................................................................................... Vancouver Sags Under Olympic Weight
In November of 2007 it seems like every time we turn around Vancouver
gets caught coming out of a 180 coiled grab and into a big powder faceplant.
And each time a new problem pops up it becomes a little bit harder to
live in and enjoy this region.
Will it be worth it? Ask the businesses owners on Cambie.
We expected some of the challenges ... and we half-expected
others, but a few events arrive so unannounced that most people in our
2010 Olympics region are having a tough time keeping track of why we are
going through such incredible and also sometimes frightening social upheaval.
It's understandable that local mainstream news media are slow in connecting
the dots, especially CanWest which is now paid by the Olympics to boost
the Games. They own The Vancouver Sun, Province, Courier and Global
Television, and have much less incentive than most news companies
to inform residents that many of the negative issues we see happening
here lately are tied directly or impacted by the 2010 Olympics.
CanWest's responsibility is skewed more to VANOC or the IOC, and not necessarily
to our community. Today though I also have to
add that by the end of this month they have been making an extra effort
to tighten it up a bit. It's not something you can simply catch up to
though. There are rights of passage and allegiances to community that
have to be won, not taken or leapfrogged to.
Mainstream news media still all too often sensationalize the news without
offering much explanation regarding why the news event occurred.
Who, what, why, where and when are still all important components
of the news business, but when U.S. President George W Bush ignored
the why of 9/11 it set a precedent that made it acceptable for
mainstream news media everywhere to distract the public using a very heavy
shake of patriotism and emotion, and ignore the reason we landed in
that position in the first place ... accountability vanished like
Addressing why makes it hard to
keep advertisers and politicians happy...
Lately, the public rarely knows why? News media often patronize
their customers, and underestimate and sometimes even discount that we
have access to the internet and other sources of information. It happens
in much the same way music industry executives treated their customers
in the late 90's ... and look where that got them?
Consider gang violence for instance. When we won the Olympic Bid in 2003
it was a signal to law enforcement to tighten the screws on our illegal
drug trade. It took police and politicians a while to collect legacy information
from the IOC, and consequently to design and launch a region-specific
campaign, but by about mid 2005 the crackdown against drugs, no pun intended,
was in full force. Newspapers were jammed with stories about the government
working closely with fire departments, Hydro and police agencies in an
effort to shut down marijuana grow-ops and meth labs. BC was going to
eradicate the illegal drug trade before 2010. There was no time to waste.
We are waging clandestine war.
BC often complains that Ottawa never listens, but five days after
this article was originally posted Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced
tough new measures to manage the illegal drug trade in Canada. Canada's
2010 Olympics is coming and BC's drug problem is now Canada's drug problem.
It's gone federal.
If Gordon Campbell, Larry Campbell, Sam Sullivan and the rest of the political
train wreck couldn't do something about it, Ottawa will.
It's a precursor and political version of the military taking over our
local police force due to chaotic mismanagement (and not necessarily an
emergency), and enforcing martial law and 10 pm curfews - on February
13, 2007 no less. It's happened ... but let's hope it doesn't come
to that here.
We literally went overnight from a warm and fuzzy Vansterdam to
a police state under siege. Reports of police brutality increased
and the public cheered as drug addicts, criminals and the homeless were
pushed out of the Downtown Eastside. However, as criminals started moving
across the region they spread crime, and the cheers turned to frustration.
Crime territories started to shift from the lowest rung on the ladder
at the corner of East Hastings and Main, all the way up to Shaughnessy,
with mainlines through Hong Kong toAfghanistan poppy fields.
Our HIV and drug problem
went international with a bullet...
