Friday, October 21, 2016

Is The Veil Lifting?


Ten years is a heckuva long time in blog years.

Which is just another way of saying that I am one of the true dinosaurs in the local bloggodome.

And way back when there were very, very few of us that focused specifically on Lotuslandian politics.

Truth be told,  looking back on it, one of my proudest moments was helping to convince my then just online friend Mary, who I first noticed kicking up a fuss over on the Tyee comment threads, to start up her own blog that concentrated on all things Railgate.

Which is just a way of saying that, back then, it kind of seemed like you really were just screaming out into the void.

Or, as I often described it...Yelling at the radio and TeeVee by typing.


That has all changed now.

Because there is a fine cadre of folks following #bcpoli from all angles.

And, more often than not, they bang the proMedia like a gong.

A case in point was a post this week from Merv Adey in which he based his conclusions about what really went down with the VSB firings on facts rather than rumours and innuendo (which was the stock and trade of a number of proMedia commentators' accounts of the thing).

But it's more than that.

Because I also see the 'alternative' quasi-proMedia in ascendancy as well.

Examples abound, but, again - looking just at the VSB thing for the moment, it was Roundhouse radio that did more than stenography and actually got the goods on what the privacy commissioner told the Education Minister about the Milburn report. And then there was the Observer's publishing of former trustee Patti Bacchus' timeline yesterday.


The latter may, or may not, stand up to concerted challenge, but the point is that it is out there now as part of the public record, which I do not think would have happened 10 long years ago.


Perhaps the veil really is lifting 'round here....

Why was I waxing nostalgic for blog days gone by this week?....Well, birthdays can do that to an old guy....OK?
And, later, Mary became a good friend in the real world also.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Day In Clarkland...The Thing That Is NOT In Mr. Bernier's Letter To Vancouver Parents.


Below is today's letter from the Clarklandian Education minister to 'Vancouver Parents'.

Please note that, despite what Mr. Bernier had to say to the Lotuslandian proMedia yesterday, there is no mention, in writing, of school closures (or not) in said letter.


I wonder why?


Dear Vancouver Parent,

I wanted to let you know about what is happening in School District 39. I have appointed Dianne Turner as official trustee for the Vancouver school district to ensure the Vancouver school district remains focused on providing students with the best education.

Dianne Turner is one of the most respected educators in our province. She’s been a teacher, a vice-principal, and principal in the Vancouver school district. She’s been an education leader in her time as assistant-superintendent and superintendent at the Delta school district. Born and raised in Vancouver – she’s ready to chart a path forward for our schools and our school system.

I know Ms. Turner will be talking with students, parents and staff over the coming days and weeks, and she will work side-by-side with district staff to establish a sustainable, long-term plan to improve student achievement and services.

I’ve asked Ms. Turner to work with her district team and develop a plan that puts Vancouver back on a firm financial footing. I have also asked her to restore a stable and safe workplace, provide continuity by helping senior leaders to return, and develop a plan to further accelerate seismic upgrades and preserve education services for students.

We will work together to put the delays of the past in the past – and move forward to a better future for students in Vancouver.


Mike Bernier
Minister of Education


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Day In Clarkland...The Pre-Emptive VSB-Firing Strike.


As many, including ourselves, have noted, based on Vaughn Palmer's reportage in the VSun, the cabinet order to fire the VSB trustees was drafted on Friday.

Now, according to the Tyee's Andrew MacLeod, that order was pre-emptive just in case that super-secret draft of the Milburn report that the Education minister received Saturday was going to be really, really, really bad.

Or some such butt-covering/trench-digging thing:



VSB Trustee Firing...A Timeline, An Hypothesis And A Question.


Friday October 14th...The VSun's Tracy Sherlock reports that the VSB trustees in the majority announce that they are going to vote on a balanced budget proposal on Monday evening October 17th. At that time, the  Milburn audit/report of the VSB ordered by BCL minister Bernier is due the following Friday Oct 21st.

