Frances Bula header image 2

Another city blogger joins the fray: Geoff Meggs

February 15th, 2009 · 25 Comments

Former journalist, now councillor, Geoff Meggs has put his blog back in motion recently. For those of you who just can’t read enough about city hijinks and deep policy thoughts, the link is here. It was impressive that in a recent post, he took the time to publish a lengthy comment from someone critical of his comments on CTV about Olympics parties and acknowledge a need to improve.

Another interesting recent post is his thoughts on the recent Olympic village coverage.

It’s refreshing to see that kind of reflectiveness and openness, although of course Geoff has his fairly unmoveable ideas on many city issues aside from Olympics parties.

It was a pleasant change, at any rate, from the puzzling citycaucus.com blog, being run by former mayor Sam Sullivan’s chief of staff, Daniel Fontaine, and the mayor’s former website designer, Mike Klassen.

I had been looking forward to seeing what this blog would produce and its potential contribution to debates on the big issues the city is facing. What I enjoy most about journalism is hearing the different arguments people can bring to an issue — it’s a learning experience. And the city has a lot on its plate that can use a full hearing of all points of view.

There have been occasional posts that contribute to that kind of educational debate, but there’s also a substantial amount of what I can only call silly stuff, i.e. “Gregor Robertson had a private party at the Vancouver Club at taxpayers expense” or “More in camera meetings in Gregor’s first two months in office than in Sam’s.” — I’m paraphrasing here.

Yes, Gregor took Olympics guy to the Vancouver Club as part of the city’s hosting duties, just as Sam would have done. It was hardly secret. He held a media availability afterwards to talk about it, for anyone who wanted to show up. Yes, there have been more in-camera meetings as the city deals with the Olympic village issue, just an NPA council would have been doing, given the state of emergency that prevails with the financing there.

It’s not clear whether the bloggers involved actually know what they’re doing is silly but they do it anyway as part of an energetic and negative three-year attack campaign — mobilizing their base and hoping to fool a few dumb people who are easily misled along the way — or if they actually don’t get how things work. In either case, it’s annoying to read such deliberately petty and misinformative stuff.

Categories: City Hall Talk

  • Julia

    come on Frances, play nice. if the boys over at citycaucus will reap the credibility they derserve. Let them find their way in this big bad world of blogging. I highly doubt that Geoff will be anything but self serving in his posts so there is plenty of filtering required no matter what you read.

    From my perspective it is all good – even the self serving stuff. Gets us talking about our city and hopefully a few folks will decide they care about it’s future.

  • fbula

    Julia,

    And I’m just commenting on it in passing, not writing a huge long essay because, yes, history will judge their true worth, as Miss Manners used to say.

    But when people are really misleading, I like to comment — just as I did during the election campaign, when Visionistas kept running around saying the NPA council had done “nothing” about housing.

    BTW, is there an extra word in your second sentence? Do you mean “The boys over at …” You can re-send if you want and I’ll erase the first one.

  • From my perspective it is most definitely not ‘all good’.

    Why?

    Because demonstrable falsehoods are just that.

    And, in my opinion, Mess’rs Fontaine and Klassen have a penchant for dressing them up as something else entirely.

    (and, I for one, am convinced that if Mr. Meggs decides to get into codwallopian fashion designing that he too will be called on it by Ms. Bula)

    .

  • Gordon

    This seems a bit rich. When VancouverKid (Kevin Quinlan) was doing his thing, I didn’t hear you complaining.

  • Bob Ransford

    Frances,

    Thanks for pointing out what the City Caucus blog is all about. It has nothing to do with informing people about urban issues. It is little more than meaningless gossip and as you so aptly put it “deliberately petty and misinformative stuff”.

    I visit the site regularly to amuse myself with the navel-gazing of self-important failed, second rate political hacks.

  • foo

    Wow, it’s really not worth getting all in a lather over citycaucus. Or Geoff Meggs for that matter. Any blog that doesn’t allow comments, or only publishes a tiny fraction of comments, isn’t going to be a very influential blog. People will take it for what it is – self-serving crap.

    This blog has credibility because people can contribute whatever they like, and thus help the debate.

    This is the 21st century. Those who think they can control the public discourse like in the good old days are just going to get run over.

  • Julia

    come on Frances, play nice. The boys over at citycaucus will reap the credibility they derserve. Let them find their way in this big bad world of blogging. I highly doubt that Geoff will be anything but self serving in his posts so there is plenty of filtering required no matter what you read.

    From my perspective it is all good – even the self serving stuff. Gets us talking about our city and hopefully a few folks will decide they care about it’s future.

