To the Editor:
So, councilors Applin and Simonson have taken it upon themselves to put forward a motion accusing the local newspaper of “malicious” tactics when in fact the paper was asking legitimate and respectful questions. Then the majority of council had the nerve to pass the motion. Further to that, they then “tattled” to the Prairie Newspaper Group LP (PNG). This issue has also drawn the attention of other media sources, which have questioned the reactions of the council. The question raised was what is going on in Outlook? This is a negative for the community which makes us all look bad. Shame on all of you!
Derek Ruttle and The Outlook paper have been more than fair in the coverage of council meetings when allowed to be present. The ever-increasing frequency of “in camera” sessions has hampered information gathering so questions have been put to the mayor who then takes them to council and a motion is made to stifle the query. I believe council owes a public apology to The Outlook for their uncalled for remarks and behavior.
We live in a society where free speech is a right and along with that goes the right to ask questions of our elected officials who I might remind you are there to serve us. In case they forgot, the mayor and council are the taxpayers employees and they damn well better answer questions when they are put to them. There are typically going to be some tough questions but avoiding them is not going to make them disappear. If they don’t have the answers admit it! If they are too thin-skinned to take the scrutiny and criticism that naturally comes with public office then maybe it’s time for a change. You can’t conduct town business behind closed doors like it’s your own little club. Council appears preferring to be off the record when it comes to affairs that affect all of us. We deserve a more open and transparent council!
Barrie F. Spigott
An open letter to the Town of Outlook:
Regarding The Outlook’s recent post online titled “Town of Outlook Responds to Newspaper” (https://www.theoutlook.ca/news/local/town-of-outlook-responds-to-newspaper-1.23778384), I am disappointed and confused. I have some questions of my own for Town Council:
• Does the Town Council dispute any of the details posted by The Outlook?
• If the details are not in dispute, could the Town Council please explain how this constitutes “malicious behaviour“?
Unless the details provided by The Outlook are wrong or have significant omissions, I see nothing that could reasonably be seen as “malicious”. The questions they are asking are perfectly reasonable for any citizen to ask their local government, and for the press to ask on their behalf.
If the Town Council can not explain how this constitutes “malicious behaviour”, I ask that they do the following:
• Retract their complaint against the staff of The Outlook with their parent company
• Issue a public apology to the staff of The Outlook
• Provide answers to the questions presented by the staff of The Outlook
I hope in the near future that we will see increased transparency from our Town Council, and a less hostile attitude towards those asking questions of them.
To the Editor of The Outlook:
In December of 2017 I resigned my seat as councilor on the Outlook Town Council. I had enjoyed my time on council and felt I had contributed to making Outlook a better place to live. When I resigned members of the community thanked me for serving but very few asked me why I had left. Due to recent events, I feel that it is important to provide more information to the community regarding my departure.
Following a November 2017 Community Town meeting, Mr. Dave Simonson, Deputy Mayor, wrote a letter to The Outlook regarding a member of the community (See The Outlook, December 7, 2017). I felt the letter was inappropriate and took my concerns to council. It became clear after discussion that I could no longer be a contributing member on Council as I had lost confidence and trust in some of its members. When I felt my integrity was being questioned, I knew I had made the correct choice to resign.
The Code of Ethics adopted by Town Council on November 23, 2016 says “Members of Council shall treat every person, including other members of Council, municipal employees and the public, with dignity, understanding and respect”. Now I see that the Council has seen fit to accuse our local paper of “malicious tactics” in asking questions regarding several projects and issues in Outlook. As well, they have sent a carbon copy of their reply to The Outlook, to Mr. Luedtke’s superiors. I cannot imagine what they hope to achieve by this action and I believe they owe the staff of The Outlook a public apology. These actions have also embarrassed our Town on the provincial stage.
Quite frankly, I have lost all confidence in the current Council.
To the Editor,
RLHOA (Rudy Landing Home Owners Association) would like to acknowledge “The Outlook” for the recent article with the questions posed to the Mayor and their reply on April 2nd. We feel it’s important to address the specific topic concerning water usage at Rudy Landing, as some incorrect assumptions were presented. Given the validity of the concerns over the town’s future water supply, we welcome the opportunity to address this.
