Our Mayor Shows He Is A Liability

Lately CBC has conducted a number of on-air interviews with people from the town. And these have been received with mixed reviews by people in the community – some welcome the attention while others see it as a narrow window on a bigger set of issues.

First up was Donald Pharand talking about his quest to get to the bottom of the CAO exit/rehire events. He’s sure that this costly exercise is hinky and to help us clear it up he wants to get some higher level of government to come in and find out. Now if that costs us lots of time, expense and angst it would appear that it’s just too bad for us. But not so much for him seeing as he does not live in the town and therefore will not bear the increased tax burden.

After the revelation, at the May 25 meeting, that council has asked the court to disqualify one of their own CBC had another hot topic to follow up on.

First they talked to Councilor Butler. Of course she defended her position and feels she has done nothing wrong.

Then they talked to our Mayor, Frank Konrad. You can hear that on their SoundCloud archives here: https://soundcloud.com/cbc-daybreak-south/mayor-refuses-to-explain-turmoil-in-grand-forks

For a large part of the interview he fends off questions that he cannot answer with the standard replies: It’s in camera information and I cannot talk about it. But at the end the host gets past the mayor’s filters and our mayor gives his opinion on things. At 7:37 into the interview you can hear him say the following:

It’s destroying the community. That part I can tell you. If this city wants to have any economic development or business growth, boy I tell ya, we’re sure going about it the wrong way. And we just seem to be in the news always about bad things. It doesn’t look good for the city. And, you know, as Mayor I look at it as being really, really sad because I think Grand Forks is a wonderful place to live, we’d like to encourage people to come here and live. Under these circumstances Would you move here? Would you move here under these circumstances with all this controversy? Would you move to a community that has so much controversy? (and he ends the interview with a laugh)

Now I don’t know about you but I’m given to understand that one of the elements of being the Mayor of a place is also being the Face of the place to the outside world. The town’s Biggest Promoter. The primary salesman for the town. In this area of his job performance I give the mayor a big fat F!

Grand Forks City Hall

Grand Forks City Hall Kastle Konrad

These words should never come out of the Mayor’s mouth when he is talking to a media outlet from out of town! There are diplomatic ways to say things but our Mayor appears to lack a sense of diplomacy. Does he care that his words carry a negative connotation to the people and businesses that might have considered relocating to our town? Does he care that he’s helping tarnish our image out there in the world? Does he even realize what he is doing when he says things like this to something like the CBC?

We’ve all heard other politicians talk about controversial subjects that are being fought about in their bailiwicks before. When they are doing the job of the Regime of the Day they are defensive and try to Not say bad things about their town/state. When they are the opposition they do everything they can to point out the bad things and lay them at the feet of those who are in power. The mayor acts like he is the opposition – if that’s so then who is he opposing? Well behind closed doors that might be clear but out here in the public it looks like he’s fighting all of us.

What a strange world we have come to – those who say they are fighting for the town are actually dragging it down.

Shame on you Mr. Mayor. You do our town damage. You set back the clock on efforts to attract people and businesses to our town.


10 thoughts on “Our Mayor Shows He Is A Liability

  1. Frank Triveri

    It’s easy to criticize a novice mayor whose inexperience obviously was evident in his media interview. Because he is a political greenhorn, there is no doubt that our mayor has a lot to learn in regard to community governance. It is certain that neither the “experienced” Councilors nor any of the administrative staff are making his job easy. Rather, it appears that they revel in seeing him try to muddle his way through the procedural maze of governance and the bureaucratic jargon that is thrown at him. Whether he will be able to overcome his inexperience and the impediments purposely place before him remains to be seen.

    I agree the mayor should be “the Face of a community to the outside world” as you put it. An individual who was both articulate and politically savvy led our previous administration. However, to the “outside world” he was known as the “marijuana mayor!” How much business did his face attract to our community?

    It is extremely unfortunate that the local media silence is deafening in regard to major issues that are very relevant to the citizens of this community (yours included). I was not in agreement with the call for a forensic audit in regard to the CAO’s severance, even though, I considered paying almost $200,000 in severance to an individual who was in the service of the City for only two years was an outrage! I too considered it an added tax burden, the icing on the cake, to top the severance payout. However, I changed my opinion after the last couple Council meetings. It may be worthwhile after all! As for Mr. Pharand not bearing the added tax burden that will result from his actions do I need to remind you that our previous mayor and two former councillors did not bear any tax burden for their decisions over the years and the “coup de gras,” severance pay out.They did not live in town. That too was a travesty!

    Silence again? Let’s have some balanced reporting, Mr. Johnson?

