Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Councillor Jim Green has had a good life since coming to Canada, at least according to him. But unfortunately, many people he has come into contact with haven't. Yes I am talking about the same Jim Green who once led the battle in the Downtown Eastside against Expo evictions and who now leads the troops in support of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. From one extreme to another, interesting character this man possess.

But what about his record of achieving so much for the underdog denizens of Vancouver. While it is true that Jim Green built housing for poor people, which in fact made him a household name in Vancouver and while this is an admirable quality and one of which Mr. Green should be proud of. However, this legacy may well fall as Vancouver gears up for the 2010 Olympics. It's entirely possible due to the lucrative properties which the three affordable downtown DERA buildings sit and built by Green, may well be converted to condos in time for the Olympics.

It will be interesting to see what position Mr. Green takes if he in fact becomes Mayor of this City. On the one hand, he hates the current staff at DERA which incidentally got rid of him in 1992. They operate the buildings but the government owns the land. On the flip side and one which Green continually champions is this. He is the developers choice for Mayor. Of course, many developers would love to get their hands on the prime real estate in which the DERA buildings reside.

Of course no one knows better than Jim Green what the actual contract with the government stipulates since he was the main negotiator with the government when executing these contracts with the government's crown corporation, BC Housing. And so far, he's not talking. He hasn't addressed this concern and chances are he may not desire to during his run for the Mayor's chair. He doesn't want to piss off any developer who want these prime pieces of real estate, especially heading into the building boom stage for the Olympics.

Of course, developers know Mr Green can be bought (after all he told them so) and this may answer why many of them are comfortable supporting a Jim Green Mayoral bid. Of course, you can add to the development mix, casino owners and the unions who will obtain lucrative sweetheart deals on the expected building boom which the Olympics will generate. Union leadership will pay no concern to the plight of the poor as they support bad development which come with terrible social costs. Just ask the citizens in Hastings Sunrise who had a casino put smack in the middle of their major neighborhood children's park, Hastings park. Ask them what it is already costing them. It goes without saying that Councillor Green will dance to the tune of those he sells out to. All the while wearing his pork-pie hat no less!

Needless to say, Councillor Green always supports the union leadership over the welfare of communities/neighborhoods whenever there is some question of temporary jobs at play. Sustainability or being a good neighbor doesn't enter into the equation for Councillor Green. Quite a fair distance this man has travelled since the days when he was championing himself as the 'Neighborhood Green' isn't it? When were those days? Why it was the 1990 Mayoral race when Jim Green ran for Mayor using the moniker "the Neighborhood Green" against Gordon Campbell. Mr. Campbell won.

But what about the possibility of Jim Green becoming Mayor? Well it could be really scary. We know from Mr. Green's historical record a few things. One is that he plays the role of chicken little real well. For starters, he fled the draft in the USA rather than risk being put in jail. So much for demonstrating critical leadership on the issue of war resistance. It should be noted that many political leaders have been willing to be jailed as a price to pay in support of political causes they feel strongly about. Jim Green isn't one of them.

Mr. Green arrives in Canada, goes to school and works odd jobs until he obtains one as chief organizer (some say admiral general) of DERA. Almost immediately, Mr. Green shows he is not a bridge builder. In fact, he burns them. In 1991, there was an internal staff revolt created among the DERA staff. While the staff were in extreme conflict, culminating in the picketing of the DERA offices, Mr. Green ran off to a union buddy's hide-a-way on Vancouver Island. So much for his skills of being a responsive and responsible manager. It is a given that as Leader, in a time of political crises, leaders step up to the plate and demonstrate real leadership. Instead Mr. Green ran from the problem and hid out until he hoped things cooled down. Of course, he left a single mother to handle all the conflict he created. What a nice guy.

Next up and along the path of Mr.Green's divisionist ways, remember how he was supported morally, politically and financially by COPE over two decades. And the payback to COPE is Mr. Green, begins to create diVision within the ranks of COPE. He uses the current Mayor, now Senator Campbell to do his dirty work. He works behind the scenes, creating a level of distrust between COPE City Councillors and the Mayor. When things come to a head, what does Mr. Green do? Rather than face the music, he once again does the chicken little and flees. He refuses to answer COPE membership concerns over his leadership and instead creates diVision, his supposedly centrist group that purports to be responsive to moderate Vancouver voters.

Interesting in this saga is that the Unions support a Jim Green Mayoral bid. I wondered why and came to the conclusion that corrupt Union leadership wants to be seen as controlling the Mayor's office. After speaking the other evening with a friend of Jim Green, apparently, Mr. Green has already started his dirty work of creating diVision within the union ranks. He is working behind the scenes, creating tension between the TWU (telecommunications workers union - represents Telus workers) and the CEP union of which Green's wife is a salaried staff manager. In fact, this friend of Green said this to me, "I really had hoped once Jim became Councillor that he would be happy and content. Instead he is continuing on with his petty ways". And that is a friend of the Green's folks!

And Vancouver, I ask you this do you really want a Mayor who's a chicken little, extremely petty and sows diVision wherever he goes?

You have a choice. And for the poor people of the Downtown Eastside, please consider them. Do you want them turfed from their homes in order to make way for the developers interests? Are you going to bestow the Mayoralty on Jim Green at the expense of Vancouver's poorer citizens and communities & neighborhoods? Do you really think after reading this blog that Mr. Green is a champion of ordinary people?

If you do, please think again. We cannot afford another Expo or Missing Women fiasco on our hands.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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