Increased street level police pressure put bottom-up stress on drug lords,
who in turn began to reclaim or stake new territories, and in doing so,
use violence as unarguable incentive. It
sounds ridiculous, but it's not really safe to go anywhere in Vancouver
day or night. Even the swank Vancouver neighborhood of Shaughnessy,
with row upon row of multimillion dollar gated mansions, is not immune
to drug related violence. A gang hit occurred on their quiet streets last
week (November 3, 2007) that shocked residents to the core. Hong Chao
(Raymond) Huang, a reputed kingpin of the Big Circle Boys, one of the
most feared Asian gangs in North America, was gunned down and murdered
in front of his home. His ten year old daughter called 911 after hearing
shots and seeing her father lying in a pool of blood.
Neighbors are terrified, but news media and police keep telling us not
to worry because it was a targeted hit and not random violence. Tell that
to Montreal residents who saw almost one hundred and fifty people killed
in their gang wars several years ago - some innocent children.
Last month also, on October 14, 2007, Robert Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant
with all the correct papers in place to move to Canada was killed by Royal
Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers simply for causing a relatively
minor disturbance at our airport - the same airport Olympics athletes
and spectators will use. According to reports from witnesses, the frustrated
and irate immigrant who had arrived earlier that day on an international
flight, and was detained for at least ten hours for no reasonable reason,
was tasered by police before an attempt was made to calm him down. Witnesses
gasped as the police barged in and shot 50,000 volts of electricity into
his body - TWICE. He died almost instantly at the scene while police officers
milled around for twelve minutes waiting for paramedics to arrive to begin
CPR. Our city is outraged.
Witnesses said the biggest issue regarding immigrant Dziekanski's detention
was that no one at the airport spoke Polish, so they couldn't communicate
with the man to let him know his elderly mother was waiting just outside
the secure immigration area. To make matters worse, police confiscated
a video of the taser attack shot by a local resident and they refused
to return it. The amateur videographer was forced to launch a lawsuit
to get it back, but over a full month later we still didn't know exactly
what happened because the police refused to return it.
Police finally released the video almost five weeks later.
The Moral - shoot your video as discretely as possible and post
it to YouTube at your first opportunity, or take it to a company like
Contact me if you don't
know what to do with it. It is not a good idea to take it to police or
mainstream media in Vancouver, because as you now know, they have great
incentive to bury information that negatively impacts the 2010 Olympics.
Many people here accuse the RCMP of a cover-up.
This issue is compounded by the fact our local
police forces investigate themselves, and do not use independent third
parties to investigate incidents or alleged wrongdoing.
Is this an Olympics related tragedy?
Sure it is, especially when you consider that everything law enforcement
agencies do from the moment we won the Bid is considered a test in preparation
for the Games in 2010. Basically, and it happens like this in all Olympics
regions, law enforcement is practicing for the big event, and this was
a live test scenario gone bad. If this is an indication of how they will
manage Olympics tourists, we are all in trouble.
If you're still not convinced it's Olympics related, also consider the
following. Our new Vancouver Police Chief, Jim Chu, will soon launch the
Violence Suppression Team, and according to Chu, the team
will be "getting in the faces of gangsters." Tough
talk to be sure, but it is frighteningly reminiscent of the bravado expressed
by George Bush regarding his war on terrorists.
Our local police have now vowed to start a war against gangsters and crime,
which means until the war is won, which could take decades based on the
experience in the U.S., Citizens and visitors, including tourists to our
region will be caught in the crossfire.
Maybe VANOC can sell flak jackets emblazoned with 2010 Olympics logos.
British Columbia's Attorney-General, Wally Opal, also stated, as reported
by the Vancouver Sun on November 8, 2007, "... perhaps taking the
same approach as we have to terrorism would work with gangsters ..."
Talk like this from our civic leaders only means one thing, they are desperate,
which means it will only get worse, and it may never get better. Growing
marijuana and manufacturing illegal drugs in BC is our biggest cash crop.
Gangsters, like terrorists, will not give up their hard won territories
without a bloody, violent fight, the likes of which we are already experiencing.
It is like asking Columbia to give up cocaine.
Thankfully, one good sign is that BC's Solicitor General, John Les, is
now open to consider a regional police force. It isn't going to be easy
to tame wild west crime in this province, so hopefully his softening on
this issue also extends to more cooperation with federal law enforcement
as well as the Canadian Military.
