Monday, 30 December 2013


James Thurber recounted the  fable of the Little Girl and the Wolf.  One afternoon a  big wolf waited in the forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food for her grandmother.   When the little girl arrived at her grandmother's cottage, she saw that there was somebody in Grannies' bed with a nightcap and nightgown on.  Not taken in by the disguise, without a word, the little girl pulled out a Colt 45 and blew the Wolf’s head off.  

Moral:  It is not so easy to fool little girls  nowadays as it used to be.

Time passed. Wolves were driven out of town, forests were clear cut and affordable housing became  extinct.   

One day the Council asked the City Manager to restore the dwindled stock of affordable housing. 

The Manager said, "Sure. How affordable would you like it to be?"

Without blinking the Councillors  explained, “You know, Whatever.”

The Manager invited the developers to a costume ball and said, "The Council wants affordable rental housing.  Can you do this?"  

The Developers snapped back, “It Depends on a variety of factors including finishing, size,  fixtures, landscaping and such.”  

The Manager said, “Whatever?” 

The Developers explained, "Exactly."

A year later 1,917 rental units were completed.   

When a little girl in the West End  learned  that the rents were way higher than  current market rates,  she sued. She claimed that  "They had no right to delegate legislative powers to the Manager and the standards are inadequate. They have taken my money, handed it over to developers for these high priced chicken coups?"

Unlike the hapless wolf in the fable, the councilors, anticipated this reaction. "It is not about law," they opined. "It is all about spin."  They hired a battalion of professional  twitter persons.  “Tweet Like the wind,” exhorted the Mayor! 

And so they did. Here are the twinkling tweets the twitterers tweeted:
The @CityofVancouver is now 1,917 units above its target for new rental housing by the end of 2014:  #vanpoli #bcpoli
1. Mayor's Office ‏@VanMayorsOffice29 Dec “Making housing more affordable means residents & families can live closer to where they work" -@MayorGregor  #vanpoli
2. Quinlan ‏@KQ_VanCity26 Dec  Housing affordability, oil tankers, transit referendum: @MayorGregor year-end Q + A with @SunCivicLee  #vanpoli
3. lamontagne ‏@nlamontagne26 Dec In cities working to enable new cultures of walking/bicycling, police are often slowest to change.  #vanpoli #walkLA

Moral:  It remains to be seen whether it is any harder to fool little girls today than it was when James Thurber composed his fable. Whatever.

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