Who's buying Robertson's KPMG spin? Thankfully, not many

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Dallas Dream Season
Dream Season: Vision spinmeisters pretend that the previous 2003-2005 city council never existed

If you haven't noticed yet, the Mayor's office have concocted a new way to present Gregor Robertson to the news media. Instead of scrumming him, the media are kept ten paces from the Mayor as he stands at a podium with a row of flags behind him. It's supposed to make Bubble Boy look more statesmanlike – always a tall order. All that's missing are the sound of bugles, a cape and his sceptre and you'd be forgiven for thinking this was Camelot.

So it was this morning with another media opp in the East Room of the White House front of Hizonner's office on the third floor. What was the message out of today's presser? Gregor says that the "best case scenario" for the Olympic Village project is that it will "break even."

It's interesting to know now that the intention of the City, by layering on subsidized housing, reducing the size of the buildings to low rise, adding a LEED Platinum community centre and hundreds of other green development requirements, was to earn a profit on this project.

Back in January, after huddling with James Hoggan over Christmas, PowerPoint Penny Ballem did a  "technical briefing" on the Southeast False Creek project in the basement of City Hall to put the fear of god into us all. The Olympic Village was subsequently characterized as a "train wreck" and a "boondoggle" by Gregor Robertson, and his puppeteer Mayor "Geoff" Meggs.

Vision's fearmongering kicked off a stream of negative coverage for Southeast False Creek. Before that it had been described as one of the promising legacies of the 2010 Games – a model sustainable community, built from the muck where a sawmill once stood on the shores of False Creek. If your aim is a "greenest" city, this is it in spades.

As it was in January when Penny Ballem gave a secret PowerPoint presentation (see page five) to select media, today's PowerPoint (see page three) by the City Manager curiously erased the years when COPE/Vision governed City Hall (2003-2005) in her Olympic Village timelines. Larry Campbell would be surprised to know that his term as mayor was the electoral equivalent of Dallas' legendary dream season – as in, it just didn't happen.

City Hall watchers know otherwise. It was during Vancouver's last left wing government that plans took shape to create a showcase sustainable community, with two-thirds subsidized housing and one-third market housing. And good on them for trying, but in the end the project was not financially sustainable, and the NPA cut back the subsidized housing to twenty-percent.

The politics of this project stink. Gregor Robertson embarrasses himself when he attacks "the previous council" for their decisions on the Olympic Village. That previous council consists of several members of his own caucus. In fact, there are only three councillors who have sat in on every important decision of this project since its inception – Louie, Stevenson and Cadman. Councillors Deal and Chow sat alongside Councillor Anton and her NPA colleagues, in unanimous support of decisions Robertson now castigates.

Some, including many in Vancouver's media, are eating up the Mayor's office spin like free sushi. Others, like many who commented on today's report at TheProvince.com and on Bula's blog, are just not buying it.

from BigMac The current Mayor and Council are the ones that choose to go further into the Olympic Village glue. They had an opportunity to nix the deal but choose in a secret meeting to go forward. Now the deal is squarely on their shoulders. Sell them off now and cut the losses.

from FBT As for Robertson blaming the previous council after being in office for 10 months. Hah! He simply can’t do anything right and the only good words on his eco-business strategy were written by those who got the scoop on the story.

Nice PR strategy from those at Vision HQ and those communications companies pandering to them. In two years they’ll be lucky to get new clients after the abysmal effort for those on Cambie.

When all else is going wrong, blame the previous council and hope the citizens aren’t smart enough to figure out that you’ve been calling the shots long enough to be blamed for them now.

One last thing. According to the Olympic clock we’re less than 129 days to go. EVERYONE remembers the worldwide trouncing the city took when the OV issue hit.

Why on earth would the current council hold onto the report for this long and poke the city in the eye this close to the Olympics?

What the F*CK is the point Gregor?

from Civic insider Did anyone read the KPMG report, here is a quote

"However, the preliminary analysis (based on the recent estimate of revenue from Table F) does appear to suggest that if Millennium Water is sold at prices 20% less than current forecasts, the City’s total exposure (Protective Advances, unpaid land purchase price of $171 million, etc.) may range from $10 million to $90 million (before recourse to guarantees and related security provided by MSEFC and its affiliates)."

That means property would have to fall 20% from the lows of Dec/08 for the city to be on the hook for anything, and even then the collateral put up by Millenium would cover any losses in that case.  In reality the city is going to be making money on this deal.  Guess the old administration isn't as bad as Vision made us beleive. No wonder Vision has sat on this report since July.

from Joe Just Joe The current forecast they are using in the report is from Dec/08, as we know prices have rebounded slightly from then, so in reality prices would have to drop between 20-30% for the city to lose up $90Million. And even in that dire case Millenium has put up it’s other holdings as colleteral. Looks like the doomsday scenario painted by Vision last fall isn’t very likely to occur.

from Sami Nice try Robertson. You're all responsible for this fiasco! Do the decent thing and manly accept your share of blame.

from Clive Gregor is sure good at playing the blame game. Last week he was blaming the recession and the previous council for the millions in shortfalls at City Hall.  How much is the city spending on fixing up City Hall for the Olympic dignitaries? The whole grounds are ripped up now for relandscaping and they are doing all kinds of renovations inside City Hall. I haven't seen a figure on how much all this cosmetic work is costing city taxpayers.

from IanS My understanding, from the news, is that Millenium and related companies have provided security for the amount borrowed. If that is the case, I don’t think there would be any real exposure, other than perhaps the cost of executing on the security.

We realize that few commenters are hardly a broad cross-section of public opinion, nonetheless it's heartening to see that many are seeing through the Mayor's spin.

Many are quick to point out that instead of blaming others, Gregor Robertson and his Vision council have options on the table to rescue this project from a financial abyss. They have the choice to sell off the $650,000+ social housing units for a profit. Has the City Manager or the Mayor proposed this? Of course not.

Like the idea of contracting out services, any talk of selling off the social housing at SEFC is off-limits for this city council. If Gregor Robertson is really concerned that he's got a boondoggle on his hands, it's within his power today to change that. But don't hold your breath.

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Cernetig over at the Sun has written a fairly balanced story in today's paper. He gives a few jabs at everyone involved in the project going as far back as 2002 when it was first conceived. Worth the read.


John Ferry at the Province also has an interesting take on all those "secret" meetings Vision has been having about the Olympic Village - despite indicating in the last election they were going to make this project more open and transparent.


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