Thursday, September 30, 2010

HST Reduction Shuffle Revisited....It's All The Zalm's Fault


Well, well, well.....

As we noted this morning all kinds of proMedia folks were running off at the mouth wurlitzering up rumours about a coming HST Rate Cut and a Referendum Date Rollback.

Well, now the spinmeisters that wind-up Colin Hansen every morning have him out front of the thing blaming the Zalm for all of it because of the voices in his head.

But here's the thing.

This morning, while he was flinging the codswallop on P.Till's little radio show, Mike Smyth distinctly said that the Rate Cut rumour was red-hot yesterday, not in Fantasy Gardens (or on Fantasy Island), but instead in....


Looks like Mr. Smyth might have some 'xplainin' to do for handing the PAB-Bots a potential wedge rumour on a silver platter.


HST Reduction Shuffle...Playing The Media Morans For Saps



Updated at the bottom of the post:
The Morans are now Wurlitzering the demands of unnamed sources for the names of...Wait for it..... Other unnamed sources....Ha!

Last night I forgot to switch the long-wave back to the MotherCorp after listening to Dan Russell on the way home from work (don't ask....once again it's the bloody grants).

So, anyway.....

That meant that when I hopped in the VW (notso)Microbus this morning, up popped Michael Smyth blabbing on breathlessly (with that frostiest of ratings-killers P. Till) about the red-hot 'rumours' that Gordon Campbell will today announce a 1% drop in the HST and that he will also roll back the date of the referendum on the biggest Corporate Welfare grab in British Columbia history.

Now, before I could puke while Mess'rs Smith and Till joked around about the 'sources' of the rumour, I instead stuck two fingers straight up my nostrils and twisted my way down the dial to the Cluffmaster Flash, and.....


There were Jeff Davies and Stephen Smart going on and on and on about the very same two rumours.



These suckers are being played in a game of spin and counter-spin.

And I assume they know it (although I'm not so sure about Mr. Cluff).

Here's the way I see it....

The 1% cut rumour was the 'Spin' - coming from the PAB-Bots to drum up anticipation for Mr. Campbell's stunning 'game changer'.

And the roll-back the Ref Date rumour?

Well, I figure that was counter-spin from the Zalmoids - designed drive up expectations so that the story could be spiked when Mr. Campbell doesn't deliver on that half.



Why didn't the Morans tell us what was really going on?

The Evils of Access, perhaps?

Maybe, especially in the case of the rumor monger extraordinare from The Province, but I dunno for sure.

One thing I do know for sure is that they're all perfectly happy to be played for saps if it gives them something to Wurlitzer as their own.

And don't forget, regardless how it actually went down this particular time 'round, there is always the sheep-herder effect* that the PAB-Bots and other Spinmeisters count on with these people.


*See the CluffMaster's producers, for example, who, presumably, saw Mikey's big splash in the TheProv when they stumbled into work this morning....
Update: 2:00pm Thursday.....It would appear that the spin is reaching counter-revolutionary proportions....And now the Canadian Press is playing the Wurlitzer game to to tell us that unnamed sources are saying that that the Premier's office is 'infuriated' by all the rumour mongering going down and wants the Zalm to name his unamed sources....On the plus side, nobody has blamed the Bloggers.......Yet!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RailGate Train Grinds To A Halt.....Again.


According to today's press reports the RailGate trial will not resume until Oct 12th.

But here's the real thing......

It's not even clear what the hold-up is this time.

Is it injured jurors?

Is it sick defendants?


Is it that a certain witness is unavailable?

And here, Mr. Keith Fraser of The Province and Mr. Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun appear to disagree.

Here is Mr. Fraser's take on the unavailablity of the illustrious witness Mr. Brian Kenning:

"The judge said that as a result of the scheduling problem with former B.C. Rail board member Brian Kenning, they would be unable to conclude the defence cross-examination of Kenning until Oct. 12."


Apparently, there were no 'scheduling problems' when Mr. Kenning showed up at all those board meetings, for years, to collect his fat-fee while he continued to 'advise' a business that no longer had any business after the assets were 'leased' to Mr. David McLean and Co. in 2003.

But I digress, because I what I really wanted to do here was point out what Mr. Hall had to say about Mr. Kenning's 'unavailability':

"The judge explained that, through no fault of his own or the fault of anyone, the trial would not be able to complete the cross-examination of Brian Kenning."


Which is it boys?

Is Mr. Kenning unavailable until just Oct 12th?


Is he, as is implied by Mr. Hall's statement, unavailable forever?

And I would remind readers that someone purporting to be Mr. Hall came on this site not long ago and essentially called us nincompoops (and worse) who get everything wrong.....Was it really Mr. Hall of the VSun that came by and made a fuss?.....I dunno for sure....The way the comment was written was suggestive, but Mr. Hall himself flat out refused to respond when I contacted him through his VSun Email account....
However, it is worth recalling that this kind of thing also came up over at Mary's when Mr. Hall made a fuss because one of the members of the Supreme Court Press Accreditation Committee was misidentified by a blogger...
Unfortunately, in this particular case there may not have been a proMedia tie-breaker in the room as it appears that The Globe no longer has someone in the courtroom on a daily basis....Perhaps a Citizen Journalist could fill us in?
Update: Citizen Journalist, Robin Mathews, writing over at Mary's place, has some interesting speculations regarding the 'unavailability' of the good Mr. Kenning.....


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our Busking Year, Week 39....

...Rosie And Me

Yes, that's right.

This time out there are no E.'s and there is no C.

Instead, it's just Rosie and me.

Which means way more ball chasing and way less guitar playing (well, actually, just way less singing).

This time we were over in Great Aunty Bertha territory.....New Brighton Park on the downslope just north of the PNE, right smack up against Vancouver's Harbour next to the Second Narrows bridge.

'Twas fun.


Summer's over.

Oh, and for those that want to get the goods on future Weekend Busking....I've set up one of those Twitter things, here, which I'll do my best to actually use to send out advances.
You can also see all of 'Our Busking Year' videos so far, here.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn, By Our Friend.....