    1. gftvboss Post author

      High compensation it is, I agree. I will admit that my own ‘value of a buck’ comes from a time that still gives me a bit of ‘sticker shock’ when I hear how much some get. But I’ll also admit that how I feel about it tends to be coloured by how I feel about the person doing the job. So when it was Victor it felt pretty heavy. Others not so much.
      And it is true that previous council members and the Mayor also live outside the city limits. But at least they were voted into their positions of service by the electorate whereas Mr. Pharand is unelected, self-empowered and the number of citizens in the city that actually support him in this is not known.
      And yes you might notice that my ‘reporting’ and coverage can get a bit spotty at times. I could say that it happens with a one man show but that would not be the whole reason. This is not the only activity I am involved in and the more I spread myself the less I can give to any one thing. And being involved in this is wearing, depressing, confusing and upsetting. So when I have to choose what to work on at any given time a sore spot like this compared to some other thing that is not so rancorous.
      Balance? It’s a hard thing to achieve. When I record things for broadcast I put them on air or the web verbatim. I might add text for clarity. Only once have I gone out of my way to inject my opinion onto the actual content and in that case, even though I felt the need to warn the public about what they were watching, I still showed everything they said and did.
      Last year when the controversy was going on I covered two public sessions put on by the anti-water meter side and both ended up on the web in their entirety. This even though I did not agree with what was being said. I felt that council was getting it’s public exposure so, to be balanced, I should try to show ‘the other side’s efforts as well. So any in the public wishing to find out what they were saying could have access to their words. From council I get a small amount of money to cover my time and efforts ($50 per meeting). I did not ask for any payment from the other side.
      Were you at the rally? Did you hear the way they jeered and booed The Gazette? The paper that prints letters to the editor from your side so often that some consider it to be pandering to you gets attacked and insulted in public from people on your side …
      The whole rally will be available online soon. Even though one of the people there kept repeatedly telling me that I worked for the Gazette and I wouldn’t be putting this ‘on the air’. IF I worked for a media outlet with limited time and/or space constraints such as a newspaper or TV station I’d have to make editing decisions and very little of it would make ‘to air’. But I do not and the whole thing will. Much as I may find it personally unpleasant.
      But please do not think I’m doing this to curry favour or please anyone. It’s just what I do.

      1. Frank Triveri

        Just to let you know, Les, I don’t have a side. I’m on the side of open and transparent government, good stewardship of community assets, and prudent spending of our tax dollar. I was initially involved in the water meter debate as I felt that there had not been sufficient discussion on the instillation of water meters. As you know a petition to take the issue to referendum was circulated and more than a year ago I presented it to Council. Council’s decision was to turn down the citizen’s request for a referendum and proceed with the installation. I had my say and although disappointed with their decision, as I have often stated, it was their decision to make. For me the water meter debate was over. I complied with Council’s request, had a meter installed and volunteered to sit on the rates committee. In a letter to the new Council I urged them to complete the instillation, as there had been too much rhetoric on the issue, too much time wasted and too much money spent to turn back. I also urged them to convene the rates committee to begin the process of setting fair and equitable rates.

        Each one of our elected officials campaigned on promises of transparency, good stewardship and prudent spending (my side). Its time Mayor and Council stop wasting time, energy and money and get on with what they promised and were elected to do.

    2. Lorraine

      You are so right Frank Triveri… Mr Konrad is a novice mayor… first of all we should never have a mayor who has never been a Councillor and we should have never voted for him as he has none of the skills, experiences, or qualities required by a mayor. Why he ran I will never understand but why people voted for him is an even greater mystery.

  2. Sylvia Treptow

    Having listened to the CBC interview with our current duly elected Mayor, I find it reprehensible that you, Les, put your own negative spin on comments made by our Mayor. You seem to have been attempting since the November 2014 municipal election to force Mayor Konrad and Councillor Butler out of office as evidenced by a long series of comments you have made on this web site. Under current insane and expensive circumstances, our Mayor is quite right. Would anybody in their right mind want to relocate to Grand Fork? I sure as heck wouldn’t, and I already live here! Can’t fault Mayor Konrad for stating the obvious.

    PS – Even if by some weird fluke Mayor Konrad and Councillor Butler are forced out of office, I refuse to vote for candidates in a by-election who have previously been Mayor or Councillor of Grand Forks in recent history. To my way of thinking, those individuals contributed to the current mess in which the city finds itself embroiled.

    1. gftvboss Post author

      I stand by my remarks.
      And while you and he may think he is stating the obvious that is not my point. My point is where he did it.
      As Mayor his words have far more impact on the choices people thinking about relocating here will make. Whether or not he is ‘right’ is immaterial: he, Our Mayor, should not have used those words on the CBC. Why is that so hard to understand?
      Back in January you might recall my little editorial cartoon that has him hanging dirty laundry out the back of city hall. Now he’s doing it on the CBC. Where will it stop? How many potential employers will have heard his words and decided to look elsewhere? Because that’s his job – attracting them not scaring them off!
      Thank you for the elevation of my status but I must point out that I have no power to force anyone out of office and, if memory serves me, I have never actually stated that they should go or be forced out. I cannot prevent you from thinking that but if you read my actual words you might notice that all I ask them to do is get down to the business of doing their jobs and letting others do theirs.
      Your vote is yours to cast, I will not try to persuade you to vote one way or the other. But please come out and vote if it comes to that.

