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The real civic election — mudslinging and praise — gets underway

November 2nd, 2008 · 20 Comments

Some days, all you can do is watch the river of news go by and observe the patterns you see.

And, from the riverbank, it looks like the campaign is entering its final stage, where people solidify their opinions and any nasty stuff one party has on the other gets leaked out.

The story of the day (who knows if it will last) is Gregor Robertson’s unpaid TransLink ticket, reported in the Province. The story isn’t really the ticket as much as his response, which is that he’s didn’t pay it so he could use his hearing “to draw attention to what he considers transit fines that are disproportionate to offences,” as the story put it.

Sigh. Well, I don’t know, maybe he’ll get the big TransLink cranky-riders vote. But just as many people are likely to say he sounds like a wanker. Certainly, his line sounds like something my son would come up with: “Hey man, I’m not paying my fine because fines oppress the masses.”

Whatever people think, this little story — something I’m pretty sure would have been funnelled to the media via the Non-Partisan Association somehow (see David Berner’s column noting that he got shopped this story first) — marks the point in the campaign when people bring the dirty socks out of their campaign laundry bags. Next, we’ll get the leaked stories that Peter Ladner got a C in Grade 10 math, that George Chow “doesn’t really like Chinese food,” or that Kim Capri’s dog once snarled at a homeless person. That’s what we like to see: elections decided on the big issues.

The other dynamic in the campaign is that people are starting to solidify their judgments. The city’s most flamboyant opininators, David Berner and Alex Tsakumis, recently offered their thoughts on candidates they thought were worth supporting. You can read them here and here.

The general public will be coming along soon, once the American election is over and they can figure out there’s a civic election going on.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Michael

    but his comments that he did not realize he was two zones away simply indicates he is totally clueless.

    This bumpkin should be Mayor – I don;t know about that, given this and other errors he has made.

    Zero judgement. Vote in Vision/Cope except Robertson and Stevenson, the plastic water bottle nazi – yeah I said it – and okay so Ladner is Mayor with Cope/Vision councillors. Best thing for all of us at this stage.

  • Ideologue Cabin

    the NPA are on shaky ground if they want to go down this road. And the idea that Gregor somehow lacks the judgment to be mayor because he bought the wrong ticket – really? That’s your line? It reminds me of the US, where the big snafus are McCain voting for an illegal war, and Obama calling people with guns “bitter.” Definitely on par.

    2005 NPA mayoral candidate: buys crack for a hooker to smoke in his van

    2008 Vision mayoral candidate: buys a one zone bus ticket instead of a two zone

    One of these men had to pay a fine. The other had nothing happen.

    Together, let’s get a negative, ideologically bankrupt campaign done.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    My, “opinionator” and “flamboyant” to boot…I must search for the compliment, I’m sure it’s there somehwere…although I am privileged to be in the company of Sir David, who remains one of the most entertaining, sensible and reasonable (most of the time) voices in the local media.

    More to the point…

    The issue of Gregor’s train ride to nowhere is, indeed, entirely significant, for two very pertinent reasons:

    While, the issue itself, at face value, is not worth the paper it’s printed on…know what is?

    1) That transportation and taxation and fines have arisen how many times during the campaign??? Umpteen. And not once did Gregor stand up and say, “Look folks, I have this issue with Skytrain cowboys and feel very strongly that there may be a problem with low income earners getting the shaft–look at these ridiculous fines!!!” That’s the story.

    2) Peter’s reply will be yet another opportunity to proffer something with teeth “I don’t have any outstanding fines”, was his foray into the issue, and, frankly, it sounds anemic. Why didn’t he say: “We’ve talked about making life easier for low income earners, youth and seniors, hell, for everyone…how come Gregor never mentioned this earlier if it was such a priority…clearly it wasn’t and he’s just been caught by the press and he can’t get his way out of it, so he’s trying to craft an excuse…well, I don’t think the public is going to buy it on November 15th” Or something clever and prickly, like that…

    And the notion that you can equivocate The Nutty One’s van escapades with this, is, well, laughable. Gregor Robertson is someone who most of us, at least in the beginning of this campaign, believed must have either turned water into to wine or was, at some point, a teacher in Galilee. Sam never ran on such a pious platform, and everyone was well-versed with his quixotic nature and often bizarre methods. (Everyone knew of Sam’s idiotic side issues, but who the hell would have wanted Jabba the Hut as Mayor???) The comparison is hardly like.

