Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Business Executive pay and bonuses -- Dutch bankers' bonuses axed by people power

ING, the Dutch bank is one of Europe's largest Customers at Dutch bank ING threatened to collectively withdraw deposits in protest against bonuses awarded to executives. Photograph Frank Rumpenhorst/EPA

Britain has a rival when it comes to bashing bankers. After a furious row over pay packages at Amsterdam-based ING in which thousands of customers threatened to make mass withdrawals, the Netherlands is now vying for the title of Europe's most bonus-hating country.

A growing Dutch political storm could end with a blanket ban on bonuses to financiers who work for institutions bailed out by the taxpayer.

ING customers mobilised on Twitter and other social networks to protest at bonuses paid to bosses at the bank, one of the biggest in the country. The threat of direct action raised the spectre of a partial run on ING, terrifying the Dutch establishment. Fred Polhout, union organiser at the bank, says: "People were outraged. We heard about the bloated sums being paid again in the City and in New York; but suddenly the issue exploded on our own front door."

Compared with the packages awarded to bankers in the US and UK, the Dutch bonuses were small potatoes. Jan Hommen, ING's chief executive, was due to receive a £1m bonus – a pittance when you consider that Stephen Hester, head of state-controlled RBS in the UK, is in line for up to £7.7m, Bob Diamond of Barclays is to collect as much as £6.5m, and some senior bankers at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are looking at windfalls of about £40m each.

"Perhaps we are so upset because we are a small country that prefers to set an example, rather than follow others," suggests Polhout.

So severe was the public reaction to Hommen's bonus that within days he had agreed to waive the award and told other ING directors to do the same.

Now the Netherlands is going through a painful period of introspection and soul-searching. Politicians have voted to implement a 100% retrospective tax on all bonuses paid to executives at institutions that received state aid as a result of the financial crisis. In other words, no banker should get a bonus until the debt is cleared, and they should return payments made since 2008.

ING was thrown a €10bn (£8.7bn) lifeline to stop it going under, while ABN Amro was nationalised. Numerous other Dutch financial firms received capital support, including Aegon, SNS Reaal and ASR Nederland. (Read more)


Green Party news.

Vernon, 30 March 2011
Media Release - For immediate release.

Green Party candidate Greig Crockett thinks that a decision by the broadcasters' consortium's to exclude Green Party leader Elizabeth May from the televised leaders' debate is undemocratic. "It's astounding that we should have to repeat this charade again simply because a few corporate executives take control over the democratic process and democratic expression" says Crockett.
"This is a slap in the face of democracy, a decision made by a corporate elite. The Green Party is recognized by Elections Canada, whose legislation controls elections. Although there is no Bloc candidate on any ballot outside of Quebec, and although Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe represents 1/10th of Canada, he is welcomed in the debates. The Green Party also represents 1/10th of Canada's voters and Green Party candidates are on ballots in every province across the country. During the 2008 elections, the Green Party was the only party to increase vote count nationally across the country and even finished ahead of Liberals in this riding. One has to wonder whether the corporate network is afraid of hearing feminine views or afraid that the Green Party is actually making a difference."
Crockett is sure that Canadians across the country and here in Okanagan-Shuswap will defend their right to hear Elizabeth May. "This shows how vulnerable true democracy is. I invite everyone who cares about democracy to sign a petition at".

Huguette Allen, Press Secretary
Greig Crockett Campaign
Okanagan-Shuswap Green Party
250-260-5877 cell: 250-550-5877

For more information visit Interview


Selected articles - Morning Star News


Okanagan Symphony Presentattion.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lyin' King('s Speech)

Posted by The Eager Beaver on March 28, 2011 at 12:54 am

Mar 282011

My kits, I am in a most amazing mood!

After Day 1 of the election the score is: Democracy 1 – Harperland 0.

To boot, I’m just up here on my log, feasting on a delicious platter of irony. The MVP of today’s match: None other than that there “evil separatist” (good grief!) Gilles Duceppe!!!(more)

A satirical review by Eager Beaver of the first day's most often repeated word "Coalition".


Find out your preference on policies.

Check out CBC's "
Vote Compass" and see which party represents your views on various issues!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Council Meeting Agenda -- Lavington Fire Hall

Note: Council Meeting is scheduled for the Lavington Fire Hall!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Readers write -- Prison issues!

