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Young, diverse slate wins big at Vision park-board nomination

June 23rd, 2014 · 39 Comments

I dropped by the voting and the announcement yesterday of the winner’s in Vision Vancouver’s run-off for park-board and school-board candidates on this fall’s slate.

Obviously, Vision is touting this as a huge sign of democracy in action, with 1,650 voters out, and critics seeing it as a triumph of slate voting for a group favoured by the Vision backroom. It certainly is a success for Vision on one level, to get this group of relatively young people involved, with representation from the city’s increasingly active Filipino community and always active Indo community.

I’m not sure about either claim, as the obvious NDP vs. left (federal) Liberal partisanship that emerged was not totally what the party was looking for. In the past, Vision has tended to slightly favour the federal Liberals as a way of trying to capture the centre (remember when they chose fed Liberal Ian Baillie rather than forever NDPer Stephen Learey as ED for the party several years ago?).

Seemed to me, from what I heard, that the slate win was more an issue of a group that took advantage of lots of support from experienced NDP organizers (people who’ve worked with Dix, Eby, Elmore) to mount a full-on campaign that the others weren’t really expecting. (Nicholas Ellan, on Twitter, said it was coming into a knife fight with a bazooka — an apt metaphor.)

I know that some of those running — experienced community activists who have put in their time with Vision, like Catherine Evans and Brent Granby — were a bit stunned by the results, which saw the least well-known member of the slate, Corree Tull, come in a full 300-400 votes ahead of them.

And why all the interest in park board, you might ask?

Well, although someone on Twitter reprimanded me for suggesting it, it’s obvious that it’s a good first step for anyone who is contemplating a political career. Spencer Herbert was a park-board commissioner when his party wasn’t even in power but he used the position so effectively, garnered so much media attention through his savvy, that he was a shoo-in for the NDP nomination later. That doesn’t mean everyone who ran for park board is planning to move on up or that they don’t care about park-board issues. But clearly park board is a place for minor-league tryouts, to show how you handle being in the public eye and what you can do with your tiny position of power. (After all, these people only make about $13,000 a year and their budget is largely controlled by city council, so it’s not like they can remake the universe.)

Vision put out the exact vote count this morning. Appended here for the numbers oriented among you.
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NPA board will not endorse Denike and Woo for nomination

June 17th, 2014 · 153 Comments

Another NPA board meeting, another raft of news

Vancouver, B.C. (June 17, 2014) – The NPA Vancouver Board of Directors has voted to support the recent expulsion of school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from the NPA Caucus. The Board also decided that Denike and Woo will not receive the party’s endorsement as candidates in the upcoming municipal election.

NPA President Peter Armstrong said the Caucus’s decision to expel Denike and Woo was not unexpected.

“The Caucus has had ongoing issues with Ken and Sophia for a long time and the Board has been aware of this,” said Armstrong. “The raucous news conference called by Ken and Sophia last week was just one issue among many that forced the Caucus to take action.”

The NPA Caucus formally expelled Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from Caucus late last week having concluded that Denike and Woo did not share the same level of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and noting that the two had chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting the other members of Caucus.

The NPA celebrates and supports the diversity of all of the people in our city and fully supports efforts to assist LGBTQ+ and Gender Variant persons in our community and in our schools. Fostering inclusion and understanding is central among the NPA’s guiding principles.

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Barinder Rasode aiming to be first South Asian woman mayor in North America

June 17th, 2014 · 3 Comments

While everyone awaits the announcement on June 19 that Councillor Linda Hepner will be the candidate for Surrey First, breakaway councillor Barinder Rasode is out and running.

Her strategy of using her rented office space as a place for community events is kind of interesting — I haven’t seen that one before. And she seems to have gathered a fair bit of support already.

But it seems to be a very open question whether there’s enough dissatisfaction among likely voters in Surrey to overcome the Surrey First machine that Dianne Watts created. It’s still very early days in this race. I hear that various high-powered federal Liberal types are getting involved in Hepner’s campaign.

