Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! (& Monday update)

Three items, for your reading pleasure on Daytona 500 Sunday. 

First, the battle for control of Vancouver’s community centres continues. 

City manager Penny Ballem quashed Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr’s motion on notice for the Feb. 12 city council meeting. Carr wanted city hall to slow-down and think twice about seizing control from the 23 community associations and centralizing power with the Board of Parks and Recreation.  

Carr called the actions of the unelected Ballem undemocratic and “bullying.” Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs claimed Carr violated the code of conduct section that prohibits councillors from making public statements attacking staff or invoking staff matters for political purposes. The complaint was withdrawn after a meeting with Mayor Gregor Robertson

At the Feb. 25 meeting, the new president of the Kensington Community Centre Association is registered to speak. But will he be allowed?  

Milan Kljajic, a parks board outside worker, member of CUPE Local 1004 and a disaffected Vancouver-Kingsway B.C. Conservative who endorsed NDP's Adrian Dix, replaced the resigned Stephen Elliott-Buckley. 

Kljajic claims he was called Feb. 22 by Parks Board Human Resources Consultant Vicki Gannon and advised not to speak at the meeting because he would violate the code of conduct. 

Kljajic refused to do an interview, but told me via email: 
“I feel that my rights have been violated and my employee future at COV has been threatened. I am a volunteer community leader that was elected President of Kensington to serve the best interest of the grassroots of my community. I am planning on finishing my term and reaching a fair joint operating agreement that I can bring to the membership.”
Section 5 allows staff members to be politically active, to support parties and candidates and even seek public office. 
“An employee may engage in any Political Activity so long as it does not impair, or is not perceived as impairing, the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner. This precludes employees from displaying slogans or symbols supporting a particular party or candidate while at work where their duties may reasonably require them to interact in person with the public or where their duties require them to supervise, schedule or assign work to others.”
The Parks Board also falls under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes Section 2(b) that upholds freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression

Why -- if centralizing community centre operations is really a wise move, for the sake of efficiency -- doesn’t the ruling Vision Vancouver just submit to public hearings in the affected communities? These are, after all, public assets. As for that Feb. 4 "emergency" meeting that ended in a 5-2 vote for the centralization of power, that was really a box-ticking exercise. The board approved a vague "city-wide consultation," but that is not to be confused with public hearings. Informal public information meetings, where minutes are not kept, are the favoured tool for governments that want to impose a program or policy.    

UPDATE (Feb. 25): Kljajic did not speak to Parks Board, but Kensington's past-president Mary Sutherland delivered his remarks:

Good evening. I’m here tonight to speak on behalf of our current President Milan Kljajic. Milan sends his regrets as he is dealing with some issues with the City of Vancouver.  His statement is as follows: 
Our Association fully supports this motion. It is time for the Commissioners to take control of this situation and listen to the public. 
Commissioners, we are extremely disappointed by the continued lack of leadership you have demonstrated and the apparent lack of respect for public opinion. Until recently, our association had agreed to continue participating in ongoing JOA negotiations with the Park Board. As a centre that serves many people with lower incomes, we have always fully support programs that will allow greater access to community centres. 
Unfortunately, through your recent actions, it became clear that the Park Board is intent on implementing its plans and that negotiations will neither be transparent nor appropriate to the magnitude of the issue. It is for that reason that our board of directors met last week and decided that we could no longer participate in what we feel is a disrespectful process that doesn’t address the real issues. 
Despite modest revenues and years of financial and administrative neglect by the Park Board, our association has been able to retain a modest amount of revenue. We’ve been flexible with our money over the years, funding popular community programs and services and even investing $600,000 towards the capital cost of constructing the most recent addition to the Kensington Community Centre, which now houses a seniors’ lounge, dance studio and administrative space. That investment was nowhere to be seen on the report from staff that you accepted in the wee hours on February 5. As a ‘have not’ – or more appropriately Park Board neglected – centre, we did not ask for such radical changes to the financial arrangement between the CCAs and Park Board. 
We do not feel that the funding scheme that you support will benefit anything more than Park Board’s general revenues, which is a matter that commissioners should be taking up with the City Manager, Mayor and City Councilors. What is more distressing is that there has been no commitment by the Park Board to truly solicit public input on the matter. Your current approach is to make the decision and then attempt to bring the public onside when they do not have any say in the matter. 
As a result, you do not have the support of the people who voted for you. Public opposition to your current plan outweighs support 2:1. What is even more telling is that residents of the west and east sides of Vancouver have the same opinion. The public does not support your attempt to make radical, ill-informed changes without any public consultation. This is a matter of public policy and is your responsibility. It should not be delegated to staff. 
Commissioners, I strongly encourage you to step up and demonstrate leadership and support this motion. Introduce true public consultation into the process and re-instill faith in those people who you will be calling on to vote for you in the coming months. Thank you.
Meanwhile, from B.C.'s "second city," item number two. An update about Surrey Shirts' and its Chief Shirt Disturber, Don Pitcairn.

