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ROBBINS--analysis of 2 Coquitlam all candidates meetings plus endorsements and audit
  Nov 14, 2008

Commentary
1. The All-Candidates debate, for Coquitlam city council—three folks for mayor—20-for city councillor. There is only room ‘on the boat’ for one mayor—and eight city councilors.
2. The Civic League ‘discussion’
Mayors:
Owen Coomer, candidate for mayor is no-show. Richard Stewart and Maxine Wilson are placed side by side in a horseshoe shaped format of placement of all the candidates. (It would have made for more compelling drama to have Stewart and Wilson at opposite sides of the horseshoe-they are competing after all). The sad irony of the positioning-is that these two candidates are so far apart in respect of the issues (but yet as close as a breath test is terms of general pettiness in campaign strategy)—it was unfortunate.
Contest opens with mayoral candidates answering questions.
Stewart promotes roads and transit. Cites importance of co-operation with provincial government-believes Coquitlam is the next cultural capital of Canada. On the question of an all-Tri-City police force Richard says he is “not against RCMP”. Cost overruns on civic projects like the Chimo pool have to be addressed.
Wilson links tourism to casino dollars (gaming sponsorship). Essential service relating to garbage is not an important issue to her—working relationship with unions is fine. Would work with Kevin Falcon BC Liberal Transportation minister relating to transportation. No-one says anything about the real talk---Van Rassel’s demand for the Translink $400,000,000 buried in someone’s garage never—to ever be talked about for real. Just a conversation for those in power who are 60 plus—who don’t give a shit anymore.
Get me a backhoe---I need to recycle---some very old souls outa here.
Maxine Wilson goes against the consensus of all candidates who promote idea of economic and tourism development officer/organization for Coquitlam, Ms. Wilson suggests Chamber of Commerce should be responsible for this. I don’t think mayor Wilson has thought this through. I am not sure how big Richard Stewart’s vision of Coquitlam is. C’mon lady—figure it out--.
ROBBINS digs Obama—but Coquitlam can afford Sarah Palin—Surrey grabbed Giuliani.
Richard Stewart questions business tax rate, and says overall mil rate for Coquitlam is too high. He criticizes slowness of approval at city hall.
Maxine promotes Coquitlam city’s broadband capacity—suggests her strength is as a facilitator—promotes working with BC Liberal Transportation minister Falcon—believes that talking and building relationships is most important.
Richard Stewart believes Coquitlam city requires more respectful leadership, Wilson believes Riverview-homelessness-and people with disabilities are an important issue.
City councillors- (I) for incumbent.
Here is a list of candidates running for city councillor: Brent Asmundsen (I), Brian Babcock, Fin Donnelly (I), Elizabeth Halderson, Geoffrey Hunt, Barrie Lynch (I), Doug Macdonell (I), Neil Nicholson (I), Mae Reid (I), Linda Reimer (I), Selina Robinson, Sheryl Seale, Lou Sekora (I), Andy Shen, Darryl Stickler, Jason Thorne, Jack Tremblay, Jim Van Rassel, Harry Warren, Vincent Wu.
Most (if not all) city councillors agree that Coquitlam requires an economic and tourism development officer. Only mayor Maxine Wilson ignored this—favouring handing over these duties to the Coquitlam Chamber of Commerce. I thought this was odd and reflected a sense that she wasn’t even aware of the consensus going on around her.
Almost like she was unaware of anyone else in the room.
If there was an opportunity to find the candidates out-- it emerged from a rather surprising disclosure by outspoken candidate for city councillor Jim Van Rassel (and ROBBINS (RSR) Researcher) who selected-- to use his opening statement time—
----to take the microphone and speak in the middle of the horseshoe, rather than at his seat. ‘Handsome’ Harry Warren—two or three time also ran at mayor—seeking a seat---in council handed Van Rassel the mike---like Frank Sinatra and $100—French wine—Van Rassel sang from his top hits chart—than loaded his very big gun---and blew a political hole in Maxine Wilson’s diaphragm that shook the room like an elephant gun in an Ernest Hemingway novel. (I was going to spell Hemingway’s name wrong to see how many Canadians advised me of same).