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NPA caucus is expelling school trustees Ken Denike, Sophia Woo

June 13th, 2014 · 82 Comments

Holy cow, this is a bombshell.

NPA Caucus Expels Denike and Woo

Vancouver, B.C. (June 13, 2014) — The NPA Caucus announced this afternoon that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo have been formally expelled from Caucus.

The decision to expel Denike and Woo was necessary given that the two have chosen to follow their own course in various matters without consulting with the other members of Caucus. The Caucus has concluded that Denike and Woo do not share the same level of sensivity and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.

The NPA Caucus celebrates and supports the diversity of all of the people of our city and fully supports efforts to assist LGBTQ+ and Gender Variant persons in our community and in our schools. Fostering inclusion and understanding is central among the NPA’s guiding principles.

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Two (or three?) more senior staff gone in Vancouver

June 11th, 2014 · 10 Comments

Word from various sources, including @VancouverInsider, that two more senior staff have departed Vancouver city hall: senior engineer Karyn Magnusson, the person who nobly provided her back yard for the mayor’s demonstration of the new organic-composting system last year, off to UBC, and Dennis Carr, assistant director in housing, gone back to Canada’s mysterious east.

I also heard that Eric Bayfield, also in engineering, quit. Handily, the city’s online staff directory is now helping out with that kind of update.

You are looking for: bayfield
Number of matches: 1

Name Telephone Title Department Email

Erik Bayfield
Streets, Traffic and Electrical Operations

Getting a little difficult to keep track of everyone’s who quit — and not just boomers retiring, but younger people, moving on to different jobs.

Can you help me make a list? I think is started, way back when, with
Melissa Scholefield (head of sustainability group, first senior staffer who left not because she was driven out as part of the old NPA team but suspected by all to have left because of weird working conditions)

Just prior to this group listed above, it was

Scot Hein (also to UBC)
Matt Shillito (back to England)
Vicki Potter (retiring)

There were, of course, various people who resigned right after Vision came in: Jody Andrews, James Ridge, deputy city managers.

Then a bunch of people in the middle

Don MacPherson, drug-policy director
Mike Flanigan, director of real estate services (off to BCHousing, viewed as a particularly big loss for the city)
Marg Coulson, city clerk
Jill Davidson, housing planner
Trish French, senior planner
Ronda Howard, senior planner
Kevin Ramsay, HR manager
Mairi Welman, director of communications (along with a whole other whack of people in communications, including one guy who quit six weeks after he was hired)

I know this list is extremely incomplete — remind me of the others?

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Character houses in Vancouver being demolished at higher rate than newer ones

June 11th, 2014 · 15 Comments

That was one fact that emerged from the presentation by general manager of planning Brian Jackson yesterday, in advance of today’s council vote supporting new policies that are an attempt to slow down the demolitions.

More details in Jackson’s Power Point here and my story here.

By the way, I popped over the the inquiries desk at city hall yesterday to check on demolition permits granted. Here is what was on the books, just since June 1:

3049 West 21st
4049 West 33rd
7457 Laburnum
2225 McMullen Avenue
6775 Fleming
2066 West 47th
7289 Adera (a deconstruction)
4157 West 13th
5811 Dumfries
7741 Elliott
5961 Wales

Prior to the meeting, I’d heard from an architect that there are so many applications to build new single family (which is Vancouver almost inevitably entails a demolition) in the last few months that application processing times have jumped from about eight weeks to 14. My guess would be a lot of people are rushing through in order to beat the city’s new character-protection policies. (Which is a sign that at least some people think they’ll be effective, even if some heritage advocates don’t.)

Jackson told me that, in order to unclog the backlog, he got the permits department to send out a message to the 250 people in the queue saying that if their applications were ready to come in right away. That brought 38 people down to the hall hotfoot and almost all of those have now been processed.

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NPA mayoralty candidate Leonard Brody talks about what he wants for the city

June 11th, 2014 · 46 Comments

Well, at last, someone willing to talk about what he wants to do if he does end up running.

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Who is the NPA’s third possible mayoralty candidate, Leonard Brody?

