A costly Olympic etiquette handbook got Vision Vancouver in hot water again
For years Vancouver City Hall may have been a dull place prone to discussing "mundane" issues such as potholes and building permits - but no longer. Ever since COPE's Larry Campbell became the mayor, Vancouver City Hall has never been the same. As a result, many of the stories emanating from 12th and Cambie have made for good television.
In part two of our series looking back at some the tv stories coming out of silly hall, we've compiled another impressive list of issues headlining the 6 o'clock news. Once again, sit back with a fresh bowl of popcorn and enjoy.
David "Carbon" Cadman Travel Controversy: We've documented numerous times on this blog how COPE councillor David "carbon" Cadman used tax dollars to fly around the world. He looked particularly bad in this story as his Vision colleague Tim Stevenson hung him out to dry when CTV began asking them tough questions about their travel expenses. Leah Hendry's story is a keeper.
Effin NPA Hacks: GlobalTV's Marisa Thomas reports on the video which caught Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver colleagues making insulting remarks about citizens who raised concerns about one of the Mayor's motions. It's now seen as one of the key turning points in the Mayor's plummeting popularity.
Heat Shelters Anger Residents: Mayor Gregor is not known for wanting to consult with local citizens. This was clearly evident by the way he introduced his HEAT shelters into some downtown Vancouver neighbourhoods. This initiative didn't go over very well with a number of people who pushed back and eventually forced the Mayor to back down. Sophie Lui reports on community reaction to the HEAT shelters fiasco. Meanwhile Stephen Smart from CTV News also covers this story for his viewers. Grace Ke of Global TV also weighed in on this controversy.
Vancouver City Smile Guide: In was a story that also brought a few smiles to the staff at CityCaucus towers in Vancouver. GlobalTV reports on a costly protocol guide that was intended to help staff better understand how to behave when Olympic dignitaries arrived in town. Check out the black and white 1950's footage...nice touch.
Burrard Bridge Crumbling: While Mayor Gregor speeds ahead and commits millions of dollars on new separated bike lanes, some older infrastructure is crumbling. GlobalTV's Rumina Daya reports how the Burrard Bridge is crumbling and big chunks of concrete are falling on the sidewalk below. GlobalTV also did a follow up story on this one whereby city crews started installing nets to catch the falling concrete.
Olympic Private Parties: GlobalTV Marisa Thomas digs into a story broken by CityCaucus.com about Vancouver House. Who was invited and why? The Freedom of Information request shows all the names of guests blacked out. Where is the openness and transparency?
Red Light Robertson: CBC News in Vancouver explores a front page story that appeared in The Province newspaper regarding Mayor Gregor running a red light on his bike. A bus operator said Mayor Gregor almost ended up hitting her vehicle. Footage from our popular cyclist video was also used in the story.
Curtis Brick dies needlessly: He was homeless and died needlessly in an East Vancouver park on a hot summer day as local residents sat by idly by. The death of Curtis Brick helped trigger some policy changes at City Hall regarding how they handle heat advisories. Check out Ted Field's coverage of this tragedy.
Legions won't get a tax break: After Vision Vancouver dined out on the issue of war veterans when they were in opposition, it was strange to see Mayor Gregor's reaction to a request by the Billy Bishop Legion. They were struggling for cash and asked City Hall to give them a break on their $20,000 property tax bill...but they were told no. Peter Grainger explores why Vancouver isn't prepared to help its veterans.
$149,000 new carpets: Another story questioning the priorities of Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision colleagues as GlobalTV's Jane Carrigan delves into some more costly Vancouver City Hall renos. The City's budget chair incorrectly states these costly renos were never brought before council for a vote. Oops.
Another no-bid contract: GlobalTV's Marisa Thomas uncovers more questionable and wasteful spending by Mayor Gregor Robertson's office. This time $50,000 was spent on political insiders FD Element, who work with Robertson's Vision Vancouver party as well as getting City contracts. Problem is, Robertson says he doesn't know who they are.
Sneak Peek into Olympic Village: Our very own Mike Klassen works with CTV's Shannon Patterson as they take the first look behind the scenes at the new Olympic Village development. The project eventually was forced into receivership.
Canada Line Sneak Peek: It may not have made the 6 o'clock news, but Mike's behind-the-scenes video of the new Canada Line was a big hit with over 10,000 views. Mike provides our readers with a look at what they can expect when the new rapid transit line finally opens later that year.
Constance Barnes Drinking & Driving: Reports began trickling out about a public official who drove their vehicle into an eastside home in Vancouver. As it turns out it was Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes. CTV's Stephen Smart reports on the controversy regarding who was paying for her alcohol counseling.
Developer save taxes: Mike Klassen is interviewed by GlobalTV's Ron Bencze regarding how some developers are converting their properties to "community gardens" to reduce their property taxes bill. Questions are being raised if this should be stopped given the City's terrible fiscal situation.
Where 2 Be for Free Guide: A number of mainstream media begin covering our popular Olympic Games Where 2 Be for Free guide. Robin Stickely of GlobalTV was one of the first reporters to let their viewers know about all the free events that would be taking place during the Games.Theresa Lalonde from CBC Vancouver also reported out on this emerging story.