    Regardless, Greogor’s response to this issue is sophomoric and pedestrian.

    Something happened to this man in the last month, and it’s not good.

    He should be coasting to victory, instead, he’s now trailing, ever so slightly, but trailing just the same.

    Vision will take council, for certain, seven seats minimum…but I must wonder what they’d do with a Mayor Peter Ladner.

    All of a sudden, the campaign is somehow less tedious…

  • If Gregor becomes mayor he would become part of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation for Translink plus Chair of the Vancouver Police Board. An outstanding Translink ticket that he wants to fight through the courts instead of through legislation doesn’t make sense to me from a guy who wants to be at the head of our governing system.

    I think, similar to Tim Stevenson’s drunk driving denial problem, Mr Robertson will pay his fine, apologize and become a champion for some sort of better transit fare system.

  • Rick

    I agree Gregor sounds like a wanker or a teenager on this one and ya Gregor when you leave Vancouver you got to push the 2 zone button…

  • TM

    I would bet the majority of TransLink board members, who arguably never or very rarely take public transit, would certainly make the same mistake that occasional transit rider Gregor made. That said, I find it a little too convenient that he wants to take this issue and make an example of it when he fights the ticket; more likely, he saw his error, knew the media and/or opposition would try to make hay with it and decided to make the “fight” a political issue of fare fairness.

    Either way, it is in no way comparable to Sullivan’s van-driving, crack-buying gargantuan error in judgment – that Sullivan was chair of the Police Board was the biggest on-going act of hypocrisy in a reign full of it. Moreover, Gregor’s mistake helps to humanize him a little bit, which is more than we can say for automaton Ladner.

  • Vancouverism

    Dear Gregor. Vancouver ends at Boundary Road. When you hit Central Park it’s a place called Burnaby. Their mayor is named Derek Corrigan. As a Translink director Mayor Corrigan created higher fines for fare evaders like yourself as a deterrent for cheating. He thinks the fines are reasonable, and by world standards they are. Fines collected help to pay for improved transit service, and other improved social benefits.

    As an MLA with a public persona, a high five-figure salary and a wealthy family, did you maybe think that paying the $173 fine would have been a better strategy?

    Your visit to a courtroom will cost us all a pretty penny. Of course, the judge will make you pay the fine, and not be charmed by the dimples.

    We can only hope your poor judgment has jeopardized your party’s chances on Nov. 15th.

  • jf

    Wow…have none of you ever made a mistake in your life? Are you all so pure? I have done the very same thing as Gregor did–lucky for me I didn’t get stopped by the transit police. I too entered the correct fare at the next stop. To think because of a moment of absent-mindedness I would be charged $173 is madness. Bravo for Gregor for standing up to the bullies–and yes government can be a bully too. One way around this is to have the system they have in Hong Kong where your fare is checked at the beginning and the end of the journey. This way if you make an error or change your mind and go further than you paid, you can make up the difference when you leave.

  • Bad spin, Gregor

    Gregor keeps answering this issue with the “I made a mistake” line – but the original mistake isn’t the issue. It’s his flimsy attempt to cover it up that should scare the crap out of voters.

  • Edward A.

    Seems to me that if accidentally paying the incorrect fee for transit is the worst thing the NPA has to attack with then not only should Gregor be mayor, but he should have his own religion!
    As well Peter Ladner’s response being that he had no “unpaid” fines, does seem suspiciously weak. I’d be interested in knowing what fines he has paid for?

  • Dawn Steele

    So the guy was busted with a one-zone ticket crossing 2 zones. How many people who take Skytrain have never done that? (I forgot to get a 2-zone fare coming home from Metrotown recently – punching one zone is just automatic if that’s your regular commute). How is this different from getting a ticket for going over time on your parking metre – who has never done that?

    So can we get back to discussing the issues now? I showed up to hear the Vision Education platform launch this morning, and there was poor Patti Bacchus earnestly trying to explain the urgency of restoring lost special ed programs and fixing our seismically unsafe schools when the entire media pack in the tiny room started buzzing and clanking around to dismantle cameras and tripods before tearing out the door in pursuit of the Great $1 Skytrain Robbery story.

