There wasn’t a lot on the agenda at the October 17 meeting of Keremeos council, but that didn’t prevent it from becoming an interesting spectacle as council candidate Frank Kennedy repeatedly confronted council, resulting in a call to police.
Kennedy first objected to a reference made by Keremeos Mayor Walter Despot regarding the prospect of moving the Keremeos museum to the Grist Mill site. The mayor referred to Kennedy as being out of order at the time and asked him to wait until the end of the meeting to raise the matter.
During question period, Kennedy queried the mayor regarding advance publicity for a meeting held on October 5 between farmworkers, agricultural representative Glen Lucas of the BCFGA and local and federal government representatives.
“How do you have a public meeting without public notice?” Kennedy asked, insisting that he was told that the public would be informed at a “Coffee with the Mayor” meeting held two weeks prior.
“This was not a formal meeting,” answered CAO Laurie Taylor, “there were only notes, not minutes taken of the discussion.” She also noted that several interested members of the public were in attendance.
Kennedy insisted that village employees had assured him that he would be informed through the newspaper of the meeting, and that it wouldn’t happen until well into October.
The mayor replied that the meeting date was set after consultation with farmworkers. The answer did not satisfy Kennedy, who indicated that the meeting was held because organizers knew that he was not in town.
“A lot of people are upset by this situation,” Kennedy told council. “The situation is mushrooming. “Occupy Keremeos” is going to happen in Memorial Park, and the spearheading issue is the farmworkers campground issue, which started with me.”
Mayor Despot then made a request to Kennedy to keep topic matter to council business of the evening, but Kennedy refused to give the floor. As the mayor banged his gavel on the desk for order, Kennedy continued.
“You spoke of Apple Day and the politicians who attended,” he said to Councillor Bauer.
“You didn’t mention that my mother, Flo Winfrey, was also there.
The idea of moving the museum house to the Grist Mill was mine – I was the one who came up with the idea of moving the museum to the Grist Mill. Do not slip in to a council meeting that it was Elef Christensen’s idea – that was my idea.”
The mayor responded that the idea was not new, and had been discussed for many years by museum society members.
“That idea has been going on for a long time,” the mayor said.
Kennedy continued to disagree. The mayor eventually asked CAO Taylor to call the RCMP, at which point Kennedy departed council chambers.
As he left, Kennedy warned council that they were going to “See a revolution in the next while. You’ll hear from all of us,” he said.
Last Monday night was not the first time the police have been called over Kennedy’s confrontations during council meetings.He is also no stranger to other conflicts with the village.
The councillor candidate for the Nov. 19 civic election filed a Notice of Claim against the Village of Keremeos and then CAO Joni Heinrich in small claims court on June 24 of this year.
The notice states the following:
“The claimant entered into an agreement with the defendant for the claimant to construct a building on or about November 27, 2007, for the agreed price of $179,550. During the construction, there was additional work that the claimant did perform that the defendant did agree was necessary and for which they promised to pay, that on or about October 26, 2008 the claimant delivered to the defendant an invoice for the additional work in the sum of $55,555. The claimant has demanded payment and the defendant has neglected and / or refused to pay. The claimant by these proceedings agrees to reduce his claim against the defendant to the sum of $25,000 net of any offset that the defendant may be entitled to.”
The matter stems from a dispute Kennedy had with the village over final payment for his work in constructing the Infocentre in 2008.
Then CAO Joni Heinrich recently left the Village of Keremeos for another position in Chase, B.C., in late August.