Back Into History — Hooray!

December 17, 2013

I had planned to spend the day sprucing up a speech for the Arbutus Rotarians that I am giving at lunch on Friday.  But you know how things go.

In another place I have written about James Edward Guinet who was a major developer and house builder in Grandview’s boom years before World War One.  Since I wrote that, I have become more and more intrigued by his life and career and I have been planning to write an article for BC History Magazine with help from fascinating additional material written by his son many years ago and revived by his grand-daughter.  Anyway, something came up about him this morning and I have been digging into it all day.

It seems like an age since I have been working on an historical mystery — and it is probably more satisfying, in the end, than the local activism I have been drenched in for so many months.  Still, if the Chilliwack Archives and the Chilliwack Progress could get their material for the 1930s and 1940s on line, my life would be even better!  (I wonder if they are listening?)

 

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Obscuring The Truth

December 17, 2013

The Vision majority on Vancouver Council approved the City’s budget today, a budget that obscures a lot more than it reveals.

For the first time, there are no line items in the budget, just a set of very large numbers made up of goodness knows what.  In fact, the budget doesn’t have many numbers in it at all, being mainly words.  Perhaps they think the citizens of Vancouver are not numerate enough to understand.

Do you want to know what a particular City department’s budget is?  Tough luck, this budget document won’t tell you.  Do you want to know how much they are spending on a particular service?  Not available.

City Manager Ballem and Budget Chair Raymond Louie tell us that this obscurantist budgeting system is now considered “best practice” around the world.  I am certain this method is best practice for any government or organization that wants to hide the details of its operations from the very people who are paying the bills. It is definitely not best practice when considered against democratic norms and the usual meaning of transparency and accountability.