Thursday, August 23, 2012

#LiquorLeaks - Jay and the 8-Day Delay

On June 4, general manager Jay Chambers sent a memo to staff, assuring them he would guide them through the process that is the privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch's non-retail functions.

He also invited staff to send him questions and even had a dedicated email address,

LDB, through its parent, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (Rich Coleman, minister), shared modified versions of two of the emails with me via Freedom of Information, plus the prepared response. Were there more emails? Who sent them?

Ten days after Chambers invited questions from staff, he announced his resignation to join the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. The sudden and inconvenient June 14 announcement had all the appearances of getting out of the kitchen while the privatization pot was burning. Predictably, both Coleman and Chambers claimed otherwise: Nothing to see here, move along. NDP critic Shane Simpson didn't buy it and unsuccessfully attempted to have the privatization's so-called fairness monitor, George Macauley, halt the tendering process. Macauley's power is extremely limited. He's a monitor, not a referee.

I don't buy it either. Chambers had a conference call on April 12 with the MVSA's hired headhunter George Madden, on LDB company time. It's in Chambers's daily LDB agenda!

Here's the kicker. Chambers told Coleman's deputy minister Lori Wanamaker on June 6 that he was resigning! That's eight days before the June 14 memo! Why the eight-day delay in telling staff?

"It is with very mixed emotions that I have made this decision," Chambers wrote to Wanamaker, giving her a month's notice. See the letter below.

Chambers's last day of work was July 4. He left two days early with an afternoon office party at the LDB headquarters. Roger Bissoondatt took over in the interim and is leading the committee vetting bids to take over LDB's warehousing and logistics.

Jay Chambers' resignation letter

Ask Jay FOI

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