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.

‘Fringe’ candidates have a role to play in civic elections

June 8, 2017 - 11:00am

KAMLOOPS — The presence of so-called “fringe” candidates in municipal elections, as I’ve often said, is a re-affirmation of democracy.

They prove that anyone can run for office at the local level, and be heard.

Every election, there are several of them, folks with no name recognition, little if any community credentials, scant knowledge of issues, no means of mounting any kind of a campaign, and virtually no chance of winning.

Still, they attend candidates’ forums and are profiled by local media as they express their views about what needs to be done at City Hall.

Instead of a ward system, why not assign council ‘liaisons’ ?

June 7, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: June 7, 2017 - 6:28pm

KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops by-election isn’t even official yet and already it has at least one issue — besides Ajax, that is.

Mayoral candidate Dr. Cynthia Ross Friedman wants everybody to start thinking about two words — “ward system.”

Changing from the city’s at-large system of electing councils isn’t a new idea but it’s been a long time since it was taken seriously. The city tried it once before — in the early 1970s — and quickly dropped it because it was a dud.

There's no more time to delay Ajax decision

June 6, 2017 - 8:26am

KAMLOOPS — Kamloops City Council candidate Kevin Krueger wants to know why Council is in a rush to make a decision on whether it supports the proposed Ajax mine.

The Ajax question has been hanging over Kamloops for the past six years — it’s hardly been a rushed process. Krueger need only look at the calendar for the answer to why time is of the essence.


On March 18, 2016, SLR Consulting presented council with its preliminary findings, raising many questions and highlighting numerous deficiencies in the 18,000-page application submitted by KGHM and its consultants.

Removal of Judge Begbie statue misguided

June 5, 2017 - 6:14am

KAMLOOPS — How far should we go in erasing recognition of those who played a role in wrongs and perceived wrongs of the past? At what point does it become tantamount to rewriting history?

Recently, a 16-foot bronze statue of American Civil War General Robert E. Lee was removed from its place of honour high above a street in New Orleans, where it had stood since 1884.

Lee is known as an exceptional soldier and military tactician. He didn’t want the war, nor did he support the secession of the south.

City council — throw the bums out, or steady as she goes?

June 3, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — City councils come in cycles, and Kamloops is about to start a new one.

Those cycles consist of long stretches of stability followed by dramatic change. The current stability has lasted almost 20 years, and it will end in 2018.

I define stability as minor turnover from one term to the next, with maybe a new mayor coming into a vacant chair, a vacant council seat or two being filled, and maybe an incumbent defeated.

Mayoral hopeful should leave provincial politics out of it

June 2, 2017 - 5:00am

Kamloops municipal politics has thankfully remained untainted by partisan politics throughout its history, and thankfully so. Other than a couple of failed attempts at forming and sustaining civic parties, City council has been free of political labels.

Away from the council table, members support the full range of provincial and federal parties from left to right, but they don’t bring those biases into City Hall. Now is no time to start.

Pity BC's lieutenant-governor

May 30, 2017 - 9:08am

KAMLOOPS — Pity Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. Alternatively, envy her.

It depends on whether or not you’d relish the power to decide who will be the next government of British Columbia.

One thing is pretty much certain, which is that Guichon never saw this coming. She is a rancher by vocation, used to the challenges of making a living off the land, sitting on committees on the environment, supporting 4-H clubs… that sort of thing. Hiring and firing premiers is a whole other thing.

Stall numbers in RIH parkade finally make sense

May 29, 2017 - 7:30am

KAMLOOPS — When one bitches about something, it’s only fair that one acknowledges when a correction has been made.

So it is with the Royal Inland Hospital parkade. I don’t mean that the stupid pay-before-you-park system is any less stupid than it ever was — some things don’t change.

However, about four months ago I griped about the ridiculous stall-numbering system in the Clinical Services Building parkade. I surmised that there must have been a lot of focus-group discussion around how to come up with the dumbest stall-numbering system possible.