Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vancouver election: Desperate times, desperate measures for Non-Partisan Association

As the Non-Partisan Association realizes its desperate situation it seems also to be grasping at very thin straws.

More productively, why doesn't the NPA answer some simple questions:

1) Was Vancouver Finance Director Estelle Lo fired?

2) Did Vancouver Finance Director Estelle Lo quit?

3) If either of the above - and one of them seems like an obvious conclusion - then why did Ms. Lo part company with the city after about 10 years of senior administrative duty? Who made that decision?

4) What was Ms. Lo's view of the new $100 million loan by the city's taxpayers - made in secret - to Millennium Development to complete the Olympic Village project? Was she opposed?

5) Was Ms. Lo given severance? Was part of her severance agreement a non-disclosure clause that prevents her from giving the public her view of the Millennium Development loan? What else can she not talk about?

6) NPA Finance Chair, Councilor and mayoral candidate Peter Ladner has said disclosure of information regarding the loan has jeopardized Vancouver's negotiating position with a very tough bargainer - Millennium Development. Why is it hard to negotiate with a company that can't meet its financial obligations, has frozen its projects in Nanaimo and West Vancouver and is required to seek loan guarantees from taxpayers because it and its financial backer the Fortress Group apparently can't access capital on the market otherwise?

7) Former NPA Mayor Philip Owen penned an open letter given to the press which states: "Gregor Robertson is not being honest and truthful with Vancouver citizens. All his left leaning political colleagues for over 35 years, going back to Harry Rankin, have supported the Property Endowment Fund policies. These policies were followed during the recent Olympic Village issue." Exactly what has Mr. Robertson not been "honest and truthful" about Mr. Owen?

8) Gregor Robertson has called for an independent audit of the Millenium Deal and "without compromising our legal or strategic obligations, commit to holding an open council meeting within the first 30 days of taking office, to hear a report on the financial situation of the Olympic Village Project." The NPA should explain exactly what they believe is wrong about telling taxpayers as much as possible about where their money is going.

9) How is it that Vision Vancouver asking questions about this deal could scuttle it but Peter Ladner releasing information about the in-camera discussions doesn't pose a risk?

As I said in a previous posting, the disappearance without explanation of the city's Finance Director would simply not be tolerated in any other major city - let alone in the wake of a controversial $100 million loan to a private developer in financial trouble.

It's time for some serious answers from the NPA about what the hell is going on - not finger pointing about how the public somehow found out about how rotten things might be in Denmark.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hear that GEORGE PUIL was acting as a lobbyist at City Hall on the one hundred million dollar bailout of our beautiful West Side undead-elites.

If this is true, the ultimate "vampire" politician has once again come back from the dead to drink his victims money.

Gregor better get used to keeping a cross, garlic and a sharpened oak stake handy.

The GREAT SATAN

DPL said...

Lots of questions, no answers. Philp Owne was twisting things. I would ask, just when did the city loan money to a developer before? Easy question to answer. Will it or the other ones get answered prior to the election of Gregor as Mayor and a number of other Vision people and Cope candidates get elected so the tax paying citizens can see a new open government in the city. Does anyone know when Ms. Lo is due back in the city?

Anonymous said...

You made this point. "6) NPA Finance Chair, Councilor and mayoral candidate Peter Ladner has said disclosure of information regarding the loan has jeopardized Vancouver's negotiating position with a very tough bargainer - Millennium Development. Why is it hard to negotiate with a company that can't meet its financial obligations, has frozen its projects in Nanaimo and West Vancouver and is required to seek loan guarantees from taxpayers because it and its financial backer the Fortress Group apparently can't access capital on the market otherwise?"

Thank you for stating the obvious.

Anonymous said...

Estelle Lo is being paid well over $200,000 and should be available to councillors who have questions about a deal that could cost $100 million in loan guarantees.

Her disappearance is very strange. Why hasn't the Chair of Finance Peter Ladner or the City Manager Judy Rogers explained Lo's non appearance.

I understand that her office has been cleaned out. This does not sound like she is still employed by the city

A. G. Tsakumis said...

An erudite note, detailing exactly why the NPA will be decimated on Saturday...

Most of these questions are top of mind for the electorate, regardless of whether some details are too specific or inside the park, to comprehend without careful and prolonged study.

