Mayor Gregor won't answer questions on Carlene Robbins dismissal

Post by Mike Klassen in


CTV catches up with Gregor, and he claims he doesn't know what's up

We have to commend the work of several of Vancouver's media, who sensing that Gregor Robertson has something to hide on the matter of the Pandora Street fire which resulted in three deaths, are trying to make him more accountable.

At a ribbon cutting event held Saturday in east Vancouver, Robertson was button-holed by CTV and CKNW news who wanted to ask him why he wouldn't talk about the sudden departure of a 38-year veteran employee. Remember that it has been a full 48 hours since the story about Robbins' departure first broke on And don't forget that media sat outside his office on Thursday while he remained locked up in a food policy meeting.

So you think that the Mayor might be fully briefed on what happened with Robbins, right? Well, the awkward response from Robertson in this media scrum – see video – indicates either Robertson has either been deliberately kept in the dark, or he is playing dumb.

When it comes to tough questions, it's clear that the strategy of Roberton's handlers is to keep him in the bubble at all costs. Robertson's furrowed brow and deer-in-the-headlights expression is becoming a fixture of City Hall politics. Of course, it has been "caught on tape" many times before, as in these previous episodes:

On the subject of Carlene Robbins, you can guarantee that Penny Ballem is working feverishly to secure a buy-out with a gag clause with Robbins. Carlene is no doubt holding out for the most she can get in exchange for keeping her mouth shut.

But if Vancouver city council is at all sincere about conducting a coroner's inquest to investigate what happened on Pandora Street, then Mayor Robertson would state publicly that he will not support a gag clause for Robbins. In order to get to the bottom of what really happened on that evening where three men died in flames, Robbins needs to be able to speak freely.

What we are seeing is a casebook example of how NOT to deal with a controversy. Gregor Robertson, had he been willing to lead, would have ignored advice to hide behind the curtain on the Pandora Street matter. Instead he just looks foolish.

- post by Mike


He was kept in the dark and he is dumb.

Tuesday morning at 9:30 speakers are scheduled to speak to City Council on the Pandora Street issue...

should make for a very interesting morning for the Mayor..

He's Gregor, and that keeps him busy.

It was also a sad day for Vancouver a week ago Thursday when Councillor Anton's Pandora fire motion was approved. A well spoken gentleman said he was going to take his 5 minutes at Council to speak about the lives of the 3 men lost in the Pandora fire, and he did eloquently. He ended by asking for a minute of silence to honour these men in death. It was a moving moment in the Chamber.

A few minutes later the Mayor spoke to the motion for several minutes. He made no mention whatsoever to offer condolences on behalf of the people of Vancouver to the families of these men. It was an appropriate opportunity, but he said nothing.

Then, Clr. Anton tried to read a lengthy, beautifully written email she had received from Mr. Yellowquill's mother, Clr. Reimer, in the Chair cut her off half way through because Clr. Anton's 5 minutes of speaking time were up. Mrs. Yellowquill quite obviously wanted to speak to someone at the City. Fortunately she had an exchange with Clr. Anton. From her words she needed such a connection and support.

The truly sad thing is it has not come from the Mayor, who in situations such as this should speak on behalf of all Vancouverites.

@ Bill

That lovely gentleman was Frank Kurz I have taken the liberty of posting an old interview with an anonymous source and Frank Kurz from the website of Alex Tsakumis....words that come back to haunt..

"One city source, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity said:

“Alex, information from both outside and inside sources confirms that “budget” reasoning for electrical staff cuts, which was also the reason given for Ark’s dismissal is utterly, blatantly false. A lie concocted to convince council to approve selective targeted position elimination. References from these sources indicate that fees from electrical permits over the past several years have provided for ample department funds. So much so that close to fifty percent would be considered more than sufficient to cover the electrical department’s salary needs. A clarification must be made where one would expect most accountants to acknowledge that unusual activity, such as an Olympic Games construction boom, would alter a general trend.

But that trend is that the electrical department has steadily garnered fees on an increasing yearly basis and, this is the point to take note of, they have seen massive profits from at least 2005 0n–2009 included! Management though, prefers to use scare tactics by quoting selective numbers by referencing that last year was significantly less than the previous. Well, hello!!! Duh??? Are they spending as if the Olympic boom would have continued? How careless have these expenditures been? It is a clear message to…that the electrical department has been targeted to shoulder an unwarranted staff reduction. If this is an example of how the city does its accounting you might wonder what the real numbers are for other departments and where their past surpluses have been spent”

To make matters worse, I can also confirm that the man hired to replace Arkady Tsisserev, is having his qualifications as (Chief) City Electrician questioned by fellow electrical inspectors and respected life safety experts. One such expert is Frank Kurz, who runs the Fire Technicians Network. Mr. Kurz has been following the brewing storm over Mr. Tsisserev’s firing, and has provided his perspective, here, on his own website.

As Mr. Kurz states:

“Sources within the City have told this writer that morale in the Department is at an all-time low with the leadership, professionalism, and knowledge which Ark Tsisserev brought to the position of City Electrician and Chief Electrical Inspector noticeably absent. As previously reported, Will Johnston (a structural engineer) has been appointed to fill the void. This leaves the City with an electrical department head who has no formal knowledge of the Canadian Electrical Code and whose ability is severely handicapped when it comes to making informed judgements on applications for variances and deviations. So much so that any such decisions made by Mr. Johnston would, in opinions expressed by concerned industry stakeholders and the engineering community put the public at grave risk. His appointment would also seem to conflict directly with APEGBC’s code of ethics and professional conduct. While he may not appear to be signing off in a professional capacity (in other words misusing his professional seal), the fact remains that as a member in good standing he has sworn to protect the safety of the public. How, you might ask, can he do so when he has no formal electrical training and wouldn’t know a three-phase converter from a GFI breaker if he saw both on the counter side-by-side?” (Frank Kurz, Fire Technicians Network, March 8, 2010)

I’m still waiting for Mr. Johnston to call me back and explain his position. That message is now a month old–and you know as well as I do that he won’t be calling.

