The Drop Cloth Sessions: Gregor with Sun editorial page boss Fazil Mihlar
Last week Mayor Gregor Robertson sat down with Fazil Mihlar in the latter's continuing series of videotaped one-on-one chats with BC's top poliiticos. During the Provincial election last Spring, the Vancouver Sun editorial page editor also interviewed Premier Gordon Campbell and BC NDP leader Carole James.
The Sun is increasingly using video (see vancouversun.com/videos) to expand their online offerings, and credit must go to them for improving the quality of their coverage with some moving pictures. They might take a cue from movie promotional junkets though, maybe throwing up a logo in the back or a nice plant instead of hiding Mihlar's undoubtedly well-appointed executive suite with a paint drop cloth.
Aside from the usual empty rhetoric we've come to expect from Vancouver's Bubble Boy™ (we're talkin' about those green business opportunities, which is really hot now...) is the bad case of
Turrets Tourette's syndrome Robertson has with the word "challenge." If it were a drinking game and the shooters knocked back each time he used the word challenge, I would have been on the floor. I lost count after seven.
Robertson takes credit for the shift from street-to-home of "about 400" of Vancouver's homeless, not mentioning of course his clumsy HEAT component, or the fact that most of the work by the City and Province he describes took place prior to him being elected.
When asked by Mihlar what the biggest surprise of his new job was, Robertson responds that it's the long days. "I have to be everywhere all at once." If he was expecting to "be home for dinner" as he remarked on election night, maybe he should have talked to his predecessor Sam Sullivan, who regularly pulled 16+ hour days on the job.
After alluding to the vagaries of his job as Vancouver's "Salesman-in-Chief," Robertson was asked about reigning in costs and finding efficiencies in the face of collapsing development revenues. Again after more meandering explanations about weather, crime and change caused by (ahem) "retirements" Robertson states, "we have to tighten up."
The Mayor cites laneway housing and rental development under the STIR incentives as a way to get the city back to work. Given the former will take years to unfold and the latter is a huge giveaway to developers that won't raise needed cost levies for public amenities, Robertson could be accused of glossing over the depth of the City's financial predicament.
In what seems like a breezy 8-minute chat with the Mayor, Mihlar slips in a couple of questions to throw Robertson off. "Everyone's talking about...you do want to be Premier one day...are you going to expand Vision, take over the NDP or the Liberals?" Gregor sticks to his script about wanting to be the Mayor.
Then Mihlar asks, "How difficult is it to corral your caucus?" He points out to the backtracking on the DTES tickets, and wonders if the Mayor has to lay down the smack every now and again. "It's my job to keep us focused on our priorities." Take that to mean someone got spanked.
Mihlar clearly heard Robertson on the subject of courting business investment to Vancouver. "Mr. Mayor," says Fazil, "I hope that you keep an eye on the economy because without jobs not much is going to happen."
Gregor responds, "You got that right."
The Salesman-in-Chief might want to bone up on his ABC's. In about seven months the world will have come and gone after the Games, and possibly with it our opportunity to recover from this economic slump.