Category Archives: Election 2014

Campaign donations and the BIA – Ethical?

Ethical conduct?

We thought we were finished with the 2014 local election and questions and concerns about donations.   Now, with the Lower Lonsdale Business Association (LLBA) delegation before CNV Council last Monday, we have many questions.    So much media coverage is currently focusing on donations to all levels of government, and the practice of payment for access to politicians (lobbying).  We have an example of a non-profit group (LLBA) , partly financed by the CNV,  donating $5500 to a candidate (Iani Makris), or multiple candidates.   This was the focus of a previous post in Bell’s North Van City News: http://www.northvancitynews.com/partisan-group-is-funded/

Our previous post with the North Shore News coverage of the meeting is here: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/lower-lonsdale-bia-gets-a-second-chance/

The editorial in the NS News (Self-improvement) is here:

‘Yes means yes. Silence – in the case of the Lower Lonsdale Business Improvement Area – also means yes.

The City of North Vancouver will likely use a counter-petition for a proposed Lower Lonsdale BIA later this year, a process that has been the province’s system for establishing more than 70 BIAs around B.C.

BIAs charge all the businesses in their area a levy and an elected board decides how the cash will be spent in the interests of the business community.

What is particularly unjust about using a counter-petition is that it barely affords the “no” side a fighting chance.

Unless a majority of business owners vote against the BIA, the city may set one up. And it’s the landlord who is asked to vote on the counter-petition, not the tenant businesses. Landlords can happily pass the bill to their tenants through triple-net leases.

But while the methodology is counter-democratic, the BIA itself could still be a boon to Lower Lonsdale, particularly as the waterfront community readies for a sea change.

The Shipyards may soon boast a plaza alongside a skating rink/splash pool. Neighbouring Moodyville’s population is set to quadruple.

Capitalists often attribute their success to outworking their opponents, but this may be an instance when LoLo’s shopkeepers could benefit more from collaboration than competition.

However, when it comes to those second-storey white collar offices, for whom street beautification and marketing isn’t particularly helpful, and another monthly levy is nothing but a burden, silence isn’t golden – it’s time to be heard.’  http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-self-improvement-1.2254830

We (Voices) have received copies of two Letters to the Editor (not yet published):

NVCV – BIA May 2016 2 from Aiki Enterprises

NVCV – BIA May 2016 from Kerry Morris

There are many comments on social media about the current conduct and voting patterns of some members of Council.  For those who need a reminder of who is funding the majority of development in the City of North Van, you’ll find familiar names here:  http://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/LESearch.aspx

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Developer donations influence local election outcomes, study finds | Toronto Star

 

Voices comment:  This is news from Ontario, recent campaigns in BC have not resulted in similar changes.  From a North Shore News editorial in February 2015: ‘Local government should not be a hobby for the independently wealthy or a business expense for developers’.  The majority slate (Mussatto, Back, Buchanan and Keating) on Council in the City of North Van was primarily funded by developers, businesses and unions.

read more:  https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/see-who-paid-for-the-2014-elections/

From The Star:

Reforms to the Municipal Elections Act expected to be announced Monday could let municipalities ban corporate donations.

Source: Developer donations influence local election outcomes, study finds | Toronto Star

quoting in part:

“We realized it was important to get councils in place who prioritize the protection of the environment and the interests of their citizens at least as much as they prioritize the development industry interests,” she said.

Among other findings in the report:

  • Money from the development industry makes up more than half (54 per cent) of all donations received from corporations.
  • Development industry funding is far greater where the value of the building permits is the highest and where more developers have projects in the approval process that are dependent on council decisions.
  • Almost 60 per cent of corporate donations to candidates came from outside the municipality where the candidate was running — and 73 per cent of developer donations came from outside the municipality.
  • Citizen engagement in municipal politics is low. Just one person in 650 in the 13 municipalities MacDermid studied contributed more than $100.
  • Nearly half of the candidates self-financed their campaigns.

MacDermid says the influence of the development industry on elections is not remote, and directly affects the quality of life of residents.

“Just look at the GTA,” he said. “There is urban sprawl everywhere. That was developer choices and politician’s choices.

“The evidence is everywhere for us to see about what was the impact of this relationship. We are all paying the cost of this relationship.”

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Local Election 2014 – Internal Inquiry Requested

We have received a copy of a letter written by Kerry Morris to RCMP Commissioner Robert  Paulson and Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens concerning an alleged violation pertaining to the 2014 Municipal Elections.  We are concerned about contradictory statements from the City and ‘what looks to us, at best, like bureaucratic obstructionism’.

