Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Oh What Can A Poor Boy Do...


....With A Cancelled Helijet Reservation?


All of which begs the question....

Why not just take the ferry in the first place instead of staying overnight in Lotusland Central while waiting for the HJet?


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Interestingly, the wee bit of wurlitzering around this, and Mr. Bernier's origin story tweet, is self-congratulatory....Sheesh.
Need to scratch that header-induced earworm?....This.


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All Your Laundromats 'R Us.

WereTheyAllJustABunchOfReallyGoodFellas
BCLCVille


Sam Cooper's latest investigative report on the Lotulandian Whaling Industry is out and it would appear that he, and his Global editors, are implying that the fine folks running the BCLC back in the days of GordCo/Clarklandia may have done more than turn a blind eye to underground money laundering.

Here is Mr. Cooper's lede:

Senior police officers were concerned B.C. government officials might have leaked information that “compromised” October, 2015 RCMP raids targeting sophisticated alleged underground casinos in Richmond, B.C., according to records from a B.C. Lottery Corp. whistle-blower.

The records obtained by Global News and source interviews suggest that as RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit ramped up casino money laundering and underground banking investigations in 2015, senior police and B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB) investigators increasingly viewed B.C. Lottery Corp. (BCLC) — and possibly others in B.C.’s government — with distrust...



Gosh.

Who'd a thunk that something like this could happen after GordCo/Clarklandia's Minister of Everything dismantled the illegal gaming enforcement team back in 2009?






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Big props, as always, go to S.M. Holman and his archives at PublicEye online, part of which is the above video...They are an invaluable history of GordCo, Inc. 


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Monday, February 11, 2019

Sean Holman Explains Why He Thinks The Legislative Press Gallery Gets Things Wrong

GetSavvy
NotElmoreVille


Speaking from the right (as in direction) side of the Rockies, former PublicEye guy Sean M. Holman tells us why he thinks the local legislative press gallery has often been off-base when it comes to all things Wood Splitter.

Here is Mr. Holman, speak-writing in The Tyee:

...(W)hy did the political news media seem to go out of their way to give the benefit of the doubt to (Craig) James, the clerk of the house, and cast the shadow of it over Speaker Darryl Plecas, whose allegations led to James and (Gary) Lenz being put under criminal investigation and suspended?

And why didn’t the news media themselves uncover the issues that led to those allegations?

As an investigative journalist who covered B.C. politics for 10 years, I believe that the power and secrecy of the legislature’s officials is one part of the answer to those questions. So is Plecas’s own handling of the case. But the other part is the predominant reporting biases of the press gallery, which is neither left nor right wing, but something else entirely...



Now.

I'm all in with Mr. Holman on the 'biases' bit, but I'm not entirely sure I'm on board with the notion of giving a complete pass to ideological leanings, even if you just consider who both owns and runs the overwhelming majority the proMedia outlets around here.

But what about that 'something else entirely' business he mentions?

...There may be some right-wingers in the press gallery. There may even be some left-wingers.

But more than anything else, many of its longest-serving members are establishmentarians who worship at what journalism professor Jay Rosen has called the “church of the savvy.” That means, in the main, they favour members of the province’s political establishment (regardless of their ideology) over those who would challenge its institutions, practices and traditions...



Hmmmm....

I think that's getting closer to the heart of the matter, especially because I agree with a lot of what Mr. Rosen has to say, particularly about the state of the American proMedia, but I think Mr. Holman's real kicker is still coming.

....This tendency (of savvyness) is reinforced by their sources, most of whom come from that establishment. After all, when you are looking for official comment on the story of the day at the legislature, that’s who you are going to be talking with most often....


And that's really it for me.

This 'Evils of Insider Access' business, I mean.

After all, how can you go too hard today on the fine fellow you may need to go to tomorrow for your next spoon feeding....errrr....story.



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There's lots of other good detailed stuff in Mr. Holman's piece which demonstrates that he, himself, was not beholden to the go-along-to-get-along rulebook....First, it turns out that it was he who had the idea for the first FOI on 'Club Ledge' and, when he left town for good, instead of giving it to one of the fine folks from the press gallery he instead went to Dermod Travis to help make sure the story got out....And then there was the time he was intimidated by the then press gallery prez into backing down from a story after he had the temerity to ask a former Speaker of Club Ledge a hard-nosed question outside the agreed to field-of-play...The entire piece is a good read.
Off topic, but....Heard the marvelous Mr. Wilkinson on the MoCo with S. Quinn this morning blathering on about how, now that he and his have gutted it and left it for dead in a ditch, ICBC has to go....Sheesh.