As any hunter knows, an injured animal is extremely dangerous. If you
don't kill it clean, a wounded grizzly quickly becomes a rampaging nightmare.
The last thing we need is for law enforcement to make the situation any
worse than they already have. Poking a wasp nest with a sharp stick always
has dire consequences for everyone in the vicinity. Go big, or go home.
The only thing that counts are results. If civic leaders screw this up
like they did the homeless issue, we are all in for a wild ride towards
the 2010 Olympics. Going off halfcocked will only result in more innocent
people being murdered.
The gangster issue is so serious in Vancouver that even our Prime Minister,
Stephen Harper, has weighed in by saying, respective of curtailing the
flow of guns across our borders, that, "I don't think the public
wants to see buck-passing on this ..." Ya think?
If there is one piece of advice you should heed in Vancouver it is
Do not place yourself in a position where you have any type of interaction
with the police. Don't even ask them for directions, and above all,
stay out of trouble. Even minor infractions could cause you life threatening
harm. Even though, according to witnesses, the police never even spoke
once to the Polish man in his native tongue before he was killed, it is
still good advice that you immediately comply with all police instructions
and orders. The man was tasered on sight in a relatively busy airport,
so just imagine what could happen when you're alone in your car or on
Granted, this is the Wild West, but even that is a little too much
for most residents here to accept.
Why is it important to connect gangster violence to the Olympics?
The reason is simple. If you don't know what is happening around you it
will be incredibly difficult to figure out how you and your company fit
into the bigger picture.
For example, and we've addressed this issue at OlyBLOG for years, private
security companies are scrambling to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
Security companies cannot hire and train people fast enough. In fact laws
recently changed here in order to make it easier to fast track security
personnel through the system and to license new recruits. Unfortunately,
local news media never broached this subject in a timely manner when they
knew full well that it would grow into the chaos we see today. Why should
they? An informed public would negatively impact their profit. Their allegiance
is to Olympics organizations, not our community.
The local Olympic committee meets with the top three security companies
in their region and begins exploring interests and services. It won't
take long for the three companies to realize that it will be harder to
supply a workforce for the event than they anticipated. Top companies
get to the top because they are organized. They also recognize when one
of their clients is organizationally challenged. The security company
that 'wins' understands they will be responsible to provide a service
that delivers as contracted. If they feel they will be unable to deliver
due to financial restraint or logistics challenges they will be extremely
hesitant to put the reputation of their company on the line and open themselves
to liability, lawsuits, or bad publicity. All companies have to carefully
consider risk and how it will affect their position within the community
over the long term. Top security firms often discover the risk does not
outweigh the financial reward, level of prestige, or visibility. Security
companies also recognize that as the Olympic event draws closer their
services are going to be increasingly valued by current and new clients.
When they consider all the ramifications it becomes difficult to get onboard
with what from a distance at first looked like a slam-dunk.
So … the top three companies decide to take a pass and instead service
their regular and growing customer list - which is growing because everyone
in town is getting nervous with the impending excitement and attention.
The top three security companies have more work than they can handle,
plus, if they are smart, they sit in the wings prepared to offer organizational
and 'last minute' services to the Olympics during crisis situations. In
fact they might have even explored some type of pre-negotiation in this
regard, but if they are cautious they will not commit too far in advance.
One reason many security companies hesitate to get directly involved is
because they eventually realize they have to make their employee list
available through a central labour pool, and this pool is available to
their competitors. The top three security companies will not want to share
their most valuable resource with each other. Security is a human resource
industry. Hardware plays a role, but not as much as warm bodies. Top security
companies have extensive training standards and often train internally.
They invest hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in their
staff and they have no intention of jeopardizing their investment over
a chaotic, poorly organized, seventeen day sporting event that will blow
in and out of town and flatten them in its wake. This is by far the greatest
A single security company, even in the largest metropolitan area cannot
possibly supply all the staff needed to properly service an Olympic event.