Rudy Landing was designed with two water supplies to each of the lots. Our potable water is supplied via a pipeline which originates from the town of Outlook, similar to others in the RM of Rudy. Rudy Landing residents pay regular water rates plus a 25% surcharge (same as other pipelines in the area) for our potable water supply as levied by the town the Outlook. Our second water supply originates from the irrigation canal (summer water). This is billed and supplied separately and is funded by the residents alone. The summer water is utilized for the yards (grass and trees) which significantly decreases the pressure on the potable water supply from the town in the summer. It is certainly understandable how the perceived water usage at Rudy Landing would create some concern amongst the town residents given the current water concerns, and hopefully this provides clarity on this issue.
In closing we’d just like to further comment that the current challenges the town of Outlook faces with respect to rising infrastructure costs are not unique to Outlook, and unfortunately are present in most if not all rural communities in Saskatchewan. We feel the town has been pro-active and fiscally responsible in terms of their water infrastructure and future planning by entering into supply agreements with third parties such as the rural pipelines, as well as developments such as Rudy Landing. These initiatives become long term sources of additional revenue to assist the town in their rising infrastructure costs.
During the last municipal election, campaign promises were made by those who now make up this Council to improve communication between the Town and its residents. I was hopeful this promise would be fulfilled. However, instead of improving, we now find ourselves in a state of secrecy, evasiveness and muzzling of the press.
The Town’s letter in response to questions asked by The Outlook states that “the newspaper is not in the position to answer inquiries such as these”. The Town is correct in recognizing the newspaper does not have the answers to those questions. That is why the Paper posed the questions. Town Council had a great opportunity to communicate with its citizens. It is saddening they chose instead to become name callers and to declare that my local media source has no right to ask questions. Nay nay. My local media has every right to ask questions of my elected leaders.
The Town’s letter also states that the Paper used “malicious tactics” in asking its questions. What could be less malicious than reporters asking questions in order to print the answers verbatim? No room for reporter bias, interpretation or twisting of intention. Simply, here is a forum to share information. That is a way to get, as The Town’s letter describes, the “actual facts” known.
I care about this town. I want to know what is happening in Town. If only the Council would provide information rather than evade the questions. I take offense at the requirement that I must start a file at the Town office in order to get a question asked and answered by Council. Just as at every level of government in this nation, I should be able to contact my elected leaders and expect a response. However, I may not have the time to ask every question that needs answering or even know what should be asked. For this reason I am thankful for the free press.
I am a rate payer. Those who run the newspaper are ratepayers. The paper itself, as a property owner, is a ratepayer in this Town. I have the right to ask questions. They have the right to ask questions. But just in case I can’t get my questions asked, I hereby offer my proxy to The Outlook Newspaper to ask questions of my Municipal Council on my behalf.
Open Letter to Outlook Town Council
If you are trying to put Outlook on the map, you are succeeding. Though perhaps not in the way you intended.
The local newspaper has always been at the heart of the community. Keeping residents informed and championing local people and causes.
For centuries, journalists at community papers like ours, have been tasked with asking difficult questions and holding those in power to account.
To do otherwise would be to fail in our duty to our readers and subscribers.
Your attempt to circumnavigate the local press and deal directly with ratepayers does a disservice to the community and is a blatant attempt to suppress the free flow of information and halt public discourse.
We specifically and strenuously object to the reference to ‘malicious tactics’ supposedly used by our staff in asking questions. Our communication to the mayor, which you have received and which we, in the interest of full transparency, have posted to our website for all to see, was at all times appropriate to our role as a community media outlet and fully professional in nature. To suggest otherwise is not only incorrect, but harmful to our community.
It is our opinion that such tactics by government (local or otherwise), should be deeply concerning to anyone who values democracy.
Politicians openly denying journalism’s basic purpose seems to be all the rage these days, but that needs to stop.
And what better place than in Outlook.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in order to put this behind us and continue to work together to make Outlook a place that we can all be proud of.
Prairie Newspaper Group LP,
a division of GVIC Communications Corp.