Bitter Beekeeper bites back at bloggers

Post by Mike Klassen in


what, me bitter?
There's very little sting left in what the ol' beekeeper writes anymore

Sources at Vancouver City Hall say that a diminutive Vancouver Courier columnist has been to-ing and fro-ing from the City Manager's office for the last several days. They're known as the Hall's new dynamic duo: Ballem & Allen.

Their mission — to crush those muthas at

In case you missed it got their biggest shout-out yet from any media: this love letter from the ol' beekeeper himself. Allen, since you write like you're a hair's breath away from moving onto beekeeping full time (we'll celebrate by buying some of your honey), it's a supreme compliment that your parting shot as a columnist will "bee" with us.

So here in a nutshell is Garr's rant, courtesy of City Manager Penny Ballem and Mayor "Geoff" Meggs, who gingerly pulls the strings for Allen while he types:

We mistakenly assumed that a pension was attached to Patrice Impey's inexcusable sweetheart, gold-plated 20-year compensation & benefits package. Oops.

Guilty as charged. But wait, there's more to this coordinated effort at damage control by Vancouver Kid, Magee and the Vision Vipers on the Third Floor.

It may have escaped Garr's notice that we posted Impey's offer of employment letter, which anyone thanks to our FOI could have read since last Friday afternoon. Garr accuses Vancouver's media of being lazy and sloppy in their work. Given that this story was carried on several media outlets, I guess Garr is accusing CTV, CKNW, News1130, the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail & no less than The Great Defender of shoddy work.

Allen, is it too late to take the Dale Carnegie course on how to make friends rather than alienating them?

Of course Garr dispenses with the point of our post, which he either missed altogether, or is purposefully trying to mislead the public yet again with his disingenuous rant on

We ask again: why was this employee granted 20-year benefits, including vacation, medical, dental, and as it is usually assumed with a 20-year employee, a pension, instead of starting her at year one with an appropriate salary?

As for the 10 weeks of paid vacation, or the extra $45,000 tacked onto Impey's gold-plated deal, Garr tries to make excuses for it. The public sector math is simple:

5 weeks vacation + 3 weeks EDO + 1 week OT + 1 extra week vacation = 10 weeks

If was wrong, Robertson's first response would be to correct us instead of muddling through excuses like "she's a good investment" and "we saved money not having someone in this position for a few months" (uh, Gregor, Estelle Lo was paid $450,000 severance). If we were so off the mark, how come so many news sources and the Mayor himself came to the same conclusions?

And how is it that paid political staff, with full resources of the City Manager's office, and the cooperation of the Vancouver Courier, did not figure out to check this detail sooner? It's because it doesn't matter. Impey got a special deal which they cannot defend except to attack their critics.

Perhaps one little detail hasn't occurred to Garr and Ballem: we're bloggers. We do this stuff off the side of our desk for table scraps. Garr's shot at reveals his contempt of this new medium that in less than four months has made his longstanding Courier column utterly avoidable and irrelevant.

Garr in his final days in print is a mere shill, and his publisher should send him packing. He is a kindrid spirit of both Vision and COPE with neither the will nor the capacity to think critically about the people running City Hall. It makes for a rather boring op-ed page and if the Courier hasn't figured that out already, perhaps collapsing ad revenue will be a sufficient nudge.

If this attack is not the end of Allen Garr's credibility as a "columnist," it's certainly an indication that the patient has flatlined. What's the point of buzzing around Queen Bee Ballem's nest, Allen? The hives are calling.

As for the Mayor's office, is their strategy to lead or to kill the messenger? We hear about the threats and bullying Mayor's aids apply to reporters who reference in their work. If you think Gregor's media in the first 100 days was bad, don't expect it to improve much over time.

So thank you, Penny. And thank you Allen for letting your handful of readers know about We've had an exciting start in just over 4 months, with over 150,000 pages read. We can't see it coming to an end soon, as we're having too much fun.

We do often get asked when we'll take a break. Our contract allows for 10 weeks vacation – beginning in December 2011.

UPDATE: Frances Bula has weighed in with her part in the debate about and whether bloggers have a part in discussing affairs at City Hall. What do our readers think about Allen Garr's motives? Has his long track record represented a "balanced" view as Bula implies, or are we getting more programming favourable to the current administration? Are we wrong to state that Garr is a shill, and if so where is the evidence in writing to suggest anything but?

We'd like to hear from more than Vision apologists, please.


