More coverage on Furlong's slap at Mayor Gregor

Post by Mike Klassen in

48 comments


GlobalTV BC leads a third newscast in a row on 'Patriot Hearts' – watch video

As one person I know who closely follows city politics said to me tonight, "There's no chance now that Gregor can mention the Olympic Village ever again and not have it come back on him like a bad piece of pork." He can thank Vancouver's former Olympic boss for that.

When you see the latest coverage by GlobalTV it's hard to imagine how Mayor Gregor Robertson will ever live down the comments by "St. John" Furlong, former VANOC CEO. As we discussed on Saturday, an advanced copy of Furlong's book co-authored by Webster award winning columnist Gary Mason – Patriot Hearts – had Furlong condemning Robertson for his reckless politicking on the Olympic Village. It's estimated that Gregor's actions have cost taxpayers between $50 million & $200 million in value on the project.

Furlong also described how Gregor was "freaking out" about not being a part of the ceremony in Olympia, Greece. Apparently someone persuaded Robertson that he had to be there. The way Furlong described it, the Mayor was simply trying to getting a little more publicity for himself at the expense of Olympic protocol guidelines arranged well before the event.

The story has become a battle of reputations – is Furlong's frank talk more credible, or Robertson's self-defense? In his Sunday interview with GlobalTV's Darlene Heidemann Robertson does not deny Furlong's claims, but he hardly looks proud of what John has said.

What Robertson does say is that his goal was to be "transparent" with the financing details of the Olympic Village. But that rule only seemed to apply when the NPA were running the City. When even more secret deal-making was happening on the Village and the project had gone into default, it took a report by GlobalTV last September to expose what Robertson and Penny Ballem were up to.

Some have remarked that the troubled project on Southeast False Creek has taken down two governments – COPE in 2005 and the NPA in 2008. Will the disastrous politicking around the Olympic Village be the undoing of Vision Vancouver in 2011? We'll know about nine months from today.

UPDATE: Controversy continues to swirl around the 2010 Games as the one-year anniversary of the lighting of the cauldron in Vancouver approaches. Emails revealed by Globe & Mail and CBC show discussions were happening regarding the safety of the Whistler luge track prior to the fatal accident involving Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili.

- post by Mike

48 Comments

Quoting "St John" Furlong:

"An athlete gets badly injured or worse and I think the case could be made we were warned and did nothing," Furlong wrote in an email on March 24, 2009.

And after the incident:

“It’s not something I prepared for, or ever thought I would have to be prepared for,” he is widely quoted as saying after Kumaritashvili’s death.

Hmmmmm......

Robertson wanted to be 'Transparent'?? Hah!

the email was almost a year in advance of the terrible tragedy. I would ask the following questions:
1) at that stage of preparation, what sort of modifications would have been possible to remove the concern?
2) who ultimately was responsible to decide the safety of the track - VANOC or the Luge Federation?
3) dangerous, safe - both relative terms. Was due diligence done? Was VANOC and John Furlong personally responsible in isolation or is the IOC, and the various Federations also responsible.

I realize there is far more political mileage to be had by heaping this all on VANOC but I highly doubt that they had total control over the decisions.

How did I know the chief Vision deflector would be the first person to try to smear John Furlong?

Here's another quote for you boohoo "you cannot open the Olympic Games unless the sports tell you the track is ready, that it's safe, and the athletes will have a complete experience on it. Once that's done our people can open the track."

VANOC built the track, however they are not the experts. The FIL signed off on this track. That organization is comprised of experts in the field. Furlong trusted their opinion on the matter.

No boohoo, the 'smoking gun' email proves nothing. In the initial stages there were concerns. Changes were requested and made. So of course he would not be prepared for the death of an athlete. He thought (based on expert advice) the track was safe.

Paul,

I would address your point, but seeing as you insist on calling me a 'vision' deflector (in a thread that has nothing to do with politics no less), you've clearly never read (or understood) anything I've written. So I'm not inclined to bother wasting time discussing it with you.

Question for you and anyone else though. Where does the 'buck stop' as they say?

Well seeing as Vancouver agreed to be host city. I suppose (by your theory) the buck stops in the mayor's office. As the leader of the host city he should have known there was a problem with one of the sites.

Oh wait sorry, HRH King Gregor could never be accused of wrongdoing.

