April 22nd, 2024

Attacks on Rajko Dodic over bike lanes went too far


By Lethbridge Herald on March 15, 2024.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber – Managing Editor

When councillor Rajko Dodic on Tuesday was making his case for an official business motion on bike lane construction and possible removal, I doubt anyone expected him to tell his fellow civic politicians – and the public – some of the insults he had to endure after that OBM was put on the agenda.

Politicians – in fact, all public figures – know they’re going to face attacks on social media and all media during their careers.

The abuse Dodic detailed  was a prime example. 

Most of us, I’m guessing, have seen or heard the attacks made on our political leaders from Rachael Thomas and Nathan Neudorf to Blaine Hyggen, John Middleton-Hope, Belinda Crowson and Jenn Schmidt-Rempel on city council to Shannon Phillips and Rachel Notley. Phillips, Thomas, Hyggen and Middleton-Hope especially seem to be targets of some of the most demeaning attacks. And like them or not, they’re all passionate community leaders who have taken the initiative to work on the public’s behalf. They’re warriors who stand up for their constituents and do it face to face every day. And take a lot of abuse for it.

While everyone is entitled to be critical, some attacks are downright vicious including the ones made on Dodic who simply on Tuesday was doing his job as an elected representative by bringing to the attention of council and the public issues he knows residents and businesses have with the bike lanes downtown.

 He’s done his homework and understands the concerns and the conflicts regarding those lanes.

We’ve done stories here on the bike lanes and the frustrations businesses and the public have so we know what he’s talking about.

Doing what he’s paid to do, Dodic wanted a dialogue about the bike lanes, including safety issues with the narrowed roadway on 4 Avenue and the problems people with disabilities have reaching the sidewalks on 7 Street.

And as he told administration, if he’d had information regarding the timeline to use a federal grant and the contract for the last stretch which is slated to start in front of our building in April, he could have modified his original motion.

In the end of a long discussion, which was interrupted by a brief break for council to talk privately, a compromise was reached in that the public would get more chances to provide their input – first at the next Community Conversation slated for April – and again in front of the Assets and Infrastructures Standing Policy Committee of city council on May 2.

That SPC consists of chair and deputy mayor Mark Campbell, vice-chair Nick Paladino as well as Jeff Carlson and Ryan Parker. But as the public heard, all members of council can sit in on the meeting and all members of the public are welcome to attend.

At the Community Conversation and the SPC, the public will have a chance to voice their opinions – pro and con – about bike lanes thanks to the motion by Dodic, who expressed concerns Tuesday about the amount of public engagement that had been done prior to construction of the bike lanes being approved.

And how do some react to his efforts to get all information and public sentiment in front of council so they can make an informed decision? By hurling disgusting nicknames at him.

Dodic is a long-time veteran of civic politics so I’m sure he’s got a thick skin but the few examples of contempt for him that he shared Tuesday have to hurt. And they’re beyond inappropriate. I’m guessing there were more that we didn’t hear, too.

It’s one thing to disagree with a viewpoint but to hurl childish insults really makes one wonder about the integrity and humanity of the person at the keyboard. Would these people say to his face – or that of Shannon, Blaine, John, Nathan, Rachael or any other politician – what they write about them on social media? 

My guess is no because they wouldn’t have the guts to go face to face with them. 

Regardless of what people think of our elected officials and their political leanings or views, we have some truly dedicated representing us. 

Most are fighters who aren’t content to just go with popular opinion to keep their seats and pay cheques. They stand up for what they believe and they take the heat for it. 

But sometimes that heat is on too high. And in the case of those whose insults  Dodic addressed, that heat has burned their credibility.

REPORTER PROFESSIONALISM:

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from various people about a now former staff member showing up late regularly to events which is hugely problematic for me because that behaviour reflects badly upon The Herald.

Reporters here get their assignments well before they’re scheduled to start their shifts and while the occasional last minute thing does come up, 99 per cent of the time, they can check their emails from home before they even get to the office to see what’s on their schedule.

