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Making hay at the park board

August 31st, 2009 · 62 Comments

A current story that is generating lots of huffing and puffing from commentators (here, here and here) is the fact that park-board commissioner Constance Barnes apparently received a $3,000 loan from the board to help with the cost of the $18,000 rehab program she enrolled in after crashing her car into a house and being charged with drunk driving.

I’ve never said more than hello to Constance and I know little about the park board these days, except for secondhand reports I get that it is not functioning very well, with the Vision park commissioners floundering about looking for a coherent direction.

But I really don’t understand the outrage that people seem to be trying to generate over the Barnes’ loan story. Columns and news stories constantly refer to Vancouver taxpayers having to pay for the cost of her treatment and to the fact that the loan was not publicly approved by the board.

But, to my knowledge, the board doesn’t have any authority to approve or disapprove of standard human-resources policies. If the city’s HR policy allows for loans to assist employees with rehab, and the news stories seem to indicate that it does, it’s not something that the board would vote on or even have to be told about. Just like when Peter Ladner got sued for libel by DERA’s Kim Kerr, his legal fees were automatically paid under existing city policy — no vote at council and no announcement made.

Secondly, unless I’m missing something again, it’s a loan. Yes, interest-free. And at today’s current interest rates, even if Barnes didn’t pay back the loan for two years, it would cost “the taxpayers” no more than $300 if the loan were at five per cent. Personally, my line of credit is 2.5 per cent, a rate I imagine the city probably has too, which means that the tax dollars going into this would be no more than $75 a year.

The biggest problem so far seems to be that park-board commissioners themselves acted as though there was something wrong going on and gave obfuscating answers when asked by reporters.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first story in politics where critics — lacking a better story to go after — have focused on a relatively small issue that they thought would generate public outrage, even though they themselves knew it wasn’t a big deal.

But maybe there’s some part of this story I’m missing. If so, please tell me and the rest of the public what it is.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • “As for Keam’s typically pathetic excuse making for his friends in Vision…yawn.”

    I assure you, they didn’t even know I existed before the Burrard Bridge protected lane trial… which is going splendidly and leaving the columnists who cried Wolf desperately combing the woods searching for a scrap of fur or pile of scat so they don’t come across as fools who proffered opinions without actually doing enough research to realize that things are panning out pretty much exactly as predicted.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Keam–you continue to act the fool you are…

    A typo while blogging, OMG, shoot me….

    Spinning for Vision and they didn’t know you? More lies…

    Invading my privacy, yes, my writing hate speech, no…you are part of a small group of miserable, self-indulgent wingnuts, who think you can change the world by hurting people through forcing that change.

    You are no different than the other bike asses who are parading around Toronto lamenting the loss of a drunk rider, who tried to wrestle the wheel away from an innocent driver while the car was still going. And he ended up dead. Big shock.

    But your agenda driven zombies still want to blame anybody else.

    You even feel bold enough to admit on this blog no less, that you’ve driven your bike while intoxicated, but previously you stated how the rules for drivers should be more stringent than on cyclists. It’s that kind of hypocrisy and stupidity that is emblematic of your thinking.

    It’s no different on the issue of Barnes. Save her, save her, but screw the principle of saving as much tax money as possible for issues which matter.

    Vision should have just written a cheque out of their account.

    …but when ALL THE DETAILS of Constance Barnes’ little escapade that fateful night are revealed, then I’d like to see what you’re going to write.

    Maybe you’ll be holding on to someone’s wheel by then…

  • SV

    AGT-how do you handle disagreements in your real life? Just curious because you seem to get very angry whenever anyone disagrees with you. And it’s not just specific to certain other commenters, it seems to be anyone.
    Is this why 24 hrs doesn’t allow comments?

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    SV–not angry at all. Just straight to the point. And it’s hardly anyone. I just think the blogosphere is unchecked and if you don’t respond firmly, all these people who sit around eating has brownies and swooning at Geoff Meggs, get a free ride because they ride a bike and hug trees.

    Spare me.

    24 Hours website is governed by 24 Hours. Ask them.

    My site will be up soon enough… and you are welcome to come and ask and engage and do as you please–within reason. Lots of comments from all sorts of intelligent people will be available, I’m sure.

    Thx for asking and have a great day!

  • Couching name-calling and ignorance in the guise of being straightforward is a joke and those who traffick in such behaviour are the butt of said jape.

  • Brenton

    Nice to see everyone getting along. I wonder how different it would be in person over a few beers.

  • “AGT-how do you handle disagreements in your real life?”

    The same way all bullies do:

    “Many bullies think highly of themselves. They like being looked up to. And they often expect everyone to behave according to their wishes. Children who bully are often not taught to think about how their actions make other people feel.”

  • “Spinning for Vision and they didn’t know you? More lies…”

    Sorry, but it’s not. I’ve met the Mayor once when he was an MLA (at a Bike To Work Week function). Raymond Louie and I have both belonged to the CEP union at one time and I’ve met him once in relation to that. I’ve sat in on a couple of bicycle advisory meetings where Councillor Meggs was also in attendance (but only since the highly successful protected lane trial began). I’m flattered that you think I have friends in high places Alex, but quel dommage it’s just not the case.

  • “screw the principle of saving as much tax money as possible for issues which matter.”

    Paying for counselling for someone is much cheaper than not paying for it in the long run. Of course, since the taxpayer isn’t really paying for it in the long run, it’s a red herring.

  • gmgw

    I’ve stayed out of this pissing match mainly because I think the Barnes case is a non-issue, except, obviously, to the rabid dogs of the NPA. But at the risk of fanning the flames I would like to point out Allen Garr’s Sept. 2 “Courier” column on the subject, which expresses my POV better than anything I could say. He cuts through the crap with his usual efficiency (excuse the unwieldy URL; hope the link works; if not go to the Courier website):

  • Gotta agree wit rf who wrote..
    “The Orchard is a $500 per day spa for middle aged-alcoholics with money/resources and drug addict kids of the wealthy (i have experience with a former-loved one and this place).
    There no replacement for AA meetings and if Barnes was serious she would be at 2 or 3 a day”…

  • jh

    I’ve been through rehab after being a heavy drinker with a $500-a-day crack cocaine habit. It was not cheap. And I have not touched a thing since.
    I would not have got to those AA and NA meetings if I had not gone through rehab. It would have been impossible for me. Period. I’d be dead (as my partner is) if I’d just tried to do the meetings thing. And, I had to be willing to go through rehab. Ms. Barnes appears to be willing and my hat is of to her. If she’s willing to endure all this crap to make her life and the lives around her better, then good for her. I hope with all my heart she succeeds because it’s the hardest thing she will ever do.
    I had to be removed from society for a while to deal with the underlying issues of my alcoholism and addiction. And, please, I can do without sanctimonious lectures on what is and is not impossible for me from anyone else. They are not in my skin.
    As for AGT, well, he’s entertaining. I would certainly never take a thing he says seriously. He often has a decent initial premise and then takes them to an extreme at which point I dismiss him.