Scratch controversy reaches the boiling point. Legal action — by former Mayor Mark McKee — may result

By David F. Rooney

Former Mayor Mark McKee came to a special meeting of Council on Tuesday (July 20) loaded for bear.

He wanted an apology from Scratch owner Dale Caverly for claiming in front of Council last week that he has been bullying him and may in fact have vandalized his mobile vending operation. The two-time mayor also wanted an apology from City Councillors for failing to even question Caverly about the accuracy of his claims.

Did he get what he wanted? Not really.

“I thought I would retire… but what happened at the last meeting has caused me to come back to the table,” MeKee said in an address to Council.

He said that a couple of weeks ago he was approached by a business acquaintance who told him that Caverly was blaming him personally for his problems with the City.

“I didn’t think anything of it until I was channel surfing (last week) and came across (RCTV’s) Council meeting broadcast from last Tuesday,” McKee said. “Holy cow!”

Hearing Caverly claim, in public, that McKee was harassing him almost caused him to fall out of his chair. McKee reiterated the fact that he had never met Caverly and wouldn’t know him if he tripped over him. He is currently looking at his legal options and suggested he may sue him for defamation.

McKee was particularly hurt by the fact that “not one person on City Council even questioned” Caverly’s claims.

“I was dumbfounded and disappointed,” he said. “Anyone who has spent as much time as I have (working to the benefit of Revelstoke)… deserved a little respect.”

McKee has served on City Council several times. He was mayor twice and served on the original committee that made Grizzly Plaza a reality. He also worked on the revitalization and enhancement committees and worked to cut down on vandalism in the downtown core. Consequently, the “accusations against me, my character and my family” cut him deeply.

McKee was also shocked and dismayed that Council would put up with the public denigration of senior staff members.

“I think it’s an outrage,” he said of the entire affair. “I think that not only does this gentleman owe me an apology so does this Council.”

With that, the former mayor turned the podium over to his wife, Pat, who proceeded to tell Council that she had “done a little digging” into the Scratch affair and came up with some unpleasantries of her own. She accused Caverly of intimidating people into signing his petition and of harassing young women who pass his stand to the point that some have begun avoiding the parking lot where he has his mobile kitchen. She said she can name the women involved but does not wish to do so.

She also went on to define defamation and then took Councillor Phil Welock to task for saying, three times, that Caverly’s presentation to Council — most of which was actually delivered by former Councillor Ron Holoday was “excellent.”

Both McKees wanted an apology from Council, but no one was prepared to say sorry to them at the meeting.

Councillor was “aghast” at hearing McKee named

Welock acknowledged that what happened last week was “not fair to you” and said he was “aghast when I heard your name,” but no one on Council apologized. Councillor Tony Scarcella, who chaired last week’s meeting as acting mayor, said Council was only hearing Caverly’s opinions.

That may well be so but the McKees were clearly very angry when they left the Council chambers. The fact that not a single Councillor questioned Caverly’s claims — which were broadcast on cable TV — was hurtful and could lead some people in the larger community to believe they were therefore true, McKee said before leaving the Council Chamber.

Caverly waited until they had gone before saying he wanted to apologize to them, saying: “perhaps I made an error” but then launched into a bizarre series of complaints about how the City — not the police, the City — failed to help him find the individual with whom he had a confrontation a couple of weeks ago and who he claims vandalized his mobile kitchen.

He said he was taken aback by Pat’s claims he harassed young women, saying “I’m willing to take a lie detector test” and said they were ludicrous because “I’ve abstained from sex for three years.”

“I have nothing to lose,” he said, before initiating a tirade against the City for failing to support tiny businesses such as his. Without business like Scratch, the big box stores will move right in and take over the local economy.

“Thank God Jesus Christ will take care of me,” he said, before saying he apologizes to the McKees then turning around and seeming to blame the City for everything that has happened because there “isn’t proper disclosure” of the real facts behind this controversy.

Council subsequently decided that it would ask municipal staff to work — until August 3 —  with Caverly to resolve his differences with the City. However, it won’t hook him up to the municipal electrical supply until his mobile kitchen has been fully inspected by the BC Safety Authority.

Caverly has claimed he had a written agreement with the City that permitted him to operate seven days a week in the parking lot adjacent to Grizzly Plaza. The City “tolerated his presence” there until this summer when it tried to get him to move. Caverly’s claims notwithstanding, he has been unable to produce such an agreement. The closest thing he has is his mobile vendor’s business permit. That entitles him to operate in different parts of the City for limited amounts of time. It does not allow him to park his kitchen permanently beside Grizzly Plaza.