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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Big Rich Takes The Fifth....Errrr...The 'Priv'.

AllOurPrivileges'R
HisVille


The first of the TimberWest civil trials is underway and the plaintiffs have asked former BC Liberal 'Minister of Everything' Mr. Rich Coleman to testify.

Why?

Well, as he so often does, Andrew MacLeod of the The Tyee picks up the story:

...The plaintiffs want Coleman to testify because documents suggest he helped TimberWest, which was then publicly traded and having financial trouble, find a buyer. At the time Coleman was the province’s forest minister.

“Have a green light,” Coleman wrote to then TimberWest CEO McElligott in a May 8, 2008, email. “Need to meet on implementation. Made the sale, not sure they understand what they bought but they did. The roll out will be critical. Also have a reluctant partner in the east. They will play when pushed.”...



Thing is, the good Mr. Coleman and his legal folks have successfully made the case that he does not have to testify due to a thing called 'Parlimentary Privilege':

...(I)n a Jan. 24 letter on government letterhead, lawyer Darcie Suntjens argued that a sitting MLA can’t be compelled to appear in court while the legislature is in session.

Suntjens cited parliamentary privilege, a form of legal protection intended to allow elected officials to fulfill their duties.

The legislature stopped sitting at the end of November and isn’t scheduled to resume sitting until Feb. 12. Coleman, a Liberal MLA, sits in opposition.

Suntjens said in her letter that while the legislature is adjourned, it is still technically in session and therefore Coleman can’t be compelled to testify even if he is available...


And here we thought that Mr. Coleman decided not to run for Mayor of Surrey because he just might not win despite the 'overwhelming support' of the fine folks south of the Fraser. 



****

The irony of all this?

Well, if Mr. Coleman and friends were still running things it is very likely that the Ledge wouldn't again be in session until, like, November of 2021.

Either that or until their private jet-assisted helicopters are/were grounded for good.

If you get my drift.


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Of course,  it would not be surprising to learn that at least a few reasonable, and reasonably-well informed (regardless the Postmedia/Global/Chorus/BlackPress cartel's best efforts), British Columbians could very well be asking themselves....'Why, exactly, does Mr. Coleman not want to tell his side of the story?'


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Note To Puffed-Up Pro-Punditry....The Wood Splitter Will Not Sink Us.



IfOnlyThePublicCould
DifferentiateVille


As everybody in Lotusland knows, the legend of the log-splitter has totally consumed the punditry.

And, why not.

It is after all an easy sell with a nice lazy pay-off for everyone involved, everytime.

But have you heard nearly as much about, say, this story?



Sheesh.



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In the thread to the tweet directly above, Mr. Palmer of the Sun defends he and his by noting that the deferral story has been 'reported many times' since 2011....Indeed.
Subheader got you scratching your head?....Well....How about we let the Keef explain?
And don't worry...We'll get back to Ron Obvious in a minute or three as well.


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Friday, February 08, 2019

Whaling Industry Uber Alles....The Whistle Silencers.

WhatWeWorry
TheVancouverModelVille


So.

Who knew that, in the wake of Darth Vader's dismantling of the team that was tasked with rooting out  casino corruption, there was Whaling going on from the very beginning?

Well...

It turns out that some the folks who were tasked to investigate such goings on back in the days of Darth knew exactly what was going down. Unfortunately, those folks were silenced, and worse.

As per usua,l Sam Cooper of Global has the story. Here is his lede:

Several former investigators who say they lost jobs in B.C.’s casino industry for whistle-blowing are questioning whether some B.C. officials deliberately allowed government-regulated casinos to be used as hubs for money laundering.

In an exclusive investigation, Global News has conducted extensive interviews with the casino industry sources, and also reviewed documents and court testimony from several of the sources.

The sources pointed to allegations of “willful blindness” of dirty cash transactions in B.C. casinos. And some questioned whether a “conspiracy” or corruption has occurred, that would allow dirty funds estimated by Global News at up to $2 billion, to flow through Lottery Corp. casinos...



