CLBC needs more help than a flashlight

IF the confusing words of former minister of social development Harry Bloy do not ring a bell, the subject of Drake Fenton's North Shore News story will become clear as you read on.

But first I have to ask you some questions.

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For the sake of argument, let's suppose you agreed to pay a longtime acquaintance $5,000 in advance for three months of child-minding during the summer.

What would you do when said acquaintance frequently failed to turn up but spent the money anyway in attempts to disguise that fact.

Would your reaction change when you realized people throughout the province had fallen for the same scam?

Would you keep silent - or would you come together, contact the authorities and call the miscreants to account?

I ask because, on a much larger scale, that is what your provincial government has done to British Columbians not once, but twice - or at least twice that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

To date, continuing where Gordon Campbell left off, Premier Christy Clark has refused to seek reimbursement for the $6 million dollars her government used to pay the bills Dave Basi and Bob Virk ran up with their lawyers during the B.C. Rail hearings.

Emboldened by that, her government's October $30million settlement to avert an embarrassing court-case with mining company Boss Power Corp. not only was five times greater, it also had its genesis inside the Campbell regime from which Clark tries in vain to distance herself. If it was an attempt at cover-up, the expensive ruse didn't work - and the odour lingers on.

Unfortunately, after more than a decade of CampbellClark BC Liberals, "stink" has become the word du jour in references to our provincial government, and nothing stinks more strongly than the distressing and expensive fiasco at Community Living B.C.

When I saw CLBC board chairwoman Denise Turner tell media cameras the dismissal of former CEO Rick Mowles had nothing to do with "outside noise"-- that is complaints about incompetence from you, me and affected families - my immediate reaction was that, with that attitude, she should follow her CEO onto the street.

My opinion hasn't changed, except that the more I learn from journalists like Fenton and Global News political correspondent Keith Baldrey, the more I want to see the entire CLBC empire disbanded and frontline workers placed under the umbrella of Children and Youth Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

On Sept. 15, and on behalf of the B.C. Community Living Action Group, Anita Dadson presented an analysis of CLBC budget data to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. Relevant here is the irony that, a day earlier, the province announced $6 million in new, one-time funding for CLBC.

Whether or not that was a pre-emptive strike against anticipated criticism from Dadson, and whether or not "adults" is a misnomer, her report shows that for the price of Basi-Virk legal fees we could have supported "123 adults with developmental disabilities for one year, based on CLBC's average of ($48,883) in annual per person costs."

Worse still, the $30 million cover-up of ministry transgressions on the Boss Power file could have supported those same 123 adults for another five years.

Most odorous of all is that Mowles' $345,000 severance package, said to be equivalent to 18 months' salary, plus an unknown amount in contractual benefits and pension contributions, could have provided a year of support services for another seven or eight CLBC clients.

Denise Turner chairs an 11-member board of directors, most of whom appear to be heavy on financial expertise and light on compassion or any true understanding of the social services required for our developmentally challenged citizens.

For his part, Mowles was CEO of a 10-member senior management team to which is added a provincially mandated advisory committee of around 19 representatives and staff from communities throughout British Columbia.

So what now?

In view of the mess at CLBC, should we ask what Mowles was doing for more than $19,000 a month - or was he, like the 30-milliondollar man, scapegoated by orders from above?

On Friday, Bloy's successor, Stephanie Cadieux, held a press conference following release of the CLBC report. Flanked by interim CEO Doug Wollard and a suddenly-tightlipped Turner, Cadieux agreed the agency had "lost its way."

Lost its way!?

As an all-party standing ovation confirmed in the legislature, the newlyreappointed Turpel-Lafond would understand the definition of wait-lists and does not need a flashlight to provide developmentally disabled British Columbians and their families with appropriate and compassionate care.

How about we insist she be given the job?

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