Van Rassel said there was a lack of leadership on city council and blamed mayor Wilson for this. He than endorsed Richard Stewart. I know Jim—and am not yet resolved as to whether this is more against Maxine—for Richard—or just impatience at the bottleneck of childishness which has infiltrated the candidacy for city mayor.
I[‘m biased—but I’m voting for Van Rassel for mayor—who’s next?
This stunning event was followed by the Tri City Chamber of Commerce question which asked all of the candidates who they supported for mayor.
Candidates either choose Stewart or Wilson or said they could work with either.
Brent Asmundsen (I) said he could work with either candidate for mayor, drives a bus for his other job. Complacency in politics is like a public washroom—to say the least it isn’t compelling or attractive. He made a mistake—after everyone spoke of an economic officer----except Maxine Wilson---he took the time to point out that he was the economic point man in council. I said “Pardon”.
Brent Babcock is a local businessman who supported Richard Stewart.
Fin Donnelly (I) receives union donations and supports Maxine Wilson. At civic league—in conversation about mixed density—I had a great time trippin’ with Fin---and Linda Reimer—got down to some interesting visionary talk---the way it has to be. Never mind who you think you know---what do you say?---if you don’t have a vision—any vision---tell me how you see this city---otherwise your just another salesman wasting everyone’s time.
Elizabeth Halderson lives in Maillardville and struck me as a sort of arts person with a keen sense of social justice who could work with either candidate for mayor. I really liked her sense of community. A very thoughtful woman with a compassionate personality.
Geoffrey Hunt is an independent candidate who supports mayoral candidate Owen Coomer. Another member of the new brat pack led by Van Rassel---that will soon take over city council.
Barrie Lynch (I) said he could work with either mayor, received union donations, and said he was running for mayor in three years. (Maxine Wilson has said this is her last term—but also said that when she running for her first term). Mr. Lynch has on a number of occasions that he does not subscribe to political theatrics or such. I would remind all candidates that by definition a political candidate is a political actor. This means that there is a duty in one’s role as a politician to ‘theatre up their positions a little’ so that citizens can understand what the candidate represents. A centrist-- sense may help a political career-and often does, but a dynamic approach to political endeavour is likely better for the community—particularly as this relates to citizen participation.
I haven’t concluded my impression of Barry Lynch—he will be re-elected, but there is more to consider here.
Doug Macdonell (I)-a former RCMP officer doesn’t support any candidate for mayor and insists he can work with either candidate for mayor. I like cop[s—who are cops—politics never suits them—unless your Larry Campbell---I like Larry Campbell—Larry put up the $90,000—Liberal leadership dude—c’mon—when am I ever wrong?
Neil Nicholson (I) is a former Chartered Accountant, receives union donations, and supports Maxine Wilson. I see Neil in the Michael Ignatieff style of leadership—more Shakespeare meets CA.
Mae Reid (I) is known for her protection of animals and Riverview supports Richard Stewart.
Linda Reimer is known among business and developers and supports Richard Stewart. Her handler told me to get a hearing aid when I said I couldn’t hear her—(the estrogen beards these days)--the other women, thought this was fair comment---facilitate that --my man. In a less facilitated meeting—at such insolence—I would have said “lady speak up or take a hike.” ---or words to that effect.
Selina Robinson has worked with SHARE family services for years, receives union donations, and indicated she could support either candidate-- then later indicated on her website that she supported Maxine Wilson (?). She could get in—but isn’t as ready as Van Rassel or Reimer--. She was more in her element as a counselor at the civic league—she was less so at the Chamber of Commerce.
Sheryl Seale is a former legal assistant and constituency assistant who receives union donations originally said she could work with either mayoral candidate, than asked the moderator if she could change her answer—she didn’t hear the question—and indicated her support for Maxine Wilson. I like her for politics.
