Sunday, April 24, 2016

Impeccable Timing


If you have a chance to read Okanagan Life's April/May 2016 issue, do so.

There's an article -- contained in a Special Report -- that'll be of considerable interest to Greater Vernon Water customers in the North Okanagan.

More specifically, to SAC and CCMWP members.
And some politicians.
Why only "some" is evident later.

The story's lead-in promises that two UBCO professors will "change the way we understand deception".

Good timing, huh?
Especially timely as the Stakeholder Advisory Committee's last meeting at RDNO--following the November 2014 failed borrowing referendum--looms.

Before quoting from the professors, John Paul Byrne's editorial that accompanies the story is a most appropriate intro.  He titled it "The truth about liars".

"It has been said that 'all truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident'."

He continues, in part:  "The UBCO research found within these pages tells a story of a group of social psychologists who have arrived at the precipice of a world that needs to change and must stop incessant lying."

"...The UBCO truth team shows us how easy it is for psychopathic people to manipulate and deceive regular trusting folk.  It is fascinating when we are able to understand the science on how politicians obfuscate and lie to start illegal wars and invade peaceful countries....an absence of integrity by the supposed leadership(s) of the free world."

Sure, not everyone's a psychopath, I say.
But the degree to which lies and deception rule our lives today is, well, frankly staggering.

Think of the water issues in the North Okanagan, and politicians and bureaucrats ganging up on Coldstream councillor and GVAC director Gyula Kiss to virtually guarantee that his scientific--and honest--mind didn't contaminate the bureaucratic biases that would deliver the desired outcome for the Master Water Plan stakeholder review.

OK.  
Back to lying and deception.
Back to comparing the following with GVW and politicians' tactics.
 
John Paul Byrne closes his editorial with:

"...high stakes politicians are lying to all of us."

UBCO researchers Michael Woodworth and Stephen Porter are a team of "lie busters...attaining worldwide acclaim by seeking greater understanding in the fields of malfeasance, untruth and secrecy."

"...why do humans lie, how pervasive is our lying
and why do we fall for it?"

"As professor of psychology and director of the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science & Law (CAPSL) at the Okanagan campus of UBC, Porter heads up an inspirational team of dedicated scientists that are determined to answer age-old questions--why do humans lie, how pervasive is our lying and why do we fall for it?"

"When asked how often people lie to themselves, Porter admits, "It's impossible to quantify, but I would argue almost continuously, in terms of defense mechanisms like being in denial, rationalizing and avoiding the truth."

Porter is also looking at how emotion can serve to enhance memory, but also increase memory's susceptibility to misinformation, including widely publicized events from the media.

While Porter and co-researcher Michael Woodworth understand that little white lies and half-truths are necessary for honest people to coexist in today's society, for them, high stakes lies are a completely different animal. 

As a psychology professor at UBCO and one of Canada's top lie detectors, Woodworth has focused on three main areas of research:  psychopathy, criminal behaviour and deception detection...careers are blossoming in psychopathy, says Woodworth, who watches as the worldwide trend in lying expands.

"Today humans are not only lying and cheating more, they are getting away with it," he says.  "Downright deception has increased from being clever, which was the norm 20 years ago."

(For example), Woodworth can't hide his amazement that no Wall Street bankers have gone to jail for the subprime fiasco.  Single-handedly Wall Street bankers lied, cheated and defrauded millions out of trillions of dollars.  They ran the entire world economy over a cliff and then, unbelievably, were bailed out by their government for doing so."

'it is easier to fool a man than to
 convince him that he has been fooled'.
Mark Twain 

"Porter claims that honesty and all other virtues are expendable if deceit, treachery, and force would be more expedient.  This axiom appears to be embossed on the foreheads of Wall Street bankers, yet the courts fail to act....a shining spotlight on this human gullibility."

"Humans do not think or reason through problems or challenges, but instead embrace the first story or the popular narrative.  Mark Twain explained it thusly: 'it is easier to fool a man than to convince him that he has been fooled'."

Also included is a frank conversation with author Dan Ariely to underscore the topic.
Mr. Ariely wrote "Predictably Irrational", has spoken at TED conferences, and done seminal research. 

The editor's phone interview with author Ariely included:

"...the public wants and expects our politicians to be dishonest.  The reason for that is people view politics as a means to an end.  If you want your agenda being implemented--you want your politicians to deceive to achieve it."

