Friday, May 23, 1997

When will the nonsense stop?

The issue of the Tuaro Dairy is not whether the business succeeds or fails. It's the misuse of public money for a private company, preferential treatment for a senior official and a serious conflict of interest.

Tuaro's president Joe Kronstal is the city's finance director. Allowing his company to default on $50,000 worth of bills to the city, and his department's failure to catch the growing debt, leaves an undeniable perception of conflict of interest. His boss city administrator Doug Lagore, says there is no problem. We disagree.

All through the late eighties, Yellowknifer reporters asked about the state of Kronstal's dairy and never once was a debt that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars ever mentioned.

The public wasn't told until the debt became so large it had to be brought to the attention of city council.

After his first dairy venture went bankrupt, Kronstal was accommodated by the city at every turn. The dairy and the land was returned to his control while offers from other companies to buy the land for a healthy profit to the city were rebuffed. A repayment schedule was finally worked out which his company agreed to abide by.

Despite this generous treatment, Kronstal, as Tuaro president, is again responsible for his company's failure to keep current with its debt to the city after city councillors went to bat for him.

In fact, the last deal that saw Tuaro sell part of its leased property to an animal clinic broke the written requirement of the agreement that the dairy's payments be current before any sale. City council did not know the truth when they agreed to the sale.

Where does that leave the people of Yellowknife? For years their money has been used by Kronstal to set up his dairy.

If the dairy succeeds, Kronstal and his partners keep the profits. If the dairy fails, history has shown the public will foot part of the bill.

Flame games

Kids will experiment and play with fire, that's a fact of life. Knowing this, Yellowknife's fire department has a safety program that helps kids learn about fire before they get into trouble and it helps them afterwards as well.

Imagine the impression left with a five-year-old boy after he sets a car on fire -- it happened earlier this month. He may be scared, in awe of the response his actions garnered or even proud.

What the volunteer program does is teach children why fire is dangerous. Rather than blaming anyone for their actions, firefighters want to reach out and provide guidance, which in our book is always a healthy exercise.

Doing their part

So the skateboarding enthusiasts among Yellowknife's youth population have managed to convince city council that their favorite sport is worth at least $70,000 of taxpayers' money.

You have to respect their lobbying skills. In a time of dwindling financial resources, squeezing such money from the public purse is no mean feat. Their success also speaks volumes about the need for better recreational facilities for our younger citizens.

Now that the money is in hand, however, we hope the skateboarders return the favor in some fashion, possibly by helping out with this year's spring cleanup.