Thursday, November 18, 2010

With Glowing Hearts, they'll take out the trash

VANOC directors and executives meet behind closed doors in a boardroom at BC Hydro in downtown Vancouver Nov. 17. The 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics organization has delayed its post-Games report to Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. The last time it disclosed financial information was Dec. 21, 2009.

In the news business, we call Friday "Take Out the Trash Day".

Governments have a nasty habit of releasing information that's destined to be unpopular or controversial on a Friday.

Government propaganda departments think that a Friday news release or news conference means unflattering information has little time to be digested and debated before the diversion of the weekend when news demand goes down.

Dubious and dastardly? Absolutely.

It's a common tactic that was explored by National Public Radio in 2005. It's employed by the British Columbia government under Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell.

B.C. Place Stadium's $365 million renovations were announced Jan. 9, 2009 in a news release. That was a Friday. So was Oct. 23, 2009 when the price was hiked to $458 million.

March 26, 2010 was when the government announced the province's biggest casino would be built west of B.C. Place Stadium. If you guessed that was a Friday, then jackpot!

Premier Gordon Campbell and finance minister Colin Hansen announced the Harmonized Sales Tax on Friday, July 23, 2009. The public uproar over the lack of public consultation was slow to begin, but did it ever snowball!

In Ottawa on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, the federal Conservative minority government unleashed hundreds of documents showing the $860 million cost of the G8 and G20 summits in Ontario.

The latest to employ the "Take Out the Trash" strategy is VANOC.

The Vancouver Olympic committee held a post-board meeting media teleconference Nov. 17, 2010 (which was a Wednesday). Chairman Rusty Goepel, CEO John Furlong and CFO John McLaughlin (see above photo) refused to answer any substantial questions about dollars or numbers. That's because they delayed the release of the post-Games financial report yet again. Remember, this is an agent of the government whose fiscal year ended July 31.

So mark Dec. 17 on your calendar. Guess which day of the week that is?

Yep, it's a Friday.

VANOC was battered by a recession after pretending a recession of any magnitude would not happen. Now it's going way beyond overtime to clean up the books and trying to claim that they're just double-checking numbers and letting auditors audit. Truth be told, it's a bigger job than they anticipated and the costs much greater. By comparison, Salt Lake 2002 issued a financial report in June 2002.

Not only is Dec. 17 a Friday, but it's the last important business Friday of 2010.

They could have decided to "Take Out the Trash" on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, but that would have entailed one of the few remaining VANOC staffers to actual work.

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