Still thinking of SAC and GVW?
Ahem!

The editor stated:  "We live in a world where scientists are marginalized and trivialized by politicians who effectively lie and fabricate arguments, just to discredit good science..."  The author replied:  I think that the dismissive nature of data is a problem.  I don't think that people should say, here is a piece of data, let's just accept it.  What I believe is people should be updating their beliefs....(otherwise) you are idealogical rather than logical, and that is terrible."

Dan Ariely concluded:  "There is no question that you can create a (false) story and get people to believe just about anything.  It is shockingly easy to do that."

Gyula Kiss is aware of that.
So are GVW customers in the North Okanagan.
So are CCMWP members.
So are some SAC members...unfortunately an insufficient number of them.

Even the May 2016 Rotarian publication touches on the topic with this quote from a G.Tijani of Nigeria:  "There seems to be an urgent need for individual and group psychological repair so we can improve the human condition."

Indeed.
This story therefore, as it relates to the political and bureaucratic "scene" at RDNO/GVW, needs two graphics to underscore deception, thanks entirely to the Master Water Plan 2012 supporters.






"Think of the Senators 'getting off', think of how Gyula's scientific proposals were undermined--and in a recent case--actually falsified, think of the backroom deals being made to keep Greater Vernon directors in lockstep with bureaucrats, think of how engineering consultants have been leaned on to not accept anything but the status quo, think of the abject lack of researched media coverage on the topic here" offers Kia, "and it makes me sick."

Only the little people and old dogs tell the truth.

Because the others will do anything to save face.
That referred to "some politicians" from earlier on in this blog entry.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Learned It From GVW



He sure got it right!

"Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing," said Gordie Ivans of Black Mountain Irrigation District, referring to what's going on south of us as Kelowna attempts to "amalgamate" numerous irrigation districts.

Vernon councillor Bob Spiers' blog explained it in more detail:  The city and the irrigation districts are at odds over a 2012 water plan for the entire city that all five groups signed off on.  It calls for more than $360 million of improvements to the existing water systems over the next 15 years.

Spiers' story in its entirety:
"Community minister sees a way forward in Kelowna water dispute
by Alistair Waters - Kelowna Capital News posted Apr 22, 2016 at 6:00 PM
B.C.'s community minister says he's optimistic the City of Kelowna and the four independent irrigation districts that supply water to residents in various parts of the city will accept the recommendations put forward by a pair of mediators appointed by the province.  Peter Fassbender, speaking at the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention that wrapped up in Kelowna Friday, said he believes the recommendations could end the impasse between the city and the irrigation districts in their battle over the terms of reference for a provincially-mandated value planning review of a three-year-old plan for water infrastructure improvements here.

"Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing..."

While Fassbender would not reveal what mediators George Abbott and Chris Trumpy recommended, he said he does feel the issue of future governance of the the water systems in the city should not be part of the "technical" process. That has been the position of the irrigation districts and is at the heart of the current impasse between the city and Rutland Water Works, the Black Mountain, Glenmore-Ellison and South-east Kelowna Irrigation Districts. But while Fassbender said governance should not be part of the value planner exercise, he said it must be looked at down the road. How far is now the question. Victoria, he added, is not prepared at this time to step in and order the irrigation districts to amalgamate with the city's water utility. The city wants one integrated water system for the entire city rather than the current situation where five separate and independent entities, including its own water utility, now provide water to residential, business and agriculture customers throughout Kelowna. On Thursday night, representatives of Rutland Water Works and the Black Mountain Irrigation District spoke to about 30 people at a meeting organized by the Rutland Residents' Association. Garry Zarr of of Rutland Water Works and Gordie Ivans of BMID said they believe the city has made the issue less about water quality and more about politics. "Unfortunately, politics has gotten in the way of this thing," said the BMID's Ivans.

The city and the irrigation districts are at odds over a 2012 water plan for the entire city that all five groups signed off on and calls for more than $360 million of improvements to the existing water systems over the next 15 years. 

