Monday, June 18, 2012

Lying like a cheap rug

Perhaps the largest barrier making re-election of Christy Clark's government unlikely is its lack of credibility.

The Liberal brain trust decided long ago that veracity should always rank behind expediency. The infamous 2001 platform document A New Era for British Columbia demonstrates that deceit was a Liberal strategy from the start. It was there they promised to "Not sell or privatize BC Rail" even though the mechanics of the sale were already being planned.

Throughout Christy Clark's government, the standard for reporting is not truth, it's political convenience. Too often, senior bureaucrat are appointed for PR skills rather than management abilities and they are expected to follow the lead of politicians in saying only that which serves the government cause. David Hahn was an example at BC Ferries. Sadly, it appears the same applies to Mike Corrigan, Hahn's replacement.

Corrigan appeared on Sean Leslie's CKNW program June 17. He was explaining how a net loss of $16.5 million at BC Ferries was actually good news.
"...Throughout the year, we lost $30 million more in revenue than we expected but we were able to claw back all of that and a bit more through good financial management...

"We're dealing with what every other major ferry operator is dealing with right now and that's a downturn in traffic... They're seeing something similar."

"...Our gift shops - that part of the business is actually really growing significantly over the last year. We're seeing double digit increases year over year. So we're doing what we can to generate revenues wherever we can and managing costs..."
Let's test the accuracy of those statements by reference to BC Ferries financial statements.

Did BC Ferries lose $30 million in expected revenues in fiscal 2012? In fact, tarrifs were down by only $1 million in 2012 compared to fiscal 2011. If they were truly expecting an increase of $30 million, they are bigger fools than we suspected.

Corrigan said that other ferry operators are dealing with significant traffic reductions but Washington State ferries reports almost no decrease in vehicle and passenger loadings in 2011 compared to 2010 or in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year before. But then, WSF doesn't have high priced management to screw things up.

The Alaska Marine Highway System is a substantially smaller ferry system. Nevertheless, its traffic in 2011 was up 3% over 2010. Traffic of Sydney Ferries in Australia has increased in each of the last five years, including 2% in the last year.

The BC Ferries CEO claims that gift shop business is growing by double digits. In fact, retail revenues were down by 3% in 2012 compared to 2011 and are down more than 5% in the last two years.

If this reflects Corrigan's knowledge of the company he manages, we must wonder how he is worth almost $600,000 a year.
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  1. "...Our gift shops - that part of the business is actually really growing significantly over the last year. We're seeing double digit increases year over year. So we're doing what we can to generate revenues wherever we can and managing costs..."
    When I reached this part of your article, red flags went up. How can the gift shop be increasing in sales 7 profits if ridership is at it's lowest in 20 years ?
    Then I read the read & you pointed out the TRUTH. Do these people think we're all as stupid as most Liberal supporters ?
    If the biggest complaint about BC Ferries is the cost... then why would these individuals spend even more in a gift shop ?
    BC Ferries is paying out millions in interest payments, ridership is declining.... yet David Hahn came up with 25 million to buy a portion of it's new headquarters built by Jawl Properties. That still confuses me.

    Guy in Victoria

  2. They didn't even buy a portion of the Jawl building. They lent the developer $24.5 million on a second mortgage AND leased the property before it was constructed. There is an option to acquire equity in the building but terms are undisclosed.

    The developer could walk over to the bank for a first mortgage, secured by the BC Ferries lease.

    It was a win for the Jawls who didn't have to put up a dime and a lose for the BC taxpayers.

  3. "If this reflects Corrigan's knowledge of the company he manages, we must wonder how he is worth almost $600,000 a year." He isn't worth the pot to pee in or the window to throw it out.

  4. When I first read of this agreement my first thought was... this is a bailout for the Jawl family. The economy showed serious signs of collapsing and I'm sure the money was needed for other projects like the reno's Jawl did on the former BC ferries property. The other part of this agreement which I find very confusing... is BC Ferries being in the mortgage business actually part of it's mandate ?
    Maybe BC ferries can show us in it's corporate structure where exactly is the definition on procedures for being a lender or guarantor in real estate ?

    Guy in Victoria

  5. Now I really am Aghast! Doesn't anyone (other than you Norm) hold these insufferable fools to account. Corrigan not only hasn't a clue as to what's going on (a la Crisp Clark?) but he must think that we are blessed with the same rather insignificant IQ.
    How in the world can (gift shop) sales be up double digit when ridership is down the same amount? Might as well keep everyone OFF the boat and maybe gift shop sales will double?

    Good Grief! Maybe its time to jump ship and get off this Province before we're dragged (drug?) down the whirlpool created when the economy tanks. I'd sure hate to be responsible for the NEXT government when it beomes evident there is nothing left to steal and plunder.

    1. That's what they're hoping all right..everyone either jumps ship or continues being apathetic while the money flows...they (and I most certainly include the media) honestly do not see the tipping point coming...whether one is tagged left, right, up or down....there are enough people that recognize this particular government is very disrespectful of our values as British Columbians and very arrogant to think there is no disdain for the lying and inside deals on our dime...lying is a pretty strong word...but the facts speak for themselves...the facts support the use of such a term. How will any member of this government socialize outside of their circle (once again I most certainly include the media in that circle) in the future? There is an equal lack of respect for them. I guess once the deals are done and the money is in the bank there is no need to worry about what the history books will say about you.

    2. I agree. I have sent links and tweets to all kinds of media and govt oversight agencies like BBC, CBC, Go Public, Elections BC, etc and they continue to ignore what Alex GT and Norm have made so clear. It's not just the corporate media, it's our taxpayer funded institutions too. They will have enough evidence to do a week-long mini-series a decade or two after it will make any difference.

  6. I take BC Ferries (by necessity) and BC Transit (by economic and environmental choice) on a daily basis and I can say that both systems are disasters. I feel sorry for the riders and for the employees of these mismanaged bureaucracies. The staff are stressed out and miserable from making the best of an all-around bass-ackward system. The ferries are never on schedule and do not align with buses. The buses are standing room only for entire extended trips in smelly sardine style conditions. A pleasant driver who is not (understandably) stressed to the breaking point is a gift--deserving of a hug because the job is far from easy!

  7. Thats okay nobody listens to dead dog 98 anyways.

  8. Two things:

    First, this is proof that the CEO's wages should have been higher, to "attract the brightest and best."

    Second: perhaps Corrigan meant the gift shop sales-per-passenger were into the double digits. After all, what's better: selling 7,000 keychains to 50,000 passengers... or 5,000 to 10,000? I'll bet Corrigan thinks the second is more impressive.

    (Yes, sarcasm. All of it.)

  9. these senior vps are all overpaid. the best way to ensure b.c.ferries is profitable & affordable is to reverse its status so the interest rate on debts with the german banks goes from 10% to 3%.

    problems solved & we can all start taking the ferries again for a weekend in victoria.

    1. There is much to criticize in the operations of BC Ferries but we should stick to the facts. The long term debt of BCF at March 31, 2012 was $1.3 billion and the average interest rate on this debt was 5.56%. True, this is substantially more than typical government borrowing. The Municipal Finance Authority 10 year rate is today estimated at 3.11%.

  10. It would seem that the public, is truly kept in the dark, as to the inner workings of this "regime".

    The pay scale's for these individuals are way out of line, for the work they do.

    In a "perfect" world, to have an "Independent Commission against Corruption", as it is done in Hong Kong, along with the "Austrailian Crime Commission's" powers of "testify or jail", we would truly have the tools, to deal with this group of kleptocrat's and manipulators. Most if not all of the scandals of the past 11 years, would probably have been prevented or averted. If other jurisdictions around the world can do this, so can we.

    If Adrian Dix or his advisors read these blogs, one would hope that the idea's and opinions, brought forth in these discussions, become "food for thought". The re-framing of the NDP's image, that is constantly being hammered by the "free enterprisers" as being one of the "socialist hordes taking over and taxing everyone to death", is required. If the NDP would support a strong business sector, with appropriate regulation, balanced financial and social policy with a strong anti-corruption bias, they would certainly get my vote.

    Governments are required to "regulate". Since the days of Thatcher and Regan, "deregulation" has been the mantra of "free enterprise". The global mess we have now and our own political mess with this current government, are clearly the result's of "under" regulation and vigilence, in our democratic system.

    The "taxpayer", is the reason governments, are formed in the first place. We the taxpayer, are now demanding that corruption and economic deviance in government, no longer be tolerated, and the people or parties that engage in this type of subversive behavior, be brought to justice.



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