      1. Sylvia Treptow

        Les, if you want the current Mayor to “sell the town”, then everybody (Council, media and citizens alike) has to give him something positive to work with. The current mess the city is dealing with was generated during previous Council’s term in office, continues to spin out of control with current Council, and issues of great concern to citizens are not being resolved to anybody’s satisfaction. Any sensible person considering relocating to a different town, either to set up a business or a residence, will do their research in advance. For those considering Grand Forks, it is amazing the information available via Google on Grand Forks, BC; via the city’s web site (Council agenda packages and minutes of meetings, by-laws, policies, etc.), and by subscribing to the local newspaper. Several years worth of bad news about this town is all too readily available to anybody who is interested, and the bad news continues to be generated. Don’t blame the current Mayor for the mess he inherited along with the job – he is doing the best he can what with being hog-tied and gagged by Council. I applaud the Mayor for being honest and refusing to sugar coat this town’s determination to self-destruct, spending a fortune of tax payers’ money in the process. While you may not like the message and how it was delivered, the Mayor’s statement is a wake up call to each and every one of us. Are we collectively going to decide to turn this buggy around before it goes over the cliff?

        This town needs some serious healing of rifts. How and where to start? Are people willing and able to start healing? Is there any hope for this town? Are people starting to give up, sell their properties if possible, and move on to more sensible communities? The latter speculation is looking most appealing the longer the controversies drag on. Catch 22 – who would be willing to purchase into this community under current circumstances?

        1. gftvboss Post author

          What I get from your first lines is he is only a good times Mayor. If times get tough he should be allowed to bleat to the world about it? I think not.
          Stress is how you deal with the things that life throws at you. You give yourself Stress, it is not given to you.
          City Hall shows the signs of Stress. The stressful situation the city, and all of us by extension, finds itself in is the result of the way that this council has dealt with being in power. The Mayor and Councilor Butler began this term with wanting to continue the fight over water meters with a side dish of ‘let our friends in the gallery have an equal say at the table’. Except the water meters fight was a done deal. And those friends in the gallery were unelected – no matter how much ammo they got from the Mayor.
          I’m willing to bet that if you Google for bad news on most communities you will find it. I blame the Mayor for not dealing with current things in the proper fashion, that of the top elected official. If he wants to no sugar coat things he sees as wrong that’s his right. But he is the Mayor and represents the town and in that capacity he was not elected to trash talk us to the world.
          Selling does not mean pointing out the negative points of your product, anyone can tell you that.
          His words and actions in the first two months of his term caused many of us to worry that he was leading our town to grievous financial harm from potential lawsuits because he chose to continue fighting a fight he had already lost thinking somehow that he would win it without it causing us any expense. Continuing that fight by pandering to his core support group is plowing that rift you mention. Can you not see this?
          A short while ago I attended a Celebration of Life for Alice Glanville. You may not be aware of who she was so I’ll just point out that she and her husband literally wrote the book on this town. Had a hand in the beginnings of, and the long term operation of, the Historical Society. She and her husband were Freemen of the town (there are only a handful). One councilor showed up, our MP showed up, a former provincial Cabinet Minister as well but the Mayor was conspicuous by his absence.
          He does NOT know how to do the whole job Sylvia, he should have done a stint as a councilor first.

          1. Sylvia Treptow

            And the great divide within the community continues. Sigh. How do the people of this town wish the rest of the world to view the town? Perhaps the town’s brand should be changed to reflect current reality and read: “Come join our donnybrook. The town welcomes you with fisticuffs, a black eye and a bloody nose.”

            The 2014 municipal election is over and has been for quite some time. For better or worse, we have a duly elected Mayor and 6 Councillors – the people’s choices. Accept the results and learn to work with the people’s choices. Many of us have had to adapt in this manner in the past when your prefered candidates have been elected, and with a bit of effort you might be able to adapt as well. Come on, Les…you can do it. Hopefully you and your friends do not intend to force this town to continue fighting the 2014 municipal elections for 4 years until the next scheduled municipal election.

          2. gftvboss Post author

            Well I and others suspect that while the divide may be wide it may not be that long or deep. Did you count the number of sign carrying supporters? About 30 or so.

            And if you’ve been paying attention you might have noticed that most of my comments about council were for it to get on with the job they were elected to do and stop obsessing over issues that have already been decided or do not belong at the municipal government level. And keep us out of court.
            “Me an1d my Friends” “forcing” the town to continue fighting? You mean like those who sit outside the Post Office with petitions? Those who hold rallies in public? Those who attack council with labels of Bullying? No, Sylvia, you likely won’t see us doing that unless things get really really bad.

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