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.