It's time to hold your nose

Written by Brian Revel on November 12th, 2008

Something really stinks at City Hall. And out of this pile of stinking manure we have to choose our future for the next three years.

The smell can be overwhelming when the mayor, two past mayors, and the Chair of the Finance Committee who is a mayor-wannabe, close ranks and agree that taxpayers should be kept in the dark about their money.

All four men represent the three governing political parties that got us into this mess. Anybody who thought they’d come out against these sorts deals should give their heads a shake.

Our most recent past-mayor, elected as a COPE mayor turned VISION mayor, is now a senator. So much for accountability. Larry Campbell knows who to ignore to get what he wants. Now that he’s a senator, those he can most afford to ignore voters since I don’t know too many senators who would risk their life-long powdered butts for the electorate.

For Sam Sullivan, one of Vancouver’s leading candidates for the ‘Demagogue of the Year’ award, to side against the public’s right to know comes as no surprise. Indeed, given that he’s the one that took the council in-camera to consider this $100,000,000.00 gift to the developer, he’d be beyond hypocritical if he were to turn around and agree to opening the process up to the light of day.

For Philip Owen to have come out of private life to weigh in on this fiasco is a bit of a surprise if not a serious disappointment. For the NPA to be reaching back to a leader they formerly repudiated underscores how desperate they are to save their collective political skin. What has Philip to gain from coming out of private life? Perhaps to save his own legacy?

Peter Ladner, asserting that he was framed, insisting that the city is losing millions while political posturing goes on, is desperate to get this flaming file off his desk. But he’s just adding gasoline to that fire by saying last week that the property endowment fund was able to carry this extra¬†burden¬†only to say this week that there is no liquidity in the fund at all. This, from the Chair of the Finance Committee.

Just like John “The Fundamentals of the Economy are Strong” McCain a month before the US stock market went to Hell in a Hand basket, I seriously doubt that Ladner has a complete grasp of the financial picture of the city. And now he wants to be mayor.

We should not be so naive as to believe that the city cannot have secret negotiations. What should concern us, however, is that only with the shining of light on this one case, other liabilities have become better known. Like another $390,000,000.00 loan guarantee to the same New York finance company. At this rate, it’s starting to look like the City of Vancouver is a joint-partner alongside the US Treasury Department in bankrolling Wall Street.

So let the politicians throw mud at each other. It’s time for us grown-ups to make a decision and to cast our vote. For the City of Vancouver’s ballot we should aim for a balance: a number of veterans and a few newcomers to city council. Gregor Robertson as Mayor, and a couple of Vision Vancouver candidates, such as Tim Stevenson and Raymond Louie. Robertson’s judgement may have been clouded over his fare evasion issue but like it or not, he’s as much an outsider as we are going to get in this election.

As for the capital expenditures, Vancouverites should vote a firm NO to all of them. It’s time there was real accountability at City Hall and throwing good money after bad to this bunch of children who seemingly couldn’t manage an allowance from their parents should not be the ones in charge of another $100,000,000 of our money for capital expenditures. At least not until the Olympic Village disaster is accounted for to the satisfaction of the voters, citizens and taxpayers of this fair city.

And once our councillors believe they have cleaned up the way City Hall does business, they can call for a plebiscite to approve the extra capital expenditures. Like an interim performance report card, it would be a decent referendum on whether we citizens think our politicians have cleaned up their act enough to once again deserve our confidence.

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