Rebuttal’s and comments to Oct. 3 letter continue

Ron Armbruster pens his thoughts on the issue of the Castlegar Fire Department and local media editorials

I write in response to letters penned by Mr. Malcolm, CEO City of Castlegar and Councillors McIntosh and Heaton-Sherstobitoff in regard to written comments made by me in response to what I felt was an over-reactive rebuttal penned by Kyra Hoggan [Castlegar Source] to the letter from Paul Therderahn published in the October 3, 2013 edition of the Castlegar News.

Unfortunately, and with much regret, I misused the word “demotion” in reference to Chief Rempel’s job duties. I regret the negative connotation that was attached to the use of this word and sincerely apologize for any embarrassment that may have resulted. I have known Gerry for more than 25 years and have worked alongside him when I was employed in the airline industry in Castlegar and then during my 12 years on City Council. Let me unequivocally state that I have the utmost respect for Gerry and his abilities and commend him for all he has done for the citizens of Castlegar and area as part of his job and for his volunteer work with several different organizations.

When mistakenly using the word “demotion” I was writing in the context of what I recall having been reported at the time Gerry was appointed to the APM position. My recollection, and that of some others I know, is that the APM duties would consume approximately half his time and the remainder would be consumed by his Fire Chief duties. The logical assumption being that the incumbent Deputy Chief would be assuming some of Gerry’s duties.

It is now being put forth that the APM responsibilities were assigned to be in addition to those of Fire Chief. Fair enough, and I don’t question the quality or quantity of work performed by Gerry, but this then begs the question why would the Council of the day do this?

Everyone knew his plate was more than full and I’ve hardly ever seen him take a day off. Why then, did the City assign additional duties to him, especially in light of one of the current arguments in support of hiring a 2nd Deputy Chief, albeit perhaps in hindsight, that the two current paid staff are overworked? It is obvious that they must be overworked as evidenced by the need (one that I understand was even questioned by some councillors) to hire an outside consultant to negotiate airport car rental leases; because, as Mr. Malcolm told me at the time, there were too many other things going on. It just doesn’t make any sense.

I wrote my comments in response to what I felt was a rather exaggerated and unwarranted rebuttal penned by Ms. Hoggan wherein she perceived the Therderahn letter to be an attack upon Gerry Rempel. I, personally, did not share that perception and suggest that his letter was directed at City Council, not Chief Rempel. I found Ms. Hoggan’s rebuttal to be very sarcastic and condescending. She even purported, without foundation, by her use of the word “author(s)”, that Mr. Therderahn was not the sole author of that letter.

Although reluctant to continue this written dialogue any further, I find it necessary to provide one final response to the most recent “rebuttal” from Kyra Hoggan.

In this rebuttal letter she states “I would like to say that I believe with all my heart (although I can’t prove it) that you were the principal architect of the original letter, and that you have a personal agenda around the airport management role that you have not disclosed in your public comments”. To be clear, she’s talking about me. Ms. Hoggan, as a trained journalist, you, more than anyone else, should know that if you have no proof then don’t print it! And for the record, I did NOT pen that letter. I don’t know Mr. Therderahn, I don’t recall having ever met him, and even if I had met him previously, with all due respect to Mr. Therderahn, I probably would not recognize him if we passed on the street.

In regard to me having a personal agenda around the airport management role, I’d like to know exactly what she is implying. Does she have inside knowledge that I had applied for the APM job? Is she suggesting that I am now attacking Gerry because I didn’t get the APM job; or that I have some kind of axe to grind? How did she find out I was even an applicant for the APM position? How did she become privy to this confidential information? I challenge her to reveal how, and from whom, she was provided this confidential information. I further challenge City staff, or City Council members to come clean….which one of you leaked that information?

Ms. Hoggan, you hardly know me and I see you have now “unfriended’ me from Facebook, but those who do can attest that I am not a vindictive person, I am not one to hold a grudge, I am not one to grind axes, and I most certainly have no animosity directed at Gerry or the job he most capably performs on our behalf. For you to infer otherwise is highly offensive and, in my humble opinion, borders on libel. Any comments you have made, or inferred, about me in this regard are absolutely false. Ms. Hoggan, your unfounded attack on my integrity is worthy of a formal and public apology.

Let me close by re-iterating that at no time were my comments intended to be an attack on Gerry Rempel and I apologize once again for the mistaken use of the word demotion which has misconstrued the message I was attempting to put forward.

Ron Armbruster