Blogger scandal must trigger big changes in Robertson's administration

Post by Mike Klassen in

46 comments


GlobalTV's breaking news story features an FD Element employee who dishes the dirt

The biggest scandal to hit any Vancouver administration in years unfolded in front of TV audiences on Tuesday night, when GlobalTV reporter Marisa Thomas interviewed a former FD Element worker who said that the company has been involved in political dirty tricks paid for by Vancouver taxpayers.

As we outlined last Friday, the documents made public that showed that Robertson's preferred marketing/ad firm FD Element had been hired on a contract, then in turn they hired blogger Jonathon Ross of civicscene on a vague project described as "conversation mining". Then the coup de grace was the documents showing that FD Element paid a company to build and host the civicscene blog.

Now a deep throat figure has come forward, a former FD Element staffer who accuses the company's principals Don Millar and Mike Wilson of colluding with Mike Magee over the chief of staff's personal email account, and paying the ad firm who in turn were paying Ross to conduct attacks on Vision's opponents.

The evidence thus far has been troubling, and the excuses and denials from FD Element and the Mayor's office straining credibility. This is the kind of scandal that has the corrosive effect of destroying governments. The fact that only certain media have decided to report or comment so far is fairly typical with controversial subjects, reports by GlobalTV and CKNW News notwithstanding. That media silence is unlikely to continue, especially coupled with Gregor Robertson's embarrassing endorsement of a communist government yesterday. The Globe and Mail editorial rightly puts the Mayor in his place, saying he was "naive" and was "carried away".

So what next for Gregor Robertson? He has little choice but to make some tough decisions and shake up his administration. If Robertson expects to run in 2011 and serve another (four year) term he must consider firing both his chief of staff Mike Magee and his director of communications Kevin Quinlan.

Magee's actions in relation to the FD Element scandal show an immense lack of good judgment. What was he thinking when he hired FD Element who clearly were strongly connected to Jonathon Ross' civicscene blog?

As for Quinlan, he must wear the absolutely abysmal job of media relations for Gregor Robertson over this summer. Even Allen Garr is quick to admit that Robertson's message is being squashed by a succession of bad media moves. Quinlan's lack of experience is showing, and a stronger candidate for the job must follow quickly.

For Robertson, letting go Mike Magee will be a difficult but important break from the Hollyhock shackles he wears. After 20 months in office Robertson must surely feel confident enough of his own leadership to act without Magee calling the shots.

Who could possibly replace Magee? That's a tough question, but perhaps that person is sitting in the lotus position up at Cortes now, and simply waiting for their orders. Or perhaps Geoff Meggs, a former effective chief of staff himself, will step up for double duty as councillor and key adviser to Robertson.

Of course, Mayor Gregor may try to "weather the storm" of this and all the other controversies. But as poll numbers continue to slip and funds dry up from donors, it will become painfully evident for Robertson that the time to strike is now. Keeping both Magee and Quinlan is big risk for the success of Gregor's mayoralty and for Vision Vancouver's 500-year plan.

Don't be surprised if there's a shake-up when Robertson returns from China.

- post by Mike

46 Comments

The horror, the horror...moan...

Please, someone with with their wits and intelligence intact, please save us from this abomination of a Mayor. We are witnessing the Peter Principle here---cubed!

Please , any adult who can think on their feet, who can analyze, who can stitch a though (any thought!) together---and,for bonus points, Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, one that actually makes sense!

Moan...please...an adult...to lead us..out of..this living...civic...nightmare....

Gasp...wheeze...choke...cough...

"...when Robertson returns from China" - you mean he's coming BACK?

But I just read all about his admiration for the land o Communism! All in the name of 'green', afterall; so what if there's some of the world's worst human rights violations, pollution etc.

If Magee and the Kid go, whoever will stop him from making humiliating gaffes? Oh...right, they ARE only human afterall.

I think the conversation mining struck gold this week, fellas.

The Thought of The Day

“It’s been a slow week in Havana. That's the only explanation for why the national daily 'Cuba Ahora' is covering Gregor's trip to China.”

