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.

BEING MAYOR: Chapter 7 – ‘A Desire for Change’

September 4, 2017 - 7:27am

KAMLOOPS — This is the seventh in a series on my experiences as the mayor of Kamloops from 1999 to 2005. 


“Well, so much for barbershop polls.” 

— Election speech, Nov. 20, 1999. 

Neil Morrison and I became friends during the 1970s, when we served together on the Kamloops School Board. He represented Barriere, where he lived on a small farm with his family, commuting daily to his job as a sociology instructor at University College of the Cariboo. 

Kamloops Daily News building had more years to give

September 2, 2017 - 9:33am Updated: September 2, 2017 - 11:01am

KAMLOOPS  I watched the demolition work at the old Kamloops Daily News building for a couple of minutes the other day.

The sign says “Daily News Site – Demolition.”

It should say, “Daily News Site – Demolished Dreams.”

From the newspaper company that gave up on its daily paper, to the failed vision for a performing arts centre, to the City council that couldn’t see past a parking lot — this building hasn’t gotten a fair shake in recent years.

And now it’s being hauled away in pieces.

How can coming to see for yourself be inappropriate?

August 31, 2017 - 4:59am

KAMLOOPS — Environment Minister George Heyman’s refusal to come to Kamloops to talk about Ajax defies the normal bounds of logic, but politics is only occasionally logical.

Heyman says in a letter to City council through Acting Major Arjun Singh: “it would be inappropriate for Ministers to engage in discussions with parties regarding the Ajax project and the forthcoming environmental assessment decision at this stage of the process.”

Time SD73 got a fair shake on school upgrades

August 30, 2017 - 6:32am Updated: August 30, 2017 - 4:53pm

KAMLOOPS — This booklet tells an interesting story — it was announced by the School District 73 board of education this week and makes for some fascinating reading about how Kamloops schools have been shafted when it comes to provincial funding.

“Shafted” is my word, certainly not the trustees’. They’re more polite about it but numbers tell a shocking story about where Kamloops stands in the pecking order of access to capital funds for renewing schools.

Is anyone surprised the patient care tower is going ahead?

August 29, 2017 - 6:05am Updated: August 29, 2017 - 2:30pm

KAMLOOPS — Health Minister Adrian Dix’s announcement Monday that the Royal Inland Hospital patient care tower will go ahead as planned by the Liberals is good news.

But did anyone really think anything else would be the case?

"Clearly what's needed in Kamloops, on top of a lot of other things, is a new patient care tower," Dix told the media.

"Fortunately, we're on the path and we're going ahead. My instruction is, if there's anything I can do to make it happen quicker, I will."

Construction is scheduled to get underway in 2018 with a ribbon cutting in 2022.

Dave Gracey was a man who made a big difference

August 28, 2017 - 5:19am

KAMLOOPS — A lot of Dave Gracey’s friends are hoping he’ll put up a post on his Facebook page that news of his death is greatly exaggerated, apologizing for the joke, or saying he lost a bet and had to start the rumour.

Sadly, there will be no such reassurance. David Gordon Gracey died one week ago, on Monday, Aug. 21 in his home in Japan, where he’d lived and worked for more than 10 years.

BEING MAYOR, Chapter 6 — ‘A Dog’s Bite is Much Worse Than Its Bark’

August 28, 2017 - 5:05am

KAMLOOPS — BEING MAYOR, Chapter 6 — ‘A Dog’s Bite is Much Worse Than Its Bark’


This is the sixth in a series on my experiences as the mayor of Kamloops from 1999 to 2005. 

“I hope people will take their skepticism but also their hopes with them to the polls on November 20, and I hope they’ll agree that it’s time for some positive change and some new leadership.”

— Campaign speech, 1999

Has everyone caught a case of by-election fever?

August 26, 2017 - 6:38am

KAMLOOPS — Has Kamloops gone mad with civic fervor, or fever, as the case may be? The City puts out a call for applications for a few temporary jobs and gets swamped with people shouting “Pick me!”

When the dust cleared at 4 p.m. Friday — the deadline for by-election nominations — there were six in the running for mayor and 22 for City councilor.

That’s comparable to the sort of numbers for the general civic elections held every four years. In 2014, there were four candidates for mayor and 28 for councilor.

Proposal to take Sir John A.’s name off schools is ridiculous

August 25, 2017 - 5:06am

KAMLOOPS — The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has done everyone a favour in pointing out how ridiculous the movement to tear down statues and take the names of controversial historical figures off public places has become.

The teachers are urging school boards in Ontario to remove the name of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister, from public schools.

Macdonald, to be sure, was a flawed personality. He drank too much, for one thing. He also refused to pardon Métis hero Louis Riel after the latter was sentenced to be hanged.