Monday, November 10, 2008

Peter Ladner Hears Raymond Louie Discussing $100M Loan on CKNW and Angrily Phones In

My guess is that Peter Ladner will lose the Mayor's race over the scandal involving a secret promise of a $100 million loan from the City to keep developers of the Olympic Village afloat. Add the $100 million to guarantees already given to the developers by the City and you're looking at roughly $300 million, in turbulent economic times. The Globe & Mail reports that early voting is more brisk than expected due to people being upset over this issue.

When people were just getting wind last week of the $100M loan that City councillors were apparently going to hide from us until after the election, I heard Vision Councillor Raymond Louie and NPA's Peter Ladner on CKNW's Christie Clark show. Ladner wasn't scheduled to appear but he heard what Louis was saying on the radio and he was madder than hell and phoned in. The two men were both excited and talked over each other at times.

Louie had been saying that although HE VOTED FOR the deal, he now felt that he had not been given all of the information he needed to make an informed decision. He had since learned that Estelle Lo, the City accountant, had concerns about the deal. She was apparently not at the meeting. There is a rumor, which Clark couldn't get confirmation on, that Lo had resigned over this matter.

Louie said that he had made requests for relevant documents on the case but he has not been given what he's requested. [Vision is the pot calling the kettle black. I'm currently covering a case in which Vision's Eleanor Gregory -- who is very close to Vision mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson -- failed to turn over a key document that a Vancouver woman requested about her own case at the Vancouver School Board, a copy of which the VSB has already acknowledged she has a right. Vision's Andrea Reimer is implicated in secrecy and an alleged cover-up -- supported by documentation -- in this case as well, which dates back to Reimer's time on School Board. Reimer's conduct contributed to the fact that there is now an Int'l Boycott of VSB diplomas. But that's a different scandal.]

Ladner then phoned in to CKNW. He was not at his most composed. He argued that Louie had been at the same meeting as him, the one in which the decision had been made, and that there had been nothing new on the issue since. His point was that Louie knew as much as he did. But Louie retorted that being Chair of the Finance Committee, Ladner was privy to more information than he was.

Ladner mentioned at one point that Estelle Lo is currently in Hong Kong, where he said she goes at this time every year to visit her mother. He claimed that words were being put into Lo's mouth "which is scandalous in my opinion".

It is no coincidence, Ladner noted, that at a time when Gregor Robertson's unpaid skytrain fine is front page news, Vision goes public with this issue.

Ladner was asked again by Louie if he would agree to a public meeting to bring this out into the open. Ladner did not agree, saying that to work on this type of negotiation requires a confidential setting and that the public knows that's the way it is always done.

Shortly after this radio exchange interview, CKNW News reported that Gregor Robertson had held a a press conference on the issue. None of the Vision Councillors who had voted for the potential $100 million loan to developers showed up at the press conference to answer questions.

Both Vision and the NPA deserve blame for the $100M scandal as all councillors voted for it. This weekend there was speculation in the Globe & Mail that the new man Gregor Robertson would be hardest hit if voters responded by staying home on election day. But the voter turnout for the early polls indicates they're not staying home. I think Ladner's finished.


Dag said...

On the topic of housing in Vancouver, Canada, yesterday saw the appearance of Howard Rotberg, lawyer and pubic housing developer, reading from his latest book, "Exploring Vancouverism: The political culture of Canada's Lotus Land." If people want an insider's view of corruption in the business of development here, Rotberg's book is a great awakener to scandal and corruption.

Howard spoke to a group of roughly 20 people, an assortment of academics and public housing advocates at Raycam. His lecture was well received by the larger than expected audience that required a move from the tiny Spartacus bookshop down the street.

Rotberg's book might be a bit pricey for those outside the poverty industry, but a library should provide access to those who care to know more about public housing in Vancouver and the ways in which the government and developers finagle such works nearly out of existence.

Look for "Richard the Binner" on the front cover of Rotberg's book.

Chilled said...

ANGER? Wowy, he just lost. This is the politically washed west coast where anger is considered worse than criminality.

Dag said...

"... where anger is considered worse than criminality."

Funny that you, Chilled, should raise that point, being parallel to Rotberg's central thesis that Vancouver is stuck with a "tolerism" or tolerance of the intolerable, which he writes of in the parable of the Lotus Eaters, based on Tennyson's poem: that Odysseus's companions, having alighted on the West Coast, in Howard's version, have found the land of the lotus and will never live again so long as they can indulge in the dreams thereof, to the ruin of life itself. Life is for me and for now, and forget the future 'cause it ain't gonna happen. How can it when there city is chock-a-block with million dollar one and two bedroom condos, and where kids take up so much closet space a to be a pest. "Life-style, man." And Richard the binner types? Well, the climate is relatively mild here. Everyone can kind of groove. Mark Steyn makes himself highly unpopular in popular circles by claiming that one cannot have a Gay weekend-bachelor pad city. Well, of course we can. We have such as that now, and all we question is who shall be the mayor of it, a slick lawyer or a slippery fruit-juicer. What matters? Image.

But it doesn't stop there. Under the pose there is indeed just more pose, as a character in the Paul Mazursky film says. And under that is the real thing, the hear of the matter, the dark ghost that powers the shiny machine. There is for the childless and the nihilistic, narcissistic hedonist the love of power and control of the masses. Control and Crime. "Where anger is considered worse than criminality" we must momentarily at least ask ourselves why this is so, assuming as I do that it is so. Why the love of control among the povertarian segment of the polity, why the love of infantalization of the masses? Why is crime ignored and dissent crushed? Why the drug-fueled freak show on the corner at Carnegie Centre while inside the building Bill Simpson and Rachel Davis and others are condemned for speaking their free minds' opinions?

Does it matter who is mayor of Lotusville? Only if anything matters at all to anyone, which is certainly up to question.

truepeers said...

Dag, just a note or two on Rotberg.

He is not, as I understand it, a developer (in Ontario) of "pubic" housing, nor even what we usually call public housing. I think he is developing privately-owned housing but under agreements with governments that provide certain kinds of loan benefits in return for the project providing low-rent housing to the working poor.

Also he is not an "insider" in Vancouver. No one here with power wants to encourage affordable rental housing construction in the CIty of Vancouver. They all bow down to the gods only satisfied with ever increasing property values and "resortification" of the city. His book is great precisely because it is provides the unique vantage point of an informed outsider who is able to connect the dots on things we here all know about but which we don't put together in a wholistic picture of our lotus-eating culture in the way Howard does in his fine book.

Dag said...

Above, I wrote: "If people want an insider's view" from a "public housing developer." Allow me to clarify.

Truepeers and I have varying interpretations of "public housing," both definitions logical and coherent, though at definitional odds. Rotberg might well come down on Truepeers' side, though one would be well-advised to read Rotberg's work itself to decide either way.

To clarify further, Rotberg is not a big-time "insider" real estate developer: his view from the inside doesn't make him an "insider" at all. Thus, though Rotberg is not an "insider," his inside view is privileged compared to the view of those not involved in the industry, and therefore all the more worthwhile to the vast majority who will never otherwise see the inner workings of this industry that affects us all so immediately and forever in our lives.