Fan zone? Secrecy zone!

Post by Bob Mackin in

8 comments

stanleycupfighting.jpg
Gregor Robertson's fun zone turned out to be anything but after Game 7 was over

We are pleased to feature a cross-post written by Bob Mackin who is the editor of the 2010 Goldrush blog. Here is his most recent column regarding the secrecy surrounding Mayor Gregor Robertson's Stanley Cup fan zone.

On Dec. 8, 2008, when Mayor Gregor Robertson was sworn-in, he promised the following to citizens of Vancouver.

"As your city government we will lead with a bold vision. We will set clear targets, measure success, and be accountable for our actions. 

"That accountability must extend to every aspect of City Hall. When the city uses your money, you have a right to know where it’s being spent, and what it’s being used for. When leaders fall short of that standard, public confidence is shaken.

"Over the next three years, we will rebuild that confidence, and ensure transparency, accountability and public debate at City Hall.

"Politicians do not always live up to that responsibility, I know. But I also know that there were literally thousands of people voting last November for the very first time.

"My commitment to them, on behalf of every member of my team, is that I will not let you down on making City Hall more open and accountable."

That's right. Mayor Robertson promised more transparency, not less. No asterisks. No ifs, ands or buts.

So why all the secrecy about anything related to the 2011 Stanley Cup riot? Is it because of the Nov. 19 civic election and the fear that the ill-fated fan zone and his handling of the riot may cost him his $144,394-a-year job?

In the absence of a truly independent and transparent review of Vancouver city hall's planning for the fan zone and response to the riot, it is incumbent on us in the media to dig for the facts and show them to you. City hall has undergone an information clampdown and is delaying disclosure until at least mid-September. It has offered no assurance whatsoever that any information will actually be provided. It is a question of both if and when the information gets to daylight.

City of Vancouver's Freedom of Information office, which falls under the office of Robertson-hired city manager Penny Ballem, is making great efforts to delay requests for all manner of information about the fan zone and June 15 riot. The city is even hiding behind the FOI process (that it claims is over-burdened), instead of routinely releasing information to journalists -- even when confronted with facts verified by third-parties! Perhaps Robertson and Ballem are truly embarrassed that I found out they hired a company to manage the Stanley Cup fan zone just two days before the series started on June 1.

Here is the Contracts Awarded status report. The most recent update was June 8. None of the fan zone contractors appear here.

From my own photographs of the fan zone before June 15 and from talking to sources close to the situation, I was able to piece together a list of some of the contractors. A list that city hall doesn't want to confirm or deny.

Here is the Brand Live Group website. The company is known for staging high quality public and corporate events. Its credits include Vancouver House for the City of Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Celebration of Light fireworks festival, Canada Day at Canada Place, various events to "animate" the in-receivership Olympic Village and the Live at Squamish music festival. Brand Live was hired to oversee the fan zone. Was it in over its head with the Stanley Cup fan zone? Was it misled by Vancouver city hall? Was Brand Live doing a favour?

Paul Runnals of Brand Live said that Fresh Air Cinema was hired by the city to subcontract the truck-mounted big screens from Impact Video.

Pit Stop Portables was hired to provide the portable toilets. Its website even links to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news story about the fan zone -- before the riot, of course.

Super Save Fence Rentals provided the barriers, which became projectiles on riot night.

On Aug. 23, I was advised that my requests for lists of payments made to the above companies would be released within 60 days of my Aug. 12 requests. The Freedom of Information Act counts business days, not calendar days. So I'm expecting such information could be released around Nov. 4. The election is Nov. 19.

Would they try to delay any or all information I seek until after the election?

Say it ain't so. Vision Vancouver's party leader promised better than that. Why would they stoop so low?

Editors's Note: CityCaucus.com has also placed two separate FOI's requesting the agenda & minutes of the Emergency Management Committee and details regarding the Stanley Cup Parade planning. The EMC was in theory supposed to be meeting to plan the development and execution of the Stanley Cup fun zone.

