Friday, July 25, 2014

The Further Disappearing Of The Sparkle Ponies?


Well, well, well...

Whadd'ya know:

Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd is seeking potentially billions in tax relief from the federal government in exchange for opening new markets for Canadian natural gas, as it inches closer to a final investment decision on a B.C. export terminal...


I guess what starts in Snookland doesn't necessarily stay in Snookland.


And it seems like just yesterday that Snooklandian economic guru (and noted elevator runner), Ms. Pamela Martin was telling us that the frack gas tooting Sparkly ones were going to make us all rich forever and ever and ever...


Private Jails? In Snookland?


You bet.

Only this is one of those P3 deals where we the public peons don't know how much we are actually paying out (and for what and why, exactly).

Joe Fries has the story in the Penticton Western News.

Here is his lede:

Third-party business interests outweigh the public’s right to know the dollar value of monthly payments to the group contracted to design, build and maintain the Okanagan Correctional Centre...


...Earlier this month, Partnerships BC released a report that confirmed the ministry’s assertion that the public-private partnership with Plenary Justice is indeed the most cost-effective way to finance, construct and run the 378-cell jail north of Oliver, which has a stated capital cost of $192.9 million.

Including other charges, such as facility maintenance and debt servicing, the report pegs the net present cost of the project at $241.6 million in today’s dollars over the life of the 30-year agreement.

Also included in the 28-page report, however, is a small graph that appears to show total payments to Plenary Justice will escalate with inflation, but average about $12 million annually if there are no penalties for missing service targets...

And here's the kicker.

...(Justice Ministry spokesthingy Cindy) Rose declined to provide the actual numbers used to draw the graph, but did reveal that in 2017-18, the first full year of jail operations, payments will total $10.8 million. That amount over the life of the 30-year deal equals $324 million, well above the stated net present cost...

Of course, the PAB-Bots probably already have the press releases written that will be released this time next year that say the prison cost us nothing.

Just like that ice bomb bridge.


And why is it, exactly, that that fine fellow from the 'Canadian Taxpayers Federation', who appears reluctant to crank up the wurlitzer on the matter of disappearing resource tax revenues in this province, never speaks of the billions for the ice bomb bridge?....Hmmmm....I wonder if it has, perchance, anything to do with.....This.


The Summertime Jukebox So Far.

...littler e, back in the days of a falling apart bit of tie-dye...Almost time for another trip to Telegraph Avenue.

Springsteen, Mashed Potatoes and Me...

When In Doubt Ask Yourself...What Would Danko Do?

What Canada Day Means to Me and Mine...

At The End of The (Busking) Day It's What Everybody Wants...

Vincent/Starry, Starry Night It's Not...

When Busking and French Immersion Collide...

Gram Goes To Goteborg...

The Still-Beating Heart Of Alt. Country...


Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Day In Snookland...Who Likes The New Dipper Shadow Cabinet Most?


Which Snooklandian is happiest with the changeroo by NDP boss John Horgan?

Hands down,  we reckon it has to be the Minister of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk.

Because now that David Eby is the Dipper in charge of, as Bob Mackin suggested on the Twittmachine,  Rich Coleman (ie. Housing/Tourism/Liquor/Gambling) he will no longer be making mincemeat out of Mr. Virk on a regular basis due to a story line that began with this and just never quit.

It got so bad for Mr. Virk that even Stephen Quinn picked up on Mr. Eby's line of questioning on the MoCo Monday morning. You can listen to Mr. Virk not answer why he will not make the University Administrator Salary Cap numbers public ("there is a range" is Virk's repeated useless response) here. Have a listen if you haven't already, if only to hear 7 minutes of what the vacationing Puffmaster Flash would never, ever do.

Watching Mr. Eby take on the 'gambling' file (i.e. BCLC and PavCo combined) is going to be most interesting...Surprised Mr. Horgan didn't add 'Paragon' to the monicker as well...
There is a slightly cheesy Star Wars analogy in all of this if you wish to conjure it...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Day In Snookland....We Don't Need No Stinking Archives!


Apparently, the BC Liberal government's failure to archive has been going on pretty much since the beginning of the Golden Era.

Bob Mackin is on the story, over at the Tyee:

...(In) a July 22 report.. B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham  (writes) that 33,000 boxes of government documents are languishing in storage, waiting to be archived.

Denham said records, whatever medium in which they are created, "perform a basic function in society -- to document its transactions, events, stories and decisions" and are crucial to a well-functioning government if they are properly created, stored and classified.

"However, records do not need to be retained by government forever and at the end of their operational life they are either destroyed or retained in the BC Archives consistent with legislative requirements," Denham wrote.

The 33,000-box backlog is the result of a "standstill within government" over who is responsible for paying to archive government records that stems from the 2001-2002 core review...


Is it possible that the Dobell Doctrine has taken over everything?