Lou Sekora (I) is a former mayor and city councilor and supports Richard Stewart. I’m not sure if Lou was wearing two pairs of socks or not—but I refuse to watch Shaw Cable if he isn’t re-elected.
Andy Shen is the youngest candidate and indicated he could work either candidate. The Chinese community should give this young man a bunch of money—and send him to ROBBINS.
Darryl Stickler is a young businessman and supports Richard Stewart. Another member of the brat—rat pack—of newcomers.
Jason Thorne has a University degree and said he could work with either candidate. One of the 2,214 Coquitlam homes phoned by volunteers for Van Rassel asked us if Jason was related to Dianne Thorne. (In all of these calls—no-one repeat no-one defended or advocated for a specific incumbent—quite shocking).
Jack Tremblay is in commercial finance said he could work with either candidate. Jack is cool enough to be sure. Another member of the brat-rat pack of the new blood.
Jim Van Rassel started the whole thing off---pumped a round into Maxine--- and indicated he supported Richard Stewart. (He owes me a new shirt—splattered in political blood -- guts). Largest political balls go to Van Rassel.
‘Handsome’ Harry Warren has run for mayor and knows his way around city hall-- indicated he could work with either candidate for mayor. Harry’s problem is that this city council is in transition—and he is becoming old before his time.
Vincent Wu is an entrepreneur said he could work with either candidate for mayor.
At the all candidates meeting (6) candidates supported Richard Stewart and (4) supported Maxine Wilson if you include Salina Robinson’s website, and Sheryl Seale’s change of mind or 3/2 for Richard Stewart. Two incumbents selected Stewart and two incumbents selected Wilson. First time candidates are four to two for Stewart if you include Selina Richardson’s website disclosure and Sheryl Seale’s change of heart.
ROBBINS REASONS FOR JUDGEMENT:
MAYOR-
This decision surprisingly was not difficult to make. I note that ROBBINS polling three years ago identified that Maxine Wilson would beat former Coquitlam mayor Jon Kingsbury. She did. Ms. Wilson indicated at that time that she only wanted one term as mayor and would be a facilitator for the next mayor after she finished “fixing” the problems at Coquitlam city hall. I suspect Maxine IS the problem at city hall. In the summer of 2007, Maxine Wilson telephoned Glen P. Robbins and asked for a meeting in her office at city hall. During the meeting she indicated that she wanted a second term as mayor. I asked one question: “Maxine, you told me previously you wanted one term as mayor in order to facilitate the transition from perceived problems under previous leadership to a new council, what is your reason for a second term, was your first term as a facilitator unsuccessful?” This question has yet to be properly answered---producing the fecal response of name calling—rumour mongering and other garbage—that no-one needs.
Philosophically, when is facilitation about progressive energy and when is it about passive aggressive control and the subtle neutralizing of earnest debate? Ladies—I admire what you want to accomplish—but feminism—has no unit of political analysis—unless you’re strident lesbian (and not everyone subscribes to that difficulty with dad theory) —either way it’s a minority position—and that’s fair—but it is nearly irrelevant—just as orthodox chauvinism is.
Ms. Wilson indicated at the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce that she remains a facilitator in the mayor’s chair. For my part, Coquitlam is at a crossroads and the next mayor needs to “carry the flag” of leadership. Maxine Wilson has clearly indicated that this is not a role she sees herself in. Moreover, leadership has been in question at city hall owing to too many lost votes. Councilman Neil Nicholson, a supporter of Maxine Wilson, confirmed this, although Neil felt the avalanche of lost city council votes was not Maxine’s responsibility.
I disagree with Mr. Nicholson’s assessment. The mayor is paid nearly 2.5 times the salary as city councillors. If the pattern of votes lost is 5-4, and the mayor who has the bully pulpit of influence and suasion cannot bring one voter onside to change the outcome she has failed in leadership.
