An invoice to FD Element Agency to pay for the development of civicscene.ca
Perhaps the announcement this week of the finalists for the Webster Awards for Journalism has distracted them, but a potentially scandalous story involving the office Mayor Gregor Robertson has not caught the attention of the mainstream media – yet.
Yesterday, we described how a series of documents had been made public which showed how Vision Vancouver favoured marketing communications firm FD Element in an unusual business transaction with Gregor Robertson's Chief of Staff Mike Magee. The initial documents linked below showed:
- FD Element proposing to redesign and build Gregor Robertson's "About" page on the City of Vancouver website for $14,500
- A counter-proposal by Mike Magee which doubled the price for the project to $27,500
- An October 2009 invoice from FD Element to the Mayor's office for $27,500, a remittance to be paid to the company's New York head office. The invoice is not itemized and simply describes the job as "Mayor Gregor Robertson's 'About' Page"
These first documents raise a few eyebrows because of the puzzing increase in the payment to FD Element, the vague scope of work, and the lack of an itemized invoice. However, it's the second set of documents that are considerably more incriminating. Through them we learn that:
- Pro-Vision blogger and sometimes Vancouver Sun editorialist Jonathon Ross has been on FD Element's payroll since the spring of 2009, and remained on retainer with FD Element to conduct so-called "conversation mining"
- FD Element paid for the design and construction Ross' civicscene.ca website which aims its venom at any critic of Mayor Robertson and Vision Vancouver
- FD Element pays the cost of civicscene.ca's web hosting through a sub-contractor "TommyMedia"
Contacted by media, FD Element Vancouver boss Don Millar acknowledged that Ross was working for them. Mike Magee verified earlier this week that he indeed signed off on the $27,500 contract for Mayor Robertson's blog and "other services as may be required".
Following this evidence linked above comes a fair question for Mayor Robertson and his aides: have taxpayers paid for Jonathon Ross to conduct his online political attacks on those who oppose the Mayor and Vision Vancouver?
For those who've bothered to look at civicscene.ca, you'll know that the rhetoric is not just aimed at us here at CityCaucus.com. Ross regularly directs his invective at Coun. Suzanne Anton and the COPE caucus at City Hall, both Coun. Ellen Woodsworth and Coun. David Cadman. He's also thrown darts at Park Commissioners Ian Robertson from the NPA and Stuart Mackinnon of the Green Party.
Perhaps one of the worst examples of threatening personal smear I've witnessed in Vancouver politics was this post by civicscene.ca attacking West End activist and card-carrying Vision Vancouver member Randy Helten.
Those who have followed the fuss in Vancouver's West End around the STIR developments, know that Helten has been a formidable leader in the campaign opposing these proposed buildings. Helten, a father and a husband, has been a level-headed and dogged opponent of a project that is widely describe as a huge mistake among people in the development community and the West End at large.
Ross in his role as Vision Vancouver defender and mouthpiece targeted Helten by listing off where several of Randy's family members live in the community adjacent to the proposed STIR development. Ross writes:
...here are a few questions for Randy Helten, the man who alls anyone outside of his perception of what a typical West End resident constitutes a “stereotype” and according to one predictable website, “the person who is spearheading with his community the opposition to the recent STIR developments”:
Do you have a family member who owns property across the street from the 22-storey high-rise rental apartment tower on the site of St John’s Church at 1401 Comox Street?
Also, does another family member of yours own a penthouse unit above the TD bank on Bidwell and Davie, which is across the street from a proposed 19-story tower?
Finally, do you own a property adjacent to the Comox proposal?
And, if any of these facts are true, don’t you think that you have a responsibility to disclose them as at least part (but not all, of course) of the reasoning behind your opposition to the STIR developments going up in the West End?
I anxiously await a response.
If Vision Vancouver will stoop to tactics like this, where they'll create a dossier on someone that they'll gladly divulge to stab their opponents in the heart, it's also fair to ask another question...
What lengths will this organization take to suppress those who disagree with them?
Furthermore, if previous Mayor Sam Sullivan had been similarly caught in these kinds of transactions out of the Mayor's office, would the media reaction be similarly tepid as it has been on this story so far?
- post by Mike. Full credit to blogger Alex G. Tsakumis for accessing and publishing the documents shared here.