    I left feeling utterly depressed – no wonder things have gotten as bad as they have!

  • St. Petersburg

    No mention of transit fines in any Vision platform document.

    No mention of transit fines in any debate or media scrum featuring Gregor all year.

    Gregor gets caught trying to hide the fine.

    Vision spins it as a protest against transit fines and well-off Gregor stepping for the poor.

    Gregor says he planned to pay the ticket all along, but needs to tie up the courts to make his point.


  • Keep looking, NPA

    This is an issue that splits down generation lines. For the under 40 crowd, nobody cares because this happens all the time, and they like the fact that Gregor is sticking it to TransLink. And the fact that Gregor gets mud thrown at him for covering it up, when in fact it took TransLink over a year to set a date for a hearing (that kunckle-draggers like Phillip Till can’t seem to grasp), just gets them even more.

    For the silver haired set, they don’t understand how someone couldn’t pay the right fare, mainly because they don’t take transit, they drive everywhere, and the only thing they know about the skytrain is that it’s a place where people get stabbed (according to The Province).

  • Paul

    Keep looking,

    I think you’re dead wrong on this: I’m early 30s, ride the bus, bike, work downtown and in the burbs and this is a really big deal to me. This is a really simple case of right and wrong.

    Gregor was dead wrong in what he did, how he dealt with it then, how he’s dealt with it now, and how he’ll deal with it in December.

    It’s clear that he did not take care of this early for one reason or another (laziness, forgetfulness, he didn’t even care, whatever…) and then he comes up with this garbage about the fine being too high. That he got the fine is less the issue than his lame response to getting caught because it shows that he has horrible judgement (he even had time to think about a response; there is no way this could have surprised him). I don’t want a guy like this leading this City in a recession, the Olympics, or even a parade.

    After I attended a few of the debates, it was pretty clear to me that Gregor is not all that bright, I guess now other people get to see it out in the open.

    FB, I’m with you on this: to protest a law or a fine by breaking it and then calling it unfair is one of the most juvenile things I have ever heard.

  • Generation lines? No.

    To “Keep Looking”:

    “This is an issue that splits down generation lines.”

    BS. I’m in my 20s. I don’t own a car. I ride transit regularly. So do most of my friends. And most of them still find Gregor’s approach on this disturbing and disappointing. Maybe Gregor is right, and maybe we should reduce fines or change the fee structure. But then again, isn’t the point of expensive infraction fees to make people think twice about breaking the rules? Who cares, though. That’s not the issue most people I talk to care about.

    The issue is that he tried to spin this, and he failed pathetically. On CKNW today, he kept talking about “the system.” Next thing, he’ll be saying “the man” is holding him down. Is that the extent of his platform? Join me in breaking the law because the man is holding us down? Let’s go listen to Rage Against the Machine Together? To participate in government comes with an implied acceptance of the structures on which it is built – and that includes the rule of law. If Gregor wants to take extra-legal measures to achieve his goals, fine. Go start a revolution. Good luck, buddy.

  • Wagamuffin

    Gee, Keep Looking,

    I hope you’re not the “voice for a new generation” because between your ageism, your narcissism, and your apparent lack of societal responsibility, you sound pretty much morallly bankrupt to me.

  • TM

    No, Peter, you do not have any unpaid fines, but you did vote in lockstep with a Mayor who drove someone to buy crack as a “social experiment”. I’ll be interested to watch how that glass house of yours holds up in the coming days.

  • Keep Looking, NPA

    The only person that is morally bankrupt is the guy that spent 6 years voting with Sam Sullivan, championing him and his policies, defending him over every non-sensical scheme and blunder, endorsed him, calling him his friend, and then the moment he spotted a chance to become Mayor, he had no qualms stabbing him in the back so he could get his shot at the brass ring.

    Wow, what an inspirational mayoral candidate you have.

  • On the positive side: at least Robertson takes transit (and rides a bike), unlike the majority of politicians in the province.

    I agree that his response has been lame. But I don’t agree that pressing 1 zone instead of 2 makes one clueless – my wife, who is anything but, has made the same error. Just once, self-discovered.

  • Wagamuffin

    OK, Keep Looking, I’ll mark you down as “undecided”…