Freshly returned from my short writing research visit to Cuba, I brought with me the very words of El Comandante Supremo - Fidel, who I have to say, to my chagrin have asked me over dinner :'How's my Gringo Gregorio doing up there in Vancouver? Is he still fond of those two ‘gamberos’ Magee and Quinlan? I told him repeatedly, ‘putas’ and ‘jugadors’ are ‘problemas’! And Gliss mi Amigo, tell him to send Ross away on a secret mission, like the one I sent Che. El problema solucionó!”

Nope, I don’t think I’ll do that. Anyway, next I’ll be researching North Korea, no need to go to China. Gregorio has got me covered. Plus, woof, woof, I’ve never fancied Pekingese Soup.

So, there is trouble in the Hall. My, oh, my. ‘Heads must roll ‘says some. ‘Scores must be settled” says others. ‘Cooking recipes shall be exchanged’. I say 'No. Start with a friendly ‘joint’, organic farmed, preferably from the HollySmoke Farm, hold hands in a circle of friends, and only then, proceed.For ‘Dicks-R-Us’ like these, there is only one way to do it properly – civic circumcision. And for what it’s worth, I’ll say ‘Put it on Pay-per-View! I think the story has Cyd Charisse legs.’

What I’m looking forward to, however, is the political lingo that’s created for events just like this, inside the City Hall belly,right now as I’m writing this. They are sweating euphemisms. Wait for it!

First they’ll say it’s been a miscommunication of sorts; that those FD Element invoices were taken out of context, totally; that the whole thing was blown out of proportions by NPA hacks; that The Mayor is trying hard to get to the bottom of this immediately following his return. I say to him, ‘Why come back? Save yourself from embarrassment Your Minimally Exceptional Worship’ Of course after the shit will hit the ceiling we’ll get him saying that ’he’ll be willing to trust in the sprite of the Vancouver voters', that ‘there is no credible evidence, all was fabricated by Tsakumis, peddled by Klassen, and endorsed by some Hollyhock hater group’, in other words ‘no one has proven a effin thing’. Well, not for long.
He’ll go into remission, and he’ll try the sympathy card on us ‘Was I wrong when I hired Quinlan? Yes. Was Magee a closet bully? Of course. Do I wish I never met those two? Absolutely. Did I do anything wrong? Who cares? That’s not the issue. The issue is, why did we not address street homelessness before Halloween? Have anyone thought of the stress those people will have to go through, when someone wearing a Penny Ballem mask will come over to their makeshift tent , asking them if they had their Christmas group photo taken ? That’s the issue!’ And yes, I was wrong. That list, that 'Hit List' should have been a Top Ten List, not a Fifteen Top List’
Then, after the next bike lane will explode inside his third floor, newly renovated boudoir, he’ll admit ‘mistakes were made’ and he’ll reiterate that ‘you’ll see when I’ll be cleared of all these shenanigans’ only to be followed by a cry out loud statement of ‘ I thought here in Canada you are innocent until proven guilty you mother-effers, ungrateful unwashed ’ and will end up by patronizing all of us with words like ‘let’s put all this behind us, little kids, now you go home, so I can continue with my actions for which I take full responsibility’ fingers crossed...and then paraphrasing his mentor, Joel Solomon will add in a short piece in the local rug VO - Voice of Omerica: ‘People of Vancouver, Marx my Words! United we’ll prevail. This is no time for vendettas, for settling petty accounts, or for throwing stones. This is a time for finding ourselves, a time for friendship and love, you mother-effers.

Oh, yea? I say, take the Samurai's honour approach pal, and save us tax payers some well deserved 'dineros', and maybe if we could concentrate now on selling those lemons at the Olympic Village, that'd be good too.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

"Magee's actions in relation to the FD Element scandal show an immense lack of good judgment."

...to god's ears this may travel.

It's pretty convincing when a letter from Gregor's office, and a timely post in civicscene.ca demonstrates messaging that is coordinated between both, and suggests that Jonathan is being fed material, as Fabula recently claimed on her blog. Perhaps the recipient of the letter may choose to share it one day now that we have leaks galore all around.

