Why are Vision's NDP pals standing in line for the gigs?
In politics it's not unheard of to reward supporters and those who slug it out on campaigns with favours, access to politicians, and occasionally paying work. But if you are an NDP supporter who gave 150 percent to help elect Vision Vancouver as government, you might be feeling like you were left at the altar.
City Hall watchers can't help but notice that it's not the NDP who have been getting the plums from Vision. Rather, you're much more likely to be getting hooked up if you're a Liberal. If I had knocked myself out on Vision's campaign, and saw who was getting all the work, I'd be just a little prickly about now.
For example, the first big opening at City Hall came along when Judy Rogers was fired. For days leading up to it there had been speculation that an NDP stalwart like Doug McArthur would get the gig. Instead, the hand-picked replacement for Judy was none other than the woman Gordon Campbell had made Deputy Minister of Health, Penny Ballem. It's believed Ballem was a key architect of the restructuring of collective agreements with the Hospital Employees Union, so there's little love lost between her and the HEU.
In the Mayor's office a known NDP supporter Brent Humphrey worked side-by-side with Mr. Mike and Vancouver Kid, but he was gone quicker than you could say Robin Adair. Adair was fresh off the hustings as a BC Liberal candidate in the spring election, when he was scooped up as the new top cat in the city's communications department, as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Handing out that cool six-figure salary to an NDP insider like Paul Ramsay or Bill Tieleman would have been a positive signal, but giving it to your political opponent? That must sting a little bit.
On the political side, even the cheap gigs are being doled out to Grits. Well-known Federal Liberal and former NPA campaign worker Ian Baillie, now listed as Communications Chair for the organization, is just one card-carrying Liberal on the payroll.
The icing on the cake had to be the selection of the Wall Centre, with its non-union staff and longstanding connections to the NPA, as the venue for Vision's annual fundraising dinner. According to this report by crack Victoria reporter Sean Holman, labour leaders were not happy with the choice:
[Hospitality Workers Union President] Jim Pearson said, "I communicated my thoughts on it. We won't be going. But that's pretty much the end of it. I'm not going to make a public fight about that. I support Vision. My union supports Vision. And, from time to time, people have to express their views on stuff."
Even at City Council, the coalition between the extreme left COPE party and Vision appears to be on shaky ground. Few if any motions put forward by NDP backers David Cadman or Ellen Woodsworth make it on to the order paper.
While Vision Vancouver has always been deemed as a re-vamped version of the moribund Civic New Democrats party with a few Greens and dollop of (Paul) Martinites with spare time on their hands, it would appear that as far as where the city's ruling party likes to spend their money, NDPers need not apply. It's no wonder people like Mike Bruce sound a little bent out of shape.
Couple all this with the fawning letters from Gregor Robertson to Premier Campbell and to Housing Minister Rich Coleman, and you start to think the world is all topsy-turvy. Who'da thunk that NDPers would have worked so hard to elect people who, with rare exceptions, pretend they're not in the room.
Politics is a lot of things, but it's certainly never predictable.