Reveal the minutes now, Mayor Robertson

Post by Mike Klassen in ,

4 comments

It's time to end selective media leaks, and take the muzzle off senior staff

jack truthSometimes in the midst of the battle better known as civic politics, the first casualty is the truth. Can Vancouver taxpayers handle the truth? We think so.

Last fall during the civic election in Vancouver, someone decided to leak selective bits of information to Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason regarding the Olympic Village project. He ran with what he had, and it ended up becoming the issue of the fall campaign that helped to catapult Mayor Robertson and Vision Vancouver into power.

Now fast forward to last Friday when the Vancouver Mayor's Office was spinning out a story that taxpayers were going to be on the hook for a what they dubbed a 'billion dollar blunder'. Mayor Robertson conveniently forgot to mention the role his Vision colleagues played in the Olympic Village issue, and proceeded to take a number of partisan shots against his predecessor.

Today, Mason is again reporting on the Olympic Village file, and (SURPRISE!) someone has conveniently leaked him minutes from a June 2007 in-camera meeting which he claims exonerates the Vision and COPE members of Council from any culpability regarding the Olympic Village.

It's time to end all the selective leaks, and break this file wide open for Vancouver taxpayers. If the Mayor is truly convinced it is in the City's best interest to have as much information made public then he should do two things immediately:

  1. Make public the minutes of all the meetings relating to the Olympic Village that were held in-camera. Only then will we be able to confirm whether the Vision and COPE councillors, alongside their NPA counterparts, had any role in the decision making process. For example, in June 2007, how do we not know that Vision or COPE didn't move a motion to secure a 'completion guarantee' for the project? Did they, or didn't they vote against every part of the motions presented by staff? The only way to get to the truth is to have all the minutes made public immediately.
  2. Let the staff who have run this project speak publicly, not your politically appointed City Manager who has been on the job for less than four weeks. These people are Jody Andrews, Deputy City Manager, James Ridge, Deputy City Manager, Ken Bayne, Finance Director, Francie Connell, Director of Legal Services, and Michael Flanigan, Director of Real Estate. Give them full and free access to the media instead of doing "secret briefings" in the basement of City Hall with politically appointed staff.

Anything short of these basic recommendations demonstrates this is simply just an exercise in partisan politics, and therefore cannot be trusted.

Robertson should be holding a news conference this afternoon and request all five of these senior City staff answer questions related to the history of this project. The public should ask, why is he silencing them? Why have we not heard their side of the story?

All he would have to do is guarantee them that there will be no reprisals if they speak their mind and just happen to disagree with their new City Manager's perspective on this file. What could be simpler than that?

Today and editorial in the Vancouver Sun reads:

Mayor Gregor Robertson's strategy of milking this crisis for political points is not helping clear the air. His initial assessment that the city is now at risk of an $875 million loss - is mischievous.

We agree with the Sun's view. Once again, we ask Mayor Robertson to step away from the precipice of political grandstanding, and get back onto making this project and Vancouver's 2010 celebration a success.

4 Comments

Gee guys, If Geoff and I had known all the problems it would cause, we would never have guaranteed that the city would build the Athletes Village at its own expense.

I fully agree that it was irresponsible to do that while telling everyone it wouldn't cost anything ...

and I'm not sure why my good Vision/CUPE partner greggie is making this all so partisan instead of pulling the city together ...

remember how we talked about this greggie? leadership? you know, inspiring people and offering solutions instead of scaring them ...

greggie? remember? leadership?

Unresolved yet is the issue of more firings at City Hall. If Comrade Gregor precipitates further senior employee firings over the Olympic debacle, will he also ask city councillors who were involved to step down... After all, will not council have directed senior city staff in these matters?

Also, was the City not able to obtain fixed price bids for the Olympic Village project? If not, why not? Otherwise, why would the City assume responsibilty for cost overruns by Millenium? Once the City signed a non fixed price contract with the developer, it could hardly hold senior staff responsible for overruns. Some clarity is overdue from this perspective.

I note again that to move a motion is not the same thing as to vote for a motion.

It strikes me you're not actually disputing the facts in Mason's column, only that they are "selective", which I interpret as meaning Mason was only leaked partial minutes, or he is for whatever reason revealing only partial information from them (and isn't it good he is taking questions tomorrow - you could ask!).

This begs the question: How do you know all this? Do you have a copy of the minutes?

I support your call for full release of in-camera minutes relating to this matter. I also support waiving the confidentiality clause of Estelle Lo and Judy Rogers.

That was a good segment on Bill Good this morning. The best part was when the freshly minted city councillor Geoff Meggs called in and went up against Daniel Fontaine. Well, he tried. I almost laughed out loud as the hapless Vision councillor tried to joust with Sam Sullivan’s former chief of staff. I almost forget that Meggs was Chief of Staff to Mayor Larry Campbell. The difference between the two is that Daniel was hired for his talent and experience. Meggs was foisted on Larry by COPE and the civic union bosses because of his ideological credentials. And he has those. As David Berner pointed out some years ago on ‘NW, this bright light Meggs couldn’t bring himself to quit the Communist Party of Canada until 1989. I guess it was about time, Geoff!

It isn’t illegal, but it sure is a drag when unions target civic elections. Instead of having councillors who focus on civic issues, we get stuck with a bunch of NDippers who spend their time playing provincial politics at the city’s expense. You know you’re in for a rough ride with a lightweight like Gregor Robertson getting led around by the likes of Meggs and his Vision comrades. Hold on to your wallets!

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