Richard Stewart is intelligent, well-spoken and understands issues well. I have spoken with Mr. Stewart about his longtime association with the Campbell Liberals including his time as an MLA. This may reflect a bias on my part against the Campbell Liberals—it should not be construed as a bias against the BC Liberal party. No-one in the province has documented public opinion in the province of British Columbia better than ROBBINS (RSR). There is no doubt that this government has been arrogant, and frankly to my way of thinking—unethical and dishonest. Will this hurt Richard Stewart?
Richard Stewart went into the mayor’s race clearly speaking of independence and has performed a term as city councillor—which according to political science convention “rinses him clean” of any previous history and permits him to proceed with a stand alone run for mayor. Evidence of this was Richard Stewart asking former city councillor candidate and current candidate Linda Reimer to take his name off her list of endorsement-as he, she, James Moore MP and others have clearly been a collective of political collaboration.
I cannot come to any conclusion as between Richard Stewart and Maxine Wilson. I am not overly inspired—watching too people fight over the mushy middle of swing voters.
But I am not running for mayor.
Richard Stewart has matured as a politician. No-one has been harder on Richard Stewart than ROBBINS—and never did he complain or become angry. He might have complained, on the way to the rosary---you cannot the messages that most besiege you; no matter the intensity of the old voices you here. Neither candidate has convinced me. Richard isn’t sufficiently macho for my politics—and I don’t know that I would take his word to the bank—but Maxine Wilson’s word is likely worth less.
One thing I know about local politicians—is that they all overestimate and ‘overblow’ their own egos more than they ought to. I don’t get a sense of a wellspring of new ideas for a developing city—more autumn than spring if you will.
Richard Stewart has a distinct advantage over Maxine Wilson. He is bilingual in a city that it searching for its Grande identity. The federal minister, James Moore is Canada’s Heritage minister. This, on paper makes the grade. I don’t know either politician well enough to know if they can get this off the drawing board—but it sure as shit lines up better than Maxine Wilson and James Moore.
Insofar as the bevy of new candidates for council are concerned. It is my impression that those candidates-who have taken union or corporate (donations), ought to be considered less-- in favour of independents. This is important if we are to provide citizens a city council that is committed to decisions free of the adulteration and the ‘captivity’ of special interest money. I am biased but ----Van Rassel, Linda Reimer, Sheryl Seale are in my opinion the best the of the newcomers—and Coquitlam city council--- is not dynamic as it is.
Coquitlam civic league:
This is an environment more conducive to ideas—at least the exchange of them. It’s based on a group-subject environment lead by facilitators---the administration of the process of collaborative sharing—produces a sense of well being and interchange of ideas—if I could harness this—with the pragmatic—painful consideration of scarce resources, one can see—best argument wins. Your shining city attracts more dough with innovation and genius than connections. This ‘bottleneck’ will stifle many—promoters and market capitalists. Linda Reimer is backing incentives for developers and others-I did not get the opportunity to compel her to flesh out this notion, however it would be interesting, and it may be necessary.
For example, at one table—I sat with a number of people—including a facilitator (all young people). The subject matter related to mixed living in communities, factors included a number of core elements of sustainable living (introduced by Fin Donnelly) and a discussion of how we incorporate these urban/suburban higher density communities into a framework of urban development that recognizes that citizens must be able to live, work and play within a particular area—without dependency on their automobile.
This is the first time—that I personally have had the opportunity to discuss the progressive evolution of the city in terms of a ‘structural vision’. A pretty sharp contrast to the some of the more vulgar elements of politics. The difficulty of course is you can have all the vision you want—but position trumps—this. Ultimately the vagaries of desire have always nearly eradicated every good idea that has ever come aboard the good ship of community sustainability. Managing conflicting desires, ambitions and vision. Is this where leadership is going, or is leadership merely a label, a disguise of the sultry reality of a political race—jam my girl or guy in and fulfill a commercial agenda? How we draw the community into decisions will ultimately—in my view—be how we come out of this. If it is choppy and crude, we will amble forward—if it is more deeply ground—we could blossom beyond our wildest imaginations. Dreamers and dollars should not be mutually exclusive or inclusive—they must co-exist. This is a reality.