The top three companies will not even be able to supply everyone needed.
In fact even if you combine all the trained staff at all the security
companies, big or small, you still would not have enough people to service
the event. Security staff has to be pooled from current active workers
in the entire region, plus, and this is a BIG PLUS, new workers have to
be found, interviewed, hired, and trained. These new prospects can come
from hundreds and possibly even thousands of miles away. The challenge
is daunting. It's also important to consider the political implications
of being an Olympic security supplier. The top companies in the region
often indirectly establish municipal licensing regulations. They train
their employees, and through this training maintain competitive advantage
over the industry. Small companies cannot afford comprehensive training
facilities and the capital needed to get recruits up to speed. Municipalities
create licensing standards in conjunction with the top companies in the
region. In other words, politicians and security companies work together
to decide exactly what skills and accreditation is needed for specific
license levels. You can't just fast track a recruit through two hours
of training, give them a uniform, and expect them to manage high-level
security situations. Many companies are moderated through government licensing,
including security. Company number four is likely so far down the list
they do not have a large roster of trained employees. In fact they might
not have any staff licensed at the highest level. Top companies number
one, two, and three use exhaustive licensing requirements to maintain
their competitive edge in the market. They can literally keep small companies
at bay. Company number four has the most to gain by becoming an Olympic
supplier simply because it will have access to licensed security staff
through the labour pool. Quite often licensed staff at the top three companies
will put their names in the pool independently hoping to pick up what
they erroneously perceive to be a prestigious freelance part-time gig
at the Games. Some even do it anonymously due to non-compete agreements
with their current employers. The point is, they are in the system, and
company number four, and possibly all the other low-level security companies
who want to supply the Olympics have access to them.
Company number four might not have the staff, but they have operational
experience. The risk for them is lower when they balance it against all
they have to gain when the Olympics leave town. Smart companies in the
number four position know if they take the risk they can grow their company
exponentially in a few short years. All they have to do is manage a system
in partnership with the local Olympic committee. Unfortunately, it's not
as easy as most think. What they probably won't realize until later in
negotiations is that Olympic organizations will not hand over the very
complicated operation of 'training and logistics' to a smaller company.
That lucrative and relatively risk-free contract will go to one of the
bigger companies in the area or to an international company. The smaller
supplier will only be responsible for the almost-impossible task of supplying
bodies, but not for training. Olympic organizations also have a history
of not paying suppliers on time and of not signing contracts in a timely
manner. Contractors live up to their end of the deal, but due to organizational
difficulties often beyond the control of Olympic organizations, they often
operate in limbo with little support. Company number four doesn't just
wake up one day to discover they are over their head. They put their faith
in the Olympic institution and only slowly get themselves into financial
quicksand. It starts out with a modest investment of maybe $40,000, which
in a couple of months grows to $60,000 and then maybe $100,000 by the
end of the year. When would you bail and eat your losses? $60,000? 100,000?
Remember, you initially trusted and based your decisions on the good name
of the Olympic organization. Not to mention they are also pleading with
you to give them a little more time to work out the kinks in their new
operation. The opportunity is still exciting and you dip even deeper into
your pockets because you are sure everything will work out in the end.
end of excerpt ...
If you want the whole 2010 story, please read my
CanWest Cheap Shot ... Vancouver Courier Fingers
This political cartoon by Geoff Olson is a feeble attempt by The
Courier to discredit former 60 Minutes icon and now HDTV Host,
Sister paper, The
is an official and paid Olympics booster, so consequently, anything
bad written about Vancouver reflects directly on the 2010 Olympics, which,
indirectly, also negatively impacts the financial statement
of CanWest. If you recall, they just recently signed an agreement
that makes them an official paid booster of the Games, and ... they also
recently let go and phased out a group of news people across Canada
- including Vancouver.
Competition is fierce in the news industry and times are tough for soldiers
in Afghanistan and in media trenches.
