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 CityCaucus.com.
In case you missed it CityCaucus.com 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 CityCaucus.com.
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 CityCaucus.com 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 CityCaucus.com 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 CityCaucus.com 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 CityCaucus.com. 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 CityCaucus.com 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.