In my coverage of last week’s mayoral debate on the stadium issue, I wrote of the candidates, “In short: there’s one candidate who’s a Yes on the current plan — councillor Michael Fougere — and arrayed against him are seven shades of No.”
And as for Meka Okochi, I wrote, “He believes that, with Regina booming, now is the best time to build a stadium. But, he doesn’t like the current plan because it involves too little private investment.”
And all that is pretty much what has been reported in all the other local press since then.
Well, apparently, Meka Okochi objects to being lumped into the “No” side of the stadium question. I know this because he sent a letter to all the local media clarifying his position.
After the jump, that e-mail (un-edited)…
Dear members of the Regina media,
Following Thursday’s debate, I have read with interest a number of the reports regarding the stance of mayoral candidates on the stadium debate.
The intent of those articles as tools to inspire citizens to get involved in the October 24th election is commendable. However, some of those articles have not fairly represented my views. Notably, they suggest that Mr. Fougere is the only candidate supporting a stadium, and that those wanting a stadium should vote for Mr. Fougere, while those in opposition have their choice of eight other candidates. That is not correct. Upholding Mr. Fougere as the only choice for those wanting a stadium, while grouping all other candidates as “anti-stadium” does a great disservice to the essence of this important electoral debate. I believe it would be fairer to provide your readers with the views of all the mayoral candidates on the stadium, and give them the right information they need to properly exercise their vote.
For the record, here is my stance on the stadium, which I reiterated at Thursday’s debate:
* I support the construction of a new stadium and I believe that now is the best time to build one.
* The major difference between myself and Mr. Fougere is that beyond the $25 million through the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I offer an innovative and long term plan for attracting more private sector money to support the stadium project and other infrastructure needs. I believe that with our current economic climate and the new investments flowing into our province, we can capture private dollars through incentive mechanisms and grow an “Infrastructure Savings Account” over the long term that can take care of priority projects (from stadium to roads, bridges, water and sewer, etc.). Subsequently, we can eventually pass savings to the taxpayer by applying some of those funds to future projects/payments and reducing the tax burden on citizens (since infrastructure entails a long term investment/payment). This idea is JUST ONE TOOL IN A MIX of traditional and innovative infrastructure funding mechanisms that I hope to adopt. And this plan will not extend the current timelines as it is a parallel mechanism that can be built and applied over time.
The one-page explanation of my stadium plan is here:
For more information, you can also read my platform on the Regina Revitalization project which I released as far back as August 16, 2012:
I am hopeful that the courtesy of fair reporting can be extended to all candidates in this race. Please take some time to truly understand their platforms and to accurately represent their individual stance. That is the least the media can do to ensure fairness to these remarkable women and men who have stepped forward to undertake this challenge of running for our City’s highest office. We may have different views on how to move Regina forward, but we all love this City.
I have always believed in the power of the media and its ability to empower citizens. The media’s role in this election is no different. Candidates and citizens alike depend on you for fair and accurate reporting.
Thank you for your time.
Warm regards, Meka Okochi
MEKA OKOCHI Candidate for Mayor of Regina The Meka 2012 Campaign Our Regina, Our Future.
t: (306) 552-9664 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org  | w: meka2012.ca  Facebook: Meka 2012 | Twitter: @meka4mayor | YouTube: meka4mayor
Links: ——  http://meka2012.ca/2012/09/21/news-release-thursday-september-20-2012/  http://www.meka2012.ca/platform/advancing-regina-downtown-development/  http://www.meka2012.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Advancing-Reginas-Downtown-Development.pdf  mailto:email@example.com  http://meka2012.ca/
Now, in my defense (though I suspect this e-mail isn’t aimed at us so much as over here), here’s what Okochi said when Michael Fougere asked him whether or not he supports the current stadium deal.
So, “Do you support this deal?” is the question and Okochi’s response is “No.” And then he goes on to explain how he supports building a stadium but doesn’t believe the city has been sufficiently diligent about finding creative financing solutions.
Should mention, apologies for the sound quality on that file. It’s especially bad, even for me. But all I had was a mic set up on the media table so you can hear Regina’s entire press corp typing up copy in the background. (Seriously, those guys work pretty hard. I always feel a bit of a dilettante at these things.)
Also, you’re probably wondering if I’ll run unedited press releases from any candidate? I just might. Unless it starts to get ridiculous or really boring. Thing is we haven’t received much from the candidates beyond announcements that they’re running and invitations to their fundraisers.