Mr. Morris’s letter is attached here NVCV – KMorris RCMP request and our request in support follows:

To: RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson and
Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens

Dear Sirs:

We are writing in reference to the letter you have received from Mr. Kerry Morris of North Vancouver, BC, dated 21 March 2016, regarding an alleged violation of BC’s Local Government Act and municipal election policy pertaining to the November 2014 general municipal elections in the City of North Vancouver.

On behalf of the community group North Van City Voices, we wish to lend our support to Mr. Morris’s request that you look into the matter. Specifically, we ask that you conduct an internal inquiry to ascertain whether the North Vancouver RCMP detachment was involved in any way in the investigation by the City’s Chief Electoral Officer into that allegation, as detailed in Mr. Morris’s letter.

Was the North Vancouver detachment made aware of the alleged offence shortly after it occurred, as claimed by City staff? Did the detachment investigate any aspect of the allegation (with or without receiving a request to do so), or provide any opinion to the Chief Electoral Officer or City staff as to the merits of the allegation?

Our concern is that the City has been using the (claimed) involvement of the RCMP as a way to deflect Mr. Morris’s attempts to get answers as to why the allegation was summarily dismissed. We realize that Supt. Kennedy has stated that the detachment did not receive a formal request to investigate. However, the above questions remain unaddressed. Given the contradictory statements by the City, we are hoping that you can rule out any RCMP involvement at all in what looks to us, at best, like bureaucratic obstructionism.

We very much appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Fred Dawkins and Toni Bolton for
North Van City Voices

NVCV – KMorris RCMP request

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Province to rein in civic campaign spending

Welcome news from the North Shore News, comments accepted until Nov 27:

The cost of a seat on municipal council ought to be cheaper in the 2018 elections, as the province has moved to limit campaign spending.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Peter Fassbender has introduced legislation that would limit how much candidates can spend based on the size of the municipality’s population.

Under the formula, mayoral challengers will be limited to $1 per capita for the first 15,000 population and 55 cents per capita for the next 15,000 to 150,000. For council candidates, the limit is 50 cents per capita for the first 15,000 population and 28 cents for the next 15,000 to 150,000 population.

The spending limits apply to any costs incurred starting on Jan. 1 of election year and the province will use the latest population estimates from BC Stats to determine the exact allowable expenses in each campaign.

Had these limits been in place for the 2014 municipal elections, a swath of candidates on the North Shore would have overspent the limit – in some cases by a factor of three.

The City of North Vancouver will likely see the most drastic changes under the new system.

Using 2014’s estimated population of the City of North Vancouver of 52,346, mayoral candidates would have been limited to $35,540.30 and council candidates, $17,956.88.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto’s 2014 election expenses came in at $96,702.41 while his competitor Kerry Morris spent $79,226.52.

Two of the five council members will also have to strategize for cheaper campaigns if they plan to run again in 2015, including Coun. Craig Keating who topped spending at $28,911.19 and Coun. Linda Buchanan who came in at $27,592.07.

The District of West Vancouver’s limits, meanwhile, would fall somewhere around $29,915.45 for mayoral candidates and $15,093.32 for council candidates, using the 2014 population of 42,119.

Mayor Michael Smith would be well under that limit with his $0 campaign budget but council veterans Mary-Ann Booth and Michael Lewis would have to rein in their spending, which came in at $22,357.90 and $15,853.14 respectively.

In the District of North Vancouver, with a population of 86,623, 2014 mayoral candidates would have been limited to $54,392.65 and would-be councillors, $27,554.44. District Mayor Richard Walton ran unopposed and spent only $2,877.01. The only council member who would have breached the limit is Jim Hanson who spent $28,307.58.

The changes are welcomed by Dermod Travis, executive director of Integrity BC a non-profit that lobbies to make government more transparent and accountable.

“By and large, they’ve hit a limit that is fair, that allows any perspective candidate to say ‘I can be competitive in this race,'” Travis said. “What we’ve had before, without limits, is a situation where many candidates will simply opt out because there are no limits and they know they’re going to be outspent, in some cases, by 10 to one.”

These limits put B.C. somewhere in the middle of the pack for spending limits, across Canada. Still, Travis and Integrity BC have plenty of criticism for what the province has failed to include in legislation – limits on the size of campaign donations and an outright ban on corporate and union donations.

“When you look at the situation in B.C., you still see companies that are contributing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, in some cases to political candidates who are running for local office – companies that also have business in front of many of those local councils. You see it in North Vancouver,” he said.