The city now feels that the work called for in the plan could be done faster and cheaper if there was just one integrated water system serving entire city. And, it feels there would be fewer water advisories issued because of potential health problems associated with water from some of the irrigation districts because they use surface water sources. Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi said Friday the province ordered the value planning exercise for the water plan and the city feels if there there are to be connections between irrigation districts and the city—Rutland Water Works and BMID say they already have a connection—governance has to be addressed. Irrigation districts in B.C. are independent bodies that have taxing authority and whose ratepayers fund infrastructure improvement unless government grants can be acquired. Zarr noted because of that, the city cannot force the irrigation districts to amalgamate, that would have to come from the province.

Muddying the local waters is the fact the province, 10 years ago, made irrigation districts ineligible for applying for grants, telling them they had to have municipalities apply on their behalf. The city, which applied last year and was unsuccessful, also contends that the grants they are being asked to apply for on behalf of the irrigation districts are dollars they could apply for to pay for other infrastructure needs in the city. So, in essence, they are giving up on money they could use in order to secure water for another jurisdiction even though it would service its residents. It says that is one of the reasons it wants a single, interconnected water utility so funding decisions can be made with the entire city in mind.

After years of talking behind the scenes about this issue, current Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran went public with the city's frustrations and called for a single water system earlier this year during his State Of The City address to the local chamber of commerce. Meanwhile, on Friday, Fassbender said the province is aware that the clock is ticking on possible grants from the federal government under its new infrastructure funding program. Ottawa has promised millions of dollars to help municipalities pay to improve their infrastructure, especially when it comes to water. At Thursday's meeting in Rutland, Zarr said while his organization's water is very good because it comes from an underground aquifer—and both Black Mountain and, to a lesser degree, Glenmore Ellison have made improvements to their systems using their own money, South-east Kelowna, with the smallest population base, needs grants the most to improve its water system. And he said that's where the other three irrigation districts feel any grant money received should go first. Asked about the local situation Thursday at the SILGA convention, B.C.'s NDP leader John Horgan said his party would also not wade in on one side or the other, but would like to see the community work out a solution that they feel is best for all local residents."


 
"At least their plan is 15 years...whereas Greater Vernon Water is promoting a 50 year plan," says Kia.

Yeah...like that's going to be accurate.
Likely as accurate as long range weather forecasting.

GVW's political contagion (force-feeding!) is infecting our neighbours to the south.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lockwood Bros Concrete Products


A tip o' the thank you hat to Richard Lockwood of Lockwood Bros. in Armstrong for the great new tabletops and seats for Highlands Golf's concrete patio tables.



We'll now stain and waterseal the tops and seats.

Richard Lockwood can be reached at 250.546-6941 or drop in to their facility at 1140 Highway 97A.

Great concrete work!
Thanks too, Richard, for delivering them.

"I see some nice shade under them," says Kia.

 



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Most Inane Government Department


Vying for the award is British Columbia's Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

From this story -- heard today -- we may have found a winner for our dubious category...probably running neck and neck with the B.C. Liquor Control Board.

True story:  a Paramedic--who had left the profession and found a well-paying steady job--decided to not renew his Class 4 driver's license (which permits driving ambulances).  He would still have his current everyday Class 5 license, which is the class most everyday residents in B.C. hold.

Imagine his surprise on opening a letter from the Supt. of Motor Vehicles when he learned that ALL his driver's licenses were being cancelled within 14 days of receipt of the letter, as he was not renewing his Class 4 paramedic driver's license!


"That one may be tough to beat," grins Kia.

No wonder so many older people ride the bus...maybe they're all former paramedics.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Ridiculousness of Puritan British Columbia


It's gotta be my age.
Cynicism tends to increase with some life experiences, I think.
I groaned on seeing my snailmail box contain another liquor control board newsletter.
British Columbia's puritanism is alive and well.
Hell, puritanism is growing in B.C.


You see, I've seen governments come and go.
Ideas come and go.
Good and bad.
One thing that never seems to go away is the ludicrosity of the "work" of government departments.

Dumb ideas linger.
Sometimes they grow.

Remember the Winter Olympics in 2010 at Whistler?
And Whistler having to get a special dispensation to allow children inside licensed facilities with their parents--as is allowed all over Europe?
Yup.
Thank goodness that was allowed.

International tourists are used to common sense laws.
A Winter Olympics called for some common sense to be applied to B.C.'s arcane liquor laws.

And how about American tourists?
Americans are used to buying a tank of gas and a six-pack of beer at their local gas station.
Or picking up wine and beer at their local Wal-Mart as they shop for the week's groceries.

