TROUBLE BREWING at CITY HALL
TROUBLE BREWING at CITY HALL
Well as our council celebrates its one year mark since being elected on November, 19, 2005, I was really hoping for dramatic changes in my neighborhood, but as anyone can see its the same old shit happening on the same old mean streets in the Downtown Eastside.
We have increased numbers of people sleeping in our alleys and parks. We have people continuing to defecate and urinate on our buildings, streets and alleyways. We have people who trespass on private property who do not respect the rule of law and of course, a continuing blight on the city's landscape is the hordes of sad people congregating and sleeping overnight on the pavement with their shopping Carts outside the United We Can Scavenger depot on East Hastings, hoping in the morning for a few meager dollars in order to dull the pain a little for the day.
The local residents organization, DERA continues living up to its reputation as the biggest slumlord in the DTES. Adding fuel to the fire in the slum, the Vancouver Police Department, has its own serious difficulties. First, last week, a senior officer takes his own life in the public safety building at 312 Main Street and now it has come to the public's attention that other officers of the VPD are once again engaging in their favorite pastime, of inflicting sadistic pleasures, while taking pictures and posing with their trophy hunt.
What has been the City's response to all these goings on?
Well first up, Councillor Tim Stevenson comes up with the less than brainy idea to put homeless people into jail at the now deserted facility on Cordova Street. Why Mr. Stevenson thinks putting poor people in jail is perplexing. But this isn't surprising considering Mr. Stevenson recently has been supporting DERA in their law breaking and reign of terror activities.
Day after day, you hope there are brighter days ahead for citizens in Vancouver's poorest postal code, only to be reminded that if we are hoping for change through the current political leadership, we better think again.
In the eye of the storm, the Mayor casts a further shadow that reminds us in V6B 5N2 that things instead of improving are in fact getting far worse.
His worship, Mayor Sam Sullivan, who has been known in the past, to shake things up, and think outside the political box which many voters and supporters truly admire, instead, to put it politely, appears lost in his new robes.
The Mayor, in response to the homeless crises in Vancouver, seemed to be thoughtfully reflecting on possible solutions. One assumes he desired to be measured in his political approach to the worsening plight of our vulnerable homeless population. He refused to meet with the DERA leadership. He correctly stated that he wouldn't meet with citizens when they are breaking the law, as DERA was doing. He then went on to announce that he would be hosting a round-table on homelessness in our city. So far so good.
But then an abrupt change takes place only a week later, which brings into question, ethical issues that the city must now address.
The Mayor invites the DERA Executive Director to the round-table discussion while he is still under criminal investigation. To complicate matters, the Mayoral round-table is held in the Mayor's office which opens up a can of moral worms, in large part, because it affirms that the Mayor is willing to meet with Criminals in our public trust institutions.
The Mayor exercised extremely poor judgment in this case and coupled with his silence over policing troubles, the electors of Vancouver appear to be cast adrift as our municipal leaders appear unable to cope with the difficult task of governing our city. When you have a Councillor wanting to put poor people in jail, which really is a crime against humanity and a Mayor inviting Criminals to work alongside him, this doesn't provide much comfort to the citizens. In fact, its downright scary.
Even more frightening is that other Councillors who have smart political instincts and strong leadership skills have remained silent as the city slides from one crises mode to another. Why Councillors Peter Ladner and Suzanne Anton haven't stepped in to fill the leadership void is concerning.
Astute political leaders would have introduced a Censuring motion against Councillor Stevenson and rallied to counter bad decisions coming from the Mayor's office.
This report card on our municipal leadership to date - UNSATISFACTORY.
Jamie Lee Hamilton