Update, lunchtime Wednesday, at bottom of post...
Yesterday, we noted that CKNW's Sean Leslie had elicited a comment from Jobs Minister Pat Bell that he couldn't remember meeting the fine fellows who are now claiming that he, Mr. Bell, promised them that he would get them on the shortlist for a bit of BC Liberal government largesse in Prince George where Bell is one of the local MLAs.
Of course, given that at least one of those fine fellows had donated a good chunk of money to Mr. Bell and his BC Liberal Party, we immediately wondered how long it would be before that comment of not remembering would come back to haunt the good Mr. Bell.
It only took a few hours, because last night the VSun's Jonathan Fowlie had a very good follow-up piece up with all kinds of interesting investigatory stuff in it including the following tidbits:
...(Premier Christy) Clark’s defence (of Mr. Bell) came after a businessman who has donated more than $120,000 to the (BC Liberal) party (since 2006) accused Bell of bad faith. Brian Fehr also said that Bell subsequently adjusted the terms of a bid document to favour Fehr’s proposal.
Fehr, whose company was among the unsuccessful bidders for the $25-million Wood Innovation and Design Centre, said Bell promised to ensure that his company would make the shortlist of three companies if Fehr could build a project that was more substantial than what was called for in the bidding...
...Fehr said that in a meeting with Bell, he offered to help out by involving private-sector money, and to build a more impressive building than what was contemplated in the bid.
“He committed to me that if I would do that — purchase the land off (Prince George businessman) Dan McLaren — that he would make sure we got shortlisted and then you could have what they call an alternative method in the bid,” he said.
“He absolutely promised me that he would get me shortlisted.”...
...Documents show that Fehr’s company, The Bid Group, paid McLaren’s company a $150,0000 deposit for the land during the bid process, but was not shortlisted.
On Tuesday, Fehr said Bell was apologetic after the final three companies were announced at the end of last year, and offered to rework the final process of the bid in a way that would allow disqualified companies to vie for a part of the project.
“He tried to amend Partnerships B.C. proposal structure, for sure,” said Fehr. “He had his fingers way too close into it.”
The project’s request for proposals — issued after Fehr’s company was excluded — added a requirement that the winning bidder work with the private sector to develop and build another project on adjacent land.
The government suspended the bidding process at the end of last year after receiving complaints about the added requirement. The controversial element was removed before the bid was allowed to continue...
...In a written statement, deputy minister Dave Byng said the private sector criteria “was added in an effort to realize an increased overall potential benefit of this project for downtown Prince George. A project that incorporates additional land or buildings would have increased the iconic status of the development.
“On Dec. 14, 2012, the private sector component of the RFP was removed as a result of concern from the three (short-listed) proponents that expansion to the scope of the project would make it unlikely to continue to meet set project timelines,” he added.
Bell has denied the allegations of misconduct, saying he never made any promises to anyone about the bidding process...
Don't know about you, but I sure am looking forward to hearing the latest from the Kruegernator on this one, especially more about that sudden insertion of the additional 'private sector criteria' after the short list had been announced.
Please help us out Mr Krueger, because, of course, we are all unmitigated morons now.
And if you could do it before pink shirt day ends, that would be most appreciated.
After all, it would be downright mean, not to mention churlish, if you were to keep us waiting.
There's an interesting extra tidbit here that might give those with a penchant for crazy conspiracy theories a teeny-tiny adrenal squeeze....Mr. Fowlie also tells us that one of those fine BC Liberal faithful folks who are upset with the Minister, Mr McLaren, actually ran against Mr. Bell for the party nomination in the watershed year of 2001....Mr. McLaren also publicly supported the Birdman in the latest party leadership campaign...
As noted in the original CBC report from yesterday morning, Mr. Fowlie also elicits quotes from the so-called fairness advisor indicating that, in the end, she found the bidding process to be on the up-and-up...However, she also made it clear that Mr. Fehr and friends complaints were outside her mandate...Thus, when you hear the Wizards crank up the wurlitzer on this aspect of the story be sure to recognize it for the red herring that it is...
Update: Gordon Hogg decides to step of the Kruegernator's Crazy Train...