When Brent Atkinson announced last month that he wasn't going to seek re-election after serving 31 years as a New Westminster trustee, it seemed like he would ride quietly off into the sunset.
But that's not the case after Atkinson sent out a letter to his supporters, with his choice of candidates he will be supporting, and followed it up with a blistering blast at one of his former school board colleagues.
"I sent the letter out, personally addressed to people who supported me in the past," said Atkinson. "Now I'm hearing that Casey Cook thinks I've made a personal attack on MaryAnn Mortensen. ... Now if Casey has a problem with the letter, why doesn't he call me instead of calling reporters. Who the hell does Casey Cook think he is? Is he MaryAnn's keeper? ... If Casey has a problem with the letter, surely he would have the balls to call me. I'm listed, I'm not hard to find."
Cook takes exception to Atkinson's letter.
"It's a lack of grace for somebody exiting - you don't generally see that," Cook said.
Cook objects to statements about Mortensen, noting she didn't singularly defeat Grimston Park as a school site. He said hundreds of people spoke out against that.
Cook said the board of education ultimately voted six to one against that proposal. Atkinson was the only one who supported that option.
"To suggest that she is responsible for it, it was a six to one vote. That is where the responsibility lies - with the trustees who vote for it," he said.
Cook said Atkinson can't wrap his head around the fact that the city has changed and isn't the same as it was in 1950. Growth patterns have changed, which contributed to the decision to locate the school closer to the downtown.
Cook said it's inappropriate for Atkinson to support specific candidates.
"He wants to continue as CEO of the business company," he noted. "It's highly inappropriate, particularly given, I can't go into it, the Attorney General report went highly into conflict of interest at the business company."
Cook said Voice candidates ran on a platform of transparency and were determined to ask tough questions around issues such as conflict of interest and nepotism. He believes Atkinson considers their actions a personal affront rather than a difference of opinion.
"He is striking back for what he thinks are past grievances," he said. "It is straight retaliation."
When Atkinson was asked what his relationship with Cook was at this present time, he said: "It's not 100 per cent and I understand it's deteriorating as we speak."
The disagreement came about after Atkinson started circulating his letter, a custom he did each time he ran for election as a school trustee.
In the letter dated Nov. 1, Atkinson said the school board hasn't, in the last three years "operated in a collegial consensus-building manner."
Not only does Atkinson spell out which issues he is most passionate about, he asks that his past supporters vote for incumbents Michael Ewen and James Janzen, along with newcomers Jonina Campbell, Dave Phelan and Glen Richmond.
Atkinson's seven-paragraph letter minces no words.
"The time spent on debating bottled water, 15- to 20-minute lunch hours at elementary schools and the location of the new elementary school and Westside middle school at Robson have not been productive," writes Atkinson.
And Atkinson doesn't hide where his disgust lies.
"The Voice trustees, in my opinion, were unable to do this (help improve the education of students and the operation of the district), resulting in division and confrontation, rather than support and consensus."
The three incumbent Voice New Westminster school trustees are Cook, Lisa Graham and Jim Goring.
In addition, another Voice candidate is singled out by Atkinson.
"The result of the "Save the Park" committee led by MaryAnn Mortensen, was that New Westminster school district will now get three new schools instead of four, with the new middle school at Robson, instead of Tweedsmuir. As a result of the new elementary school being built at the St. Mary's site, the city will lose an estimated $1 million-plus in tax revenues per year."
Atkinson, who remains as chief executive officer of the SD40 Business Company, also calls out Voice trustees for not supporting that venture.
"In June 2009, when the business company required $100,000 short-term working capital to survive until tuition fees from China were received in late-October, the voice trustees voted against the motion and it failed by a 3-3 vote. Fortunately, in the first meeting in September 2009, I was successful in having a short-term load of $95,000 approved on a 4-3 vote without any Voice trustees' support."