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We expect the list of LVEC deceptions will be a long one, and very expensive for Kingston Taxpayers.
Obviously complicit in some of the deception is the City of Kingston's own Communications Department which, in late 2004, created and distributed these fake event tickets for a concert to be held tomorrow.
This was back when arena promoters, many of whom remain today on the City of Kingston payroll (!), were invoking the wholly imagined support of the "silent majority" for constructing the LVEC on Anglin Bay. Today it's hard to imagine a greater disrespect for the taxpayers of Kingston than the way the LVEC project came down.
As then King's Town District Councillor Rick Downes wrote in The Whig Standard on December 21st, 2004:
The usual process of studying a proposal and making a decision after considering reports, studies and expert analysis has been replaced with gunning for the goal at all costs. Never have I seen a better example of realpolitick with the end justifying the means. In my view, the role of the city's Communications department is to present the public with factual information not to win them over with a marketing ploy by printing tickets to a mythical concert. Will the same effort be put into the making the public aware of the parking and traffic studies? The LVEC on the proposed site of Anglin Bay raises serious issues for citizens that live in King's Town, Williamsville and property taxpayers in the rest of the city. The citizens of Kingston have the right to have these issues seriously and objectively studied. If the LVEC is a foregone conclusion, then why are we spending $400,000. 00 of property taxpayers money for reports and studies? I regret that my colleague Councillor Smith, Chair of the LVEC Steering Committee, has given away even the appearance of objectivity by supporting this very biased marketing manoeuvre. The role of councillor is to represent the public interest and represent constituents not to represent private interest and sell a bill of goods to a customer.
Note the reference to the Kingston Construction Association as sponsors of this ersatz event. Ironic that, in the end, almost none of the LVEC's construction jobs benefit labour from Kingston.
The tickets even allude to "Main Parking" which, even back then, was known to be outright fabrication.
You are looking at a photo of the LVEC site taken on July 23, 2007. Circled is one quadrant of precast seating bowl. We don't know if that section's fully done or not, but we can see only one quadrant.
Photo: Diana Duerkop
How late is this project, really?
The last publicly disclosed project schedule was printed on April 6th and only released at the May 15th Council meeting.
This schedule, which shows early start and early end dates, tells us that:
City staff claims in its reports to Council that the LVEC project is one month behind schedule.
Nobody knows if installing the precast seating bowl is on the critical path for the arena's completion. It certainly looks like the project is further behind schedule than City Staff is letting on.
This news item is for the record, for the benefit of those who may be involved in project forensics and post mortems.
At Council on Tuesday is a 4-page Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre Quarterly Project Management Committee Report Period Ending June 30,2007. This is possibly the least informative quarterly report ever issued in a $50M taxpayer-funded project. No revised schedules, no revised milestones, nothing.
Correction: Sorry, but Council documents always seem to be a mess. A sharp-eyed reader points out that there is also a 14-page appendix found lower down in the un-indexed, unorganized pile, starting here. Some of the interesting things include:
As countless serious articles and letters submitted by people raising real concerns and observations about the LVEC go unpublished, The Whig Standard on Saturday contained another article by Tony Houghton, the fourth in the past five months.
Mr Houghton's latest is essentially the same as all his others: trashing the current Council, lauding the previous Council, and telling us that the LVEC will deliver. This time Mr Houghton tells us that the LVEC "will almost certainly expand the commercial tax base".
Right. Time will tell, won't it?
In his article Mr Houghton demonstrates startling ignorance of recent Kingston History. The prior Council went through a consultant-driven "prioritization" process (just as this Council is) which is how the "Group of 7" list was created. The difference is the prior Council clearly blew it, as witnessed by the past municipal election, the results of which Mr Houghton is apparently still having difficulty accepting.
We wonder if this is the same Tony Houghton listed at a downtown address, less than a kilometer from most of Mayor Rosen's boondoggles. If so, Mr Houghton should try imagining how the rest of amalgamated Kingston might view things.
Living within walking distance of most of prior Council's largesse must be nice. Also close to other things like the city's only indoor pool, its transit hub, all city services, the waterfront, libraries, museums, and a refrigerated outdoor skating rink surely counts for something.
Perhaps Mr Houghton should disclose these significant personal benefits in future diatribes against this Council, which evidently has a wider focus than our coddled and grossly over-subsidized Downtown.
No wonder that, for this Council, prioritizing is more involved than it was for the prior Council. It's not just about the BIA anymore.
More in KCAL about Mr Houghton:
Spot a pattern here? It's the same letter, paraphrased, resubmitted, and dutifully printed by The Whig.
On July 18th 2007, Kingston This Week published this column by KEDCO operative Don Curtis who, no surprise, does not disclose his station within the Downtown Kingston echo chamber.
Secondly, everyone comments on the presence of three institutes of higher learning, (Queen's University, the Royal Military College, St. Lawrence College), the military base, three hospitals (Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu, St. Mary's) a major Cancer Centre, and a variety of city organizations (KEDCO, the Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Accommodation Partners, Downtown Business Improvement Association,) and an enormous resident brain power.
Huh? Read that paragraph again. Read it in context.
It's called collegial self-congratulation and, frankly, Kingstonians have had quite enough of it. Sooner or later this incessant flower tossing will cease.
Read Attention Wal*Mart Shoppers! over at the Limestoned blog.
33 Pages. Read the whole thing.
"Family Member" shall mean
(a) in relation to a Member of Council, means a father, mother, spouse, co-habiting partner, sister, brother, child, step-child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law; and.
