Frances Bula header image 2

Olympic village fatigue or “Don’t tell us any more”

January 17th, 2009 · 37 Comments

So I think I speak for all of us when I say: Enough.

We get it. The Olympic village is a mess. Somebody is to blame, though we’re not completely sure who yet. We’ve now all read more in-camera city-hall minutes than any of us would have ever believed possible, minutes that have way less narrative flow and drama than your average airport novel, by the way. We’ve learned a lot about big-project financing, performance bonds, hedge funds, hard and soft costs of construction, completion guarantees, and material defaults, knowledge that will undoubtedly help us when we go in to re-negotiate our house mortgages next time.

I believe this is the moment for all of us in the media to check in on Britney Spears’ child-custody issues. Devote some attention to the emerging trend of urban chickens. Write a travel piece on the unknown charms of Nanaimo as a tourist destination. Anything.

Of course we won’t, you know. We’ll just keep going. We have a living to make and awards to win and irate people on all sides who inssit on giving us more, more, more information so we can, at last, tell the full and complete story — from their point of view.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • alan

    Or, we can watch the Live Webcast from the BC legislature here:

    They are currently in recess while the speaker decides if there will be debate, or if the Liberals can pass the legislation without any oversight.

  • fbula

    Hey, nice cherry trees on the website. I GUESS I could take the laptop to an outdoor cafe and watch it there, while enjoying the sunshine. But, no, I don’t think I’m that sick a puppy.

    Keep us updated, though, Alan.

  • Wayne

    Fortunately I don’t have to wade through the city council minutes because Frances does that for me. I doubt I’d be able to make heads or tails of it anyway.
    I don’t now how you get us so much information Frances but I sure do appreciate all the work you put in.

  • LP

    Sunshine… must be higher up than I.

    There is still much fog around here, although I’m still unsure if that fog is just in my head from much imbibing last night.

    Please do tell us more on these urban chickens though, they sound interesting.

  • alan

    Carol James just said that the NDP intends to support the bill. However, she is also saying that the lack of transparency has resulted in a lack of confidence.

  • Chris B

    Nanaimo eh? I like it. How about someting like the Bridges of Madison County, except adapted for the unique charms of the Nanaimo – The Strip Malls of the Harbour City. It could explore the planning differences between the 1960’s strip malls (located on a collector road, enough parking for the Saturday before Christmas and a bunch of useless-ish stores) and a 1990’s strip mall (all the same, except 18 trees in the parking lot)

  • Joseph Jones

    Nobody speaks for everybody, nor should anybody ever offer to.

  • Denis

    Gordo will be sitting with a smug look on his face knowing that no matter what is said, most folks won’t bother listening or reading the arguments.

    He has a majority so can’t lose. But as MLA Ralston mentions the Auditor Genral alludes to the idea that all BC Taxpayers can be on the hook, for those large Olympic overuns that will result no matter how ofthe the Liberals claim the cost ‘s are on budget and wont go past 600 millions. All the while, the so called non Olympic overrun for the Convention Center must be getting up that way all on it’s own. Hold on to your hats BC Tax payers King Gordo is still in the drivers seat, and we will all pay big time

  • Archie’s Dad

    Frances, it’s just getting good!

  • But if you were to travel to Nanaimo to write that ‘Strip Malls Below Green Mountain’ thing, as Chris B suggested above, and then if you were to wander around downtown looking for a decent coffee afterward wouldn’t you likely stumble across (insert ‘Psycho’ shower scene slasher sounds here!)….this?


  • fbula

    Ross K — That is just too funny. Thanks for the laugh just before bed.

    Okay, Archie’s Dad, I admit it is getting good but you have more insight than I do into how much better it can possibly get. Call me sometime for a gossip about all this.

  • You’re most welcome FABula.

    (me, I always go looking for the latest in Uke covers when the need arises….they can take you anywhere in the world…this week it’s Glasgow and Japan….all in search of the perfect ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’….)


  • Wagamuffin

    Frances, I impatiently await the thread on the whole PETA “sea kittens” scandal.

    Hug a carp, people!

  • Word.

  • Denis

    Well the house finally finished the piece of Legislation this morning around 8:30. I figure it took a bit longer than Gordo figured it would, but Vancouver can now borrow the money. The LG seemed quite tired as he sat down and when he got back upright. A bit of arthritis bothering him this morning maybe. What a way to start Sunday morning

  • Listen Close

    Although I do admire the tenacity with which the scarred remnants of the NPA try to smear this debacle on Gregor and Co, the fact is potshots over messaging and spokespeople overlooks the crucial point that the Olympic Village story should have been dealt with in June 2007.

    And I have a hard time believing that Mayor Ladner would ever have given us a public meeting on the finances. Although Suzanne Anton seems to think that all this information would have magically surfaced for the public had the NPA remained in power. Me thinks not.

