Friday, January 16, 2009

Olympic Village Boondoggle: Just How Much Cash Money Is In That Endowment Anyway?


In the moving target that is the endgame of the 'Don't Worry, Be Happy Brigade', the latest is actually an old saw that was first unsheathed (at least in the context of the Boondoggle) by former Vancouver NPA mayor (three times removed) Philip Owen, as recorded by FABula, just before the last election:

"As a Councillor and Mayor, I participated in numerous “in-camera” or confidential council meetings concerning the City’s Property Endowmnt Fund.

This fund was established to generate income for the City through land investments and through sound management has grown to over $2.7 Billion in assets. The largest land owner in the City … is the City.

Confidentiality in all real estate transactions is essential until the completion date , which is after all the lawyers sign off on the tranaction. When and if this is done, all the details about the Olympic Village will be made public......"

Now please remember, Mr. Owen's highly illuminating (ie. not in any way misconstrued as being 'dim') statement was made just before the last civic election, when the carcass of the NPA was sliced into a red rump roast shadow of its former glorious developer-friendly self.

Which made it all the more surprising that the property endowment fund saw suddenly started cutting wood again this very morning when it became a tool in the hands of failed NPA council candidate (and friendly developer) Michael Geller while he opined, together with former NPA councillor Gordon Price, essentially unchallenged on CBC Radio's 'The Early Edition' (Real Audio @ 1hr 50 min):

"The worst case scenario is that we do take a hit in the property endowment fund, which is financing this, which was at $2.7 billion and may drop down to $2.5 billion....."

Finally, failed NPA mayoral candidate and former city Finance Committee chairperson Peter Ladner sent the saw flying across cyberspace so that it could make a safe landing in the Mother Corp's lap when he, Mr. Ladner, sent the CBC a copy, either in whole or in part, of his coming 'press release'/'editorial' which was later posted on the MoCo's website a little later on this morning (ie. the same day as Mr. Geller's very fine PEF-inspired tool work appeared in audio form):

"This project will not land on the taxpayers. It is being financed under the property endowment fund, worth $2.7 billion at the peak of the market, and will be able to buffer the taxpayers from any possible losses — just as it grew to $2.7 billion without any call on the taxpayers...."


Now, that $2.7 billion 'buffer' certainly sounds very impressive indeed.

But just how much CASH, exactly, is currently in that fund that could be used to immediately 'buffer' Vancouver taxpayers against the mounting costs of the Boondoggle?

Well, we're not sure exactly.
But, if Ms. Bula was right at the time, there were exactly ZERO DOLLARS in the 'buffer' a scant two months ago when we went looking for the first $100 million in during the first stage of the Boondoggle Bailout:

"Vancouver didn't raid the city's much-valued Property Endowment Fund as a source for a potential $100-million loan to the builder of the city's Olympic athletes village.

That's because the fund's almost $200-million in cash reserves have already been depleted to pay for what the city has to build on the site."


If the cash-strapped fund did not bail us out last fall when we needed extra money to pay for the Boondoggle's first call then , how the heckfire is it going to 'buffer' us now?

I mean, has the City suddenly sold off huge tracts of land from the fund to raise extra cash that we DON'T KNOW ABOUT?

And should the City even consider suddenly selling land from the endowment when prices are PLUMMETING?

Are these fund-flinging tool makers, all of them NPA people, even SERIOUS?

Somehow I doubt it.

On all three counts.


Given how important the 'cash' component of the endowment is, especially if it is to be used to 'buffer' us when Old Man Margin comes calling, you'd think that Rick Cluff, the host who was interviewing Mess'rs Geller and Price on CBC Radio this morning and/or the Weblackeys who posted-up the undigested chunks of Mr. Ladner's 'editorial', unbylined, would have asked about it. Neither did. As a result I posted a registered comment in conjunction with the Ladner piece asking why not. The comment has yet to see the light of day.
Oh, and one last thing......based on some discussion on the comment threads today, I'll soon be posting up on 'who we DID NOT hear on the CBC Radio One's Early Edition this morning.


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