Friday October 14th (also)...The VSun's Vaughn Palmer says the orders to fire the VSB trustees are drawn up that day.

Saturday October 15th....Minister Bernier receives a super secret 'draft version' of the Milburn report.

Monday October 17th....Minister Bernier fires the VSB trustees saying that the Milburn report, which the public, of course, has not seen, contributed to his decision.

Monday evening October 17th....The VSB trustees do not pass a balanced budget.


Now, based on the above timeline, it seems to me that it is reasonable, based on the facts currently at hand, to hypothesize that the VSB trustees were fired, not because they hadn't passed a balanced budget, but rather because they were in the process of doing so.

Passing a balanced budget, I mean.

Which leads to the following question...

Why didn't the BCL brain trust just declare victory and move on?

Of course, Mikey Mike of the Province, taking 39 steps further into the rumour mongering mill than even Ron Obvious of the Globe, says it must be all about the WCB bullying thing, also ordered by the good minister Bernier...Why?...Because the minister must know something (super-secret) that we don't...Or some such thing.
Sub-header got the earworm wiggling?....This!


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Keef Report: Carrying Mr. Bernier's Water?


Earlier today we noted that Clarklandian Education minister Michael Bernier has been dangling what's in an 'unreleased' super-special commissioned-by-the-wizards' audit as a rationale for doing the thing he did earlier today.


Just because the public has not been allowed to see that super-special ultra-indepependent Bernier-commissioned audit doesn't mean that some minion has not whispered into certain media club members' ears in an effort to get the wurlitzer cranking.

To wit:


Wonder if anybody offered the good Mr. Baldrey an all expenses paid helicopter ride over the real estate holdings concerned?

And then, of course, there is Mr. Obvious of Globeland....Wow! These clucking media ducks sure were lined up in a row oh-so-quickly, were they not?


This Day In Clarkland...Mr. Bernier's Star Chamber Machinery.


And what, exactly, is Mr. Bernier's rationale for firing all the VSB trustees?

Well, according to the MoCo it is, at least in part, the following:

...(Minister Bernier) said the results of an audit — which Bernier ordered after the school board failed to submit a balanced budget by the June 30 deadline — raised additional concerns about the Vancouver School Board...


Why haven't we, the people, (or, presumably, the Trustees themselves) seen that audit?



...Bernier said the province cannot release the results of the audit until a privacy commissioner investigation is done...


Update Monday Afternoon: Was the board actually fired because they were going to pass a balanced budget tonight?...Folks in the comments make a good case that this might have been the case...Derrick O'Keefe has more in that vein, here.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mr. Trump's Fascism...This Is How It Creeps.


From a piece by Matt Viser and Tracy Jan in yesterday's Boston Globe:

...Trump has recently started encouraging his mostly white supporters to sign up online to be “election observers” to stop “Crooked Hillary from rigging this election.” He’s urging them to act as posses of poll watchers in “other” communities to ensure that things are “on the up and up.”

“Watch your polling booths,” he warned.

His supporters are heeding the call.

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio.

“I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”...

I mean,  almost as if a certain segment of America's citizenry now finds itself sucked into/stuck within the plot of a truly disturbing episode of an old TV Show that was once narrated by Rod Serling.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

This Day In Clarkland...The Dean Hoists Himself On His Own Site C Petard.


The following is the lede of the good Mr. Palmer's latest in the VSun:

While Auditor-General Carol Bellringer and her staff are crafting a major audit of the Site C project, she cautions voters against expecting a report that could all by itself kill the dam before the next provincial election or afterwards.

“We’ve had a lot of people contacting us with concerns about Site C, with almost an expectation that we need to do an audit to stop Site C,” said Bellringer. “That’s a government decision as to whether or not they go forward with Site C, and we will not be going anywhere near that.”

The auditor-general admits to being “worried a little bit about the external expectation that our audit is somehow going to go into something that will do that. It’s not what we do,” she told me during an interview Thursday on Voice of B.C. on Shaw TV.