Representatives from the BC Corrections Branch were in Lumby last night (March 23) to present information on a proposed correctional facility for Lumby.
Fisher took issue with the stance taken by the Corrections Branch reps. "They seemed to be saying, 'Once you learn about the prison and see how great a corporate citizen it will be, you will come to love the prison being in your town'."
"Why aren't other communities lining up for this, if it's such a great deal?" asks Fisher.
The representatives, Brent Merchant and Ted Howard were unable to answer many questions specific to possible sites within the village. "We found that frustrating" commented Fisher. "I don't know" seemed to be their answer to many questions. Fisher wonders "If they don't have those answers, who does?"
The proposed correctional facility will be the largest jail in BC, located in the smallest community to have a jail.
"What scares us is that there are no guarantees. So many aspects of this prison could go 'sideways' and we have no control over the negative effects this prison will have on our village." says Fisher.
for more info contact Paul Fisher at 250 547-9775 representing the Concerned Citizens of Lumby.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The way I see it -- Election fever and the media.

As I watch the cream of the crop media giants interviewing politicians about the pending election I wonder why they do not get to the real points. Just a couple of issues that I think should be better tackled by these self appointed representatives of the public.

The “Harper Government” members often accuse the other parties that they are the ones responsible for the upcoming “unnecessary” election. Balderdash! A minority government must consult with the rest of the parties to ensure that they have enough support for proposed legislation or budget in order to carry on as government. Defeat of a minority government is always the result of a government’s unwillingness to negociate with the opposition. This point should be strongly emphasized by investigative reporters.

Another often heard accusation by government members that the opposition parties wish to form a coalition government in order to gain power to govern. Do they forget the obvious fact that a minority government could not operate without a coalition with one or more other parties? That is the only way minority governments can survive! Why don’t these reporters point out this simple fact to their interviewees?

A favourite subject of the “Harper Government” is the economy and who could manage it better. Would not managing the economy require money? I would think so. Does the government have money? Only virtual money, something like Monopoly money. Just check out the Canadian Debt Clock! The total debt of the “Harper Government” is over $562 billion. Each one of us owes nearly $17,000 and this debt is growing by the minute. Is that managing the economy? Local politicians do a heck of a lot better job of managing their communities economies than do our senior governments. Now, I am not implying that the other parties could do a better job, but to claim that this government is the best manager of the economy is a bit of a stretch. Virtual money is not a solid base for the economy and as long as they keep adding to the debt they are not managing the economy. Paul Martin was the last Finance Minister who had a balanced budget that was actually reducing the debt but then came the current minority Government that managed to reverse that brief spell of prosperity. Should not be responsible reporting to point this out? We can only wish!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SPrKL News!

Hello SPrKlers, SPrKL Associates Neighbours, and Friends!

As you may know, in 2010 SPrKL (Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake) received a $16000 Federal Eco-Action Grant which went toward purchase of riparian plants and fencing materials for enhancing the riparian vegetation and protecting the shores along Coldstream Creek at the Dog Park. The purpose of these activities was to help reduce erosion and improve Coldstream Creek water quality.This project was carried out as a contribution to the community’s ongoing Coldstream Creek Restoration Project.

This year SPrKL has applied for a $5000 RBC Blue Water Grant to carry out similar activities on a smaller scale in the area of the Kalavista Lagoon. SPrKL plans to plant riparian vegetation and install protective fencing along the Lagoon shore adjacent to the tennis court area, in order to prevent further erosion of the its banks and to enhance the wetland water quality and habitat. This project would be just a small step in SPrKL’s mission and the Community’s plan to rehabilitate the Kalamalka Lake Watershed and protect our drinking water.

Our general goals over time related to this particular project are:
  • to educate ourselves and others about the rich biodiversity of the Kalavista Lagoon, its contribution to the health of the watershed, and the means to keep it healthy
  • to involve the community in a habitat rehabilitation and educational signage project in the area
  • to encourage the “powers that be”to restore circulation of fresh water to the Lagoon so as to to return it to a healthy state
  • to create an Eco- Park in the Lagoon area
We will not know if we are to be awarded the grant or not, until early to mid April, and SPrKL has learned from experience that there are likely to be cost over-runs on projects such as this. Therefore, in the meantime, we are applying for another grant, and holding a Community Garage Sale on April 16th to raise extra funds.