(b) in relation to Senior Staff and a Committee Member means a father, mother, spouse, cohabiting partner, child;
In yesterday's Whig "Opinion" column, titled Why I'm donating to the arena, Andrea Gunn writes:
Some community members have made it a goal to hound the sports and entertainment centre project and try to hinder its progress. The centre has been used as a whipping boy for these naysayers, often under the safety of anonymity, so they can air their distrust of government or business, their fear of change or their envy for others.
Despite their efforts, the centre will move ahead. Raising money for a large project can seem an overwhelming task. But those who are passionate about making their community a better place continue to step forward and offer their time, their money, their expertise and their enthusiasm.
Here is a reason why Andrea Gunn feels she should "donate to the arena":
She is currently listed as Policy / Communications Coordinator of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Moreover Ms Gunn has been on the front-lines with the Chamber for quite some time.
Hers is a staff-paid position.
It's odd that Ms Gunn only describes herself in The Whig as "works in policy and communications", as opposed to revealing her paid position with the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, a key player in selling the LVEC to the prior Council and the community.
There's more. It appears that Chamber of Commerce staff enjoy privileged access to the Mayor and Council. Yet Ms Gunn spoke at the April 2005 "Have Your Say" LVEC public meeting, televised by COGECO, and she DID NOT disclose her Chamber affiliation.
Watch the video, and hear what she says about the business plan, the Castleglenn parking study, the site (Anglin Bay), the "process", all the jobs that will supposedly be created by the arena, and all the "benefits for the whole community" that we can expect.
Also someone at the Chamber of Commerce (its Communications Coordinator perhaps?) distributed this Chamber of Commerce email with subject "LVEC Update from the Chamber of Commerce". In that email,
LVEC uber-booster Shadoe Davis Leaves K Rock, and leaves town before he's raised much if any of the LVEC money he said he would.
Here's what KCAL has written about Shadoe Davis:
Apparently he won't be around to answer for his share, for which he deserves plenty.
Four comparable buildings, four months.
Your looking at just 14 planned events in total, booked into 368 total possible event-days.
(That count includes 2 job-fair dates and one "walk of Fame" ceremony as "events").
That's reality: An average of 3.8% planned public booking for fabulous "events" in LVECs in four Ontario cities over three months, a full quarter.
The same company that runs Mississauga's Hershey Centre will run Kingston's LVEC. They have 7.6% planned public bookings for Q3 2007, this quarter, in Mississauga.
Thank God this LVEC turkey wasn't built right on Kingston's waterfront, as originally conceived.
In addition to several meetings worth of deferred items, the LVEC's 1000-extra seats are up for discussion next Tuesday night.
The recommendation is to spend an extra $384,100 to for rough-ins (like washroom facilities for an extra thousand people), and delay the actual installation of the seats. Note that this item is, no surprise, buried starting on page 101 of a 115-page Council document.
Elsewhere on the Council Agenda, we have these items:
This property is adjacent to the Downtown docks, Confederation Basin, Confederation Park, City Hall, and Market Square. That property may be surplus to current City operations, but it's still prime commonwealth land.
The only imagined buyer? An immediate past KEDCO board member and, therefore, an LVEC influence peddler. He's an ultimate Downtown Kingston insider.
How else does this relate to the LVEC? How do you think City reserves sometimes get replenished?
Downtown Kingston is hoovering money from the rest of Amalgamated Kingston, to the point of appointing already overworked Councillors to do more service for them, and to effectively do their bidding.
You could drive a truck through The Downtown Action Plan and, indeed, they are. A Brink's truck.
Maybe instead Downtown Kingston should form its own closed committee, and then come to Council and get in line, just like everybody else, just like any other neighborhood, or any other region of this city.
Appointing Councillors to further serve Downtown? Downtown Kingston's rubber-stamps on Council are Mayor Rosen, and Councillors Smith, Foster, Hector, and Gerretsen. Pick two.
Otherwise someone like Councillor Schmolka could be next in line to go in there and really draw the line here. It's likely to be a serious haircut because influence and spending on goodies for downtown Kingston is already disproportionate, and way out of control.
Another option might be to bring the movement of the DAP forward from the "Task Force" stage up for a vote, and fully stop the madness. The adoption of the DAP seems immune from any sort of "process" right now. A done deal, as it were, moving straight from fuzzy conception to cheque-writing stages with no Council oversight in between.
Icing the DAP until the full physical and financial extent of the LVEC mistake is more fully understood might be very sensible. Nobody can discard the possibility that the LVEC's operations will not cover its costs. A large part of the DAP's money might be required to butteress a perpetually bleeding LVEC for the next 30 years.
The LVEC's Latest Campaign Donors List appears to have been recently updated, though it no longer shows the amounts donated.
The total raised so far, after three whole months of campaigning: a whopping $386,006.41, well shy of the $2M target, from just 63 different donations listed.
Mayor Rosen still needs to raise the equivalent of about 210 more such events, and that's just for the "fundraising" shortfall.
If this Council had any teeth (it doesn't) it would require LVEC project managers to create and fund a contingency for "fundraising", which is obviously floundering, in the amount of about a million dollars. We all know how this scam will play out: taxpayers will fund all these shortfalls, and the BIA and the Springer family will be subsidized yet again, which is scandalous.
You'll recall that:
It appears therefore that COGECO Kingston has preserved this low-water mark in local politics and, more importantly, preserved Councillor Ed Smith's pivotal role in the boondoggle that is still, to this day, known as the LVEC.