Paul,

Are you trying to argue (I'm trying to not laugh here) that the mayor of Vancouver is the final authority for a luge track in Whistler?

Really?

Gregor Robertson is such a fraud. Claims to be the boy next door but he's one of the most manipulative politicians we've ever seen at Vancouver City Hall. The sooner we get rid of him the better. Election can't come soon enough.

not political- LOL... whatever you say boohoo.

where does the buck stop? The IOC, VANOC, The Luge Federation and the athlete himself.

In this conversation, we don't know what was done to the track in light of the March 2009 email - do we? Obviously, someone was satisfied enough with due diligence to release an insurance cheque.

It's no more of a stretch then trying to say it falls into John Furlong's lap.

I really don't expect any more from a Vision Deflector though. Vision smeared the athlete's village to get elected. Now that Furlong is on the record as saying Mayor Robertson was difficult to deal with and made things worse, I knew the Vision machine would ramp up to try to smear and discredit him.

Fact is Furlong and his team were responsible for putting on one of the most successful Winter Olympics ever. Canadians showed a new sense of pride in their country that was never seen before. And no amount of politicking can take that away from us.

Deflect away boohoo, but the truth is the Olympics didn't happen with the help of Gregor and Vision. It happened DESPITE the continual problems with the Mayor and City Hall.

Paul,

You won't answer this but I'm going to ask anyway.

Please provide evidence of me supporting vision or deflecting for them. Go ahead.

You can start where I call gregor a tool and the entire party system in local politics a joke. I know most party backers start with that position.

Julia,

The buck stops at 4 different locations? Come on, where does it end.

I Agree wholeheartedly with Julia here - the buck does stop at four different places - at the very least. You have several athletic organizations with different layers of jurisdiction (IOC, Luge Federation) that measure things such as course design and safety, using differing standards. You then have a local organizing committee (VANOC) whose business is the production of the games and are NOT experts in any individual sports, and therefore cannot interpret what constitutes a safe course except by relying on what they are told by experts. VANOC has to rely on the advice they are receiving (which the paper trail should be for).

Those are three different layers. Then, and thank you Julia for noting, you have the individual athlete. This person must judge for themselves how comfortable they feel racing on the course at the speeds achievable. Having had the opportunity to train on the facility, they too have a choice and a decision to make.

The coaches of the athletes running the course should also have some say in whether the athlete finally races or not (adding yet another layer where the buck might have stopped). The engineers who certify the course should also stand by their work or agree it is too dangerous without modification.

Where does it end? Sounds like Boohoo is looking for one fall guy. He can put the aforementioned crowd in a room and draw names out of a hat if that makes him feel better, but it won't be accurate, right or fair in these circumstances.

Boohoo, it would suit you nicely to have it all tied up in a neat little package for you to dump at John Furlong's feet but in a court of law, the list of named defendants would be so long it would require an entire tree to supply the paper. What about the people that built the sled? What about the coach that let him go on the track when he must have known it was dangerous and beyond his skills.

simple minds seek simplistic answers.

I'm enjoying these responses. Next time everyone pins all of Vancouver's problems squarely and solely on gregor's shoulders I'll remind you all of these eloquent words.

Remind me before you pin up those responses- just where did Julia blame the mayor? Or even mention him?

And while I am at it - if Julia and myself are incorrect and the buck stops in only one place - where exactly is that one place ?

Well Paul certainly did, but the point was more general. When we want to blame someone, we find reasons to. When we don't want to, we find reasons not to. Just interesting that's all.

Certainly the argument has been made in this very thread that the buck stops at Gregor for the luge track. I would hope you see that as comical more than anything...

But really, the buck stops at the CEO or president or whoever is at the top. Are other people responsible for this or that along the way? Of course. But in the end, the guy/girl at the top is where the buck stops.

Pick anything, the BP spill, Enron, this dog killing thing, all the positives from the olympics--anything. The buck stops at the CEO/President. Good or bad.

The dangers of the luge track may not solely rest on Furlong's shoulders but that's not the point. The point is that he was quoted after the death as saying he was not prepared for such a tragedy. Yet emails uncovered from a year previous suggested he was prepared for such a tragedy. This brings his credibility into question.

So CityCaucus is having a field day with a minor, minor story about Gregor's behavior in the lead up to the Olympics when a much bigger story, Furlong's credibility, is what it should be focusing on.

boohoo, you are delusional.

