Sunday, November 07, 2004


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi All

Has everyone been following the Vancouver Police Department budget debacle. Incredulously, the public has been informed that police finances are over budget by a whopping $5 MILLION DOLLARS.

Our esteemed Mayor, as chair of the Police board has finally found his voice on this matter. Mayor Campbell in the Saturday November 6th, 2004 edition of the Vancouver Sun, said that the police board was aware in June 2004 that the police were over budget by $2 MILLION dollars. Mr Campbell then went on to claim that he learned in September 2004 that the overrun had ballooned to over $5 Million.

I'm not the sharpest whiz when it comes to mathematics, however, according to my calculations---in a period of three months--the police racked up a debt of $3 million.

A looming question is how could the police have spent over $3 million in three months?

Something isn't quite right here and the buck must stop with Mayor Campbell. As Chair of the police board, he speaks for the board. However, since he has been out of town, there hasn't been anyone steering the ship. Other police board members, when contacted by the Sun would either not comment, or also surprisingly, were out of town.

City Council which had on its agenda at its meeting of November 4,2004, this police budget matter, must have been left pulling their hair out. Since the Mayor was not available, the only answers council had forthcoming was from the police chief or his deputy. At the meeting, the police chief, upon questioning would in response, tear a strip off councilors. Whether this is acceptable needs discussing.

A point that council missed is when the Mayor is indisposed, who from the police board is accountable to council? Surely, the police chief isn't so arrogant that he mistakenly believes he is the spokesperson for the police board?

Perhaps he does--as a result--more questions need posing.

Mr Ken Bagshaw is chair of the police board finance committee. Mr Bagshaw, one assumes, would have known about this huge cost overrun. Mr Bagshaw is also vice-chair of the police board. It seems to me, whenever Mr Campbell, who speaks on behalf of the police board, is unavailable, that the vice-chair steps in and fills the shoes of the chair. His silence though on this serious matter raises another flag.

Concerning is whether the police board knew as the Mayor claims they did, that in June and September that the police budget was in serious disarray. Moreover, why hasn't Mr Bagshaw stepped in and answered questions that council has. It seems logical that Mayor Campbell who knew he was going to be absent from this council meeting, would request his vice-chair to be present to answer any questions regarding the police budget before council. Why this wasn't done is perplexing. Mr Bagshaw as chair of the finance committee must have greater experience than Mr Campbell around budgetary matters. Surely, the Mayor isn't so ignorant to not understand this.

So at the council meeting this past Thursday, the police chief didn't really come up with clear answers on the budget mess. He articulated though that public safety has a cost. He wasn't about to compromise public safety. Laudable goals for sure, however, spending $100,000
dollars over budget on dry-cleaning surely doesn't provide improved safety to the public--does it Chief Graham?

City councilor Anne Roberts, I think best summed up the budget mess. She said it was still not clear to her whether the police department went over budget to maintain existing services or it increased service levels by introducing new projects.

Neither the police chief, mayor or chair of the police board finance committee has yet responded to this concern although Mayor Campbell said in the Sun November 6,2004, he is confident the budget issue will be resolved. Most likely, the taxpaying public will be asked to bear this huge cost overrun.

I think due to the reckless ignorance and arrogance displayed that the only way to restore public confidence with our police department is for the police board to order a forensic audit.

Nothing less will suffice.

Stay tuned.....

Jamie Lee Hamilton