Business in Vancouver was first to tell you that the City of Surrey was threatening Pitcairn with a trademark violation lawsuit. City hall sent a cease and desist letter over the shirts that parody Surrey’s logo and slogan. Pitcairn was using his freedom of speech to comment on Surrey’s gangs and guns problem. In 2012, the federal Conservatives amended the Canada Copyright Act to protect parody in the Fair Dealing section. 

Pitcairn said he met Feb. 19 with city manager Murray Dinwoodie and city lawyer Craig MacFarlane for a "cordial" meeting.

“I informed them that Surrey Shirts had made changes to five of our shirt designs to further distance them from City of Surrey trademark logos, including removing the City Signature design completely from our anti-gun violence 'Better Safe Than Surrey' shirt that was never printed or released in its original form,” Pitcairn said.

Pitcairn, who flogs the shirts online, said Phat Fixx in Surrey Central City Mall pulled stock from the racks after only 10 days. Phat Fixx outfits the mixed martial arts and hip-hip crowds.

"We are hoping to locate a store where the landlord or management supports clothing tailored to the proud residents of Surrey and who will not be intimidated by those who appear to be more worried about Surrey's image on a simple T-shirt that doing something about the real problems that are giving the City of Surrey a bad reputation across Canada," Pitcairn said via email. 

Within the announcement on the Surrey Shirts website, Pitcairn gives a nod to the Feb. 27 Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying campaign. As for the lightning-bolt letter S font in the Surrey Shirts logo, Pitcairn denies he's a sympathizer of the Nazis' evil SchutzStaffel. 

“It’s a rock and roll kinda website. I do like KISS and most people that see it, get it right away,” Pitcairn said after the original story broke. “We won’t be selling Nazi paraphernalia on the Surrey Shirts website.”

Someone who knows Surrey very well, but lives many postal codes and tax brackets to the west, is the subject of item number three: Patrick Kinsella. 

Progressive Group lobbyist Kinsella is the province’s best-known political power broker. Nobody else comes close. His influence was felt in the headquarters of BC Rail, BC Hydro and VANOC. He was a key architect of Gordon Campbell’s hat-trick election victories and Christy Clark’s leadership win. (Kinsella's "midas touch" didn't work for Rita JohnstonKim Campbell or Belinda Stronach.)

He was among Clark's guests in the deluxe B.C. Place Suite when B.C. Place Stadium reopened on Sept. 30, 2011 and he was registered as a lobbyist for Exel, the company that wanted to privatize liquor distribution. 
Since July 2011, he has sought to sell his Shaughnessy mansion. 

First listed for $7.28 million via Rennie Realty, the price for Kinsella's mansion at 3839 Selkirk in Vancouver was slashed to $6.75 million. 

Last fall, Kinsella switched to Macdonald Realty and the property was listed at $6.198 million. Still no takers. It was pulled from the market. 

Kinsella turns 72 on May 26. He has consistently declined my requests for interviews about his house, horse racing, his lobbying business and provincial politics.


K W Lawson said...

From where did he, Kinsella get the money to buy it in the first place?

Colin E said...

Sounds like Kinsella wants to get out of Dodge before the BC Rail enquiry starts - better drop the price again.

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