Whether that amounts to a real conflict of interest or not, it contributes to the growing cynicism the public has around politics, Travis said, and it gives undue influence on the outcome of elections.

“I think we have to get big money out of politics altogether whether it’s at the local or provincial level,” he said. The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is accepting public comment on the proposed legislation until Nov. 27.

 

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/province-to-rein-in-civic-campaign-spending-1.2116095#sthash.o5JJ1ZCa.dpuf

 

 

New video alleges civic wrongdoing, dirty tricks and incompetence

Former North Vancouver City  Mayoralty candidate Kerry Morris releases a new you tube video that  will infuriate his opponents with an outline of a vast array of alleged North Van City  civic wrongdoing, dirty tricks and incompetence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUGJ81aND7U

Published on 30 Jul 2015

My name is Kerry Morris. I ran for Mayor of the City of North Vancouver against the incumbent Darrell Mussatto, in the November 15th 2014 municipal elections. We are now roughly eight months into this councils mandate. Much has changed in the City since the current council took office, and it seems time that we took stock of both the election, and those changes, lest we forget what we were promised versus reality.

In the opinion of virtually everyone who pays attention to municipal politics in this province, this past municipal election cycle was the dirtiest campaign fight in the history of municipal elections. It was most certainly the dirtiest campaign in the history of the City of North Vancouver.

As a life long resident of the City, I have lived through numerous municipal election campaigns, including the one in which my father ran for council and won, serving three years under Mayor Jack Loucks, along side fellow councillors Stella Jo Dean, Bill Bell, Rod Clark, Barbara Sharp and John Braithwaite. While the names evoke many memories of political hardball, it can honestly be said that until this last 2014 election, no incumbent had stooped so low to retain office.

As taxpayers you need to be vigilant about what is going on at City council, for your own personal health and safety reasons. If you don’t, you may wake up one morning, just like all those 75 renter families living in the Mountain Court property located behind the Lynn Valley mall, getting handed a cheque, shown the door, and told not to let it hit you in the ass on the way out.

Be vigilant, lest you become the next casualty of our local municipal government. My name is Kerry Morris, and I’m running to be your next mayor in the 2018 municipal elections. Thank you.

 

Election expenses under review (NS News)

Comment from Voices:  Muddy waters indeed, what is the definition of an ‘individual’?  Very recognizable names included in the approximately $19,000 in contribution from individuals.  Most seemingly having some kind of business relationship with the City (including $7639 from Councillor Keating). Leading to Dan Rather’s quote: “who gives what money to whom expecting what for it?”

Amended disclosure statement: 

http://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/lepublished/100124596.pdf)

Election expenses under review.

Council candidates from the 2014 municipal elections, including City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, are having to check their math.

Elections BC has been reviewing the campaign finance disclosure statements filed by the more than 3,600 candidates who ran for mayor, council and school board in the province last year – the first time the agency has had that responsibility. The initial campaign finance disclosure forms showed Mussatto accepted $91,394.79 in donations but spent only $74,051.24, raising questions about where the rest of the money was. An amended expense form filed last month shows $99,034.75 in both donations and expenses, including another $7,639.10 donation from Coun. Craig Keating.

“I disclosed that I had received a donation but I hadn’t put it on my expense side so it made it look like I had money,” Mussatto said. “The people at Elections BC have been very helpful. They totally understood my situation and empathized. They said these are very complex documents and it’s a lot of accounting you have to learn how to do.”

Further muddying the waters was the fact the mayor shared campaign expenses and donations with six other candidates, including Keating and Couns. Linda Buchanan and Holly Back. Much of their shared contributions came in the form of donated staff time from KT Properties to work in a campaign phone bank supporting Mussato and his allies.

Mussatto has been facing backlash for the donation on and off council as KT’s affiliate Playtime Gaming is currently petitioning the city to overturn its ban on commercial gambling. Mussatto said he never had any discussions with the company before they contributed staff to his phone bank.

Instead, the donation likely came because of his stance on gaming over his many terms on council, Mussatto said. “This is not the first time we’ve had gaming come to us. We have had it over the last 20 years. It’s been here since the lotteries started in B.C. and I’ve shown a willingness to be open minded on it. That’s my position,” he said. “I’m not dead against it. I’m not dead for it. I feel very free to saying yes or no to moving forward on this and I have no qualms with it.”

Coun. Rod Clark has also filed an updated form, showing an extra $631.79 contribution from himself to his own campaign to square the final income and expenditures.

