Thursday, September 22, 2005

Koenninger blows it again: Opinion - Vancouver steps out of shadow

All too frequently in the political world, the “ends-justify-the-means” crowd finds itself in positions of authority. They run the gamut from, well, newspaper editors to campaign managers to dictators.

There can be no greater example, save the C-trans campaign, of manipulating, denigrating and ignoring the will of the people then the downtown redevelopment.

Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent, directly or indirectly, on the downtown boondoggle. Sweetheart deals abound, everything from giving a port commissioner’s daughters free rent for their restaurant for a year, through millions in bribes (otherwise known as tax breaks) through suing to exclude the will of the voters.

And how do these “ends-justify-the-means” types characterize the opposition?

“When $15 million or so was proposed to save historic Officers Row homes from demolition, critics cried, "white elephant." Then-Mayor Hagensen and the council persisted (in ignoring the will of the people - ed), and now the "Row" is the pride of the city.

Then along came a push for a downtown convention center. Naysayers were apoplectic. (That can happen when your government ignores you. - ed) They dismissed the proposal as a waste of money on a "hockey rink." (Which, of course, it was - ed) They also clamored for a public vote, acting as if the entire city population should be sworn in as an ad hoc council to pass judgment on such items as new sewers and roads and a no-new-taxes convention center. Opponents conveniently forgot an elected city council and mayor already have that responsibility.”
That’s the same “Row” where a grateful city has given a free year’s rent to Arch Miller’s daughters because they screwed up their income predictions on the Grant House? THAT “pride of the City?” The same Row where rents are getting so high that people have to move out, to be replaced by businesses? Have we forgotten what it was SUPPOSED to be?

Koenninger conveniently (and frequently, when the political agenda happens to mesh with his) forgets that, in this state, "all political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.“

People with grand schemes frequently forget this minor detail. They frequently overlook it as an impediment to what THEY see.

The “conveniently” forget that, while the people have “an elected city council and a mayor,” those people must ALWAYS sublimate their actions, their judgment, their agenda to the people from whom they derive their political power.

Koenninger has never been big on the rights of the people taking priority over the agenda of government. Here, of course, the Columbian has, and will, benefit directly from the City’s shenanigans.

And while Koenninger may think that Vancouver has “stepped out of the shadow,” we must never forget the deals that put this together, the misprioritization of revenue, the egos, the efforts to suppress the will of the people, all under the veneer of respectability wrought by the fact that, as Koenninger puts it, “…an elected city council and mayor already have that responsibility,” all took place in the very shadow Koenninger suggests Vancouver has left.

Opinion - Vancouver steps out of shadow

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
TOM KOENNINGER editor emeritus of The Columbian

Vancouver has found its heart and maybe its soul. They reside in the spirit that reinvigorated Esther Short Park.

It all came together in a historic moment Saturday night with the elegant grand opening of the new Vancouver Hilton Hotel and Vancouver Convention Center. The coming together was a long and difficult public process.

Roots of Vancouver's coming of age may have started with former Vancouver Mayor Bryce Seidl and the Nihonga exhibit on Officers Row, and the survival of Officers Row itself in the mid-1980s. That effort was led by another former mayor, Bruce Hagensen. In the past decade, Mayor Royce Pollard has been the driving force in a team effort that involved most members of the city council and staff.

The goal was to re-energize the heart of the city Esther Short Park and environs. Thanks to guts, energy, brains and no small amount of sweat, the objective has largely been met. What a change.


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