Who'll take the fall if 2010 flops?

Post by Mike Klassen in


gregor robertson john furlong gordon campbell
King, Jack & Joker – which one will wear a 2010 flop?

The grey overcast days hanging over Vancouver seem almost fitting for the final days before Vancouver throws the biggest party in its history. The air is hardly thick with excitement. Rather, the city seems stuck in neutral.

Sure, the streets downtown are starting to fill up with people speaking in several tongues. Restaurant tables are getting harder to come by. Yet overall, the busyness is not translating into buzz. There is the distinct possibility that Vancouver could lay an egg in February, instead of exciting the globe.

My friend Wayne Hartrick, a reputation and public relations expert who has recently traveled abroad, seems to have the same feeling in his gut. He wrote this in the Vancouver Sun yesterday:

With mere weeks before the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics, there is scant visible evidence that Vancouver has any of the expected spirit, "Rah Rah" or party atmosphere befitting what will be the biggest celebration on the planet.

I returned to Vancouver after vacation this week expecting to see the city festooned with Olympic bling — flags, the iconic intertwined Olympic rings, banners, balloons — and buzz on the streets.

Little bling. Few rings. Low buzz.

Yes, there are tidbits of the Games — the big rings in the harbour and at the airport, a flag over city hall — but hardly the fanfare that one might expect with days to go. Even the Olympic graphics on the new Convention Centre are subdued, and you have to look hard for the Olympic rings.

There are probably hundreds of decisions that have factored into our sleepwalking toward 2010. For example VANOC, bound by the protocols of the IOC, have managed the Games' operations with an iron grip. Decision-making loops suffocate spontaneity, and the chain of command is always evident in any public pronouncements. While the public relations staff of VANOC seem competent, they were ill-cast for this project. The truth is – they're boring. They're managing the message rather than selling the sizzle.

The Province deserves its share for our Olympic-grade somnambulism. It would appear that the Games was managed tightly by bureaucrats, instead of carnival barkers as it should have. If you want to put on a great show, you put it in the hands of the best agents and producers, not Deputy Ministers. You need P Diddy, not the Public Affairs Bureau.

To their great credit, Premier Campbell and John Furlong both are running a marathon at this moment. Campbell is following the Torch Relay like his life depends upon it. He's stumping in every town on the route, getting crowds pumped up until he's hoarse.

Furlong is carrying the weight of the Earth on his back and managing it with extreme grace. John deserves praise for keeping this whole mad enterprise from imploding a million times over the last few years.

If there is one person who should shoulder the blame for a 2010 bust, it's Vancouver's aimless Mayor. Gregor Robertson cycles from media op to media op like someone running afternoon errands. This guy stepped off a jet back in October with the Olympic flame, and he should have started the sprint of his life at that point. instead, Robertson has stumbled out of the gate.

Robertson has been nearly invisible for the past several months. It's painfully obvious he doesn't realize it's showtime. On Monday's CTV News broadcast which showed that Vancouver's taxi industry is woefully ill-prepared for the onslaught of Olympics travelers, Robertson's response was "yeah, we better look into that one." Pathetic.

Instead of holidaying in the States over Christmas with his wife's family, Robertson should have dug his heels in to try and get Vancouver excited about the Games. So unsure of his own steps, he's relying upon his Minister of Everything Geoff Meggs to handle all major files, while his Chief of Staff Mike Magee makes him dance like a marionette. Robertson has abdicated responsibility for leading Vancouver to his political backroom.

Seriously, if you want a great Games then give the reigns to someone who gives a crap. Look at 2010VanFan, the Games blogger extraordinaire. Daniel and I have created a comprehensive 2010 Free Events Guide off the sides of our desks, and we're getting 25,000 page views per day. It wasn't rocket science to understand that most of us can't afford to attend Olympic events, but want to enjoy the party. How come bloggers are the ones making things happen?

It seems like ages ago that I received an invite by email to attend the sneak peek opening of the new Olympic Centre at Hillcrest Park. From 5pm onward last February 29th the public were welcomed to visit this brand new building where the curling competition will take place. My family and I arrived near the opening and the facility was packed. There was an immense buzz that evening that revealed to me that Vancouver really wants to embrace these Games. When we left a half-hour later there was a line-up down the block to get inside.

Last August we began to write about the fact Vancouver was not doing enough to build excitement for the Games. Our comments were poo-pooed by those who said we don't want the excitement to peak too early.

Well, we're seventeen days away from the Games. Do you think we could maybe do something now to get folks fired up?


