Editorial Archives

December 2011


“In the spider web of facts, many a truth is strangled.” -- Paul Eldridge

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” -- Adolf Hitler

Vancouver, British Columbia - Sometime in 1993, an advertisement was placed in the Vancouver Sun which was headed:

“Chief Electrical Inspector, Permits and Licenses Department”

The position required a university graduate in ELECTRICAL Engineering. As a matter of fact, here's the ad. The man who was selected, Arkady Tsisserev, is nothing less than the Guru of Canadian Electrical Code and Life Safety and one of the most qualified, respected industry experts that the citizens of Vancouver could ever have hoped to find and proudly call their own. His illegal and unjustified dismissal was a carefully orchestrated clandestine collaboration spearheaded by Mayor Gregor Robertson and the City Manager's Office, who also concocted a series of stories with which they hoped they would be able to successfully cover up their dirty deed (in case the Olympic Celebrations didn't provide enough of a smoke screen). Eighteen years of exemplary (and extraordinary) service were cut short when Penny Ballem informed Council that Ark had "retired" in one such lie. It followed closely on the heels of another that Mayor Robertson would wind up repeating over and over again when asked to explain Ark's sudden departure. In it, he would DENY any direct involvement in the process (for over two months!) before he was finally forced to 'fess up in an interview on CKNW just prior to the release of the minutes of the crucial In-Camera Council meeting which put him right in the middle of that fateful decision. The City Manager's brilliantly contrived budget crisis wound up threatening the jobs of over 300 civic employees and further relegated the story of Ark's dismissal to (as Bill Good quipped on CKNW one morning) the "who cares?" department. It also, for the first time, publicly revealed a far darker side to Gregor's "Vision" (nothing like cracking the whip to make those pesky employees toe the line, eh, Dr. Ballem?).

Ark didn't retire. He didn't quit. Instead, he was shorn of his dignity, legally smothered and "pushed" out the door in a process that took barely twenty minutes to complete. The real reason why Ark Tsisserev was dismissed was simply that the Mayor couldn't have Canada’s leading electrical and life safety expert meddling in his housing initiatives, or Olympic imperatives. Condemned, Unsafe to Occupy, and Keep Out signs would have made for very poor backdrops for Mr. Robertson in the many photo-ops in which he was prominently featured by both local and international media.




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Well, guess what? Vancouver City Management has just added a new page to the Ballem Bible of Bombastic Babble (copied from the McLellan Manual of Marching Marionettes) with the elevation of Carli Edwards, a Parking Management Engineer. I'm sure the process involved an exhaustive search through the corridors of The Hall following Mark Roozbahani's sudden departure to the Hague! Oh to be a fly on the wall and be able to witness the spin-doctoring which would eventually justify that the requirements of the actual job posting were met.

The result, of course, is that Vancouver's Head Meter Maid has been fantastically transmogrified into:


“The Assistant Director of the Inspection Services Department”

Boy, it makes you wonder how they could have fit all that on the side of the box! And I suppose it makes sense (to someone). We have an individual here with no previous experience in the administration of ANY national life safety standard or Building Code, let alone the most stringent one in Canada, the Vancouver Building Bylaw. She's also had no previous experience managing a large multi-disciplined department. Yet she's now been zapped into a portfolio that includes the Building, Plumbing, Fire Sprinklers, Electrical, Gas, Environmental, and Property Use Inspection Branches? At least Mr. Roozbahani's background included a degree in Environmental Engineering which, some would suggest, carried a modicum of relevance.

A disturbing (and ongoing) spin on engineering a safe city for Vancouver’s citizens is being demonstrated here as Council and City Management have made it obvious that they don’t feel possessing actual technical knowledge or experience are important prerequisites for leading a multi-disciplined department of professional and Provincially certified inspectors. One can only conclude that they are fulfilling on their agenda of establishing a new social order of yes men and women deputy directors and managers that is rooted in their twisted "Vision" of chicken coops, bike lanes, bee hives, wheat fields, "green" electronic billboards and light bulbs, and their misguided support of a so-called protest movement with about as much in the way of substance as anything else they've cobbled together in the way of intelligent civic governance in the last three years.

Yep. All the things that have served to exemplify our collective Lemming-like leap into chaos since Mr. Tsisserev’s dismissal last year started with the appointment, by this Vision Council, of a new City Electrician whom, even with his degree in STRUCTURAL Engineering, is so far removed from meeting the Charter requirements of “fitness and merit” for the office, it’s as ludicrous to contemplate as it is unbelievable.