You can find more of Theo's
stuff here.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Origin Of RailGate....Is It Under the Big 'W'?



Double-Secret Probation Update.....Mr. Willcocks notes another, potentially important, aspect to the timeline that I had missed from January of 2002, here.

Please See Update At The Bottom Of Post .....Especially if you previously read this post in its original version early on Tues Sept 21st

Who: Premier Gordon Campbell, Chief-of-Staff Martyn Brown, and then MLA's Pat Bell, Shirley Bond and Paul Nettleton.

What: An early morning meeting called by Mr. Campbell.

Where: Mr. Campbell's Downtown Vancouver office.

Why: So that Mr. Campbell could tell his then three Prince George MLA's that he was breaking his earlier promise not to privatize BC Rail.


Who the heckfire is claiming that this meeting actually happened?

Why, none other than Mr. Nettelton himself, a man who is no longer a BC Liberal Party MLA who is actually much better known as the public servant who blew the whistle on Mr. Campbell's alleged plans to privatize BC Hydro.

But what about this RailGate thing?

Well, last spring, after he was approached by the Citizenry's chief chronicler of all things RailGate, BC Mary, Mr. Nettleton wrote her the following letter:

I was asked to meet with Gordon Campbell within months of my election to the Legislature in 1996. I was led into the meeting with Campbell within the Wall's car dealership in Prince George by Doug Walls a relative, friend and confidante of Gordon Campbell (and mentor of Shirley Bond).

It was at this meeting that I was asked to assume the role of Critic for BCR and lead the discussion on its future for the BC Liberal Party. I accepted this responsiblity and committed to work towards an informed presentation to the caucus on the future of BCR. I was relatively young, idealistic, politically naive and believed strongly that I was embarking on an endeavour that would promote and protect the interests of my constituents who had so recently placed me in this position of what I viewed as a sacred trust.

It was some years later in the Vancouver office of the premier within months of the election of 2001 that I was informed by Mr Campbell and Martyn Brown (Shirley Bond and Pat Bell were also present) that the pre election promise to maintain BCR as a Crown Corporation was about to be broken.

I walked out of that meeting with those present, up t
he street to a previously scheduled Congress at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in the early morning hours on a lonely, distant Vancouver street. My trust and confidence like those I represented had been shattered! (It would be only a few months until I released a "letter to the BCL Caucus on Hydro" that would lead to my departure from the Campbell Liberals)

Today we are about to see the writ dropped as we pr
epare for a provincial election in British Columbia. Many of the Campbell loyalists remain and are preparing to run within their respective constituencies again. They have chosen to ignore their individual and collective responsiblities in and around the sale of BC Rail. They have opted not to deal with allegations of scandal and corruption nor to respond to the sense of loss and betrayal felt by many thousands of their constituents.

I am thankful for Mary (BCR Blog) and others like her who continue to fight for honesty, openess, transparency and accountability. It seems like yesterday, before the broken promises and scandal, that I and my fellow BC Liberal candidates campaigned (1996, 2001) on the promise to form government based on these commonly shared values and principles.

Paul Nettleton
April 14, 2009

Now, please go back and read the paragraph, above, bolded in red.

Do you see the significance of that paragraph?

To my mind it indicates that Mr. Campbell, with Mr. Brown present, explicitly told the entire Prince George faction of his Northern Caucus that he had decided to sell-off the Public's railway.

But WHEN, exactly, did that apparently happen?

Well, before we attempt to answer that question, I'd like to return to the "Timeline" that we established last week which was based, at least in part, on the very recent sworn testimony of RailGate witness Brian Kenning in which we established the following:

Spring of 1996....Gordon Campbell promises to privatize BC Rail....Barely loses election to Glen Clark he really should have won.

1996-2001...Gordon Campbell's political friend and uncles, which include CN Boss David McLean, RockyMountain Railtours Boss Peter Armstrong, and campaign co-chair Patrick Kinsella, help raise and/or donate oodles and oodles of money to Mr. Campbell's political party...Former BC Reform party staffer Martyn Brown is hired as an 'advisor' to Mr. Campbell.

Spring of 2001....Gordon Campbell promises NOT to privatize BC Rail....Wins election in a landslide....Brings in John McLernon to head BC Rail Board who assembles a very fine group of Directors that includes Mr. Brian Kenning (who also gave oodles of money to Mr. Campbell's party in the run-up to the 2001 election).

August of 2001.... BC Rail hires Mr. Kinsella to provide the company with 'strategic advice' at $6,000 per month for 49 months until 2005.

Fall of 2001...The BC Rail Board, which was appointed by Gordon Campbell, tells the government of Gordon Campbell (and, presumably, its then chief-of-staff Mr. Martyn Brown) that the railway should be privatized.....Former Board member Mr. Brian Kenning last week tells the Basi-Virk-Basi courtroom that it took a year to convince the government of this.

Summer of 2002...The then Minister of Transportation responsible for BC Rail, Ms. Judith Reid insists that there has been no flip-flop by the government of Gordon Campbell because there is no plan to fully privatize BC Rail and dismantle the Crown Corporation.

So, with that we come back to journalism's fifth 'W', which we did not mention at the top of the post.

Which, again, is WHEN.

As in WHEN did the meeting between Mess'rs Campbell, Brown, Bell and Nettleton and Ms. Bond purportedly take place?

Well, to look into that we focussed on one sentence from the paragraph, bolded in blue, from Mr. Nettleton's letter to BC Mary:

"....I walked out of that meeting with those present, up the street to a previously scheduled Congress at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in the early morning hours on a lonely, distant Vancouver street..."

This led us to comb the Legislative Library's on-line archives to see if we could find an event at the "Wosk Center For Dialogue" in Downtown Vancouver that took place "within months" of the 2001 election that was attended by the Premier and all three PG/Northern Caucus MLAs already mentioned.

And this is what we found (click on "2002" for the file, which, in its entirety, is a nice big, fat pdf):

(click on the amalgamated image, put together from three pages in the pdf, to enlarge.... Please note that the XXX_XX addition was all mine - see below)

Now, as for the XXX_XX date*, when was that exactly?

