Armchair Mayor

By: Mel Rothenburger

Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). He continued to write columns for The Daily News until it ceased publication Jan. 11, 2014, and did regular commentary for CBC Radio.

Should civic politicians get a third of their pay tax free?

May 24, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: May 25, 2017 - 10:41am

KAMLOOPS — Municipal politicians receive a benefit a lot of people might not know about — a third of their stipend is tax free.

It’s been that way since I remember, and it’s there in consideration of the day-to-day expenses incurred by municipal office holders. Under the federal Income Tax Act, elected members of provincial and territorial governments, school boards and some other bodies receive certain breaks as well — referred to as “non-accountable allowances.”

Let’s be clear on what Marg Spina’s fellow councillors said

May 23, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — Let’s set the record straight about that conversation around the City council table last week with respect to Coun. Marg Spina’s announcement that she intends to resign at the end of June.

Spina’s revelation that her cancer is incurable was a shock to everyone, and her fellow councillors wish her nothing but the best. Dealing with her ill health must, of course, be the priority.

If she must resign to do that, causing a by-election, so be it. 

Prof. Rothenburger’s intro to By-Elections 101

May 20, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — (With apologies to The Paper Chase)

Good morning, class. Welcome to By-Elections 101. You come here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a politician or, at least, a City Hall procedures wonk.

Today, we’ll talk about the arithmetic of by-elections. Let’s take a hypothetical example.

A mayor decides to move on. Instead of leaving right away, he waits a couple of weeks to “clear up some administrative details.” His leave will start June 1, but he doesn’t say when it will end.

Banning cellphones from schools sounds like a darn good idea

May 19, 2017 - 5:00am

A school in Victoria is going to ban cellphones. Sounds like a good idea to me.

As of September, students of Central Middle School will have to leave them at home. It’s bound to rile some students and parents, but according to principal Christopher Macintosh, simply placing rules around how and when to use them hasn’t worked.

“The detrimental impact of cellphones on our school is clear and overwhelming” he wrote in a letter to parents.

Mayoralty by-election issue like a ‘who’s on first’ comedy routine

May 17, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: May 17, 2017 - 6:11pm

KAMLOOPS — We were supposed to find out yesterday if there’ll be a by-election for the mayor of Kamloops.

We didn’t. It’s getting to be like that old Abbott and Costello ‘who’s on first’ skit.

Instead of either resigning immediately and forcing a by-election, or taking a leave of absence until the end of the year — which would mean a by-election wouldn’t be needed — Peter Milobar, in effect, did neither.

Thanks, BC Conservatives, for setting the record straight

May 16, 2017 - 11:00am

KAMLOOPS — If all the talk of coalitions and minority governments is confusing you, one bit of clarity was offered on Monday — the BC Conservatives will definitely not form a coalition with the BC Liberals.

This is good to know. Never mind that the Conservatives ran only 10 candidates, elected no one, and received a miniscule number of votes. The Conservatives thought it important to be clear anyway.

So they issued a press release headlined “BC Conservatives reject talk of coalition.”

Minority and coalition governments aren't new in BC, and they don't work

May 13, 2017 - 9:20am

KAMLOOPS — It feels as though B.C. is entering brand new political territory, but this won’t be the first time the province has been governed by a minority government. And if we end up with a coalition, that won’t be new, either. 

In fact, B.C. was led by a Liberal-Conservative coalition for more than a decade. That coalition was followed immediately by a short-lived minority government. The province even once had an alternative voting system that turned out to be a dismal failure. 

Could be a very interesting by-election for the mayor’s job, but…

May 12, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — Could be a very interesting by-election for mayor.

Coun. Ken Christian no sooner re-confirmed this week he wants the job than he got some competition, and credible competition at that.

His challenger is Prof. Cindy Ross Friedman, who tweeted and Facebooked Thursday that she will seek the City’s top job if a by-election is called, with special emphasis on the North Shore plus a clear stand against Ajax.