Thursday, December 5, 2013
As Good as it Gaetz
What's going on at City Hall?
Staff/Voice file photos
hilliwack City Hall has got it all. From thugs on rugs, to villainous bosses, to a woman who wants to be in control of everything.
This three-ring circus of self-appointed bureaucrats is led by Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who seems to be slowly burning out as master of the universe.
Sooner or later, something has to give. Gaetz can't possibly pay the kind of attention that a Chair of the FVRD needs to pay to the Districts and play the role of mayor to the City of Chilliwack at the same time. Throw in Union of BC Municipalities chair and the writing is on the wall.
There has been a steady exodus of top-level staff from City Hall over the last two-years. Some locals have speculated that this is directly tied to Gaetz's “overbearing” style of governance.
Additionally, The Voice has received negative complaints involving her staff Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Chris Crossman, who at the very least made one employee's life a "living hell" causing them to quit. What defies logic, and what we don't get, is who died and made this bean counter CAO?
Make no mistake, Gaetz is an awesome person. She and her husband Jim do more for Chilliwack than any other couple. They should be winning awards left, right and centre for the things they do in the community.
Gaetz spends far too much time in social media for someone who’s running all the Lower Mainland municipalities. Doesn't she have better things to do than hover around social media sites where all those voters are?
Then there’s this little thing called “editorial control” and City Hall doesn’t have that on The Voice. They've tried to dictate in the past. We’ve amended copy at City Hall’s request when information was wrong, but there was no way we would alter items to suit their whims.
Each year, more people have been getting their news online. Over the last few years, the City of Chilliwack has been moving toward being its own media outlet. The City’s megabucks website with all the gewgaws was recently revamped to allure users. They drive traffic to their website through social media campaigns, flyers, ads etc.
Gaetz has also wanted to appear democratic by creating these ad hoc committees such as the "Mayors Committee on Health" which mean absolutely nothing and do even less.
What all this means to Joe Average is not more democracy – it’s means less when they are in full control of the information that’s put out there. It's all dolled-up as public engagement, but completely designed to undermine the press and media.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz's photo has hung on the dining room wall for years.
On another note, a redundant print media is to blame for the information deficit that has been plaguing Chilliwack for decades. You've got two competing newspapers both writing about the same thing, and sometimes they even collude. If you can't beat them, join them. Recently, one bought the other out and there are rumors that they are now going to cover more of a variety of news.
There is news that happens after 5 p.m. and more news in general going on out there than print media is telling you about.
The Voice has been instrumental in their epiphany, and as a by-product of our hard work in the community, we've done more for their online news sites than they've done themselves.
Unlike print media, we don't rewrite press releases at The Voice. We want you to see the raw release without the spin as it was meant to be. No staff rewrites here.
The Voice was recently de-nameplated at City Hall over another issue that we'll share with our readers in the future. Meanwhile, over at the FVRD, Gaetz's staff removed us from their media contact list for press releases and we had to ask to be put back on it again.
Is City Hall democratic? If this is Gaetz's style of democracy, then it must be time to take her photo off the wall.
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