Mayor Gregor Robertson Ignores Life Safety Issues in the City and Covers Penny Ballem’s Lies: The Short of It–He Also Lied to Vancouverites
Many of you have already written me with lengthy and much appreciated congratulations on the story which I broke six weeks ago on the firing of Ark Tsisserev from the City of Vancouver–a story that finally ran yesterday, at length, on CKNW and Global TV.
I must tell you, right off the top, that I was extremely impressed with Janet Brown, who continues to remain their best reporter at NW. She covered this story brilliantly and even had a piece on ‘The Jon McComb Show’ yesterday afternoon. As for Ted Chernecki at Global, this is why Ted’s been one of their go-to reporters over the years from BCTV through to Global. Superb job–as usual. And Global’s exceptional treatment of the story shows that they can still do the material that made them famous–an institution. CTV doesn’t have a hope of catching them.
And certainly, kudos to NPA Clr. Suzanne Anton for her pithy comments on this issue and to the NPA for showing that there may be some life left in them yet. They were on top of this issue all day yesterday.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter, because, in case it hasn’t occurred to anyone, Gregor Robertson is in a considerable depth of hot water. Why?
Because…GREGOR ROBERTSON LIED TO YOU.
After a full day of being mercilessly pounded by CKNW and then having Global’s piece really lay bare what a stunning lie he was caught in, Gregor Robertson personally phoned CKNW yesterday in the late afternoon, at just past 4pm.
From the archives, here is his statement verbatim:
In response to accusations that inspections were skipped and problems were manifest at various Olympic sites:
“Yeah, I think those accusations are baseless. Safety is a number one concern at the city and we’ve been very diligent with our safety inspections and so if there are specific concerns about fire or electrical then they need to come forward to city and we’ll have our staff deal with them immediately.” (Gregor Robertson, March 15th., 2010)
Um…Gregor, it’s me again…you are the recipient of no less than six dozen letters from top electrical contractors, industry leaders and the Exective Director of the Electrical Contractors’ Association. These letters began pouring into the Office of the Mayor (um, that’s your office, by the way) from the end of January/beginning of February. Do you and your staff communicate? Or is that only when they need to find the wind-up toys?
Here’s what the Mayor told Nafessa Karim (another very good reporter) of CKNW Wednesday of last week, when she asked him about Ark Tsisserev’s firing, point blank.
“Ahh, if I’m able to confirm whether he (Arkady Tsisserev) was retired or let go? …ahhh…umm… I don’t really know the details of it, it was a human resources action, so you’d have to check with the City Manager (Penny Ballem), who has that answer. It’s really in the hands of the HR (Human Resources) department at the City and as far as I know, they’re taking care of it.” (Gregor Robertson, March 10th, 2010)
Even though it was revealed here last week prior to his ridiculous and untrue statement, that Gregor Robertson, in fact, chaired the in-camera meeting, when council was lied to by Dr. Ballem (she told council Mr. Tsisserev “retired”)
Then, yesterday again, the Mayor of Vancouver managed to change his explanation TWO MORE TIMES.
In that call he made to CKNW yesterday, below is what he offered up as a newer explanation after one reporter asked him about the report on this blog, that he chaired the in-camera meeting (read: switched for another excuse because that’s the script his Chief of Staff Mike Magee, Press Secretary Kevin Quinlan and millstone, er, excuse me, hand-picked City Manager Penny Ballem provided him)
“Yes, I chaired the meeting and the decision was made at that meeting by council to dismiss him and combine his position with the director of licences and inspections but I don’t know the details of the severance and all of the human resources that ensue once that decision is made.” (Gregor Robertson, March 15th, 2010)
Now, in case some of you were thinking the Mayor was getting somewhere close to the truth. Let me immediately disabuse you of such an impossible notion. The nugget below was, incredibly, fifteen minutes after the above statement he made to CKNW yesterday, clearly in full panic mode.
“Council made a decision to dismiss (Ark Tsisserev) and that was the details, well they’re obviously are dealt with by our HR department, so I didn’t have information on that specifically but the decision was made by council for restructuring and basically saving money in the budget.” (Gregor Robertson, March 15th, 2010)
I know what you’re thinking: Which one of Mayor Robertson’s lies do we start with first.
