Will we ever know who really controls Vision's secret blogosphere command bunker?
It sure has been a busy week in civic politics. It was so busy, that Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee took a few minutes out of his holiday time (he's actually doing some home renos) to post a great summary about how nutty it has been at 12th and Cambie as we head into the all important nomination season. It was a comprehensive post which touched upon almost everything except for a diatribe from former Vision mayoral candidate Al DeGenova who was in the media dumping all over his former party this week. It's clear the controversy over whether the Mayor's office had anything to do with a pro-Vision blog has set off a storm of discussion online. Meanwhile over at Frances Bula's blog, some of the usual suspects who come to Vision's defence appear to have been caught off guard by Mayor Gregor's remarks on communism and the recent blogger invoices controversy.
Our team is busy this weekend doing research on several new brown envelopes we've received, so we thought we'd try something different. Starting today we've created a new category called CityCaucus Redux that will feature some of our best posts that new readers may have missed, or longtime readers may not recollect.
With all the discussion this week focusing on a particular pro-Vision blogger, we thought it might be interesting to re-publish a two part series we did in 2009 on Kevin Quinlan, the Mayor's Director of Communications.
If you recall, Quinlan formerly ran a blog called Vancouver Kid when the NPA was in government. It took pot shots at NPA/COPE and pretty much anyone Quinlan didn't like. Don't try finding the blog on Google as the site was taken down around the time Quinlan took on his new post. However, lucky for you CityCaucus.com kept a digital file of all the entries.
As you can see from the following post, the Mayor's staff have understood the power of the Internet and blogging long before a certain someone showed up on the civic scene. Hope you enjoy our re-posts from last year.
Kids say the darndest things. But when that "kid" now works as Mayor Gregor Robertson's top media spinmeister, a few more people sit up and take notice. Prior to taking on his patronage post as Mayor Gregor Robertson's right-hand guy, twenty-something Kevin Quinlan ran a blog which relentlessly took pot shots at Sam Sullivan, his NPA colleagues and members of the COPE party. For over two years, the blogger known as "Vancouver Kid" used his posts to help get his Vision Vancouver chums elected.
The Vancouver Kid blog could easily be characterized as a "Three P" – it was personal, pointed and partisan. When Quinlan took on his job as chief media liaison in the Mayor's office, the contents of his blog were cleansed from the Internet. Well, not so fast, Kevin.
We're doing so to provide our readers with a better sense of who is working behind the scenes in the Mayor's office. We also published a Know Your Donor item on Mike Magee, Chief of Staff to the Mayor.
What follows are a series of excerpts from Quinlan's blog. It will be up to our readers to decide whether these types of comments will make it easier for Mayor Robertson to build better relations with Victoria or with the media.
Take for example what the Mayor's aide said last year about BC's Housing Minister Rich Coleman. Remember that Coleman, unlike Robertson, is the guy who's actually investing big bucks toward the effort to end homelessness:
I basically chalk it up to the fact that BC Liberals go crazy with the fact that a successful entrepeneur could also be progressive - and not buy into Gordo's golden decade bs. And with Carole and Olga leaving the good ship Liberal, that government caucus is weak weak weak. With ministers like Coleman and Falcon, it's like the province is being run by the Canucks, if the Canucks consisted entirely of Donald Brashear. - Feb 24, 2008
The Mayor's media guy then takes direct aim at Kevin Falcon, BC's current Minister of Health and one of the senior members of the government caucus:
Kevin Falcon strikes me as a 4-year old boy in a sandbox trapped inside the Minister of Transportation's body: he really, really likes cars and trucks and loud machines, and wants to kick down everything in his path to push his shiny yellow tonka truck through. Mar 5th, 2007
So you think the relationship between Vancouver's business community and the new Vision government is too cozy? Perhaps it will be less chummy after they read this nugget by Quinlan –
Going back to the Board of Trade:
"Chief Graham is the model for what a police chief should be," Dave Park, spokesman for the Vancouver Board of Trade, said in a recent interview.
I liked Graham, but I don't know if model is the word I'd use....what with the whole refusing to believe any complaints, the target model with bullet holes, etc. But this type of stuff should be expected from the same group that calls on the provincial government to use all surplus money to pay down the debt, then starts crying that there's too many homeless people on the street and can't figure out why. With geniuses like these, it looks like the Board of Trade and the APC [Anti-Poverty Committee] have a lot more in common than they realized. - Mar 31, 2007
As for the media, Quinlan pulls no punches when he goes after some of BC's news heavyweights. He makes some rather interesting comments about Canwest, and in particular BC's second largest circulation daily The Province newspaper:
As some people who have read past posts know, I'm no fan of The Province newspaper. Jan 22,2007
Is Vancouver's media really that biased? Do they all have a hidden agenda to get all those right-wingers into office? What does Quinlan think?
What we basically have in Vancouver is a mainstream media that is slowly paving the way for the transition of a fiscally conservative but more media friendly/leadership-filled candidate to replace an underwhleming Mayor. Get those Canwest thank you cards ready, Peter Ladner. Jan 22,2007
Quinlan also has a few choice words for those grumpy old Canwest columnists and reporters who are so old skool. Kevin sez, put down your canes and get blogging!
