What the heck were Gregor Robertson and Mike Magee doing in New York?

Post by Mike Klassen in

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greetings_from_new_york_city_postcard
Why did Gregor and his Chief of Staff spend $6000 to visit New York last April?

Crack 24 Hours reporter Bob Mackin filed a freedom of information request on the itinerary of Gregor Robertson for his whirlwind 3-day visit to New York City in mid-April which he reported on Friday. The story titled Mayor Gregor's Big New York Bash was oddly neutered from its online version – published last Thursday evening – and the edition published in the paper Friday. In the paper it was titled with the more benign "Gregor in Big Apple". Mackin, knowing that the subject of foreign political meddling was a hot topic for the week, made the obvious linkage to that story.

Here was a BC municipal politician with close and well-known connections outside Canada, holding an unrecorded meeting with a powerful, well-funded eco-activist organization at its New York headquarters. What could it possibly have to do with being the Mayor of Vancouver?

For those who are curious the paragraphs at the end of Mackin's story clipped for the print edition were as follows:

Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden claimed on CBC Tuesday that some B.C. municipal politicians were under “foreign influence.” On Wednesday, the Mayor’s office reacted with a prepared statement that said “it’s frustrating and unfortunate that local elected officials in B.C. had aspersions cast upon them without any justification.”

Robertson and Magee did not respond immediately to a 24 hours’ interview request.

What we know from the itinerary (see it linked here) is that Gregor Robertson and Mike Magee visited New York City together on April 11-14, 2010. They visited partly at the invitation of The New School in New York, who donated back a small speaker's fee to the City of Vancouver to cover a fraction of the costs of the Mayor and his top aide to travel back east.

The New School is a liberal arts college and it has a school of management and urban policy which invited Robertson to speak on a panel. The school says it...

...offers master’s degree programs in health services management and policy, human resources management, nonprofit management, organizational change management, and urban policy analysis and management; an esteemed doctoral program in public and urban policy

We know that Robertson and Magee owe their success to Tennessee native Joel Solomon, who is connected to the Tides Canada Foundation, as well as being a director of Tides US operation (Tides works hard at allowing its supporters to move money across the Canada-US border). Interestingly, the Managing Director of Tides US operation, Gary D. Schwartz, is a graduate of The New School.

Robertson was there to trot out how Vancouver is responding to climate change, such as through his community garden at City Hall, and the adoption of a four-hen backyard chicken policy. Jeff Lieberman, a New York freelance journalist zeroed in on Robertson's Ken doll exterior in his account of the trip published by the Vancouver Sun:

Robertson's youthful good looks didn't go unnoticed in New York. During Monday night's panel, the moderator, David Owen of The New Yorker magazine, assured the crowd that Robertson was in fact mayor of Vancouver, and not president of the student council. The mayor smiled bashfully.

In Lieberman's piece Robertson bragged that he'd met with "about half a dozen companies" and "there are definitely deals in the works with companies looking for a West Coast presence". The itinerary shows that Robertson met with two of his American donors to his 2008 mayoral nomination campaign, Peter Strugatz (seen here at a Renewal Partners event) and Richard Perl (Perl is seen here at the same Renewal Partners event seated beside Hollyhock's Tzeporah Berman). Perl is an executive of TerraCycle, Inc., a company that develops collection locations for post-consumer packaging waste, as well as an advisor to Renewal Partners, run by Vision Vancouver's top bagman Joel Solomon.

Robertson also met with John Rossant, Executive Chairman with Publicis Groupe, a Swiss-based media conglomerate, and Leonard Brody, co-founder of Now Public. Brody's business partner Michael Tippet is a devout admirer of Gregor Robertson. When I looked up info on Tippet I was surprised that someone who started a crowd-sourcing media company had taken down his video of Gregor Robertson's election night acceptance speech off YouTube.

On the morning of April 14th Gregor and Magee also met with Michael Northrop, Director of Sustainable Development grantmaking program for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF). The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is listed at activistcash.com as a major contributor to the Tides Foundation, who funnel cash into numerous left-wing activist campaigns throughout the USA and especially in British Columbia. RBF describes itself as:

[encouraging] social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.  The RBF's grantmaking is organized around three themes:  Democratic Practice, Sustainable Development, and Peace and Security.

Another big connection to Tides related to the New York trip is the National Resource Defense Fund (NRDC), which was Gregor and Mike's afternoon meeting on April 13th.

The NRDC are a hugely capitalized eco-activist organization along the lines of Greenpeace. They conduct major media campaigns on environmental issues such as banning water bottles in public institutions, ocean environment and they have been out front on the Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe. NRDC use famous spokespeople to conduct huge fundraising campaigns. Their poster child is Robert Redford, and they also have Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio working for them as well. The NRDC website has lots of photos of pelicans covered in crude to make their point

Robertson and Magee met with NRDC executives over the course of 90 minutes. The Gulf of Mexico fiasco was mere weeks away from happening, but it was interesting that the group included Sarah Chasis, Director of NRDC's Oceans Initiative. Chasis bio states:

She has worked to protect sensitive ocean areas from offshore oil drilling, promote the clean up of polluted waters at the nation’s beaches, strengthen coastal zone management and oil spill prevention programs, and improve domestic and international fisheries management.

