Saturday, April 10, 2010

Casino Royale Reconnected....Mr. Turner Did Not Phone Alone


(Tues Apr 13, 2010: Please see Update at the Bottom of Thread)

It turns out, according to an interview he gave to the NaPo's Bruce Hutchinson recently, that the idea to call up the Minister Responsible for the Marshmallow, Mr. Kevin Krueger, was not actually Mr. T. Richard Turner's alone.

Instead, Mr. Turner first got together with his good friends from Paragon Gaming Inc. and they made a collective (hey! isn't that something socialists do?) decision to call up Mr. Krueger and tell him that, according to Mr. Krueger, but not quite according to Mr. Turner, it would be a 'deal breaker' for the Casino builders if the people of British Columbia didn't pony up and build them a $500 million (and climbing) retractable roof

He (Mr. Turner) raised the matter with his fellow directors at Paragon. "It was decided that I should call the minister responsible [for gambling in B.C., Kevin Krueger]. We decided it was my role, this time," Mr. Turner said yesterday.


'this time'?

Does that mean that it happened before?

And if so, what was the role, or what were the roles, the previous times?

And who carried them out?

And when did they happen?

And who did they who carried out these roles call and/or meet with?

Perhaps Mr. Turner was referring to those 'meetings' that he set-up between the fine folks from Paragon and the guy charged with taking care of BC Place for the people of British Columbia, PavCo's CEO Mr. Warren Buckley?

Or was he referring to something else?


I do have to hand it to Mr. Hutchinson because, unlike the vast majority of the local Lotuslandian pro-Media types round here, he momentarily makes like Sean Holman and actually takes the timeline back to 2005/6 when he points out that Mr. Turner was the Campbell government-appointed chair of the BC Lottery Corporation shortly before he bought into the ailing Edgewater Casino with the fine folks from Paragon.

And Mr. Hutchinson even asked Mr. Turner about that too.....

....In 2006, ICBC chairman Turner joined the board of ParagonCanadaHoldingsULC, a division of Las Vegas-based Paragon Development Ltd. The company had just bought a failing casino in downtown Vancouver. Mr. Turner's "role," he said in his interview, was explaining to Paragon local perspectives and matters of community interest. He saw no conflict doing that while serving the province as ICBC chairman. No rules were broken, no code of conduct guidelines were crossed, he said. "I was not [made a Paragon director] to do government relations," he said yesterday.....

So, there's that word 'role' again.....

And how, exactly did Mr. Turner inform the folks from Vegas (ie. Paragon) about "local perspectives and matters of community interest" without explaining and/or relating matters of government, given that such matters were all important to fixing the failing casino?

After all, at that time, 2006, neither the City, nor the Province would allow for an expansion of the Edgewater to make it more profitable and, as we have already established, one of Paragon's specialties as casino turn-around artists is to "takeover and build".

However, there was one thing that Mr. Hutchinson missed, which is also based on the reporting of Mr. Holman.

And that is the fact that Mr. Turner was also involved with the fine folks from Vegas on a casino project in Alberta starting in 2003 at a time when Mr. Turner, as Chair of the BC Lotteries Corporation, essentially was THE lead government representative on all matters pertaining to the running gambling houses in this province.


There is one more kicker in Mr. Hutchinson's NaPo piece that I did not know, or had missed, in all the previous reportage on this matter....

According to Mr. Hutchinson, it turns out that Mr. Turner and the fine folks from Vegas (ie. Paragon) and, presumably the fine, yet still shadowy, folks we can't quite see hiding behind a numbered company that were also involved in the purchase of the Edgewater in 2006 were actually 'invited' to bid on the massive Casino Industrial Complex in early 2009.

.....Early last year, Paragon was invited to bid on a new casino and hotel project proposal, to be built on Crown land next to provincially owned B.C. Place stadium. The province had determined its domed stadium needs a half-billion dollar retractable roof; lease payments and gambling revenues from an entertainment complex next door are to help cover the enormous cost

The casino plan was not made public until last month.....


Who, exactly, did that inviting* I wonder?

