Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I just got back from bloody Ottawa where it was actually warmer than it is in Vancouver.
But screw the warming.
Because this freakish weather business looks like a global warning to me, in more ways than one.
Or even a thousand.
Anyway, the cigar tube-assisted trip to the Nation's Capital (of hubris) was a science-geek thing where I was forced to sit with a bunch of fellow obsessive/compulsives for three days straight so that we could bash each other's grants, and each other, up the side of the head for 16 hours at a stretch.
Kind of like waterboarding with sharp sticks, no water, and very bad coffee.
Usually we are stuck in hotel basement bunker rooms. This time, for some strange, unfathomable reason, we were deposited in a 27th floor room right under the revolving rooftop restaurant on Kent St. As a result, every 30 minutes or so we spun around and came face-to-face with the clock tower (the rest of the time we could see the billowing of the pulpmill smokestacks across the river in Hull that obscured the Museum of Civilization.....).
At about 7pm Monday night the few amongst us who are even aware that there actually is an outside world (not a normal characterstic amongst sci-geeks) noticed the small white puffs rising from one of Parliament's many chimneys just as the caterwauling began.....
And a scant five minutes later, if you looked very carefully, you could see the beasts begin their sprint for the river looking for fresh blood and raw bones to gnaw on....and those were just the advance men....somewhere off in the distance I was sure I could hear the joyful hooting of Warren Kinsella...but I could have been mistaken.
By the way, Ottawa cab drivers routinely kill people....they are insane.
And five and a half hours with Robert Milton's minions constantly trying to sell you 5 dollar cup-a-soups on the cigar tube ride home is enough to drive just about anyone crazy.
But who cares. After all, January 23rd is far off in the distance beyond the Holiday (take that Bill O'Lielly) Horizon.
And Paulie is doomed anyway....Even Bono has grown tired of him now.
Friday, November 25, 2005
At this rate there may be no foilage to hang the Christmas* ornaments on.
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest Harris Poll finds that
President Bush's positive job rating has continued to fall, touching another
new low for his presidency at 34 percent. This compares with his positive
ratings of fully 88 percent after 9/11, 65 percent in November 2002, 50
percent at the end of 2003, 50 percent in November 2004, 45 percent in June of
this year, and 40 percent in August.
President Bush's positive ratings, now, compare unfavorably with those of
three of the last four two-term presidents at a comparable time in their fifth
year in office. In November (or the nearest month to it when the Harris Poll
measured it) of their fifth year, their positive ratings, Presidents Johnson
(67%), Reagan (66%) and Clinton (58%) all enjoyed the support of substantial
majorities. President Nixon however (29%) was significantly less popular than
President Bush is now.
Our first question is: How significant is the difference between 34% and 29% anyway?
Our second question is: Will we have 'the Shrubbery to kick around anymore' when he's gone?
*In deference to Green Day, we would have said 'Holiday', but we didn't want to get black-jacked by Canada's good friend Mr. O'Reilly.
Of course, there are certain things that have given Mr. Bush short term bumps, and they are all scary.
Why can't the American giant Maximus Corp, which we are paying $240 million dollars to answer our phones for our medical system, do its job properly?
In fact, it is so bad that it has been fined every single month for seven months since the contract signed commander Gordon Campbell and the BC Privatization Buccaneers began because Maximus apparently can't come even close to meeting performance quotas.
Well, according to Maximus CEO Lynn Davenport it's because we are so darned foreign and because (at least in the past) we have paid our people a living wage to answer our phones for our medical system.
Asked why things have not gone smoothly in B.C., Davenport replied: "We're doing this project in another country and we're doing it in a union environment."
So, how are they going to fix the problem? Why, by firing people of course.
Here's Davenport again:
"Beginning in January, we're going to be reducing our staffing," Davenport told analysts, adding later that the company plans to provide "better service with less people."
You got that? They are saying they are going to reduce service when they can't meet service commitments now.
Of course Maximus is saying they have to do this because they are losing so much money because of the fines which they have hinted are 'politically motivated'. Our question is this - given how much money Maximus/Minimus is raking in (as we detailed here), and given how lousy they are at providing their so-called 'core' services, why should we believe their accounting is any better?
That Privatization Pirateship - sure doesn't look so good when you're being forced to walk the plank, tattered health care plan paperwork in hand.
Nice work by Russ Francis of Monday Magazine on this one.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
The above is a harsh headline. But when your premier is a man who blithely spouts tiny truths to obscure big lies, it's difficult not to be harsh.
Specifically, during what was meant to be a fluff piece before the opening of the First Nations Summit, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was asked about child poverty and the incomplete files of (at least) 713 dead children on CBC Radio One's 'Early Edition' this morning*
Campbell, clearly annoyed, responded by saying that every single one of the deaths had been 'investigated' they just hadn't been 'reviewed' - yet.
Maybe he should tell that to the grieving families that are waiting for closure.
Or, better yet, perhaps Mr. Campbell should tell that to the former Ombudsman and Children's Commissioner that his government has been ignoring for the last year and a half on this issue.
A former B.C. ombudsman says she tried to warn Premier Gordon Campbell as recently as May of this year that child deaths were not being properly reviewed.....
But Dulcie McCallum says the government shouldn't be surprised that hundreds of child deaths were not reviewed. She says that message was being conveyed to senior government officials over a period of 18 months.
McCallum says both she and former Children's Commissioner Cynthia Morton told government officials they were getting calls from people whose complaints about child deaths were not being responded to.But McCallum says all her attempts to warn the government in writing were ignored, and that Campbell didn't even respond to her letters.
Obfuscation is obfuscation no matter how you twist the words.
Thus, the headline.
Clearly Mr. Campbell was bamboozled into believing he was going to interviewed by the Puffmaster Rick Cluff. Too bad for him Kathryn Gretsinger and Duncan McCue were in the chair this morning. Audio can be found here.
Why did folks like Sam Sullivan and the (still unannounced) financial backers of the anti-progressive 'KnoWards' campaign need to win so much?
