Highlander’s Bram Lebo guessing that Minden’s mayor, Barb Reid is toxic… pot, kettle… black

Highlander publisher Bram Lebo… ironic, idiotic, and mildly psychotic?

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I’m sure that most of us get irony. Oh we may not be able to effuse all the connotations. But we get it.

There is a Greek model of irony used effectively in tragedic play, which drops nicely into today’s topic.

Irony: a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character..Mr. Funk and Mrs Wagnalls

The technique is used like a verbal gutshot in sketches on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, the most voracious wielder being one hardnut Canadian lady, Samantha Bee. Would I were Bee. But alas I am not. She’s got her subject right there in her sights. I got Lebo, once a week, delivering his special brand of dourness in his own inimitable lacklustre unrambunctious and unctuous halftones. Poor substitute for an American senator who feels that putting eight-year-old boys and girls to work in his tobacco fields builds character and teaches them the value of the American dream.

This week I got Lebo, ad hominem, on tape, (ahem, err… on site… we can dream…) heckling Minden Hills Reeve Barb Reid on the lamentable state of the irrefutably dysfunctional Minden Hills Council, and their repetitive, almost ad nauseum habit of “dumping” unwanted personnel, like depth charges off a battle cruiser on high seas manoeuvres.

In his latest ironic screed (remember we are using the Greek Tragedy version of irony wherein the hapless dupe, Lebo, has no idea regarding the level of his own superciliousness and naievete) Lebo proposes that the latest rat to join the cacophony of rodents  jumping from the sinking HMS Minden, Nancy Wright-Laking, is a sign that the reeve is “toxic and destructive.” His words not mine. I know toxic. Ironically, I learned my hardest lesson (in my fifties, ironically again) about toxic work environments while working for Mr. Lebo. I had a part time job one summer working on the kill floor of a Canada Packer’s plant in Winnipeg. That was a picnic compared to six months with Lebo. But let’s just call that a delicious double dip.

Nancy Wright-Laking was the cornerstone of Reeve Barb Reid’s municipal restructuring. At the time of Wright-Laking’s hiring two years ago, Reid justified both the passing-over of local candidates and the use of a recruitment firm as necessary to build the skills base and capability of the municipality. This wasn’t going to be another case of the Peter principle: someone being promoted based on tenure or popularity to a position they are not competent to hold. No, this time Minden would search far and wide for the best person with the best skills. Mr. Lebo

First let’s get something straight. Mr. Lebo, like many grade nine journalists, has forgotten an important ingredient. When introducing a protagonist into your rant? Name the combatant. Who is she? What the fuck does she do. Let’s get our blue pencil out shall we? Ms. Wright-Laking just for your own edification, because Lebo either does not know or plain doesn’t care, is the CAO or chief administrative officer in Minden. Err, make that is… was.

We know that Lebo was trained as a lawyer and beancounter and lifeguard, none of those trepidatious career paths apparently included training in the art of raising a pen or pencil in anger. One would think that two years of drawling. pooping, stuttering, panhandling and moaning on page might have improved his journalistic acumen. Alas! Some are born to write and some just want penmanship thrust upon them. Clearly Lebo inhabits the latter category. It’s a haunt for hacks, harpies and hapless conjurers who feel that if wishes were IBM Selectrics then all men would write.

Anyway, back to Mr. Lebo’s deliberative if inept romancing of the stoned. Seriously, we need to get a look at his backyard garden. Just sayin’.

It may be that Wright-Laking wasn’t all the municipality had expected. Or that she had the best skills but couldn’t adjust her style to the municipality’s work culture. Or it may be that Wright-Laking lacked one of the most important skills: the ability to manage your boss… Mindenites deserve to know the details of this departure, one that was scheduled for July 25 but which actually occurred suddenly on Wednesday.

Four years ago, Reid’s palpable contempt for the old guard may have looked like bold housecleaning. Now, with Reid owning both Wright-Laking’s arrival and departure all to herself, a different picture emerges – the words toxic and destructive come to mind.Divo Lebo

I used to cover Minden council a bit. It was a hoot. I mean a real hoot. Back when I was doing it? The publisher, Bram Lebo, used to meet Barb Reid for lunch. Then he used to come back to the office and say he had no compromising relationship with the reeve, You know, sleeping with the enemy type deal. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now. Barb once questioned my quotes from a council meeting and she did not go through my editor. Nope. She sent an email to Bram. That’s the kind of shit you get in small towns.

Especially when a publisher doesn’t know his place or have the slightest interest in or knowledge of his role.

I went to Reid on my own and asked for an explanation. I’ve been covering council for 30 years or so. I used to do it drunk (prior to 1998) and I had never been challenged on veracity of my quotes. She said that I should do like Chad. (Chad Ingram over at the Minden Times who has the proper relationship with council and so does his publisher.) “He tapes the whole meeting.” I replied hurriedly that I hadn’t the time nor the inclination to listen to a boring meeting… twice. She said that she did not dispute the quote… just that she hadn’t said it. Who did? I asked.

“It’s not something I’d say,” said Reid.

I called bullshit… because not only did I have the quote. But I had it underlined. We agreed to disagree. The thing was? It was not a big deal quote. She didn’t say “let’s put a bounty on Coyotes” or “let’s put a condo up on the Minden Fairgrounds.”

It was just a minor point. But she felt it was a bad soundbite. Fair dues. But most politicians are aware that if they engage in ad nauseum blather 50 to 60 hours every month? Something’s gotta’ give. Reid is nothing if not a serial perfectionist.

Is she toxic and destructive? Lebo says she is.

Is Lebo an expert on the subject of toxicity and destructiveness? I was there and I have a veritable stranglehold on the irony involved here.

Here’s the thing.

It’s very hard to trust a toxic and destructive person who feels privileged enough to take another’s temperature.

Bram Lebo taking Barb Reid’s inventory is like watching Iraq… and Al-Qaeda making it clear to all and sundry that ISIS is well? 

Just too goddam hostile!


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