  • During the course of the election campaign, I discovered there were quite a few blogs covering the city. Most are extremely biased, but to paraphrase John Bassett, the former owner of the Toronto Telegram, what’s the point of owning a newspaper if you can’t use it to broadcast your views.

    Today, as Clay Shirky points out in “Here Comes Everybody”, we can all own a newspaper. While I welcome more bloggers covering municipal issues , I would suggest they need to be responsible in reporting on events and what is said and done. Otherwise, they will lose their following.

    I personally feel that I was foolish in commenting on the citycaucus.com entry that Suzanne Anton was not invited to a civic party at the Vancouver Club. I am now learning that it may not have been a party, and indeed, other Vision members may not have been invited either.

    At the same time, I thought other entries over the past few months have been very useful, such as the material about the Toronto Budget discussions.

    Since there is only one member of Council representing a large segment of the voters, I think it will be beneficial to have more thoughtful and responsible commentary from this blog, as well as citycaucus.com and others. This is especially true since the Vancouver Sun seems to have stopped covering municipal issues.

  • independent mind

    I actually think the more eyes on the civic scene are a good thing. However I have visited the NPA blog and found it to be a juvenile in its approach.

    They have a hard time figuring out what they are. They can hardly be serious when they spend so much time delving into the trivia of the Vision Vancouver council’s actions. Their three paragraph format really does not lend itself to depth on any issue.

    I have even taken the time to comment on blog postings but never been printed. I have heard there are others with the same experience. If they cannot take criticism they shouldn’t pretend to be serious.

    I hope Councillor Meggs allows his site to be a place to have discussion on civic issues.

  • Mr. Tsukamis makes some good points, Frances.

    Don’t give the cc boys any exposure, and don’t grace local media outlets with your presence should they be represented. It’s not worth your reputation being lowered to their level – you’re better than that.

    As others have commented here, leaving a critical comment at their place is a waste of time – they can’t take the heat and print it . . . .

  • hohoho

    I get that some of you don’t want local politics being discussed in a way that isn’t kind to Gregor or Vision. But after 3 years of the local press haranguing Sam Sullivan and NPA councillors (which continues to this day despite the fact they lost the election), you can’t put that genie back into the bottle.

    Anyone who thinks a blog from Geoff Meggs is “refreshing and open” needs to do some serious soul searching. I’ve yet to see an entry where he isn’t bashing the NPA in every other paragraph. Somehow that is news, refreshing or open? It’s just more Vision propaganda.

    So while many of you think Citycaucus is biased, there are just as many who think this blog and Alex’s column are biased, too. Not everyone is watching what’s going on at City Hall through Happy Planet glasses.

  • fbula

    I don’t have a problem with people being biased, whatever that is. That’s what I’d expect of a partisan blog. As I said when they started, I welcomed the chance to hear other viewpoints.

    We’re all biased in one way or another. Some just try harder to overcome their blind spots than others.

    What I find strange, to repeat, is the triviality and misinformation in a noticeable number — though not all — of the posts.

  • spartikus

    What I find strange, to repeat, is the triviality and misinformation in a noticeable number

    For example: The pay freeze will affect unionized staff.

    Even when presented with contrary evidence, they refused to withdraw the claim, which stands uncorrected even today, despite Frances’s original reporting being confirmed.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    hohoho:

    Explain please how my columns on civic matters (a minority of my columns) are “biased” in favour of the Mayor?

    I have written 13 separate pieces on either Vision or the Mayor specifically. Eight were favourable, because they were/are doing a good job. The others were moderate slaps to heavily critical in scope. And I endorsed Peter, not Gregor. Explain how I am a shill for Vision again?. I have many friends who are members of that party, including the Mayor, but they know all too well that I will pull no punches if I think they’re offside–period. I dealt with Peter the same way.

    Surely you do not expect us to believe that there are “just as many” who find me or Frances or anyone else as biased as citycaucus???? I think you might need to shake off that nap.

    Vision Vancouver is, by and large, doing a very good job at running this city. Exclude Geoff’s early performance and they are playing almost flawless ball. And do not underestimate Meggs, he’s a very bright, competent player, who is just having a bit of a tough time reckoning how sharp his spurs should be.

    And, puuleeeeze…don’t even start about how the local press took Sam to task. He deserved, in fact earned, every bit of it. He was the worst Mayor we’ve ever had and his nothingness was painful. Besides, when did anyone at the Sun take Sam to task? They all but printed his wedding invitations in January 2008, in one of the greatest, most inconsequential puff-pieces of all time. If I offered up pablum like that to my editor, I ‘d be spit-shining shoes in Vegas washroom pretty damn fast.

    Just in the first sixty days of taking the helm of this city, Gregor has already accomplished more than Sam and his lickspittles did in three years.