Couple this with the fact that Vancouverites want the NPA to pay for three years of Sullivan nothingness, and you get the following for the NPA: Geller, certainly, and Anton, maybe, on council. Holden and Hansen on School. And Robertson, Zlotnik, McDiarmid and DeGenova on Parks.

The NPA has run a disjointed campaign, helmed by some incredible whiners from the federal Liberals, who want "loyalty"..for three years of lather and spin.

If Peter Ladner had come out against the insanity of the Sullivan initiatives a year earlier than he did, there would not have been any discussion about Carole Taylor and Gregor would have likely stayed put in Victoria. It would have been Ladner as Mayor in a walk--period.

Peter would not have put up with $100M loan/guarantees getting vetted without all stakeholders at the table.

Typical of some of the NPA organizers who are long-in-the-tooth, they blame everyone else but themselves for their predicament.

Dawn Steele said...

Yes, you raise a good question under Point #6, Bill, and one that's been rolling around in my head. I'm sure I don't understand all the finer points, but wouldn't a city electorate howling in outrage on the eve of an election be a good incentive for Millenium to settle for the minimum offered, knowing that after Nov 15th, there may be a less sympathetic bunch of faces around the table?

Point 9 is another good one - Wasn't it Ladner himself who first outed this issue in an all-candidates debate?

And if your Point #6 is correct, are the folks at City Hall Machiavellian enough to have intentionally leaked this to put pressure on Millenium?

And one more question: I wonder if any of the other players besides former Mayor Larry Campbell has bought units in this project?

Anonymous said...

I think Gary Mason, from this morning's Globe and Mail, says it best... both fairly and succinctly:

"It's fine for Mr. Robertson to be upset and angry about the loan now, but where was that sense of outrage among the Vision city councillors when it came time to vote on it?

Why didn't even one of them say: "Hold on here, I don't have enough information about this deal to vote in favour of it?" Or, "I'm not comfortable agreeing to support it without letting the public know what's going on first."

Instead, they all voted yes.

I also haven't seen any mention from Vision or COPE about how they would have handled the whole loan process differently.

How are Vision's hands any cleaner in this mess than the Non-Partisan Association's - including Mr. Ladner's?

The politicians haven't been nearly as forthright with the public as they should have been either before or after details of the loan came out.

And on that front, Vision Vancouver has just as much to answer for as the NPA."

Bill Tieleman said...

Anonymous 12:03 poses Gary Mason's questions about Vision and Gregor Robertson's position. Here's what Vision released November 9, FYI:

"November 9, 2008

Statement on the Olympic Village Project from Gregor Robertson

I continue to be concerned about the status of the Olympic Village project. There is a potential $100 million liability, and the public deserves to know what is going on.

That is why as Mayor, I will, without compromising our legal or strategic obligations, commit to holding an open council meeting within the first 30 days of taking office, to hear a report on the financial situation of the Olympic Village Project.

Taxpayers should have as much transparency as possible when city council is spending their tax dollars. If the US congress can approve a $700 billion bailout of their financial institutions and publicly discuss it, then surely we can bring more transparency to the questions surrounding the $100 million loan.

Since the vote was taken on October 14th, new information has emerged. Nobody will confirm or deny if Vancouver even has a Director of Finance.

There are reports that she had financial concerns, and that this may have led to her either being fired, or resigning.

There are too many questions and not enough answers. Vancouver taxpayers need to know just how much risk they are exposed to through this project, particularly in light of changing economic circumstances.

That is why I am committed to holding an open council meeting on the financial status of the Olympic Village development.

We remain committed to meeting all of our obligations to the Olympics, including finishing the Olympic Village on time, but it must be done in a prudent, transparent, and business-like manner.

The challenges we are facing are the result of Peter Ladner and the NPA's decision to chase short-term profit over long-term value with the Olympic Village project.

If there's ever been a time to have new leadership at City Hall, now is the time."

Anonymous said...

The appearance of Owen and Campbell speaking in favour of the NPA's actions makes one wonder just how long cozy relationships with developers (of course,in secret meetings, don't ya know)have been in vogue at City Hall. There has been much prosperity for the chosen few and nothing at all for the homeless--despite the nonsense being put forth by the
provincial government. Where are all those properties they bought nearly a year ago? Why are they not ready for habitation? Why hasn't anyone investigated payoffs through special foundations? The police should investigate all the in-camera activities of previous
Councils? There's a smell of corruption in tha air....

