Protest bylaw, botched briefings, wicked editorials make for rough week

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

10 comments

bus wheel broken.jpg
The Vision Vancouver campaign tour bus has encountered a few technical problems

"I have no problem with outlining some of the decisions made to help cushion the blow to taxpayers. But at least be honest about what the final tally is instead of trying to deceive people." - Gary Mason, Globe and Mail

As I watched the inordinate amount of fumbling over the past two weeks among the Visionistas and their hired help at city hall, I became convinced that what we were witnessing was flat out incompetence." - Allen Garr, Vancouver Courier

I have to add here that I feel personally misled by what happened at the news conference on Friday, where the city aka city manager Penny Ballem explained the “$40-50 million write-down” the city would have to take on the village..." - Frances Bula, urban affairs blogger

"Vision councillors have been playing the blame game, accusing the former Non-Partisan Association council of putting the city at risk by not doing adequate due diligence on Millennium. But the Olympic Village fiasco transcends political ideology. Councillors of every political stripe are responsible for bungling the file." - Vancouver Sun Editorial

One could easily argue the current Vision Vancouver administration has encountered few major challenges in its path toward re-election this fall. During the early part of their mandate they experienced an extended honeymoon phase whereby there were few, if any, public criticisms of their administration.

Times have certainly changed.

Over the last two weeks it seems like a wheel or two has come off the Vision Vancouver bus as it barrels down a mountain road. It all started when city manager Penny Ballem decided to send out an email at 1:17 AM on a Friday notifying city councillors that there was "likely" to be a media briefing on the Olympic Village financial fiasco later that day.

Ballem's note to councillors came about five hours after we notified our readers via Twitter of the same Olympic Village media briefing being scheduled for "take out the trash Friday." And to think that our crack CityCaucus team felt guilty sending out the notice of the Olympic briefing after regular work hours.

As you can imagine, both the COPE and NPA elected officials went ballistic when they were only notified of the actual briefing about two hours after it was complete. Amazingly, the only councillor who attended and spoke at the briefing was councillor Geoff Meggs – also known as the Mayor's "garbage man."

With a room packed with media, Meggs went on and on about how evil the NPA was for its mismanagement of the Olympic file. All the while he failed to mention the role his Vision colleagues played in approving most major decisions related to the development of Vancouver's Olympic Village.

When Anton raised the matter with the media in a Sunday evening advisory, Vision wanted us to believe Meggs' version of events. Geoff told media that he also didn't know about the briefing until he got staff's media advisory on Friday at 8am. Yeah, right.

That Meggs was given no heads up on the file is simply hard to believe when you consider how much he and the Mayor's office have politically micromaged this issue since taking office. Penny Ballem would simply never have planned this media briefing without keeping her political overlords in the loop.

If the botched Olympic briefing was not enough, Vision was fumbling their management of a new "protest bylaw." The bylaw was aimed at preventing Falun Gong from protesting in front of the Chinese consulate located in the tony Shaughnessy neighbourhood in Vancouver. It contained a ridiculous amount of red tape and a $1,200 processing fee and deposit. Once again, the opposition councillors went bonkers and so did every civil libertarian in Vancouver.

It didn't take long for Mayor Gregor to try and convince the public that he was completely unaware that this type of bylaw was coming before council. Both he and COPE councillor David Cadman quickly took the most politically expedient route and decided to throw city staff under the bus (even if a few wheels were coming off of it).

The most amusing part of watching the Mayor squirm as hundreds of nasty emails were being sent to his office regarding his protest bylaw, was the fact he started publicly criticisizing his own legislation. After he started feeling the heat from within his own ranks, he began telling reporters he thought the legislation went to far and it "had to go back to the drawing board."

Why then didn't Robertson support Coun. Anton's sensible motion at the beginning of the meeting to delay the motion until further consultation?

That's because the bylaw had already been vetted by Robertson's office and had their seal of approval. Gregor's chief of staff Mike Magee reviews all reports and makes sure they align with Vision's priorities before they ever see the light of day. So if Robertson is distancing himself from the protest bylaw, it's simply about political optics.

There are too many other media outlets to mention who feasted on a wounded and bumbling Vision Vancouver party last week. CKNW, Global TV, News 1130 and our local Chinese media all wrote stories that skewered the Mayor and his administration.

Even Vision-friendly columnist Allen Garr wrote what I consider his most stinging rebuke of Mayor Gregor and his loyal city manager Penny Ballem. He writes:

Last weekend the Olympic Village gadfly, developer and former NPA candidate Michael Geller, posted a note on his blog pointing out that the write down did not include, among other costs, the money owing on the land.

That revelation made its way to the front page of The Globe and Mail Tuesday where the total loss was rounded out to $230 million and Ballem and her political masters were accused of being purposefully misleading. Another urgent media briefing was called by Ballem to “set the record straight.”