We have just been advised by the City they will not provide us this information for at least another 60 days. This is despite the fact provincial legislation requires them to hand over the information within 30 days. It's quite likely the information we have requested will not be provided to us until after the November 19th civic election.

Our File No. 2011-156 - ack

Our File No. 2011-157 - ack

Our File No. 2011-158 - ack

Gmail - FOI Requests 2011-156, 157, And 158

What was Gregor Robertson doing during the Finals?

What was Penny Ballem doing during the Finals?


- Post by Bob. Sports and culture started the Olympic movement. Politics, business and tourism keep it going. Those are also the five specialties of North Vancouver, British Columbia journalist Bob Mackin. Bob followed the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as a reporter for 24 hours Vancouver and Sun Media's QMI Agency, Business in Vancouver columnist and Around the Rings correspondent. Bob is also a regular guest on The Sport Market on Team 1040 and is working on a book about the Vancouver Games.

8 Comments

What it boils down to we have a serious problem with the staff of the VDP and the Staff at City Hall, Vision Vancouver must be rejected at the polls on Nov 19,2011, if we do not we deserve what we get!

And that multipage advertising/propaganda blitz in the Sun today . . . wonder how much that turd polishing exercise cost?

Gregor has such a pleasant smile

Looked at one of the contracts awarded (from the FOI Bob Mackin requested)
A backyard composting study for 56,000.00

Something stinks.

The Thought Of The Evening

"There are only two places in the world, where if you ask 'What are you in for?' you'll get the answer 'I didn't do nothing, I've been framed!'. The only two places in the world where,for crying out loud, they are all innocents are: the Shawshank State Pen and the Vancouver City Hall."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hB3S9bIaco

There is something inside that Vision can't touch. 'What is that?' you may ask. And the answer is... hope.

It is my bet that after Nov.19th after the new Mayor will get settled in, some new member of the staff will come across the support beam where Gregor had left his mark carved in wood:

"Gregor Robertson was here... and I didn't do nothing!"

'But we already knew that Gregor,we already knew that!'... if you catch my drift.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Someone should do an FOI request to see whether the City has in recent memory fulfilled any FOI request within the required time period. The standard procedure appears to be to "run out the clock" and then provide notice at or after the last minute for "extending the time to respond."

Sometimes they do tell secrets-if they think it helps them. Legality optional...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTXH-T5_RVM

Oh, way Glissando!
The comparison between Shawshank and VanCity is right on the money.
You cannot expect anything less from these hollygans that are inhabiting our city hall at the present. Do they have anything to hide? But of course! Try... everything, from fat "green' contracts awarded to friends to Vision cronism, preferential hiring and nice juice salaries for the inner circle...
Ha, ha, ha...
"Gregor Robertson was here... and I didn't do nothing!"
...kinda defines mayor Robertson term in office!

I am very surprised that the city didn't charge an enormous fee for these requests.

I have made several FOI requests, very simple ones and none were provided to me within the 30 day period. I did not get the courtesy of a letter though informing me they were extending the deadline by 30 days. Furthermore, the head of public bodies may extend a request by 30 days but they must get permission from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to do so and must have a good reason as to why. They can't just send someone a letter stating they are doing this. I am surprised that the people who report on this site don't know this fact.

I asked for the number of children that were attacked by dogs for the last 3 yr period. A simple enough request if animal control is keeping detailed organized records. Well apparently it is very time consuming and will cost me $3500 if I want this information. I have seen how animal control keeps their records - its comical and in 2005 I made the exact same request and it cost me nothing. I think the city doesn't want the public to know that there have been very few if any or else they would be happy to provide evidence supporting their claims. Furthermore this is a matter of public safety and should be released with no charge.

It is common sense that any public body that stalls a request or asks for an outrageous fee to process it is clearly, clearly trying to cover up something and doesn't want this information being made public.

Penny Ballem also oversees all FOI requests made to the Parks Board now. After reading this post I see that her office is abusing everyone not just me and they really are arrogant. They clearly feel the FOI legislation and laws don't apply to them.

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