In business you get what you pay for usually and in FD Element/Jonathan Ross, you (me? the city? taxpayers? vision? who?) didn't get (y)our(?) money's worth.

I've been saying for two weeks now, Jonathan Ross should get Quinlan's job as director of communications and Quinlan should be promoted, plus more no bid contracts to FD Element. For teh win!

And by the way @Mike,

"Keeping both Magee and Quinlan is big risk for the success of Gregor's mayoralty and for Vision Vancouver's 500-year plan."

LMAO!

Bye bye Magee and Quinlan. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. The Mayor needs to make some big changes and explain what he did and did not know about this emerging scandal. I think he knows more than he is letting on. The public deserves some basic information. I say the Province should send in a forensic auditor and look at:

-FD Element's books
-Vision Vancouver's books
-Mayor's office budget
-Tides Foundation books

Only then will we possibly get some answers to these burning questions.

PS Kudos to Global TV and Marisa Taylor for a job well done. Excellent research and story. Keep it up (hope that doesn't offend Gary Mason or Frances Bula??)

RESIGN. RESIGN. RESIGN. Robertson. Magee. Quinlan. It's time for all the social engineering and lies at city hall to come to an end. This is the worst and most deceitful administration we've seen in Vancouver in decades. Quit now before you are forced out of office - high poll ratings notwithstanding.

Did anyone hear "deep throat" say Mike Magee was using his personal email to keep his correspondence outside of the reach of the Freedom of Information legislation. Is this even legal?

This whole scandal is getting worse by the minute. Why are no other media covering this????? Nothing in the Sun or Province this morning. G&M only had a nasty editorial about Robertson's communism goofup.

Is Magee really using his private email account to conduct city business and avoid being FOI'd? Perhaps someone with a copy of an email or two from his personal account may want to anonymously contact Global TV??? Shocking to say the least.

@ GR : "VO - voice of Omerica".
Oh yeah.

The grand 500 year sensitive new age Vancouver experiment is fizzling after a little over 500 days. For all the usual reasons of course. 'Leaders' who believe that their ends more important than the means, the cause is so righteous they are above acting ethically.

global tv's story should trigger a full investigation into what the heck is going on at the mayor's office. Just who is telling the truth here? Is taxpayer money going to fund a vision friendly blogger or not. The public has the right to know. If he had any balls, the minister of municipal affairs would step in with and conduct a thorough review. Is this likely?

Love the freeze-frame of Marisa Thomas in the video screen capture - makes her look nefarious and beady-eyed.

If this ex-FD Element employee is so brave and principled and honest, he should come out of the shadows and put himself on the record with real journalists, and let this scandal see the harsh light of day. Then let the people decide.

@Suzie Smith. I'm sure as soon as you drop your pseudonym, deep throat will pull back the veil. It it were me, knowing how the vision vipers will be gunning for him, I would keeping my face hidden. He was also brave enough to take copies of private records which FD is likely not thrilled about right now. I say keep your identity hidden and stay low. When the visionistas realize you have ruined their 500 year plan, there will be hell to pay.

You first, "Suzie"...

I think it's very wise and prudent for the source to remain anonymous in this story. Vision is vengeful, and there's no telling how far they would go to ruin this person's reputation or personal life.

What I find stunning is that all of this invective and cash is being invested into a pretty amateur propaganda campaign. As much as I enjoy the political blogs in our city, they are well out of the mainstream when it comes to critical mass opinion making. They might as well track down and counter the arguments of the people who make comments in the Province's BackChat Page for all the good it does.

@ Angry Taxpayer,

Have you noticed the increased usage of the word "nefarious" in these random posts?

Hey Mike, maybe it would be better not to suggest any personnel changes in His Honour's immediate staff. Let them stay. They are doing a good job of destroying credibility and are putting the reelection campaign at risk.

Glissando, that's great stuff you wrote. Brilliant as always. However, I don't think Gregor will take any responsibility for this. None at all, despite me being sure he's in it up to his balls, ahem, his eye-balls. You gave him too much credit. :-)

Democracy sucks. Just take a look at the government it gave us.