  • tommi

    “scarred remnants of the NPA try to smear this debacle on Gregor and Co…”

    LOL! That’s pretty funny considering it’s actually the opposite. Gregor and his Vision/COPE cohorts have been persistently pinning all the blame for the OV fiasco on past NPA councillors only, ignoring the fact that Louie, Chow, Deal, Cadman, Stevenson, Woodsworth and Meggs have served on past Vision/COPE majority councils that created this mess to begin with.

    This is what happens when you get a bunch of people in power who just keep campaigning against some non-existent opponent (the NPA lost big-time in the last election, in case some of you haven’t noticed). It makes Vision look petty and unwilling to accept responsibility for anything. Perhaps they are only good at campaigning and not governing.

    Meggs and Gregor will not bring the City together or engender goodwill by engaging in this mean-spirited Blame Game, and that’s what people are objecting to.

  • LP

    A mention for Frances on Global this am.

    Sophie Louie on the morning News (Sunday) had Meggs mugging about this whole mess, and she brought up Frances’s web site, and mentioned the email from she wrote about where Meggs was called a pitbull and being too political, with just 4 months to the provincial election.

    His response was toned down so it looks like someone neutered this pit bull – at least for now. Meggs neutered, how sweet.

    Albeit in a subdued tone, I believe his response was (out of context), that there are a lot of questions to be answered for what’s been going on.

    My impression was that he was alluding to Olympic overages in general, and not just the OV, plugging for his girl Carole (nobody knows me yet) James.

    Anyway it appears in typical fashion, Global is getting their news and views from real people like Francis who are actually out there talking to people.

  • Scott

    Well it looks like the provincial NDP don’t even have confidence in Gregor and VV regarding the Olympic Village, when Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog yesterday stated in Hansard that….

    …granting Mayor Robertson and his council the Charter exemption…

    **“is rather like giving scissors to a small child.”**

  • Peter

    Here’s a great post from over at The Tyee. I think the author, Fan of Reality, does a Fabulous job of pointing out that what Frances seems to be doing is not so much providing “real news” but rather a self serving little exercise. I’m sure the reasons for this will become more evident at a later date.

    I will give you this though, between the author of this website and the former backroom NPA gang over at you are doing a hell of a job manufacturing the spin.

    Never count out the angry conservative. Ruthless.
    tyee post

    Actually, you don’t speak for everyone
    Fan of reality
    2 days ago

    It’s not a murder mystery, and you don’t speak for the many of us in the city who understand exactly what’s going on at city hall. A new administration is bringing in people it trusts. It’s political. That’s life. Maybe they’re making good choices, maybe not. Time will tell. Meantime, we look to informed commentary to guide us as we watch and wait.
    Too bad someone with your experience (which we’re aware of largely because of your constant references to it) can’t put some of it to use for readers.
    Ok, you didn’t get the big leak. You aren’t getting ongoing leaks. You aren’t getting the big ‘heads up’ every time someone quits.
    Get over it.
    Stop making light of an issue that some of us without the endless insider connections (again, thanks for the frequent reminders) are pretty concerned about.
    Stop suggesting people calm down, and start helping the people who are increasingly alarmed at the signs of how badly the NPA and some of our senior managers confused our interests with those of VANOC, developers and the business community in general.
    Next time you’re getting a personal tour of the site by one of the Millennium brothers, why not take a second or two to ask them what the fudge monkey they were thinking offering that much cash, what part of the overruns were “the overheated economy” and which were their own failure to manage a project that was beyond their experience. Questions like that might actually make your ever-so-girly, sit-on-the-riverbank navel-gazing easier to swallow.
    Better still, go back to being the poor woman’s Maureen Dowd. Map it all out as a highschool sorority plot.
    To quote you: Sheesh.

  • LP


    You folks over in the VV and NDP camp are the only ones doing the spinning all along, and now that more and more of us have caught onto the game, your buddies are spinning faster than ever to try and clear the bullshit they smeared all over their lapels. Your comment smells, terribly.

    The tyee is nothing but a leftist rag and that goes for most of the folks that frequent the site as well.

    So you come over here to complain that this is a conservative rag, and insult the writer as well because what she writes doesn’t please you. Boo who..

    Rah rah, preach to the choir, they’re the only ones listening right now. VV/NDP insiders said it themselves, they’ve over swung, and now the piper is singing because the stink is that bad.

    If you haven’t noticed the NPA was decimated and it’s three years to the next civic election. Your boys and girls should be showing some class and leadership as that’s what most people wanted when they voted for them.

    So far, so bad.

