Times are a changin' at CityCaucus.com

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Fontaine comes out of semi-retirement to bring continuity at CityCaucus Tower

As many of you are likely aware, my colleague Mike Klassen is about to make a big announcement regarding his political future on Wednesday at 10am at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Until a few days ago, I was enjoying my semi-retirement from being co-editor of the blog and was only contributing a post or two whenever time permitted.

Retirement was exactly as you would imagine it. Long days at the beach, reading books and soaking up the tropical sun. I definitely had more time to spend at my oceanside home in the Florida Keys and even made it out to our Palm Springs timeshare every so often.

I was leading such a life of leisure, that is, until I got a call from CityCaucus co-founder Mike Klassen telling me he had come down with some mystery illness that resulted in a political itch. At least that’s what it sounded like as I pressed my ear against the phone to muffle out the sound of several rowdy patrons sipping on a frappucino at a nearby patio.

That “itch” meant he needed to step down as editor of CityCaucus and put his weekly 24 Hours column on ice for a while.

According to this countdown clock, Klassen still has a few hours to change his mind and stay out of public life, but something tells me he won’t. As a result, things will be changing regarding CityCaucus into the near future.

As our readers can well appreciate, for over 2½ years both Mike and I, along with many other contributors, have offered a free online journal to everyone interested in following urban affairs. We started up in December 2008 and since then we have become Canada’s most popular civic affairs blog.

A quick check of our stats shows that we’ve had over 4 million hits since our official launch, over 10,000 comments and well over 2000 stories posted to the site. We now have over 3100 followers on Twitter and over 1,300 Facebook fans. As co-editors, both Mike and I wanted to make sure we provided a product to our readers that was fresh, cutting edge and ensured a two way dialogue. Looking back, I can safely say we’re both proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.

Effective today, Mike Klassen will no longer be the editor of CityCaucus.com. I will take over that position in order to ensure that all of the staff at CityCaucus Tower have the stability of leadership they need during this time of transition.

That said, I will be encouraging Mike Klassen the politician to continue the dialogue he started with Metro Vancouver residents a few years ago. I am also calling upon other elected officials and candidates for nomination to submit their thoughts in order that they can be published on our blog between now and the November civic election.

Leading up to the big vote, I can’t think of a better place for our civic leaders to engage in a debate on the future of Metro Vancouver and their political platform than right here at CityCaucus.

That’s why I’ll be openly encouraging elected officials like Mayor Richard Stewart, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Mayor Dianne Watts along with city councillors such as Linda Hepner, Barinder Rasode, Heather Deal and Tim Stevenson to submit their ideas for people to discuss and debate.

As editor, I’ll be encouraging any candidate seeking a council, park or school board seat to let our readers know more about who you are and what your policies are regarding the issues of concern to your community.

My approach will be similar to how we used CityCaucus to provide everyone instant access to all of the free venues taking place during the 2010 Olympic Games. Our Where 2 Be for Free guide was a smashing hit with families across Metro Vancouver because it allowed people a one-stop-shop to go for venue information. I’d like CityCaucus.com to be viewed by the hundreds of candidates putting their names on the ballot this fall as a key portal for good ideas and dialogue.

Therefore, if you’re already an elected official or running for public office, please consider submitting one or several posts between 450-500 words on any issue or topic that might be of interest to you or your constituents. Unless what you submit is libelous or completely off topic, it will be published unedited on the blog.

Now that I’ve come out of semi-retirement, I’ve also agreed to accept a new post as the weekly civic affairs columnist for 24 Hours Vancouver. My column will appear every Thursday both on CityCaucus.com and the print edition distributed throughout the region.

I look forward to working with my friend and colleague Bill Tieleman as well as other members of the 24 Hours team. I also want to thank Suzanne Wilton, Editor-in-Chief, for this wonderful opportunity.

Yes, CityCaucus.com is undergoing some changes. However, thanks to the support of our loyal readers, I’m hopeful we’ll come out of this transition period even better than before.

PS if you are running for office and would like to advertise on CityCaucus.com, we do have very competitive rates. Contact citycaucus@gmail.com for more information.

- post by Daniel. Follow @CityCaucus on Twitter.


Bob Mackin is no longer with 24 hours. Perhaps there is an opportunity for both Bob and City Caucus.

First of all, good luck Mike...it's interesting to see another 'back room boy' moving up to the front line. Adrian Dix accomplished this quite well. I think you will too.

I'm also intrigued by the reformatting of CityCaucus.com to become a platform for other municipal politicians, and aspiring politicians. This is a good idea, since I know from first hand experience that candidates for Council often have a hard time getting their views out there.

While the media generally focus on the mayoral candidates, we hear little about and from 'the other ten candidates', in the case of Vancouver.

I hope CityCaucus will help Klassen, Bickerton, as well as representatives of other parties share their thoughts.

As for me, I will try and get to Mike's announcement this morning. But I am not intending to make any political announcements myself. I don't think I could handle the aggravation that comes with the job. Hopefully Mike can!

I'll wish Mike well, just as I would all wannabe politicians. This is entirely self-serving on my part and should not be seen as an endorsement of any sort. After all, if Mike gets elected, I suspect I - unlike you - will never have to retire. There will be far, far too many stories generated from him scratching his itch, and Vision Vancouver types applying turpentine to said wounds.
My only hope is that my company pension will still be intact when I leave city hall at the age of 92.
On a more serious note, I'd encourage anyone who firmly believes they have something to offer to the city to actually run for office. It makes not one whit of difference to me their political persuasion. What does matter, however, is that people get engaged with their city and with the democratic process. Leave it to voters whether they think you're fit for office or truly have something to offer.
In that regard I salute anyone - including Blogger Mike - who stands up to be counted. But I'll suggest he may want to make a fireproof shield out of dragon scales before charges off after Vision Vancouver.

Congratulations to Mike. I look forward to following his campaign. I hope he makes good use of social media not to broadcast his ideas but to help him formulate and discuss them with the community (something Vision has done but which can still be done much better).

I hope this blog can open itself up not to politicians, as Michael Geller has suggested, but to an open and non-partisan dialogue with everyone who is concerned with and committed to urban futures in Canada. Politicians and politicians-in-waiting should not own this dialog. And it should be about ideas, commitment and outcomes. Most of the politicians I know are actually people of good intent, and the best are also open to working with people of diverse ideas.

Hear Hear

Good luck, Mike.

Oh yeah ...good luck Mike!?
What I don't get is what's with this ballet, he has to take 'leave of absence' brouhaha from his duties at City Caucus and 24 Hilarious... if you ask me there is no better exposure and platform than this blog and a weekly column in a daily paper. Just don't tell me it's not so, ok? You cannot pound salt for two and a half years and now go for confession at the monastery...who you're kidding? Anyway, I still think that's a silly move, best of luck.

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