Part 1 of this letter here.
The only option that seemed available was for me to force them to give answers by airing dirty laundry and shaming them. It worked. It is the only reason why they met me! So, in the letter, when Georlene Wolmarans pretends to be reasonable by saying that she, Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman and Councillor Esmé Edge met me, it’s truly bullshit. Worse, I was told by Michelle Wasserman that I would get all the answers at that meeting. I even specified that the meeting would be a waste if they did not provide who was in fact getting what monies from Tourism. She told me that they’d have it for me. They didn’t. Lie. They never gave me any other answers at that meeting so Georlene lied again in that letter. I was told that I was asking good questions and that I should consider that as the first meeting with more to come, with Michelle Wasserman, as the mayor had delegated her to deal with it – LIE! That was 40 days ago and she’s never met me again. What it really was was a stonewalling tactic.
The same nonsense applies to Councillors Magda Williams and Esmé Edge. Magda and I got along very well at the only meeting we had. She’s a warm person so I found myself treating her to lunch with the last money I had. Our meeting had nothing to do with my previous queries. It was simply to discover what plans she had for Knysna regards community development and arts and culture. Besides Women’s Day, she had no plans (!) and only spoke about Hornlee, the suburb she comes from, rather than Knysna as a whole. I suggested my ideas which made her excited and enthusiastic, with her insisting that I had to meet the committee she headed and that we would do good things together. I haven’t heard from her again and she doesn’t respond to messages. Same applies to Esmé. She also appears to have a good heart which is why i never highlighted her on my blog but now I will have to. We’d had positive communication, including a meeting with sufficient discussion that it extended into dinner. But now she too doesn’t respond.
I’m assuming that Mayor Georlene and Deputy Mayor Michelle, their superiors, have locked me out to all. Maybe even Alan Winde, considering the timing? Sadly, Magda’s and Esme’s good hearts do not count enough – we desperately need leaders, not sheep. Knysna is in great need. They should be doing what they believe to be right.
During these encounters with our so-called leaders, about a dozen so far, I was scared to discover how little they knew about Knysna. There’s the odd exception where personal gain (!) seems to be the motivator overacting on knowledge, but, either way, I realized that Knysna was in much bigger trouble than the recession was telling us.
My questions grew, much found at those links I shared with you above. Many of those should have been questions that our “leaders” should have been asking. What my blogs can’t express sufficiently is the frustration that so many are experiencing with trying to deal with the Knysna Council. Why doesn’t truth about our town have value to the DA!
Before I round off, let me return to Alan Winde. Alan, like others beneath you and before you, you explained the inability to get some answers was owing to the fact that Knysna Tourism is a Section 21 company as if it’s beyond the DA’s control. That’s ridiculous. Knysna Tourism is contracted by the Knysna Municipality which the DA is in charge of. It gets approximately R4 million budget from the municipality so some oversight, for the citizens of Knysna, is obligatory. The relationship is as incestuous as it gets. Both the municipality and Tourism utilize the same PR person. 2 DA members, Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman and Councillor Esme Edge, are on the all-White, 7-member Tourism Board. And who, that I’m questioning, are their cronies?
Relatedly, Georlene’s letter uses my meeting with Reggie Smit, Director of Corporate Services, as further substantiation of their co-operation. The reality is that I set up the meeting with Reggie, not the DA. Reggie’s conversation with me was helpful and informative but when I received his email, which was after I had told Michelle Wasserman that I’d met him, his tone had changed and he too resorted to illogical terminology such as “not within my mandate.” Ridiculous again as it’s his department that approves the Tourism budget. In fact, they receive a monthly budget statement from Knysna Tourism that they do not analyze. Yes, I do imply that the DA council told him not to co-operate. The irony, which Reggie may be unaware of, was in a conversation with Georlene on that very UNDEMOCRATIC day that got rid of Municipal Manager, Johnny Douglas (i have no love for him but knowing why does count as does knowing what he got paid and if Lauren Waring, his stand-in, is being paid more atop her salary?). Georlene was in a victorious mood because of the news and shared it with me. She also promised me that I would now be first on her agenda (by the way, another damn lie as she never spoke to me again). The irony part is that I mentioned that I would be following up on Reggie to which her response, as if he was being targeted or not to be trusted, was that I mustn’t speak to him but to Lauren in future.