Could it have been a pressing need to stop crazy stuff like people insisting that all parts of the City of Vancouver need to do their share in helping those that need help so much.
Clear thinking Vancouver resident Tim Everett says it so well in a letter to the Vancouver Courier published last Sunday, the day after the election:
To the editor:
Re: "And then there were three," Nov. 13.
When the discussion arose last winter regarding the proposed Triage dual-diagnosis residence on Fraser Street (for recovering drug addicts with mental illness) I looked into the placement of special needs residence facilities across Vancouver. A city council member and city staffer had informed me that, "It is fair to say that generally these uses are scattered across the city, with exception of the southwest." I referred to the map provided and my counting contradicted such a claim.
Supported housing east of Main Street is almost double of that west of Main (100 out of a total 155 facilities). This includes all types of residences, whether it's for seniors, low-income, mental health or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. According to my count, Fraser Street accommodates a whopping 12 per cent of all the city's mental health residences.
That's why I was so intrigued when I saw the news story about the proposed supported housing in Dunbar. When plans for Triage on Fraser were unleashed there was massive local opposition. Residents were treated to a few huge and colourful public meetings and one public hearing. After this process council unanimously ignored the residents and adopted the plan designed and recommended by city staff (albeit with a tiny tweak or two).
The residents were called NIMBYs by the mayor and scolded for not doing their part for the poor folks who need help and for the Four Pillars plan in general. Obviously it was a done deal after all, in spite of what Coun. Anne Roberts said at the public meeting.
Let's just hope that the fine folks in Dunbar are ready to do their part for the team. It must be difficult for them to discover that their community might have to help shoulder a small portion of the social burden that's been foisted upon the East Side for decades. (We were, after all, "educated" that the folks for the dual-diagnosis place on Fraser would come from both the poor and wealthy areas of town.) It must be excruciating to face the notion that Vancouver's Special Zone for all things yucky (a.k.a. the East Side), might not always be forced to do the heavy lifting and that the load must be shared.
We need drug and alcohol treatment and supported housing desperately in this city. All progress in dealing with lost lives and street crime relies upon it. Even after the fiasco of the way the Triage centre at Fraser was pushed through, I am in favour of it. The East Side has traditionally been forced to accommodate any and all manner of unattractive projects for Vancouver while the more well-heeled areas west of Main are exempt. That the city has bought the property on Dunbar may address this, but I'm not holding my breath. I'll be interested to see how much resolve a new city council will have to put anything on Dunbar other than what the privileged and insulated residents there decide on. Dual-diagnosis residence? Snowballs in hell would fare better. Drug and alcohol rehab centre? Pigs will fly first. A nice, quiet subsidized housing project for local seniors who'd rather not move out to the suburbs? Aaaah. That sounds nice.
Tim Everett, Vancouver
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Just in case you've had any problems processing your MSP forms or getting Maximus on the phone to help you out, thought you might like to know this about one of GordCo Inc's favorite Privatization partners:
RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 21, 2005--MAXIMUS (NYSE:MMS), a leading provider of government services, today reported results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended September 30, 2005.
-- Fourth quarter revenue increased 8.6% over last year to $167.3 million, and net income was $7.4 million, or $0.34 per diluted share, including the previously disclosed legal settlement expense of $5.5 million or $0.15 per diluted share. Excluding the fourth quarter legal expense, diluted earnings per share would have been $0.49,
-- Full-year revenue increased 7.2% over last year to $647.5 million, and net income was $36.1 million, or $1.67 per diluted share, including full year legal settlement expense of $7.0 million. Excluding the full year legal settlement expense, net income and diluted earnings per share would have been $40.3 million and $1.86, respectively,
-- Days sales outstanding remained consistent at 94 days,
-- Fiscal 2005 record signed contracts and ending backlog of $1.4 billion and $1.7 billion, at September 30, 2005, respectively.
You got that?
Spin emanating from their stove piped flack-hacks to the contrary, Maximus is doing just fine.
What's more, they are actually very happy to be taking our money because, despite being fined seven straight months for not meeting expectations, they are actually making out like bandits on their 'Health Services' revenue.
For the full year, Health Services revenue increased 21.2% to $251.6 million versus $207.5 million reported in fiscal 2004. Revenue growth was driven by several factors including the start of the British Columbia contract, a full-year's contribution from the California Healthy Families project, and new federal work which resulted from the Company's increased emphasis on this market segment. Health Services revenue in the fourth quarter was $65.3 million compared to $58.0 million in the same period last year. Health Services operating margin, which absorbed a $3.8 million loss on the British Columbia contract, was 11.6% and 11.4% for the full year and fourth quarter, respectively.
So, given that, can anyone explain what possible impetus Maximus has to improve services and meet expectations?
Looks like fines are nothing but a cost of doing business.
This just in: Of course Maximus is focussed on that $3.8million not the $251.6 million and are thus announcing, according to CKNW (8:00pm Nov 23rd Newscast), that they are going to make service cuts (ie. start laying people off). So, not only did the people actually doing the work lose good paying jobs to line a multinational's pockets, they are now about to start losing those jobs entirely because the same multinational can't do it's job properly. See. Privatization works!
A while back we relied on Vancouver Sun supplied numbers to come up with the formula of $4 million cut by axing the Children's Commissioner plus $0.2 million given to the Coroner to pick up the slack to come up with the number of $3.8 million available for tax cuts to Gordon Campbell's wealthy contributors/constituency in return for no follow-up for 713 dead children.
Well, David Schreck now has harder year-by-year numbers for the Coroner's budget for the period in question:
According to Public Accounts, the Coroners Service budget was $8.582 million in 2001-02, $8.009 million in 2002-03, $8.247 million in 2003-04 and $8.315 million in 2004-05. The cut of $573,000 in 2002-03 was not yet fully restored by the fiscal year ended March 31, 2005. Actual spending was $8.137 million in 2000-01, $8.147 million in 2001-02, $7.516 million in 2002-03 and $7.869 million in 2003-04. The drop in actual spending between 2001-02 and 2002-03 of $631,000 exceeded the budgeted cut.
