Excuses for casino public hearing delays not believable

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

8 comments

fire burning.jpg
Where there's a political smokescreen, there's usually fire

It’s a Las Vegas style casino in the heart of downtown Vancouver and it’s causing the governing Vision party major headaches. After first scheduling a public hearing earlier this month, it has now been postponed again to March 7th. According to city staffers, there are well over 125 speakers lined up to rip into the Mayor and his caucus colleagues for “turning Vancouver into Vegas”.

Word is also leaking (ever so slowly) out of the Vision caucus that not all is well in Hollyhockland. The issue of supporting a Vegas-style casino is by no means unanimous. Several sources close to Vision claim the Mayor may not even have the votes necessary to ram this through. If you assume the NPA and COPE will vote against it, it will only take 3 Vision councillors to say nay for this puppy to go down in flames. Heading into an election, it would be a major rebuke of the Mayor and his Chief of Staff if this happened.

The three most likely people to vote against are councillors Andrea Reimer, Kerry Jang and Tim Stevenson. Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, each have a good excuse to be uncomfortable with the Mayor’s plan to expand gambling in Vancouver.

What I find most offensive in this whole debate is the terrible spin coming out of the Mayor’s office that the delays in the public hearing process relate to how many speakers are lined up to attend. Who are they kidding? I’ve worked in the Mayor’s office and know full well the City Clerk’s office is (or at least they were in the past) very capable of handling large crowds.

The reality is these delays have less to do with how many speakers are lined up and more to do with the Mayor’s micromanaging of a very sensitive issue causing small cracks in his coalition. It’s simply a joke for the Mayor’s apparatchiks to try and convince the media (many of whom have been around city hall long enough to see through this bafflegab) the delays are related to how many speakers want to address the issue.

When large numbers of people want to speak to council at a public hearing, normally it goes ahead as planned then is carried over to another night. This process continues until all the speakers have voiced their concerns to the politicians. It’s not unheard of for public hearings to go on for at least several nights. Therefore, spinning out that the public hearing had to be postponed twice due to the volume of speakers is simply not believable. No wonder fellow blogger and G & M contributor Frances Bula referred to all of this as a “mess”.

Based on the volume of calls/emails I’ve been receiving lately, there clearly is a lot of tension both within the Vision caucus and amongst senior staff at the Hall. Reports are trickling out that some major blowups within the senior management ranks of late may result in even more staff calling it quits. If these senior staffers do abandon ship, there is no way City Manager Penny Ballem can claim this is all about staff wanting to spend more time with their grandkids. Not that anyone bought that story in the first place.

As we head toward the November civic election, it’s very likely that stress and tension at Vancouver City Hall will continue to mount. After all, so many of the senior managers are now perceived as Vision operatives that they need the governing party to win this fall in order to help secure long-term employment. The stakes are high as any new administration would likely want to clean house of all senior public servants with clear political links to the current Vision Vancouver party.

Unfortunately, this is what it's come down to now that Mayor Gregor has so politicized the upper ranks of Vancouver City Hall. Needless to say, many of those managers will do whatever it takes to ensure Mayor Gregor and his gang hold on to the reins of power.

Will a new mega casino be the one issue to shake Vision Vancouver to its roots? Given the voting record of this caucus, I’d say it’s unlikely. However, nobody will really know until all the votes are counted and we see who is left standing – or sitting on their hands.

As the saying goes...where there’s a political smokescreen, there’s usually fire. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

- Post by Daniel

8 Comments

Solidarity forever for Vision shall keep us strong.

If City council rejects this proposal will the Province just overide it anyway or will they work behind the scenes and try to elect Councillors who might be more apt to support it in the future.

After postponing yet another public hearing "due to how many speakers were lining up" (not mention the previous city council members also ready to pour water on CasinoGate), Gregor was heard mumbling, "Who are these hacks?"

The Public Hearing is not being delayed. The Public Hearing started on February 17, continued on February 21, and will continue again on February 24. The casino item is last on the (very full) agenda, and they are still hearing speakers on prior items on the agenda. That is why speakers for the casino were told to come March 7. It was to save them from having to sit through several nights, and five other items that they may not be interested in. Get your facts straight.

Gee Wanda,

Why couldn't staff figure that out during the week, when they saw that over 80 people had signed up? Simple math---you know, after you take off your socks to count---should have seen ctaff rescheduling far in advance of that first meeting (the 17th). And certianly when you did a count of the other rezonings coming before the casino.

City Hall changed the date not once, but twice in 24 hours. The meeting was bumoped to th 21st, then to March 7 (Speakers stand at the 125 mark or so right now).

As you yourself know, it really inconveniences taxpaying/voting folks to tell them you are rescheduling---especially when you do it last thing the day before a hearing. Then bump it again the next day. Tends to make them really, really angry.

Someone at City Hall sure sounded shaky (even fearful) having to explain that to callers. Hmmm. Wonder if they were under some kind of political pressure? Nahhhhh...

Folks don't forget that kind of treatment. You know what they say about bad service---they tell 10 folks, who all tell 10 folks, who all tell 10 folks...who then all go out to vote.

I don't disagree with any of that, actually. But your use of the word "you" makes me think that you think I'm staff. Not. Just correcting the statement in the blog which says the casino hearing is delayed because of the number of speakers on the casino item, when it is actually delayed because of the number of speakers on the other items. I know this because I've been watching the beginning of each hearing on the web to see when they might get to the casino matter.

And this just up:

Supporters of new casino speak out
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)

2/24/2011


While Vancouver city councilors consider plans for the expansion of a casino near BC place, several labour, business, tourism and sports teams are lobbying in favour of the mega-project.

The BC Lions, Vancouver Whitecaps, Tourism Vancouver and BC Restaurant Association have joined the Canadian Autoworkers Union and various other unions in saying they support the multi-million dollar development, which includes two hotels, restaurants and retail space.

Earlier this week, a group calling itself 'Vancouver Not Vegas’ announced more than 17-hundred people have signed a petition against the project.

Prominent names on that list include former city councilors George Puil and Peter Ladner, as well as former Expo 86 commissioner Patrick Reid and architect Bing Thom.

Close to 200 speakers are expected to attend a public hearing on March 7th

I have been a resident of Burnaby and New Westminster for over 30 years and feel that Vancouver is my city as well.

It is not right in my opinion that PavCo and Paragon Gaming were granted the original development without greater public hearing. The threat of expansion or else indicates the assumption of agreement. Where is the backbone of those who negotiated this project?

I do NOT support my Vancouver being sold to tourists as having Western Canada's largest gambling palace. We have a city to be proud of and I want it to continue.

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