But maybe the below quote, also from Mr. Kurz’s editorial explains why Mr. Johnston is hiding:

“Ark Tsisserev’s dismissal wasn’t about budgetary restructuring but had everything to do with removing an individual who had demonstrated he was not going to be dazzled or pressured by political imperatives related to Olympic venues where there was a risk to public (or athlete) safety. He didn’t receive the benefit of sixty days’ notice because that would have left him in a position that may have continued to threaten VANOC’s (and the Mayor’s) objectives. His replacement, Will Johnston, who is obviously far more politically astute, understood this and apparently has provided the path of lesser resistance (for Mr. Johnston’s benefit, that’s an electrical term too). Projects were finalized with what amounted to nothing more than a cursory review and this obviously done while crossing his fingers behind his back. It is termed fast tracking in a building permitting policy statement he authored and for which he has now been suitably rewarded at a cost that will eventually (and unfortunately) be paid in blood if allowed to continue (emphasis added).” (Frank Kurz, Fire Technicians Network, March 8. 2010)

Sorry for the length of this post, but I felt it was information well worth hearing again....thanks to AGT archives.... the very last line of this post is chilling....three men paid with their blood...

RIP to the three men that lost their lives... we have not forgotten you, nor will we give up fighting for justice for you....

No apology necessary-it is riveting (Will Johnston knows rivets) reading.

Links to this Editorial (and a number of other articles that relate to this Vision run Council's more reprehensible policies and conduct) can be found at (you may have to copy and paste the link).

I think it's bloody well time someone called for a formal review of the City Manager's Office, the decisions that have lead us to this sad state of affairs as well as to the departures of some of Vancouver's brightest, most outstanding managers and employees. In the words of Desi Arnaz, The Mayor (and Vision) have "some splainin' to do".

Thank you Frank, might I add your comments and moment of silence for the men of Pandora Street was the most touching moment I've ever observed.

I'm sure it brought peace to Mrs. Yellowquill.. it brought tears to my eyes.

On a catty note I must admit I opened my eyes at one point and found the look of discomfort and shock on the Mayors face, the rapid movement of his hands as he tends to do when under stress... quite enjoyable...

The silence in the room spoke volumes...

The Thought of The Night

“Whenever there is an impasse, a matter that requires leadership, whenever time is of the essence, Gregor Robertson tends to Chicken a Little, in layman’s terms he likes to hide. I have socks that do that!”

George, I remember reading that.

One year and three victims later, is there any indication of accountability? Not an iota. For them , a simple game of table tennis with golf balls, between the City Hall PR’s office and the... MSM (a.k.a. Methylsulfonylmethane – a relatively inert chemically compound) :-)

People reading this kind of things tend to look back at them with what we in the trade call...Disbelief. Me on the other hand tend to look at them with what we in the trade call... Distaste. If you kow what I mean!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Get yourself on the speakers list for Tuesday.Phone the City Clerk before noon. 311 will get you there.

I'm humbled by all of your comments and remarks concerning my presentation to Council. Thank you. I spoke with the City Clerk's office this morning and was advised that the Pandora Street issue isn't on the agenda for tomorrow morning. I left my name and number and understand that I will be contacted if there are any changes or it's added to the afternoon session (speakers typically aren't scheduled for afternoon sessions). It would also be nice to get a little more in the way of lead time as I'm booked upwards of a week in advance and making last minute changes can be a pain (I do have to work for a living). :-)

Great post on Pinocchio. Those links at the end really helped a lot. As a reminder...

C'mon. He is playing dumb.

Vancouverites shouldn't trust this guy as far as they can throw him.

When ever Robertson goes into run, duck and hide mode, this plays through my mind:

Posted on CKNW:

She wasn't fired: Mayor
Charmaine de Silva | Email news tips to

Vancouver's Mayor is denying claims a high level official with the City's Property Inspection Department was forced to quit after 38 years on the job.

Gregor Robertson says Carlene Robbins was not fired, despite claims to the contrary allegedly made by some city staffers to civic political blog ""

Robertson says he doesn't know if Robbins' departure had anything to do with the fatal fire at a Pandora street rooming house,"it was her choice to leave...and she was working on that...that was part of her...some of her responsibilities...we look forward to hearing some of those answers soon."

The Mayor calls claims Robbins was given a week to resign or she would be fired "speculation."

Robbins is the fourth high level official to leave city hall since Robertson took office.

Frank if 311 told you that this morning....they better co ordinate their wed site..

I just now cut and pasted this from the city web site

ATTENTION FRANK: I have just spoken to 311, had them check with records office, it was changed on the 26th of January...what cowards these Visionists are!!! None of the registered speakers, except those that were not available to speak on that day had an opportunity to speak..I was told by 311 just now@ 10:38 that the matter has been dealt with....

5. Fatal Fire at 2862 Pandora Street Video Clip of this Item Video Clip of this Item

At its meeting on January 18, 2011, Vancouver City Council referred this matter to the Standing Committee on City Services and Budgets in order to hear from speakers.

The attached motion refers. PDF

Interested parties who requested to speak have been notified.

Charlene Robbin story was posted on January decided on January 26th to remove the topic of Pandora fire from Council agenda....
perhaps we have a clearer picture why Charlene was frustrated.... could there be a connection??

If the Mayor reads this.... and we are pretty sure he does.... why did you do this??

Let the people speak!!!

Check out!

Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement