Recently, I was amused by a certain radio news-talk host angrily sputtering in response to callers’ claims that he was partial and passive in political coverage. He replied that, in a very long career, he’d followed his own conscience; management had never told him what to say or do. I don’t doubt that to be true; they didn’t have to tell him, directions are implicit with the job.
Months ago, Paul Willcocks wrote a hopeful examination (linked below) of a lesser Liberal scandal — another one our radio guy “refused to obsess about.” Reading through the casino story emphasized that which motivates my blogging.
The piece below was first published April 21 but the subject remains vital, worth rereading. The casino effort failed in its 2011 form but most of the people remain near the political centre. They understand a key mantra of rebuffed scoundrels, “Dont retreat, reload.”
It was not big names of MSM who reported the Paragon story. It was Paul Willcocks, Bob Mackin, Alex Tsakumis, Ian Reid, Sean Holman, RossK and others. This demonstrates the importance of independent journalism in an environment where the corporate media ignores public interests on issues critical to our communities.
Paul Willcocks has an interesting, perhaps too optimistic, evaluation of the Vancouver Casino collapse. His blog Paying Attention offers Vancouver’s killed casino might be symbol of change.
After City Council voted it down, my initial reaction was the casino/hotel/stadium deal was not dead, merely wounded; simply delayed. With Paragon’s political lifeline, it seemed unassailable. After all, Paragon would not be in the picture without BC Liberal connections.
Had the province aimed to maximize financial returns on Vancouver’s billion dollar stadium, it would have sought proposals from the world’s major gaming/casino corporations. For job seeking hospitality grads, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration publishes a list of almost one hundred of the world’s Major Gaming Operators.
Paragon Gaming Inc. doesn’t make that Cornell list. The company is not a major player in its industry nor is it a cash rich investor. Its only Las Vegas property is a small neighborhood sports bar with 15 slot machines. Hardly the base of a billion dollar empire. More about that at the earlier article, Providing for increased crime and gambling addictions.
Had the province wanted hotels built on its land in downtown Vancouver, acting honestly, it would have sought participation of experienced hotel operators and gone through an open public process. By all appropriate business measures, Paragon was and is an inappropriate private partner in this mega-casino hotel venture. Instead, the BC Government dealt in private with politically connected operators who lacked both financial muscle and experience.
Negotiating secret deals behind closed doors had become BC Liberal’s preferred style of doing business. Just as Gordon Campbell kicked regulators to the curb and changed rules to benefit independent power producers, I expected the same would happen at BC Place. Kevin Falcon’s presence in the Finance Minister’s chair does not indicate change from the Campbell style of business.
Paul Willcocks’ article suggests the game has changed and the 2011 edition of BC Liberals are prepared to take fresh looks at the Casino/Hotel deal. Perhaps other deals too. I’m left wondering though, is there really a new game or is this a timeout to change the players? Old scams, new scammers.