Sadly smear campaigns seen on the national stage are going local
Speaking to my friend Sam Sullivan last year he told me of one regret he had from his term in elected office. He said that he had worked more swiftly and aggressively to correct the record when media got the story wrong. One specific example was the story the webzine TheTyee.ca had published about him, which he eventually had a response published for after he left office.
Yesterday the Vision Vancouver linked website VancouverObserver.com published a wide-ranging smear against myself and Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee. The writer is a former Vision Vancouver campaign manager and close connection to Gregor Robertson's chief of staff Mike Magee. I was not contacted for the story, and I will try to respond to the accusations in the following post.
- On the connection with the Vancouver Sun. Since Jeff Lee is the first dedicated City Hall reporter working for the Vancouver Sun in nearly three years, it might come as a shock to the current government that they are getting some more scrutiny from the mainstream media. The fact is CityCaucus.com's political analysis and inside sources in political, business and public service circles are second to none. We're getting stories other media would otherwise not get, and we're providing deeper understanding of the political machinations than the MSM have traditionally provided. It should be no surprise, therefore, that media such as Lee are seeing bloggers as a new source of information. It's up to them to use their own lens on the credibility of the facts and the opinion before re-telling those stories in their publications or broadcasts.
Just like the team surrounding the Mayor and his caucus, we have tried to gain a respectful relationship with the media. Sometimes they listen to us, sometimes they don't.
- On my relationship with Colin Hansen. I was introduced to MLA Colin Hansen in 2003 and immediately found that he was one of the most sincere, hard-working and ethical people I've ever known. Everyone who has had a relationship with Hansen I know of holds him in very high regard. It was an honour for me to support him in past election campaigns.
- On the scrutiny we give to Hollyhock and to Vision Vancouver insiders and financial backers. This is a core tenet of political transparency – knowing who has access to politicians. I'm proud of the work I've done on this topic, and wish more MSM probing would be done.
- On LinkedIn profiles, websites, etc. I'm a consultant who works long days to afford to pay my bills. After ten years as a consultant I don't spend a lot of time doing personal marketing, other than business cards, networking, etc. 99% of my work comes through referral, and my Thinkcap.com website had not been updated in nearly four years. Several clients and/or projects had either moved on or had been updated since I put them on my portfolio. The type of work I do has also evolved into more strategic communications with a strong foundation in social media planning. Therefore I took down my old website earlier in the year (I believe it was in February) and replaced it with my Thinking Cap logo and new slogan "Issues Demystifed".
The writer in the VO piece suggests that I took down my old website in response to my LinkedIn profile being read, and that it happened suddenly. I had no idea that this feature existed in LinkedIn (until yesterday), and as I said the website was changed months ago as it was frankly too out of date and didn't properly reflect my present work. I had no idea who the author of the VO post was until just a few weeks ago.
I rarely take time to update profile bios, Facebook photos, LinkedIn or Plaxo info unless I've really got some time on my hands, which is rare. I think I update them once per year or so. I began writing for 24 Hours as a political commentator in October 2009.
- On Jeff Lee's "empty city hall" story and our response on CityCaucus.com. I was only vaguely aware of the empty floors at Vancouver City Hall until I saw Jeff Lee's video posted on VancouverSun.com. I emailed Jeff about it and he said that the video had been posted too soon, and his story was still waiting to be published in the paper. Not long after the video was pulled. About 2 weeks later about 9:30pm on a Sunday evening I was on a phone call with someone when an email came in from my colleague Daniel with a link to Jeff's story. Realizing that this was a topic which would interest our readers, I quickly began writing an analysis of Lee's story so it would be online when the paper hit the streets in morning. I felt the real story was not the empty floors but the expansion of the Mayor's offices. I wrote the post that evening and published it just after 11pm.
Apparently the fact that our post happened almost "simultaneously" in the eyes of Gregor's political staff suggests that we had coordinated with Lee. The fact is the whole post was written on Sunday night, thanks to the online version being available.
- On my appointment to the Vancouver City Planning Commission. The VCPC is a great committee that I had wanted to be a part of for several years. It was an opportunity to collaborate with very smart people on the topic of city-making. I applied for a spot on this voluntary advisory body, and then proceeded to lobby for that position through my Mayor's office connections. Despite my relationships, I was not certain whether I would have the opportunity to serve on the VCPC. There had been a full "Three R" review of the advisory committees done in the months preceding.
In the end I put my name forward as Vice-Chair and was selected by my peers on the committee for that role. It was a two-year appointment that had no compensation. I probably averaged about 30 hours per month in terms of my own volunteer time on the committee, and I'm supremely proud of the innovative work our committee did. See it at www.planningcommission.ca. By the way, I build this website as one of my volunteer roles. The web designer was hired directly by the committee.
- On my work done for Mayor Sam Sullivan's office. I went back to my Quickbooks accounting software to review when I had worked and how much I billed. I began my first project – an email newsletter – in February 2006 three months after the election. I continued to work with the Mayor's office until November 2008. My total billables including GST added up to about $28,000. That works out to be about $10,000 per year, or about $800 per month on average. A small amount of this work included paying subcontractors.
Myself or my company have not done any other work for the City of Vancouver.
I won't get into the various arguments the writer makes about the record of Sam Sullivan or the NPA. We do plenty of that on CityCaucus.com. I just wanted to make sure that when someone is making false accusations about me and my work, that I set the record straight.
If you have any further questions about me, I'm easy to reach by email or phone. See the info at CityCaucus.com/contact.