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Mar 31 2011

The town hall meeting – suppressing public dissent

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It was arranged, the time came – we went – it happened and now it’s over. Did we learn anything? We learned who was wearing the “Yes” buttons – and who wore the “No” buttons.

It was moderated by Joanne De Vries of Fresh Outlook from Lake Country. She had a bit of trouble with the electrics – mics that cut out and an overhead projector that couldn’t show the prospective prison sites… Apparently, some official called people with 20 acres of Industrial land the morning of the public meeting to see if they would sell their land for a prison – as far as we know, there is only one private piece of property available for a prison.

One of the speakers claimed it wasn’t a sales pitch and I could see that prisons are his life and he believes in what he does and of course – it’s a sales pitch – it’s hard not to sell when you are taking about your life’s work.

The other speaker was at least responsive. He offered to look at information from the “No” vote. He said he would find out things that he didn’t know and confirmed that we ought to investigate all aspects of having a prison is this very small community.

Apparently the site is not a done deal even if the Mayor says “yes” – and by the way – the other Okanagan Communities are saying that the deadline is April 1st – tomorrow – so why are we having a referendum on April 30th? Anyway, after that the Province negotiates the terms – negotiates with this Lumby Council that doesn’t recognize the truth or public dissent or represent the interests of all constituents. There will be negotiations on things like infrastructure, the environment, neighbours, contracts, grants in lieu of taxes and other issues…

My take on it?

I wondered how the ‘YES’ side felt with all the security people watching us? Get used to it – it’s prison culture! There will be a lot more uniformed people in town if we let a prison move in. 720 inmates, 240 guards, Sheriffs and Police…

This is not a city of 45,000 or even a town of 8,000 – Lumby is so small it’s called a Village. The population in uniform will almost equal the adult population here. 720 inmates + 240 guards + unknown security officers? Lumby will have a military culture – without the positive belief of protecting our own. Sadly, prison inmates are of “our own” making. We are afraid of them – don’t want them – they are the product of some other city – some outside degrading culture – from somewhere else – not here – but it is all our fault.

This is an election moment – so let’s stop with the big box prisons. it’s unnecessary with declining crime rates. This is more intimidation by the Conservative/American tough on crime – war on drugs (even alcohol) agenda. Lots of tax dollars to buy your vote with the promise of a job. Improve society and people will improve.

It appears the community understands just how large the opposition is here but will they push their agenda to the bitter end. At what cost?

Council has not been open, logical or respectful. There has not been one forum offered to hear the opposition. The moderator threatened to throw Frisbees at the people a the mic if their question lasted over a minute. We were told not to clap – we were asked to sit quietly… Why?

Clearly – to suppress democratic public dissent!

Who led the Solicitor General’s Office to believe opposition is irrelevant? Did the SG’s Office know there was so much opposition here? Minutes from Council Meetings have not properly recorded the opposition. The Mayor asked outside Mayors to support him – making it easy for prison opposition in Vernon, Kelowna, Lake Country, Salmon Arm, Enderby, Summerland and Penticton to breathe a sigh of relief.

My good friend from Enderby said – I hope you get the prison – cause then it won’t be in Enderby. Yes – the Mayor was strategic in his job. The Morning Star writes about the pro prison campaign as though it was credible. What changed since you first criticized the Lumby’s Mayor and his pitch for a prison?

Yes Yes Yes? What’s your pecuniary interest – all you ‘YES’ people?? Apparently it’s a job, a grant in Lieu, a paycheck, a few more biased articles published in the Morning Star? How much money is being spent by the ‘Yes’ campaign? How much will be gained by some – while others lose he real value in their home and community.

How far can a people go to buy a vote here in BC before it becomes obvious that some elected officials act with more than an appearance of bias?

The No side recieved $1900 donated dollars – spent hours doing the work that Council didn’t do to research a big prison in a very small Village of 1800. We have been clear – while the ‘Yes’ side have no guarantees, can’t answer the questions, is not taking credit for the sales pitch, has not revealed the price tag of a campaign funded with tax dollars… So, unless they had a monetary interest – why would anyone donate to a campaign to sway voters to support a prison??

Find me the article that extolls the emotional, spiritual and environmental benefits of having prison culture in a tiny community? I’ll post it here when you find it.

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