The following article is a personal opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Cortes Radio Society, its board, DJs, or general membership.
By Roy L Hales
I found Director Brenda Leigh’s attack on the Klahoose Nation’s application for a Grant In Aid, at the April 25 Strathcona Regional District Board Meeting, disturbing. She actually said the Klahoose should be barred because their Chief contributed to the GoFundMe campaign launched after Bernie Anderson’s cabin burned down in January 2018. Leigh claims that last year, ” A lot of Grants in Aid … went out to people who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign.” Despite its almost total absence of supporting evidence, Ms Leigh appears to endorse the Legal Petition which fourteen Cortes residents launched in hope of removing Director Noba Anderson (Bernie’s daughter and legal guardian) from office. As the same arguments are likely to reappear in the next round of Cortes Island’s Grant in Aid applications, it is time to review the Legal Petition’s factual errors.
According to the petition, “Anderson took money from her constituents for personal gain and a number of these same constituents received gifts and grants in return … There were 27 persons who donated to Anderson’s fund of which 27 persons, the following benefitted either through their personally or through their own organizations from the SRD grant in aid of which Anderson applied for.”
7 of the Petition’s 12 Examples Debunked
The petition lists twelve people, seven of which can easily be proven innocent of bribing Director Anderson so they could receive “gifts and grants”.
- Three of accused are connected to Cortes Radio, which was not in the Grant In Aid program in 2018 – so the fact two of our volunteer DJs and a volunteer Board member contributed $50, $75 and $100 to the GoFundMe campaign is irrelevant. (Why didn’t Cortes Radio apply for a Grant in Aid? – Because I was a new President and have only recently discovered that Grants in Aid can be used for core funding. This is where we need funds and so I applied in April 2019.)
- The petition claims Morgan Tams is Cortes Island’s garbage collector and says this contract has never be put out for tender – But Tams is not, and never has, been Cortes Island’s garbage collector – so the $20 he contributed to the GoFundMe campaign is not a bribe intended to obtain the SRD garbage contract.
- Corry Dow is dismissed as one of Director Anderson’s appointees to Cortes Island’s (volunteer) Advisory Planning Commission (APC) – but Dow left the APC in 2017, so what relevance does this have to the $40 she contributed to a GoFundMe campaign in 2018?
- The petition alleges that Amanda Glickman is “runs a ham radio course which is funded by the SRD” – but Glickman’s connection to the SRD is through Shaun Koopman, not Noba Anderson – So it seems highly unlikely that she was expecting a “kickback” when Amanda and her husband Barry contributed $50 to their old friend Bernie’s GoFundMe campaign.
- Martha Abelson is supposedly “a member of the Board of Directors of Cortes Island Business and Tourism (CIBTA)” which received a Grant In Aid, but in her affidavit, Ms Abelson states “I have not been involved with CIBATA since its general meeting of June 2017, when I stepped down from CIBATA’s board of directors.” She adds that her $100 contribution was to someone who was once a close neighbour.
- While the petition claims otherwise, there was not a single 2018 board member, from any of the Cortes Island non – profit organizations that received Grant-In-Aids during 2018, listed among the contributors to the GoFundMe campaign. (Under more sane conditions, this might be taken as evidence of a lack of community spirit.)
Additional Factual Errors
There are more factual errors, big and small, in the legal petition.
Under Victor Van Buskirk it says he “does a show for the Cortes Radio called Muse Garden.” The show is actually called “From The Muse’s Garden.”
The petition states Ryan Harvey serves on the board of the “Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCIS)“. To which Harvey replies, in his affidavit, “I am not and never have been a director of FOCI.” (Friends of Cortes Island.)
Under “Kirsten Schofield Sweet” it says she is “on the APC, Cortes Island Seafood Association and is a member of FOCIS. Ms Sweet was Anderson’s alternate director in her previous term running from 2011 through to 2014.”
- They mention “Ms Sweet” three times, but her surname is SCHOFIELD-SWEET (not Sweet) and her first name is KRISTEN (not Kirsten).