We hope you will spread the word regarding SPrKL’s goals and activities, as well as contribute items and/or your time and ideas to help with the Garage Sale.

Please see the attached poster for details.

Louise Christie


Readers write -- Prison issues!

I think the Lumby council and supporters may want to take a look at this facility at night to help them decide the impact on the community. The lights shown here from the facility in Abbotsford light up the area for miles around.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Photo Gallery - Water lovers! - Courtesy: Debbie Gibson.


Facts and fiction-- comments on Mayor Lippert's newspaper ads.

Mayor Lippert produced an ad in two consecutive issues of the Morning Star under “Mayor’s Corner” (see attached). Impressive ads! It would be even more impressive if they were factual. It is possible that the information relating to city taxes are accurate. However, the NORD related information is incorrect. One would think that with the scrutiny of highly paid staff this kind of mistake would be discovered (including the mistake in the first line of the ad).

Where the information is wrong relates to Parks and Recreation, arts and culture, the Performing Arts Centre and Wesbild Centre. Taxes for these services are based on property values expressed as “mill rate” and not “population based” which would be “per capita charge”. You can verify this by checking your property tax form. The majority of assessed values are located in the city therefore the majority of taxes are levied to the city. The ad seem to imply that the city is paying an unfair share of the cost of the Parks and Recreation services.

City representatives on NORD Board fully supported these taxes. There are three Directors from the City one from Coldstream and one each from Area “B” and “C”. No financial resolution can be passed without full support of city Directors.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Progress report on my residence!

Many people stopped me to inquire whether we are back in our house yet. The answer is a resounding “No”. I am attaching a couple of photos that demonstrate the present condition of my house. It appears that there will be another 4-6 months before the house will become habitable. Thank you for all of you expressing interest.

Gyula and Debbie


Walking in Kalamalka Lake Park - Harbingers of a belated spring.

The earliest date I found sage buttercups in the park was January 31. This year they are way behind.


Oddities in the news --The youngest great grandmother.

Rifca Stanescu Became World's Youngest Grandmother At Age 23

A Romanian housewife, now 25, is believed to be the world's youngest grandmother.

The Sun is reporting that mother-of-two Rifca Stanescu was just 12 years old when she had her first child, Maria. Despite her mother's protests, Maria married at age 10 in Investi, Romania before giving birth to her now two-year-old son Ion a year later.

Rifca, who is reportedly of Romani "Gypsy" descent, married jeweler Ionel Stanescu when she was 11 and he was 13. Still, she said she wished her daughter would have chosen at a different path at such a young age. "I am happy to be a grandmother but wished more for Maria," she is quoted as saying.

The Sun notes that Ion's birth has made Stanescu's mother another possible record holder, as she became a great-grandmother at age 40.


Monday, March 14, 2011

NORD Board meetings




Saturday, March 12, 2011

The secrets of Coldstream Creek -- Councillor Besso's video.

Check out Councillor Besso's recent video of Coldstream Creek, a tributary to Kalamalka Lake!


Friday, March 11, 2011

Readers write - Thanks for the info, Bob


This ad was in the daily news paper. Get 1000 liters of water prepaid for $100.

1000 litres = 1 m3 which cost them 92 cents at our local water distributor.

Maybe GVSC could bypass middleman and bottle water. With this markup we can lower our base fee.

Maybe there should be a special rate for resellers of water ???

Have a great day



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interior Health wants new filtration system in Vernon – CHBC News

Interior Health says the current filtration system at the Duteau Creek facility in Vernon is not effective enough. Interior Health says the current filtration system at the Duteau Creek facility in Vernon is not effective enough.

Photo Credit: Steve Beskidny, CHBC News

They have spent nearly $30 million for clean water but now some Okanagan taxpayers may have cough up another $20 million.

Interior Health says the current filtration system at the Duteau Creek facility in Vernon is not effective enough.

It wants the Greater Vernon Water Authority to build a $20 million system at the plant by 2015.

However, many politicians in the North Okanagan, including Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert, say Interior Health is being unreasonable and is basing its decision on out-of-date data.

Lippert also believes Greater Vernon is being unfairly singled out.

He points to many municipalities that have been getting by with chlorine filtration.

If the full project goes ahead, Vernon water users can expect to have near-perfect water, but it could come at a financial cost that is hard to swallow.

