Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You may now resume ignoring Lethbridge

So Dar quit. Ah, well, it was fun while it lasted. We won't be treated to the suspense of seeing where she finishes in October's muni election. After her sentencing on September 10, you'll never hear her name again (unless you see someone stumbling around your wood pile - that may not be Lois Lane!).

As such, Lethbridge will fade into the background, unmentioned and unnoticed until something else insane or tragic happens. That's fine. But since we're on the topic:

It's a pretty nice place. There's nothing much to see here, but there's lots nearby. Very socially conservative on average, but probably not as economically conservative as you might guess. (Translation: it's like most places, where everybody wants the government to stay out of business's way, until their own business needs help).

The local government (now short one alderman!) is mercifully quiet on most issues that are not in their own scope of governance (no debates on war with Iraq, becoming a nuclear-free zone, improving our hospitals, etc.). They've never had a serious cash crunch (that's good), so they've never had to critically examine how they do business (that's bad).

That's not to say they're wasteful; however they have a hand in everything. The city owns and operates every arena in town, including the concessions. They own the curling rink. They own a golf course. They do their own parks, roads, and infrastructure maintenance. Basically, they are a lot bigger than they need to be, and the prime beneficiary of this is CUPE and their members.

It's like Toronto! Except fewer people complain about tax hikes (!), our streets aren't covered in garbage, and there's no Sue Ann Levy devoting 3 columns a week to making the mayor's life hell.

And we get to my biggest complaint about this fine city: the local fishwrap. What not to like?

1) They consistently fail at reporting local insight. For interesting information (anything besides press conferences) during the Dar saga, you had to read Valerie Fortney in the Calgary Herald. They essentially function as a marketing and communications organ for City Hall and community groups.

2) Their editorials are generally mind-numbingly boring and squishy, except when they are blatantly stupid. Their take on the Auditor General uncovering total incompetence in our air and border security was titled, "War On Terror Can Go Too Far". Why is the money we are devoting to security not accomplishing what it's supposed to? According to the Lethbridge Herald: "There is a fine line to be walked between taking security precautions and obsessing with 'the evil ones', to borrow George W. Bush's term for terrorists."
I hope you are as confused reading that last paragraph as I was reading the editorial. Appropriately, it ran immediately adjacent to the comic strip "Non-Sequitur".

3) The remainder of the comment pages is a farce. They run two regular syndicated columnists on Sundays - Gwynne Dyer and David Suzuki. The page is headed: A Forum For All Viewpoints. Bwahahahaha! The most conservative columnist they ever run is Chantal Hebert. Talk about knowing your readers!

OK, I know, none of you care. I'm done now.


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