Anton says politicization "complete;" emails show cozy Solomon-Sadhu relations

Post by Mike Klassen in

14 comments

the-quintet
Who's running City Hall? Gregor, Joel, Mike, Sadhu or Penny?

An exclusive report in today's 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper is just one of two alarming examples of the politicization of the City's traditional non-partisan public service. A second flagrant attempt to involved staff in political activity is recounted by lone opposition member, NPA councillor Suzanne Anton, in a Sunday evening blog post.

24 Hours' breaking story is titled "Anton to challenge mayor on potential conflict of interest," and it details a potential conflict of interest involving Mayor Gregor Robertson's chief donor and financial backer Joel Solomon apparently receiving special access to the highest levels of the City's civil service. In a series of heavily redacted emails obtained by 24 Hours and provided to CityCaucus.com we can read a number of exchanges between Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston and Solomon.

In what's left of the emails we can see that Johnston is doing some heavy lifting for one of Solomon's investments – Saltsping Coffee Company. In one exchange we read the following:

“Thanks to joel [sic], I have met with mickey [sic] several times to ID good sites in town,” Johnston wrote to Solomon and others in the heavily redacted e-mail released under freedom of information laws. “Not there yet, but it’s looking good.”

What we learn is that Johnston is helping Salt Spring Coffee president and CEO Mickey McLeod find a new location within the City of Vancouver. Salt Spring Coffee Co. is a Renewal Partners investment.

Later in the emails we see that Johnston forwards Solomon a recently created executive job search document for a Corporate Communications Director position only an hour after receiving it from Penny Ballem and before it was publicly available. Solomon responds:

"pls be sure i get something i can circulate when its time. thx"

Speaking with 24 Hours Solomon says he's known the Deputy City Manager since his days working for the City of Chicago. Johnston was married at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, where Solomon owns a home and his wife is the Executive Director of the spiritual retreat.

Councillor Suzanne Anton is sounding as though she's at her wit's end in a blog post featured on the NPA Vancouver website titled, "Staff politicization project nears completion at Vancouver City Hall." In it she describes how City Manager Penny Ballem at the direction of the Mayor's office failed to properly notify opposition members of council from last Friday morning's Olympic Village technical briefing.

She explains first how City manager Ballem sent out a message to mayor and council early Friday morning at 1:17am:

Dear Mayor and Council - I am attaching a memo to provide you an update on the transfer of assets and the lawsuits in regard to the Olympic Village. Due to the intense media interest in this and the complexity of the issues we will likely have to provide the media with a technical briefing. This memo will just provide you an update from our last briefing . Thanks and please let me know if you have any further questions. pb

This is just nine hours before the media news conference that she had prepared a large PowerPoint presentation, and coordinated with Coun. Geoff Meggs. Note Ballem says she will "likely have to provide media" with an update. It was also conveniently timed to make sure that Mayor Gregor Robertson could be away – Gregor was at a Metro Vancouver board meeting on Friday.


See document: Sadhu Johnston & Joel Solomon email exchanges

Anton continues:

2. A media advisory was sent out at 8:10am Friday by the Director of Corporate Communications:

A TECHNICAL BRIEFING will be held for the media today to provide a City Progress Report on Negotiations with Millennium 10 am, Committee Room 1, 3rd Floor, City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue

At 8am there is still a chance that members of council can change their schedules to attend a 10am briefing. But, as it happens, council was still not notified. Notice to councillors went out at 11:47am – nearly 2 hours after the scheduled briefing!

So, not only did Penny leave NPA and COPE councillors out of the loop, staff didn't even let them know until AFTER the briefing that it had taken place. The NPA councillor's frustration comes through in the following passage:

All very clever. Arrange a media conference on a controversial issue. Wait until the event is over to notify members of council who may have differing views. Allow staff to be part of a media event which contains blatant political messaging.

Most staff are disgusted by this kind of behaviour. They have been so proud over the years to be part of an independent public service, a public service which is separate from politics. Mayor Robertson is destroying that independence and that pride.

For those who shrug these antics off, just imagine this happening at any other level of government. What if one of Gordon Campbell's top donor had been given special treatment by a government Deputy Minister, or similarly in the federal government?

