GlobalTV covers John Furlong’s candid comments about local politicians – see video
UPDATE: GlobalTV News Hour Final leads with a report on Furlong’s book and a very uncomfortable looking Gregor Robertson (and Kevin "Vancouver Kid" Quinlan) facing media questions.
John Furlong’s upcoming biography Patriot Hearts promises to give us a glimpse of the man behind VANOC that we never knew. This is clear now that 24 Hours reporter and Olympic Games blogger Bob Mackin has released excerpts from a preview copy of the book. Among the funny and frank details revealed are Furlong’s frustration in dealing with Mayor Gregor Robertson.
In his recent blog post titled "Vancouver Mayor not favoured in Furlong book," Mackin releases two passages pertaining to Furlong’s candid estimation of Vancouver’s mayor. On page 118 he describes the massive damage Robertson inflicted on the Olympic Athlete’s Village:
“The new mayor didn’t help by trying to play politics with the situation he inherited, making the NPA look as bad as possible in the process. He suggested that taxpayers had been left with a $1-billion nightmare. I thought it was a lot of overhyped rhetoric that wasn’t particularly helpful or especially fair. In fact it would come back to haunt him a bit. By the fall of 2010, the Athletes village was back in the news for all the wrong reasons.”
It is widely estimated by real estate & development experts that Gregor Robertson’s internationally quoted comment describing the Olympic Village as a "train wreck" has cost between $50 million, to as high as $200 million of value on the troubled project. That’s money that Vancouver taxpayers no longer have thanks to the Mayor’s insistence on politicizing the development.
The second passage in Furlong’s book describes the insistence by Robertson that protocol rules be revised to give him more profile. We’ve reported here earlier that Gregor was virtually invisible before and during the Olympics, spending most of his time holed up in private parties at Vancouver House with political supporters. On page 157, Furlong says:
“Initially everyone seemed good with this arrangement but one day I got a call from the mayor, who was freaking out about not being part of the ceremony in Olympia. He told me that Greek friends had informed him that part of the ceremony involved the passing of something or other from a representative from Olympia to the mayor of the host city. All news to me. Gregor said it was now vital he be there. He insisted on it. I was taken aback, as this change would mean more surgery to the protocol plan. ‘Gregor,’ I said, ‘I think I would know if that was suposed to happen.’ He persisted and I gave in. (The information Gregor received never was validated in Olympia.).”
Mackin points out that Furlong thanks various politicians in the book, but not Robertson or any other mayor. Recollect that Robertson enlisted his political PR team FD Element on a no-bid $54,000 video project to promote Gregor during the 2010 Games. That was publicity for Gregor paid for by taxpayers, and Robertson struggled to explain to media his relationship with the political insiders FD Element.
While many including those of us here at CityCaucus.com have speculated as to whether John Furlong would have any future political ambitions, it’s pretty clear from Patriot Hearts that the plain speaking of the former VANOC boss might make him a poor fit for politics. Read more posts about John’s book such as this one on Bob Mackin’s blog.
On a related note, yesterday the City of Vancouver and feds lined up for a flashy news conference to flog the economic benefits of the 2010 Games. Mayor Gregor continues to propagate the idea that his business focus at Vancouver House and elsewhere have brought huge dividends to the region. While many media reported the numbers as is, those who asked the tough questions like Mackin, CKNW News, and the Globe and Mail‘s Wendy Stueck were less convinced.
For his QMI report, Mackin casts a wary eye on the boasts by Robertson and Metro Vancouver Commerce on Olympic benefits.
Last April, MVC claimed there were $60 million worth of non-film economic benefits. Those spinoffs included $1.3 million for Vancouver energy consumption software company Pulse Energy to make a joint bid for a British government contract. The partnership with Southfacing UK was not chosen.
Toronto’s Monetime was supposed to inject $1 million in the local economy and hire up to 10 people. It opened a Yaletown office and instead hired six (including three part-timers) for a six-month project last year, but is now down to two people.
The region has suffered considerable business losses tied to the struggling United States economy. Perhaps the biggest example was Microsoft, which vacated 73,000-square feet of Richmond’s Crestwood Corporate Centre last fall. Employees who were not laid-off from the 2007-opened Microsoft Canada Development Centre moved to an existing downtown Vancouver office. In November, Robertson’s city council pushed Olympic Village developer Millennium into receivership over a $740 million debt.
In Saturday’s Globe Stueck has two stories about the questionable numbers put forward by Metro Vancouver Commerce, and the struggles faced by Whistler, BC.
Stueck’s report describes how Gregor Robertson touted the notion that Tom Cruise is filming in B.C. has a clear link to the 2010 Games.
Asked whether it was accurate to credit Paramount Pictures’ decision to film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in the Lower Mainland to the program, Mr. Robertson said the exposure and connections generated through the Metro Vancouver Commerce program helped tip the scales for studio decisions.
The Vancouver film industry has been pretty robust and growing since 1986. Many huge box office successes have been filmed here, and plenty of A-list talent are cast in Vancouver shot movies. That MVC and the mult-billion dollar Games would be a draw for Tom Cruise in the autumn of his film career doesn’t wash with skeptics.
Commenters on Stueck’s G&M story are not convinced overall. This comment by Parallel49 kind of sums up the sentiments:
What a load of bollocks. As a member of the Vancouver film community for over 20 years, I can tell you honestly it was provincial movie tax credits and the HST which is luring productions to Vancouver. Gregor Robertson’s only achievements have been allowing Vancouverites to keep chickens and an over abundance of bike lanes.
Certainly the Mayor’s office will be doing their best to deflect the candid remarks of St. John Furlong about their man. Patriot Hearts, written with Webster Award winning journalist Gary Mason, is on bookshelves now and it is described as a page-turner.
– post by Mike