Archive for: ‘September 2019’

Vancouver School Board audits say trustees ‘ineffective’

24/09/2019 Posted by admin

A special adviser’s report looking into the actions of the Vancouver School Board says problems within the board stemmed from some trustees prioritizing their political agendas, rather than stewardship of the district.

Education Minister Mike Bernier fired all nine members of the board last week and says two reports that show failures of governance and budgetary practices deepen his lack of confidence in the former board.

“It underlines the fact that stewartship is challenging enough without the distractions created by a focus on political advocacy,” Bernier said.

The province released the forensic audit by special adviser Peter Milburn along with a detailed review and audit by Ernst and Young. It also released a supplemental report on the impact of school closures at the Vancouver School Board.

READ MORE: 

Vancouver School Board trustees demand apology from education ministerFired trustees say education minister defamed them

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The reports offer a long list of options that trustees could have pursued to balance the budget, including following past recommendations by external reviews that were never implemented.

All school boards in the province were required by law to submit a balanced budget by June 30.

In a conference call Friday, Bernier told reporters that the audits support his decision to fire the board members because the report says trustees chose not to provide a balanced budget in an act of protest for more funding.

The special adviser’s report also cited problems of overstaffing, the need to better monetize unused facilities and real estate and improve collective agreements with staff and service providers.

“The Vancouver School Board allowed money to be tied up in inefficiencies rather than spent in classrooms, in services for students,” he said.

Former board chair Mike Lombardi couldn’t immediately be reached for comment but he did issue a statement on 桑拿会所 calling the forensic audit “nothing more than a fishing expedition.”

Lombardi said the reports are being used as a distraction from decades of underfunding of education from the province.

The report looked at opportunities for the board to balance its budget with and without school closures.

It recommended the board sell its Kingsgate Mall property, which could produce more than $50 million in revenue.

It also says the board could rectify past decisions that have limited the amount of revenue it can earn from its real estate and caused properties to be leased at below-market rates.

On the issue of governance, the report says the board of trustees took “an unusual and ineffective approach” with the operation of the school district and interfered with management.

The report says the board’s actions caused management “an unsustainable amount of stress.”

Bernier would not comment on the ongoing investigation by WorkSafe BC into allegations that senior management had put forward about bullying in the workplace.

The entire senior management of the school district went on medical leave at the end of September, but Bernier said he expects staff to return to their posts in the coming weeks.

Four fired trustees affiliated with the reigning Vision Vancouver party demanded a retraction and apology from the education minister earlier this week. They say he made defamatory statements about them, accusing them of creating a toxic work environment.

READ MORE: Former Vancouver School Board chair Mike Lombardi calls firing ‘outrageous’

There were 59 governance and budgetary recommendations made between the two audits, which the education minister says the newly appointed trustee Dianne Turner will be responsible for implementing.

Former trustee Patti Bachus tweeted her response on Friday, firing back at the provincial government.

Meet the Vancouver School Board’s official trustee Dianne Turner

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Meet the Vancouver School Board’s official trustee Dianne Turner

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Vancouver School Board dismissed by B.C. education minister

02:23

B.C.’s education minister fires Vancouver School Board

01:51

Vancouver School Board trustee speaks out against audit

02:03

Stunning new developments at Vancouver School Board meeting

01:17

Vancouver School Board bullying allegations deepen



With files from Jill Slattery

Commercial development under construction in north Lethbridge

24/09/2019 Posted by admin

The city of Lethbridge continues growing ever closer to having 100,000 residents and with more residential areas going up, the need for services is growing too.

Now, a new commercial development is under construction to service the Legacy Ridge subdivision.

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“To invest in a building is a long-term investment, it’s capital intensive and it is also a 20- to 30-year process, so these people that are committing to do this, are doing it because they have confidence in their business and in Lethbridge in general,” said Matthew Sherwood, the president of Sherwood Developments – the company behind the new development.

“Legacy Gate is the name of the development,” Sherwood said. “It’s six acres, its right at the entrance into Legacy Ridge subdivision.”

The local developer added the commercial development will help provide some key services to north Lethbridge, an area where he says commercial development still needs to catch up to residential growth.

“There will be a Tim Hortons as well as a 7-Eleven which will have a Petro-Canada gas bar out front. We will be having a Jetz Car Wash adjacent to the Petro-Canada,” Sherwood said. “We do have a lease in place with a liquor store that will be connected to the 7-Eleven.”

Construction on Legacy Gate started just a few months ago, but already, two buildings are up and there is still plenty of space for more development.

“We have been in conversations with different banks and restaurants that we feel would be complimentary to that type of concept, ,” Sherwood added. “It’s the things that you need in a hurry -coming home to and from your house, to and from work. We hope other businesses like fitness facilities, medical facilities – we would love pharmacy… chiropractic – also come to the area.”

Residents in the area can expect to grab a cup of coffee or fill up their car in Legacy Gate as soon as January 2017.

Chicago Cubs World Series ticket battle drives divorcing couple to court

24/09/2019 Posted by admin

CHICAGO — The frenzy among Chicago Cubs fans to snag pricey and scarce tickets to World Series games at Wrigley Field has now landed in divorce court.

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Court documents obtained by The Associated Press from Cook County Circuit Court on Friday say a suburban mom this week submitted an “Emergency Petition For World Series Tickets” to see Game 5 Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. A judge’s order says the tickets for Saturday are held by Nancy Riddle’s estranged husband and fellow Cubs fan John Riddle.

READ MORE: Young Chicago Cubs fan concussed by Cleveland fan given free World Series tickets

Judge Marya Nega ruled after in-court arguments that the husband can keep the tickets for himself and the couple’s 12-year-old son but should pay for a new ticket for Nancy Riddle in a “comparable” section to his. The cheapest available tickets start at around $3,000.

