Friday, January 16, 2009


In the good old days before 9-11 made such things impossible, I had the great good fortune to spend many, many hours in the cockpits of jetliners on long overseas flights.

I was consistently impressed with the pilots and engineers. To a man, they were very, very smart, funny, interested in practically everything, outspoken, straight ahead in their expression and steely calm and clear about what they were doing.

It is apparently a standing mantra amongst such people that long-haul jet flights can best be described as "20 seconds of sheer, white knuckle terror, followed by 10 hours of excruciating boredom, followed by 20 seconds of sheer, white knuckle terror."

If that wasn't clear, what they are saying is that modern jet travel consists of the major scares of take-off and landing, interrupted by the numbing many hours of auto-pilot and checking that you are successfully flying from designated and assigned point A to B to C and pretty much through the alphabet.

What US Airways Captain Sully Sullenberger managed to do landing that bird in the Hudson without a single fatality is exactly what one would expect of a guy like him -flying since he was 17 and a consultant on risk management and safety - yet, we can join the chorus around the world in safely calling him a hero.

Just plain WOW!

Important Addition to the 60% Solution

It is not only the 'permission to borrow' aspect that troubles me. It is the Robertson-proposed, Campbell-only-too-happy-to-oblige, skirting of the referendum process that is the most dangerous.

The former Local Government Act required a municipality to hold a referendum of the people, if it intended to commit its taxpayers to a financial liability which exceeded a certain dollar amount (which varied according to a formula set out in the Act), or which went beyond a period of five years. That requirement was repeated in the Vancouver Charter.

When Campbell and Co. ascended to the throne in 2001, one of the first things they did was bring in the Lidstone lawyers to amend the Act into what is now the Community Charter.

One of the most significant changes in the wording of the Act, morphed the referendum requirement into the almost impossible to achieve, counter-petition process. A C-P is tantamount to negative billing, and requires a petitioner to gather the names of people who were entitled to vote in the previous election. Who can do that in a hot real estate market? Although referenda can still be held, what local council will use it, if people are likely to vote down a council initiative?

In summary then -- while borrowing $450-875 million will be tough on voters in the City of Vancouver, an anti-democratic precedent will be set for every citizen in BC.

Campbell and Co. are sure selective about the precedents they set, are they not?

Elizabeth James


While yet another high profile City Hall manager tied closely to the Olympic Village bites the dust, two crucial questions remain unanswered.

Hell, they remain, except for these pages, unasked.

1. Play the Blame Game all you want. Six of the 10 current City Councillors were there at all the in-camera meetings that created this mess. Anton, Cadman, Chow, Louie, Deal and Stevenson have yet to tell us very much about how it all began and how they voted.

Today, the Vancouver Sun delves into this issue in a nice piece by Jeff Lee, in which we see Raymond Louie playing a little fast and loose with the history books - not to mention the accounting books.

2. When the extraordinary meeting of the Provincial Legislature convenes this weekend to draft a Ready-Mix Law allowing the Vancouver Charter to borrow at will, does this signal the beginning of the new era of regular deficit financing?

They all claim this is a "one-time" affair, but that's what governments throughout history have always claimed about new taxes and levies.

This little "crisis" will go down as an elaborate excuse to change city hall financing and permanently diminish the city's credit rating.

Finally, Wall Financial is delaying or perhaps suspending its own construction plans for a four tower project across the street from the Village.

Wasn't Wall the other bidder for the Village in the first place, and a bidder with a much more solid and accomplished track record than the stumbling Millenium?

Didn't City Hall choose Millenium because it offered $20 Million more than Wall?

If Bruno Wall is saying this may not be the most prudent time to build, we, the taxpayers, should be good and truly scared.

ZAP! You're a Victim of the New Policy

It is good news that the RCMP watchdog will begin investigations into 10 deaths involving Mounties and tasers.

I suppose.

But try this.

A friend advises me that the other day on Beach Avenue he observed a little drama in amazement.

Several police cars converged quickly to apprehend a young man walking down the street.

The telling detail was this.

They had their tasers drawn and ready.


Is now standard police practice?


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad president said the fighting showed Israel's continued existence in the region is "not feasible."