Well, it was a day that Mr. Nettleton confirmed for both Mary and myself last week when we asked him, specifically, about it......

Which was almost six months before Minister Reid's comments.

And at least eight to ten months before Mr. Kenning said the government made up its mind to privatize.

And it was before the dirty tricks offensive and the 'ripping of new ones' started in earnest.

And it was before the bogus charm offensive began that was designed to cajole previously uppity mayors of the small towns up and down the line to start calling for the privatization of the railway.

And it was, in my opinion at least, the last time the people of British Columbia should have allowed themselves to be bamboozled by anything that Mr. Campbell and his Minions say or do.


And in just in case you were wondering,
Mr. Nettleton's letter to Mary was noted in at least one proMedia organ at the time.....Scroll down to the very bottom of the piece by M. Hume and I. Bailey in The Globe during last Spring's election campaign to find it.....
Now, despite the bigtime Mainstream Media report noted above, to the best of my knowledge Mr. Nettleton's account was never challenged by any of the people he named as being at the apparent meeting on that day....Unfortunately, we are already quite certain that, based on his previous testimony before judge and jury, that poor Mr. Brown's memory is no longer capable of going back that far...Thus, perhpas some enterprising young reporter could ask either Ms. Bond or Mr. Bell to either confirm or deny Mr. Nettleton's account.....Alternatively, reporters could always ask Mr. Campbell himself....Oh....Wait....We've already established, I believe, that there is no use doing that if you are looking for a full, and fully realized, not to mention open and honest account, that is based on deeds, actions and events that actually happened....
Image at the very top of the post shows nobody's minion, Jonathan Winters, in front of the 'Big W' which is from Stanley Kramer's frenzied 1963 masterpiece, 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'.
*Update: The February 26, 2002 date is readily available in the actual pdf held in the legislative library....It is not obscured in the initial document in any way.....I did that myself, for effect, so that I could reveal it later in the piece.... Specifically, I pasted the XXX, XX in when I constructed the amalgamated image shown wherein I also pasted in the names of the three PG MLA's who attended the Congress from other pages in the source pdf document linked to above....I apologize to all readers who read the original version of this post where I didn't make that clear (see comments for the slight kerfuffle it caused).


Monday, September 20, 2010

Jeff Lee Responds To My Umbrage



Warning To Non-Lotuslanders....There is a lot of 'inside baseball' re: Vancouver civic politics/blogging/media relationships, et cetera, in this post....

As for the RailGate DogWhistle thing?.
...That will have to wait a bit, see bottom of post

This morning I wrote a post in which I took umbrage at the fact that Jeff Lee, in an earlier post on his VSun blog, noted all the attention that a number of crazy civic screamer (my term) bloggers are getting these days without also going after those in the LotuslandianMainstream/proMedia that choose to wurlitzer the stuff of said screamers.

Further, in my original post I also excerpted a Vancouver Observer piece written by former left-sided pol, and now (as far as I can tell) amateur blogger, Ian Reid, which pointed out some parallels between a recent story by Mr. Lee in the real VSun and a series of pieces by Mike Klassen in, again in my opinion, one of the screamer blogs.


Mr. Lee, in the comments to my original post, was good enough to respond. And amongst his points, Mr. Lee dismisses Mr. Reid's piece out of hand because he views him as being a considerably 'tainted' source who 'in the main' got things wrong:

"Ross, I think you're leaping to some ill-founded conclusions.

Firstly, I haven't bothered to respond to Ian Reid's post because I consider the source considerably tainted. He is, after all, a political operative and former chief of staff for a provincial political leader. That's enough of a reason to question anything he writes.

But in the main, he is wrong anyway. I've no association with ANY of the bloggers, although I am willing to develop a story - using time-honoured journalistic principles - that any of the bloggers break. There is some good work being done out there.

I find it amusing that I am attracting such attention mere weeks and months since I returned to the beat.

By the way, I may have Frances' old civic affairs beat, but if you look back far enough, you will find she actually took it over from me when I left in 1997 or so. Merry-go-round.

My point about the political blogging going on at City Hall right now is that much of it is being done without regard to the principles of journalism. It's a case of find something nasty, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. And in not an infrequent number of cases, the information is being given a severe twist or torque. Shaping the news like that to fit a political point of view is dangerous and, to my mind, irresponsible.

The fact I'm being shot at from all sides just makes my point.

Lastly, why don't you really identify yourself. Using a pseudonym doesn't really cut it.

I always post under my own name. I have no reason not to. Why don't you do the same? Your comments would find more validity."

Jeff Lee

I have confirmed by Email that this comment did, indeed, come from the 'real' Jeff Lee of the VSun.

Clearly, we both agree that 'shaping' the news is a bad thing. We still, however, don't see eye-to-eye on whether or not some in the Mainstream media are lending a hand to tighten the screamers' corset that is causing the local body politic to hyperventilate.


In our Email correspondence I asked a couple of clarifying questions that may serve to clear up a thing or two. If Mr. Lee chooses to respond (or comment here himself) with further information and/or opinion, I'll keep you all fully informed.


As for the online moniker thing....I responded to that in the original comment thread if you want to have a look.....However, I plan to write more about the matter of nom-de-blogs in general in the near future...In the meantime, just so you know, I always respond to legitimate inquires by giving out my real name...So if you want to know just ask - my Email is on the blog profile page.
Now.....For those looking for the 'Final Blowing 'of the RailGate Dog Whistle (PAB-tuning).....My apologies....It will just have to wait for a bit....This crazy civic stuff kind of mushroomed today/Sunday, and now, with another full day of Week 37 Busking done, I've got to get back to my day job.....Sorry about that....


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did Jeff Lee Just Circle Lotusland's CorpMedia Wagons?



Double-Secret Probation Update, 12:00 Midnight....Mr. Lee has responded in the comments (scroll down)....He takes issue with Mr. Reid's analysis and has some other informative things to say....I have a follow-up post where you can read Mr. Lee's comment in full with both the background and my initial response, here.

Please See....Update, 6:00pm
at the bottom of the post regarding a comment left by someone who, it would appear, may be Mr. Lee...The commenter does not agree with at least one tenet of the post...