Robertson defends free Olympic Tix: While everyone else has to line up to buy Olympic tix, civic politicians in Vancouver are on the hot seat for all their taxpayer purchased freebies. Mayor Gregor has to defend the purchase. Robertson's initial response to GlobalTV's Rumina Daya is absolutely brutal. Watch His Worship fumble his way through this one.
Penny's "drop in the bucket" comment: Vancouver city council decides to spend $34,000 on a private party for staff who worked at the Olympic Games. In response, City Manager Penny Ballem puts her foot in mouth when she tells GlobalTV not to worry about the expense at its just a "drop in the bucket". We don't make this stuff up...take a look at the video.
Robertson's Mid-term review: Ted Field over at GlobalTV reports on what the Mayor's critics are saying about his term in office so far. He interviews both Mike Klassen and a Vision insider Doug MacArthur to get their perspective.
Olympic Housing for Unionized Workers: GlobalTV Ron Bencze has a look at the new social housing component of the Olympic Athlete's Village in Southeast False Creek, and looks at the challenge the city faces with rentals going to so-called "first responders" like police and teachers.
Bike lanes and lack of consultation: CTV BC's Lisa Rossington talks with people directly affected by the new rush to expand bike lanes, and widespread concerns over the lack of consultation.
Arts community lose out on $700,000: When local philanthropist Abraham Rogatnick left part of his estate to the arts community, he had hoped it could produce dividends. An attempt to subdivide his property and transfer the increase in value to the arts community failed after Vision Vancouver voted no. GlobalTV was the only mainstream media outlet to report on this story.
Olympic Village Sales Slow: Questions are being asked if whether Vision Vancouver permanently "tainted" the Athlete's Village project and it is now leading to slow sales. Other factors such as variations of the suite plans are causing some buyers to back out of their deals. GlobalTV reports on this emerging story.
Viaducts Study Questioned: Vision Vancouver's Geoff Meggs has pushed for the removal of the Georgia & Dunsmuir Viaducts for months and now his council colleagues have approved a study on how to get rid of this vital transportation corridor once and for all. Is it all just a fait accompli? Then why spend $300,000 on a study? GlobalTV reports on this story.
Bike lane backlash: In an arrogant and shortsighted attempt to placate its bicycle lobby supporters, the Vision Vancouver government directed staff to put up barricades along several key residential streets. The move has resulted in frustration and could well result in injury of fatality. GlobalTV reportson community reaction to the move. Here is some raw video shot by CityCaucus.com.
Seawall Project Controversy: GlobalTV reporter Brian Coxford reports on a measure to use Federal stimulus funding to buy granite blocks for Vancouver's iconic seawall from China. Local business people and workers are outraged that cheap products from overseas were being chosen over local suppliers.
Embattled Mayor Robertson: A GlobalTV BC Insight featuring the problem plagued Mayor of Vancouver and a host of issues that have raised concerns for the taxpaying public. A pair of reports by Rumina Daya and John Daly.
Vision Blogger Scandal: GlobalTV BC's Marisa Thomas reports on the blogger controversy dogging Mayor Gregor Robertson's office, and their hiring of FD Element, who in turn hired a pro-Vision Vancouver blogger. Thomas interviews a former FD Element contractor who has his voice disguised.
Olympic Village in Receivership: Only days after CityCaucus tweeted out about possible financial problems about to break at the Olympic Village, all hell broke loose. GlobalTV were the first to report that the project was going into receivership...then other stories followed.
Olympic Village a "ghost town": CTV News Shannon Paterson and a fine report on the troubled state of Vancouver's Olympic Village housing development. Businesses are delaying their involvement, homes are not selling, and now the Provincial partner in the social housing is rejecting the non-profit applicants. Seeing Paterson in an empty village square was just eery. The City loses $317,000 in lost rent each month the 250 units sit vacant.
Hornby bike lane consultation a sham: City council approves the Hornby bike line after a marathon meeting that appears to have been a waste of time. Crews were in place mere hours after the vote.GlobalTV interviews Suzanne Anton who says council had already made their mind up before the consultation. Councillor Geoff Meggs if left defending the decision. We should also note GlobalTV's story on Vision's "cheeky" promotional campaign. They made up t-shirts saying "Bike Lanes Make Me Hornby".
City Grants Being Questioned: GlobalTV's Marisa Thomas reports on the $20 million shortfall facing the City of Vancouver in their 2011 budget. Mayor Gregor Robertson says he doesn't "think" that he's misspent taxpayers' money, but Coun. Suzanne Anton asks if we should be paying for a conference created by one of the Mayor's principle donors.
Hornby Bike Lane Update: Vancouver's separated bike lanes went up fast, but the complexity of the new signaling system has required extra help from flag people to avoid accidents. GlobalTV reports that businesses says shoppers are giving their stores a pass.
Vancouver Council Catfight: It may not have been reported by the mainstream media, but this video is one of our favourites. In an interesting but typical exchange between members of Vancouver city council, Coun. David Cadman amends an appointment motion to appoint himself to a Metro Vancouver committee, setting off a reaction from Coun. Tim Stevenson with a bit of Coun. Suzanne Anton thrown in just for fun.
It should be noted that despite all this bad press (we haven't even posted up all the radio stuff), Mayor Gregor steadfastly supports his current communications team. However, we've also been told that many of the backroom NPA types are hoping Robertson sticks to his guns and doesn't make any personnel changes until at least the next election. This will truly be an interesting year in civic politics in Vancouver. Hang on to your hats.