Letter from Eric Ricker

Eric Ricker is a retired professor of educational policy and public administration who is currently blacklisted by the Nanaimo Daily News. It seems that the Daily News editors didn’t appreciate Dr Ricker’s letters critical of ex-mayor Gary Korpan, hence the ban. Two years ago Dr Ricker formally complained to the BC Press Council, and in its judgment, the Council expressed disapproval of the blacklisting as well as concern about Ricker’s treatment by the Daily News. Nothing changed as a result and the Nanaimo Daily News also declined to publish the following recent letter:

To the Editor:

It was most astonishing to learn of your amazement over the magnitude of Gary Korpan's defeat and similarly of John Ruttan's win. A little reflection and a bit of probing reveals that the result should have been anticipated. Why?

Item: Soon to be ex-mayor Korpan immediately went for the low-blow in the campaign by challenging Mr. Ruttan's residency status instead of addressing the issues. The voters didn't care and why should they? Lantzville has effectively been a Nanaimo bedroom community since the 1950s. Your editorial demand that Mr. Ruttan move to town is, quite frankly, silly. Mr. Ruttan followed the law and is not the only local politician to have resided outside city boundaries.

Item: Korpan, as is usual, waited until mid-way through the campaign before advertising his candidacy in any significant way. The presumptuousness could not have been lost on voters. But as the campaign moved towards its climax he pigged-out on advertising, the likes of which haven't been seen for many a year -- including a colour poster insert in local papers claiming credit for just about anything built or undertaken by city hall in the last 20 years. The gross exaggeration involved likely did him more harm than good.

Item: Korpan was returned to office in 2005 on the basis of 30 percent of the vote. John Ruttan and Jolyon Brown of Friends of Plan Nanaimo trailed narrowly with about 25 percent each. For Korpan it was a near political death experience that he should have learned from -- the result likely a Canadian record for weakest plurality ever given an incumbent mayor.

Item: Korpan clearly didn't see the writing on the wall in 2005 and carried on in his abrasive take-no-prisoner's style, threatening law suits against various people for assorted and in some cases imagined sins. In truth, his own wildly inaccurate allegations presented opportunities for others to consider suing him. At one point Korpan publicly agreed to apologize to Friends of Plan Nanaimo members if he couldn't substantiate allegations he had made. But when pressed he refused to apologize on the grounds that any libel he may have committed was inconsequential. It takes a politician completely out of touch with reality to consider that a sensible course of action.

Item: Contrary to what both Korpan and your newspaper thought, Diane Brennan wasn't even in the hunt when one considers that Jolyon Brown's FPN vote, plus the Bill King and Dawn Tyndal votes from 2005 were all up for grabs. Ms. Brennan did not speak effectively to any of their constituencies and often seemed little more than a pale imitation of Korpan, cheerleading council's steady march towards conference centre deficit and debt while going along with the high-handed and secretive wheeling and dealing involving Triarc/Suro. Her actions made a mockery of the social democratic values she ostensibly supports..

Finally, one need only consider the salient fact that spunky Angela Negrin defied Korpan's bullying -- and even the brash and uncalled for intervention of the city manager in the final days of the campaign -- to very nearly claim a council seat. Only an electorate repulsed by city hall's behaviour would have given such an obvious underdog such strong support.

The message of the election result therefore is not that Mr. Ruttan needs to change his residential status -- it's that the public has finally had enough of Mr. Korpan's and city hall's arrogance.

Let the light shine on a new and open era in civic life.

Eric W. Ricker

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