Business takes a backseat to the election

If elections had score cards, the majority of Chilliwack’s incumbent school trustees would surely have been disqualified long ago.

If elections had score cards, the majority of Chilliwack’s incumbent school trustees would surely have been disqualified long ago.

The sparring ring has not been a fair one.

The tale of the tape looks like this: 1 election, 24 candidates, 2 public board meetings.

Why exactly are there school board meetings leading up to an election? Surely it can’t be for the benefit of students.

These past two meetings (Oct. 26 and Nov. 8) have been nothing but self-congratulatory pats on the back, “must have” motions put forward, and sickly sweet politicking mixed with ready to pounce, razor sharp claws. They have been more about gaining public favour than enhancing student achievement.

And the fact that not all candidates have had the same opportunity wreaks of foul play.

Not even Mike Tyson would have laced up the gloves for this one.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Trustee Heather Maahs repeatedly patted herself on the back for opposing busing fees and listening to the community’s wants.

Her sidekick, trustee Martha Wiens, whose hand almost always goes the way of Maahs’, wasn’t far behind in her great trustee proclamations.

Maahs also took the opportunity to present a motion to reinstate the curriculum and instruction committee which was disposed of back in May 2010.

A seemingly simple motion really, but a motion Maahs was adamant had to get passed immediately, a motion she said could not wait for the new board.

And the second any other trustee questioned it, her eyes were rolling and her hand was up with proclamations of how important this was for the community and how she didn’t want it to end up in a “black hole” like other motions she’s put forward.

So why not put this forward months ago, or even a year ago? Why now?

Because that’s part of her platform.

Trustees Silvia Dyck and Doug McKay also got in on the action with a few jabs of their own.

These are your veterans, the ones who really should know better, who should go the high road, should set an example, but did the opposite.

Not only did they promote their own platforms, and boast about what they did and did not support “for the community,” they also went into full-blown attack mode.

In her trustee report on Oct. 26, Dyck heatedly demanded an apology from McKay for airing the board’s dirty laundry in the newspaper, threatening legal action.

She followed that up by curtly chastising McKay at Tuesday’s meeting for not informing her she only had two opportunities to speak on the busing matter until after she had already used up her two speaking opportunities.

This is not a new way of doing business, this is how the board is supposed to operate.

McKay, the board chair, took the blows head on.

Instead of responding to the challenge, he allowed Dyck to speak a third time and then he, himself, did the same despite stating he would not. Instead of firing back at his colleagues, he sat silently with a tight-lipped half smile glued to his face, despite having no problems voicing his opinions in the media. Instead of bowing out of the match altogether, he too took the opportunity to give his history as trustee props.

The disgust displayed on some of the faces of the new hopefuls sitting silently in the audience was worthy of a knockout victory.

Could this be the reason 18 new hopefuls put their names in the ring to begin with?

Ding. Ding. Ding.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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