Anton indicates that this effort to politicize non-partisan staff by the Mayor's office could contravene the code of conduct set out by the City, and she plans to raise these matters in the council chambers. For Vancouver taxpayers, the prospect of "cleaning house" each time a new party forms government at City Hall will come with a hefty price.

We'll continue to follow this story as it unfolds here at CityCaucus.com and on Twitter.

- post by Mike. Follow @MikeKlassen and @24HoursVan on Twitter.

14 Comments

So, is S. Johnston even qualified for the job title he now holds, or was it just another matter of who you know at Hollyhock?

If I remember correctly, there was no competition announced for that job when it came available.

Tens of thousands of people in Vancouver and Canada that were looking for work, and I find it really hard to believe none would be truly capable of filling this position and he gets hand picked by Robertson (or should we say, Soloman)

Robertson, Soloman and VV have made it really hard for anyone new stepping into City Hall.

Time people in Vancouver woke up to the crooked politics taking place in City Hall. Please get rid of your mayor in next election before US starts running Vancouver City council while they groom Gregor Robertson for premiere of BC. This is getting scary.

It would appear Vivian had some very valid concerns.

Good to see that Chicago style politics has now officially made ts way to Vancouver. Yippee! They are the poster child of how it should be done.

Wonder if that was in Al Capone's 500 year vision?

The Thought of The Morning

''What 'Aufochs' going on at the Vancouver City Hall!?''

Do you know, how I know I was right all along, two and a half years ago when I predicted a kibbutz in the making at Vancouver City Hall?

I don't need to write what I think about the present anymore, I simply go back and copy-paste (listen to this) of a... copy-paste from the past. The difference from Then and Now is that they (Vision) don't bother to hide anymore,and that's how YOU found out, and of course Kudos to Mike Klassen and CC, the only ones that have the guts to bring it up to the surface...oh, well, and a bit overdue...Suzanne Anton.

Bon Apetit!

(Glissando Remmy // Jan 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm)

The Thought of The Day

“And God gathered all the Chosen people inside Vancouver’s City Hall and said to them ‘You should take it easy on Monday; I see a mental day off for you, on Tuesday; on Wednesday you relax half of the day; on Thursday and Friday play games; on Saturday you must work overtime; Sunday. On Sunday, you rest!”

I for one refuse to spend more time on this City Hall characters. As per the other entire Hollyhock anointed fellows, resting nicely for now, happily, inside the City Hall’s walls, they are all…in waiting. Tick-tock, tick-tock…
Therefore, with your indulgence I’m going to copy-paste an older posts of mine from the 24th of Dec. right after the Pandora tragedy.

Pandora. Get the irony in this name? The first woman in Greek mythology created out of earth as part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus’ theft of the secret of… fire!

…

2862 PANDORA’s BOX

The Thought of The Day

“Shady landlords, overpaid apathetic bureaucrats, and cronyism driven agendas are sketching a circle on a drawing pad. Corrupt, incompetent, egocentric politicians are only completing it. Welcome to Vancouver Vision.”

When your priorities as a Council, Park Board, and School Board are dictated by your Party Doctrine no one wonders when something goes wrong.
The question becomes ‘How bad is it?’ Or, ‘How can we distance from it?’
Or ‘What’s the most palatable Spin we can administer?’

For the past two years and counting Vision’s only goal was and still is, to place all their friends and shady characters in senior and middle management positions inside City Hall. Establishing a bridgehead if you may. This New Age apparatchik, is catering to their own, no question about that, it has nothing to do with good governance, due diligence, or respect for the taxpayers. They operate in the same way a hypothetical ‘Vision Corporation’ would operate. Most profit for their Vision shareholders and investors, regardless.

I’m only going to advance one story for you to chew on …‘Ark Tsisserev’…my point exactly.

Having registered charities like Tides Canada whose links to the Vancouver politicians was recently exposed on some blogs and in the ‘select’ media, only enforces the lack of Christmas Spirit in terms of giving.

