July 2010 Archives

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The lid has finally been taken off the private list of Vision donors

Exactly as we arrived at the 500-day mark since Vision Vancouver last divulged who is paying down their $240,000 campaign debt from the 2008 election, lo and behold the City's governing party releases its list of campaign donors on a hot summer day just prior to a long weekend. CityCaucus.com has been urging Vision to live up to its promise of openness and transparency, and its former calls for continuous disclosure. We're pleased to announce that we will officially stop our CityCaucus.com COUNT-UP CLOCK at 500 days.

countup-500days At first glance what do we see from Vision Vancouver's financial declaration? Without question, it's a huge amount of money that Vision have raised in the past 15 months. For an organization who is on the record as decrying the amount of money spent on civic campaigns, Vision Vancouver have taken campaign spending into stratospheric heights. Having raised $433,000 in the past 500 days, Vision Vancouver have single-handedly raised the bar for the cost of civic elections in BC.

Secondly, there is the matter of how Vision have flouted the rules of the Vancouver Charter, which clearly states that if you have raised money to pay down an outstanding election campaign debt, you must report it within 30 days. The Ministry of Rural and Community Development was written to consider the matter of Vision's non-compliance, and the Minister's response was to file any complaints directly with the Vancouver Police Department's Financial Crime Unit. That unit is headed up by Sergeant Mark Johnstone.

The most interesting details of Vision's disclosure statement are those that are left out. For example, we can see that Vision Vancouver paid over $14,000 as interest on the $240K debt. Who did they pay that interest to? Was it perhaps some of Vision's better known bankrollers such as Renewal Partners, or was it a bank such as VanCity? Would a bank even consider a quarter million dollar loan to a political party with virtually no assets? As we've asked before, who was holding Vision Vancouver's debt?

Another detail one notes when looking at the numbers is how much Vision Vancouver spends on operations. After paying down their debt they've spent another $180,000 in 15 months. This means with salaries and other costs the party is burning through almost $12,000 per month! Look at the bottom line on page 2, and you can see that Vision only has just over $10,000 left in the bank. That means unless they can get developers to write more cheques immediately, Vision will be in the red again by Labour Day!

The poor old NPA may not be raising any money, but according to their financial statement read at their recent AGM, they have almost $20,000 in the bank. That means even with all the money Vision have raised, the NPA still has more cash!

For the many developers who've donated to Vision a thorny problem arises now that we know who gave to Vision, when they gave to Vision and how much they donated. Since the NPA has Vision's donor list, and will most likely squeeze the same developers for an equivalent donation as election season heats up. So if you are a developer who gave a $10,000 donation, suddenly it becomes $20,000. Wow.


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