Well said Mike. I hadn't read Garr's piece until I clicked on your link. I stopped reading his cope-friendly socialist rants years ago and now I remember why.

What Garr did to your blog is classic smear 101. Blame the messenger, and hope the public ignores the message.

Bee-man is hoping the result of his column is that mainstream media will completely ignore bloggers like you, and go back to using him as their primary source of "unbiased" information at the hall.

Allen doesn't understand that wrting a column only twice a week simply doesn't cut it anymore.

Why doesn't he do a blog. Does he even know what a blog is? It's not CBC online. It's a place for people to read other people's opinion and comment on that opinion.

Garr, Ballem and Vision clearly want to discredit CityCaucus because of what you've been doing to expose the incompetance and bumbling at city hall.

I for one hope you don't stop, even if you are paid "peanuts" as you claim.

Thanks, J. Garr already has a blog and you can find it at

Garr slammed you to the ground. You reacted like school kids by name calling. You think you are putting down Garr but actually it is your blog that suffers from those outrageous rants. You just look ridiculous.

It is not the first time you have gotten your facts wrong. Your lack of accuracy is a huge problem and could get you into a lot of trouble.

I guess we cannot expect much more from staffers of Sam Sullivan.

I like reading citycaucus but this post seems a little over the top.

Did you get something wrong or didn't you? I'm not clear, all I'm clear on is traditional media is out to get you or something, or garr in traditional media is out to get you, which is probably just someone out to get you and has nothing to do with blog or paper.

I don't know, it seems to be more of a personal defence than a post of value. I like it when you guys dig, not when you throw stuff at other writers and toot your own horn for umpteen paragraphs. The Perez style is not the way to go.

I guess the best defense is a good offense. Rather than admitting you are wrong, keep on striking out and maybe one day you will hit something.

Allen Garr is about as objective as Bill Tieleman or Fox News. The unsuspecting reader may confuse the material with actually information. It is, as titled, an Opinion piece. It compensates for a lack information or reporting with snide comments and rhetoric.

But hey, lets talk about accuracy in reporting. The follicularly challenged Bee-boy states:

NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton saw that and was livid. After all, Anton worked for many years as a civil servant, a crown prosecutor actually, and is now earning pension credits as a city councillor. She "worked hard" for those benefits.

News flash - city councillors don't get pensions. After working the city beat for a few decades one is bound to miss those subtle points.

Mr Garr has demonstrated a great deal of difficulty in presenting a cogent arguement for a number of years. Its always sad to see someone end with a whimper, as opposed to a bang.

CW, we did admit getting that detail wrong, but it wasn't the focus of our story. Even journalists, including the good ones, will not get it right all the time.

Btw, if we were to post up the mistakes of a typical Garr column over a year, your browser would freeze up as the page would be too large.

I guess we can add The Garr Defender to Frances' handles.

How are earned days off (EDO) vacation? They are, by definition, extra time employees work that aren't immediately paid for. E.g. - people are paid for 35, work 40 in exchange for extra days off.

Your calculation on vacation time is wrong.

Oh look...the emperor has no clothes. All Mr. Garr did was point that out.

"Allen, is it too late to take the Dale Carnegie course on how to make friends rather than alienating them?"

Hmmm. Nothing in this story that validates that good advice boys.

Let's see, veteran reporter Allen Garr is a "diminutive" Vision Vancouver hack and shill. Veteran reporter Frances Bula is a Vision Vancouver hack.

City Caucus is in danger of becoming the Captain Queeg of the Caine Mutiny: "This is the captain speaking. Some misguided sailors on this ship still think they can pull a fast one on me. Well, they're very much mistaken.

Since you've taken this course, the innocent will be punished with the guilty. There will be no liberty for any member of this crew for three months. I will not be made a fool of! Do you hear me?"

If you want to be taken seriously, do a better job and stop whining.

There's a long tradition of using jest to skewer the powerful and self-important, even in boring old Canada (see Franks passim). You can count on to be a new point of view that will challenge the opinions of others.

If no one is taking us seriously, then why are meetings taking place between Garr and Ballem about us? Why are you here to read us, Bill?

After years of dishing it out and running down so many public figures in the past, perhaps some of the aforementioned writers should have expected questions about their work.

City councillors in Vancouver DO get pensions. It may be uncommon or even unique in BC, I don't know, but we definitely get them in Vancouver.

Check out!

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