Ark Tsisserev’s Lawyer Speaks…Vision Vancouver In Full Attack (Read: PANIC) Mode: The Spinning Begins!
This morning on CKNW, former Vancouver City Electrician Ark Tsisserev’s lawyer made comments which are not only being manipulated by Vision Vancouver but also being repeated by people close to both City Manager Dr. Penny Ballem and Vancouver General Manager Dave McLellan as some sort of vindication.
Well, let me burst that bubble for all of them here.
But let’s start with the statements made this morning by Mr. Tsisserev’s lawyer, storied legal giant Russ Chamberlain, QC.
Here are Mr. Chamberlain’s exact opening words this morning on CKNW:
“I just wish people would leave Ark alone…and carry on with their political agendas somewhere else” (Russ Chamberlain, March 17th, 2010)
Does that sound right to you?
The Fire Technicians Network, the Electrical Contractors Association of British Columbia, countless electrical contractors throughout the City, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, three key city staffers, one prominent union representative, four active contractors with the City of Vancouver, one representative of a major electrical life safety provider–I spoke to ALL of them. Not one of them, not a single one has a political agenda. In fact, six of the aforementioned WERE staunch Vision Vancouver supporters and feel they were betrayed, not because of anything political–but because AFTER Ark Tsisserev was unceremoniously fired, the city of Vancouver is “less safe”.
Let me repeat that phrase “less safe.” It is consistent throughout all the literature I have been provided, which has been authenticated by City Staff, including the original letter from the Electrical Contractors Association Executive Director, Ms. D. Cahill.
In fact, this whole matter began after I was leaked the email stream between Ark Tsisserev and his colleagues, from October, November and December of last year and then into early January–when he first raised concerns related to life safety issues with respect the the Olympic Village and then was concerned about inspection limitations for the pending Olympics.
What’s happened here is obvious…
Information provided to me late last week about Ark Tsisserev’s settlement (specifically that he was made to sign an additional media gag order) rattled City Hall to their core when I repeated it on Global TV on Monday night.
Was the agreement breached? Of course not.
Moreover, in my opinion, Mr. Chamberlain, being the motivated fellow he always is with his storied reputation in tow, wanted to eliminate any chance his client wasn’t on the receiving end of any legal reprisals.
But let’s not waste time having you or Vision’s propaganda team wonder if I’m right or wrong; let’s go to Mr. Chamberlain himself, again, since I just got off the phone with him.
“Look, I just want my client the hell outta this godamned thing. We signed an agreement with the city that is confidential and we’ll be making no comments about that. If there are safety issues at the City, I don’t know that and it’s not the opinion of my client since he became my client on January 24th, 2010 (emphasis added). That’s when I was retained. Ark is my only source and since he’s been my client and we’ve been negotiating with the city, I don’t know of any safety issue and neither does he. If safety issues exist, then that’s your problem to find out about ‘em and you should because I would…Ark is my only source and if I knew that there were safety issues over there, I’d go down to the city myself…I’m a man of principle. As far as we’re concerned, Ark was dismissed due to restructuring and money and we got an agreement signed and that’s it–end of story, I don’t care about the rest of it.” (Russ Chamberlain, March 17th, 2010)
Now re-read that VERY carefully. There is a clear and obvious message there.
Nevermind the spinning and lying that will inevitably come from Vision Vancouver, their propagandists or PR hacks feverishly toiling away for them (I’m told since Monday night)…you can clearly see what’s happened here.
Russ Chamberlain was hired to do a job and he’s done it–“end of story”, at least where Mr. Chamberlain and his client are concerned. When I called him back to confirm the above quote (as I do not tape calls) he informed me that he had just gotten off the phone with city solicitor Greg Hayward, who was the lawyer that negotiated the settlement on behalf of the City of Vancouver. Mr. Hayward (who is also of sound reputation) asked Mr. Chamberlain, AGAIN, if he knew of any life safety concerns or other concerns regarding this whole matter, because the city is “interested in addressing them.” (Mr. Chamberlain’s comment relaying Mr. Hayward’s comment).
Isn’t that nice? After two months of being bombarded at the Mayor’s Office with concerns from top flight electrical and life safety experts, the City is now interested in doing something about it.
Well, alright. I’m happy to help, too.
1) If all Olympic venues were approved by city electrical inspectors in accordance with all recognized electrical and safety standards, release all the reports. You have nothing to hide Mr. Hayward, Dr. Ballem, Mayor Robertson. If there were no issues like using stages and stands as grounding, propane tanks inside tents, no fire alarm panel inside the tent of a major sponsor at LiveCity and no unapproved wiring in any tent, and everything was all appropriately checked and approved, let’s see it. Let’s see it now.
2) If Ark Tsissrev was fired due to “restructuring and money” then how does that square with a $2 million dollar net profit by the electrical branch last year alone? And explain how council fired him citing two reasons, for which, according to the city charter, he CANNOT be fired. The city electrician can only be fired for reasons relating to “fitness and merit.” A change to this list of causes must come from Victoria. Can you please release the amendment to the Charter made by the Provincial Government?
3) Why the revolving door of explanations by the Mayor? Between 4pm and 4:30pm on Monday of this week, he changed his story THREE times about what he knew and when he knew it. If you include his drivel from last week, that makes it FOUR convoluted stories in less than a week.
4) Safety concerns by the Electrical Contractors Association are one and a half months old. Why hasn’t the Mayor addressed them?? The letter from the Executive Director, Ms. Cahill, has been sitting in the Mayor’s Office for as long. The excuse of hosting the Olympics doesn’t wash since life safety issues are top priority, or at least, they should be. Why would the Mayor not instruct city staff upon receipt of such a letter to immediately investigate the allegations? Why the extra-long delay?
5) The messaging that “nothing happened through the Olympics” (listed prominently by Vision’s propaganda web-fluffer) is pure deflection and utter, pre-paid nonsense. That’s like emptying the magazine of a 9mm over the heads of a classroom full of school children and because none happened to be caught in the crossfire, claiming that they were safe through the ordeal. Besides, the image below, leaked to me by an electrical contractor, was from out behind the Canada Pavilion. If it wasn’t for the presence of mind of a worker, who dropped the breaker, that could have been a major problem.
But I guess the transformer in Vanier Park being approved based only on a contractor’s declaration was the optimal way of getting that approved, right? There are DOZENS of examples like this, dozens. And the city are trying to sweep the concerns about all of them under the rug. They are in deep trouble and they know it.
The Mayor lied on province-wide TV, and if this whole matter is really “embellishment” then why are they all acting like bit players in the Nixon White House?
At the end of the proverbial day, NOTHING has changed with respect to this story–the life safety concerns are real and remain unaddressed–and the City of Vancouver still owes citizens answers to questions raised by reputable life safety and electrical experts.
I’ll have MUCH more on this in the coming days. If anything, the Mayor’s ridiculously contradictory comments, the Vision propaganda lapdog’s pathetic, confused and city staff-insulting op/ed piece from last week’s Sun and the city administration’s dismissiveness have upset more than just few at City Hall. And they’re talking again.
As for Russ Chamberlain, I heartily applaud him. He did what he was paid to do and he’s protecting his client.
Too bad the Mayor of Vancouver, Vision Vancouver and certain like-minded, politically-motivated city administrators aren’t very interested in protecting YOU.