As promised, the post on how Smilin' Sammy Sullivan and his Merry Band of Sycophants 'ammended' the North False Creek Official Development Plan so that 'Area 10' (eg. the land surrounding BC Place Stadium) could become the site of a massive Casino Industrial Complex back in the Fall of 2008 is coming soon....Interesting the timing that, no?, given the 'invitation' mentioned directly above....And what have we heard from Sammy's former Spam-A-Lotteers on this matter?.....Still Crickets.....Although, of course, they are out their full court wurlitizering for Sammy's alleged slam dunk shot at the GG slot and they are outraged, like Michael Smyth apparently, about the prospect of backyard chicken coops in Lotusland...
*Sean Holman, in the comments, points out that despite the fact that Mr. Hutchinson actually used the word 'invited' it is possible that this could actually just mean that the fine folks from Paragon, which included Mr. Turner just may have taken the official call for proposals from PavCo as an indication of an 'invite'......I responded with a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder, but without further clarification (ie. how about if somebody were to ask the good Mr. Buckley?), it is a fair enough point.
Update, (Tues Apr 13, 2010): Regarding the "invite", it turns out that Mr. Hutchinson may have been referring to the second stage of the application process wherein the groups that originally responded to a request for proposals in a first stage were wittled down by PavCo....Sean Holman has a timeline up that includes the open and closing dates of each stage, which are all incredibly close together for such a complex and costly project here.



Sean Holman said...

Interesting points. Although I would point out there's a number of ways to read this statement:

"Early last year, Paragon was invited to bid on a new casino and hotel project proposal..."

It's possible the writer simply considered a request for proposals by PavCo to be an invite.

RossK said...

That would be one possible answer.

And if true, I suppose that I, too, should have considered myself invited....After all, my kids and I could also be considered experts at gambling given the fact that we currently have a four year old, continuously running "International Rummy Conspiracy" game going on (littler e. is in the lead with almost 10,000 points).

All snark aside, it is a valid point....Especially if the question of the invite/call for proposal has already been put to Mr. Turner by, oh I dunno, say, the Proprietor of PrivateEye?

West End Bob said...

Darn it, RossK, clicking on the "Still Crickets" link brought me to the C(aucus) C(rap) site! I loathe giving that crew ammunition 'cuz whenever they're on a microphone they're touting their number of hits.

Eeeeewwwwwww, now I've gotta go take another shower . . . .

Ian said...

Here's what interests me in all this: Did Paragon approach the city prior to the November 2008 rezoning, on its own or in league with BC Place.

Everyone knows the Casino has to move from the BC Pavillion, under the 2004 rezoning. It makes sense that they would be talking to the city and government about a BC Place site. But if they did, that would also make the RFP, whenever it happened a charade, n'est ce pas?

Ian said...

And then you go and read city reports and find out that in October 2008, the NPA amended the North False Creek Plan to not only get rid of development levies but also permit a major casino... Here's the amendment: Cultural, Recreational, and Institutional Uses Serving the City and Region

The proximity of the Stadium, GM Place, and Science World, and their ready access to public transit, reinforces the role of the area as a centre for entertainment, sports, and cultural and public events, serving the city and region.

To enhance this role, Council may allow sub-area zonings to include other cultural and recreational facilities, including a major art gallery and a major casino, that will also serve the city and region.

RossK said...


That's it Ian.

That's what I've got.

Somebody put a fix in BEFORE the PavCo call for proposals.

(and Bob, that, I reckon, is why there is nothing whatsoever about this on that site you dislike so much).


Norm Farrell said...

Great work on this story or should I say non-story as the Canwest Global pundits have it.

Small point but, despite Mayor Sam's people spreading the GG story, he is not on the federal list of potential candidates. The BC name under consideration is Rick Hansen. The Tories are floating half a dozen names and asking whether or not regional preference matters to anyone or whether or not appointment of an aboriginal is desirable.

The particular survey being conducted by a major player is extensive and you can bet that Sullivan would have been included had he truly been considered worthy.

Besides, haven't we already appointed enough bad ex-Mayors to Ottawa?

Norm Farrell said...

Ian. I think we can extrapolate who is paying for certain loyal blog sites.

Ian said...

You all know that Mike Klassen was Colin Hansen's campaign manager?

It's too bad he has good taste in music.

RossK said...


Just working on further establishing the timelines....

Did the then owners of the Edgewater ever approach the CofV about changing the zoning before Nov. 2005?



RossK said...

And a thousand apologies to Mr. Holman for suggesting, however obliquely, that he owns 'Private Eye' at the top of the thread because he is, of course, the proprietor of 'PublicEye Online'....


Ian said...

Not that I'm aware of.

RossK said...

Thanks Ian.

Much appreciated.