I guess we have to blame the CEO for the protests, and the lack of snow, and that Canada did not win gold in men's figure skating and that the cauldron did not pop out of the ground on cue during the opening ceremonies and....

if your premise held true, the insurance company would have sued to recover their $150,000.

Perhaps you should check out JF's contract and job description before assigning him the role of God.

kw, you cannot make that assumption based on 1 email. What transpired between March of 09 and February of 2010 may have very well assured JF that they had addressed all concerns.

Unless you have the luxury of knowing every phone call, every meeting, every email, every conversation within the entire organization - and include all the possible defendants in that search - you cannot make the statement you do.

I am baffled why there is such a urgency to discredit this man. He did a job that he was asked to do, and he did it to the best of his ability - perfectly... no, but we did not hire God and that's why events like this have things like waivers and insurance.

Firstly - beware your blanket generalizations. They do not serve you well at all. 'Everyon'e has now become 'Paul', as rightly enough Julia gave you a specific and in my opinion valid answer.

Secondly, no argument from me regarding the mayor of Vancouver in this incident - he has no involvement in the Whistler activities. And yes, it is a stretch to make a comment inferring that he is.

Thirdly - the buck does not stop squarely at CEO's in general, or Furlong's feet specifically on this one. If such were the case,an accidental death on a construction site becomes the responsibility of the building developer. Every airline crash rests at the feet of the CEO of the airline. United and American Airlines would be ultimately responsible for 9-11. Gregor Robertson is answerable for the death of any City Employee while on the job.

Reminder again - beware those generalizations.

Is Vanoc the top? They are the local representatives responsible for delivery of the games
Or is the IOC the top? They are the standards committee for the games standard-bearers, and therefore the legislative body governing the games (not Vanoc)
Is the Luge Racers Federation the top? They may be the standard bearer for safety in the sport.

If you want to be so simple as to stop the buck at one person in a labryinth of shared responsibilities, go ahead. But be prepared for backlash. In this particular case, an identifiable 'top' to stop the buck at is hard to see without more investigation into roles and responsibilities.

Julia's questions are right on the money.

"Certainly the argument has been made in this very thread that the buck stops at Gregor for the luge track."

That argument has NOT been made. I was clearly demonstrating that using your flawed logic Gregor could be where the buck stops, as you so eloquently put it.

I know that the concept of demonstrating an idea may not be your strong suit, so I'll forgive you. Please continue to deflect the conversation at your leisure.

Julia:

CityCaucus is posting stories about Gregor based on accusations made by Furlong which is nothing more than hearsay. What's the difference? At least in Furlong's case their is actual evidence to back up assertions that he knew of the dangers of the track but then when an accident actually occurred he denied such knowledge.

I'm not trying to discredit Furlong for the job he did. I'm saying that if CityCaucus is going to try and discredit Gregor, then it needs to look at the messenger, and right now the messenger isn't exactly looking so great.

boohoo, go read Jeff Lee's account of events over at the Sun. It will give you a better sense of reality.

Julia,

I'm presenting my point of view, you're just exaggerating for what I'm not sure. No one is blaming anyone for the weather. Can you make your point without ridiculous exaggerations?

Julia you said:

"Unless you have the luxury of knowing every phone call, every meeting, every email, every conversation within the entire organization - and include all the possible defendants in that search - you cannot make the statement you do."

Why does this standard not apply to this mayor? This is my point. Everyone is eager to jump all over gregor the moment something happens. But if it's someone we like like Furlong, well hold up, we don't know all the facts and let's not jump to conclusions and blah blah blah.

Hypocrisy much?

kwl, the only people who believe Furlong has suffered any discredit by these allegations are the same people who are pissed off that Furlong took a shot at King Gregor.

Luge is a risky sport. The risk of injury or even death is there. That does not mean every reasonable step was taken to prevent that death. Tragically it was not enough. The FIL will learn. In fact it already has, as the SOCHI track was ordered to not be nearly as fast as Vancouver.

Perhaps more time could have been spent on ensuring the track was more safe if Furlong and his team weren't running around trying to satisfy all the silly demands by Hizoner and crew.

Oh Paul you're back, that's great.

I'm eagerly waiting for you to find that simple shred of evidence that so obviously makes me a deflecting vision loving supporter.

