This post is a little belated, since NPA types told me early last week that a new executive was going to be chosen and on Thursday, just on schedule, the list of new names came out, which you can read, along with new president Michael Davis’s message, here.
It’s interesting that the new executive is composed almost entirely of the new and diverse group that was elected to the board back in December, like Chilwin Cheng, Manjot Hallen and Jeevan Khunkhun. They really seem to be trying to make the point that NPA candidate Michael Geller did during the campaign: “This is not your father’s NPA.”
Michael has been around the NPA a bit, as a long-term supporter of Sam Sullivan’s, back to the mid-90s when Sullivan was a rookie councillor in Vancouver. He now the senior counsel and director of operations with the PR company Reputations, which has long been affiliated with Sullivan as well, also because of president Wayne Hartrick’s association with him back to his early days.
I can testify from past experience that Michael has been great to deal with. He’s certainly way more comfortable talking to us media scum than previous NPA presidents have been. He worked briefly on Sullivan’s membership drive, which led up to his loss in the nomination fight between him and Peter Ladner. Michael says he kind of dropped out of the election scene after that, but is now back in and looking at how to broaden out the NPA.
Look for the association to go through another debate about what its role should be. The association has an 80-year tradition of maintaining that it’s not really a party. Theoretically, it elects a board whose main job is to choose good candidates from all parts of the city and political spectrum. Then it pretty much disbands.
Michael says there’s a “lot of enthusiasm on the board now to be more active.” The party hasn’t decided yet what to do about paying for some staff support for its existing elected members or doing the kind of outreach to members that helped Vision Vancouver build itself up so strongly prior to last fall’s election. That’s all in the planning. But the focus is definitely on maintaining the core base of voters, which held at a respectable 50,000 in the last election under Peter Ladner, convincing some people who sat on their hands in the election to come back out, and broadening the appeal. One area that Michael specifically mentioned was the arts and culture community.
The NPA’s new energy seems to have coincided with another burst of energy from park board commissioner Ian Robertson. Ian is the only NPA candidate who was elected to park board and he’s been kind of quiet until now. But this week, he sent out his first news release, letting people know about a decision the new Vision/COPE commissioners appear to be set to make about a private company that was supposed to get a contract to run a service in Queen Elizabeth Park.
I’m attaching Ian’s news release at the bottom of this post.
This new activity, if it continues, should help NPA supporters start to figure out where the party is going and what it stands for. Until now, there hadn’t been a lot of public activity going on, except for little reports over at Sean Bickerton’s blog, where the former NPA council candidate is keeping up an interesting stream of commentary on the city and politics. But aside from that, it’s been unclear in many people’s minds whether the new citycaucus.com blog was the voice of the NPA or what. Michael said, on that topic, “They’re not. I certainly like some of the reporting that they’re doing, though I disagree with some things.” Like other NPAers I’ve talked to, he likes the fact that citycaucus exists because it brings a different point of view to the blogosphere/media world, i.e. one that highlights NPA criticisms and issues. There seems to be a strong feeling by many people that the NPA somehow doesn’t get a fair shake in the media. (I await the comments from those saying all of the MSM does nothing but promote the NPA.)
So those of us who cover civic politics will be waiting to see how the new NPA defines itself and remakes itself for the new century. Looking forward to seeing what the evolution brings.
Here’s Ian’s news release
VISION-COPE PARK BOARD DECISION BAD FOR
NPA Park Commissioner Ian Robertson says reversing previous Boards’ motion will hurt small business
Vancouver, BC –Vision Vancouver’s Park Commissioner Aaron Jasper will introduce a motion on March 2nd that will reverse the previous Board’s approval to Vancouver-based Chapel at Stanley Park Enterprises Inc. to manage and operate the Celebration Pavilion at Queen Elizabeth Park, says Commissioner Ian Robertson.
“This is a sad day for small business operators wanting to do business with the Park Board and the City of Vancouver,” says Robertson. “This operator spent considerable time and effort to go through an extensive proposal process. They negotiated in good faith with the Park Board. To have a new Board over-turn a decision that was good for the residents of Vancouver is very troubling”
Chapel at Stanley Park Enterprises had negotiated an agreement to manage and operate the Celebration Pavilion at Queen Elizabeth Park for a five-year term with an option to renew for up to an additional five years. A percentage of the revenue would be paid back to the Park Board.
“I expect the Vision-COPE commissioners have reneged on this agreement so they can turn it into a union operation,” adds Commissioner Robertson. “With four parties at the Board table we have a tremendous opportunity to create a new strategic plan for parks and recreation services for the residents of Vancouver. Instead, Vision and COPE are breaking deals and hurting small business operators.”