According to the FOI, Chasis was the only member of the NRDC executive to remain for the entire 90-minute meeting with Magee and Robertson. You might want to ask yourself what an expert in offshore environmental concerns might want to spend all that time with our Mayor and his Chief of Staff.

For Magee this stuff is old hat (be to read our inaugural CityCaucus.com Know Your Donor profile on Mike Magee). His work in the private sector is as a consultant steeped in the relationships between green activism and American foundation funding. His client list includes the Bullitt Foundation, which is a big donor to groups like the Dogwood Initiative, which is BC's best known organization (see undueinfluence.com profile) devoted to fighting any offshore oil shipments.

When Robertson boasts that he thinks he's found a "half-dozen" companies looking to set up in Vancouver, these look like not-for-profits devoted to eco-activism, not for-profit companies making anything you and I will buy. Which begs the question, what does Gregor's "Green Capital" (or capitol) really look like? How sustainable is an economy based upon grants from rich Americans?

So why did Gregor and Mike Magee go to New York? Clearly it was about meeting a bunch of their eco-activist network buddies, but now we discover it was about something else.

SURPRISE! Gregor wants city council to review oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet. Here's what The Province reports:

Robertson says the spectre of the present oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico prompted him to convene the session July 5. He said he was also prompted after learning that oil tankers plying Burrard Inlet now transport 10 times the amount of oil they did a decade ago.

“You see what’s happening in the Gulf. It’s gut-wrenching. That can’t happen here,” said Robertson, referring to a months-long leak of oil into the rich southern marine environment after a blowout preventer on an underwater wellhead failed.

I've lived in Vancouver my whole life and I cannot recall a ship-based spill of any significant amounts of oil. I also know that the ships that move through First and Second Narrows are pretty small by comparison to large supertankers. It would suck to have an oil spill in Burrard Inlet, but is it a crisis worthy of a special council meeting to discuss it, or is Robertson just being opportunistic?

You might guess that his fellow Metro Vancouver mayors – such as Derek Corrigan – think that Gregor is about the biggest dufus they've ever known. And you would be right...

Contacted by The Province Saturday, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he was surprised Robertson hasn’t brought his concerns to the Metro Vancouver port cities committee, which is tasked specifically with port issues in the Lower Mainland.

“The committee was set up for that purpose,” said Corrigan. “If there are issues, it affects not just Vancouver but Burnaby, Port Moody, West Vancouver and North Vancouver.”

So to sum up. Gregor goes to New York with Magee and it costs us $6000. They meet a bunch of folks that we can all trace back to Vision and Tides. Gregor meets with the NRDC and seems to get religion on oil shipping, and decides to create a big, pointless photo op around it.

As for the hundreds of jobs that would be affected by the Mayor's meddling in that industry? You wonder if it even crossed his mind for a second.

Vancouver, are you waking up to what Gregor and his Vision social change agenda is all about yet?

- post by Mike

10 Comments

Sure, bypassing the Metro Vancouver ports committee and tying everything in with US activist groups may be an unorthodox way of going about it, but oil spills in Burrard Inlet are hardly a hypothetical.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/07/24/bc-oilspill.html

Maybe this is an interesting topic to discuss. I personally would love to hear Derek Corrigan and other Metro Vancouver leaders go on the record saying that we want Burrard Inlet to continue on as a major oil shipping facility.

While Gregor's definitely all about the photo ops and the Cortes connections, it leaves a better taste in the mouth than many, who claim to be concerned about sustainability in Metro Vancouver and then bend over backwards to build more office parks, big box centres, and are pleased as punch about the oil infrastructure we get to host in order to support this.

Did he happen to "bump into" anyone of significance while he was there?

Look at who was the keynote speaker for the Climate Change conference.


Check out the YouTube clips:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQuzzboxmGA

for a city under budget constraints, we are sure spending a lot of money on absolutely nothing that is of direct benefit to the city.

Where is the auditor general when you need them?

Well, someone needs to stand up to the oil industry, the economic, environmental, social and health damage caused spill would be enormous. Even if the risk is rather small, it is probably does not even make any economic sense to ship oil through Burrard Inlet. It is really quite sad listening to the politicians from the Gulf begging for Obama to cancel the moratorium on drilling right after they say that the whole way of life is being destroyed by the spill. If only the people and the politicians there had the courage decades ago to keep the industry out of the Gulf.

At least it is not too late for us to learn from their costly mistake.

