NPA: Many payments, no contract

As seen in the Vancouver Observer

Right wing bloggers linked to the NPA have spent the last couple of months spreading dirt on Vision linked communications firm FD Element.

“Corrupt”.  “Dishonest”.  ‘Disgusting.”  “A straight up gift to political supporters.”  That last quote is from Mike Klassen, who has blogged extensively about the FD Element contract on his site Citycaucus.

It turns out Klassen is guilty of exactly the same thing for Mayor Sam Sullivan – with one big exception. It appears Klassen’s partner at CityCaucus – former Sam Sullivan Chief of Staff Daniel Fontaine – may have broken contracting rules to make his “straight up gift” to Klassen, a long time NPA and BC Liberal organizer.

A couple of months ago I used FOI to ask for city contracts related to Thinking Cap’s web work for Mayor Sam Sullivan.  NPA insiders will know that Thinking Cap is Mike Klassen’s web company.

FOI staff emailed me on September 15th to let me know they couldn’t find any contracts with Klassen or Thinking Cap.  But they did find payments.

Beginning in February 2006 and ending on the last day of Mayor Sullivan’s tenure in December 2008, Klassen invoiced the Office of the Mayor fourteen times for a total of $28,299.28.  That’s about the same as FD Elements charged for its web work on behalf of the current mayor.

So Klassen and FD Elements are in the same boat.  Both provided web services.  Both did similar work and both charged about the same amount.

The only difference is that there is no evidence that Klassen had a contract to do the work.  It appears Thinking Cap just billed Sullivan’s Office, Fontaine signed off and the City paid.

So?

Well, just try submitting an invoice without a contract.  You won’t get paid, because it’s against city policy to conduct business that way.  The very first point in the City contracting policy says “Written contracts are required in all cases and must include the following:  what the consultant is to do…”  The contract must also say how long the term is for.

Tory blogger Alex Tsakumis called FD’s contract scandalous and said it was “disgusting on every level”.  Global News signed on to the attack.  But Klassen and his partner Daniel Fontaine get free passes from bloggers like Tsakumis and the reporters at Global.

In fact Global uses Klassen frequently as an ‘independent’ source – they’ve referred to him as just a concerned parent and as a commentator from CityCaucus, without identifying his role as NPA insider and Sam Sullivan organizer.

Given that Klassen’s got similar money for similar work with the city, the free pass is concerning.  Add what looks like Sullivan’s office breaking city contracting rules to funnel the money to Klassen and the free pass becomes outrageous.

Where’s the screaming headline ‘Sullivan Chief of Staff signs off on 28K in payments to website partner against city policy’?  Strange how it only works one way over there in right wing world.

Pot, you’re looking a little blacker than the kettle you’ve been beating on.

***

The Observer asked Mr. Klassen for his comment on this story.  And he has kindly replied.

“I think Ian is right that there was “no contract”. That’s probably because I was doing piecemeal work, charging at my hourly rate, kind of like when you bring in an electrician. I recall Anna Lilly asking me for some kind of letter of agreement to cover her bases in case I did or said something that caused them problems. I can’t recall if we just did that by email, or if we both forgot because we were both too busy.

“Of course, the thing about getting paid out of the Mayor’s office discretionary fund is that Fontaine and Magee can make these kinds of calls, provided its within their budget. I stand by my earlier comment that the City can hire suppliers as they will as long as it is under $30,000 and the supplier is competent. Note that it was Tsakumis & GlobalTV who made a stink about FD being “untendered” on the website, not me. So on that one Ian’s kind of blurring the facts.”

And my own disclosure:  My now defunct company bid on and won two contracts under Mayor Larry Campbell – one for the city and one for the Vancouver Agreement.  The bidding on the Vancouver Agreement contract involved all three levels of government.

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3 Responses to NPA: Many payments, no contract

  1. kootcoot says:

    Tory blogger Alex Tsakumis called FD’s contract scandalous and said it was “disgusting on every level”. Global News signed on to the attack. But Klassen and his partner Daniel Fontaine get free passes from bloggers like Tsakumis and the reporters at Global.

    If I were AGT, I would feel self conscious just using the word disgusting. But I always find AGT’s rabid hatred of most people he writes about amazing – the personal invective he regularly hurls at Dr. Montaner, Mayor Robertson, Al Gore, Dr. Suzuki, any First Nations chief or person concerned with climate change – virtually anyone other than Rex Murphy, Brian Mulroney or Steven Harper is really amusing to read in a sick way.

    I also find it fascinating how AGT constantly jumps on Vision for their attempts to deal with the mess left by his heroes in the NPA vis-a-vis the athletes’ village – or the Owelympic orgy of irresponsibility in general. Though I don’t care that much about civic issues that occur down in black hole by the coast where all our (residents of the hurtlands) money goes – it is difficult to imagine how the new Vison civic administration could have successfully dealt with many of the Owelympic issues (Millenium, inspections of venues etc. etc.) other than by cancelling the circus thereby depriving Mr. Red Mitts and his Uncle Steve of myriad chances to look stooopid for photo ops.

    It seems like reich wing whackos can’t even detect the flaws in their privatization, so called “free market” for government approved monopolies etc.agenda when the destruction is staring them in the face. But then I guess that has to do with the fact that they are still PERSONALLY doing alright Jack!

  2. rf says:

    It’s not about working for the mayor, Ian.

    You are (deliberately) trying to spin away from the Jon Ross issue. This isn’t about Mike Klassen or FD Element contracts.

    This is about Vision, Auntie Linda, Uncle Joel and co. using taxpayer money (instead of their own) to fund a political hack attack dog to set up a website to trash their opponents.

    There’s nothing wrong with doing it with their own money. But they tried to bury it in another contract with taxpayer money.

    Citycaucus was never paid for buy the city, nor is AGT.

    Civicscene was a taxpayer funded site. You and your comrades are caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

  3. Ian says:

    Nope. I’ve known about Mike Klassen and Dan Fontaine since the 2005 election. I requested the FOI a while ago, before all the stuff about the FD Elements contract. If you notice, I mostly write about provincial politics, but I find the CityCaucus attacks hypocritical given their record in government.

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