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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Openness, transparency the only way forward for Summerside

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Topics of major importance to the people of Summerside in the run-up to Monday’s election include the Hopping Report into the failed Michael Jackson tribute concert once planned for Summerside, and the results of a 2010 police review.

With regards to the Hopping Report and the decision to not release it, there appears to be information in the community suggesting that the real details are that the then newly-elected council had a meeting with a senior city official who advised them that if the report was leaked, they could be sued.

Under that risk, and in my opinion, it was a stressful situation for the mayor and the new council. It was unfortunate that staff got dragged into the situation. There was no apparent consequence to those people at that meeting. Not a recorded warning etc., or anything about taxpayers’ money being spent.

We are citizens and should have transparency in this matter.

With regards to the police report that was commissioned in 2010, I have been waiting for the city to come clean. I, and several members of the Crime Prevention Committee, worked for over a year on this important task. Having been told that we would be interviewed during the consultant's one-week visit, I went to city hall to get the list of the interview appointments –  nobody knew where it was. Several weeks later, the Crime Prevention Committee still had not been notified.

At the time, then-Mayor Basil Stewart was in Saint John, N.B., I asked him where the list was. He said he left it in the capable hands of the city's administration. I later got a call from the consultants asking why we refused to show up for our appointment. Being that the city was not enthusiastic about a police review – probably out of fear of having the then deputy police chief Dave Griffin, interviewed (he had a years-long legal battle with the city) – something seems to have happened to the "review process."

We have not, to this date, received an apology for what happened. I recently, once again, brought this up to city hall. Having said that, the present Summerside council has made great strides in improving some of the city's shortcomings. I must say as a citizen I am an advocate for democracy and strongly believe that we need to write a prescription for wellness - that a city has a voice for the rights of citizens; that there be a clear code of ethics for mayor, council and all city employees.

I strongly feel that communication should be an integral part of any city. So many of my friends feel that the only way to provide clarity is to have an independent administrative review of the city and a forensic audit. I personally would donate $1,000 to that. At this time of year, as we respect veterans who have sacrificed their lives so that we can have a great country, we owe it to them to erase a negative culture which has been a cancer to this beautiful city. To the workers of the city who have stuck it out, I give thanks. So many employees took the right road and were victims of poor leadership.

We can honor our veterans by selecting individuals that will respect the moral compass of our great city.

We do not want to return to a situation that has plagued our negative past. Our strength is a strength of volunteers who rise above the missing piece of our city, which is: openness, honesty, trust, empathy, fairness, and equal opportunity for employment.

Lest we forget...

George Dalton,

Summerside

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