Last week Abbotsford Today revealed , in Watering Restrictions Indeed, that our fields are being watered, apparently in contravention of the water restrictions. When we looked into the matter we found that the City of Abbotsford didn’t even have the water restrictions up on the City website this year.
From City Hall’s perspective it didn’t even seem there were any water restrictions this year.
Can anyone remember the advertising in newspapers, on the City website, on buses warning that everyone should conserve water due to the impending water crisis?
This year they are not only not advertising the water shortage they haven’t even updated their website in over a year. City Engineer Jim Gordon insisted water restrictions are in effect. They just don’t seem to want to tell anybody about them.
Could it be that they are making so much money through high water rates
they no longer want us to conserve? Could it be the water shortage they warned us about was invented out of thin air as a reason to sign a deal with an American water management company?
In How Did The National For-Profit Water Juggernaut Suffer A Humiliating Defeat In Abbotsford? Diane Kalen-Sukra chronicles how the international movement to have private corporations take over public utlities was watching the Abbotsford P3 water referendum and funding the fight to convince voters to support the P3 proposal to sell construction and management of Abbotsford’s water to an American company.
In Water Rates & Water Meters … You Still Don’t Get It Vince Dimanno chronicles what he refers to as the unethical and immoral effects the change to second and third tier water billing is having on Abbotsford citizens.
Why are Abbotsford citizens being asked to pay more for water when it has been made quite clear that, in a rainforest such as the one we live in, with an aquifer the size of the one we live on, we should have more than enough water?
In Abbotsford Sumas Aquifer Could Save $126 Million, UBC policy analyst, researcher and instructor, Karen Ageson revealed just how much water we actually have at our disposal and just how much money we could be saving if we actually decided to access the supply.
At what stage in this process do the citizens of Abbotsford begin to ask themselves how we could have been facing such a dire situation for two years leading up to last autmun’s P3 Water Referendum only to quite suddenly be told that the City is no longer the least bit concerned and there no longer appears to be any water crisis?
The Ever Changing Cost Of The Heat
In 2010/11 Pizzuto engaged in a series of forays into media management by preemptively informing the public of the anticipated costs of subsidizing the Abbotsford Heat hockey team owned by the Calgary Flames and a local ownership group.
No doubt he was expecting better results from ticket sales because each time he updated the public the number of taxpayer dollars it was going to take to keep the rich owners from loosing money kept getting bigger.
Both he and then mayor George Peary were pilloried for the public relations disaster on Abbotsford Today – How Stupid Do Frank Pizzuto And George Peary Think We Are?
The annual subsidy, said by some to be allegedly illegal, has been a controversial issue ever since it was announced by former mayor George Peary. Dubbed George Peary’s Deal by Abbotsford Today, the contract to absorb the business’ losses has been the source of endless discussion and speculation and has been dogging council members who approved of the deal ever since Peary announced it.
Trouble was … every time Pizzuto announced the revised estimates of the amount taxpayers would be paying the business owners the figure kept rising. It became quite clear during the process that, either Pizzuto’s ability to forecast the subsidy was coming out of thin air or the no one knew exactly how much taxpayers were going to have to pay.
Eventually he abandoned the practice and announced he would only be updating citizens when the final figures were in.
The $2 Million/Year Question About The AESC
On May 23, 2012, Pizzuto told the Abbotsford Times that the City of Abbotsford had always expected to pay about $2 Million a year on the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).
That caused an immediate reaction from Abbotsford Ratepayers Association (ARA) president and Abbotsford Today co-owner Vince Dimanno – ARA Demands Pizzutto Clarify, Retract AESC Statements – which has been followed by an intention to appear as a delegation before Abbotsford Council on the matter.
The issue is a serious one because with a long record of public statements made by councillors to the effect that the AESC would provide taxpayers with profits, as early as year-one, both prior to the Plan A Referendum and since, Pizzuto’s statement appears to be at odds with what councillors have been telling the public.
Said Dimanno in his letter to Council, “It is our opinion that this is an attempt to not only rewrite history but to explicitly mislead the taxpayers of Abbotsford.”
“We consider the City Manager’s statement to be an attempt to cover up failure of performance. We all know the financial status of both AESC and the Abbotsford Heat. To knowingly lie about the expectation that the City and the taxpayers had for it, when that knowledge would surely have changed the outcome of the Referendum, may easily be considered misconduct.”
Either a large number of Abbotsford politicians have some very serious explaining to do about how they knew all along the AESC would cost taxpayers $2 Million … and didn’t tell us about it, or Pizzuto has to explain why he would say such a thing.
They can’t both be right.
Wherever the truth lies, the City Manager seems to have real trouble getting his story straight when it comes to telling the citizens of Abbotsford what is happening in their community or in presenting the challenges we face.
These are not the kinds of little mistakes any public official occasionally makes when he or she misspeaks, fumbles an answer or let’s something be overheard they later wish they hadn’t said.
These are fundamental and enormous errors in fact which completely misrepresent and misstate the actual state of the City’s finances and its survival as a corporate entity.
Taxpayers can’t be expected to approve of the expenditure of hundreds of millions of their dollars when they are either not told about the truth or the facts with which they are presented, and on which they make their political decisions, are simply not true.
If Council allows this situation to continue no doubt they will appear complicit and should face consequences for abandoning their fiduciary obligations.