Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who Payed for Gregor?

Gregor Robertson and the Vision team in their flurry of daily announcements included the other day the list of contributors to Robertson’s mayoral campaign.

It is no doubt honest and true.

But it hardly tells the story.

Dig deep enough – and why hasn’t any Vancouver journalist done this? – and you will learn that Robertson is backed by a very curious group of strongly interwoven people, all of the same stripe, all of the same background and inclinations, many sharing corporate affiliations, many Americans, and all with a special take on the world.

Each of the persons named below and each of the corporations or non-profits are all inter-linked. They all know each other well. They all are principals in same or linked companies. They can all be “Googled,” with the most interesting results. They have similar lives and apparently similar dreams and goals.

It is the latter that should concern Vancouver voters. Their Yellow Brick Road will cost you dearly.

Gregor Robertson’s main financial support comes from a group of people, many American citizens, starting with Joel Solomon. Solomon, originally from Tennessee, has just become a Canadian citizen. He is the money and the brains behind Happy Planet Foods. He is Vice-Chair of Tides Canada Foundation, chair of the board of Hollyhock Retreat, involved with IMPACS, The Tyee, Pivot Foundation, Pivot Legal Society, and The Endswell Foundation, among others.

He and Carol Newell are Founders of Renewal Partners. Newell is the heir to the U.S. Rubbermaid Co. fortune.

Robertson has received help (funding? cash?) from the following American citizens:

Andrew Beath, Founder, Earthways Foundation, Malibu, California; Gary Hirshberg, Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt, Londonderry, New Hampshire; Paulette Cole, ABC Home and Planet Foundation, Manhattan, New York; Allan & Marion Hunt-Badiner, San Francisco; and Dr. Andrew Weil (bearded Oprah guru), Tucson, Arizona, among others.

Another key player is a man named Drummond Pike, who is the Founder and CEO of Tides USA. Tides provides fiscal sponsorship for over 200 non-profit projects across the US, launches and operates green non-profit centres and has granted more than $500 million dollars since 2000 alone.

Pike could be the poster boy for all of these folks. He lives in Mill Valley, California and describes himself as “a licensed commercial river guide in the Grand Canyon and is an amateur wine maker. He is also an avid runner and squash player.”

In other words, he is fabulous and wonderful.

Everyone I have mentioned is fabulous and wonderful. They are almost all enormously wealthy.

Their public presentation is all about giving and philanthropy. Their private reality is money, real estate, power and more money.

They have almost all been criticized and scrutinized for laundering money from one donor or charity to another, often without much question about results or accountability.

They are all ardent believers in the mantra of the “triple bottom line.” This hot paradigm, this vogue of the privileged class, calls for corporations to focus on “people, planet & profits.” You not only have to make money, you have to have happy employees and green goals and processes. If your CEO or chief administrative assistant wants to take a few weeks off in the middle of sensitive negotiations, that's cool. Because we want everyone to be happy.

Here’s the triple headed problem.

Why is support for Gregor Robertson’s run at the Vancouver Mayor’s Chair coming from rich Americans? If Ladner or Campbell before him had the backing of rich Texas right wing fundamentalist arms manufacturers, can you imagine the stink?

What do these people and Robertson really want?

I’ll take a guess.

They want to use public money to further their special social goals.

For example, yesterday, approaching and cashing in on Remembrance Day in the most cynical way, the Vision team announced that they wanted to insure that City Hall would be working on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Canadian Veterans.

City Hall? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

This is a Health issue and therefore the complete purview of the Federal and Provincial Governments. The City has no role in such an issue, nor should it.

And as you know, we've done such a great job at the city level with addictions, mental health and homelessness.

But, if Robertson and his crew win on Saturday – as they surely will – watch for the onslaught of 1001 new social engineering programs. Watch for the marriage of city coffers and time and energies with some familiar non-profits and foundations.

As surely as George W. Bush has been widely acknowledged to be the puppet of known and unknown masters like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton et al, Gregor Robertson is the pretty face of a movement led by wealthy ideologues, living in the shadows.

They are determined to change the world, one kumbaya moment after another. Which would be their prerogative, except that they are making a play to use your money.