Sunday, February 24, 2008

SAM WAS RIGHT for 2005 but WRONG FOR 2008

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

SAM WAS RIGHT for 2005 but WRONG FOR 2008
Citizens Demand Trust

OK, I freely admit that I was supportive of Mayor Sam Sullivan in the 2005 municipal race. I believe he was the right choice at that time to be Mayor for a number of reasons. Primarily, I held to the opinion that Jim Green, the American-born Councillor would be disastrous for the City of Vancouver.

I saw Sam as the underdog in two instances and who doesn't cherish an underdog folks. The first contest was the one which pitted him against the provincial heavy-weight politician, Christy Clark. I happen to be of the belief that municipal leaders should be selected based on municipal involvement and this is why I supported Sam. My reasoning was the same when Bill VanderZalm strode into Vancouver, thinking he could become our Mayor. Citizens sent Mr. VanderZalm packing.

Another outsider desiring to be our Mayor was the American-born Jim Green. I once counted Jim as a friend for many years. I must say that Mr. Green and I shared many happy times together, however, as I observed him in political action over the years, I couldn't believe this was the same man that I had once stood steadfast with in opposition to Expo.

I watched the battle of DERA, which left many scars, I had my own disagreements with Mr. Green which left me questioning his leadership abilities, especially around trust. I watched as this former Councillor destroyed former friends and COPE, the party which lifted him to power. Talk about an American-attitude. This man has betrayed so many friends, it's hard to keep count of them all.

So was it any wonder that I came to support Sam.

Sam Sullivan was in support of former Mayor, Philip Owen's, Four Pillar Strategy, which I believe was on the cutting edge of smart public policy.

I admired Mayor Sullivan for overcoming his catastrophic injury and was extremely proud that my City, was abundantly progressive enough to elect someone with a disability to be Mayor of Vancouver.

So what happened you ask?

I've been terribly dis-appointed with Sam's leadership, however, I've refrained, unlike another commentator, from any personal attacks on the Mayor. This would serve no purpose and I just couldn't do that to someone in a wheelchair.

What I can do though is express why I feel Mr. Sullivan has failed Vancouver.

Mr. Sullivan should have ensured that the Four Pillars was working properly, especially considering this was an NPA initiative brought forward by a major supporter of his, former Mayor, Philip Owen, who had risked his political career in order to save lives. I believe Mr. Sullivan has back-peddled from the vision of Mr. Owen and this goes directly to the issue of trust.

Other pillars of the Owen strategy, treatment and prevention, seem to be completely overlooked as Sam introduced us to a program of his called CAST. This program, which he planned to introduce to sex trade workers would substiture legal drugs such as ritalin for illicit ones and the research on the effectiveness of this substitution plan is totally inconclusive and very controversial. Thankfully, this program hasn't yet been implemented although Mr. Sullivan is trying hard to see it realized.

Another area where Sam did a complete turn-around was on electoral and finance reform. He brought myself and Green leaders into the Knowards coalition with a promise of exploring other electoral systems. Once elected, Sam backed away from this and has been raising significant funds without disclosing where the funds are coming from. All politicians and parties, should provide full disclosure so the public continues to have faith and trust in our political system.

The attempt by Mayor Sullivan to trademark Eco-Density as his own personal initiative clearly has brought forward concerns around public trust. As Mayor, Mr. Sullivan is supposed to be championing the public interest, not his own.

As the 2008 municipal election approaches, many citizens are raising questions and voicing concerns around Mr. Sullivan's leadership abilities. It appears that voters want change. While Mr. Sullivan was the right choice in 2005, it appears he isn't the correct one for 2008.

Citizens of this City have approached many Leaders to consider running for the top job. This re-inforces that the voters are not happy with the incumbent Mayor and desire change.

Everyone I chat with, brings up the subject of trust when speaking about the incumbent. People are expressing sincere concerns over this issue. In fact, one very prominent businessman who was a supporter of the incumbent Mayor claims that it's impossible to have a proper conversation with the Mayor. I present this delicately so as not to hurt the Mayor's feelings.

In politics if the public loses faith in our political leaders, change will happen. That you can count on.

Citizens are now looking at Mayoral aspirants who best embody trust. Voters are demanding higher expectations from their Leaders on this critical issue and so far Councillor Ladner, at least with the people I'm talking with--is the most talked about Leader-- who embodies that trust.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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