Peter Kelly is the Sarah Palin of Halifax | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Peter Kelly is the Sarah Palin of Halifax

Verbal diarrhea is the mayor's only response to concerts scandal.

click to enlarge Peter Kelly is the Sarah Palin of Halifax
Halifax mayor Peter Kelly "should have known something out of the ordinary was occurring and should have asked more questions" about the concert funding scheme.
Throughout his report on the concert loan scandal, auditor general Larry Munroe utterly castigates Halifax mayor Peter Kelly for his involvement in the financial improprieties. Kelly is mentioned by name 54 times in the 96-page report, and his office is cited over 100 times. Here's how Munroe summarizes Kelly's role in the scandal:
Based on interviews and a review of correspondence among a number of parties, it is clear the Mayor’s Office was actively engaged and committed to developing the North Common in Halifax as a major event location. The Mayor’s Office assisted in bringing Power Promotional Events and the Paul McCartney contact - Creative Events Group (CEG) - together, and the Mayor’s Office appeared to remain in frequent contact with CEG and PPE with respect to other potential events as they unfolded. The Mayor’s Office initiated and participated in numerous meetings regarding potential and acquired concerts and responded to and was copied on many emails pertaining to the relationship with Power Promotional Events, HRM and Trade Centre Limited. Later the Mayor’s Office appears to have actively “led the charge” to obtain additional financial assistance from the Province of Nova Scotia.

When this assistance was not forthcoming, the parties actively participated in what was sometimes described as a “rescue operation”.

[snip]

The [Office of the Auditor General] believes the following persons at a minimum, were directly involved, to various degrees, in the decisions around the handling and advancement of funds: Mr. Anstey (who has publically admitted his involvement) and Mayor Kelly who both had access to information and the opportunity to raise concerns through a variety of policies and business practices.

It is our thought, given the level of experience and involvement of Mr. Anstey and Mayor Kelly in the public sector, each of these individuals should have known something out of the ordinary was occurring and should have asked more questions to determine if what they were contemplating and/or doing was appropriate, especially given the method of arranging for payments to be made to Power Promotional Events.

Being fingered by Munroe demands an immediate and clear response from Kelly. But that's not what we're getting.

As for all auditor reports, Munroe gives people named in the report an advance copy to clarify quotes and to give a response. Here's Kelly's response, which is found on page 12 of the report:

The role of the Auditor General is to assist Regional Council in holding themselves and the administration accountable for the stewardship of public funds and for the delivery of services so that to ensure transparency and value for money. I support and will continue to support this important function. This report provides an opportunity for our municipality to take stock and make the appropriate operational changes to maximize the benefits to the taxpayer. I fully accept the recommendations and will work with Council and administration to implement them.
Munroe had just issued 96 pages detailing Kelly's involvement in the scandal, right down to quotes from emails, descriptions of secret meetings in Bedford restaurants, explanations of how Kelly signed contracts that either weren't vetted by legal staff (as is normal practice) or were even changed after legal staff had approved them, and Kelly responds with... well, what is this? A bunch of feel-good words wrapped ungrammatically together in something barely resembling sentences.

This isn't an off-the-cuff comment---it's Kelly's written response, presumably arrived at after much thought, and possibly through consultation with his hired scribe, Peter Duffy.

Having had some days to read and respond to Munroe's report before it became public, Kelly also had plenty of time to think of a respond to the inevitable questions from reporters. But here's what Kelly said in a scrum Tuesday:

People will play politics, those that want to do that. But the fact is, the points speak for themselves.

Lessons learned. Questions could have been asked, should have been asked. The point is that clearly, our processes were not clear, and they need to be made clear through this report with all of the recommendations. It's clear that we need to move forward and put them in place to protect the taxpayer.

The points speak for themselves, so Kelly doesn't have to address them. Lessons are learned, but Kelly doesn't have to articulate them. Clearly things are unclear, but they'll be made clear with clear recommendations but Kelly won't clearly spell them out.

This, folks, is verbal diarrhea; Kelly is simply spewing bullshit words that could mean something, but strung together as a response to real questions with real context mean nothing at all. Kelly doesn't engage the argument. He doesn't try to refute it, he doesn't drill down into it, he doesn't acknowledge its existence. He simply says words, meaningless, context-free words.

In short, Peter Kelly is the Sarah Palin of Nova Scotia. His involvement in the real, physical world of cause-and-effect, of historic fact, of actions and responsibilities, of agency is nowhere to be found; instead, he is an identity, disconnected from any objective reality.

Sarah Palin is the Family Values superstar who epitomizes the strong independent spirt of Alaska because she says she is, and never mind all the evidence to the contrary; Peter Kelly is the nice guy at the fish fry who wants to "protect the taxpayer" because he says he is, and never mind that he was the proximate cause of the taxpayer losing $400,000 and being exposed to a potential lost totalling in the millions of dollars.

For The Coast's complete coverage of the Common concert financing scandal, click here.

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