Imagine that!



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And, just in case you missed it, Laila is back and she's lighting Darth's files on fire and tossing around cinder blocks laced with brimstone on this issue.


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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Paragon Is Selling Its Stake In Downtown Lotusland's Casino Industrial Complex.

TheEndOfThe
MarathonVille


Well, well, well, whadd'ya know...

The fine folks from Vegas have cashed in their chips.

Scott Brown of Postmedia had the story late last week. Here is his lede:  

Paragon Gaming, the Las Vegas-based developer and gaming operator that spearheaded the construction of the $640-million Parq casino, is selling its stake in the Vancouver resort.

Paragon announced Friday that its ownership shares have been purchased by PBC Group, a real estate development company headquartered in Ottawa, for an undisclosed amount of money.

PBC Group was one of the casino’s three original partners along with Paragon and Dundee Corporation, a Toronto-based holding company.

Paragon managed the former Edgewater casino, located in Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations, for more than 10 years before the relocation of gaming operations to Parq Vancouver, at which time Parq assumed all management functions.

Parq, which opened in September 2017, contains two Marriott-branded hotels, a 63,000-square-foot conference centre and 65,000 square feet of casino space spread out over two floors with 600 slot machines and 75 game tables...



Of course, not all the folks who were part of Paragon's Vancouver adventure were from Vegas as Bob Mackin noted not too long ago in a story wherein he also highlighted the dispute over what Paragon called a 'gaming table'.

For example there was the very fine Mr. Graydon:

...BCLC pumped $32.5 million in subsidies into the B.C. Place casino’s parkade. The funds came from a facilities development commission scheme created under the NDP in 1997 and amended in 2006 under the BC Liberals to stimulate casino renovation and expansion. Campbell led the BC Liberals to power in 2001 on a platform that included a broken promise to not expand gambling.

In 2012, BCLC CEO Michael Graydon asked for the BC Liberal government’s approval to temporarily increase the additional accelerated development commission from 3% to 5% and accelerated facility development commission from 2% to 4% through March 31, 2017. BCLC normally pays a 25% commission on slot machine “net win” (another way of saying the money lost by gamblers) and 40% on table game net win.

In Graydon’s Sept. 12, 2012 letter to GPEB Assistant Deputy Minister Douglas Scott, he said the $73.4 million, 1,200-stall parkade beside B.C. Place needed BCLC help. City hall required it be built underground, which “has significantly increased the project construction costs impacting the economics of the project when compared to similar facilities developed in suburban areas.”

Graydon’s April 11, 2013 letter to BC Liberal gambling minister Rich Coleman said Edgewater forecast a negative impact of $4.6 million each year through the end of March 2015, while the new location was under construction...

{snip}

...In another pre-election move in 2013, the BC Liberals cut Paragon’s $6 million-a-year lease in half to $3 million, after city council’s 2011 restriction changed the casino’s business plan.

Graydon quit BCLC in late January 2014 to become president of PV Hospitality, the Paragon company building the casino. A Finance Ministry internal investigation later found Graydon in conflict of interest for negotiating his switch to the BCLC casino partner while still head of the Crown corporation....



Still having a hard time placing the good Mr. Graydon?

Well, it turns out he was the very same BC Liberal-appointed BCLC guy who amplified then BC Liberal Minister of Everything Rich Coleman's trashing of Surrey council for having the audacity to act democratically to turn down their own casino industrial complex back in 2013.

F. A. Bula had the story at the time in the Globe:

The CEO of the B.C. Lottery Corporation is “dumbfounded” that Surrey’s mayor and councillors turned down a casino after having given the corporation and the developer, he says, clear signals for three years that they wanted one.

“Something transpired in the last few days and I don’t know what,” said Michael Graydon in the wake of a surprise 5-4 vote at 2 a.m. Saturday to reject the casino licence for a luxury hotel and convention centre development planned near the Surrey highway that leads to the U.S. border...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Mr. Graydon said he and everyone involved in the process say the decision seemed strange, especially given that the opposition to the Surrey casino was a fraction of what it had been in Vancouver two years ago.