By all accounts, Ballem was highly agitated. Unused to having her integrity questioned, the normally calm, confident commander was coming unhinged. Her cheeks were flushed, her actions erratic and as one reporter noted “her voice seemed to be shaking with emotions.”

Reports of the numbers, she said, were “damaging” and “unfair.” But regardless of your take on the numbers, and there are a couple of ways to slice this from an accounting point of view, the whole performance from start to finish displayed a level of incompetence that reached new heights for Ballem, Robertson and the Vision administration.

As they say, "a week can be an eternity in politics." When it comes to Vancouver's governing party, this is probably a couple of weeks they're glad are behind them. And while it was a huge embarrassment for the party, don't think that these guys are mortally wounded. Vision are still most definitely in control of the City and stand a good chance of winning it all in 2011.

+++

We've been advised that Mayor Gregor's chief of staff Mike Magee has recently been off work due to an illness. Regardless of our differences of opinion on most issues, everyone here at CityCaucus.com tower wishes him a speedy recovery.

- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus

10 Comments

But their grief isn't over yet...

April 19th will be a very big day for Council..a very important day ... decisions to be made on Falun Gong bylaw as well as the Casino...

I predict another very tough week..

Reports are that Ballem had a meltdown with the Downtown Eastside planning committee made up of residents and such heavy weights as Ray Spaxman and Mike Harcourt. Ballem wagged her finger claiming this isn't a democracy, that she is the one to call the shots, and they are there to sit politely on the sidelines providing "advice". One has to wonder on what since she listens to no one.

It reflects on gregor's integrity to see that he was tweeting "Vancouver is a fee speech zone" last week when the second version of the bylaw still indicates residential zones are off limit.

And now instead of fees, there are fines in the $1000 to $5000 range. This bylaw is still highly problematic and yet Vision councillors will argue that it's the most progressive in any North American city, which if it passes, no doubt will piss off a significant portion of their base who have cognitive skills. For the robots that remain, there's always a happy planet.

It is the nature of Vision's culture of conceit on full display and insulting how they go about arguing with the public they serve the positions they do.

Vision & King Gregor are channeling their inner Obama and believing because they are "progressive" they can say anything, make up sh*t as they go along, and openly deceive as long as they determine what they are doing is "correct".

Time for these morons to get back up to Hollyhock, get naked & jump in the hot tub, then hug a few trees, listen to Van Jones DVD's and re-convince themselves they are so much better and smarter than the rest if us rubes.

Be careful about rumours and reports.

I don't like what I am seeing in this City BUT if things like this are true, why hasn't anybody spoken out publicly?

Haven't liked what I've seen in this City for 30 years.

I'm still here because I love Vancouver.

Sounds like the spin Ivan Drury and the other poverty pimps are going yo put on the meeting. They want a welfare ghetto (with themselves in charge) with 50 more buildings right now. That's 5,000 more dead-end storage spaces for the miserable victims of 30 years of meddling and bungling by Harcourt and practically every one else. The only approach with any hope of success was the 4 Pillars and we all know what happened to that.

This is leadership? More of the same failed policies, only bigger and more expensive, urged on by people who wouldn't dream of living in DTES.

The hypocrisy of the ghetto-builders is breath-taking. While everyone from their useless MP to self-appointed "community leaders" has grown fat off the backs of these long-suffering "clients", who offers them a way out? Is this the best we can do, warehousing our sick in SROs while listening to Wendy Petersen and the PHS/Carnegie aristocracy preaching and trying to claim the moral high ground?

A pointless life of poverty, ignorance, addiction and disease with no hope of escape, overseen by a bunch of fat, white, middle-class "activists" from elsewhere. The people of this city ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Oh, sorry, am I interrupting the freaking hockey game?

The Thought of The Midnight

“I'm thinking...did anyone feel tonight’s tremors?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRCi83P4-VY

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

we did. It came from the overloaded bus full of Vision refugees trying to get away from their responsibilities. To Cortes Island. When A. Garr @ Vancouver Courier gets cranky and starts pointing fingers at Vision, Ballem and Robertson,there is something bad going on. For sure. Local political earthquake would be a fair description of what's going on. Nice imaginary Glissando.

and add to that, a classic Visonista icon/sadhu/guru gets absolutely roasted on 60 minutes as a fraud (Greg Mortenson - from 3 cups of tea fame).

I can only picture how many copies of his books there are on the shelves of Hollyhock.

Yet another false prophet for the greenies

So I was reading one of the sidebar tweets about Kerry Jang and how he considers his job as a City Councillor as part time.

It seems he is still collecting salary for UBC as well as three other sources.

City Councillor - $63,609
UBC - $144,629 plus expenses of over $10K

And

Kerry Jang's 2011 Statement of Disclosure shows five sources of earned income. Besides remuneration received from the City of Vancouver and University of British Columbia, as detailed above, further unspecified income attaches to work as director alternate of Metro Vancouver Board, as board member of EasyPark, and as associate editor of Elsevier Publications.

But he is all about the homeless and low income people.....

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