Vancouver NPA City Councillor Suzanne Anton has filed a motion for the next regular City Council meeting requesting City Manager Penny Ballem conducts a review of the $60,000 public relations contract that bypassed the City's procurement rules by hiring a known Vision Vancouver major donor for double the amount allowed without Council approval.
In an interesting twist, Anton proposes that Vision Vancouver should be responsible for paying "a portion" of Hoggan's services. News coverage by GlobalTV pointed out that City Councillor Geoff 'Mayor' Meggs sought Hoggan's help prior to the hiring of the City Manager, leading to speculation that Hoggan's work was political in nature.
Coun. Anton's motion reads:
- The city entered into a contract for communications support with James Hoggan and Associates on 15 Dec 2008, valued at $30,000;
- The city extended this contract on 5 Jan 2009 for a further $30,000.
- Procurement policies require that contracts valued at over $30,000 be brought to council for approval;
- James Hoggan and Associates’s assistance was requested by Councillor Geoff Meggs but the contract was charged to the Southeast False Creek project office;
- No request for proposals was made in relation to the contract;
Therefore it is resolved that the City Manager be requested to report back on the following:
- (a) How a politically requested contract was charged to the taxpayers of Vancouver;
- (b) Why the contract was let in breach of procurement policies in the city;
- (c) The nature of the services provided and to whom; and
- (d) Whether a portion of the $60,000 should be paid by the Vision Vancouver organization.
Paying part of the $60,000 contract would only add to Vision Vancouver's financial woes. Recently, City Hall watcher Allen Garr shared rumours that the left-leaning civic party might be carrying up to $400,000 in debt after the 2008 election.
Vision's debt burden follows a course set out in the previous city election, when the party concluded the 2005 campaign owning approximately $200,000. In 2007, then serving as campaign financial agent for Vision Vancouver, Geoff Meggs declared the 2005 campaign debt paid off. Said Meggs after his party's 2007 supplementary disclosure, "Everything we receive from this point forward will fund the 2008 campaign."