Olympic Village deal demands disclosure

It’s rare for Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan to issue a press release of importance. In the newsrooms, he’s known as “Spam” Sullivan because of his fondness for non-news. Late today, the Mayor issued an open letter about the Olympic Village scandal. The story became a major issue last Friday. It made the covers of all the local newspapers. It’s worth pointing out readers of Condohype knew about it on October 8 when I picked up on a report by Gary Mason.

The challenge with the scandal is that there’s very little we actually know. (Is it a loan? Is the city exposed? Did Oprah buy the penthouse?) As of now, all details are hidden from the public. The Mayor’s letter tries to clear the air by stating his confidence in city staff and the overall planning and management of the Olympic Village project. After four paragraphs of hype, the Mayor makes the following statement:

City Councillors and staff are legally bound to keep all property transactions confidential. That is the law. Taxpayers are not well served by politicizing these sensitive discussions or conducting negotiations by headline. As Mayor, you have my word that the moment our legal team and negotiators signal that this information can legally be released, it will be without any delay.

By saying he’s committed to disclosure even though he believes taxpayers “are not well served” by the release of information, Mayor Sullivan is telling you he doesn’t care about the public interest.

Is it not within the Mayor’s ability to encourage the parties to prioritize disclosure of information? Has the Mayor even set a timeline for the details to be released? What leverage does the developer have to assert secrecy over the information? While the specifics of the negotiation may be confidential, nothing prevents the city and the developer from agreeing to share some information. Furthermore, if the city is the only entity coming forward to provide a loan, how can the developer have any power to object to disclosure as a condition of the deal?

If taxpayers are to trust that city managers are acting in our best interest, we must be able to know about the decisions being made. Without disclosure, there can be no confidence.

12 Responses to “Olympic Village deal demands disclosure”

  1. condohype Says:

    For background reading, I recommend the Sun’s primer on the Olympic Village deal.

  2. jesse Says:

    Here Here. A major reason for transparency is to keep the City Council from making contracts that can get them fired. Live and let die.

  3. Strataman Says:

    First of all I would like to see Larry Campbell and all others that have been employed by the City to swear subject to independant investigation that they or any family members have no investments in the village. Should they or any family members have interests they must declare them and voluntarily relinquish any profits from the “Village”to the City.

  4. condohype Says:

    Larry Campbell owns two units in the Millennium Water development. He bought them about a year and a half ago. This is confirmed.

  5. Macronomics Says:

    Campbell has no business commenting on the issue if he has a vested interest.
    Doesn’t he know jack about conflict of interest?

  6. tsusiat Says:

    Respectfully, if Larry owns units in the Millenium development, there is no conflict of interest talking about the project if he is not in a position to make decisions affecting the Millenium development. Of course, in the interest of credibility, his comments should probably be prefaced with a disclosure about his interest in the project.

  7. rob bennie Says:

    DISCLOSE…. DISCLOSE… DISCLOSE!!!!! or we’re… we’re gonna… ?
    looks like we need some new ads to slam.

  8. Wide Ernest Says:

    This town is toast for condos. There’s hardly any new ads now.

  9. Tony Danza Says:

    Man this town is infested with mini Donald Trump wannabes at every level. The incompetence of these RE obsessed pigs is sickening.

    “We’re making high powered deals here, this is serious business…hey where’s my super sensitive documents?”

  10. condohype Says:

    “We’re making high powered deals here, this is serious business…hey where’s my super sensitive documents?” Haha, I love it.

    As for Mayor DaVinci, I see no conflict of interest. The man bought in as a private citizen well after he was done at city hall.

  11. Strataman Says:

    condohype “As for Mayor DaVinci, I see no conflict of interest. The man bought in as a private citizen well after he was done at city hall. ” I have to very strongly disagree. If he bought as a private ciizen then he MUST speak as a private citizen WITHOUT inside knowledge of the workings of council. Or he must declare all citizens of Vancouver are at a severe disadvantage if you have not been in council. and as I (the former mayor) have seen how it works I must insist that all normal citizens of Vancouver be given a discount of a minimum of 10 % below any investor that has held a public office in the previous 10 years. Those investors (the previous public office holders) will make up the difference in price. Give me a break Condohype do you really think these guys don’t line their pockets for years from IOU”s? And NO I’m not serious that any of the scumbagags will ever do as I suggested but I am not naive either! Don’t believe me? Look at the voter turnout, vote for this crook or that crook same diff!

  12. condohype Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Strataman. In my comment, I’m referring to “conflict of interest” in a legal sense. The Olympic Village deal was signed under Mayor Sam Sullivan, meaning Larry Campbell was already out of office. He wouldn’t have had access to privileged information in the final deal. That he understands the in-camera process does not constitute conflict of interest.

    I agree with your frustration about the nature of our political system and how it can be abused. However, I’m not as cynical about politicians as most. I generally believe that people run for office to do good. Whether I agree with their idea of good, well, that’s another story.

    I wouldn’t characterize Ladner or Robertson as crooks. But again, I recognize your frustration.

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