So, it looks like the unafflicted who are most comfortable in the province of British Columbia actually got more money per uninvestigated dead child file than we originally gave them credit for.
We apologize to the rich.
Schreck (not Shrek - he's no ogre), has some other hard earned disturbing numbers in the same piece.
That's how GordCo Inc. AG Wally Oppal describes the James Green/Sam Sullivan tete a tete.
But he is not going to get involved.
Oppal rejects Greens inquiry
Nov, 23 2005 - 9:30 AM
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - A call for an independent inquiry of bizarre events leading up to Jim Green's failed bid to become Vancouver's next mayor has been rejected by Attorney General Wally Oppal. “It's a fascinating debate that's been going on, but I don't want to get involved in the debate,” said Oppal. “The obvious solution, if there is some impropriety, is for an applicant to go before the Supreme Court under the Vancouver charter and make an application.
In other words, don't mess with the Moderate Man.
And as for the supposedly Moderate Woman, heard anything from Carol Taylor on the 713d dead children tragedy yet?
Perhaps she's too busy not cutting the regressive PST.
VICTORIA - Dayna Humphrey wants to know why her little boy died in foster care more than two years ago.
Not just so his voice will be heard, Humphrey said Tuesday, but so other children's lives might be saved.
But so far she's run into a brick wall in her efforts to get any answers about what happened in the hours and days before her son, Brandon Seymour, was found slumped in a wheelchair, his restraints around his neck.
"I've been slapped down at every step," said Humphrey from her North Vancouver home. "I want to know that somebody out there is looking out for my son's voice.
Here are the responses from the Campbell government Ministers 'currently' responsible, also from Mr. Willcocks' story:
Solicitor General John Les said the coroner couldn't make any recommendations because the cause of death was undetermined......
Children and Families Minister Stan Hagen said an internal review into Brandon's was still being done. He couldn't say when it would be completed, or why it has taken so long.
Again, I come back to an out of town visitor's comment who was here last week and saw the headlines before Mike de Jong's Bill 17 Deflector Spin Machine figuratively, if not literally, sent the files straight back to the Warehouse.
Apparently, when newly 'elected' Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan speaks it.
Here is the latest on the 'I never met/I did meet' James Green saga from from the CBC:
On Monday night, Sullivan was asked about the controversy by CBC TV's Ian Hanomansing.
"Some of our viewers wanted you to set the record straight. They'd like to know if you or your party had any connection with James Green or any connnection with his entrance in the mayoral race,"
"No, absolutely not," said Sullivan.
You got that. That was Monday.
And this was Tuesday:
"But now, the mayor-elect says he did talk to James Green after someone told him the independent was being bullied out of his campaign office by election rival Jim Green.
"I did what I thought I needed to do, to determine if Jim Green was bullying another candidate, as he had been bullying me." Sullivan says he discovered the story had no merit and he dropped it.
James Green happened to office space in the same building as Sullivan.
And Sullivan now admits he called the landlord to say that situation made him uncomfortable – but says he made that call after Green had been evicted.
At a news conference on Tuesday Sullivan was at a loss to explain why he was still interested in someone who was no longer there.
"Why would I ask about being uncomfortable, and at the same time ask why he had being evicted?"
"I don't know. You tell us," replied a reporter.
No, Mr. Sullivan. You tell the people of Vancouver.
Especially those who voted for you because you portrayed yourself as the honest one and smeared your opponent as having exactly the opposite characteristics.
And remember......It was that great truth teller, Christy Clark, who unintentionally (and without irony) demonstrated how low some pols will go when she stated:
In other words, anything is OK as long as you win.
For a blow-by-blow on how James Green's votes helped Jim Green lose see the chronological 'Election Night' posts on the sidebar. For the record, we called it at 9:10pm when James had only 300 some odd votes but still more than 5% that of Jim. At the same time Michael Smythe declared that James was not going to be a factor (I was yelling at the radio as I typed - the 'Blognoramity' of it all, ha!).
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
For the record (see previous two posts) Sam Sullivan, at least as of yesterday, maintains that he has never met James Green:
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sam Sullivan won the mayor's seat by a margin of 3,747 votes over his main rival, the veteran politician Green. But there was another Green on the ballot, James Green, who won a surprising 4,273 votes.
That is raising questions about whether Sullivan was beaten by the doppelganger effect: Did people confuse which Green they were voting for?
"It disappoints me that there would be any questions about it," Sullivan said in an interview. "I would much rather have had a clear outcome....
"I never met James Green. And in fact, I brought this up to friends and I said it bothers me a lot."
Looks like somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.
The Circle widens:
Vision Vancouver is calling for an independent inquiry into any links between the NPA and James Green, the candidate who placed third in the race to become mayor of Vancouver. NPA mayor-elect Sam Sullivan has repeatedly denied any connection to James Green's campaign.
But a news report yesterday quoted restaurant owner Julius Simon as saying Sullivan approached him about helping James Green with office space. Since that report Simon has told CBC Radio that Sullivan only made the inquiry after James Green was forced to move out of the space by the building's managers. He says Sullivan simply asked where Green had gone. Vision Vancouver campaign co-chair Mike Magee says Sullivan's shifting story raised new questions about an election result already clouded by confusion over which "Green" voters marked on their ballots.
But, of course, Smilin' Sammy is the real straight shooter here.
Here's the whole bit from CKNW Radio re: James Green's statement that Sam Sullivan offered to help him get his office back in the Plaza of Nations early in the Vancouver Election Campaign.
Nov, 21 2005 - 9:40 PM
VANCOUVER(CKNW/AM980) - Was it a friendly gesture or a political game?
Independent candidate for the Vancouver mayor's chair James Green is shedding some light on accusations that Mayor-elect Sam Sullivan helped with his campaign.
James Green says he scouted out a campaign office at the Plaza of Nations himself. Sam Sullivan had nothing to do with it.
But in mid-September for no apparent reason, they were asked to move.
Green says two weeks later, he ran into Sullivan at a Mayor's debate in North Vancouver.