Jeff Lee has Frances Bula's old civic affairs beat at the Vancouver Sun.

And, while I may be wrong, it is my impression that Mr. Lee views himself as a hard-as-nails, no-nonsense cynic that won't take crap from anybody.

Especially propaganda prop-crap.

Thus, I found it interesting that Mr. Lee took a break from his holidays to crap on just about everybody 'round town that is making more noise (and getting more attention?) in the proCorpMedia than he is these days.

As you might expect, Mr. Lee's toilet-bowl targets were, wait for it......


".....I have tried to keep myself occupied finishing a needed workshop, ignoring for the most part the phone calls and emails that would otherwise disrupt a project that has been delayed far too long. But I haven't been able to completely tune out and have been astonished at the stuff welling up around Cambie and Twelfth.

Hmm. We have Alex Tsakumis, the wild card, with his breathless attacks on Vision Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson and blogger Jonathan Ross (and frankly, anyone who seems to disagree with him.)

We have Mike Klassen over at, a regular NPA attack machine, chiming in and then taking a serious run at Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason when he suggests the civic blogging world has become tainted with "juvenile attacks." Citycaucus may break great stories, but you can't miss the political sideswiping that constantly takes place.

We have Global TV giving credibility to Tsakumis' blog post about being a mouthpiece for Vision Vancouver through communications company FD Element, but hanging the story on a single unidentified source who frankly, anyone over at FD Element would know anyway. The only people who don't know the source's name? The public.

Ross, punctured and wounded, attacks the mainstream media, suggesting they don't follow original ideas anymore. Meanwhile, MSM is predictably badmouthed by respondents to most of the blogs, who seem to suggest that level-headed and responsible journalism is somehow akin to a dinosaur awaiting the asteroid strike.

Oh, were we to wish that those out in the wild and woolly blogosphere were willing to hold fire long enough to make sure a story is correct, balanced and fair....."


That last bit is most interesting to me.


Because those who have been paying attention have themselves been wondering lately just where Mr. Lee himself gets some of his stuff.

One of those folks is former Civic Pol Ian Reid, who recently mused on the interesting 'timing' of posts by Prop-Blogger Mike Klassen and the take-no-crap-from-anybody Mr. Lee.

The following is from a piece by Mr. Reid in the Vancouver Observer from a few weeks ago:

"If you're wondering where a certain reporter is getting the "scoop" on civic affairs, look no further than NPA blogger Mike Klassen, the blogger behind the paranoid CityCaucus blog. Yesterday the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee posted a story about a leaked memo to City Manager Penny Ballem that said that city staff were "politicized, worn down by aggressive council agenda." This memo originally appeared on Klassen's site just a day earlier. It's not the first time that Lee and Klassen appear to have been managing the same information...."



I'm not certain about the Lee-Klassen thing, so I won't make like either Ken Kesey or Neal Cassady (or Woody Harrelson?) and go any further with it.

But to Mr. Lee's point that it is all the bloggers "fault", be they 'Prop-Bloggers-For-Hire' or the Real Amateurs who are up front about their point of view and/or their agenda, I would argue that it is not.

Their "fault" I mean.

Instead, and I'm very serious about this, it is my considered opinion that the real fault lies at the feet of folks in the MSM/proCorpMedia that Wurlitzer's any and all Prop-Crap without first determining if it is, as Mr. Lee said above, "correct, balanced and fair".

And if you think I'm full of crap myself, all you have to do is remember one word.

And that word is....



Finally, it is also interesting to me, because, I think it perhaps illustrates something else about how Mr. Lee works, that the man from the VSun also took a swipe at Frances Bula for wading into things herself. Why do I point that out? Well, to my mind Ms. Bula is the only person with MSM bonafides in this town who has actually called-out Mess'rs Klassen and Fontaine, by making it clear what they are really up to with their so-called 'blog'.
Oh..And for those waiting...RailGateTimeline Finale is coming tomorrow....promise.
Update: A commenter named 'Jeff'' has made an interesting contribution to the discussion here. I'm awaiting response by Email in an attempt to confirm if this is the real Mr. Lee (will let you know).


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jill Sobule And The 'Regular' Wayne Kramer


I know I'm pre-empting the next edition of 'Saturday Night's Alright For (UkeCover) Fighting!', but I stumbled across this wee bit of absolute fabulousness while scouring the Interwebz searching frantically for new-fangled four-stringed marvelletes.

Anyway, if you don't know Jill Sobule you really should.

For about 37,234,876 reasons, including the fact that it was she who wrote, recorded, and performed the original "I Kissed A Girl".

Jill's stuff can be found (and BOUGHT!*) here.

And don't cry for Jill, Argentina......Why?.....Because, despite the fact that the A&R man who originally signed her later went on to re-work a shinier, waxier piece of newly-minted bubble-bum named Katy Perry, Ms. Sobule has no problem with Kissed-A-Girl, Part Deux.....Why, again?.....Well, as Jill told Jim and Greg of Sound Opinions awhile back, it turns out that she made a whole whack-o-cash due to mistaken I-Tunes downloads after 'Part Deux ' came out 15 years after the fact.....Ha!
*To paraphrase Chicago's 'other' Blog-King, Driftglass....."Pay the 'F-in' musician!"......OK?


The Saturday Before The Second Sunday


Sometimes a conflation is just a conflation.

And sometimes it is something more.


Our old level-headed friend Declan points us towards something extremely interesting, which is the possibility that the constant soaking of millions of already willfully ignorant brains in the banality, and the unreality-based vindictiveness, of Sports-Talk Radio may just be helping fuel the stupid that is stuff like the TeaParty 'movement':

"....(H)ere's an excellent article about the (Donovan) McNabb deniers - the description of the bullying and ignorant radio talk show driven attitude taken by those who, for whatever reason, hate former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is reminiscent of a number of political movements currently doing fairly well in elections...."

Now, before your eyes glaze over because you came here looking for the latest RailGate Transgression.....As Declan says:

"Even if you couldn't care less about football (and as I would say, even if you need something to read during the 436th commercial break tomorrow afternoon), it's worth a read for the quality of the writing by Mike Tanier, and the generality of the phenomenon he describes."

