Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Dobranos


Ever since Michael Smyth took the bait and responded to Carole James query earlier this week, British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell's longtime fixer, Ken Dobell, has been doing a whole lotta backpeddling while changing hats at a totally unconflicted two thousand and ten miles an hour.

Patrick Brethour
Globe&Mail Jan 19th, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Ken Dobell, long-time confidant of Gordon Campbell, is rejecting NDP accusations that his intersecting roles with the Premier's Office, the City of Vancouver and the 2010 Olympic Committee place him in unavoidable appearance of conflict of interest.

He is a special adviser to the Premier -- by his estimate, generating at least $7,500 a month -- and has two contracts with the city that entail some lobbying of the Liberal government, enough that he has formally registered twice as a consultant lobbyist.

And Mr. Dobell, with deep experience in municipal and provincial government, is also the chair of the finance committee for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games -- a significant role, since one of his contracts with the city involves the possible construction of an Olympics-oriented entertainment and information venue.


Let's see if we've got this straight.

Mr. Dobell is fixing/working for the premier, Mr. Campbell.

And Mr. Dobell is also fixing/working for the City of Vancouver in at least two capacities. And in those capacities part of his job is to lobby Mr. Campbell who makes decisions based on his (ie. Mr. Dobell's) recommendations as a consultant.

Additionally, let's not forget that Mr. Dobell is also chair of the finance committee of VANOC that is dealing with the City of Vancouver to build the massive, developer-friendly, Olympics-oriented entertainment and information "venue".

And who is Mr. Dobell and VANOC going to be dealing with at City Hall when he negotiates the terms of the building of the "Venue"?

Why, none other than Mr. Dobell, of course.


So, what does Mr. Dobell have to say about that?

Well, here is his answer, as stenoed-up by Mr. Brethour in his "he said/she said" piece in yesterday's Globe:

Mr. Dobell readily admits that his various jobs overlap, but he doesn't believe there is a conflict of interest.

"There are multiple hats, and it's quite true I have to take one off and put on other one, but that's not atypical for people that are in this kind of a role," he said in an interview yesterday....

And just, what is that 'role' specifically?

Well, we are not entirely sure, but Mr. Dobell's main defence of his position seems to be that he is acting only as a 'public servant' in all of this and that there is no problem because he, Mr. Dobell, is not actually directly representing any 'private companies' as he, Mr. Dobell, lines his pockets while lobbying himself.

Which sounds like us to a textbook case of willful ignorance when it comes to the term 'conflict of interest'.

But there is something else to consider here.

And that is that it is that it will ultimately be 'private companies' who will ultimately be the recipients of the very 'public monies' that will be doled out based on the decisions that he, Mr. Dobell, makes after he, Mr. Dobell, is done telling he, himself , Mr. Dobell, what to do.

And in our eyes, that is a huge, steaming, stinking, pile of conflicting interests.

At best.

At worst, it will be fixing work worthy of an East Coast/Jersey-style RICO rap if the 'private companies' that ultimately receive the bulk of the largesse that will be doled-out by Mr. Dobell turn out to be the same ones that have invested so heavily in the careers of his two current paymasters in Victoria and Vancouver*.

But, despite all of that, there does appear to be at least one small upside to this story.

And that is the fact that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Mr. Dobbell and his cronies also have control of VANOC's and/or the City of Vancouver's garbage business.

At least not yet.

*And, don't forget, we now have those 'lists' of corporate donors.
And just in case you were wondering who is going to play the long-suffering side-kick who is actually the real brains behind the operation (think horn-rimmed glasses and blacker than raven's-wing hair) in the rumoured to be not-quite-good-enough-for-television 'Movie of the Week' to be aired on SCTV at a later date sometime in the unconflicted post-2010 future......Well, we thought Edith Prickley might do a pretty good job.
Oh, and one last thing - how, do you suppose, Mr. Dobell became a member of the VANOC 'slush fund', errr...'board' of directors in the first place? Well, it turns out that he, Mr. Dobell, was appointed by Mr. Gordon Campbell who, of course, takes his advice on such matters from, uhhhh......, what's that guy's name again?


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