Not to minimize the impact of an oil spill, but a spill involving a finite shipment of oil is not the same as the runaway deep sea well in the Gulf. Because you can never provide 100% assurance a spill will not occur, you can and must be better prepared to minimize the damage should one occur. (Lawrence Solomon had an excellent column in the National Post today on opportunities the US missed to reduce the damage in the Gulf).

Oil is not going away in our lifetime and it is a good thing - our energy resources are extremely important assets generating wealth we need to support our social programs.

Oh fine, lets just punt the problem to future generations and leave them with a polluted planet, no fossil fuels and no economy. It is time we took some responsibility and kicked the habit.

Yes, an oil spill from a ship would not be a gusher but Burrard Inlet is a lot smaller than Gulf of Mexico so it would take far less oil to really mess it up. I also expect that money generated by the shipping of oil through the port is really small relative to the size of the regional economy. Why take such a risk for so little. It does not make any sense.

This is knee jerk reaction. The oil leak is all over the news, so Gregor is just capitalizing on that to "appear green". He does this constantly. What about all the other chemicals and materials that are shipped through the inlet? Should we just shut down our entire economy? I'm afraid of your answer to that.

The Thought of The Day

"What's new Pussycat?"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBdSqk78nHw

Nothing. Same Ol' Same Ol'.

I perplexedly continue to watch this Vision performance the same way one watches a surrealist theater performance in a real theater... it's real but it's fiction, it's fiction but it's real as well, huh!? We are in act Two, scene One. What happens in act Three, scene Two? Or at the end of the play? That's what bugs me.

Which brings me to the game of Chess. Any of you playing? Let me explain. A Bad player,usually a beginner, doesn't know how the 'Knight' moves. An Average player loses in 5-7 moves to a Good player who plots 4-5 moves ahead. An Excellent player, thinks of at least 7-8 moves ahead, similar to having a mental Apple Martini while seated in a 'bumping into someone of significance' meeting. Dirty. A Chess Master player however, plays with you 'blind chess' from Saint Petersburg and already beat you half an hour ago. You just don't know it yet.

Are you still with me? Good then, what do you think happened at City Hall recently, let's say in the last year and a half? Was it the new dramatization of the 'Barefoot in the Crap Park', or a Chess tournament that they put on? Nope!

Tell you what happened.
MONEY FOR NOTHING. Yes, too many people getting on the 'Money For Nothing' trough. That's what happened, all right.

And you don't need to be some government spook, or a CSIS hotshot to realize that some foreign 'elements' are busy at work in our City of Total Apathy. Browse through Vision's election 'innocent' contributors list and you'll see what I'm talking about. Smoke and mirrors.

Ballem. This lady was resurrected from her little Medicare racket and then shown the money. Lots of money.

Aufocks, a rather mediocre bureaucrat from...Chicago, who's profile was pumped up handsomely by the same nice fellows who hired Penny, jumps soon after her as No. 2 in Vancouver.

And they are only the No1 and No2 that low flush to mind in an environmentally friendly way.

Now, look at the Juice Boy. The classic Cinderella Man, Peon, Prince and Pauper, 'Successful Businessman' and wearer of many hats. Oh, really?
Because what I see, it's completely different from what Vision's PR machine wants you to see. I did not tasted their food, drink their refreshments and wear their free give away merchandise. I rather did my own cooking, made my own lemonade and wore my own clothes so I preferred to look at Robertson from a 'glass half empty' point of view.
Success in my opinion doesn't come through a PR media release, it should be something that you are recognized for, something that you build and build and build, during a lifetime long adventure. Robertson? Well, not so much. Think about it for a moment.

Sailor and wanderer. Retired on shore after a while.
Farmer. Suntanned for a while, Sold to other... farmers.
Juice maker. Rescued, by other people's money.
Politics. Provincial. Abandoned.

If he did not win the Mayoral race in 2008, he would have been 'terminated'. IMO. Unfortunately for all of us, he won.
I said it before and I'll say it again:

“STUPID +VANCOUVER= STUPIDER” hence “ICH BIN EIN STUPIDER”

"Congratulation my dear Agent of Change, you are now ...'activated'!" said the Controller after the results from that November election came through.
"Hmmm. So Many Things to Do and Change, and People to Replace, …..So Little Time!" came the reply.

But there is always hope. One way to make them show their true colors is to pull a "King Solomon trick" on them. And then watch them do what they'll always do, splitting the Baby Vancouver in half! You think? Trust me on this one!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.


This is nothing but another "reputation building" (what dat???) exercise for the Mayor.

Follow the Metro Van file, folks. Vancouver is playing cowboy all over the place. As a way to show "how tuff" they are, I suppose. They are clearly unhappy that they, the big city slickers, have such a devalued position on the weighted board. They are opposing many, many Metro Van iniatives.

Hardly the kind of conciliatory, consensus building approach one would expect from a future, putative Premier, wot?

Ah, the Premier never listens to the cities anyways, does he? So Gregor can practice now.

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