Alan, I did appreciate the calls and the fact that you did not rush them but I must stand up for myself and the truth of the situation. It concerned me that you began the conversation by telling me that you had a meeting with Knysna Tourism, the DA and the Knysna Chamber of Business and that my “brand” is bad with them and that they had nothing good to say. I’m querying the morality of the first two, why would they? And I’ve met twice with the Chamber of Business who were concerned that my blogging the bad may dissuade new business. They asked if I would do the opposite. I said that I already did but I would do more if I first got answers. They don’t disagree with my questions but have their own role which is to try to establish a relationship with the municipality. What would be more productive is you reading the details of my email and targeting the issues. A return mail, a response, would be welcomed. You don’t have to get me answers. You’re a “boss”. Helen, you’re the BIG boss. Why isn’t the quick resolution to spend 30 minutes reading, then ask the Knysna DA to explain themselves in writing to you, and then, if my position is found to have merit, to tell them to do their job and co-operate?
I am a human with faults. I can’t say that I’m like most people but, in that respect, i am normal. I am broke which identifies me with many too. I don’t pretend airs. I am straight forward and, deliberately, after having no success and getting no answers, after encountering the DA’s indecencies, I chose to be an extremely straight talker which, incidentally, was part of how I, when giving advice many years ago, earned my nickname, “Wicked Mike”. I am, as said, angry. Anger does not negate my citizenship. Neither does frustration and the will to fight for transparency. They do not make me unreasonable or mad. They do not remove reasoning. I “reiterate” this as I’ve sent strong words, via email and sms, not impulsively but deliberately as a response to each delay or lie. I told them face to face as well i.e. Each time you fail to act, I will react stronger than before. That is a threat (I’m not going to use diluted language here). I even told them what I’d do next, further emphasizing that the goal was to get them to act. I told them I’d blog about them – I did. I told them that I’d contact the opposition – I did. I told them that I’d email further and higher – I did. I said that I’d criticize the DA on a national level with Knysna as an example – I have and will do more. I said that I will distribute flyers and erect individual websites for each lying councillor, and for each main problem in Knysna – I haven’t yet but will unless something positive and truthful happens this week.
Again, my choice was simple, give up or fight. I never wanted to fight. I wanted to commit to community projects and make Knysna a town for all. I wanted to lessen apartheid in our beautiful town. I wanted to deliver slices of happiness in these tough times. I definitely didn’t want to type lengthy emails like this…way more than you didn’t want to read this tome:) Although I believe that this struggle against the Knysna DA will eventually help the residents, I use the past tense because I’ll have chopped off most roads with my actions – this is, too often, a crony town. But, at the very least, I’ll hopefully have opened the can of worms so that others can go fishing later.
If you’ve visited www.KnysnaKeep.org, you’ll hopefully have gained a broader perspective of me. And if you go to www.LoveKnysna.com and www.GardenRouteConcerts.com, you’ll find another 100 blogs initiated by me. Over the next month, I’ll list all Knysna schools at www.KnysnaSchools.co.za. Those have all been for free. Furthermore, I ghostwrote 10 Tourism articles. I hosted 2 workshops and an eventing forum. The entertainment industry may have collapsed this year but in the preceding year and a half, I brought more outside bands in than anyone else. I believe in Knysna being online so as to gain a bigger presence. To that end, I’ve helped people start blogs and websites. That has ranged from free to ridiculously low prices. All that in only 2 years.
i.e. I LOVE KNYSNA! That is a fact.
There is no grand solution to these tough times. We have to adjust to our new reality and use what we have as best as we can. It’s “bizarre” that instead of co-operation towards a better Knysna, the DA has chosen to make me the enemy. With that view, added to all of the above, I can definitely answer my question, “Yes, the Knysna DA is rotten.”
The goal is truth, transparency, accountability and a Knysna for all colours of people. Do you believe in that too?