    If I ‘m biased for loving my city enough that I’m ecstatic to have a Mayor who feels the same way, then guilty as charged.

    Just don’t ask me to share a cell with Tieleman. He snores.

  • My, my my. Some of my blogging friends over at City Caucus and their supporters are a little sensitive!

    The fact that one recently current and one former NPA partisans are disparaging in their comments about City Caucus – Bob Ransford and Alex Tsakumis – seems to indicate that the party rebuilding process is going slightly slower than the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

    I enjoy City Caucus – I am pleased they asked to interview me and Erin Airton did an excellent job of reporting what I said very fairly and accurately.

    But boys – get a bit thicker skin! Frances Bula’s comments are really quite accurate and it takes a lot to get Frances mad at you, even as mild as her admonishments were.

    People take shots at me all the time – and short of defamation or obscenity I publish them on my blog – no big deal.

    Lastly – Tsakumis is right – I do snore. He learned that when we bunked together in Oakalla, where he was incarcerated for Socred-related crimes that can’t be mentioned here.

  • As far as I know

    City Caucus isn’t the NPA, and the NPA isn’t City Caucus. The CC boys speak for themselves and only themselves.

    Unless I missed something.

    Oh, wait, still no word from the NPA. What gives?

  • Wagamuffin

    …and speaking about free speech…let us not gore each others hyberbole, lest ours be gored…or something like that….

    (From Mark Twain, American Notes, “The Privilege of the Grave,” The New Yorker, December 22, 2008, p. 50)

    Keywords
    Free Speech; Privileges; Dead; Unpopular Opinions; Murder; Anti-Slavery; Political Parties

    ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF DEMOCRACY about exercising free speech from the grave.

    Its occupant has one privilege which is not exercised by any living person: free speech. The living man is not really without this privilege-strictly speaking-but as he possess it merely as an empty formality, and knows better than to make use of it, it cannot be seriously regarded as an actual possession. As an active privilege, it ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences.

    There is not one individual who is not the possessor of dear and cherished unpopular convictions which common wisdom forbids him to utter. When an entirely new and untried political project is sprung upon the people, they are startled, anxious, timid, and for a time they are mute, reserved, noncommittal. Free speech is the privilege of the dead, the monopoly of the dead. They can speak their honest minds without offending. We may disapprove of what they say, but we do not insult them, we do not revile them, as knowing they cannot now defend themselves.

    If they should speak, it would be found that in matters of opinion no departed person was exactly what he had passed for in life. They would realize, deep down, that they, and whole nations along with them, are not really what they seem to be-and never can be.

  • Wagamuffin

    PS: I have a very disturbing picture in my head of Tieleman and Tsakumis performing some kind of burlesque floor show at the Bellagio….

  • JPW

    AGT – Wow…Impressive…One question. Just what exactly is “lickspittle”? Is that the line of drool you get when you are finished at the dentist? Is that what it is?

    Other than that I’m at a complete loss. I think you mentioned the phrase city.caucus more times than anyone thus far. What should we take from that given your advice to FB? I think your points are well made. Daniel F. pretty superficial as far as people go. However, having seen both he and now Mayor Robertson’s team in action I am not convinced we have gained a lot of depth here. I would say that they are more adept at dealing with the pace City hall is moving at. They can change gears quite smoothly and compile details quickly . I am just not convinced that the people they have brought on board are here for the long haul. Everyone seems very ambitious and eager to please. Do your consider him a 2 term Mayor? I am not convinced.

  • JPW

    PS – Wagamuffin – I would also order the Bellagio gig if it were on “pay per view”. No question.

  • Wagamuffin

    JPW–We could sell tickets!!

  • JPW

    You know sticking them each in one of those speed skating suits and racing around the Richmond Oval wouldn’t be such a bad idea either. I think the excersize could do at least one of them some good. We could sell tickets to that too!

    Okay, I know I am going to get it for that one! Am “bracing for impact” once again. 🙂

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Do skating suits come in cashmere herringbone gray? No?? No ticket pocket for my lighter or cutter either?? No?

    Don’t worry JPW, my old pal, lots of mirrors in the batcave…I’m quite comfortable with who I am and what I am.

    But I do have a story about Tieleman and fishnets…oh nevermind…

    🙂

  • Wagamuffin

    LOVE IT! LOL!!

  • JPW

    Okay AGT, I am glad you are happy with who you are. Though I never thought you were one lacking in the “self esteem” department. But you didn’t answer the question du jour…What exactly is “lickspittle” ? So I googled it and found out it means…”a fawning subordinate”. I thought for sure it was something way more disgusting than that. That’s actually a pretty civilized term. Lastly, I do think fishnets are extremely “under rated”.