There are some good blogs that came out in the last month that anyone reading this should check out. Although some of their older canwest colleagues are struggling to grasp the concept that you can do more than just post articles you published in the paper on your blog, Frances Bula and Chris Montgomery have some really interesting blogs on the city scene. Dec 20,2007
Quinlan goes on to point out that The Vancouver Sun newspaper is no bastion of NDP support:
The Province says something like "people blame the Liberals, but acutally, the NDP -" Surprisingly no! But the Sun still found a way to get some digs in at the NDP: - Apr 5, 2007
Do you remember that multi-millionaire Greg Kerfoot offered to build a waterfront stadium in Vancouver at no cost to the city? Well, the Mayor's right-hand guy had his own thoughts on his project. Not only does he think that BC Place stadium should be torn down, he comments on Kerfoot's plans:
The ideal situation of course, is that the dome be torn down and let Greg Kerfoot build his mega-stadium there. Anybody who has been to a Lions game in the summer knows how much it sucks, because watching football indoors in August ain't too pleasant. And BC Place isn't exactly the most beautiful of buildings, now is it? It's main purpose is to provide a giant cover for mega-events where no one cares about quality of sound or comfort (see Stones, The Rolling). But of course, there is no way this could happen because of Olympic time constraints, and the fact that Kerfoot would rather have the waterfront stadium so he can develop the surrounding areas to build condos to cover the cost of building a stadium for free. Jan 8, 2007
Vision have been accused of politicizing the public service since they took office last December. A number of professional public servants have bailed on them over the last 6 months. Let's see what Kevin thinks about having a non-partisan public service:
I'd argue that this stems from Vancouver's still-imbedded-but-painfully-outdated notion of civic government as non-partisan and being solely concerned with efficiency and delivering services. Why does the Mayor need staff when the bureaucracy makes all the policy ecisions, right? June 21, 2007
Quinlan also provides us with some insight into one of the policies he supports – free bus service. I wonder if he's spoken to TransLink about that?
Just got back from a class trip to Seattle, where once again I had it pounded into my head that Vancouver is way behind in the times. Free buses in downtown Seattle. How long do we have to wait until Robson and Davie buses are free? June 19,2007
During the 2009 budget, Vision passed a motion supporting a shift of taxes from big businesses to residential homeowners. It translated into a 2% tax hit on the average residential property owner. What does Kevin think about the tax shift policy adopted by the Vision caucus?
As far as the numbers crunching goes, I want to sink my teeth into the business tax shift. So business had 2% shifted onto residential, which works out to 4% for homeowners. now we all know that this was to help small businesses. But if I run a deli and you own the GAP on Robson, and we both get a 2% property tax decrease, who saves more money? So the money that the GAP, HMV or Chapters saves in property taxes is transferred onto homeowners. This is fiscal management? Me thinks not. - June 11, 2007
What needs to be created is some sort of tax classification that separates the GAP on Robson from the Vietnamese bakery across the street from my apartment. Because a 2% shift provides a hell of a lot more help to one of those businesses, and I don't think it should be the one dealing with 7 figure profits from a single store. - Apr 25, 2007
Clearly there is no love lost between Quinlan and his new found friends in COPE. If you recall, it was COPE that actually propelled Vision into office by not running a mayoral candidate and avoiding a split in the left wing vote. You'd never know that by some of the snippy remarks he posted on his blog:
First Fred Bass announces he is going to run for Mayor, without telling Cadman. Then COPE announces it is going to send a letter to Vision, without telling Vision. Did these guys go to the 13-year-old girl school of management? What's with all the pseudo secrets and press leaking? It looks like Hillary Duff is chairing COPE's Exec meetings. Jan 29,2007
So two of the most progressive ideologues our city ever had, Anne Roberts and Ellen Woodsworth, came to city hall to complain about how dare Heather Deal, Suzanne Anton, and all the other women-haters on council endorse the Federation of Canadian Municipalities motion that calls for Canada to aim towards women making up 30% of all public officials by 2026...
Progressive? Or just living in a fantasy world? You decide. Jan 9,2007
I haven't written anything in a while due to the fact that I was scrambling to get work done last week to go battle some Trotsky-ites at the BC YND in Victoria this weekend. Being able to hang out with my social democrat friends was fun as always...Jan 29,2007
After last week's pathetically ineffective protest at the unveiling of the Olympic Clock, the APC has reached new lows for just how incompetent they are. Feb 19, 2007
The parks board is not the GVRD. Spencer Herbert only has one vote. He cannot tip the aquarium outcome through the power of his magical 20 votes, as some left-wing luddites seem to think. - Dec 13, 2006
Despite all Quinlan's attacks on the media, we do note with some irony that he was a bit "easy" on the CBC. Not sure why?
You can continue your reading enjoyment by visiting our new Vancouver Kid Archives at www.CityCaucus.com/vancouverkid.
On a side note, I thought I'd share with you a comment from Frances Bula of the Globe and Mail posted on her blog regarding how bloggers/commenters conduct themselves today compared to the past:
@Tom. Does it really not occur to you that what is happening now is at a much different level than back in the day when beginning, sporadic bloggers like Vancouver Kid (aka Kevin), David Berner, Jamie Lee Hamilton, and Walter Schultz were the main commentators on the civic scene, none of whom the MSM made note of. Their blogs were not daily, dedicated blogs with two-screen posts plus video and audio; they were not phoning up local media to get the stories on their blogs into MSM; they were not attempting to break stories at all, but were simply offering comments on things going on; they did not go after journalists that I can recall; and they (and their commenters, of which there were only a few) were not at the level of spitting, foaming-at-the-mouth vitriol that occasionally appears today.
Tune in tomorrow for Part II of our our Vancouver Kid blog post replay. Now back to all those brown envelopes.