Photo: Mayor Gregor Robertson 

On Friday, Vancouver Police were asked to conduct a criminal investigation into Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson; Vancouver City Manager Penny Ballem (also a Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee member); the City’s Security Co-ordinator at Carnegie Center, Skip Everall; and Director of Carnegie Center and the Olympics Homeground Festival, Ethel Whitty. These individuals, it was alleged in the complaint, have knowingly maintained manufactured witnesses and other fraudulent evidence on a City of Vancouver “Security” database. Complaints about libelous claims in security reports stored on this database, reports written by civilian City personnel about Downtown Eastside residents often without their input, are not uncommon. This is the first time though that a criminal complaint has been lodged.

Police have specifically been asked to investigate a case in which a woman discovered that a security report had been written about her containing the claim that “15 witnesses”, all anonymous, could “corroborate” the fact that she required a security report and deserved to be banned from access to Vancouver Public Library computers. When a witness came forward, this one with a name, to offer eye-witness testimony corroborating the targeted woman’s claim that these “15 witnesses” had been fabricated, City management avoided interviewing him even though he is at Carnegie Center daily. When asked to interview him, Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty, who is also running the Homeground Festival which has been providing free food and “media preparedness” worshops for the poor during the Olympics, avoided doing so. The witness said that when he ran into her on the stairs at Carnegie Center, “She just asked me about my music.”

Due to the fact that Mayor Robertson is also Chair of the Vancouver Police Board, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu has been asked to ensure that an external police force carry out the fraud investigation.  Robertson did not respond to requests for comment, made to his assistant Dana Bertrand and to Kevin Quinlan of the City’s Media Room, on either the fraud allegations or previous failed efforts to have fraudulent material expunged from the database.

The victim of the alleged fraud says she made every effort to have this problem resolved outside the criminal justice system, but Mayor Robertson’s administration continues to knowingly maintain these “phony witnesses” on their database. The last time the victim communicated with Ballem was on Jan. 13, 2010 during a 25 minute in-person meeting at City Hall. She says Ballem and Robertson have had over a year to remove the fraudulent witnesses from the security database, but in her view have been “covering asses”.  They topped up Whitty’s salary and her budget so that she could hold a festival during the Olympics.

There is a link between this case and the case of the Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died on the Luge track during the February Winter Olympics:  Penny Ballem.  In addition to being City Manager, Ballem is the City of Vancouver’s representative on the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Team [VANOC]. As the criminal  complaint against Ballem for allegedly maintaining fraudulent evidence on a government database was being prepared, VANOC jointly issued a statement with the International Olympic Committee denying any responsibility for the athlete’s death on the Luge track, claiming that he died as a result of his own ”error”.  Everybody’s looking at the luger’s track record, says the woman involved in the criminal complaint, “I think they should look at Ballem’s track record.”

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