FD Element contracts reveal that company was hired to promote Robertson

Post by Mike Klassen in


Green Capital disc
FD Element produced 100 DVDs promoting Mayor Robertson for $21,000

After this week's disturbing accusations surrounding Gregor Robertson's staff, documents released from the Vancouver Mayor's office show more plum contracts being paid to FD Element, aka FTI Consulting. The City released yet another non-itemized invoice – this one for $10,000 to conduct "international media relations" for Gregor Robertson during the 2010 Games. What Kevin Quinlan (aka Vancouver Kid blogger) and Hollyhocker Ryan Merkley were doing all this time is not clear.

Then another services agreement shows that FTI Consulting/FD Element Agency were paid $21,000 to produce "100 DVDs" to promote Mayor Gregor Robertson as the leader of Vancouver Green Capital at the COP15 Copenhagen climate summit last year. FD Element help organizations to promote green stuff like on this somewhat underwhelming blog.

FD Element's head office is in New York City, and the company has another office (FTI Consulting) based in Washington, DC. FD Element first made headlines for a $52,000 no-bid contract for producing the so-called "SNAP: 2010" videos (like this one on the Olympic Village) which were more about image-building for Gregor Robertson than they were about selling the city's attributes.

FD Element have quite clearly been given the task of building Gregor Robertson's personal image on the local and international stage at considerable cost to Vancouver taxpayers through social and traditional media. If Robertson was El Presidente for Life like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, or a despot who dies in office like Stalin, I think most of us would consider spending money to promote Gregor Robertson was a good idea. But despite Robertson's musings about the disadvantages of democracy, I believe we still have the opportunity to vote him out of office.

One would expect that Vision would hire a qualified, politically-connected supplier to do this work. All governments do that. We wish, however, Gregor Robertson didn't make such a stink about promising "to do things differently at City Hall" if elected. Quite clearly, he's just doing what everyone else does.

FD Element's connections to Mike Magee and Gregor Robertson run deep. One of the company's clients is Power Up Canada, led by former neighbour of Gregor Robertson and fellow Hollyhock board member Tzeporah Berman. Power Up Canada is paid for through grants and donations handled by the Tides Canada Foundation. Those who closely read the invoice to FD Element to pay for civicscene.ca from TommyMedia will have noted that the contractor also did work on a website called ZeroCarbonCanada. After searching high and low on ZCC's website we found that it's run by someone named Chris Hatch, formerly of the Rainforest Action Network, another Tides project.

Coincidentally, Mike Magee's consulting company Convergence Communications includes Power Up Canada as one of his clients.

Now, I realize that all the above proves nothing untoward has taken place. It's probably because of this vagueness that most media have simply stayed away from reporting on this. Some media are – GlobalTV, CKNW News, The Georgia Straight, 24 Hours, for example – and for this they should be commended. And to her credit Frances Bula has covered this story, as well as presenting vehement denials of any corruption from FD, Ross and Mike Magee.

Over at the Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith has interviewed Mike Magee who claims he has been "defamed" over recent accusations by a former FD Element staffer. If, as Magee claims, he has no involvement in what is penned under Jonathon Ross' name online or in print, or that he's taking all measures to make sure that Vancouver taxpayers are getting good value by repeatedly enlisting FD Element to promote Mayor Robertson, it's going to be hard to prove it either way. As the FD Element deep throat suggested in his interview with Marisa Thomas, most exchanges with Magee are not happening on his City of Vancouver email account.

Magee can and should take more measures to abide by Vision's promise to be the most open and transparent government ever. For example, in a recent trip to New York Mike Magee "hosted" a $621 dinner that Vancouver taxpayers paid for. Magee refused media requests to explain who he hosted at the dinner in New York, and what that $621 paid for. Why not? Wouldn't it be simpler just to let the public know who he hosted at a dinner we paid for?

Furthermore, when he flies off to San Francisco with the Mayor, conducts dinner meetings and won't reveal publicly who he met with, all made possible with public dollars, why won't he just be open about it?

On the subject of the website FD Element produced, Magee does not appear to be accurate with his claims of expanded project scope:

FD Element initially proposed creating the mayor's site for approximately $14,000. Magee increased the fee to FD Element to $27,500.

"The scope of the work increased significantly," Magee said. "We developed a stand-alone rather than just one page; it was a full stand-alone Web site with video and a database and this whole thing, but the [city's] IT department wasn’t prepared to handle [it]."

As FD Element's original job proposal showed, the "increased" work was in the original $14,500 bid.

Conveniently for himself of course, Mike Magee is telling media not to consider the work of bloggers (or 24 Hours columnists) as factually accurate enough for publication. According to his interview with Charlie Smith he says:

[it's] "a highly problematic trend that you’re seeing in the U.S. and now being adopted here".

"I don’t think it bodes very well for accurate reporting or an appropriate means of having public discourse about issues," the chief of staff stated. "It has turned into a smearfest and I think that’s a bad turn of events."

Of course, this is what Jim Green, Frances Bula, Gary Mason and others are saying too. "Believe us because we're not bloggers and therefore more unbiased and accountable." If there are any "U.S. style" tactics in play, they're all coming from the Mayor's office alleged dirty tricks, not us, folks. Fortunately, most are smart enough not to take this advice.

If Mike Magee thinks we've published something that is not true, or that we or GlobalTV have smeared him or Mayor Robertson, I challenge Magee to explain where exactly we've done this, and help us and other media to correct the record.

Mayor Robertson must ask Magee and his staff to open up ALL records, including cell phone call statements to give the public the confidence that these so-called dirty tricks aren't happening.

UPDATE: Vancouver Sun's city hall reporter Jeff Lee is on vacation but takes time to blog about all the issues here.