...(T)he insidious shift towards "oral government" is growing. E-mails must be preserved and accessible under FOI laws. A debate is looming over Blackberry records. Yet the premier's multi-tasking assistant Ken Dobell startled an FOI conference in 2003 by announcing frankly that "I delete my email all the time as fast as I can." (then Privacy Commissioner David) Loukidelis later reprimanded Dobell for publicly admitting he avoids taking notes so they aren't uncovered by reporters under FOI...


Boessenkool investigation anyone?

...A spokesman for the Premier’s office confirmed Monday (Oct 29, 2012) that no documents were created during the probe, saying all interviews and reports were done verbally....

Upshot?...This latest thing actually looks like a massive failure of some sort of bizarre, short-sighted quasi-privitization scheme (with longterm consequences) wherein various Ministries were told they would have to pay the BC Museum 'corporation' hundreds of dollars to have each box of their paper records digitized...They balked and have been paying a few bucks a box to stick 'em in warehouses for years and years and years now...
Uncle Bob makes reference to a 'Cool Hand Luke' quote at the top of his lede.... 'What we have here is a failure to archive'...He attributed it to Newman...I remember Strother Martin saying it...But it turns out that the titular character returns to it at the end of the movie...The interwebz are terrible things...


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Evening In Snookland...Mars?...There's No Water On Mars!


Last weekend, after her online editorial minions began posting up photos of the boss opportunistically 'running into' front line firefighters in the Okanagan, we wondered if there would be any such photos of  Ms. Clark coming across a Mars water bomber during the fighting of the then still growing West Kelowna Smith Creek fire.


Laila Yuile has done some digging and, given the 'pay-to-play' track record of both the Snooklandians and the Knotty Gordians before them (e.g. this), Laila wonders if, perhaps, the fine fellow and former longterm public servant mentioned below might be able to shed some light on why the Mars water bomber was shut down due to the non-renewal of a longterm aerial suppression contract with the Coulson Group (at a cost $750,000 per year) and why a new contract was implemented with Conair (at a cost $1,800,000 per year):

Hmmm.. who would be best suited to offer a knowledgeable perspective on the government's choice to go with the costlier contract to Conair?

How about someone with first-hand, government experience, who “joined Conair in the spring of 2013 after a 36 year career with the British Columbia Forest Service, all in the forest fire domain with 26 years specifically in airtanker operations. Jeff (Berry) was the head of British Columbia’s Airtanker Program from 1996 to 2013.”


This new hiring by Conair might or might not have had anything to do with the contract switcheroo by the Snooklandians.

But given the essentially empty explanation for the switcheroo that has been offered up by the Snooklandian Minister responsible, Mr. Steve Thompson, it is not unreasonable, in my opinion, for a rational person who has been paying attention to wonder what the heck really went down.

Laila also wonders if there might be some political payback being played on Wayne Coulson for his stance against the Snooklandian raw log export policy.

Go have a look at her entire post.

(There is also quite a bit of good discussion in the comments to Laila's post as well...Brett Mineer, in particular makes some thoughtful contrarian points...Gosh, maybe he should be speaking for the Minister - and I mean that it in a good, knowledgable, non-PAB-Bottian way)

West Kelowna fire update...As of 5:00pm Tuesday it was 60% contained....Snooklandian photo-op follow-up coming?


Skytrain Breakdown, Round II...."We Dispatched Our Staff Members, Up There, Where We Could."

That was the babble of a Translink apologist on CBC Radio One this afternoon that was uttered right after he had been dissing Skytrain passengers for taking matters into their own hands by getting out of the trains when they were getting NO INFORMATION during yesterday's massive shutdown.

The upshot, according to the apologist (I came to the conversation late so I can't say for sure who it was), is that it was just an electrical problem was caused by human error and they did their best to deal with it. Thus, no reason to do anything differently, especially when they have a '95% on-time record'.


Where have we heard/read/seen that 95% percent thingy before?

Oh ya, from the 'Skytrain Prez', Fred Cummings (and/or an 'online editor'-type minion), on the Twittmachine last week...

...Right around the time of that 'first' shutdown.

One thing we know for sure...None of the babble so far had come from the mouth of Snooklandian Transportation Minister, Mr. Todd Stone, because he is, according to CBC, hiding from the media... 


Monday, July 21, 2014

This Evening In Snookland.. Do We Orbit The Boss' New Centre?


From Jason Kirby's piece, in Macleans, on the flight from the redback subtitled "If China is the future of the global economy, why do rich Chinese want to get their money out?:

... (Last) week, B.C. Premier Christy Clark met with Chinese business leaders to make her pitch for Vancouver to become North America’s first offshore hub for trading China’s currency. Asia, she said, “is now . . . the centre of the world.”...


I guess, perhaps, 'say anything' statements like that are to be expected from a person who once told us that she could see Maggie Thatcher from her dorm room.