Well, in reverse order:
1) It is impossible to have fired Ark Tsisserev for budgetary reasons or restructuring. Gregor Robertson obviously has never read the City Charter because the reasons he is citing are IN CONTRAVENTION of said Charter. The City Electrician could have been fired for only two specific reasons– “merit or fitness.” So how do you fire THE recognized Canadian expert on life safety issues? And with a profit of $3.5 million to $4 million in the last two years alone, courtesy of the electrical branch, tell me again where your shortage was? For your benefit, your Worship, here’s the relevant section of the City Charter you need to read. Now, put down that propeller-beanie and please read this carefully. Mikey, Maria and Kevvy can help you after they detach the puppet strings and send them back to Joel Solomon and Carol Newell at Hollyhock, for the latest in eco-dry cleaning.
Mr. Tsisserev’s former position as “City Electrician” is mandated by:
Section 312 of the Vancouver Charter which makes no reference to budgetary issues as a means of defining either “fitness” or “merit” for the position of City Electrician. An amendment to the Charter can affect any change in his status as an officer under the Charter, but this can only be done by the Province of British Columbia. Can you show us, Your Worship, where your idol Gordon Campbell provided you with an out, on this issue, by having his government send along an amendment?
2) In the myriad of excuses and drivel offered up by the Mayor about no safety issues or violations through the Olympics, notwithstanding the picture of burning cables from behind the Canada Pavilion–a picture which I featured here in the middle of the 2010 Games (copies of which went to the Vancouver Police and Vancouver Fire Department–and was authenticated). So much for the Mayor’s embarrassing contention that life safety concerns are “baseless”. What about the letter from the Executive Director of the Electrical Contractors Association? Lies too, Gregor? And let me give you a little tip Mr. Mayor: Instead of shoveling the fertilizer to cover for your breathtaking incompetence and willful ignorance, explain how at two different pavilions, the stages and metal stands were actually rigged as ‘grounding’. If there had been a short, you’d have seen certain death for anyone on both. What about propane tanks inside tents? What about no fire alarm panel in the tent of a major sponsor that saw thousands pour through there every night of the Games. Stop lying, Sir, and come up with some real answers.
3) Engineered electrical drawings for Olympic sites were sent with applications to the City for approval. They were then reviewed by plan examination staff, and necessary corrections made on the drawings before the permits for each site or each venue had been issued. Unfortunately, not all such installations could be inspected in accordance with the Vancouver Electrical By-law, as the requested accreditation for the inspectors – (to access these installation sites) WAS NEVER GRANTED–MEANING NO FOLLOW-UP INSPECTIONS BY CITY ELECTRICAL STAFF. If it’s true Mr. Mayor that they were all inspected, then prove me wrong: RELEASE THE RECORDS SHOWING WHICH CITY INSPECTORS DID THE WORK, AND ON WHAT DATES–ACCORDINGLY, THAT THE CITY SIGNED OFF. If it was all done above board, let’s see it. Surely, you have nothing to hide, Sir.
And in case anyone was thinking that Dr. Ballem and her tower of twits were on the side of right…
The smear job begins. Instead of telling the truth, instead of resigning her position for lying about Ark Tsisserev, Dr. Ballem’s evil empire is selectively releasing information calling into to question Arkady Tsisserev’s travel expenses for some of the industry committees he chaired. Problem: They don’t bother to include the additional information that all his expenses were picked up by ULC and CSA and that the City of Vancouver has NEVER had to cover any expenses or paid Ark Tsisserev while he was engaged in activities relating to Canadian Electrical Code Committee meetings, even though that participation was clearly part of his job description as City Electrician. Last year, Mr. Tsisserev actually used two weeks of his own vacation time to attend those meetings.
I tell you, the nastiness and pure evil of the smear job against this man is astounding.
Here is the clip from yesterday evening’s GlobalTV News.
And,, later today…I’m going to tell you about a couple of local long-time reporters, who have sold their souls to Vision Vancouver–particularly on this story…and how after today’s coverage, they look like utter fools.
Also, this week’s video commentary will be released Friday afternoon and will be specifically on Vision Vancouver’s spiral downwards. Last week, I was busy helping get two out of three little ones on the mend.
Thanks for your patience.