Editorial: It’s time for change

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William Workman (graphic)

William Workman (graphic)

Oh, did you hear about this? Just a fun, local story about the Mayor of Saanich. No, not anything good. No, not crack. He lied about an extramarital affair, then accused the police of putting spyware on his computer. That’s right; he thinks the police are trying to take him down and that they bugged his office computers. Maybe he had been watching Citizenfour (the documentary about Edward Snowden and the NSA) when the police came and found him mid-affair. That movie would make anyone paranoid.

First off, can we refrain from using the word “scandal”? It’s becoming too fashionable for mayors to be involved in scandals. You can’t have an affair and then get paranoid about spyware that you believe is on your computer. You’re a techie, and as far as “scandals” go, this one is pretty nerdy. This whole incident garners nothing but eye-rolls from your electorate. Eye-rolls and, well, maybe a little guilt too.

After all, it is our democracy, and with 35 per cent of voters shuffling to the polls in November it is our mess. Sure, the turnout was up from 25 per cent in 2011, largely due to more polling stations, but the fact that Atwell won with 50.98 per cent must tell us something, right? The incumbent, Frank Leonard, had been mayor for 18 years and lost by a margin of 1062 votes. Atwell’s campaign slogan was “It’s Time For Change” and focused mostly on what Leonard was doing wrong.

So what does this mean for Saanich? Well, Atwell has been asked to step down from the Saanich Police Board—a board that he chairs, but they can’t forcibly remove him. It’s hard to not let this taint a reputation. However, what is more troubling is the thought that this incident may harm the working relationships of the Mayor and his council, halting any progress and stunting our city. Councillor Susan Brice, who was re-elected this year, expressed concern with Atwell, stating that, “I am not pleased to have diversions from our work.” Apparently, she, like us citizens, does not want this paranoia getting in the way of progress. Atwell is spending as little time as possible at the offices due to the spyware, and using a private email account, which will frustrate Freedom of Information requests and keep public business away from public scrutiny.

It looks like this is your time to shine, Atwell. An affair isn’t great, but it’s not something to get booted from office for. But, claiming the police is spying on you and not going into your office is when issues around you doing your job come into question. Time will tell if those allegations hold true or not. One thing is for sure, Atwell makes the pro-amalgamation-lobbyist’s job a lot easier.

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  • Citizen Keen

    Well it’s apparent they’re not teaching investigative journalism at UVic. A good editorial worth the time it takes to read it should analyze evidence. There’s little evidence here and much of what’s presented as evidence isn’t so. Case in point…Atwell using a personal email. All Councillors do that.

  • RYZZ

    Atwell never accused the police of putting the spyware on his work computer; Atwell asked the police to investigate the fact that spyware was put on his work computer by Saanich staff. Terrible article.

  • B Gilbert

    http://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/district-of-saanich-backgrounder-on-computer-system-1.2189425

    SAANICH COMPUTER SYSTEM

    … Spector 360 was purchased on November 21, 2014 and installed onto an initial group of key computers, including the Mayor’s office computer. ….

    Any data captured by this system can only be reviewed by following a secure administrative process (authorized by either the Chief Administrative Officer or Director of Corporate Services) …. Prior to being permitted access to the Saanich corporate computer network, employees are required to sign a Network Access Terms and Conditions form … no signed form has been returned by the Mayor, ….

  • B Gilbert

    https://www.oipc.bc.ca/news-releases/1740

    ….

    “There are two types of system monitoring of employees: overt and covert. Overt monitoring is done with the knowledge of the employee and is typically described in an organization’s ‘acceptable use’ policies. Employees are notified of these policies on their first day of work, or if it is a new policy, before monitoring takes effect. This type of monitoring is typically for information and network security purposes – for example to protect against malware, visits to inappropriate websites, and installation of new devices or programs.

    “However, employees still have privacy rights that are not surrendered at the office door. Even with notification, overt employee monitoring must be reasonable or necessary to the operations of the employer.

    “The second type of monitoring is covert, which is done without an employee’s knowledge. This type of monitoring could take the form of tracking Internet use, logging keystrokes, or taking screen captures at set intervals as part of ongoing monitoring. The threshold for covert monitoring is very high, and may be part of a specific workplace investigation once all other less intrusive measures have been exhausted.

    “Decisions about whether employee monitoring is authorized under privacy law are context-specific and will depend on the circumstances of each case. That being said, there have been no cases brought before this Office where covert monitoring was found to be justified under privacy law.”

  • Michael Geoghegan

    Well this commentary is certainly out of date, the placing of spyware on Mayor Atwell’s computer was a criminal act. Even the Times Colonist expects BC’s privacy commissioner to spank Saanich over this spyware which was purchased a week after Atwell was elected and installed the day after he was sworn in.

    • ShamusR

      As Mayor Atwell’s spokesperson you share his inability to speak the truth. The Saanich police determined that no criminal act happened. The privacy commissioner hasn’t even concluded her investigation yet let alone ‘spanked anyone’. It is sad that you and the Mayor continually take this approach.

      • Michael Geoghegan

        Saanich PD really you’re actually giving any credence to their whitewash? You are either a troll or seriously misguided.

        • ShamusR

          Even Atwell’s supporters are telling him to fire you. Desouza and Andrew have left, the Atwell Nation support group is now down to 5 people and less than a handful showed up to support him at the last council meeting. The constant spinning of misinformation and lies isn’t getting the Mayor anywhere. Sure you got him elected and you get credit for that, but your ongoing actions just insure that it is only for 1 term, that nothing gets accomplished, and that he leaves office being the butt of everyone’s jokes.

          • Michael Geoghegan

            Get back to me after the Privacy Commissioner has issued her report. By the way you talk pretty big for a coward who won’t even identify who they are in their trolling posts.

          • Michael Geoghegan

            Just reviewing your comments here wow you turned out to be completely wrong and it is now the council that is seen for what they are corrupt venal and needing to be removed from office at the earliest opportunity.

      • Michael Geoghegan

        Wow again you turned out to be completely wrong, how embarrassing for you.