Cheers

douglas,

Yes, accidents happen. I'm not blaming Furlong because an accident happened. I'm questioning his apparent knowledge of the threat before hand and then his statement after where he states he had never thought to be prepared for it. If you go back to my original post that's all I was pointing out and then Paul jumped all over me with his irrational bs.

However, those two statements don't jive.

I believe I called you "the chief Vision deflector" actually. Congratulations.

I'll take that as a no.

Thanks for trying!

"At least in Furlong's case their is actual evidence to back up assertions that he knew of the dangers of the track but then when an accident actually occurred HE DENIED SUCH KNOWLEDGE." Say what? Where did he actually deny?

In the cut and paste world game of "select-a-quote-and-remove-the-context", Furlong is known to have questioned the safety of the track and sought more advice. Furlong also states - after Kumaritashvili’s death - to quote - “It’s not something I prepared for, or ever thought I would have to be prepared for.”

Unless you have another statement to cut and paste that I do not know about, you are reading the second statement as though it were a denial of previous knowledge of track conditions.

That statement can be read much differently - as a statement of shock at the severity of the accident. 'It' being the athlete's death.

I am not denying the quotes, just questioning the interpretation. A tangible denial would be if he said "We had no idea the track was dangerous". But John Furlong did not say that. What he said could be read (and how I read it) as more along the lines of 'we never dreamt we'd have an accident so severe'.

anyhow, just a thought. Happy cutting and pasting everybody!

I guess the question needs to be asked...

1) did Gregor campaign on his concerns about the Olympic village or not?
2) did Gregor show up in Greece - or not?
3) did Gregor complain pre-election about the Olympics, or not?

The answer is not rocket science - yes to 1,2 and 3.

I didn't cut and past anything did I? His statements are there in the open, interpret them anyway you want but he's denying that he was prepared for a bad accident when in fact he was prepared based on the evidence in the form of emails.

You all are interpreting Furlong's smear of Gregor in his memoir as evidence (hearsay btw) that Gregor is a terrible mayor so I'm returning the favor and interpreting Furlong's emails/denials as evidence that he was a terrible CEO. It works both ways.

Oh kwl.... We were well aware of how horrible Gregor Robertson is as a mayor LONG before John Furlong came out with his feelings.

boo you infrequently comment on any topic except for those critical of Vision Vancouver or Gregor Robertson.

When you do comment, you never actually make a comment on the substance of an article.

Instead you prefer to find some technicality to try to hang your hat on to discredit the entire article.

The only reason you are even talking about the Olympics or John Furlong in this thread of comments is to deflect the negative attention on Gregor.

Hence my summation that you are Vision's Chief Deflector. At least on this board, you've proven you deserve the title. In fact more than deserving.

Paul,

Just to clarify, so I know how delusional you are. Me repeteadly calling gregor a fool and stating numerous times I think the entire political framework in Vancouver is broken is, in your mind, a ringing endorsement of the mayor and a fervent defense of the vision party?

Well, Gregor may not be a great mayor but Sammy, Owen, and Campbell were even worse. Much, much worse.

Does Furlong's smear really deserve 1st news story on Global and then two stories here? This really is a non story.

We'll have to agree to disagree. While I didn't agree with everything Sullivan, Campbell or Owen did... There was one thing I appreciated about them. They had the best interest of the city as a whole as their goal.

I can't say the same of Robertson. The whole mess of the Hornby Bike Lane being approved long before the public hearing. Caring more about Chickens and Public Gardens than making sure sink holes don't gobble up half of marine drive.

Priorities have to be set at the helm. This mayor's priorities are so damaging. He needs to go.

I guess we know at what cost Gregor wanted to be Mayor - $200 million anyone?

A student in marketing 101 can tell you, you do not speak negatively about a product, project or client.

Robertson and Vision covered off 2 out of 3 with their dogging out of the Olympic Village and it has cost us and will continue to cost us.

I am glad Furlong spoke out against the damage Robertson has done for nothing more than personal, political gain.

The Thought of The Evening

“One knows that Vision Vancouver is low on self esteem, begs for attention, and is ready to spend ‘mucho dineros’...again, on machismo diversion, when the city is planning...are you ready for this, a One-Year-Anniversary from the last time when it has got laid.”