Fat turds of incompetence are companionably floating on the surface of Vision’s tub right alongside the Mayor's own eco-rubber ducky.

The Pandora Street fire should have served as the new focal point for several initiatives Gregor Robertson had promised us from the start and who also, the reader will recall, so callously exploited the tragic death of a homeless person in his bid to get elected. If it wasn't for the inquest which has just wrapped up, I'm sure this whole sorry state of affairs would have been swept under the rug in a process similar to the one that took place a few months earlier which removed that Pandora Street blight on Vancouver’s landscape. All the information publicly available to date makes it appear that the very report recommending an extraordinary response to this illegal SRO's continued operation was dutifully filed by Carlene Robbins, then head of the Property Use Department, for further higher level action. Here it sat on the Chief Building Officials desk for more than a week before the fire occurred! This was a tragedy that shouldn't have happened and worst of all is now being chillingly echoed at, of all places, the rat infested eyesore of a tent city on the public grounds surrounding the Vancouver Art Gallery. When illegal campers decided Vancouver's top Fire Fighter didn't have authority over public safety on City owned property, how is this any different from a Landlord thumbing their nose at legitimate concerns raised by City Inspectors and Fire Prevention Officers?

“We won't let this happen again,” was the oft repeated refrain I heard in the media both from Vancouver’s Mayor and the City Manager’s Office in the aftermath of the blaze that killed three marginalised individuals, and which resulted in stepped up enforcement actions on other SRO's and rooming houses. Yet now I've learned that, while the Inspectors charged with carrying out these actions are rigourously pursuing them, senior representatives of Vancouver's Licenses and Inspections Department have been involved in engineering another Pandora Street right under their very noses! At a heritage building downtown, City Building Officials oversaw the bogus design and layout of a fire alarm system. Now, given the current state of affairs (and if you're employing “Visionary” type thinking), this actually makes sense. We do, after all, have a Council approved City Electrician on the management team who is no stranger to the “fast tracking” process. Regardless, there are published life safety protocols which he's also tasked his Building and Electrical Inspectors with enforcing and that, thankfully, weren't completely ignored on this particular project. The manufacturer's Fire Alarm Verification documentation, which would normally testify to the fact that the system was designed and installed correctly, is only one such protocol, but even this has to be officially “accepted”.

NOTE TO READERS: A Verification Certificate was issued by Mircom Technologies even though there were major installation and design flaws present that violated both the Vancouver Building Bylaw and the Canadian Fire Alarm Installation Standard (CAN/ULC-S524). Despite the Verifier's “acceptance”, the fire alarm installation (as well as the bogus Verification) have both been rejected by the Electrical Inspector for the area. (Mircom has also received another Burning Brick for their wall.)

Now after several months, during which I've patiently stood by expecting to be interviewed for the investigation I was told was going to be conducted, I've just been informed that "City Staff" have concluded it to the complete satisfaction of none other than the Community Services Manager! And here's the kicker, folks! I've been instructed to provide a full retraction of the remarks I'd made in my formal complaint, which not only detailed my observations with respect to the bogus installation and verification of a life safety system, but also named the staff (clearly identified to me by two witnesses) that were present and who were to become involved in approving the illegal design (the Community Services Manager even went so far as to confirm that one of the named individuals was in attendance "to assist the building managers to understand the building bylaw requirements"). The reason I've been given for this extraordinary demand has not only to do with the totally ridiculous suggestion that my "comments have reduced confidence in the City's Licensing and Inspections Department", but that I may be "exposed to further consequences" if I don't comply.

Pandering to slum landlords and special interest groups has superseded public safety on far too many occasions. So much so, that it's formed an integral part of this Mayor's "Visionary" (and demonstrably false) mantra which has unacceptably cost precious lives. The ham-fisted tactics of intimidation which have become the hallmark of this civic administration have further eroded staff moral and cast an ugly pall of fear and suspicion over our beautiful city. Vancouver's citizens should be concerned (if not downright enraged over what's been happening). How much further are WE going to allow this Vision Council and the City Manager's Office to compromise your safety? It is my considered opinion that the “Occupy Vancouver” protesters currently camped out in front of the Art Gallery should hike their cold, soggy butts to the lawn in front of City Hall where their movement would benefit from a slight wording change to “Take Back Vancouver!” and thereby gain a far more legitimate focus for their efforts. I believe that they could then count on some real community spirited support, and accomplish something truly meaningful for the people of this city.