- post by Mike


Could the FD Element staffer just be making it all up? Sure. Should the media report on it? Why not? Just think about how many "whistle blower" reports you've seen over the years done by the MSM. Is this any different?

Good point on the cel phone statements. If Magee and Quinlan were talking to Ross on a regular basis, their cel phone statements should back up their claim. That is, unless they only called on a landline or another private cel.

I say the Mayor should put ALL the records our for public review and we can judge whether we have a real scandal here or not.

On a side note, kudos to all the bloggers who have been shedding light on this story and to some of the MSM who are doing their due diligence. Eventually, we will get to the bottom of this scandal and find out just who is telling the truth.

I see Jeff Lee also has a great summary of all the chicanery happening at 12th and Cambie. It makes for a good read.


IMO, 99% of this FD Element / Civicscene stuff is meaningless, a tempest in a teapot.

However, that FD Element agreement with the City of Vancouver to promote Gregor Robertson is a different issue. Using taxpayer money to promote Robertson in that manner is really objectionable.

This isn't the first time a blogger connected to the Mayor's office has attracted some headlines. Lest we forget what Vancouver Kid (aka Kevin Quinlan) used to write about COPE, the NPA and almost anyone else who got in his way. Some of it was nasty. Looks a lot like Ross' blog was modeled on this one. Interesting.


"As some people who have read past posts know, I'm no fan of The Province newspaper" is an excerpt from Kevin Quinlan's old blog. I don't think his position will change after reading today's cutting Province editorial on his boss Gregor Robertson.


i found Quinlan's original quote along with a few other doozies here


The Mayor had a really bad summer, but the fall is shaping up to be the summer.......cubed.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Too funny, Gregor is finding his inner Richard Nixon.

It is not the crime, it is always the cover up that gets the skanky buggars caught out.

Keep up the great work . . . time to blow the Oh So Holy Hollyhock Hippies out of the offices of power.

Agreed, but the NPA set the ball in motion, using taxpayer funds to finance through untendered contracts a website that promoted the political fortunes of Sam Sullivan, and given the abysmal failure of Mayor's Sam term, we taxpayers should demand a refund of our $24,000 funnelled to Mike Klassen .... do we know that some of that money/resource hasn’t been used to fund this site ?? Has Klassen ever disclosed the contributors who are financing this site ??

Oh good grief. Here go the smears again.

BC Bud, roll a big fatty and read this a few times to let it sink in. http://bit.ly/a1G3pR

Mike. I wouldn't let BC Bud's (aka Vision Vancouver) smear attacks impact you. They are just trying to deflect the attention away from their own pathetic record of blog scandals, chicken coops, bee hives, vegetable gardens blah, blah, blah. Sad state of affairs.

Hey Mike, thanks for link, that confirms you were paid $28,000 from the civic treasury to run political errands that included building a website for Mayor Sam Sullivan, which set a precedent for this type of PR, paid for by the public, you guys set the ball in motion, Vision (unfortunately) picked up the ball and is just as guilty ... btw, who is funding this site, are you prepared to reveal the contributors who are on your Top 10 hit list? Christy Clark? Bruce Allen? Kim Capri? As you correctly observe, scrutiny of insiders and financial backers is the core tenet of political transparency. Are you prepared to come clean and reveal your hit list of insiders and financial backers?

Gladly. CC.com's top supporters include:

Renewel Partnerz
Stratt Com
Tides Detergent Canada
Captain D. Pike
Hollyhack Foundation
Hollyhack Farm Inc.
Ohana Partnerz Ltd.
Tydes Initiative Society
Re-Thunk Alberta
Powered Up Canada
FTID Consulting

Hey bc bud:

Anyone ever tell you that smoking too much weed can make you paranoid?

Socialist/progressives all start off with noble intentions and then as reality hits them that they are not smarter and better than the rest of us and there crap, does in fact stink.

That's when they turn to the personality cult thingy to make up for the huge canyon gap between their Peter Pan beliefs and cold, hard reality.

So using public funds to buy a personality cult following is, in their minds, perfectly OK. They deserve it and in their view, we owe it to them.

Gregor can't see how desperate it is to have to buy support. It is just beyond his ability to grasp reality.

This definition of socialism is particularly important in understanding the official ideology of the People's Republic of China.

bc bud! Get it through your head!
It doesn't matter who is funding this website, so long as it is not the taxpayer! It's one thing for Klassen to be paid to set up the mayors website. It not exactly a ridiculous thing to have. But there was nothing like civicscene or citycaucus back then.

If Joel Solomon is funding civicscene then their is no issue. That's fair game.

The only question here is if taxpayers were paying for a one sided smear blog.

We need an independent investigation into this whole sordid affair. The only person who can do this is the minister of municipal government. Where the hell is he in all of this? Why is he so silent. Why has nobody in the media asked them for their opinion?

We need a little bid of leadership here that we're not getting from 12th and Cambie. Please will somebody from the province step forward to save us the agony of multiple posts on this subject.

You forgot Hulk Hoggan...

" reveal your hit list of insiders and financial backers?" This is a non-sequitir. Do you you mean " reveal your insiders and financial backers so they can be put on Vision's hit list"?

"Hollyhack". You're welcome.

Gosh will someone resign already and help put this sordid affair to bed already. Mike Magee would be a good first start.

Don't forget that Robertson spent almost $250000 to design that nice green city logo on the cd. Wow is this ever original. A fancy V. Yet they can't find the funding to keep the Stanley park zoo open. Their budget was cut by $250K this year.

Yes, I said this to Aaron Jasper last year and thought for a moment (entirely implausibly of course) that he was going to land one on me!

Meanwhile the Bloedel, which seemed to have been saved by associating with the Van Dusen Gardens, is once more under threat from the Parks Board. Wrong choice of saviour, maybe?

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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