"Let me know when the media have left!" Gregor hiding again
Summer 2010 was supposed to be the season we would all bask in the post-Olympics glow. Besides busting out his tuba on Cortes Island during two weeks in early August, Mayor Gregor Robertson has had a summer to forget. Things got off on the wrong foot when he flipped off community representatives as effing NPA hacks, and nearly got creamed by a bus.
As soon as he's back from vacation he's in the soup again, thanks to a fight picked with his city manager over real estate on the third floor of city hall. Robertson wants more room for his ambitious plans to expand the political operations of his office, and will soon occupy the office once belonging to deputy city manager James Ridge.
Media who've wanted to make Gregor Robertson accountable for his decision have been told that he's "unavailable" or away this week. They can't believe that his chief of staff Mike Magee might be hiding him away, even though that practice has been documented by reporter Frances Bula in her Vancouver magazine feature.
The problem Robertson faces is one of his own making. He's signed off on the wrong person as his director of communications. Kevin Quinlan certainly earns his stripes as a faithful Vision Vancouver pitbull, but we're hearing that media are tired of him continually trying to spin them. Once supportive publications such as The Province newspaper regularly use their op-ed page to whip the Mayor, as they did today.
These attacks show no sign of relenting, and we're hearing that the biggest stink bombs facing Robertson are set to go off after council returns from their (extended) summer break. Robertson is hopping on a plane September 4th and heading to China. Council recessed in the third week of July and will not sit again until September 21st (thanks to Gregor's schedule) – nearly two full months off!
Meanwhile the scamps in our research department at CityCaucus Tower are busily digging for gold. Not that finding anything at Vancouver city hall is any easier under Gregor Robertson's "open and transparent" administration. For example, until Vision Vancouver took power it was a practice of city council to publish the City's budget book on the vancouver.ca website.
But guess what, folks? That stopped in 2008! After much effort at searching and a half-dozen calls to City staff we've turned up absolutely nothing. City spokesperson Wendy Stewart simply pointed us to the 2010 budget estimates doc from last November and the 2010 budget doc which is eight pages long for a billion dollar budget! One staffer told me, "oh, we don't post [the budget book] publicly anymore," and told me that another staffer would call to explain why. So far no response.
So just like Gregor Robertson hides under his desk whenever there's a little scrutiny of his administration, even the City of Vancouver is no longer keeping the books open for the public to see. Want to know how much our city is spending and on what, or want to know how much those budgets have changed year over year? Well, that's pretty hard to do when the City deliberately hides the numbers. There is no data with any kind of detail available for either 2009 or 2010 (a budget which was approved three months early due to the Olympics).
Now that's really open and transparent, eh?
To our readers we present this challenge: If you are able to find us
the budget books detailed budgets for 2009 and 2010 similar to how they were presented up until 2008, and send us that info before noon tomorrow (August 25th), we'll provide a FREE NPA Hacks t-shirt to the first person who emails us at CityCaucus@gmail.com.
- post by Mike