And check out the comments.....They are so erudite and so well-informed on arcane matters that include things like the....2nd-and-long tendencies of third string wide-receivers who went vegetarian during their junior year at prep school to run out patterns on turf in cold weather....that it is heartbreaking to consider what would happen to political discourse if folks like this actually scrutinized public figures and their policies in the same manner (see bottom of post).


Friday, September 17, 2010

RailGate Dog Whistle #4....The Final Countdown



We understand.

This has become a bit tedious.


Before we go for the day, we thought we should let you know that we also have a date:

Feb. 26th, 2002.


(Full story coming early next week....You didn't think we'd dump this with the rest of the PAB's refuse on a Friday afternoon did you? .....Ha!)

Explanatory set-up is here.
Previous whistles can be found here, here and here.
And now for something completely different....Stay-tuned for a new installment of Saturday Night's Alright For (Uke Cover) Fighting!......Or some such music-related thing.


RailGate Dog Whistle #3....


.....And we're pretty sure the chief-of-staff knows too.

(or at least used to, back before the 'alleged' memory loss kicked in)

(details to follow)

The Set-Up is here.
Dog Whistle #1 is here.
Dog Whistle #2 is here.


RailGate Dog Whistle #2....


....And we're pretty sure at least two current cabinet ministers know too.

(details to follow)

Set-Up is here.
First whistle is here.


RailGate Dog Whistle For The PAB-Bots...

...We Know.

(details to follow)

The set-up is here.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

RailGate Reunion....The Witness And The Minister



Thursday 6:00pm....Updates at the bottom of the post....


Bear with me for a moment or two here, because I want to establish a timeline of how RailGate originated.....

Spring of 1996....Gordon Campbell promises to privatize BC Rail....Barely loses election to Glen Clark he really should have won.

1996-2001...Gordon Campbell's political friend and uncles, which include CN Boss David McLean, RockyMountain Railtours Boss Peter Armstrong, and campaign co-chair Patrick Kinsella, help raise and/or donate oodles and oodles of money to Mr. Campbell's political party...Former BC Reform party staffer Martyn Brown is hired as an 'advisor' to Mr. Campbell.

Spring of 2001....Gordon Campbell promises NOT to privatize BC Rail....Wins election in a landslide....Brings in John McLernon to head BC Rail Board who assembles a very fine group of Directors that includes Mr. Brian Kenning (who also gave oodles of money to Mr. Campbell's party in the run-up to the 2001 election).

August of 2001.... BC Rail hires Campbell campaign co-chair Kinsella to provide the company with 'strategic advice' at $6,000 per month for 49 months until 2005.

Fall of 2001...The very fine BC Rail Board, according to now Basi-Virk-Basi Trial witness Mr. Kenning, tells the government of Gordon Campbell (and, presumably, its then chief-of-staff Mr. Martyn Brown) that the railway should be privatized.....Witness Kenning also tells the Basi-Virk-Basi courtroom that it took a year to convince the government of this.



Did it really take a year (ie. from the Fall of 2001 to the Fall of 2002) for the BC Rail Board to convince the government of Gordon Campbell to sell-off the entire railway and break it's 2001 election promise?

Well, according to public statements by then Campbell goverment Transport Minister in charge of BC Rail, Judith Reid*, in the Summer of 2002, you just might conclude that that was actually the case.


Because at that time, according to Ms. Reid, they were only planning to sell off parts of the people's railway to make it more profitable such that BC Rail could continue on as a viable Crown corporation.

Luckily, the statements of then Minister Reid were recorded for posterity by Paul Willcocks in an Op-Ed piece published in the Vancouver Sun on August 10th, 2002:**

BC Rail is quietly planning to sell its longest stretch of track to a private operator, the latest step in what critics call a slow-motion Liberal flip-flop on privatization.

And to make the deal attractive, BC Rail is asking municipalities for a subsidy to the new owner, something the Liberals pledged to eliminate provincially but consider acceptable from municipal governments.

On the block is the 400-kilometre line that runs from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson. No one has talked publicly about the sale, but BC Rail president Mark Mudie has met with local mayors to pitch the need for a property tax break that would cost them about $850,000 a year in potential tax revenue.

Transportation Minister Judith Reid said Friday the plan to sell the line -- the latest in a series of shutdowns and sell-offs at BC Rail -- doesn't break the Liberals' campaign promise to keep BC Rail as a Crown corporation. The Fort Nelson subdivision is a money-loser, she said. "The alternative is to close this line."

But here's the thing.....

Was that really the case?

Did the government of Gordon Campbell really and truly have no intention of selling off the entire railway in August of 2002?

And, more, to the point did Gordon Campbell himself?

(Note to PAB-Bots....Despite what you probably think we don't know, we are actually pretty sure we do... Know the answer to that last question, I mean.......Stay tuned)

*Of course, in August of 2002, Ms. Reid was also co-accused Robert Virk's boss.
**Apologies, don't have a link for Mr. Willcocks column....I do however have then entire thing...If anybody wants it, please send me an Email at: pacificgazette at yahoo dot ca...
It is not lost on us that RailGate obsessives have probably already noticed that Mr. W's OpEd contains a reference to, surprise!, former BC Rail president Mr. Mark Mudie....Mr. Mudie, who by all accounts really was trying to make a go of the thing, was fired before the month was out. .....And even if you are not a Railgate obsessive, the circumstances surrounding that firing will not be lost on you if you have been paying attention....
Post lunchtime-update....This post has been up for twenty minutes now....Sitemeter tells me that the PAB-Bots have this one on speed-dial....Talk to you all after work...
Post-workday updatier....In his VSun piece today, Neal Hall says the payments to Mr. Kinsella were $7,000 per month...He may want to go to the source material on that one....And if any Citizen J's were in the courtroom today, enquiring minds would should like to know precisely when the matter of the good Mr. Kinsella's compensation came up today...Mr. Hall did have one new bit of info, that stablemate Keith Fraser did not, which is that witness Kenning suggested that there was a 'Chinese Wall' between the CIBC World Market folks and the rest of the CIBC regular folks such that everything was kept confidential etc....Honestly...After all we've gone through with solicitor/banker/client privilege, I just about fell off my chair laughing when I read that codswallop....