In contrast to Surrey, he said Vancouver councillors send clear signals weeks ahead of a vote that they had doubts about a casino expansion...

{snippety doodle-dandy}

...Mr. Graydon said the corporation isn’t going to invest any more energy in Surrey. Instead, it will wait to see whether any of the communities bordering Surrey – either of the first nations communities, plus Delta or Langley – are interested in building a casino...



Imagine that!


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More on Paragon's 'second (BC Liberal-connected) man' to come...


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Sunday, February 03, 2019

#BCPoli....A Pod Worth Listening To.

AllTheAudibleWords
ThatFitVille


It looks like Bob Mackin is making a concerted effort to post regular podcasts.

In the last week he's posted one about the Ledge stuff and today it's by-elections, both the provincial one just done in Nanaimo and the federal one in Burnaby South to come.

He's also working hard to give us depth and context on PacRim comings and goings.

Definitely worth a listen.




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And while I, for one, am really digging Uncle Bob's Sunday offerings it still doesn't quite make the nut when compared to the halcyon days of Sean Holman's long gone PublicEye radio....



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Friday, February 01, 2019

Don't You Know, We're Talkin' About A Revolution.

OmicsIze
ThisVille


Don't worry.

I am not going to weigh in on the situation in Venezuela here, mostly because I haven't done the reading yet to figure out the true intentions of the various agendas at play, which is my bad.

Instead, I want to give anyone interested a bit of an entree into a topic that, while it is somewhat peripheral to what I do in my day job, is something I pay considerable attention to, regardless.

And that is this business of whether the 'omics' revolution in the life sciences (think gene sequencing, and more) is going to lead to personalized medical breakthroughs/treatments for all, based on each of our individual profiles.

Derek Lowe, a drug discovery guy who writes an excellent Science Blog, has weighed in on the topic in the wake of a number of recent thought provoking harder science-type articles.

Here is just one s thought provoking kicker among many in his latest post:

...We’ve long known about the genetic contributions to many rare diseases. One of the hopes for the new era was that we’d be able to discover some genetic variants or combinations with relevance to many of the more widespread ones (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.) But that’s not the case. What you find is a cloud of dozens or hundreds of genes that put together explain only some fraction of the disease landscape. And it’s not like the rest is lurking in the genome somewhere – we’re studying the whole genome already, so that excuse, which was very popular at one time, is no longer operative. Nope, the rest of it is in all the things that aren’t in the gene sequences: epigenetic markers, to be sure, but more generally the uncounted effects of environment and development. Now, it’s true that you can do a pretty good prediction of height from gene sequence these days, with a model that blends in a whole heap of gene variants, each of which contribute a bit up or down. But that’s only if you stipulate good nutrition, in that case, since that can override things pretty thoroughly. And for so many other traits, we don’t quite know what nongenetic influences to control for, or how much genetic influence is left once you’ve done that...


So.

What to do?

Do we double-down and generate even more data and crunch it even harder?

That is the argument of many in the field, with the expectation that it will lead to better prediction algorithms, protocols and 'signatures',  from which actionable (i.e. drug) targets will emerge.

Or.

Do we need to come up with a new approach?

I apologize got getting equivocal here, but this is something we need to think hard about, I think.

OK?




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On a completely different tack, I strongly suggest you have a look at hyper-local Lotuslandian guy, Stanley Q. Woodvine's latest post....It's about a bit of life affirming and thought-provoking grafitti that Stanley has curated where the artist's embedded twist will blow you away...Read it - it's good.
Post title given you a bit of an ear worm that needs scratching? Try....This.


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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Dewey Wins! Dewey Wins! (In Nanaimo?)...




Gosh.

Perhaps Charlie Smith et al. got a little carried away and pushed the button prematurely after the first three of 111 polls had the former (and now present and future?) real estate speculation enthusiast up by a few votes.

Or.

Perhaps, like many a proMedia outlet trumpeter swan, they just put just a little too much stock in that last minute Mainstreet poll that sure seemed like a bit of a push to some in the know:





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Thanks to sometime reader Shushwap Ken for noting the GStraight's embarrasing (temporary) flub.
Best take on all of this was from Tom Hawthorn on the Twittmachine who noted that, in the end, the fine folks from Mainstreet had a margin of error of approximately +/- infinity, give or take eleventy billion.


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