Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Olympic Village Boondoggle: Whose Unanimous Now?


So, here they would appear to be....The smoking gun minutes of another leaked Vancouver City Council meeting....

This time they're from way back when.

Back when we were still being told that everything was still booming along.

Which would be 2007 to be exact.

Once again the leak receiver is Gary Mason.

Here's his lede:

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver City Council knew as far back as the summer of 2007 that the Olympic athletes village was in jeopardy and that the city's own financial investment in the project was at risk, The Globe and Mail has learned.

At an in-camera meeting held that June, staff informed councillors that project developer Millennium Development Corp. was in "anticipatory default" - in other words, it was anticipated the company would not be able to meet its financial obligations to the city, according to minutes of the meeting.

At that point, Millennium owed the city $193-million for the land on which the village was being built. At the June meeting, staff recommended that the city accede to a request by Fortress Investment Group to guarantee $200-million of the $750-million loan that the New York-based hedge fund had made to Millennium because of concerns the lender had about the developer's financial situation.

Out of that meeting, the Non-Partisan Association party majority on council agreed to provide Fortress with the loan guarantee and a completion guarantee, obligating the city to complete the project in the event Millennium was unable to. That also meant the city would be responsible for paying the Fortress loan in the event Millennium defaulted.

Councillors for Vision Vancouver and the Committee for Progressive Electors voted against approving the loan and completion guarantees.....

Spin that Spamalot!

As a reminder, the following spring, the spring of 2008, senior city staff, including the then City Manager, apparently began shunting Chief Financial Officer Estelle Lo off to Buffalo. That story came to us by way of Mr. Mason also, back in November of 2008, and I blathered on about it over at FABula's recently. As a result, Ms. Lo was not at the fall 2008 meeting where council then reportedly voted unanimously to give Millenium a hundred million to help with, as we were told after the story broke, 'cost overruns' (ie. before the November 2008 election we were most definitely NOT told that it was to prop Millenium up because Fortress had pulled out completely).
One last thing... According to Mr. Mason's latest missive, the City does not plan to interview Ms. Lo about the matter. That is one thing that is buggin' me about what his Gregorness and the Meggs Man are up to. Here's hoping that somebody in the proMedia does (like, say, FABula or Mr. Cernetig who really know the entire history). Oh.... wait.... there's that little matter of the gag order on Ms. Lo's severance package (which was drawn up by who, exactly?)..... Sheesh.....Maybe if the Ontario teachers finally made that deal for BellGlobeCTVTSNRDICHUMTEAMTorStarMedia, the G&M might be able to come up with the cash for the scoop?....Not that I would be endorsing cheque-book journalism or anything....no way.....after all that would be way too 'speculative' for my tastes....As for CanWest, well forget it....Heckfire, they are so cash-strapped they'll probably have a hard time even matching the 50 large they coughed up for the LINO's in the run-up to the last Provincial election....


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