Interior Health will not say whether or not they will force the Greater Vernon Water Authority to build the filtration system.

Officials say they would prefer to work with Greater Vernon towards a solution.

Let's face the facts once and for all: $20 million is not going to cover half of the cost of this project. In order to construct a filtration plant we'll have to do at least some separation of domestic and agriculture water. Failing to do that the filtration plant will have to be over sized to filter both agriculture water and domestic water at great cost.

This habit of grossly under estimating costs has been the norm since 2002. The total costs for the separation of domestic and agriculture water as well as construction of a treatment plant producing high quality water was estimated at $71.5 million (Table 1).

The 2004 Plan estimated the total costs of the projects at $35 million (Table 2). The actual costs are closer to $50 million or more and much more to come (including the separation of the Old Kamloops Road area).

I am not debating the need of improvements , although I am not convinced that the costs justify the slight improvements to water quality, but I urge the officials to quote more accurate figures when it comes to anticipated expenses.


News from Steve Heeren-- So far so good!

Hi, everybody:

Sorry for the delay in letting you all know how I fared with my cardiac surgery. Obviously I survived but it took a lot out of my energy level -- I'm tired most of the time and was finally working up to writing you to spread the word that I made it (I guess!).

This whole experience has led me to wonder if at least some survivors of open-heart surgery don't wind up envying those who didn't survive. Ha ha!

The routine in hospital was the most debilitating for me but as each day has passed since then I am gaining energy (very slowly) and I am looking forward to being fully recovered.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tories rebrand Gov't of Canada as 'Harper Gov't'

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — It's official: Stephen Harper rules.

And lest anyone forgets, a directive went out to public servants late last year that "Government of Canada" in federal communications should be replaced by the words "Harper Government."

Public servants from four different line departments told The Canadian Press the instruction came from "the Centre" -- meaning the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office that serves the prime minister.

None would speak on the record for fear of retribution. It's a well-grounded concern given the treatment of a senior government scientist who was fired in 2006 after rebelling against a directive to use "Canada's New Government" in government communications.

Andrew Okulitch was subsequently reinstated after his story went public, and the Conservatives finally retired the "Canada's New Government" handle after 21 months in office.

The "Harper Government" moniker rose to prominence in 2009, when its use was noted in light of a controversy over Conservative MPs posing with giant, mock government cheques bearing the party logo and MPs' signatures. The mock cheques were consigned to the dust bin, and the "Harper Government" handle went into partial hibernation.

Since December, the "Harper Government" has returned with a vengeance, sprouting like mushrooms across departmental communications.

The Prime Minister's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the new messaging has been implemented.

Scores of news releases -- from the Canada Revenue Agency to Fisheries and Oceans, Finance, International Trade, Health Canada and Industry Canada -- are all headlined by "Harper Government" actions.

Even the Treasury Board Secretariat is using the term.

Treasury Board is the federal department charged with policing government communications policy, including the Federal Identity Program -- which to a layman's eyes appears to forbid such off-handed personalization in government titles.

Among other things, the policy states that "the criteria for creating an applied title include that it must: incorporate the word Canada or appear with the words Government of Canada...."

Treasury Board spokesman Robert Bousquet said by email "the use of the expression 'Harper Government' is not prohibited by either the Treasury Board's Federal Identity Program Policy nor the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada."

Added Bousquet in a brief phone interview: "In fact it's factual, in that it is the government of the day."

Indeed, journalists routinely use the "Harper government" to describe Conservative government actions. But the moniker's employment by the government itself is raising hackles among more than just some straight-laced civil servants.

"It is one thing for journalists or even the public to use the more partisan 'Harper government,' but it is another thing for the state to equate the Government of Canada with the leader of the governing party," said Jonathon Rose, a specialist in political communications at Queen's University.

He notes such language is expressly forbidden under an Ontario law that prohibits partisanship in government messaging.

"The effect of this subtle framing just before an election is to equate government with Harper," said Rose. "It creates a perception of a natural affinity between one party's leader and the act of governing."

The Harper-centric messaging prompted Rose to recall French King Louis XIV and his 17th century divine right of kings: "L'Etat, c'est moi," quipped the political scientist. "The state is me."

But Mel Cappe, a former clerk of the Privy Council, finds nothing amusing in the development.

"It is not the Harper Government," Cappe said in an interview, tersely enunciating each word. "It is the Government of Canada.