 Our newsroom prides itself on its professionalism and being on time and being accurate are key to that professionalism. 

Whle mistakes happen occasionally, they always have and unfortunately always will and we do our best to keep them to a minimum, but lateness is another matter. A case in point is a matter involving the University of Lethbridge this week over a transcription error which we addressed quickly and which I’m sure won’t be repeated. The reporter, who is the consummate profesional, felt horrible about the mistake and I’m sure it will be the last.

We’ve had a fantastic relationship with the university over the decades and I’m sure it will continue long after I leave.

One of my fondest memories here, as the former entertainment editor  who spent a lot of time at the U of L doing arts stories (well, I guess I still am entertainment editor since I haven’t demoted myself), will be the warm welcome I received a couple of years ago when I was doing a preview at the university theatre and in the dark a voice yelled “welcome back.”

That touched me deeply and I will always appreciate it.

 Lateness, I don’t appreciate, however.

No journalist under normal circumstances – and the rare personal emergency or unexpected delay will happen – has any business being tardy for an assignment, which not only is disrespectful to the subject of the interview but also to me and the company which owns this newspaper. And to other media. 

We all often wait as a courtesy for other reporters to show up for scrums because we in this shrinking fraternity are, after all, in this business together.

I expect my staff to be professional and you can rest assured that until my departure at year’s end, I will be addressing with them any issues that come up swiftly.

 I have confidence in this talented crew I have, though, that won’t be necessary.

Share this story:

34
-33
Subscribe
Notify of
14 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dennis Bremner

Councils and other Polticians have a propensity to isolate themselves for good reason. The world is becoming run by splinter groups. In pursuit of inclusiveness (do not read a specific group into that) we give them voice. Not an equal voice but a louder voice because society assumes they are owed a lounder voice because they had no voice before.
So now for specific groups. We give voice to LGBT who then support other groups so they get a voice. So LGBT then run to Drug Addicts/Churches/Nonprofits to assist their voice. Palestinians in Canada then run to any rally so that they can get support for their voice. Jewish as well. Pro Choice and Pro Life jump in where ever they can. Now before you assume I think this is wrong, continue reading.
Among these groups is the “hidden agenda” so a legit rally becomes a promo for specific causes. One could argue Jan 6th was a rally of the frustrated that spun out of control because of White Supremacists, Radical BLMs, Outraged LGBT, Pro Life, Pro Choice. non profits etc etc etc. So a “bike” isn’t really a bike thing even though “bike” is spoken its the underlying hatred for something else.
Society is becoming a Facebook Post. The more likes you get the more you assume your purpose is righteous. You never comtemplate that the 500 likes maybe 500 of the biggest Nutbars on the planet, because to you, it means you are right! We now have politicians good or bad who want to be isolated from that. So instead of an agenda item being addressed by Council and debated. We install committee upon committee as a buffer so the Council does not listen to the complaint directly but through a committee whom you assume is impartial but is not.
This breeds the frustration that you see. I personally do not own a bike but I would assume rightfully or wrongfully that if there are enough “righteous bikers” in Lethbridge, the other organizations like LGBT, Palestinians, Jews, Drug Addicts reps, Churches would have rallied to support the bikers. Why? In hopes of garnering their support in a fight of their own.
So in the end a Council Member who is not sitting with Council but a bunch of volunteers is the only clear shot when aiming the missile of discontent.
There is a better way, and its less painful for politicians but they think by reducing access they reduce “flak”! Surprise!!!!!! Its the opposite.
So when a person like Dodic, who is a good person, finally appears in front of the “I am mad at the world and support anything that makes you look like a shmuck” the rotten tomato of pent up access is hurled.

Al mentions most people will not stand up, but hide behind keyboards etc. How do you know? What if the malcontent is based on a previous “dismissal” by the subcommittee of a committee who then reports to another subcomittee who disregards what that person thinks is important? Before we start blaming residents for being mean to politicans ask yourself this:
When was the last time this council had a town hall where Residents could speak about anything and everything? Oh, thats right, NEVER! Geez there’s a use for the Agri Center 🙂
PS- Robin James’s husband, called me an a$$hole to my face. I respect him far more than most people in this city because at least he had the guts to say it to my face, The fact he is right makes it extra special!