June 8th, 2014 · 11 Comments

Gotta say, the NPA’s strategy or non-strategy when it comes to picking (and publicizing) their choices for mayoralty candidate is increasingly mysterious. There has been a steady dribble of leaks from various board members about who the candidates are. First name leaked was Kirk LaPointe’s, my former boss at the Vancouver Sun and currently a professor at the UBC journalism school and publisher/editor-in-chief of Self-Counsel Press. Then a second name dripped out: Ian Robertson, the former NPA park-board chair. Then, a third intriguing name, Leonard Brody.

As a reporter who’s been through the mill a few times, I can’t help but speculate about this method of dispersing information. Either the NPA’s Peter Armstrong has a board that is refusing to comply with requests for radio silence or there is something strategic about all these links. Can’t help but suspect the latter, especially with the final name dropped to both Jeff Lee at the Sun and me earlier this week so that there could be a little more buzz generated. (And perhaps the NPA is testing the waters with these names. If so, send them your feedback, folks. Your opinions may have more weight than you suspect.)

Well, it’s not a bad strategy, to build up a bit of chatter about who the NPA’s candidate might be. We’ve heard some stuff about the other two. For more information on Brody, I came across this excellent profile of him done by Tony Wanless for BCBusiness — really gives a sense of who Brody is, who he’s connected to, and what he’s done. Somewhat ironically, the article includes commentary from Kirk LaPointe on Brody’s accomplishments and impact.

Kinda fascinating, for me at least, that two of the three candidates the NPA is considering for its comeback are media types, one from the world of old media (though I have to say that, at the Sun, Kirk was the main driver behind a very aggressive effort to be more digital) and one from the new, both with reputations for moving rather rapidly from one gig to another, both interested in the new ways that the public is engaging with mass media and political institutions.

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NPA holds private vote for mayor candidate, LaPointe rumoured to be the choice

June 3rd, 2014 · 25 Comments

Omg, those of us in civic politics reporting circles have been working feverishly the last few days trying to find out exactly wwhat went down at the six-hour board meeting the Non-Partisan Association held last Thursday.

Jeff Lee at the Sun and I both had stories out in the he last 24 hours, with whatever details we were able to scrape. There’s been a lot of chatter coming over the phones to both of us, I presume, that journalist Kirk LaPointe was chosen for the mayoralty candidate. (Jeff also got the info that former park board chair Ian Robertson was also one of the potential mayoralty candidates interviewed.)

But the NPA’s Peter Armstrong and Rob Macdonald refused to confirm anything, so it’s all just speculation for now.

Here’s my story and his. Oh, and to give you the sense of what kind of election it’s going to be, below is the message that Vision Vancouver sent out within hours of my story appearing.

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Speculation rampant about NPA candidates: journalist LaPointe in? Macdonald out

May 29th, 2014 · 22 Comments

Great excitement this week when Mike Howell at the Vancouver Courier was first up to publish news about the rumours that former Vancouver Sun editor, former CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe is being considered by the NPA as a mayoral candidate.

Mike actually got a live interview with LaPointe that confirmed there’s some kind of negotiation going on (LaPointe also told me by email “it’s still a process” and nothing else to say at the moment). Mike also got a confirmation from developer Rob Macdonald that he had decided not to run, in part because of his health, in part because he felt like he’d be opening up himself and his party to a major assault by Vision Vancouver. (He’s right on that one.)

I hear elsewhere that the potential mayoral candidates are meeting with party board members sometime this week. There are apparently two or three other possible candidates, but no word yet on who they are. NOT current NPA councillor George Affleck, I’m hearing, who is going to carry on at the councillor level.

Here in the journalism world, of course, people are agog about the idea of LaPointe (one of our OWN) running, though I suspect some uncertainty about what he would be like in this new role. He’s spent his whole life, since teenagehood, in the world of journalism. And, typical of many journalists, LaPointe was always hugely interested in the drama of politics but never demonstrated any particular political leanings one way or the other, at least not any that were visible in the newsroom.

We await further developments.



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