Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cypress silver medalist dead

Jeret "Speedy" Peterson died of suicide on July 25 in Lambs Canyon, Utah, just three days after being arrested for allegedly drinking and driving. Peterson was born in 1981 in Boise, Idaho.

A report by KTVB said Peterson called police before the incident and told them where they could eventually find his body.

Peterson won silver in freestyle skiing's aerials competition at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver on Feb. 25, 2010. Vancouver was Peterson's third Olympics. He almost never made it there after a battle with depression, drugs and drink.

On Feb. 24, 2006, four years and one day before his silver on Cypress, Peterson was sent home from the Turin Olympics after being involved in a drunken fight with his best friend in front of Italian police.

Here's what he had to say after earning second spot on the podium at the Vancouver Games:

On performing his signature move, the Hurricane, to take the silver:
"I'm ecstatic. I've had trouble landing it this year. This is the best day of my life. I can't tell you - to finally land the Hurricane in competition, especially in the Olympics. I'm not going to pick it apart."

On how much courage it took to get back to the Olympics after personal problems:
"I don't know if it takes any courage. It's knowing that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and you just have to keep trying different ways to find the light."
"I can't talk about it. It's been that bad. I'm lucky to be here."

UPDATE: More about Peterson's final days and how, no matter how much he tried, he could not overcome a series of ugly, disturbing incidents since his childhood in this story. See the Associated Press video report here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christy Clark's "open" government? Don't believe the hype

On March 25, 2011, Attorney General Barry Penner announced British Columbians would vote on whether to keep the Harmonized Sales Tax before the planned Sept. 24, 2011 single-day, election-style poll. This referendum would be done by mail. He said it would save taxpayers $18 million and reduce voter fatigue.

Great. I wanted to see the reports that would justify that decision. So I filed a Freedom of Information request. (It's free and you can do it, too: just click here to start the process.)

Just three days letter, on March 28, 2011, I was sent a letter of acknowledgement with a deadline for response of May 10, 2011.

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The Premier's Office had no records, but Penner's ministry did. It sought a unilateral delay in this May 3, 2011 letter. I was supposed to receive a response no later than June 22, 2011.

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June 22, 2011 came and went. Then came this June 28, 2011 letter, which said I would get a response no later than July 13, 2011 because someone at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner allegedly granted the government two weeks to consult an unidentified public body and/or third-party.

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Lo and behold, July 13, 2011 came and went. On July 22 -- at 19 minutes after 9 a.m., precisely -- I received a letter dated July 21 that included heavily censored documents.

July 22 was also the last day for British Columbians to request an HST referendum ballot. A coincidence? I think not.

Exclusive: Campbell crony helped craft HST referendum

Why so much secrecy around the Harmonized Sales Tax? If HST is such a smart tax for B.C. and the mail-in referendum such an efficient method of democracy, why not show us the report?

Or is the government embarrassed that Tom Syer, a key aide to ex-Premier Gordon Campbell (who co-fathered the HST with ex-Finance Minister Colin Hansen) has had a direct hand in the HST referendum? (Read that story here).

Earlier in the same week -- on July 19 -- Premier Christy Clark announced a new "open government" policy. Based on what was supplied and how it was supplied to me on July 22, 2011, one four-letter word comes to mind to describe Clark and co.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Exclusive: Hansen wanted a run for the border

How did the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics torch relay take a detour into the United States?

On Feb. 9, 2010, Sarajevo 1984 skiing champion Phil Mahre carried the flame through the Peace Arch from Blaine, Wash., to Surrey, B.C.

A March 6, 2008 letter (obtained via Freedom of Information) from Olympics minister Colin Hansen to VANOC CEO John Furlong proposed "the spirit of the Games be spread even further" by including the State of Washington in the Olympic torch relay.

Exclusive: B.C. government wanted Olympic torch to go south

Talk of the Olympic torch going below the 49th parallel had been ongoing for more than a year between key Liberal insiders and the government of Washington. Here's a brief timeline of how it developed.

A May 29, 2007 memo by Mark Jiles of the Progressive Group to Mary Rose, director of 2010 Programs for the Washington government, said "We have had a number of conversations with the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) around the idea of having the torch relay enter the State of Washington on its way to Vancouver… Jim Richard (sic), director of the 2010 Torch Relay is prepared to recommend that Washington State be included in the plan that he is preparing to bring to the Board of Directors in mid-2007."

A news release by B.C. and Washington after a June 8, 2007 joint cabinet meeting said: "The jurisdictions have also pursued shared economic, Olympic and tourism opportunities, seeking ways for Washington to participate in events leading up to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."

The Progressive Group is the consultancy run by Liberal insider Patrick Kinsella. In its dealings with the Washington government, Progressive pledged to "facilitate opportunities for Washington State to develop important relationships" with Olympic decision-makers, including the arrangement of meetings with Hansen and his top staffers, plus Furlong and VANOC chairman Jack Poole. Kinsella ran the Liberals' 2005 election win. Jiles was Premier Gordon Campbell's constituency campaign manager. Kinsella also ran Christy Clark's successful Liberal leadership win in 2011.

The company's proposal to Washington said: "Progressive Group is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, while at the same time has a presence in the Provincial capital of Victoria and a foot into the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee."

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