"He said so I heard you got kicked out of your office and said yeah and he said you want me to make a call and see if I can get it back for you."
So was that just a friendly gesture by Sullivan or a strategic political move?
"At the time I thought that it may be a political gesture.
But you know I don't think that it was just friendly."
In any event, James Green never heard from Sullivan again and never re-gained his office in downtown Vancouver.
Sounds to me like Mr. Green just might be angling for something here.
Could that be the good ship "S.S. ChequeBook Journalism" we see emerging from the endless fog that has enveloped our fair city since Saturday Night?
Monday, November 21, 2005
When is bad press good press?
How about when it makes something even worse disappear.
Especially when it drags your enemy down into the gutter with you as well.
What the heck am I babbling on about?
MLA pay raises and pension plans, actually - a very bad scene for both Gordon Campbell and Carole James alike, right?
But wait a minute, what happened to those 713 dead kids?
Go ahead; Scan all the major media outlets, or try google.
You won't find anything because - they're gone.
Perfect deflector spin....innoculation for the nation.....news cycle management......information domination.
And Mr. Campbell and his government are off the hook again.
If you were a cynic you might think they have a contract with the Rendon Group or something.
If you would like a retrospective on this story from start to last Thursday (ie. it is not finished) when it stopped dead it it's tracks, please see see the sidebar to the left which has our series archived chronologically in: 713-Defending The Indefensible.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
The best overall discussion thread that we saw (and played around in) followed Charles Campbell's predictions piece at the Tyee. We were disappointed that the UBC JSchool group packed it in Friday, guess they take weekends off....
We now return to our regularly scheduled blognoramity.......
Vancouver numbers are here.
Sullivan beats Jim Green by 3747; James Green takes 4273.
Differential, 526 (Jim).
And Christy Clark* says, "you can't steal an election in a democracy".
*Statement made on CKNW, Election Coverage, Nov 19, 2005, late.
Update, Sunday Noon: Lots of people are taking me to task both gently, and not so, for making a fuss about this scandale Vert business. Look, I realize, based purely on numbers, that it is not likely that this led to Jim Green's demise, but there are two things that stick in my craw. First, it seems that intent means nothing with so many people, which to me borders on the old Nixonian (and should I add newMartini?) saw that it doesn't matter what you do as long as you don't get caught. Second, if the growing realization that even 3% to the imposter Green could lose it for vision in the final days led to a shift in resources, well that would also be a victory for the big blue, red and white machine, wouldn't it?
Update, Sunday afternoon: An off-line message from old friend and reader Big Audible Dyne-O-Mite raises a crazy speculative point.....How do we know that the Big Bus wasn't put on the road by the would-be visionaries as a scare tactic/lever to get out the vote? I can't see it, because that kind of twisted strategy is worthy of of an uberMachievelli that I'm not sure even lurks in the deepest darkest depths of, say, Gordon Campbell. Besides, it's like playing with fire and it failed anyway - I have the vote in the low 30's.
All the pundits, waterheads and non-waterheads alike, agree that it all depends on turn-out in Vancouver. Specifically, Low = NPA while High=COPE/Vision.
In Surrey, frequent contributor lenin's ghost says it all depends how many times a guy named doug voted in a cheap frightwig and groucho glasses...
Post election round-ups begin @ 8:01pm PST, assuming that we can tear ourselves away from Randy Bachman's latest.....
A lively discussion is also sure to occur on the Tyee comment threads as well.
Friday, November 18, 2005
We're slating 'em all the way, COPE/Vision, except.
For Councillor we're taking Kevin Potvin over Fred Bass.
For Schoolboard we're taking COPE + Andrea Reimer (Green).
We like Fred Bass, but we figure he's at, or near, the top of the heap (the absence of recent hard polling #s has been driving us crazy) and thus can handle our measly loss so that we can go with our independent (see Reasons #12 and #22).
And remember, there are a lot of people out there who will vote that have spent less than 15 minutes thinking about the issues and the candidates - don't let them swamp us (ie. those who pay attention - includes you too 'truth').
And remember even more, it's Gentleman Jim (notJames)Green that you have to tell your friends and (influence) your uncle that you are voting for.
On Mike Smyth's Nightline BC radio show this evening Kathleen Stephany, the original whistleblower, said that when the Children's Commissioner was shutdown one, count it one, person, Ken Stewart, was hired by the Coroner's office to do the work of 34 people that had been working on child death investigations before Gordon Campbell and the British Columbia Liberals.
One for for Thirty-Four.
That's less than 3%, which, I guess is one of those good business practice 'measurable outcome' numbers' that demonstrates just how much Mr. Campbell cares about the children of this province.
For installments I, II, III, IV, V, VI on this issue, please see here and here and here and here , here and here.
Newscycle management is the cardinal rule of Rethuglican 'Information Domination' playbook.
And it looks like Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal government has taken that rule to heart.
Example 1: Remember how S-G John Les destroyed his own credibility while he ran out the clock on the child death issue for over a week before he dropped the 713 bomb yesterday.
Example 2: GordCo Inc. dropped the secret pay increase bomb on the very same day.
And quite a deflector bomb it was.
So, while 'The Number' ran above the fold on the front pages of newspapers and at the top of the newscasts this morning, ask yourself this.....
What do you see there now?
It sure as heck isn't dead children.
What's worse, the deflector spin has worked so well that Carole James is now taking most of the heat.
Forgot to mention Rule #2: That the Rethugs always count on the fact that a great majority of mainstream journos will take their eyes off the ball to watch the shiny spin, by way of evidence feel free to tune in to M. Smyth's show on the notsoGiant 98 this evening.
Update, 7:40pm: And Dirk Meissner, from the Canadian Press, all but confirmed it on Smyth's show when he said he and his compatriots were all working away on the dead children story when they dropped everything after the pay raise bombsell was dropped.
DoubleSecretProbationUpdate: From the credit-where-credit-is-due dept. M. Smyth had children's champion Kathleen Stephany in hour two.
Some people have really great ideas that are really workable.
Kevin Potvin is one of those people.