Just how will Garr explain this one away. This looks so bad for the mayor that not even his chief apologist will want to touch this one with a ten foot pole. The mayor and his team are sunk. It's over baby. Watch the poll ratings sink from this point forward. Forever more we will now know what the term "conversational mining" means.

If I were Penny Ballem or Sadu Johnstone, I would be dusting off my resume. Me smells a change in government coming soon. Time for a clean sweep of the public service.

Funny how few 'of the usual commenters' on these blogs go silent when the evidence &/or arguments are presented which clearly nail VV to the wall. Surely they have something to say......

@bill. I was thinking the exact same thoughts. Chris, Spartikus, Newly Educated, boo hoo where are you? Your silence is deafening!!!!!

Hmmm, "random" may not ne the word!

LOL!

I was thinking the same thing too!

Perhaps they are huddling? ;-)

haha too funny.

I'm the one-note poster remember? All bikes all the time. And often chided for posting too often. Can't win with you guys.

I don't recall ever jumping to Vision's defense or countenancing political machinations. Why start now?

What's more alarming is the lack of response from the usual suspects at 12th & Cambie which lends more credence that public monies were indeed used in an unscrupulious manner.

Should this be the case, its time for senior levels of government (ie: the Municipal Affairs Minister and perhaps the RCMP to get involved to get to the bottom of it.

This becomes unchartered territory but perhaps the map needs to be created.

Aside from the politics the people of vancouver deserve to know the truth.

Remember: Watergate was only a 2nd rate burglary after all.

Here I am!

Sorry, I've been too busy posting under all my other pseudonyms to remember about this one...where are we?

Right, you guys are wrong! Vision's the best! Hooray Gregor!

Does that work for you guys?

"a former FD Element staffer who accuses the company's principals Don Millar and Mike Wilson of colluding with Mike Magee over the chief of staff's 'personal email account'
_______________________________

Hmmmmmm... does anyone here think that FD Element advising Mayor Moonbeam's chief of staff, Mike Magee, to keep these matters off the FOI list by having Magee send e-mails to FD Element, with a new personal e-mail account, to be KOSHER?

I'm all ears... there's always a COMEDIAN out there there that may attempt to spin a response.

I'm all ears. :D

aaah...life is back to normal. BooHoo has come back to life and defended Gregor. This means we all know Gregor the good must have done nothing wrong. In all seriousness, credit to BooHoo for having a sense of humour when his guy is down for the count! Gosh, a few more weeks of this type of scandal and boohoo might actually vote NPA in the next election.

Twenty-five points behind Vision in the latest poll and facing the likelihood of a complete blowout in next year's election, the NPA are so desperate to raise their profile they will resort to fabricating scandals (the so-called "hit list") to gain attention; next, they accuse Vision of pulling the same crap the NPA did - how is Robertson/FDE any different than the $24,000 of taxpayer funds in untendered contracts funnelled through the office of Mayor Sam Sullivan to Mike Klassen?

@Jay

I would bother asking you to go find other actual examples of me defending gregor or the mayor...but everytime I ask that of people they never seem to reply...not sure why that is.

@ John

In fairness we don't have a truly democratic voting system in Vancouver, it's more what the Italians called 'partitocrazia'.

@bc bud

The issue isn't of someone being paid by the city for services to the city, or by a party for services to a party. It is of city money possibly being secretly diverted for party benefit. This is BC, so obviously no one will be held to account, but it still stinks.

..."VO - Voice of Omerica: ‘People of Vancouver, Marx my Words! United we’ll prevail." LMAO.
Glissy, I almost shat my pants laughing. After Gregor's recent comments from far East, your post fits like a glove. Vision keeps us busy indeed.

What are you talking about Bill? I'm the one who first posted the link to the video interview on Fabula's place - and you'll note my comments on the Mayor's breathtakingly ill-advised comments on the "advantages" of authoritarianism.