People have to take themselves less seriously, we have problems, invoking “feet washing” doesn’t stop deaths, it just means the guy is dead but has clean feet. Bike lanes aren’t going to fill the Old Man Resevoir. $3.00 for a head of lettuce doesn’t feed kids and families….bike lanes? Is that the best we can do to take up a councillors time, give your head a shake!
Having a Councillor respond flat out when you are standing in front of a mike, with, you are an a$$hole should be applauded and not the basis of a headline and an investigation by the Woke EyeRollers of Lethbridge. Why? , the guy/gal at least has an opinion, which is rarity in todays society because most opinion is “gang opinion” .
Declared Conflict of Interest
I am a “triple quadruple sexuality gender thingy” my prefernces are real women who are tall, short, heavy, light, young old, good looking or not, black, indigenous, asian, white. I also identify as an a$$hole and have asked the Blackfoot people to reserve the Blackfoot name “Perfect A$$HOLE” till they finally believe I have become one! Its a long row to hoe but I am slowly getting there!

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
ReallyReally

To be considered when making any considerations to this bicycle lane farcical. The city of Lethbridge Master Cycling Plan was published May 15 2017. https://www.lethbridge.ca/media/q5gpotfo/cycling-master-plan.pdf
This is just now becoming an issue for business people and Councillor Dodic to complain about ? Sheeeeeeeesh !!!

ReallyReally

I have been rereading comments posted by folks on several of these opinion editorials. Your input here thne twigged my attention and deserved comment: I just wanted to to let you know Dennis that you make some darn good points here regarding the dysfunction of our society these days related to one special interest group after the other colouring inside other groups lines… welcomed or not. That is also how too many relatively straight forward single issue protests get hijacked. Also worthy is your suggestions that so-called leaders cower behind their deflection of duty apparatus… the committee. The origin of any name calling is definitely a chicken or the egg game. I will add that that recognition of the “gang” effect is being well used by political sharps to divide and distract at all levels of political jurisdiction; we definitely need leadership with true integrity and independent personal courage to correct that dynamic. Personally… I am certain that Al Beeber would serve his audience better, as would the council, with more focus on truly critical and pressing issues that will drastically impact our city and its residents if we ignore them. The looming affects of a coal mine not only depleting our already over-stressed watershed, but poisoning an important source of our drinking water seems far more deserving of councils attention. Also the rapt attention of media that claim to serve while profiting from our community. Additionally yet more concentrated focus on determining how our city might be given or develop funding for more affordable housing starts in the city. Or simply resolving the obviously busted communication skills that exist in our municipal network? That would be a game changer. And such leadership of responsibility of duty might even rebuild trust, act as an example, … like I said… CHANGE THINGS. The bicycle path plans were dealt with by consensus back in 2017 apparently. What an immense distraction to much bigger issues; make some compromises that are easily completed. Shake hands… and fight together for the BIG ONES looming over our COMMUNITY.

