This is something you might expect in the Chicago political establishment. Mayor Gregor Robertson is accused of giving a payoff to Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, while Chu was continuing to evade a request for a criminal investigation into evidence of criminal activity on the part of Robertson. At the very least, Robertson 'rewarded' Chu with a five year contract extension worth over one and a half million dollars for a job well done during the period in which he was stalling on investigating Robertson.
In May 2010 a request was made to VPD Chief Chu to arrange for an external police force to investigate evidence that Robertson, City manager Penny Ballem, and two security guards at Carnegie Centre were involved in the manufacture of a fraudulent security report and a pre-meditated plan to bar a Carnegie member under fraudulent pretenses, a barring which involved assault and extensive public humiliation. One of the guards involved, who the victim had never seen before but who had clearly been incited to target her, implicated Robertson and Ballem in comments he made at the time.
For some time, evidence has been reported on this blog of efforts by City staff to "bar" people from Carnegie who have complained of abuse, particularly those who have made their experiences public by talking to bloggers. We have reported that these barrings often involve public humiliation as well. When we reported this targeting of individuals who take their stories to the media, we could not have anticipated that evidence would eventually surface that Vision Vancouver has a "media hit list" along with a plan to ridicule people creating negative impressions of Vision in the media. Former 24 Hours columnist Alex Tsakumis broke the story. Mike Magee in the Mayor's office has denied the existence of any such hit list.
Despite the request being made in May that Chu arrange for an external police force to investigate Robertson -- Chu can't investigate because of conflict of interest due to Robertson's role as Chair of the Police Board -- Ballem, and two Carnegie security guards, the investigation has not yet been carried out. There is no doubt that Robertson knew that the investigation had been requested. Immediately after the request was made in May, Robertson reportedly held a secret meeting at Carnegie with witnesses and offenders. He interfered in a pending police investigation into himself.
By September, Chief Chu was continuing to stall in arranging for an investigation into his boss, Robertson. It was in the midst of this stalling that Robertson gave Chu a five year extension to his contract, at over $300,000. Now, seven months later, the case against Robertson and Ballem has still not been investigated. Are you surprised?
It is easy for Chu to treat Downtown Eastside women as though violence against them doesn't matter, because he knows they can't afford lawyers. Now a lawyer has offered to meet pro bono with the victim in this case to discuss how to proceed. He will review the evidence in the case, including a photo of the bruise the victim received. But that won't occur until the beginning of July when the lawyer returns to Vancouver from China.
Watching Chief Chu "on the take", benefiting from monetary and other rewards from a man into whom he is supposed to be arranging a criminal investigation, has led to distrust on the part of the victim. Even if Chief Chu was to suddenly meet his professional obligation to arrange for the investigation, she will be having no further contact with the VPD about this case without a lawyer present. Since not much happens over the summer, estimates are that there will be no progress on this case until September or October. A press conference will be held by the lawyer to update the public when a decision is made about how to proceed. (No further information will be released until that time.)
This case highlights the hypocrisy of Robertson and Chu on the issue of violence against Downtown Eastside women. Chu held a public meeting earlier this year at Carnegie to talk -- in front of media cameras of course -- about how committed he is to ensuring that violence against Downtown Eastside women is seriously investigated. To get into that meeting in the Carnegie theater, Chu had to walk by security guards at Carnegie that he was supposed to be investigating.
Chu would no doubt say he didn't take a pay off from Robertson, that he was due for a contract extension. But Robertson had an obligation to at least recuse himself from the decision. And Chu should have at least asked him to. An extension requires a performance review. How did Robertson manage to conclude that the Chief is doing a fine job when he knows the Chief is sitting on evidence of criminal activity against him.
Also at fault here are Police Board members. Why did Glenn Wong tell the media that he agreed with Robertson and other Police Board members that Chu was doing a fine job and deserved an extension of his contract. Did it ever occur to Wong, who told the media that Chu often calls him at home to talk, to ask Chu to avoid taking any form of reward from a government official he was supposed to be investigating. If Wong claims he didn't know about the investigation requested into Robertson, then he didn't do due diligence before approving Chu's contract extension, as the requested criminal investigation was a matter of public record.
Allan Garr, a columnist with the Courier newspaper, said in a column earlier this year that the Vancouver Police Board tends not to provide effective oversight of Chief Chu and his officers. Garr said the Police Board are more "lapdogs" than watchdogs.