Sheesh.

ahhh excuse me but didn't mayor butt head and the vision party campaign on a platform of 'change'? Yet you excuse them for behaving the same? And for this I pay my taxes for 'conversation mining'??

the hypocrisy of the NPA is the issue, the NPA set the precedent - outsourcing untendered PR projects to friendly insider firms; but agreed, on this matter, Vision is not much better ... still, small potatoes in the overall scheme of things, as demonstrated by the latest poll results that place the NPA twenty-five points in arrears of Vision (ouch), results that have to demoralize potential NPA wannabes, that will scare off credible wannabes leaving the NPA little choice but to turn to certified crazies like Bruce Allen and Kim Capri, a slate of mediocrity that will accelerate the NPA's downward slide into oblivion ... should be fun to watch !!

I was aware of your comments on the Mayor's 'comments'. &, aside from a certain focus you have on bikes [which I share but, not to the degree], I do not consider you to be in 'usual commenters' camp. I hope this is not a disappointment. Your comments are often enlightening & helpful. Cheers.

The past behaviour of past members of the NPA is not the issue. Aside from the matter of the actual nature of the offence, and your insinuation of comparable misdeeds is made without any evidence, the fact is that Vision is now the governing party and was elected in part on the basis of a claim of moral superiority.

I have never previously voted for either party but my attitude at present is "anything but Vision" and I hope that over the next year the blinkers start coming off much of the rest of the electorate.

"the hypocrisy of the NPA is the issue, the NPA set the precedent - outsourcing untendered PR projects to friendly insider firms;"

I'm glad you said that Vision isn't much better. However, the more galling aspect of Vision's dirty tricks is that I (and I'm sure many, many voters) thought you were apart of the party that said was going to be different. So basically what you're saying is two wrongs DO make a right?

"demonstrated by the latest poll results that place the NPA twenty-five points in arrears of Vision (ouch), results that have to demoralize potential NPA wannabes, that will scare off credible wannabes leaving the NPA little choice but to turn to certified crazies like Bruce Allen and Kim Capri, a slate of mediocrity that will accelerate the NPA's downward slide into oblivion..."

Are you smoking some of your own bc bud?! Considering the election is more than a year away, and granted many people don't give a wit about civic elections during campaigns, nevermind, a year before the election, a leaderless NPA, with one voice on City Council to pull 25% is solid base. Get someone of Carole Taylor or Dianne Watts' calibre the Mayor's slot, it becomes a real competitive election, perhaps even a drubbing for Vision.

To call Bruce Allen a certified crazy shows you must be out to lunch. While I may not agree with everything he says, he more often than not says what the general public are thinking. People are listening to him whether on CKNW daily or on other major stations in the city. More often than not, he espouses common sense not some BS you seem to be shovelling our ways.

By the way, why are both Bruce Allen and Kim Capri "certified crazies?" Do you have proof that either one of them are indeed certifiably crazy/insane? Any medical reports? Do either one of them suffer from a mental illness that you can medically and/or psychologicaly prove? (No, being against Vision policies does NOT count as mental illness) Any substantiated evidence to make such a claim?

There's a year to go, and that's plenty of time for Vision to fall even more, or stabilize it's current support or even go up in support and the NPA to flourish or flounder. However, the only poll that counts is the one the electors of Vancouver cast on Election Day.

The difference is that this city council raised the limit by a factor of ten for this type of contracting, from $30,000 to $300,000, which is an open invitation to just this sort of corruption, and make no mistake, what is going on here is corrupt, which was not necessarily so in Mike Klassen's case.

Will Magee and Quinlan also make their cel phone records public? They say this morning they are willing to open up the books on this emerging FD element scandal, but does that include cel phone records from their publicly funded blackberries?

Were there any phone calls incoming or outgoing to Mr. Ross since he launched his blog? How about calls to Ian Reid - a party insider who blogs on the Vision Vancouver Observer - who recently blasted the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee and smeared him by accusing him of being in bed (figuratively) with certain bloggers. If so, how does that square with Mr. Magee's comments to the Georgia Straight this morning where he says

---

"It’s not based on any reality," Magee said. He also mentioned that Ross spoke to numerous people about his site, but maintained that the mayor's office had "in no way, shape or form been involved in the creation of this blog".