"In a Texas city, an old inner-city bridge was overcrowded with cyclists, pedestrians and cars, leading to the death of two pedestrians in 2000. They considered rededicating lanes to bicycles, building out extra lanes, or redirecting car traffic elsewhere. In the end, they built a separate bicycle and pedestrian bridge that is beautiful, effective, and much-loved in the city. The completed cost of this 700-foot span in 2002 was US$9 million.
Some councillors in Vancouver have suggested $15 million is an affordable cost to build extra lanes off Burrard Bridge. Instead, for much the same cost, we could build a separate bicycle bridge from around the Aquatic Centre in the West End to around Vanier Park in Kits. Because pedestrian and bike bridges do not have the same load requirements as car bridges, such a crossing offers all sorts of interesting and beautiful possibilities in design. With the mountains, the sea, the park, the beaches, and the existing and beautiful Burrard Bridge, we could design a unique structure that could well become the most photographed object in an already very photogenic city."
Vote Kevin Potvin (Independent) - Councillor.
Will Gracie ever stop giving us the finger?
"Near the end (of the Clark/Sullivan race), former Socred deputy premier Grace McCarthy gave the campaign another boost by publicly declaring that she helped launch Sullivan’s political career."
Well, it looks like Jim (not James)Green and Jamie Lee Hamilton agree on at least one thing:
VANCOUVER – Green Party school board incumbent Andrea Reimer has done a great job as a trustee over the past three-year term and deserves to be re-elected, Vision Vancouver mayoralty candidate Jim Green said today.
“Yesterday I endorsed the COPE school board candidates, and they endorsed me for Mayor,” said Green. “I’m very happy to do the same thing today with Andrea Reimer, whose work with the COPE incumbents over the past three years has been absolutely excellent.”
"Holding the balance of power on School board and I want her as the QUEEN maker is Andrea Reimer of the Green Party."
Guess who's who.
Vote Andrea Reimer (GreenParty) - School Board.
Because Sam Sullivan, Peter Ladner and Wal-Mart all share the same - guess what?
What do Wal-Mart Canada Corp. and the Non-Partisan Association have in common? Answer: communications gurus Allen Langdon and Wayne Hartrick. In an interview, Mr. Langdon - Reputations Corp.'s public affairs director and the campaign manager for councillor Peter Ladner, confirmed his public relations firm has worked for the mega-chain - which was blocked by city council back in June from setting up shop in Vancouver. And Mr. Hartrick, the firm's president, is the association's campaign communications director and a close ally of mayoral candidate Sam Sullivan.
Wal-Mart public affairs director Andrew Pelletier says the company is planning on submitting another development proposal to council after the next election - although he wasn't able to say for sure whether Reputations would be involved in that bid.
Nov. 02, 2005
That Sam Sullivan is clearly a paragon of virture who really cares about the little guy.
And while we're on the subject of the little guy, where did Mr. Sullivan get all that KnowWards money anyway?
Does squeaky-clean Sam still have some 'slaining to do?
The Vancouver Charter prohibits election advertising in a newspaper or magazine or on radio or television on a "general voting day". A person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and is liable to one or more of the following penalties: a fine of not more than $5,000; imprisonment for a term not longer than a year; and a prohibition for a period of not longer than six years from holding an elected local government office or from voting in local government elections.....snip...
Knowards Coalition spokesperson Colin Metcalfe told the Straight on October 19 that his group placed ads on CKNW on the day of the plebiscite because the COPEcontrolled council didn't create any rules preventing this. The founder of the Knowards Coalition, NPA Coun. Sam Sullivan, did not return the Straight's phone call but sent an e-mail instead. "It sounds like Raymond (Louie) is getting the police involved and this could get very serious, so I shouldn't comment," Sullivan wrote.
Oct. 21, 2004
So, let's set aside the connections with the Harperites for the moment, because right now we can't help but wonder the following: Does Colin Metcalfe by chance know any of these guys?
And if he does, where would James Green and Jamie Lee Hamilton fit into such a scheme locally?
So, integrity, is apparently why the Vancouver Sun is endorsing Sam Sullivan:
"Green is a hard-working councillor. He was Larry Campbell's right-hand man, the one who gave the mayor's musings meaning. He is a pragmatic dealmaker and bon vivant who enjoys seeing his efforts bear fruit.....
Green has also suggested that the city's exposure to the bloated Woodward's development will be close to zero, when citizens are on the hook for at least a $13.5 million shortfall, not including holding costs and related expenses. (The Sun supports the redevelopment, but not at any cost.)
Unfortunately, all of this raises questions about Green's credibility, an ingredient we think is necessary to be the first citizen of Vancouver.
In contrast, Sullivan has shown over his 12 years as a councillor that he cares as much about the cost of services as providing them. He has fought extravagance and waste, condemned ideological posturing and opposed resolutions on matters beyond municipal jurisdiction.
Guess the Editorial Overloards, errrrrr.....Writers at the Sun haven't heard about the 'Swiftboat Liars for Sam'.
But Waltonesque, Republican-style, SpinSmearers notwithstanding, what is confusing to us is why Mr. Sullivan himself gets a free ride.
Case in point, while he was defaming Mr. Green yesterday Sullivan told a CBC radio commentator that COPE itself (not just rag-tag band of assembled insurrectionists) was actually against Green.
When he was called on it, Sullivan responded, with a smirk in his voice, that COPE councillors had told him some pretty awful things about Green in private, but that, well, he should probably, he guessed, just keep that quiet.
Smears and innuendo - it appears to be Mr. Sullivan's stock-in-trade.
And the local mainstream media, including the CBC, in an effort to uphold the now unviolable law of 'he said/she said journalism' as a generator of dual truths is turning a blind eye to it all.
And that is a shame.
The Vancouver Sun.
Guess they figure, somehow, that endorsing Tim Stevenson somehow balances out the fact that they are going NPA pretty much all the way, including supporting Ronald Leung.
The new number is 713.
And the current Solicitor-General has this to say about it:
Vancouver Sun, pgA1, Nov 18, 2005
Well, how about this Mr. Les?
