By Marshall Jones
I was beginning to think my old friend was mad at me. Why else wouldn’t Kelly Hayes return my phone calls?
I heard his radio ads on AM 1150 about an issue close to the heart (and property) of the Central Okanagan Regional District director for Area Ellison/Joe Rich. I wanted to get up to speed on what was going on out there and figured I would start at the top.
But my attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. So I had no choice but to call another old friend, Chris Terry of the Joe Rich Ratepayers and Tenants Society, otherwise and affectionately known as the Joe Rich RATS. Apparently, he told me, I am not the only one having trouble getting ahold of Hayes these days.
It’s gotten so bad that the RATS, once supportive of his election, are circulating a leaflet asking for his resignation. They cite numerous examples of being unable to contact him.
Reporter Jason Luciw was the first to pick up on that story and write that Hayes refused comment and phone calls from him as well. It can’t have been easy for Luciw. Though no one really likes to admit it, there is kind of an unwritten code in the media that we don’t air the dirty laundry of other media types.
I’d like to say that’s why you don’t read these kinds of stories but as Chuck Poulsen would point out, it’s more likely because this new generation of reporter is just pretty boring. There’s nothing to report on. (Except for John Harding, the former Kelowna.com columnist and former managing editor of the Daily Courier. But that will have to wait.)
Hayes, as you must know, is the news director of Castanet. He is a good old-school journalist, a digger. He possesses a unique skill of seeing stories that matter and demands accountability from those in power.
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand what possessed him—or other reporters for that matter—to seek public office while still in the role of news gatherer. Maybe I’m a little too old school, but the two go together like oil and water.
Which brings me back to the uncomfortable situation I find myself in today. Like Hayes, I believe in holding feet to the fire, and nothing burns me like politicians avoiding accountability.
Now believe it or not, I can understand Hayes having issues with the RATS. I got caught up in Joe Rich politics long enough to help oust a fire chief and Mary-Ann Graham early in the last decade. The heads of nearly every elected official from that area rests on a spike at the call of the RATS.
Reg Volk is a RAT, the man behind the Kelly Hayes recall or resign campaign and always the first to chuck his spear at anyone who refuses to take him seriously. I applaud his interest in his community, but he does have really sore arms.
So Kelly, my old friend, I understand entirely why you might ignore him, especially if you have no intention of running again. But as a journalist you will understand why I can’t let you get away with not taking my phone calls. You asked for the job so you have all the responsibilities you and I demand of those in charge.
Besides, if other politicians see you go unscathed in the spiderhole, they might follow and we can’t let that happen or you and I are out of jobs.
Update Jan. 11, 2010
Perhaps I was a tad quick on the trigger finger. I got a short email from Kelly this morning telling me he did, in fact, return my call on Sunday. We tried to reach him Friday and Saturday and I tried a different number on Sunday. He returned that call Sunday. My phone doesn’t tell me what time he called, though it certainly doesn’t appear he was evading my calls.
Kelly also tells me that he is unaware of any petition asking for his resignation (though I have seen a “news release” being circulated through the community) and that a number attributed to Hayes on the release from Reg Volk is incorrect.
He said he told Jason Luciw “no comment” in person and he was unaware of Luciw’s attempts to call him. “I suppose if he did, he would have gotten the wrong number,” Hayes says.Marshall Jones: Politicians can't escape accountability because they are journalists