Burnaby bloggers could win $1,000

If you are following the local election and happen to be blogging about it, you may be able to make some money on the side. Mark Latham is holding a contest for bloggers, and the prize is $5,000 to be divided between bloggers from five Lower Mainland municipalities, Burnaby included.

Latham is an ex-Wall Streeter who retired ridiculously early and is spending his free time applying what he learned in the business world to prodemocracy, media-related initiatives. "It's political reform for democracies and corporations. The goal is to improve the accountability of our elected leaders," Latham said.

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Latham was at the Nov. 3 all-candidates meeting in North Burnaby, trying to recruit bloggers, because at that time, no one was in the race for Burnaby. Now, there is one anonymous blogger, with a site called Brentwood Station. It's a blog that focuses on Brentwood area issues, and now the civic election.

The $1,000 prize money set aside for Burnaby bloggers is divided between entrants, depending on how the public votes. (Readers check out the blogs and vote on how the prize money should get split daily.) The maximum a blogger can get is $20 per day. Anyone with a blog is welcome to join the contest, including candidates.

For more information or an entry form, go to votermedia.org/bcmuni2011.

FOLLOW THAT STORY

For those of you who missed the first all-candidates debate for school trustee hopefuls on Nov. 1, there has been a somewhat interesting development.

Independent candidate Jade Tomelden had her son at the meeting, and he got up on the microphone and told the audience about an alleged incident in Vancouver, where he witnessed his teacher tape another student's mouth shut. The incident in question was enough for Tomelden to place her son in a Burnaby school instead, and it's a big part of why she decided to run in the election. This mouth-taping incident, (first reported in the Burnaby NOW on Nov. 4) caught the attention of other media and now the B.C. College of Teachers is looking into it.

Spokesperson Mykle Ludvigsen said the college has opened a file on the matter but has not launched a formal investigation yet. On another front, Tomelden is backing Burnaby Parents' Voice in denouncing all forms of hate.

"The hate speech and threats that have been directed at Asian and religious communities is appalling," Tomelden said in a press release. "Due to these ongoing threats, many people of Asian background are now living in fear. Some wonder if internment camps may again be repeated."

The hate speech she talks of refers to online racist comments directed towards Parents' Voice supporters of Asian descent. The new civic party, Burnaby Parents' Voice, formed in opposition to policy 5.45, the school district's attempt to protect staff and students from homophobic bullying. Burnaby Parents' Voice called for other candidates to denounce the racist online attacks against their supporters, and Tomelden appears to be the first to step up to the plate.

Parents' Voice supporter George Kovacic expects there are more to come.

ACCESSIBILITY AND SCHOOLS

TEAM Burnaby school trustee candidate Rennie Maierle is distinguishing himself as a parent looking out for special needs students. Maierle has a son, Anthony, with cerebral palsy, who is now 31 and lives at home.

"We have worked very hard to be Anthony's advocate. We were part of Anthony's school community and collaborated with the teachers and educational assistants. We found each to be very professional and supportive," Maierle said in a recent press release. "We also worked hard at advocating for Anthony with the Ministry of Social Services and the Ministry of Health."

Maierle said it seems ironic that the school trustees have not ensured that their public meeting room is wheelchair accessible.

"Currently, there are only steps to the meeting room," he said. "People in wheelchairs are not able to attend public meetings at the school board."

Maierle, now retired, worked in Burnaby as a teacher and administrator for 34 years. He and his wife, Julie, have often counselled other parents

with special needs children.

MORE DEBATES

There is one more allcandidates' meeting this week. The mayoral and council candidates' meeting is set for tonight from 6: 30 to 9 p.m. at Stride Avenue Community School, at 7014 Stride Ave. The "meet your neighbours" section of the evening is scheduled from 6: 30 to 7 p.m., with the candidates' debate running from 7 to 8: 30 p.m., and an opportunity to meet the candidates from 8: 30 to 9 p.m.

Know of any other debates? Contact jfullerevans@burnabynow.com.

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