First, in the name of ideology your leader, Gordon Campbell, and your government scrapped the Children's Commission to 'save' $4.0 million dollars.
Then you took $3.8 million of those dollars that had once been earmarked to the downtrodden and the unprotected of this Province and you gave it away in tax cuts to the wealthiest amongst us, most of it to the mansion people in Point Grey and the Uplands.
Why the measly $0.2 million differential?
Because that is precisely how much money your leader Mr. Campbell and your government gave to the Coroner's office to pick up all of the slack.
This is an outright dereliction of your public duty with a healthy dose of negligence thrown in. I will leave the qualifier - criminal or otherwise, for others to decide.
Or, put another way, when I explained this to someone who came visiting from away yesterday (they had seen the headlines at the airport), she said "How can these people sleep at night?"
The worst part of all this is the fact that despite how horrifying that number '713' is, I am not convinced that it means anything at all.
Because this is only what Gordon Campbell, John Les and all of the B.C. Liberals are admitting to as of yesterday. Furthermore, they are stating, publically, and on the record, that it is for uninvestigated child deaths that occurred before Jan 2003.
So, first, given their previous public and on the record statements, why should we believe them now (ie. last week the number was zero until Kathleen Stephany kicked up a fuss and earlier this week it was 80, but only because the chief Coroner blew the first whistle)?
Second, for the same reasons, why should we believe Mr. Les when he says that the 'system' has worked efficiently since?
Did the coroner's office receive a sudden $3.8 million dollar budget increase in Jan 2003 that we don't know about?
Or, did the government suddenly hire a hundred new Kathleen Stephanys?
We think not.
For installments I, II, III, IV and V on this issue, please see here and here and here and here and here.
Rick Cluff interviewed Mr. Les on CBC Vancouver this morning on this matter and it was one of the most pathetic bits of investigative interrogation that I have ever heard. For example, after Les told Cluff that everything is now OK, Cluff went for the jugular, not!, by asking the S-G if he deserved his pay raise. Clearly, it appears that Cluff gets his questions by jumping betweeen stories on the front page of the Sun. Thus, I'm surprised he didn't ask Les if he liked the new Barenaked Ladies album-on-a-stick. One wonders if the word is out that, while he may not be the watercarrier that Mr. Good is, Cluff is so ineffectual that any interview with him is sure to generate puffed-up deflector spin no matter how dire the situation.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Because this guy thinks, and even writes, like us:
Using their massive public relations machine (30 press releases in education alone, not counting recycled announcements, since January), the BC Liberals are once more endeavouring to bamboozle a dubious public into believing that they are adequately funding public schools.
Vote Noel Herron (COPE) - School Board.
In Reason #6, I suggested that in my own poll of myself over and over and over again I figure I'll vote for Ms. Hamilton 0.3% of the time just to drive everybody crazy.
Well, apparently I'm not the only one.
By way of example, here's an exchange from the thread to Reason #11:
Oh man, you are deluded. Take a look at downtowneastside.blogspot.com, to see how you're hero is a thief, and has basically sold out the left. You're promoting a scoundrel, who will sell your house to a developer and then claim he created social housing for you.
Sure, but perhaps you'd like to check out who's running around with Sam Sullivan's PR machine's envelopes.
Well maybe not, because it looks like there just might be some serious dirty trickin' going on.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Hunter Thompson used to tell this weird and twisted story in which he compared being a good German to running lawns and shaking down housewives as a young kid for his neighborhood milkman on the early morning mean streets of Louisville Kentucky's leafier neighborhoods.
If I remember correctly the theme had something to do with how pleasurable it can be to turn your mind off and do what ever The Man tells you, no questions asked.
Well, nobody would accuse of candidate 'KP' of turning his mind off and/or of doing something just because The Man told him to.
Not to mention the fact that 'KP' always asks questions, lots of them.
But none of that matters now.
Because 'KP' has been endorsed by the World's Toughest Milkman - Reid Fleming.
Vote Kevin Potvin (Independent) - Councillor
Because Gentleman Jim Green has most of the same qualities as his pugilistic namesake, Mr. Corbett:
He was clever, agile, and "jack-rabbit" quick; He utilized fast jabs and hooks, and possessed excellent footwork along with slippery head and body movement.
OK, maybe not the jack rabbit quick part.
Vote for the right Green.
That's Jim, not James.
We are supposed to get new numbers, apparently going higher than 80, today on the number of cases of child deaths that have gone uninvestigated due to dismantling of the Children's Commissioner by Gordon Campbell and the British Columbia Liberals.
But, given all the quislings' statements on the issue up to this point, why should we believe any number that Gordon Campbell and the British Columbia Liberals come up with today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or even next year for that matter.
Mr. Campbell says he takes responsibility for this tragedy in one breath and says it was caused be a 'systemic breakdown' in the next, followed by vague suggestions that the coroner and transitions are are actually the problem.
Forget about all this deflector spin in the face of pseudo-mea culpa.
Because what's important here, as Mr. Campbell professess, is that the problem must be fixed.
The problem is, Mr. Campbell and his Ministers have demonstrated that we can not trust them to even identify the problem (ie. it was the coroner that first when public with the number 80 after a woman named Kathleen Stephany first blew the whistle on a single case).
Therefore, there must be a public, independent inquiry into all of the entire ministry so that we can get to be bottom of all of the problems and start putting together a system of taking care of kids and families again.
In other words no narrowly focussed, hamstringed blue ribbon panel will suffice here. And if Mr. Campbell and/or his minions try to pull a PR stunt like that it will be for shame if the local media does not scream blue bloody murner and nail them to the wall on it.
Band aids will not do.
We need corrective surgery.
Anything less, and we, the people of British Columbia, will never be sure whether there are still children who are being crushed, literally, by Mr. Campbell's 'systemics'.
For installments I, II, III, and IV please see here and here and here and here.
David Schreck has a very good summary of the most egregious cuts and a numbers estimate for 2004 based on, well, real numbers.
Because Joe Keithley says so.