  • Living in Nanaimo, the birthplace of the Millennium PONZI fiasco, I am amazed no one is even looking at the deal the brothers got from former mayor Koruption and his (still working) city manager, Jerry Berry(honest that is his name!) As we only have Asper Co news coverage here can someone take a ferry (while they are still reduced fares) and have a sniff around? Please? Soon? Help?

  • Suzie

    I feel compelled to mention that the comment I submitted for posting about this story ( on City Caucus yesterday – likening Mike Klassen’s post on leaks, smears and blogging to Oliver Stone’s script for JFK (totally exciting to see but not based in fact) – was never posted. For all the stat-schwinging they do for how popular their website are, it appears they only post the flattering comments.

    Props to FABula for posting the beefs AND the bouquets…

  • Peter

    LP, dude, I guess it all comes down to what you consider classy.

    Over here in “lefty land”, we consider it classy to hand out information to the public that belongs to the public. We’re funny about that kind of stuff. That’s what Robertson promised to do this election. That’s what Ladner and Anton refused to do. So the public voted loudly on whose position was classier.

    I guess you also missed the point of that Tyee post that I mentioned.

    I’m sure there’s some Vancouverites who consider it classy to weigh an argument on its merits, not on how much we like the source. That’s why we read that new NPA site the citycocs set up. Maybe we should refer to that mob as the “loyal opposition” on the merits of their numbers on Council. Even they might have a point from time to time, and bloody good for them if they do. It would be classy if they offered us some useful facts and perspectives, given their obvious access to material that the unwashed leftwing masses can’t get our hands on. (The unwashed rightwingers deserve information too, and there are a couple that I’ve met who, trust me, never washed. But I digress.) I think the point is not to be snotty and partisan, it’s to respect the people of this city who get up every day and go to their job and look after their family and build their community. They deserve information, and if the knobs at think it’s classier to withhold what they know, and dribble it out drop by partisan and misleading drop, well, maybe the public will once against cast its vote on that.

    And finally, I guess you missed the point about Frances. She used to be a real journalist. Now, given what she’s done with her blog here and her work at Van magazine, I don’t think so. She seems to be too fond of her new role as an “insider” to keep her eyes focused. She wrote a profile of Judy Rogers (nice move, first column, suck up the the most powerful woman at city hall) without ever mentioning the civic strike that Rogers engineered. Not one word of it. And now she has the developers on the other end of the phone 24 hours a day. Cool. Maybe she could ask them some real questions, that’s all I’m saying. What the hell are we supposed to make of a “journalist” who gets a personal tour of the village given to her by the developer – a week or so before the shit hits the fan – and comes back with nothing to report but a glowing description of the lovely European feel of the “space”? Gimme a break. It was a sales job. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you don’t have to be to the left to see that and call it for what it is: shilling. Either that, or publicly pouting because she’s no gets the brown envelopes and someone else is.

    I’m still waiting for someone classy enough to report on all this on behalf of the citizens of this city.

    I’ll just keep waiting. Meantime, pour yourself a lovely cocktail made from that koolaid served here. Besides, hasn’t Frances told you not to worry your pretty little heads over all of this Villagegate stuff.?

  • Sophocles

    Gosh.. I though I was being a “last word freak”. Boy, I think you take the cake on that one. Maybe I should make my earlier offer for a mud wrestling contest into a threesome. AGT, LP & Good old “Pete”. Wait that might be one too many pigs and I supect LP is a “fly weight”.

  • LP


    I doubt very much that (the) reasonable and level-headed citizens of Vancouver that do read citycaucus don’t realize what it is with respect to its partisan nature.

    I also doubt that regardless of what they write over there that it’s going to do much good. The NPA was taken apart in November and with Anton the current defacto leader, it has little chance of being resurrected by 2011.

    If you folks on the left want to follow them to keep an eye on the nonsense they seem to think is valid, go right ahead. Personally I think you’ll miss out on some people who do have rational and thoughtful debate over here.

    My vote doesn’t belong to the NPA or VV for that matter – my preference would be to have no party politics at city hall at all. Perhaps I’m delusional, but I believe most of us Vancouverites would like that as well.

    Unfortunately it always seems to be the left that feels the need to bring those politics to city hall, which is perhaps one reason they can’t seem to get a second term in this town.

  • LP

    Ohh Sophocles, you’re too cute.

    Are you now insulting AGT’s girth, or my weight?

    You certainly like to make things personal now.

  • Michael Phillips


    City Caucus doesn’t post half of my posts either. Yesterday, they touted the Georgia Strait’s “discovery” of a guarantee made by the City to the 2010 bid Corporation in 2002 to build the Olympic village as a “smoking gun” (hilarious) that proved that there had been a standing completion guarantee long before Vision voted against the guarantee in 2007. I simply posted that of course the City guarantees the completion of the Olympic Village to the Bid Committee, they’re not just going to say “You wait and we’ll see what we’ll build for you”. But they then naturally passed building responsibilities on to Millenium and thus passed on the liability, and the question is whether they should have guaranteed completion to Fortress on the financing side which is infact abnormal.


