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Only three more days, fortunately

November 12th, 2008 · 18 Comments

I think I speak for many when I say, “Let us give thanks that there are only 72 hours of this left.”

Four news conferences skedded for tomorrow (NDP saying who they endorse — can’t imagine who their choices might be); Kashmir Dhaliwal and Ujjal Dosanjh on crime; Gregor Robertson and Jim Green on Woodward’s; NPA on school board issues.

More crazy stories about the Olympic village loan and who leaked the document, with Global’s latest report being that city staff are conducting a thorough investigation, complete with forensic analysis of card swipes, and that a suspect is in sight.

I can’t imagine what else the roller-coaster will bring us tomorrow.

I’m at the point where it’s so confusing that I occasionally contemplate not voting at all. It’s hard to even think about what the major issues used to be — homelessness, anyone? public safety? affordable housing? didn’t we used to care about that? — let alone decide who are the best candidates to handle them.

I say, let’s all get a good night’s sleep and pretend the last week never happened. (Those who read my earlier version of this post will have noticed that I originally said only two more days left — wishful thinking, I can only presume.)

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  • Wayne

    This won’t do anything to diminish our image as the ‘goofiest’ city in Canada. I’ve voted already. Otherwise, if that crack team of sleuths at city hall find the culprit who blabbed Abefore election day, I’d have voted for him/her.

    I can’t help wondering when the NPA were planning to tell the taxpayers about the Olympic fiasco. ‘Yep, we’re going to do something so cyclists won’t fall onto the Burrard St. bridge, and oh, by the way, we’ve invested $ in condos.’

    ‘Don’t worry though, all the experts we’ve consulted tell us the price of real estate will never go down in Vancouver.’

  • jf

    And don’t forget that there are elections for School Trustees and Park Board Commissioners too. From the lack of media coverage, one would never know these folks are elected too.

  • On behalf of pundits everywhere I say – shame on you Frances Bula! What everyone predicted would be a sleepy race between two similar mayoral candidates has woken up the whole city.

    And there’s still lots of play in this fish – see my own blog for my questions for the NPA.

  • fbula

    For Bill,

    Yes, shame on me. I should be out there firing off all guns like everyone else.

    In the meantime, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the loan story is not one that has provided a huge amount of clarity for me in who to vote for. There are just too many muddling factors and a lack of solid information.

    And when I talk to others, I find that for many, the whole situation seems to have simply reinforced views they already held.

  • Well said Frances.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Sorry Bill.

    I agree with Frances.

    Issues have fallen off in favour of questions over this ONE issue. Yes, the questions are pertinent and appropriate–the public has a right to know the truth.

    But there are folks who are hurting: The downtrodden, the addicted, the unhealthy (both mentally and physically)

    …people can no longer afford to live in the city, but Gregor says he will add another layer of tax…

    …the Burrard Bridge is once again an issue…and Peter has his third proposal in the foreground…

    Issues have died in favour of a controversy that has everyone wondering about the judgement of everyone from city staff to councillors, etc.

    It will be an exceedingly cheap way for Gregor to win this thing, that it will be decided on an issue that has been tacked more to Peter than anyone else, because Vision had a more cogent spin machine.

    Very cheap indeed.

  • Chips

    I wish I would not have voted already.

    EVERYONE voted unanimously for this- so how can VV and Cope get away scot free?

    So Cheap and hopefully not going to get any dirtier.

  • A Dave

    Despite the fantastical smoke and mirrors show the NPA is putting on (that will probably put the Opening Ceremonies to shame), there’s really only one question to be answered, and to answer it doesn’t involve revealing any details of the Millenium deal, despite what the NPA says. The question is: Were Esther Lo’s concerns clearly and concisely spelled out by Staff to all Councillors in camera? If the answer is “yes”, this whole issue is bunk. If the answer is “no”, then this a serious breach of duty, trust and due diligence, and all the furor is warranted.

    Vision has said clearly, “No, Lo’s concerns were not stated in the meeting.”

    NPA have chosen to create a smoke and mirrors show and refused to answer, saying, “Vancouverites do not have the right to know the answer because blah blah blah blah.”

    To put it another way: if you hold stock in a company, and you catch wind the CFO is quitting or going to be fired over a disagreement with management, you sell the stock IMMEDIATELY, and ask questions later. It is never, EVER, a sign of good things to come.

