"Someone get Oliver Stone on the phone...I think we have a script"
Just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger at Vancouver City Hall comes a tip from one of CityCaucus.com's fans. We were told to look up a posting from the archives of Public Eye Online, written by BC's godfather of political blogging, the intrepid Sean Holman.
According to an August 2004 report, Ballem paid $444,343 in contracts to Inland Strategies Communications Management Services Ltd. (a company co-owned by CoV Director of Communications Laurie Best and her husband Brent Humphrey, now a staffer in the Mayor's office) between 2001-2004 while she worked as Deputy Minister of Health for the Province of BC.
"Those monies, as previously reported by The Times Colonist's Les Leyne and Monday Magazine's Russ Francis, include the cost of shuttling Ms. Best (who left government in 1998) back and forth from Victoria to her Kamloops home - which she shares with her partner Brent Humphrey."
It was revealed earlier that the news of Laurie Best being married to a Vision Vancouver Mayor's office staffer came as a big surprise to the senior management team at City Hall.
Holman made a freedom of information (FOI) request on the expenses, and added:
Little did we know this request would dig up 340 pages of material! That's right: 340 pages of contracts, expense claims and the accompanying selection/evaluation documents. Ms. Best sure has been busy.
For the uninitiated who might not have been reading since our inaugural launch on December 8th, here's a quick summary of the events.
- A week ago Mayor Robertson announced that he had fired City Manager Judy Rogers;
- Rogers replacement, Dr. Penny Ballem, according to Robertson suddenly (and seredipitously) appeared just days before Rogers' sacking. According to others it had been in the works for months, and no public job search process was undertaken for the replacement;
- Ballem's life partner Marion Lay made a sudden departure as head of 2010 Legacies Now when Rogers was chair of the board, and Mayor Sam Sullivan removed Lay from the board of VANOC;
- The Mayor's office was given unprecedented access to the City's communications department by sending out a release signed by a political staffer;
- The communications department head, Laurie Best, it was revealed is married to and is a former business partner of Brent Humphrey, senior staffer in the Mayor's office;
- Ballem in her former role as Deputy Minister of Health paid almost a half million dollars in contracts to Best through the company she co-owned with Brent Humphrey;
- Best worked with Judy Rogers and Mayor Sam Sullivan during the debilitating 2007 CUPE strike, providing communications and strategic support.
Whew. CityCaucus.com needs to catch a breath. Keep coming back for more exciting developments we'll be reporting in the days ahead.