Elections BC staff have reviewed about 35 per cent of the more than 3,600 disclosure forms filed from the 2014 election, according to Elections BC spokesman Don Main, and so far, the majority of which required some degree of amendment after the fact.

 

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/election-expenses-under-review-1.1951470#sthash.tCXlxnfk.dpuf

BREACH OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS – North Van City News

Mayor Mussatto was asked about his excess campaign funds at Council last night by Councillor Clark .  The video link is here:

http://www.cnv.org/Your-Government/Council-Meetings/Council-Videos/2015-Council-Videos Council inquiries start about 1:58.

It had been reported that the Mayor collected about $91,000 in donations and his expenses totalled about $74,000 leaving a credit of about $17,000 which should be returned to the City in trust.  The Mayor responded that there was no excess, which raises many questions about the integrity of the financial disclosure statements.  More detail here:

BREACH OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS – North Van City News.

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See Who Paid for the 2014 Elections

Voices comment:  The big question remains ‘who is expecting what’?????  We note the largest expense for the Mayor was salaries at over $33,000; Kerry Morris’ run was supported entirely by volunteers from the community.

 

From the North Shore News today:

Editorial:  Chequered Past

The province has dragged its feet long enough on bringing in some reasonable limits on municipal campaign donations and spending.

In civic election campaign finance documents made public this week we’ve seen record spending for council seats and chains of office in both our own community and others around the province. We won’t argue that accepting a donation from a person or business automatically amounts to a conflict of interest.

And a bigger campaign budget doesn’t always buy you a win. Ask some of the also-rans who put up a small fortune of their own money about that.

But the perception is bad and for many, perception is reality. Runaway spending and lavish donations in civic election campaigns sully the discourse at the council table and erodes public faith in the system.

Toronto outlaws business and union donations for municipal candidates. Quebec and Manitoba cap spending in city elections based on the size of the population. We would welcome a combination of either. Local government should not be a hobby for the independently wealthy or a business expense for developers.

Of course, any new rules should come with watchdog power that provides Elections B.C. teeth to enforce them and to investigate complaints. Ultimately, we feel a community is best served by a council that reflects a diversity of ideas, values, expertise and backgrounds – and the best way to get that is to level the playing field. It’s time the wild west of B.C.’s civic elections got a lot less wild.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/chequered-past-1.1776831#sthash.s5IAYdVM.dpuf

Article:

Campaign spending by City of North Vancouver candidates in the 2014 municipal election demolished old records.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto spent $74,051 in securing his fourth term, according to campaign finance disclosure documents released this week, while his main challenger Kerry Morris, spent even more, at $79,226.

The main difference, however, is where the money came from. Mussatto was up front during the campaign that he would be seeking financial support from developers, businesses and unions, which together made up the vast majority of the $91,394.79 he raised.

Morris campaigned on refusing donations from developers or businesses outside the city and limited personal donations to $300, so $70,911.52 came from his own pocket.

Among the developers contributing to the mayor’s campaign were Polygon Homes, Staburn Lower Lonsdale, Westbank Projects,

Anthem Properties, Marcon Developments, Hollyburn Properties, all of which donated either $1,000 or $2,000. Bigger donations of $5,000 came from Pinnacle International and RPMG Holdings, the parent company of Onni. Darwin Construction put up $5,125 in two separate donations.

Concert Properties’ president Brian McCauley made a personal donation of $2,000 and $3,000 came from Michael Gooding who is connected to FDG Property Management.

The single largest donation was $11,053.91 from KT Properties Ltd., whose president Tom Nellis is also a director of Playtime Community Gaming, a bingo and slot machine hall owner.

Outside the development industry, several of the North Shore’s major employers supported Mussatto’s campaign including Neptune Terminals ($2,000) and Seaspan ($2,000) as well as private school Bodwell Canada ($1,000), Sunshine Cabs ($1,000), Lower Lonsdale pub Sailor Hagars ($1,000) and Lonsdale Quay Market ($1,500). For union support, Mussatto drew on the Canadian Union of Public Employees local 389, which employs city workers, for $1,950, the Canadian Labour Congress ($5,000) and CUPE BC ($3,000).

Most of the money ($33,2984) was spent on salaries and wages, the rest going to Internet and print ads, brochures, rent for his campaign office, billboards and election signs and postage. Mussatto also had shared expenses with the candidates he was endorsing including Couns. Linda Buchanan, Holly Back and Craig Keating, plus contenders Kathy McGrenera, Matt Clark and Iani Makris.

Keating’s total expenses came to $24,197, Buchanan’s – $27,848 and Back’s – $11,251, drawing on many of the same donors as Mussatto, albeit in smaller amounts.