Notice how Magee carefully chooses the word "creation" of this blog. Okay, assuming he's right, does that mean he had no contact with Ross about the blog after it was created? Good question? Here is another snippet from Charlie Smith's great interview

---

"I asked Magee if he had read any of Ross's comments about me (CHARLIE SMITH) or the Georgia Straight on the civicscene site.

"No, to be honest," Magee replied. "I mean, to be honest, you know, the blogosphere could consume a huge amount of time trying to track all this stuff, and I just don’t do it."

Magee repeated that the mayor's office has no control over what Ross writes. "Our intention and our hope is to have a respectful and open communication with the Georgia Straight," he added. "Any comments in the blogosphere that would be painting you in a derogatory light, we wouldn’t support."

---

So the some of the outstanding questions are - Did Magee or Quinlan have any discussions with Ross about the blog? Do their cel phone records indicate any interaction between them and Ross or Ian Reid. Will they make their city-owned cel phone records available to the media for review?????? Time will tell.

Charlie Smith's full interview with Magee is a must read and it leaves us with more questions than answers.

http://www.straight.com/article-346636/vancouver/gregor-robertsons-chief-staff-mike-magee-claims-he-was-defamed-former-fd-element-employee

Looks like former vision mayoral candidate de Genova is dumping all over his party. See below. One has to wonder what Larry Campbell must be thinking about all of this. I don't think this was the "vision" Larry was thinking of when he set up the party. The rats...sorry Al, not meant as an insult...are starting to leave the sinking ship.

GEORGIA STRAIGHT, Matt Burrows

In 2008, Allan De Genova ran for the Vision Vancouver mayoral nomination. In 2010, he’s running as far away from the party as possible.

A five-term park commissioner with the Non-Partisan Association before being dumped from the caucus in 2006, De Genova told the Straight his Vision membership is "long gone".

"Vision has no vision," he said by phone. "They are about themselves. Their credibility is not worth anything, and they haven’t delivered on what they were going to do."

De Genova said he gets upset about the city’s homelessness problem whenever he drives downtown, claiming it is not improving. He noted that ending homelessness was one of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s major election promises.

Vision councillor Geoff Meggs told the Straight he was "sorry to hear" De Genova was no longer a member of Vision.

"I think, though, that Al was very disappointed in the outcome of the mayoralty race," Meggs said by phone. "I’ve understood that he’s been critical of some other things, so I am sorry that he has decided not to participate, but I am not surprised."

Correct,
not only that but the 'city staff' brought in from the US comes with a strong pedigree in political corruption. Chicago, New York, San Francisco. The saga continues.

De Genova said he gets upset about the city’s homelessness problem whenever he drives downtown, claiming it is not improving. He noted that ending homelessness was one of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s major election promises.

***************

According to the latest comments made by Councilor Kerry Jang, 'homelessness' and the funding for the HEAT shelters is the Province's problem.

CKNW ran the brief about a week or so ago after it was announced that the United Church as trying to raise $25 K in order to keep the shelter and the storage locker facilities open for the upcoming winter.

I wonder how these folks feel when monies that could help them are being wasted trying to prop up the Mayor's free falling numbers.

Does anyone know if the Bosman Hotel is at capacity yet? Supposedly there were 100 units available.

What's just plain sad about this latest scandal is how long it has taken for real evidence of this administration's corruption to be brought to the public's attention. Congratulations to the source who had the courage to break this story. Listen carefully to what he says in the GlobalTV interview. He is telling it the way it is. Everyone who has had exposure to Mike Magee and the Mayor and Penny Ballem and Kevin Quinlan know this is exactly how they work. On everything. Manipulative. Arrogant. Dishonest. Morally corrupt. For these people, the ends justifies the means and that is that.

To everyone involved in breaking and staying with this story: keep up the good work. You are right and you finally have hold of the loose thread of this ball of lies that is wrapped around the weak core of the disintegrating Mayor. Find another thread and pull on that one too. Keep pulling. To let go now would be just plain sad for taxpayers and those honest, smart, hard working managers and union members still working at the City. And for those of us who wanted a green adminstration: this isn't the one. We can do better. We can do a lot better.

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