"If we have a mayor with a good conscience, perhaps all the things with the Olympics will be right and other mega-projects in the city will be done as humanly as possible."
So do what Joey says, or he just may sic Randy Rampage on you.
Because the wrong Green has a bus somebody else may be paying for:
James Green said he wouldn't comment on the financing behind his campaign bus, but says for Vision to look at some debt problems he had 15 years ago is petty and hypocritical, considering Jim Green was involved in money-losing ventures such as the Four Corners Bank in the DTES.
"For someone to talk about a little bus which might cost $300 to $400 a day and suggest there is some dark conspiracy behind me is a joke," Green said.
Again, don't pay attention to the Waltonesque Spinmeisters in the corner making confuse-a-cat shadow puppets on the wall.
Instead, win friends and influence your uncle by telling them to vote for the right Green.
That's Gentleman Jim Green (Vision Vancouver) - for Mayor.
We interrupt this Vancouver Election Municipalooza for an important update on the continued public display of Gordon Campbell's ability to obfuscate:
"I think clearly there was a systemic breakdown," says the premier. "I think everyone understands that. British Columbian are not happy with it, I'm not happy with it, I'm sure the cabinet's not happy with it."
"Was there a system breakdown in 2002? Yes, there was. Should we have done it better? Can we fix it? Yes, we will fix it."
Again, it was Gordon Campbell and his government that shut down the Children's Commission in 2002. This is unequivocal, no matter how much the Premier would like us to believe it is not:
When asked whose decision it was to shelve the investigations, the premier says that while it wasn't his decision, ultimately he is responsible.
"Look, government is responsible, I'm responsible, no question about it," says Campbell."
Thus, it is the responsibility of every British Columbian to hold Mr. Campbell responsible.
Parts I, II and III are here and here and here.
Because the Firefighters said so.
And, apparently, Smilin' Sammy was just too busy to talk to them. Sure, Mr. Sullivan loves'em anyway, just like he now loves the Woodwards project, and sure, if he had to do it all over again he would probably happily kiss their feet.*
*As long his Waltonesque Spinmeisters said it was OK to do so, of course.
Because riding your bike into town is good for you.
Vote for Fred Bass, Cope - Councillor
And if you had one to waste (which you don't!), you could vote for Peter Ladner on this one just on the off chance that it just might drive George Puil starkers.
Because NPA polling is a push, as in off a cliff.
"The Vision poll was done separately from any phone-banking by Strategic Communications, he said. The Vision poll, whose questions were provided to The Vancouver Sun, sampled 495 people between Nov. 3 and 9.
It is considered to be accurate within 4.5 percentage points.
NPA campaign manager Mike Hillman said the NPA numbers, also tallied between Nov. 3 and 9, came from internal tracking. He did not provide the questions or say how many people were included in the numbers, but he said it was a straight "who are you voting for" type question and that he was very confident about the numbers, since the NPA has contacted about 139,000 people throughout the campaign."
And I've talked to myself 3, 444, 747, 999,274 times since Halloween and so far it's 99.7% - Left, to 0.3% - Other.
(In my weakest moments sometimes I think, what the heckfire, let's vote for Jamie Lee Hamilton just to drive everybody crazy).
Because somebody on the GVRD board has make sure that the UBC Endowment Lands doesn't go entirely to rich people who drive East every morning in sleek European SUVs with blinding halogen lights.
Vote for Raymond Louie (VV) - Councillor.
Last night Sam Sullivan, while exhorting supporters to grab on to his coat tails and elect NPA councillors, did as his Waltonesque Spindoctors ordered and went for the killer soundbite:
Of course, there is another way to separate he who knows where the KnowWards barrels of cash are buried from COPE and Vision Councillors.
Vote for the right Green.
The evidence of the extent of the tragedy caused by Gordon Campbell's ideological dismantling of the Ministry of Child and Family Development continues to mount:
"Solicitor General John Les has confirmed that the number of child death investigations shelved in 2002 when the government axed the children's commission could be significantly higher than the 80 reported on Monday."
And so far the Premier is content to spin soundbites:
"My expectation today remains exactly what it was nine years ago, even, six, five and four years ago. I expect children's deaths to be investigated," replied Campbell."
Sure. And two + two = five.
Because the fact of the matter is that it was Campbell, and no one else, that sent the independent Children's Commisioner packing.
Thus, one can only conclude that Mr. Campbell's 'expectation isn't worth the soundbite it was recorded on.
So now is the time that we will find out if Carole Taylor really is a liberal who truly cares about those in our society that cannot protect themselves.
If she is she will march into Mr. Campbell's office immediately, as I'm sure she did a many times when she we was a councillor and he was mayor of Vancouver, and demand that this be fixed and MCFD funding restored - yesterday.
Because ideology doesn't help any kid who goes to bed scared every night.
Parts I and II of the indefensible is here and here.
Monday, November 14, 2005
A while ago we commented on how the Neandercon's big 'Con' - that privatization is both more efficient and actually better at delivering the 'measurable outcomes' than are public institutions - has led to some business model-induced suffocations, if not outright decapitations, of a significant number of important British Columbia government services, departments and ministries.
And nowhere, in our opinion, is this more evident than in the Ministry of Children and Family Development which has been subjected to disaster after disaster because of ideology, pure and simple. We listed the litany here in a post that also mentioned the crusade of a former investigator who worked with the BC coroner named Kathleen Stephany who blew the whistle on the case of a dead little girl who's death was not investigated when all concerned thought it should have been.
Of course, immediately after that the savaging began when Ms. Stephany was dismissed in the Legislature as being 'disgruntled' by the current Soliciter General:
"A. Dix (NDP): Of course, the Solicitor General knows that the children's commissioner had a $4 million budget and that when that office was shut down — contrary to the express promises of the government — and all of those responsibilities were shifted over to the coroner, they shifted only 200,000 of those dollars. I would say, with great respect to the minister, that you'd call a $3.8 million cut on a $4 million budget a pretty big cut. What has happened is that we had 800 case reviews — every case reviewed under the children's commission — and we've had one public report under this process.