Not that that is like being able to see 'Russia from your house' or anything.

In real news involving, presumably, Snooklandians behind the curtain...Vaughn Palmer's latest piece on what must be done in the wake of the reinstatement of two (of seven) Health Ministry analysts is a good (and important) one...As an added bonus, see if you can spot the Dean's somewhat cultish reference to a Railgate connection.


Executive Pay Imbroglio In Snookland (ctd.)...


On the weekend we responded to Mike Smyth's latest column in which we reckoned that the very finest of the fine political columnist from the Province had missed the point regarding Mike de Jong's 'disappointment' with all these government(ish) contracts for the execs with the hidden pay-package sweetners.

In response, two readers, Norm Farrell and Lew, made excellent points regarding what is really going down here....

Norm Farrell wrote:
Any responses made by a Liberal ministers would be insincere theatrics. Remember the claims published before the last election? Here's a sample from the Vancouver Sun:

"VICTORIA — British Columbia has launched a crackdown on lavish pay packages for executives at most Crown corporations, instituting an indefinite wage freeze and reining in the perks they can receive..."

Well, how does that declaration square with reality? Here's the restraint suffered by by some of BC's highest paid civil servants:

Doug Pearce, CEO of bcIMC, annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 1,029,218
- FY 2012 $ 1,280,786
- FY 2013 $ 1,582,186
- FY 2013 $ 1,806,345 (76% over 3 years)

Lincoln Webb, VP of bcIMC (one of more than a dozen VP's), annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 724,507
- FY 2012 $ 866,777
- FY 2013 $ 1,035,871
- FY 2014 $ 1,198,308 (65% over 3 years)

Bryan Thomson, VP of bcIMC, annual remuneration:
- FY 2011 $ 553,689
- FY 2012 $ 702,447
- FY 2013 $ 847,759
- FY 2014 $ 990,367 (79% over 3 years)

Even without the latest year of double digit raises, the BC operation was paying three to five times the remuneration going to Washington State executives doing similar tasks, with a history of better results.

Leaves one wondering what the money managers at bcIMC know that keeps them exempt from restraints.

Lew wrote:
The Financial Administration Act empowers Mike the Finance Minister to recover public funds paid contrary to an enactment, or to launch a claim for recovery to remedy an injury, loss or damage in a specified or ascertainable amount that occurred as a result of an act or omission. There is a six-year limitation on the right to claim.

If public funds have been paid contrary to an enactment, or in a manner that has caused injury, loss or damage in a specified or ascertainable amount to the government, Mike the Finance Minister has a duty to recover said funds on our behalf and the power to do so. Instead he goes on record with an official pout and imposes disparate “penalties” for show. This because it’s all he can do given the way he and his government boss lady operate. By design, they haven’t done the necessary front-end work.

Norm Farrell has very well documented the real problem here. There is one government expectation for compensation of unionized government workers, the disabled, or children in need, and another for OIC appointees, favored contractors, senior bureaucrats, and all manner of parasitic sycophants that can be regularly spotted moving from curtain to curtain behind the BC Liberals in their many houses. The former expectation is a hard and fast zero vigorously enforced, while the latter is a privileged trough designed deep enough not to runneth over and alert the unwashed masses. When it does, Mike the Finance Minister can only act disappointed and look behind the curtain for a new trough designer.

Meanwhile Mike the legislative entertainment writer does some acting of his own.

'Nuff said?


This Day In Snookland...We Don't Need No Stinking Faith (Good Or Bad).



The Snooklandians are trying to make a pipeline deal with the Gitsxan.

And in their latest gambit they sent letters to hereditary chiefs offering  a low-to-midlevel hockey contract-type deal ($12 million) with a similarly pegged 'signing bonus' ($2 million).

Interestingly, the letter was not sent to the nation's official bargaining agent, the Gitxan Treaty Society.

Mark Hume has the story in the Globe:

...Bev Clifton Percival, a negotiator for the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, didn’t know about the letter until contacted by The Globe and Mail last week.

She said the B.C. government had been negotiating with the Gitxsan Treaty Society through the Gitxsan Development Corp.

But those talks were stopped June 22 to protest a treaty settlement the government had made, which gave some land claimed by the Gitxsan to the neighbouring Kitselas and Kitsumkalum bands.

Ms. Clifton Percival – whose group last week “evicted” logging, mining and sports fishing from Gitxsan territory to demand a bigger share of resource activities – accused the government of acting in bad faith by trying to go around the Gitxsan Treaty Society and resume talks directly with chiefs.

But John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, said the letter is simply an attempt “to engage with the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs” who are the decision makers in the community...

Sure thing Mr. Rustad.

'Engage' one group while excluding another.

Sounds like a slightly different tactic to me that many might describe as, at the very least, duplicitous.

And another thing, as Paul Willcock asks on the Twitmachine, how come the companies themselves aren't doing the negotiating?