In times of stress people shoot from the hip. And occasionally, when someone
doesn't have a valid argument they attack personally in an effort to undermine
your credibility. It's sticks and stones mentality based on character
assassination and is nothing short of bullying when a powerful media company
resorts to this unethical tactic.
CanWest, preparing for the worst, decided to make Rather look desperate
in an effort to fool Vancouverites into thinking he's chasing a story
that isn't valid. According to the cartoon, CanWest and The Courier think
the homeless situation in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is a joke.
This inhumane attitude is exactly what we've been referring to regarding
CanWest for the last few years. I'm surprised The Courier fell into
this trap. They seem a bit smarter over there, but now it seems necessary
illusion has lept across party divisions yet once again. Pretty slick,
and a good example of why media consolidation is so dangerous. Who would
have expected that the trusted Courier would so easily flip off
our homeless, especially considering that they are a publisher with a
reputation for touchy feely homey historical pithy features on the homepage
All these years, I thought those Kudos
& Kvetches characters at
The Courier were genuinely concerned about our community. Fool me once.
Local mainstream news media, until recently, has for the most part ignored
Vancouver's problems for way too many years, and now that someone with
international credentials has taken an interest, CanWest is backpedaling
like crazy to make good. Too late. Where were you when we needed you?
Run all the feel-good articles you want, and all the mm thick Olympics
exposés you can muster, but you should have stepped up years ago
when the real estate industry hired you to hype the condo frenzy and artificially
inflate land prices that helped create this mess. No one can afford to
live here except the filthy rich, in part thanks to you selling double-spread
full color condo ads to greedy developers, and not balancing it with responsible
editorial in a timely manner.
Even 2010 Olympics broadcaster CTV.ca
got it right when they reported, "Dan Rather, former anchor and
managing editor of CBS Evening News, discusses the future of news as he
joins other panelists during the National Association of Broadcasters
convention in Las Vegas."
Do I want Dan Rather to report negatively about Vancouver?
Of course not, but if it means local politicians and news media will finally
pay attention to the chaos in this city then let's hear what he has to
say. Ridiculing or censoring Rather is ridiculous. Interestingly, a few
weeks ago The Courier ran a feature about the political
cartoon era, and how it has all but vanished. Maybe cartoons like
this is the reason.
Like drinking and driving, or smoking, it's not cool or funny anymore.
If he gets this story right, Rather could be the best thing that ever
happened to the residents of BC and the 2010 Olympics.
Hopefully, he won't simply take a superficial shot at it though,
and create more problems. We'll' see ...
1st printing no longer available at CHAPTERS locations in Vancouver
Own the Podium?
The official creed (guiding principle) of the Olympics is a quote by the
founding father of the modern day Games Baron de Coubertin. He said, "The
most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part,
just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
The Olympic motto consists of three Latin words Citius, Altius, Fortius,
which means, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." The 1924 motto is meant to encourage
athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform to the best of their
No where does it imply that winning the most gold medals for your country
is part of the agenda. In fact it implies exactly the opposite.
The IOC maintains that it doesn't actively encourage countries to collectively
win the most gold medals, but on the other hand they also don't institute
anything to ensure that the Games are not turned into corporate money
In fact, IOC sponsorship and partnership business models encourage a win-at-all-costs
mentality. It is the reason they have doping, fraud and bribery scandals.
The IOC invites young people to compete in the Olympics using the original
Creed & Motto. But when it comes to delivering on the promise they
fall incredibly short.
The Olympics today isn't as much about sport as it is about money and
Priorities changed over the years and so too should their Creed &
If athletes go for the gold, and the IOC goes for the gold, and corporate
sponsors go for the gold, and governments go for the gold, and considering
that you will have to foot the bill for their gold, why should
you be edged out of the race?
Move to the starting line.
Own the Podium?
Own Your Home?
Real journalism consists of
what someone doesn't want published,
all the rest is public relations." George Orwell