Rounding out the city council table, Coun. Rod Clark spent $2,361, about half of which was out of pocket. Coun. Pam Bookham spent $3,450 mostly self-funded and from individual donations, and Coun. Don Bell spent $11,570, most of which came from family and friends and a handful of businesses.

Mussatto said he stands by the legality and the ethics of his campaign fundraising and that development is key to his goal of creating sustainable neighbourhoods.

“They’re buying into my vision,” he said. “I have a very clear vision. I think I’ve been very consistent in my 21-plus years on city council. I have not wavered. I’ve been very clear that we have to combat climate change. We have to build a more sustainable city and I think we’re doing a very good job of that,” he said.

The average cost of a winning campaign in the District of North Vancouver

was just under $11,000 with Jim Hanson leading the way at $27,726 and Lisa Muri (who topped the polls) at the low end, spending only $1,013.

Though every West Vancouver incumbent who ran won re-election, the council seats still came with a cost. Coun. Mary-Ann Booth topped the list at $22,374, almost half of which came from real estate lawyer John Sampson. Couns. Michael Lewis, Craig Cameron and Christine Cassidy all spent between $10,000 and $16,000 with a mix of self-funding, individual

and business donors. Coun. Nora Gambioli spent $4,321 and Coun. Bill Soprovich, a habitually frugal campaigner, spent $1,991, half of which came from his realtor son Jason. For the second election in a row, Mayor Michael Smith ran unopposed and spent nothing to do so.

Under election laws, any money left over from a campaign is held in trust from the municipality and can be accessed by the candidate again for his or her next run in that jurisdiction. If the person opts not to run again, the money goes into the city’s general revenue.

 

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/see-who-paid-for-the-2014-elections-1.1776829#sthash.jC764lwj.dpuf

 

Smear campaign? B.C. Green, NDP war gets nasty

Smear campaign? B.C. Green, NDP war gets nasty.

Voices comment: ‘Mudline research’ sounds very familiar to those voters in the City of North Van who were aware of the smear campaign in the Nov 2014 local election.  Were the tactics employed in the North Van race a practice run?

Quoting  in part:  ‘Weaver …. questioned whether the amount of time the NDP is putting into attacking him shows the party is threatened by his success.’

“You don’t need to do this stuff NDP, because it backfires, particularly to your supporters who you believe to be progressive people,” said Weaver.

“Progressive people want politics differently and this feeds the old-style narrative of attack politics that they don’t want … that’s old school politics and people are sick of it.”

 

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Smear+campaign+Green+gets+nasty/10762407/story.html#ixzz3Q2xDQXpc

Article from North Van City News on election dirty tricks: http://www.northvancitynews.com/forgive-forget/

Article from Kerry Morris on election: https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/message-from-kerry-morris/

 

Machiavelli Is Alive and Well in North Vancouver

Machiavelli Is Alive and Well In North Vancouver

by “Niccolo of North Van”

When the medieval Princes that ruled the city-states of Europe became concerned their subjects were chafing under their rule, it was customary to call in mercenaries and employ the latest suppression tactics to quell any uprising.

So too in the City of North Vancouver Prince Mussatto has survived a flawed but doughty assault on his rule. It was closer than he expected. And the debts he incurred for the mercenaries and their methods have yet to be paid.

There was the cost of the call center that strafed the principality with robocalls for a month leading up to the election.  There were custom signs that featured his beaming visage on the City-owned bike racks. There was all the money he directed his patrons pay to other candidates on his slate because they could not (why would they) fund their own campaigns.

Fearing it would not be enough, he dispatched one of his mercenaries to dig up dirt, no matter that it was old and irrelevant, on his adversary.  In order not to be seen soiling his own hands with such tawdry activity, he directed his patrons to prop up a fringe candidate known as the Pringlator and give him enough money that he would take on the odious task of hurling muck bombs at the Prince’s opponent. Apparently a thousand dollars is the cost of this service.

Fortunately for the Prince, the cumulative effect of all the strategies was just enough to eke out a win against the disorganized effort of the rebels.

However, uneasy sits the crown. The size of the Prince’s debts to his backers is not yet known. It is difficult to predict how much of the City he is going to have to give to them in return. Moreover, what has been up to now a passive and compliant citizenry might be troubled when they find out how extensively the Prince resorted to mercenaries and dirty tricks in defense of his rule.

Never mind. Four years is a long time and the City’s inhabitants have short memories. Plenty of time to dazzle them with platitudes and ferris wheels!