  • Sophocles

    Okay, If the match did ever happen which I suspect is unlikely at this point has the legislation has now passsed and I think Ms. Bula has had enough of all of us, I promise I would wear my bikini and then we can decide who looks worse. I am now picturing a scene from the movie “Stripes”…Are you?

  • fbula

    Hi all,

    Okay, I wasn’t going to weigh in on all this. I thought I’d just let you all carry on, as you’re doing so well.

    But in response to Peter and “A Fan of Reality,” here are my humblest apologies.

    1. I apologize that I am not one of the testosterone-laden big boys who screams at people about how terrible everything is all day long. Never have been and never will be, sadly. Instead, I’m a girl. Ooh, now everyone knows.
    2. I apologize for being a real person who occasionally says this is confusing or it’s all too much, amid the other posts.
    3. I’m terribly sorry I speculated out loud about who is leaking to who. I realize everyone talks about it all the time, but I should haven’t have posted on it because it was clearly just a sign that I am obsessed with why no one is leaking to me. (Apparently I haven’t figured out that it’s because I’m a girl.)
    4. I regret that I only questioned Hank Jasper about Millennium’s finances in the second story I had, along with the one I wrote about the tour of the village. And, really, why did I write about the village at all — who cares what it looks like, even if we’re paying for it — when I could have devoted ALL my time to writing about the finances. Which I really should have, because the Globe has hardly covered that part of the story at all.
    5. I am super-sorry I didn’t just trash Judy Rogers completely, which I also really should have since the Vision people were telling me in the middle of the summer that she had to go. So I should have known it was okay to write a totally one-sided piece and drill her for the strike, even though everyone else had already done it to death.
    6. I am really sad that these two people on the left are mad at me because I am not telling their version of events exactly the way they want me to. (Maybe I should stop asking questions and just write down what they want me to say. And definitely I should stop writing blog posts about their disagreements among themselves on how their messaging is working. That is definitely not cool of me. In fact, if I were them, I would write nasty personal posts about me to try to get people to stop reading and listening.)
    7. I deeply, deeply regret that I have been exposed as someone who is working hand in glove with Except, oops, they’re mad at me too. I guess I’m not going to get that high-paid job with them that I was bucking for.
    8. Finally, I am sorry that I am the person I am. “You always see the other side,” my son used to say accusingly when I would talk to him about a teacher or schoolmate who had made him angry. Yes, I do.

    Okay, now I’m off to read DitzBrain magazine and take dictation from developers. Although what you’ve got against them, I don’t know — they’re the ones who spread the word in town this summer that the Millennium deal was falling apart.

    Ta ta Frances

  • Michael Phillips

    Yeah Peter, put a sock in it.

  • Eleanor Gregory

    I’ll repeat what I said on Public Eye Radio this morning for whatever it is worth. “If it takes a village to raise a child, would some smart child please take charge of this village because right now the adults are having a hard time playing nicely together.”

    And I’ll second (again) the comments made by Councillor Andrea Reimer at last Monday’s council meeting: “My hope is that we stop the blaming, get on with financing the project in whatever way that we can find to finance it and get it done.”

    A whole lot of folks have a lot of explaining to do. And that reckoning must take place, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re committed to the Games.

  • Archie’s Dad

    fbula, will call you. We also neeed to talk about the back-to-the-60’s downtown office core proposal, which is going to Public Heraing next month.

  • tommi

    Wow, the NDP/Vision minions are out in force all over the local blogs. Looks like they’ve decided to continue the Blame the NPA Game and attack the press who aren’t toeing the Vision/NDP Message line. I guess some people didn’t get the memo? See:

    What Francis writes about has ticked people off on all sides on occasion because sometimes the truth is hard to hear. I’m guilty of making a snarky retort myself. But over time, it became evident that Francis just calls it like it is, and that’s not always convenient or popular for certain people at certain times.

    I take exception to the comments “Peter” (is that you, Geoff?) made about Francis, especially: “She used to be a real journalist, ” and “call it for what it is: shilling.” That’s just plain rude. This kind of viciousness is reminiscent of what I heard coming from the Vision/COPE candidates during the election, which verged on character assassination. Meggs, Jang, Cadman and Woodsworth were particularly adept at it.

    Francis, as long as you’re pissing off all the political communications types, you know you’re doing your job. You don’t need to apologize, regret or be sad about any of it. After all, it wasn’t you that signed any of those Olympics contracts or made any of those votes in Council over the past 6+ years.

  • jane

    I agree with Tommi,
    my morning starts with coffee and FB’s blog. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Sophocles

    Seriously Frances, grab your bikini we can take these guys – no problem.

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