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RailGate Confidential....Double Secret Probation


Writing over at our good friend Mary's place, citizen journalist extraordinare Robin Mathews posits an important question that no one else seems to be asking, which is....

"Why did the RailGate Evaluation/Destruction/Debt-Generation/Transition/Sell-Off Team insist on all that secrecy?"

Now, from the prosecution's point of view at least, it would appear that the (assumed) importance of all this (allegedly) explicit secrecy will be a central tenet of their case.


From, the peoples' point of view, at the very least, wouldn't a wee bit of true transparency been a good thing back in the day?

Next up...."RailGate Reunion....The Witness And The Minister".....Stay tuned....


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RailGate Directors Gone Wild....One Man's Pittance Is Another Man's Fortune


From Bill Tieleman's most excellent report on today's goings on at the Basi-Virk-Basi trial today:

“I would point out one little thing. I make more sitting on the MacDonald-Dettwiler board alone,” (witness and former BC Rail Director Brian) Kenning replied, referring to his role at the giant information company.

And the comparator here?

The more than $550,000 Mr. Kenning made for sitting on both the BC Rail and BC Ferries Boards since the Gordon Campbell government was first elected to office after promising not to sell-off the former.

As for the latter.....

Well, I think we all know the story of BC Ferries CEO David Hahn's compensation package given to him by his board of directors by now.



The Stylings Of The RailGate Secretariat...Call In The 'National'


Reading from the 'Diaries Of The RailGate Secretariat' Ian Reid noticed that the fine public servant asked the old BC Rail sale Evaluation Gang way back in early 2003 if there was any actual, you know, 'evidence' that could be used to back the claims that the public Railway was actually in, as fellow evaluator Mr. Brian Kenning continued to claim on the witness stand yesterday, a death-defying 'debt spiral'.

Then, when none was apparently offered, Ms. Wells wrote the following:

“....have National review the document to see if parts could be used in a negative way.”

Which, of course, led me to leave the following comment at Ian's place:


A ‘National’ what, exactly?

A National hockey league?

A National indie band?

A National political party?


How about…..

A National railway?

(enquiring minds would like to know)

Well, it turns out the answer is much less sinister, or even moreso, depending on your point of view about these things.

Because here is Ian's response to my questions (see bottom of his post):

"....Sorry I left that hanging but late night editing after taking the pain medication does that to me. National is National Public Relations, the spin crafters hired by BC Rail to come up with a rationale and plan for marketing the privatization of BC Rail...."


Here's another question for Ian, or others knowledgeable about the business of spin.....

Who runs National Public Relations?


Monday, September 13, 2010

RailGate Resumed....It Was The Big, Bad, Evil (Phantom) Debt Stupid!



Double Secret Probation Update.....At very bottom of post....So, when was the decision made to sell-off the Railway....The Fall of 2001?.......Or.....2002?


The RailGate trial got going again today......

And the prosecution decided, as Keith Fraser of The Province told us on the weekend, not to call on the Premier's 'Banker' for the moment, but instead went directly to the 'Executive'.

Specifically, they called former BC Rail Director Brian Kenning to the stand.

And, according to the Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall, Mr. Kenning told the court that the real problem with BC Rail back in the day was the debt load:

.....(Mr.) Kenning testified he was recruited to the board by BC Rail chairman John McLernon in the summer of 2001. He had known McLernon for about 40 years, he said.

At the time, he recalled, the government was doing a core review of Crown companies to determine whether there was a compelling reason the government should own a Crown corporation rather than the private sector owning the business.

Kenning said the board, after forecasting dwindling forest industry and coal mining shipping revenue, recommended in the fall of 2001 that the government sell BC Rail.

Although BC Rail was projected to make a profit of up to $20 million in 2003, mainly because of cost-cutting measures, it wasn't enough to pay down BC Rail's debt, Kenning said.

"It had too much debt," he recalled of BC Rail's finances at the time. "We could see no ability to generate enough cash to pay the debt.".....

Of course one man's debt is another man's bonanza (ie. massive tax write-off*). Again, from Mr. Hall's VSun report:

......One of the attractive BC Rail assets for a private company, he said, was almost $1 billion in debt, which the railway could not use but a profitable company could use as a tax writeoff.

The government announced in November 2003 that CN Rail was the winning bidder.....


Got all that?


Now let's return to a dose of reality that was recently levelled at BC Rail and its fine Executive not long ago by Will McMartin in The Tyee.

Specifically, I'm talking about the fact that this massive 'identified' debt is, by more objective measures, nothing short of fiction:

....As Tyee readers know well (see table at bottom of story here), BC Rail had "operating profits" -- that is, its operating revenues were greater than its operating expenses -- in each and every year between 1978 and 2000, the year before Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals won election to government.

The Crown corporation also had a net profit -- or, net income -- in 18 of the 21 years between 1980 and 2000. And in each of the three years where BC Rail had a net loss, the losses were due to "special charges."....

{snippety doo-dah}

.....BC Rail ended its 2001 fiscal year with revenues dropping to $447.2 million. Yet operating costs were similarly pared back, to $418.6 million, and so the company recorded an operating profit of $28.6 million.

But then came interest charges of $35.5 million, leaving a deficit of $6.9 million.

On top of that, however, was piled an interesting -- and questionable -- "special charge" for "restructuring," whereby the railway wrote down certain un-named assets to the tune of $36.4 million, and then added a whopping $63.6 million for "accrued future expenditures." (Both items, which totaled an even $100 million, were non-cash transactions.)

Like magic, a relatively tiny shortfall of $6.9 million had been transformed into a gargantuan deficit of $106.9 million......


Can't wait for the cross-examination on this one, which is supposed to commence tommorow.

And why can I not wait for that cross?


