Stenography wins, you lose

Some things you just don’t talk about: Podmore and Casino promoter Scott Menke

Jeff Lee managed to obscure more than he reported yesterday in his front page piece on the resignation of David Podmore at the BC Pavilion Corporation.  But that’s to be expected when you’re taking dictation from a BC Liberal cabinet minister and his communication drones.

David Podmore resigned.  You’d think that would be an opportunity to review the disaster that has been the management of the BC Place reconstruction under his watch.

You know – fake rfp, calls to the minister from proponents, costs that ballooned more than the old roof, a casino deal that was fixed 9 months before the rfp was issued, Ken Dobell running between the city and Pavco’s offices to smooth over all the rough edges and sneak through a massive zoning change including the casino a week before the 2008 civic election.

And then the crowing glory – Podmore’s failure to get the expanded casino plan approved at City Hall, which meant the non-existent business case for the expansion went down the toilet, leaving taxpayers on the hook for almost a quarter of a billion dollars.

What did we get instead from Mr. Lee, whose last front page story if I remember was a ‘leaked’ NPA poll predicting a close race between the NPA and Vision Vancouver?

An unchallenged claim that BC Place was underbudget from “the original $563 million budget.”  Underbudget?  $563 million “original” budget?  Does Lee read his own paper?

As Vaughn Palmer accurately described it just five months ago, the actual story is this: the BC Place budget went from $150 million in March 2008 to $365 million in November to $458 million in October 2009 to $563 million in January 2010.

On the same day as Lee’s story appeared, an FOI on the mishandled Telus sponsorship deal appeared on the “Open” government website.  While minister Pat Bell was claiming in Lee’s piece that all of the revenue lost in that fiasco would be recouped under a new marketing plan, the relevant pages of the Minister’s issue note and original treasury board submission were entirely redacted.

Rather than repeating the spin, shouldn’t Lee have asked for the full, unredacted documents? He might have noticed that the talking point Bell used is on page 14 of the Minister’s issue note.

Finally, Lee reported Bell’s take on the new board appointees, which – surprise – include NPAer and likely BC Liberal candidate Suzanne Anton.  As a leader in supporting the failed Casino, one couldn’t think of a better pick than Anton to rubber stamp more Pavco bs.

According to the Lee’s piece all are well-suited to overseeing the next phase, marketing the money losing facility.  Did I say money losing?  That wasn’t in the story.

Also not in the story?  The fact that the five appointees donated almost $130,000 to the BC Liberal party.  Now there are qualifications worthy of attention.

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One Response to Stenography wins, you lose

  1. Maharg says:

    Great column Ian. Podmore has been a smarmy pitchman for exploiting the public purse for more than a couple of decades. The stadium fiasco is only one major project that he low-balled multiple times. Several presentations of the under-budgeted Convention Centre also has his sticky hands on it.

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