G West said...

Just heard Smilin’ Sammy on CBC AM 690 with Stephen Quinn....he refused to explain:

a) why the Vancouver Charter's 'in camera' protocol would apply in this matter - if you've read it you'll know why the question is important; (he dissembled about dealing with fast operators from New York - which is kind of why I think we should all be concerned), and;

b) and he refused to discuss Estelle Lo and her non-appearance (etc) because it is a [b]personnel[/b] matter.

I think the city has been taken in by some Yankee traders....Hmmm, now when was the last time THAT happened?

They sure don't want anyone counting the silver just now, do they?

A. G. Tsakumis said...

Bill--I think you should publish g west's pithy comments on the front page of your blog.

Very sensible and tell the whole story, without really needing to say it...

Now, more than ever, Sam sullivan must be forced to reveal who donated to his mayoral re-election/special projects fund.

If Millennium or anyone connected to them gave him one red cent, before, during or after the awarding of the contract to Millennium, then we've got a real story finally...

Richard said...

Good article until I came to:

"where there money is going."

"there"????? tsk tsk tsk

where is the editor ?

Richard said...

How about this.....wouldn't it be lovely to have our very own version of "MacBeth" at 12th and Cambie? How about the scenario where Sam leaked Peter's document as the ultimate "get back" for his ouster as NPA mayoral candidate? Hmmmmm
After all, if they knew the document went missing on October 14, and the first article by Gary Mason appeared on November 6, why did it take Sam until November 12 to call in the police? And he only did it because Larry Campbell shamed him into doing it yesterday.

Bill Tieleman said...

Richard - the editor is the publisher is the reporter is the columnist here! But I appreciate your calling my attention to the error and "there" has become "their" as it should have been.

And the person responsible has been reprimanded! :]

Richard said...

How about this.....wouldn't it be lovely to have our very own version of "MacBeth" at 12th and Cambie? How about the scenario where Sam leaked Peter's document as the ultimate "get back" for his ouster as NPA mayoral candidate? Hmmmmm
After all, if they knew the document went missing on October 14, and the first article by Gary Mason appeared on November 6, why did it take Sam until November 12 to call in the police? And he only did it because Larry Campbell shamed him into doing it yesterday.

Anonymous said...

And the plot thickens.... Seems a few grand was tossed to certain electoral hopefuls by the developers. Right after the loan....

Vancouver Taxpayer said...

Bill, Right on, this whole thing smells really bad. When Politicians and City Hall tell me not to worry about a secret real estate deal using our money, thats exactly when I start to worry.

romeogolf said...

I think we're overdue for an ICAC-type body (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Commission_Against_Corruption_of_Hong_Kong), and not just at the municipal level.

Anonymous said...

Pivot Legal Society states: "City lacked legal authority for $100m secret meeting"

"Pivot Legal Society has filed a complaint with the Provincial Ombudsman alleging that the City of Vancouver did not have legal authority to withhold information from the public about a $100m Olympic village loan guarantee." link

Anonymous said...

PIVOT legal has filed a complaint, I'll try and link it here:

http://www.pivotlegal.org/pdfs/Nov12-08-OmbudsmanComplaint.pdf

Colleen said...

You know your right but then the public was altered to something they should have know of right from the start given they were guaranteed costs would not exceed as a stipulation to move forward on the Olympic deal. Also there is something that is very, very wrong when a people are shocked because its the first time they heard of it. And you know what Bill they were going to feel that way no matter when they released the information before or after the election. If Robertson would have gotten in they would have indoctrinate him right into the whole secret thing thinking thats the way we do things in City Hall. So I see this a a good thing and an opportunity for openness which can only benefit everyone, well maybe not everyone but the tax payer for sure and communication. The damages well to the reputations of those who pushed the deal with out keeping their promise and altering tax payer that it was going to have to bail out village they did that with their actions. What about openness and accountability that must stand for something? Who do council and mayor work for? Well one thing for sure you certainly wouldn't think it was the tax payer the way they try to keep everything from them.

Anonymous said...

The whole slate needs to be wiped clean. Only new names should be elected. Same with the provincial election. Get rid of every corrupt liberal MLA!