On a related note, the Sun reports Robertson bought $377,000 worth of Olympic tix for the City of Vancouver and its dignitaries. Every councillor is provided with one ticket for the opening and closing ceremonies. According to councillor Geoff Meggs, taxpayers shouldn't be concerned. He told the Sun that spouses of the politicians actually have to buy tix out of their own pocket. What a concept!

Is Gregor wearing grey socks under that blue suit again? Can the protocol police be far behind. I'd ticket him for a fashion faux pas and send the money to city hall to help balance next year's budget.

There's a surprise. CC blames the Mayor. Not the Sullivan admin that completely screwed up the village, leaving the city exposed to a worthless NYC hedge fund.

Not the Campbell government who lied about the state of the finances, setting up the slash and burn of public services while spoonfeeding the games.

But of course you folks work for those folks. How could you blame your own - even if they've managed 100% of the decision making that got us here?

Maybe you should read your own "About Us" section again.... "Our goal here is to have a fun, but respectful dialogue about Canada's major urban centres, and we hope you will participate in "the conversation" by providing comments that stick to the issues, and do not stoop to name-calling or personal attacks."
This piece is not respectful and stoops to name-calling and personal attacks.

I found your website yesterday and was pleased to find such a great site listing free things regular citizens of Vancouver can enjoy. Then I get this piece in my email this morning. Not good! I'm out of here!

If 2010 flops which probably it will, no doubt those three goons will blame it on the rain.

You didn't even answer your own question... Who will take the fall? You imply by your own bias that it will be the mayor, but he hasn't put any of his own political capital into 2010.

The guy with the most to lose is the Premier. And with people already cheesed off about cuts to services... an Olympic flop will just add fuel to the fire. Campbell will take the fall.

The natural impulse of Gordon Campbell detractors is to suggest the Premier will take the hit. And it is possible that it could happen. However, this contest is all about merit, not the People's Choice Awards. Campbell after 25 years in public life, and three successive terms in provincial government has less pressure on him to produce. If things fall flat – and I doubt they will – he can say that he did his best, but the scale of the recession could not have been forecast, etc. Same goes for Furlong.

As for Robertson, what would be his excuse? Colorado beckoned? His bike had a flat? Joel Solomon didn't send the right instructions?

Think of my criticism as an intervention. Robertson has some time left to pull this out of the bag. Had he stepped up last summer that would have been better, but the boy does have some time before the flame goes out.

The out of touch uptight IOC and the "Olympic Family" are clearly the reason. With the financial crisis, they really needed to reduce their expectations of being treated likely royalty wherever they go. So what if they have to wait in traffic a little bit or not smoke for a few hours.

Personally, I'm rather indifferent but when ever over enthusiastic Olympic boosters overstate the benefits of the Games, it just really turns me off. Just say it is a big party and leave it at that. They are really taking it much to seriously.

The insecurity industry doesn't help much. Scaring governments into spending almost a billion on security is inexcusable.

Who will take the fall? Us, the taxpayer. We're already going to be bent over by the Olympic village fiasco (thanks NPA for taking the bid from a no-name company to begin with). Why not kick us while we're down?

So proud to see our precious pride of point grey king Campbell on the front page. He has no worries we'll be paying off his debt after this circus.

Interesting reporting....but the Premier / Libs are the ones to take responsiblity...How many times have I heard ontime onbudget...Ooops we forgot to put in the real costs of the security budget - which is astronomical...to what it was originally...The other 2 wont take the fall...The mayor needs more credit for getting the Village finished in time...that seemed near impossible a few months ago when they were still under construction....I feel that if the NPA were at the reins during this time...the village would not have been finished....I love how Gordon keeps saying the "Games are Coming" accept it and embrace...Why wont he say "The BC Liberals brought you the 2010 Games " ?? OH I know cause he knows if they flop he definetely will be the blame...Obviously he doesnt like the odds of them being a huge success or he would say it like that....I hope they break even...but the odds are changing all the time....

I'm with Warren on this one. The taxpayer is already on his knees and crawling vigorously.
Tell you what though, looking at the fine specimens in the above picture , I don't know about you but, I'm craving for some deep fried pigs balls.
Forget the cholesterol and stuff.

"It wasn't rocket science to understand that most of us can't afford to attend Olympic events"

Re: Olympic apathy... I do believe you've answered your own question. As regards post-Olympic folk devils/straw men, 'Comrade' Gregorovich's low profile is best explained as an astute political calculation. However, as Warren correctly notes... the real losers are those left holding the bill for a party they weren't invited to.

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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