Gang slayings at your doorsteps, media gag orders in your cubicle, sinkholes that could take you to China, biohazard incidents at Electra, disastrous demolition good to go in this year’s ‘I’m too Stupid for My Shirt’ Awards, Olympic sized debt with a Village twist, wining and dining Casper the Friendly Vision Ghost on public money, fatal fire in the third degree, Party hacks pilgrimage to Shanghai right after Canada have received the status of ‘friendly destination’ and on, and on, and on…

‘What ‘Aufochs’ going on at the Vancouver City Hall?’

That’s one question all Vancouverites should be asking themselves in the New Year.
And ‘no, it’s not our fault’ shouts the top City Hall bureaucrats. Sure it’s not, you’re only working there!

I for one am going down to Jamaica. Let them steal my money!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oByMiF4hPg

Geeez, this was the fastest and easiest comment I've ever (copy and pasted) written!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.


LMAO Glissando!
That's it. I'm 'Aufoch-ing' addicted to your ramblings, bud. It's official.
Note to Mike K... this comment should be on your blog on its own with a big captioning on top saying: "Gliss's Opinion" Ha, ha, ha not kidding :-)

This just out...

Vancouver Mayor explains Olympic Village confusion
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)
Marcella Bernardo | Have an Olympic update? Email it to Marcella
4/11/2011

A clerical mistake - that's how Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is explaining why city councillors were alerted to Friday's Olympic Village technical briefing almost two hours after it started. "All of council was given that briefing the previous week. We were all in the loop. All of council got an email that morning. I understand there was a foul-up with staff sending to the wrong email addresses, but I don't think that's a fair point to trash city staff over an honest mistake with email addresses."

NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton claims City Manager Penny Ballem shut her out of the briefing room at City Hall, but Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs was allowed inside. He was there to speak on behalf of the Mayor and other councillors who couldn't attend because they were at the Metro Vancouver board meeting...

***then the Mayor goes on the airwaves to defend the city worker that made the error...is anyone buying this??

Way before the bike lanes, way before Ark's firing, my first serious WTF? moment with this council was when I saw a little article buried in the back pages of the Province announcing the hiring of a deputy city manager from Chicago. Thirty million resident Canadians, and not one of them Green enough for the job? Welcome to the asylum!

OK - so Mayor HP (Happy Planet) Mc-Gregor blames staff for the error (thereby stating that someone in staff was culpable for the mistake) , but exonerates staff with the same statement - alluding he won't further admonish the party who made the mistake.

Possibility #1 - The media, having been hijacked by a shadowy group known only as F#%nNPAHack, is formulating a sophisticated smear campaign against Joel Solomon Inc. and its various corporate holdings (including Happy Planet, its figurehead Mayor HP McGregor and Solomon's newly acquired corporate gem- the City of Vancouver)

Odds - 200:1

Possibility #2- Someone on the staff made a serious communications error, but the unnamed party is fully exonerated because, despite the seriousness of the error, it was an 'honest' mistake and is tolerated in the acceptable corporate culture expected at your City Hall.

Odds- 16:1

Possibility #3 - HP Mc-Gregor is blaming 'staff' generically as a cover for the strategic execution of a calculated communication plan, and painting it an honest mistake, knowing he cannot blame or dismiss a particular staff member without doing so unfairly and dishonestly. HP Mc-Gregor also knows that he will look good with staff if he does not come down hard over mistakes that ought not be acceptable in such an organization.

Odds- 3:5

Remember, you cannot actually bet on any of these scenarios unless you support the bid for a downtown casino. Actual odds and payouts may differ.
Civic Politics: know your limit- play within it


I do a great deal of my business via e-mail.

That bounce back factor for an incorrect e-mail addy is amazing - happens with in a minute or so.

E-mail is somewhat idiot proof these days.

So, sorry Mr. Robertson, not buying that for a buck.

More mangled staff bodies under the wheels of the City Hall blame truck.

Cozy Soloman-Sadhu relations?!

Yikes, that gonna be one fugly baby!

Cozy Soloman-Sadhu relations?!

Yikes, that gonna be one fugly baby!

Maybe for REALLY,REALLY important meetings, City Hall needs to go back to the dinosaur days.
Phone the Councillor's assistant, or walk over to wherever their desk is now.

My pet peeve, and it is not just Vision.

City Hall has been been doing the duck and weave dance for years.

Can't find a human being.

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