    Even Michael Campbell would have to agree with me on this.

  • fbula

    Well, to be fair, which it’s increasingly hard to do in this crazy circus, the NPA councillors have ALSO said that they never heard any concerns expressed by Estelle Lo.

    Where the two parties differ is not over things they know or don’t know about Ms. Lo and her concerns, but in whether they think there should be more information released on all of this.

  • A Dave

    Well, if neither party heard of Lo’s concerns, then, as I pointed out above, the furor is justified (and all the attacks on Robertson for questioning the deal are moot). BOTH the NPA and Vision should be asking serious questions about why the bureaucracy is willfully omitting VERY important information from $100 million dollar deals. As I tried to illustrate with my stock analogy, this is dealbreaking information, and could have easily swayed in-camera votes. City Hall has clearly been embroiled in very nasty infighting for a long time now, and the ruling party should shoulder the blame for letting it get so insanely out of control.

  • Scott

    I’m wondering whether one more political bombshell will be dropped before Saturday’s vote.

    According to the Global News hour last night,
    Vancouver city staff has “identified” the suspect councillor involved in removing the in-camera documents through computerized card swipe data as well as city surveillance video.

    As former mayor Larry Campbell said yesterday he would turn the matter into a criminal investigation.

    Certainly breach of trust issues come to fore.

    I’m sure everyone also now wants to know the name of this councillor.

    If the individual’s name does not come out until later on, could we see a municipal by-election in the offing? It’s certainly possible.

  • T W

    My question would be whether our elected representatives exercised due dilgence by taking reasonable steps to ascertain the facts. Did they seek independent assessment before making their decision on the loan provision, or did they rely entirely on City staff analysis.

    I am not entirely clear or confident that City staff have the skills, expertise and degree of independence in this case to provide our elected representatives with the information that they need to exercise a duty of care – which is what we expect.

    We may never know.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    A Dave, TW and Scott make terrific points.

    But in the back and forth this is what emerges: Without Estelle Lo’s pivotal opinion, what the hell were any of them, NPA or Vision, thinking when they didn’t halt the meeting just on that point alone?????

    It is unfortunate that we pay councillors only 50K a year.

    Because at 125K per annum, you would have had some seasoned business people woodshedding Judy Rogers for not explaining where the CFO was and what her opinion was/is.
    Not ten non-business types, in a temporary bubble of airheadedness, making a bloody decision on a 100M proposition, without all the cards on the table.

    What a complete joke city council has devevolved into…

  • Rob

    In response to AGK — I think the Vancouver City Hall bureaucracy has a culture of not giving Councillors “too much” information. In past years there was a complaint that some Councillors weren’t allowed to see Property Endowment Fund Board minutes, and one Councillor said that staff talked down to her dismissively when she asked questions about real estate matters.

    At some point Councillors and the public are probably going to be surprised that the much-vaunted Property Endowment Fund isn’t really worth $2.7 billion, and that what value it does have is mostly not very liquid.

  • Rob

    Sorry, I was responding to A. G. Tsakumis not AGK

  • I agree one hundred (and one million) percent with A Dave.

    And persuant to Rob’s point, think it is also important to realize that the shuffling of Ms. Lo off to Buffalo, at least according to Gary Mason, (and his sources), began last spring. Further, some of the same folks who were elevated to take over a number of Ms. Lo’s duties are the same good people who are out front telling us what’s what, and what’s good for us now.

    All without answering A Dave’s central, critical question.



  • George

    So whats the deal, did Estelle Lo resign? Did she express concerns about this loan, and was pushed out? What were the exact concerns she had?

    When City officials tell me not to worry about a real estate deal funded by taxpayers, thats when I start to worry.

  • Geri

    In my view, the reason why it SO important that the matter of the loans or “loan guarantees” or whatever they are (that we shouldn’t really know about- for our own good!?), is that- by exposing the city to this kind of financial risk, we are not going to HAVE the money to work on ALL of the other projects that are so desperately needed in this city.

    I think it is entirely valid to ask “why is it that no funds are ever allocated to finding shelter for the homeless or treatment for the addicted, but when a private corporation has messed up and asks for back-up, that the coffers are immediately opened??”

    Also, in an election, a lack of due diligence and breach of trust are important matters when considering whether to vote any incumbents back in.

    It is time for some real whistle-blower protection at City Hall.