- In her afidavitt, Ms Schofield-Sweet points out that she started serving on the APC in 1991 or 92, when Ralph Nursal the Director. She went on to serve under directors George Sirk, Jenny Hiebert AND Noba Anderson.
- While she did serve as Director Anderson’s alternate, this was in 2008 to 2011 – not 2011 to 2014.
- Kristen Schofield -Sweet is not, and never has been, a member of the Cortes Island Seafood Association. (Her partner is one of CISA’s board members.) CISA has been hiring her as Seafest’s event coordinator since 2011.
- As to Ms Schofield-Sweet’s alleged membership in FOCI, she has not attended a meeting in decades.
As for the petitioners belief that the SRD garbage collection contract “… has never been placed out for bid,” they would have found it had they searched the SRD website using the actual garbage collector’s name. The tender for residential waste collection for 2012 to 2016 was awarded to Margaret Verschuur. Her contract was renewed in 2017, again in 2018 and ends on November 30, 2020.
In her affidavit, Amanda Glickman responded to the petitioner’s statement that she “runs a ham radio course which is funded by the SRD”
“I have taught this course several times in various locations in the SRD. Until recently, we never charged for these courses. We paid out of pocket for our transportation, hall rental, course material, accommodation, and other costs (such as the disappearing USB sticks containing the course material). The decision to charge for the recent ham radio course was made by the SRD’s Emergency Program Coordinator, Shaun Koopman, who felt Barry and I should be compensated for some of our expenses.”
To A Reasonable Person
The petitioners are constantly displaying their ignorance. They do not appear to know the proper names or abbreviations of organizations like the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) or the Cortes Island Business and Tourism Association (CIBATA). When they mention details like Amanda Glickman’s contribution to the SRD’s emergency communications network or Kristen Schofield-Sweet’s term as alternate director, the details are almost invariably garbled to the point they are only half true. This disregard for accuracy continues when dealing with the terms served by directors and committee members. (Two of three directors they mention were not serving by 2018, and the third belonged to an organization not in the Grant in aid program. Taken as a whole, the legal petition appears to essentially consist of gossip with little fact checking.
There is no proof that any of the dozen people, or the volunteer run organizations they have some connection to (by past association, membership, or employment), had any expectation of receiving a kickback when they donated sums of between $20 and $100 to Bernie Anderson’s GoFundMe Campaign. The petitioners do not know what the contributors motives are. Indeed, they cannot point to a single example where the donor actually received personal benefit. (The petitioners can cite imaginary examples, like that of the garbage collector who is actually not a garbage collector.)
When a reasonable person finds their perception of a situation at odds with known facts, they know it is time to question their beliefs. More is expected from an elected official like Director Leigh. Instead we find her making statements like, “paying a Grant In Aid to a GoFundMe contributor is wrong.”
Hopefully this sentiment is rooted in ignorance and Director Leigh will eventually review the facts.
Who is the “SRD” Bertha Refers to?
There is another aspect of this situation I find troubling. Last month one of the leading petitioners (Bertha Jeffery) posted the following statement on the Cortes Radio Facebook Page.
“ …. She [i.e. Noba] should have declared the [GoFundMe] income especially when asked by the SRD and did the honourable thing and returned the funds. And take down the Go Fund Me page. She refused to and that is what the lawsuit is about …”
This brings several questions to my mind:
- In a previous interview, SRD Chair Michele Babchuk said (16:20 of linked podcast), “the SRD Board, as a whole, is not involved in the legal petition.” She, understandably, could not extend this assurance to include all the directors, as individuals.
- Is there any truth behind Ms Jeffery’s story?
- If so, how does Ms Jeffery know about the alleged “SRD” request that Director Anderson declare “her” GoFundMe income?
- is “the SRD” an individual director who has taken an interest in affairs outside of his/her district? – via conversations, emails and/or telephone calls whose substance cannot be fact checked because it is withheld from public view?
- Is there more than one person hidden behind that “SRD” label?
- Is “the SRD” also complicit in the legal petition?