ewingbt

I supported Councillor Dodic in his decision and the majority in this city didn’t want them, and definitely made it clear they do not want the lane reductions on 3 ave south all the way to MM Drive from downtown to facilitate new bikes on roadway that is a major conduit for traffic coming and going from downtown.
Councillor Dodic has listened to serious concerns not just for the traffic issues, but the high costs at a time when the feds and province are cutting infrastructure spending and cutting other areas that will impact our community and already has, with some programs being cut. This Councillor is standing for the good of all the community, not just a small group!
Personally, I have gotten ‘passionate’ on issues and made comments, but I never made any comment that I am not willing to share face to face with a person. I don’t exaggerate comments, because I know the truth always comes out . . . instead I comment after researching the issues.
The Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force has also come under attack as have the public and business owners for speaking out on issues that impact them directly.
I rarely see bicycles on the dedicated bike roadway on 7th ave south during my walks even on weekends during beautiful days and up until the recent meeting, haven’t seen any using the bikelanes downtown in the last 2 months even after the city was cleaning the snow and sanding them. Suddenly, the day of the meeting, I saw 4 cyclists downtown using them.
The costs are about $350,000 per city block and then there are the winter maintenance costs to keep the snow/ice off them, which made them better to use than the sidewalk.
I remember several decades ago, Calgary spent millions to bring a firm up from California to resolve traffic issues after too many bad decisions were made in planning roadways downtown and traffic was heavily congested. We must planning for the future of traffic flow as well, and contrary to what many have been misled to believe, the automobile is not disappearing, ways of propelling it will change, but they are here to stay, as are transport trucks who need to deliver goods we need. Almost everything we use has been transported in trucks, often by several different trucks, even the water out of the tap had the chemicals in it transported by truck and the electricity has had to have the transmission lines, poles and towers delivered by truck.
There are better places to put these bike lanes, including back alleys or crossing the school grounds at LCI (already road there used as an alley) and the Catholic school division, which has a playground on it, but there is no traffic beside it to worry about. I have always cringed, pondering the thought of these new bike lanes beside busy roadways, with children who often do not understand the impending danger, somehow getting over the tiny barriers and into traffic, while the parents are looking at some other site momentarily . . . an accident waiting to happen. There are better choices!
Lethbridge is growing and we will end this crisis on our streets and many people are going to want to return coming downtown to enjoy the over $75 million dollars in the last 12 years we have spent on building CASA, the Yates reno’s, SAAG art gallery reno’s with more planned, revitalization and the Park N Ride terminal where there is a large portion still available for parking . . . people will need those major roadways to come downtown, and they are not going to want to ride their bicycles do shop downtown and many who refuse to come downtown right now, live in other communities and farms nearby. We have a large consumer base from nearby communities and many use 3rd ave south to get back on Crowsnest Trail, which in itself has was built with very few off and on ramps.
I support this decision and I for one do not worry about the ‘likes or dislikes’, or on this media ‘ + or – ‘ when standing for what is common sense! Before we spend all of the money, more thought is needed . . .there are safer alternatives as well!

Last edited 1 month ago by ewingbt
HaroldP

Councillor Dodic is a good man. He was a great Mayor and has always exhibited sound, “common sense” positions/arguments on real and important issues, most recently the problematic down town bike lanes. Yes, “democracy” dictates debate on issues, however personal attacks with malicious intent do not constitute “debate” or expressing an opposing view point.

It is appalling, as well, to hear that long time entrepreneur, “Big John’s Books” has been victimized by Social Media to the point of advocating “boycott” of his business simply due to his expressing his first hand business concerns over the bicycle lanes!

Common sense peoples, please encourage and support Councillor Dodic AND Big John and his now jeopardized bookstore, all because they are trying to deal with a real issue(s) in our community.

buckwheat

Have heard today that the infrastructure grant for doing the infrastructure work had a caveat that bike lanes must be included to receive the grant. There is nothing to remove them as the curbs are just pinned, remove paint, done. Signage is ridiculous. Today, me and no other bike. One parked with 2 locks by post office. Only person in lanes from the Sandman to city hall was a member of clean sweep.

Montreal13

Big John has valid concerns. As a downtown business man paying property tax, investing in his business and the downtown, I think his opinion should at least be politely acknowledged. I have seen this social media boycott antics before. It is usually from people who have no sweat in the game or have their businesses blocks away. Social media boycotters: where are you going to park your bike IF you ever use it to actually shop downtown? IF you are not going to stop and shop with your $2000 electric bike what was the point of spending all that money on bike lanes? I ride my bike around and through the downtown during the summer . I prefer to pick my own routes and have never felt the need for bike lanes. I still have to get off and on to cross intersections , safely most of the time. The area is much too congested to do otherwise. I would never take little kids down there on their bikes.

Montreal13

Plus there is the lose of 20 parking spaces. If you are shopping you can’t carry much for goods on your bike.



14
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x