I wanted to ask the Solicitor General, first of all…. We had a discussion yesterday in question period about a particular case, Savannah Hall, and the Solicitor General at that time made some comments about Kathleen Stephany, who is a former employee of the
[ Page 1665 ]
Coroners Service. He called her disgruntled. He discredited her point of view.
Is the Solicitor General aware that in fact the chief coroner of the province describes her work as excellent, that the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the government are using her work, which they have vigorously defended, in court cases? And does he not think it's inappropriate to take shots at people who care about the public interest and are participating in the public debate?
Hon. J. Les (Liberal): With respect to Ms. Stephany, I am personally not particularly aware of her work. Nor should I be, I would suggest. But I am aware that she is currently undertaking proceedings for wrongful dismissal, and I draw from that that she is, in fact, disgruntled.
HANSARD, Nov 3, 2005
Well, despite the nascent smear campaign against her, it now looks like the dam that Ms. Stephany poked a tiny hole in has burst wide open.
How did that happen, you might be asking yourself?
Well, it looks like the Province's chief coronor, Terry Smith, took a good, hard look at himself in the mirror and has decided to do the right thing:
"B.C.'s Chief Coroner has revealed that reviews of about 80 children's deaths were halted when the Campbell government eliminated the office of children's commissioner in 2002 – replacing it with the child and youth officer."
So, how is that for a measurable outcome?
Eighty deaths that have not been investigated, all of which occurred prior to the elimination of the independent oversight of the children's commissioner in 2002.
But have no fear, the very same Soliciter General, as of Nov 14, 2005 (ie. 11 days after he dismissed Ms. Stephany as disgruntled and indicated that he didn't feel that he should even be particularly aware of her work), is now on the case.
Solicitor General John Les says he only learned of all this a month ago, and that he asked the chief coroner to review the files.
"The bottom line is this. I want those files completed and I want them completed as soon as this can be done." (Les said).
And the 11 day 'month' notwithstanding, how, exactly, will those files be 'completed' ?
And what of all those children that have been lost since 2002, after the Children's Commissioner was eliminated?
What about them?
Do we even have files for all of them?
And if Mr. Les were to tell us that he is 'not aware of any such files' , has he given us any reason to be confident that this is indeed the case?
Based on his previous public statements on this subject, I would respectfully like to suggest that he has not.
Matthew and Luke are Canadian (no sign of Mark and/or John).
They are 10 years old.
And they want our five billion dollars back.
"We need to tell the U.S. to "Stop being a bully!" The U.S. government needs to know that Canadians think this is important and they need to stop. But how can we tell them? Our Prime Minister and other leaders have tried to tell them but President Bush is not listening. He doesn't think it's a big deal. His closest advisor, Condoleezza Rice, visited Canada recently and she suggested that we are over-reacting. "It is important not to speak in apocalyptic language about this issue. It is a trade dispute. Frankly, I think we'll get through it." CNN reports have poked fun at Canadians for being concerned about this dispute, using the headline "What's the big deal, eh?". It IS a big deal for all the people who have lost their jobs and all the other people this affects. It's a big deal for Canadians!"
So, how do they want to get it?
Poke 'em in the eye where it counts - the US MultiNats, and start with the biggest and greasiest first:
" Help us send President Bush a message.
Boycott McDonald's for one day on December 3, 2005.
McDonald's is the most famous U.S. company in the world. And millions of Canadians buy food at McDonalds every day. If we all boycott McDonalds for one day, it will get people's attention. It will even get President Bush's attention."
Did I mention that these kids are geniuses with guts.
Only question is, if they are successful will the Shrubbery smear them or we he call them up and ask:
Original Link Source: CGB
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Ambrose Sundays, 1st EditionVille
He was a cynical misanthrope with a gimmick.
Like HST, he could flat out write. And like HST he worked for a maniacal egomaniac. Orson Welles played his boss in the movies, which has us wondering - who will play Wenner when the time comes?*
Anyway, his name was Ambrose Bierce and we figure his words will make an excellent book end to our longrunning HST Fridays.
Here is the first edition, short, but definitely not sweet:
*And no, Bruno Kirby doesn't count.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Tonight the true King of CanCon, Randy Bachman, is going to set his oblique, but still dead to rights, sights on fellow Winnipeggedeer, Neil Young.
The show is called Vinyl Tap and it's on CBC Radio One at 7pm.
And if it's as good as last week's tribute to John Lennon it's going to be fantastic.
Heckfire, I even dug the Zeppelin show awhile back, and not just because of the true Zeppelin stories but also because I gained a new appreciation for the ultimate Zeppelin cover band/sister act.
Never thought I'd say this, but I think that the MotherCorp has managed to find a reasonably decent replacement for Finkelman.*
*Bachman nailed the audition last week when, between Yoko stories, he explained that the original Casio digital watch was an abomination because it took not one, but instead two, hands to tell time. It was like Danny Vu all over again.
Update due to post-post googledoodlenoodling... Like the patriarch in Kesey's 'Sometimes A Great Notion' who was played by Henry Fonda in the movies, it looks like Bachman, who is definitely himself a patriarch, may not hold much truck with picket lines. If true, I'm saddened but, then again, sometimes Saltspring Island really is like Oregon.
DoubleSecretProbationPostShowUpdate: And all killer no filler it was - especially the 10 mins of the godfather of grunge playing with Bachman and his son Tal doing a block take of I'm a Canadian....there's just no burn-out or fade-away with this guy and it looks like there may never be.
TripleSecretSundayProbationWithACherryOnTopUpdate: Of course, it has been an all Neil all the time weekend, so some might be a little sick of it....but....Kevin Chong's 2 hour road piece to the heart of Young's fans souls on DNTO was also fantastic (I couldn't get myself out of the car for the entire bit) and his book of same was heralded in a review in the Globe's book supplement, but what I really, really enjoyed was commenter Davey-boy's comment tacked on to Chong's Tyee piece about what posterity has in store for the craziest horse - a supergroup of monumental proportions, "Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Young" (at least they won't have to deal with that madman Crosbie).