A liquor review in B.C. was demanded by many people.

After nearly a year of "consultations with stakeholders" (20 to be exact), Parliamentary Secretary John Yap came out with a 60-page Final Report.
Its contents leave me shaking my head.
And the snailmail newsletter that began this blog entry will leave you shaking yours.

A Mr. Scott, the Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manager (nice title) stated "our staff have been working hard to introduce government's 2014 Liquor Policy Review recommendations." 
That took two years?  Sheesh!
He continued:  "This work has also caused us to reflect on how we can adapt and move forward and understand who we are as an organization..."

Oh for bloody heaven's sake!
...who we are as an organization?

I'll tell you, Mr. Scott, who you are as an organization:  you're head of a system that often seems more intent on the self-preservation of bureaucracy than actually...well...making logical decisions.

Remember tourism?
And plans to have international and America tourists able to purchase liquor more conveniently?

British Columbia's oppressive puritanism wraps a heavy blanket of red tape around liquor, all under the guise of protecting you from yourself.
It's ludicrous.
All that "protecting the public" is a bunch of unabashed and unadulterated drivel.

And today?
Today the liquor control board is conducting "auctions" on which grocery store may apply for up to 18 Special Wine Store licenses.  You only need to throw down a deposit of $25,000 "for each right to apply for a SWS license" you are bidding on.
An auction?
So could it be said that money trumps puritanism?
Oooops ...

But convenience stores and multipurpose stores are not eligible, states the newsletter.


So much for attracting American and international tourists who are used to grabbing a six-pack with a tank of gas or a week's groceries.


"Maybe bureaucrats should get out of their role playing work circles, and actually talk to the average everyday resident and his American and international visitors," suggests Kia.

Nah...the the liquor control board would have to give up the babysitting reins.

Thank goodness Highlands Golf has their liquor license!
It was a nightmare application 15 years ago, encompassing two public hearings.
Lots of yadda, yadda and red tape.

And lots of Puritans.

Water Meter Readings


Invoices updated (included) in this blog post






"Welcome to a new season of invoices for zero consumption utilized," says Kia.

Sure...it's GVW's bureaucrats!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Last Nail in the Coffin


...the last nail in the water review coffin was hammered not by consultants or bureaucrats--but SAC members themselves--during the March 17th, 2016 Stakeholders' Advisory Committee meeting:


NEW BUSINESS

Moved and seconded by Representatives Williamson and Bodenham 
THAT the final Master Water Plan option provide for the use of two water sources and two treatment plants.
                     Opposed by:  Alternate Representative Maria Besso, CCMWP


Basically a done deal, as the saying goes.

SAC members should explain their choice to the public...the public (and politicians) who turned down the $70 million borrowing referendum.  And explain why GVW customers pay between two and three times what other communities' residents pay for water.



 "Baaaa, baaaa," says Kia.

You omitted a consonant...the "d", Kia!

Wonder when GVW and GVAC/Board members are celebrating...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge Almost Over


Greater Vernon Water's Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meetings are almost at an end.
At the bottom of this blog entry is a summary of the process from Gyula Kiss.  It is also featured on his blog in an article dated March 29th.

Meetings are almost at an end.
And so are the sidelong glances.
The sweaty brows of consultants as they furtively eye their bureaucrat bosses.

So much for the Master Water Plan review!

Wink-wink?
Nudge-nudge?
Sidelong glances?

The biased charade known as the water Review includes the following:









You decide between whom the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, and sidelong glances occur!

The next meeting is slated for 8 a.m. Thursday, March 31st at the Regional District boardroom.

"Bring your own sidelong glances," suggests Kia.

All to protect Sacred Duteau...

You know Duteau...the water treatment plant whose winter treatment costs are $363 per Megalitre (versus $83 at Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant.

This from Gyula Kiss:

Comments on the GVWU’s Stakeholders Advisory Committee

The mandate of the Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC), appointed by RDNO Board of Directors for the review of the Master Water Plan (MWP) is nearing its end. During its existence members were bombarded by staff approved information regarding the options of the MWP. There was no input allowed from anyone with differing views. The process could have been better if open discussions between those supporting and those questioning the proposal were allowed.