"It's my government and it's your government."

Cappe said the usage brings to mind Harper's own quip of last summer on the Arctic tundra: "I make the rules," Harper told journalists after he disembarked from an all-terrain vehicle.

"What this shows is the hubris of this government's approach," said Cappe, president of the Institute for Research in Public Policy in Montreal.

"We are governed by laws. Not by men. This is trying to change that."

Peter Aucoin, an expert in public administration at Dalhousie University, also said the "Harper Government" branding exercise should be belled for public consideration.

"It's the executive abusing the powers of government for purely partisan reasons. Period," said Aucoin.

Leslie Seidle, another former Privy Council official who now works with Cappe's IRPP, had a far more sanguine view, calling the moniker "simply a creative use of language."

"I can understand that some people might find it unusual, but quite honestly I don't think there's a lot of 'there' there," said Seidle.

Cappe agrees with Seidle that the issue is "totally inside baseball."

"It matters to maybe 600 people in Canada," said Cappe, before exorting The Canadian Press to take the issue public.

"But my sense is it's this subtle erosion of our understanding of the institutions of government that leads to a lack of credibility and respect on the part of the public.

"And that's why it is important. That's why it counts."


Readers write - An invitation.


Thank you, Carol.

Thank you Carol for serving Coldstream!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Water rates for 2011 -- the fees are approved by NORD.

NORD has finalized 2011 water rates. The new rates come into effect on April 1st (no April fools!). To calculate your expected bill please visit
water rates for 2011 on the Vernon Blog.

All the fuss about half a percent tax increase then BOOM, 20% increase in water rates!


Water rates for 2011 -- a minority report from GVAC.

When I first came to Coldstream both water and sewer services were charged on a flat fee basis in Greater Vernon. Although I had to install a water meter in my new home, there were no water meters in Vernon and only some of the residences had water meters in Coldstream. Agriculture water has always been charged on an allocation basis so the practice was generally accepted. Everyone used as much water as they wanted, it was like a smorgasbord for water. Sewer fees were also charged on a flat fee basis.

Eventually we started to experience major water shortages and the attitude towards water changed. Greater Vernon Water Utility completed installation of water meters to all their customers and they converted to the user pay system. There was a small access fee charged and the rest of the charge was calculated on consumption. Even last year the access fee was relatively small and included a modest consumption of 20 m3 per quarter at $50.17.

This year’s adopted rate structure is a major step backwards. The 50% flat fee policy, or a parcel tax, in itself is wrong and reduces our ability to encourage conservation.

Councillor Spiers produced three alternate options maintaining the 50% flat fee policy and at the same time providing a more reasonable fee increases for customers as well as ensuring the needed revenue stream. While I take issue with the high flat fee portion, I did support his Option 3 as it included 20 m3 water in the flat fee. There was a slight increase of 8 cents (8.6%) proposed for commercial customers which was less than the average domestic customer increases. Unfortunately, his proposals were not considered by the rest of the Committee. I was able to add 10 m3 per quarter included in the base fee ($28 per year) but that was all the concessions I could achieve.

One of my concerns as a local politician has always been the way we collect fees for water and sewer. Last year some steps were taken by Coldstream Council to improve the system by getting closer to a user pay system. The opposing argument expressed by some Council members during debate was that they did not want to have large increases imposed on larger families, who produce larger volumes of sewage, all at once. My argument was then and now that larger families are accustomed to pay more for goods and services for their families as they use more goods and services. Council agreed at that time that the issue will be revisited for 2012 and the rates will be more inclined to be user pay.

Now that we were debating the water rates the argument from some politicians was that it is acceptable for low water consumers to absorb exorbitant water rates in a single jump. For instance, the accepted rate system creates a single year increase of 47.5% or $95.32 for those consumers around the 20 m3 consumption range. Is this is a reward for being a good consumer and saving water?

The attachments below are as follows:

1 Explanation of Proposals 1-3 as compared to GVAC proposal;
2 Revenue streams based on each proposal;
3 Increase comparison of proposed Option 3 to GVAC proposal;
4 Increases based on consumption levels of Option 3;
5 Actual increases based on accepted GVAC Option.

In my opinion, Option 3, while not perfect, is a significantly better model for recovering revenues than the one that was adopted by GVAC. As always, your comments are welcome.


Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss;


We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.