Yes, the little virgin, circumcised boy from Cortes scored big with a hottie cougar a year ago (stepdad Gordo’s treat!), but since then, he’s forgot how to do it, poor lad. He’ll have to settle for the City Hall’s cafeteria lady this time, but he’ll have to do it, regardless. Dickyness, eh!?

Wearing a name tag in the middle of the next Whoring Convention of Olympic proportions is no longer acceptable to our home grown horny lad. Meanwhile, you listen to the spin doctors, tourism is up, real estate sales are climbing, and green jobs are overwhelming.

It’s about time for our college student Vision to move on...settle down with a nice local gal, have some kids, mortgage his future, move back to the burbs, but most importantly ...stop living on fumes.
‘Cause I have news for you, VV! Forget that tramp. What did you think? That you were special? But, yeah, but, no, but, yeah, but, no...Hello, she demanded cash; you paid the lady...Your Olympic hussy has moved on right after you left her out of your sight, pal!

Soon, she’ll be screwing Vladimir, Ilych and Petrov in Sochi. But before that, she’ll have some ‘fish and chips’ in Covent Garden’s ‘Rock & Sole Plaice’ with Sir Mick, Sir Paul, and perhaps your acquaintance,Sir Richard...in London.

As for John Furlong...faggedaboutit! He and Gary Mason are patriotically up to their necks in their ‘Genuflecting Farts’ winter thriller story. Made for humans, written by cyborgs.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

God, I love you, man...

'Meanwhile, you listen to the spin doctors, tourism is up, real estate sales are climbing, and green jobs are overwhelming'.

Tourism is up: Real estate tourists

Real Estate Sales are booming: to real estate tourists

Green Jobs are Overwhelming: the "greenest" jobs will be an the new expanded casino!

Yes, your kids, newly graduated from university, will become the croupiers, cocktail waitresses, escorts and bouncers of tomorrow's brave new Vancouver!

Brings a tear to my eye...

Boohoo, I love how you continually try to defend yourself as Non-Partisan by an occasional comment that Gregor is a fool (by the way, I'm taking your word that you've said that since I've never seen it) however I'd like to repeat a wonderful response to one of your comments on another website.

"Ladies and Gentlemen put your hands together for socialist and cycling fascist defender, Yoshio Kuhabara, who hails from one of my favorite countries, Japan. Every single time anyone posts a negative comment on the insanity that is Vision Vancouver or its goofy leader, out pops ‘boo hoo’ to show us that there are indeed people nuttier than squirrel turds."

Thank you to Alex Tsakumis for those words. And I'd like to point out that he wrote that on July 27th, 2010. So please boohoo, spare us the attempt to be non-partisan. You've more than proven you're anything but.

I appreciate kwl's comments because he's being honest with us. He honestly believes Gregor is the better decision. While I don't agree with him, I respect his honesty on a board which is decidedly not filled with people who would agree with him.

So come out of the closet boohoo. Admit you're a Vision Supporter and that's why day after day you back them up. We can then move on to discussing the issues that this blog brings up.

If you truly aren't a paid Visionista you will have no issue with sticking to topic.

lol

Tsakums?

lol!

Thanks for trying Paul. I have to run now, secret meeting of the visionista cabal where we plot devious ways of infiltrating blogs in the hopes of defending our dear leader.

"however I'd like to repeat a wonderful response to one of your comments on another website.'

Identifying people who choose anonymity simply because you don't agree with them is a terrible precedent to set on any website.

Also, I'd be keen to know how less attention to chickens and gardens would have prevented the Marine Drive sinkhole.

You're right Chris. I thought I had changed the name to underscores before I reposted it here. Apologies to Boohoo for using his real name. Mike or any of the other City Caucusers, would you mind editing my post to remove his name?

Is your concern my name is Yoshio Kuhabara? I assure it is not. I just chalked that one up to a bizarre rant. Thanks for reminding me of that, makes for a good laugh--a cycling fascist :)

Ok. I have to say this to you. From my 7 years old kid:
'Knock, knock'
'Who's there?'
'Boo!'
'Boo who?'
'Boohoo'
Waddayasay?
Did it scare me? Nope. You are not scaring anybody Boohoo...the friendly vision ghost.

I'll add 'friendly vision ghost' to the list of things I've been called on this board. It's getting extensive... If I had thinner skin I'd think I wasn't welcome here!

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