I personally phoned hundreds of Coquitlam residents pushing out the vote---homelessness is the number one issue.
I endorse Fin Donnelly, Jim Van Rassel, Linda Reimer (sans handlers), and Sheryl Seale (sans union) for city councillor(s) and Richard Stewart for mayor The first four are all players in the new Coquitlam, while Richard Stewart is wait and see for me. I would like to see a visible minority on city council to reflect our demographic however I would like to achieve this naturally through the participation of the citizens in the political debate.
ROBBINS –“The most accurate public opinion pollster in the World”.
Glen P Robbins
a note: went out to vote early Saturday Nov 15, 2008---register--I am given ballot and told to pick one mayor--eight councillors--and four school trustees. I wasn't told I could vote for up to eight councillors and four trustees---I was told TO vote four eight councillors and four school trustees. You cast your ballot face up in a machine--the person near the voting machine can see your choices (if they were inclined to--while helping). I vote one mayor, one city councillor and two school trustees. The machine kicks out my ballot and remark on machine says problem is city councillor. I place ballot into machine again--kicked out again because of city councillor. I am given a new ballot--mark it similarly and it goes through. The problem could have been that I folded the ballot in half prior to my first attempt--however the machine did not indicate that as the problem. Recommendation: Registrars should not be instructing voters how to vote ie "you vote for one mayor, eight city councillors and four school trustees." Registrars ought to be instructed to properly instruct voters "you can vote for up to one mayor or none if you choose, up to eight city councillors or none if you choose, and up to four school trustees or none if you choose--but you must vote for someone on the ballot--otherwise the ballot is spoiled/cannot be processed etc.
Based on this anecdotal evidence, plus instructions I heard elsewhere, the elections officer should consider the election invalid--as neutral parties working on behalf of the elections officer for Coquitlam have not been properly instructed--and are misleading voters in terms of instruction.
added November 16, 2008 ROBBINS conducted an audit of three (3) polling stations in Port Coquitlam, ten (10) in Coquitlam, and (1) in Port Moody.
ROBBINS auditors in Port Coquitlam described our best voting environment. Instructions on the walls of the polling places--specifically vote for one (1) mayor and up to 6 councillors etc.
Coquitlam was a mess. In all except one of the polling stations we visited at least one or more groups were told to vote for one mayor, eight city councillors and four school trustees.
We identified at least one dozen instances of this type of improper instruction (including Glen P. Robbins personally).
Proper instructions should be visible inside the room, in the voting 'cubicle' and so on.
The instructions that were available were unclear and really made no sense whatsoever.
Proper instructions should be posted as follows (Coquitlam). You must make at least one selection for you ballot to be valid. You may vote for up to one mayor, eight city councillors, and four school trustees.
Exit polling by ROBBINS indicated that most of the 20 or so voters we asked if they "knew precisely what they were entitled to do and not to do when they voted." Most answered "No" or "weren't sure"--. When we asked these voters if they understood that they could only make one selection on the whole ballot if they wanted---the majority answered "No."
Voters clearly are being encouraged to make 13 selections (1, 8, 4) and are unawares they could make 1 selection and still have a valid voting ballot.
We believe this improper instruction benefits incumbents.
Voting machines would not permit over voting (more than 1, 8, 4), but would not permit spoiled ballots. Spoiled ballots are often considered a statement of voter frustration or anger--, certainly a relevant consideration with pathetic voter turnout.
Coquitlam city hall and incumbents ought to take some responsibility for a very shabby voting process--in terms of proper (and fair) instruction.
The voting process in Coquitlam in our opinion is either purposefully flawed to skew the advantage to the incumbents (name recognition if you believe you must vote for 8 city councillors), or is very negligent.
In our view the voting process was very unprofessional.

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