 The Cubs haven’t won a World Series title since 1908 and long-suffering fans are paying a minimum of thousands of dollars per ticket to attend games at Wrigley Field. Even standing-room tickets on sites such as StubHub started at around $2,500, with tickets for most actual seats going for at least five figures and some sellers asking for more than $100,000 for prime box seats.

The husband’s lawyer, Michael Berger, declined to name his client in a Thursday interview. But he did describe the legal tussle, saying his client landed the World Series tickets because he bought a season-ticket package deal with his friends this year before divorce proceedings began in April.

WATCH: What has happened in the world since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series?

Berger said he objected to the notion that because the Cubs hadn’t made it to a World Series in 71 years, the request for the judge to intervene on the ticket issue was an emergency because the Cubs might not make it back to another World Series in the wife’s lifetime.

Berger is a fan of the Cubs’ bitter cross-town rivals, the White Sox, and said he reluctantly acknowledged to the court during arguments before the judge that the Cubs “are a great team.”

“Even if the Cubs lose this time, it is likely — regrettably — that they will be back to the World Series again soon,” he said in a Thursday phone interview.

The law firm representing Nancy Riddle, Davis Freeman LLC, declined any comment.

Frustration at Edmonton law courts over justice delayed

24/09/2019 Posted by admin

Late Friday morning, a small group of people emerged from the Edmonton law courts angry and frustrated.

“I’m shocked that this can even be happening,” Lori McConnell said.

“How can we keep delaying this process for an indefinite period of time,” McConnell asked.

McConnell was speaking for her friend Gina Robinson, an Edmonton woman who died in April 2014.

The 54-year-old was found in a northwest Edmonton home with serious injuries. She died days later as a result of blunt force trauma according to the autopsy.

Gilbert Robinson, Gina’s estranged husband, is facing a second-degree murder charge.

Gilbert Robinson is facing a charge of second degree murder in the death of Gina Robinson.

Supplied

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The case was scheduled to go to trial twice, but both times the accused fired his lawyer at the last minute; most recently, last week.

“Gina’s brother drove from Chicago, got here in the afternoon just to find out everything had been delayed,” McConnell explained, adding, “her daughter came from England.”

There is worry the accused, who is out on bail, is firing his counsel as a stall tactic.

In court Friday morning, the judge ordered the accused must be ready for the new trial dates. It’s now been set to be heard between Jan. 8 to 26, 2018, nearly four years after Gina’s death.

“This is difficult,” McConnell said.

“Any client has the right to fire their lawyer for any reason,” Kelly Dawson, president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, said.

Dawson said a lawyer being fired by a client is not a “common occurrence.”

“They (an accused) can’t use that delay to argue that their right to a trial in a reasonable time has been violated,” Dawson said.

When it comes to the administration of justice, the onus is on the Crown and the courts to ensure a trial proceeds in a reasonable amount of time. As for delays caused by an accused?

“We trust the court to guarantee, not only the rights of the accused, but to make sure that the system is not abused,” Dawson explained.

“And I think judges are very aware of that and very cautious about what they do in these kinds of situations.”

Gina Robinson’s family and friends vow to continue to be there for their friend, no matter what obstacles come up.

“Gina is very much alive in our hearts and she will remain very alive in our hearts,” McConnell said. “And so, we just have to keep digging in.”

Tribute to veterans on Alberta highway vandalized: ‘Have some respect’

24/09/2019 Posted by admin

With just two weeks until Remembrance Day, a special tribute to our fallen soldiers has been vandalized.

It happened near Sylvan Lake where 128 flags line Highway 11.

The organization Veterans Voices of Canada says a flag was taken off the pole and tossed in the ditch. A hero plaque at the memorial was also taken down and left in the ditch.

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    “I’m looking at the flags and I’m looking at the hero plaques and I’m wondering why the heck somebody would want to do that,” founder Al Cameron said.

    “It’s a tribute. It’s a memorial tribute … The fact that my family members are on that flag line and that somebody can come along and do that to anybody’s family – it’s pretty brutal as far as I’m concerned.”

    Cameron said he feels the act is incredibly disrespectful and hopes it won’t happen again.

    “I’m really hoping that this is going to be a one-time thing. I”m going to put my faith in humanity once more.”

    “I’m going to hope that whoever did this … that they’re going to understand what these flags mean and the effect it has,” he said.

    READ MORE: Alberta man immortalizes voices of fallen soldiers 

    Cameron said he’s considering enlisting volunteers to guard the memorial site. That step had to be taken in Kingston, Ont. where a similar site was seeing flags stolen on a nightly basis.

    “They actually had the community come together to protect those flags and that flag line,” Cameron said.

    A flag line pays tribute to our fallen soldiers on Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    A flag line pays tribute to our fallen soldiers on Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    128 flags line Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    128 flags line Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    128 flags line Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    A flag line pays tribute to our fallen soldiers on Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    Heroes plaques pay tribute to our fallen soldiers on Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    Heroes plaques pay tribute to our fallen soldiers on Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    128 flags line Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

    Al Cameron/Veterans Voices of Canada

    His message to those responsible?

    “If they want to question what we’re doing, come to us and question it, but think of those family members that have hero plaques on these sites. It’s giving tribute to their families so you’re basically disrespecting them and their veteran and their family.”

    READ MORE: Fallen Canadian soldiers honoured with central Alberta roadside flag tribute

    “We’re better than this,” Cameron added. “We can do better than this.”

    The flags are put up on the first Saturday in October with an opening ceremony at each tribute site across the country. A closing ceremony is held after Remembrance Day to take them down.

    Currently, there are nearly 40 sites in different communities across Canada.

    Follow @Emily_Mertz