If it's a gift I got from Sullivan's staff, how come I had to work so hard for it?
Another day, another smear from Gregor Robertson's cronies against me. Honestly, don't they have anything better to do with the #1 guy on their hit list?
This week the webzine run by the sister of Gregor Robertson's bagman and key advisor Joel Solomon gave their current favourite agitator another opportunity to smear me in a story full if misleading and inaccurate statements. Ian Reid, the former BC NDP policy wonk who got himself into hot water a few years ago for going off script, also a former Vision Vancouver campaign manager and close buddy of Gregor Robertson's chief of staff Mike Magee, as well as busy blog commenter, came up with this little gem about me and the work my company did for Mayor Sam Sullivan.
The main revelation of Reid's tome was that I did work for Sam Sullivan's office when he was Mayor of Vancouver. Reid FOI'd my invoices to Sullivan's staff, and though Reid doesn't bother to, I'm happy to share them with you here. As you can see we provided detailed statements over the span of 32 months, right down to items as short as a quarter-hour. We billed for about 8-12 hours per month, although I'm certain there were occasions when we worked many more hours than we billed for.
Thinking Cap Inc. provided varied and extensive services over the course of 32 months. While Thinking Cap's invoices are several pages long and contain over 100 lines describing our work, FD Element's invoice is one-line long: "Project: Gregor Robertson's 'About' Page – $27,500", done in about three months. Furthermore, the invoices indicate that we built a full website – with content – for under $3000. Reid, and Allen Garr, have taken pains to make it sound like we billed the same amount for similar work. The facts show that we billed one-tenth the amount that FD Element did for similar work.
Frankly, I could have cared less if it weren't for the fact that while this work was being done by FD Element, they hired Vision mouthpiece Jonathan Ross at the same time. Dumb, dumb, dumb, in my opinion.
In his hatchet job on me, Reid fixates on the matter of a contract, but how indeed is that the fault of me or my company? And how exactly do you get a contract for someone doing piecemeal as opposed to project work? The Mayor's office hired me, not the other way around. If anything, I should have insisted on a more secure relationship, and possibly terms of separation. No such luck, however.
I decided to call someone at Vancouver City Hall with some experience in dealing with outsourced help. They explained that yes, contracts are common practice, but there are several suppliers City departments regularly rely upon who do so based upon a simple exchange of emails. I'll take their word for it.
Reid, and his editor Linda Solomon, have published a misleading story about me and Daniel Fontaine, calling it a "gift". I'm still trying to figure out how working hundreds of hours for my modest compensation somehow is a gift. If that's a gift I'll skip birthday celebrations from now on.
We were paid out of the Mayor's office discretionary fund, which has a budget voted upon by city council. How that budget is spent is at the discretion of the Mayor and his chief of staff. Over the span of 32 months they spent a small amount of their annual budget (about one-tenth of one-percent) on my company's services.
Reid says that the Mayor's office didn't follow City policy with regards contracts. He states:
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.
That might be true of course if I was actually working for the City of Vancouver. However, I was working for the Mayor's office, who paid my company through their budget, with cheques from the City of Vancouver's payroll department. Frankly, I have no idea what the policy is with regards the Mayor's office, all I know is that the majority of requests we received came by email from either one of the two Directors of Communication I dealt with (either Anna Lilly or David Hurford). Those emails constitute the level of communication required of both parties to get the work done.
We did the work. We got paid. Simple. Is Reid (and Solomon by publishing him) trying to suggest otherwise? Apparently so, based upon this statement:
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.
A gift? Funneling money to me? It gets better.
It turns out Klassen is guilty of exactly the same thing for Mayor Sam Sullivan…
According to Reid I am also "guilty" of the same thing that FD Element did. But what Reid does in his misleading report is mix the untendered $52,000 video project with the story about the Mayor's $27,500 website.
FD Element from what we can gather not only got paid to do the Mayor's blog/website ($27,500), they also got paid to produce pro-Gregor videos shot during the Olympics ($52,000), and they also were contracted to produce 100 copies of a "Green Capital" Gregor DVD to circulate at the COP15 conference ($25,000). FD Element were also paid $10,000 to conduct private public relations for Gregor Robertson during the 2010 Games. That brings the total bill for work that FD Element did between the summer of 2009 to the end of the 2010 Games to $114,500.
We don't know yet how much FD Element have billed the City of Vancouver or the Mayor's office since last spring.
In the course of my commentary at CityCaucus.com, or at 24 Hours newspaper or Shore 104.3 FM I'm guided by the principle that I must be as accountable as the people I criticize. I also will not stoop to smear and will not intentionally mislead those who look to me for my opinion. I would have expected better from Linda Solomon's Vancouver Observer, given that the editor claims to have prize-winning credentials.
By blurring the facts and smearing my personal and business reputation, Robertson's gang are living up to their well-earned reputations as bullies. Their actions only harden the resolve of those who want to see these guys kicked out of office.
For more background on what's happening with Mayor's office spending, check out the following: