Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi All

Wow, what a difference two years make. Yes, it was only a scant few years ago that the former Chief Coroner and script writer for Da Vinci's inquest--Larry Campbell--rode into political office on the promise of being a representative for all people of this city. Primarily, his championing for the rights of the inner city drug addicted, propelled him into the Mayor's seat. Citizens embraced his message and overwhelmingly supported him. Now just two years later, after numerous broken promises, Mr Campbell, appears unsuitable for the job of Mayor.

Often appearing unsteady, and at a loss in which direction to go, Mayor Campbell has let others yank his chain of office. Time after time, Mr Campbell has allowed non-elected officials to guide him. The result-- and what is at stake here-- is the city's loss of reputation as being the number one livable city in North America.

The latest bungling by Mayor Campbell, is his non-action over the bonuses being paid to the very well paid police chief, Jamie Graham. Mr Campbell, was privy to the written contract Mr Graham has. The contract stipulates that the police budget must be met. And one assumes, if it isn't, the bonus shouldn't be rewarded. Its up to the chief of police to ensure budget targets are met. And as Chair of the police board, Mayor Campbell must realize he is entrusted with the public's money and shouldn't be throwing it away nilly willy.

Yet this is exactly what Mayor Campbell is doing. He has in the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Courier this week, said he is satisfied with the police budget being over budget by $5 million dollars--as a result--whether he is able to manage the people's interests any longer is now under scrutiny.

Mayor Campbell either has forgotten who put him in office or perhaps he simply doesn't care what the public think. Either way, Mayor Campbell must realize his job shouldn't be performed in this half baked way. The public though is getting weary of the Mayor's ways. His popularity--once soaring-- is steadfastly eroding. Recently, a number of editorials in local community papers have called into question, Mayor Campbell's abilities to lead the city. These articles from esteemed columnists, who once praised the ethics and sincerity of the Mayor, now paint a different story.

The public to is catching on to the Mayor's errant ways. While Mayor Campbell can parrot the need for more police officers all he wants, the reality is that the public hasn't received adequate police services for some time. For instance, had the police not bungled from the start the murders of Downtown Eastside sex trade workers, perhaps a few million in extra policing costs might have been saved.

Also being called into question for a number of years now is the skyrocketing legal costs the city faces, namely as a result of countless police liability issues. Again to refresh the public's memory, the Stanley Park assaults, the Frank Paul and Jeff Berg matters and the firing of Police Inspector Kim Rossmo are just a few cases that represent poor policing.

So while, Mayor Campbell can sit there like a mute monkey, blaming his leadership woes and extra policing costs on the the rapid changes happening in the city, his reality though isn't in sync with the public's.

For a number of years we have been informed that violent crime is decreasing, while property crime is increasing. This change didn't suddenly occur. It has been happening for some time now. And if you ask the victims of property crime how long it took for a police officer to respond to their calls--chances are the answer would be at minimum--one day. According to the police, drug use is fueling the extra policing costs, yet a looming question is why, the police can't re-think their policies and adjust accordingly. For far too long, experts in criminology have said, the police need to move toward a preventive rather than reactive style of policing model. This would go a long way in reducing costs.

In the meantime, there is speculation that there isn't police board accountability on police board matters. Some think we should move toward an elected police board. This goal will in fact ensure that our police board members are somewhat more accountable to the public. Direct democracy is always an ideal which we should strive for.

However, our current police chief says he favours keeping the status quo. One assumes that Mayor Larry Campbell agrees with the chief.

To move in this direction of direct police accountability, first we need to get rid of the stumbling blocks. While the public currently has no input in selecting the police chief, we do however, have the right to lobby for changes to the police act. We also have the option to turf from office anyone who isn't looking after the public's interest. I'd say Mayor Campbell must be having many a restless night as we move along to making our choice for Mayor in 2005.

Jamie Lee Hamilton