The unfortunate task of cleaning up the mess this Vision Cabal has engineered for us will (hopefully) fall to a new, more balanced Council on November 19th, who I'm certain won't lack either initiative or the motivation to take the positive action necessary to restore the sound management that was once the hallmark of this City’s administration. Even more importantly, the foundation of the next Council’s platform must include the mandate to re-establish a responsive, responsible and respectful work environment which includes prioritizing the hiring of professional and expert department heads.

The new political imperative that should dominate this Council's agenda must ensure that no one else's loved one is carried away in a blue plastic body bag.

Questions?  Comments?  Please contact us!

The Transmogrifier pictured in this article is the whimsical invention of the great Bill Watterson in his world famous comic, “Calvin and Hobbes”!


UPDATE! - Read and listen to Gord McDonald's excellent editorial (aired on CKNW at 3:10 PM November 14, 2011) located HERE and HERE! “Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, you are gutless. Vancouver City Manager Penny Ballem, you are gutless.”  “Ashlie Gough died on your watch and that is a fact.”

UPDATE! - November 18th, 2011 - An injunction has been granted in favour of the City and the Occupy Vancouver protesters will have to comply by 2:00 PM, Monday, November 21, 2011. The tents surrounding the Vancouver Art Gallery will be dismantled and the site will be cleaned up. In my opinion, all the associated costs for this illegal “occupation” should be divided up amoung every participant of this so-called movement, most of whom live in Vancouver.

UPDATE! - November 19th, 2011 - The entire Vision Council Slate has been re-elected. Two NPA Councillors have also been elected, Elizabeth Ball and George Affleck, along with the first ever Green, Adriane Carr. With the Mayor's re-election, the number of Vision seats on Council is eight which, while not the balance people were hoping for, will, at least allow other opinions a chance to be heard. This Mayor (and Vision) have much to answer for. Their ties to various US based charitable organisations such as Tides US and the Canadian affiliate, Tides Canada have received extensive coverage in several articles written by Terence Corcoran and Vivian Krause.

UPDATE! - November 22nd, 2011 - Members of the Occupy Vancouver movement have relocated the tent city eyesore to the steps of the Provincial Courthouse at Vancouver's Robson Square. At least they won't have to walk far to a nice warm jail cell which is exactly where these idiots belong. They've become “idiots” (at least in my opinion) when they crossed the line between legitimate protest and flouting the laws we all must obey in a civilised society.

UPDATE! - November 23rd, 2011 - Will Johnston's title has been appended to include “City Electrician”. I personally can't think of anything more insulting to the electrical and life safety community IN CANADA than to acknowledge the appointment of this particular individual in so public a venue as Vancouver's official website.

UPDATE! - January 13th, 2012 - John McMahon announced his official retirement from the City today. His integrity, knowledge, honest warmth, and keen judgement will be sadly missed. Additional comments to follow! Watch for our new Editorial!


* * * * * * * *

We respectfully remember Darrell Mickasko, Dawn Bergman, Curtis Brick, Thomas Sawyer, Steven Yellowquill, Garland McKay, Dwayne Rasmussen, and Ashlie Gough

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes.
A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.
And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes,
is certain for those who are friends.”

-- Richard Bach


Related stories and articles on this site:

In case you missed it, you can read my "Message to the Mayor and Council" HERE!
A news article from June 2010 is located HERE
There's a previous Editorial HERE.
February 2010 had one news item located HERE.
Another news article from March 2010 is located HERE.
Bravo, Mayor Robertson, Bravo! March 2010 Editorial.
An April 2010 Tech-News item can be found HERE.
A Tech-News Special Report is located HERE.
Another Tech-News EXTRA! is located HERE.
Burning Brick Award Nominations!


Related articles and Bulletins on other sites:

Alex G. Tsakumis has featured many stories involving safety concerns and Arkady Tsisserev's dismal treatment
My January 20, 2010 Address to Vancouver City Council (starts at time index 03:03:40)
More Fallout from the Pandora Street Fire (City Caucus Story)
Electrocution Hazards on Vancouver Sidewalks! A Life Safety Shocker! (Another City Caucus Story)
Breaking News! More Strange Moves in Vancouver Senior Management. (Another City Caucus Story)


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