The entire reason for the creation of the SAC was that some politicians rejected the proposed MWP prior to the referendum. Nearly all politicians stated publicly during the 2014 election campaign that they would vote “NO” on the borrowing referendum. That in itself indicated that not everything was right with the plan. Yet no dissenting voice is allowed to be heard by SAC members nor do we allow an independent reviewer.

SAC Committee members, average citizens,  were unfamiliar with the issues at hand. They needed all the available information for and against the MWP’s complicated options. They also needed some background information which led to the “need” for a MWP. This they did not receive. The Board of Directors decided that only existing consultants and staff would be allowed to provide information that they themselves would choose to this uninformed Committee to consider. Imagine what they retained from the meetings! Could they arrive at a balanced conclusion?

As the political representative on the MWP Technical Committee I am very familiar with all aspects of both Master Water Plans (yes, there were two: MWP 2002 and the current proposal!). As an elected representative of the taxpayers my only interest (some refer to it as “bias”) is to see the development of the most cost effective MWP that will serve the Greater Vernon area now and for the future. I not alone questioning the wisdom of filtering water to be used for crop irrigation.  My input and questions to the consultants could have helped SAC members to have a balanced view of the issues. They did not have to accept my views but they should have had an opportunity to hear them.

Taxpayers and SAC members may legitimately ask the question: If the proposed MWP is the best solution to the water problems of Greater Vernon how would an alternate view point hurt it? Staff and consultants should be happy to prove once and for all that they have a winner and opposing concerns are unjustified. Having denied an opportunity to raise critical questions diminishes the value of the SAC exercise and will cast a shadow on whatever conclusions will be provided by the SAC. It will create mistrust in the process.
It would help SAC members to find out why some politicians could not support the MWP. It could also help if they could understand why most politicians stated that they would vote “NO” on the referendum question. Just like SAC members taxpayers in general are asking  those questions.

In future reports I will provide examples of where staff (including consultants) and I differ in our approach to a reliable and more cost effective MWP. If interested look for those reports on my blog (Google coldstreamernews to access the blog).

Gyula Kiss


Gyula Kiss deserves appreciation and effusive thank yous from a beleaguered public on the GVW system!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Redundancy


Greater Vernon Water is sooooo proud, they state frequently, of the redundancy of Duteau Creek Water Treatment plant.

They state their reasons:  when Kal Lake's turbidity levels are too high, the water source can be switched to Duteau from Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant.  When Mission Hill's components fail or software needs upgrading, they can switch to Duteau, preventing downtime. 

When the threatened mussel infestation arrives, the water source will be switched to Duteau as Kal Lake will be fetid and contaminated.

When seismic activity tears open Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant, the water source will be switched to Duteau.

GVW and consultants call that "redundancy".
Most people call it ludicrosity.

Operating costs at DCWTP are nothing short of horrendous, especially during the ~7 months of winter:  $363 for each Megalitre treated, versus Mission Hill's $83 for each Megalitre!

 
Gives a whole new twist to the phrase carrying costs, doesn't it?

Let's look at the meaning of redundancy:

re·dun·dan·cy
rəˈdəndənsē/
noun
noun: redundancy
  1. the state of being not or no longer needed or useful.
    "the redundancy of 19th-century heavy plant machinery"
    • the use of words or data that could be omitted without loss of meaning or function; repetition or superfluity of information.
      synonyms:superfluity, unnecessariness, excess
      "redundancy in language"
    • Engineering
      the inclusion of extra components that are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components.
      "a high degree of redundancy is built into the machinery installation"
    • British
      the state of being no longer employed because there is no more work available.
      plural noun: redundancies
      "the factory's workers face redundancy"
      synonyms:superfluity, unnecessariness, excess
      "redundancy in language"

Duteau Creek is a dog.
Poor source waters that'll be the first affected by a warming climate.
Source waters frequently and continually contaminated by a mud-bogging and recreating public on Crown land.
Incredibly and alarmingly high levels of disinfection byproducts which are just as dangerous to public health as what they are touted to treat.
And other attributes.

Instead of going on and on about Duteau Creek's shortcomings, here's an artistic rendition of the scenario:

Click graphic to enlarge:
Submitted.  Used with permission.  A new twist to the phrase carrying costs   

"But GVW are still in the driver's seat," says Kia.

The redundancy definition says it all.