Bellringer drew my attention to a long-standing provision in the enabling legislation for her office, that the auditor-general’s reports “must not call into question the merits of program policies or objectives of the government.” Rather the independent financial watchdog is mandated to report on where policy objectives have not been met and-or where program funding has not been cost effective. The calling into question is left to the Opposition and other critics...


I wonder who those 'other critics' should be?


Down On Main Street.


The compressed work week just past was a crazy one for me, what with usual teaching, a whole bunch of new admin stuff, and frenzied work on a collaborative grant whose due date looms, all of which were wrapped around a mid-week trip in the cigar tube to New Cleveland where that play-by-play guy who is doing the right thing plies his trade.


I know that what I do is nothing compared to the real slog that most folks have to get through every week to make a living. And, to be absolutely clear, I really love what I'm lucky enough to do at least 75% of the time.

Still, I hope you can see that I was well and truly exhausted by the time Friday night rolled around.

Which meant that when I finally stepped off the bus down by the Railway Station and started making my way down that dimly lit stretch of Main Street towards Prior where the edge of Strathcona/Chinatown is still kind of near Eastside, I wasn't sure if I was still up to being the only old guy in the Cobalt.

I mean, why the heckfire was I heading into the belly of the dive to spend an evening in a place where non-hipsters fear to tread?

Well, I think anybody who stops by here with any regularity knows the answer to that question.


After I met up with C. and Bigger E, who came from opposite directions (C. from dinner at the little eatery back up towards the glass palaces on the edge of False Creek where littler e. serves folks yummy stuff for her after school living; and Bigger E. from wherever she had been playing earlier that day with her guitar on her back), we then collected E's old college friend visiting from Atlanta and headed inside where we found, to my surprise at least, that there was both an age and a musical interest stratification in the place that made for a most interesting and relaxing vibe.

And I was not surprised to find that I really dug Aaron Lee Tasjan, who is someone I've been paying attention to online for awhile now because he writes and plays the kind of songs that really and truly make you wish that you could do that too. Seriously.

And the Felice's, who had to leave their bass player behind at the border due to (alleged) passport issues, were worth the trip for no other reason than, as expected, 'Sell The House' absolutely slayed me. But most folks were there for a whole lot of 'Whiskey In My Whiskey' and the like, and there was, unfortunately, precious little of that in a very short set. Somehow, even if they were almost at the end of a cross country and up-the-coast tour that had them in Portland the night before and Seattle the night after, I don't think missing brother Simone would ever have let them (Ian?) get away with that.

But, truth be told, none of that matters compared to the big news E. told me just as the night's festivities got rolling in earnest.

Which is that she and her own musical partner now have a new regular gig that is inside, and pays, and, well, everything!

How did I take this news?

Well, you know that scene in 'It's A Wonderful Life' where Uncle Billy excitedly tells Mr. Potter how proud he and George is about his little brother's overseas exploits?


All the pride of all the Bailey Brothers in all the Capracorn ever made did not even come close to the pride that was bursting my buttons last night.


And Brian Wright, who played with Mr. Tasjan and even did one of his own too, is hella good.
Was really nice to see Mr. Willcocks and Ms. Paterson at the show....And, just so you know, it was Mr. Willcocks who first alerted me to the coming of the Felices. 
Finally, to be fair, there is probably a little of the Pete and, especially, the Woody in Mr. Tasjan, and the Felices too.


Friday, October 14, 2016

The Felices and AaronLee Tasjan Are Here!

And Mr. Tasjan had this to say about all that on his Instagram thingy:

aaronleetasjanWe're going to Canada. It's a fools errand we know, what with all the free health care and kick ass people and sauced up French fries. Tonight at the Cobalt with the @felicebrothers Yeehaw.

And, apparently, on the drive up from Portland today, big Jimmy gave AaronLee 'Two For Flinching', when they passed by Castle Rock Washington just for good measure and, because he kind a looks like a bit like an East Nashville Hobo version of Corey Feldman while he Stands By Me and Thee.

Or some such thing.

Show report to follow!