Given his testominy today, has not Mr. Kenning has already demonstrated that he, unlike, say, Mr. Martyn Brown before him, has an intact memory that stretches all the way back to the Fall of 2001 (ie. a scant few months after Mr. Gordon Campbell won his first election, at least in part, by promising the electorate that he would NOT privatize BC Rail**).


*And don't forget....Massive tax write-offs, especially when held close to the vest, can balloon into egregious uber-massivisimo-like 'indemnities' six or seven years down the line....
**Why do I say "at least in part", despite the massive majority Mr. Campbell gained in that 2001 election?.....Well, don't forget that the good Mr. Campbell, who even then was being bankrolled by the man whose Company, CN Rail, now holds the indemnity sword high (over our collective, bowed heads?), promised to privatize BC Rail back in the 1996 election....And....Well... You know.....He, uhhhhhhh.....Lost that one....
Update: Bill Tieleman has a very similar take on the debt issue, here......For the record, we came to our conclusions completely independently....
Double-Secret Probation Update.....There seems to be some confusion amongst the proMedia types covering the trial....As noted above, Neal Hall of the VSun has Mr. Kenning saying that BC Rail began recommending the sale in the Fall of 2001, and this is backed by stablemate Keith Fraser's report in The Province.....However, Rod Mickleburgh, in The Globe, says that recommendation didn't come until the Fall of 2002.....This is a very, very important distinction, based on what Paul Nettleton told BC Mary awhile back....Perhaps a Citizen Journalist could weigh in with what they saw/heard today.....Thanks...


RailGate Re-Loaded....Where Are The Repo-Men?


If I (and Ian Reid) remember correctly - Special Prosecutor Bill Bera(r)dino* was supposed to be calling the Big Banker to the stand when the RailGate trial re-loads today, Sept 13th?


What happened?

Could it be that somebody suddenly got a little worried that the tattered old protective cloak made up of 'solicitor-client privilege' might suddenly turn to dust under cross-examination?

Or maybe it was something as simple as the possibility that this might become a topic for public discussion at this most delicate of times for the Gordon Campbell Government.

Or maybe it was something else entirely.

Only Wild Bill himself knows for sure, I guess.

What the heckfire, am I babbling on about?....Well, on Saturday (yes, Saturday!) Keith Fraser reported, in The Province that will be former BC Rail 'executives' Brian Kenning and John McLernon....You can read all about that in the post directly below this one.
*Always like to l parenthasize that 'r' in honour of a very special proMedia Maven that once 'allegedly' came by to take a swipe one of the Citizen Journalists who is a regular, and highly valued, commenter here.
Bill Tieleman, while noting that the schedule of Crown Witnesses may have changed, is presuming that the Banker is still going to be called.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

RailGate For Real...Round-Two Previews Start To Trickle In


Keith Fraser, writing in The Province, is the first out of the gate with a preview of what to expect when Round-Two of the Real Trial starts up again on Monday:

"....The Crown is expected to call their second witness, Brian Kenning, a member of the board of B.C. Rail who was also on the government’s evaluation committee for the controversial sale of the Crown corporation.

It’s anticipated that Kenning’s evidence will run for much of the week. He is expected to be followed by John McLernon, chair of B.C. Rail...."

While Bill Tieleman had nary a word to say about the good Mr. Denning in his 'RailGate A to Z' compendium published back in December of 2008, Mr T did note the following about the good Mr. McLernon:

"...McLernon was integral to the privatization process and is a key Gordon Campbell appointee...."

And just in case you afficionados of the 'Paragon Marathon' have forgotten......

Since he left BC Rail, Mr. McLernon has since been appointed by Gordon Campbell to T. Richard Turner's old day job, the Chair of the BC Lottery Corporation.


That's right.

It is Mr. McLernon who will now oversee the regulation of the good Mr. Turner's (and his fine friends from Vegas') latest venture.

Which is.....

The Casino Industrial Complex that is being justified as a way to finance Gordon Campbell's $600 million magic carpet that will soon cloak B.C. Place.


Maybe somebody should tell poor, self-admittedly, clueless Bill Good how we could pay for Health Care and Education without invoking the HST if we really wanted to.


And here is one last little tidbit worth chewing on if you want really make a masticatory mishmash of things that may, or may not, matter.....A while back Sean Holman reported that the former longterm (and well-compensated) BC Rail consultant Mr. Patrick Kinsella was granted audiences with BOTH Mr. Turner and Mr. McLernon, successively, in their capacities as the Chairs of the BC Lottery Corp....As Mr. Holman would say.....Fancy that!


Has Blair Lekstrom Come Down With Bill Gooditis?


Because how else can you explain the fact that the most Mavericky One just told Sean Holman that "using the HST" could be one way to deal with a systemic provincial budget deficit.


When will these people, Mr. Good included, actually learn that there is NO NEW MONEY in this egregious tax?

Because it is a shift.

From the Corparate Welfare Queens.





Saturday, September 11, 2010

Will Blair Lekstrom Become Fully Unleashed On Sunday?


Dunno for sure......


We're pretty sure Sean Holman will find out.

You can hear Mr. Holman's interview with MLA Lekstrom tomorrow morning on HST-Free Radio starting at 8:00am.

And if you miss it, and/or sleep in, you can catch it on the podcast that will show up later, here.


Why Does David Hahn....

....Hate His Passengers So Much?


As hard as it is for me to say this, I have to give the Millionare-In-Chief of BC Ferries, David Hahn, credit for something.

Because when he and his first changed the longterm parking fee structure out at Tsawwassen it was something I found entirely sensible.

Which is that if you parked a little farther from the terminal you only had to pay $9.00 per day instead of the $12.00 a day the Beemer droppers don't even care about when their executive assistants write it off.

And what made it even more sensible (and fair-minded) was the fact that there was a shuttle that could get both seniors and families to the ticket window from outer Mongolia in a reasonable time.



Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Tsawwassen yesterday and found that ALL the longterm parking is now $16.00 per day.

And, despite the fact that this is now considerably more than you'll pay even at YVR, that is not the worst of it.


Because of a sign left by Davey Boy's minions that says:

"To our loyal customers. Shuttle service is not currently available. Thank-you for your understanding."

Or some such codswallop.


And, on a not totally unrelated subject...Any guesses on how far Mr. Hahn and minions will push BC Ferries into the (paper-based) hole to make it an even more attractive privatization target based on massive tax write-offs?


So, I've Been Dipping My Toe Into The....



And I've just gotta ask....

Why is it that just about everybody and/or anybody who is even remotely associated with Lotusland's proMedia pack follows this guy?

(and, if I were to take a stab at answering my own quasi-rhetorical question.....Given the consistent quality of the guy's work and output, maybe it means that there actually is still some hope for our local 4th estaterarians....)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Barbarians At The RailGate!



That's right.

The RailGate Trial is scheduled to sputter back to life Monday.

And if the wrangling of all the legal cattle careening down the chute does not derail things once again we're scheduled to have the previously privilege-protected Bankers on the stand next week.


Our wall-to-wall, trestle-to-trestle, caboose-on-the-loose coverage starts right now!


To start things off, we take you to the Maple Syrup Revolution in which I try to explain the crux of the thing to our National Citizens' J-School correspondent, the Reverand Paperboy.

Here is how the good Reverand described our conversation recorded a few weeks ago:

"....Herr Doktor Professor RossK of The Gazetteer gives Rev. Paperboy a lengthy primer on the BC Rail kerfuffle and the two discuss the BC media and blogosphere....."

You can hear it all here.

Next up: We will take you through Bill Tieleman's 'A to Z' compendium of RailGate's major players and try to give you a little more information regarding who did what where, when and how....And, maybe even some context into......why.
And if you want to hear the Rev's and my wide-ranging conversation on how we got into blogging, that one is here...


Please Excuse My Cynicism, But....


....I can't help but wonder if the most timely announcement of the Pickton Inquiry by the mostest illustrious government of Premier Gordon Campbell and his merry band of PABsters wasn't designed, at least in part, to be a brand-new shiny bauble to distract all those suddenly persnickity pundits 'round here.

Or some such thing.

And, just in case anyone is concerned that I am being dismissive of truly fixing what really went wrong during the abysmal police response to the longterm serial murder of women on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, please read this.....


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Our Busking Year, Week 35: "Just Call, And I'll Coming Running...."

We Three Buskateers' 6th video of the year was filmed on one of the last sunny days of the Summer of 2010 at Beacon Hill Park/Dallas Road Dog Park along Victoria's waterfront.

This time we cover The Swell Season's "When Your Mind's Made Up", which is one of the other songs from Once. We (well, actually, I) also butcher Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere".


Bigger E played her ukulele and sang, while littler e. was behind the camera....

Mom C. can be seen recuperating from her toe surgery...

Rosie plays the part of the Whack-A-Doodle wandering in and out with the other canines...

And former Yeti guitarist, and current Armed & Hammered gun-for-hire, Uncle C., makes a very brief guest appearance in the closing segment filmed in Grandops and Grandma-Ants basement rec. room....


The real Swell Season can be found here...

And, finally, a for real live version of 'When Your Mind's Made Up' can be found here...

And just in case I didn't make it clear before.....My kids......They really do slay me.....OK?


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Do You Have To Pay HST On FOI Requests?


Many people in British Columbia have railed against the egregious costs of making a Freedom of Information request to the government of Gordon Campbell these days.

But sometimes, when you plug one leak by putting the cost out of reach for small operators and individual citizens, you open up a whole avalanche when you force people, including people from proMedia outlets, to work together because of ridiculous requests for remittance to do the people's business.

A case in point was the recent release of all thos HST-related documents that went to eight media outlets instead of 'just' the CBC with a rather interesting result.

Paul Willcocks has the details in a footnote to a recent HST post of his own:

...The (HST) documents topped the news reports in all the major media in the province on Thursday, thanks to another government bungle. CBC Radio reporter Jeff Davies submitted the FOI request. The government said it would charge $800 to produce the material. Davies approached seven other news outlets to split the cost and all receive the documents at the same time. The result was an avalanche of bad news....



Friday, September 03, 2010

Three Buskateers Labour Day Weekend Mini-Tour!


Yup, that's right.

We're hitting the road.

Or, more accurately, forking out all our dough to BC Ferries so we can make the trip across the Strait of our fair Georgia to Victoria.

Which means you can catch us....

Friday Night on the 8:00pm sailing of The Queen of New Westminister (Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay run)....Usually we hang out near the stern to get out of the wind.

Later Friday Night @ Auntie R and S's Birthday Party (yes, they're Twins!) in Sidney ....Somewhere near the Airport.

Saturday Morning @ Beacon Hill Park, hopefully by about 11:30am....Either on the very top of the Hill or down front, at the Dallas Road Dog Park, because we'll have the Whack-A-Doodle!

Saturday Night @ Grandpops and Grandma-Ants place out in Colwood....If you're walking the Galloping Goose near the Cemetary you might be able to hear us, with Special Guest Uncle C., from the Trail as darkness falls - Ha!

Sunday Morning on the Swan Lake Nature Trail....Maybe.

Moving pictures, with sound, to follow.

And, unless I've missed my guess, you'll be able to find them....



Shills, Fixers and Toadies....


But do we really want them making important decisions about prescription drugs as well?

Sean Holman, of Public Eye has the most recent chapter of that story:

....In the past, the University of British Columbia's Therapeutics Initiative was responsible for conducting the scientific work that informs the government's decisions on which drugs PharmaCare should cover. The initiative's conflict of interest guidelines state its "members and their immediate families shall have no direct or indirect financial interest in the company sponsoring an application or trial." The government has now given other groups and individuals a chance to compete for that work - which ensures taxpayer dollars aren't wasted subsidizing drugs that don't provide good value for British Columbians. But successful bidders won't necessarily have the same ethical standards as the initiative.

According to the government, "individuals who declare possible conflict of interest information are not automatically excluded from participating in the drug review process.".....


Put another way....

"We the members of the BC Liberal government of Gordon Campbell really are fully prepared to co-opt absolutely everything."


Paul Willcocks saw the (very badly scrawled) writing on the wall for the Therapeutics Initiative some time ago.