Bits and Bites – Wednesday February 4th, 2009

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the man who was killed in the most recent Surrey targeted hit was 21 year old Ralph Baldini – the same person who rented the north Surrey Penthouse where 6 people were brutally murdered in October 2007.

Shot while sitting in his vehicle outside of the London Drugs store at Guildford mall – a very busy entrance to the mall – he is the most recent killing in a series of shootings that have occurred in Surrey over the last couple of weeks.  And, interesting enough, I found a small article in the Surrey Now last night  detailing  4 more reports of shots fired over the weekend, that didn’t end tragically.

-1:35 pm Friday- shots fired from a vehicle at heading east on 100th ave near 138 st, target/targets unknown

– 4 am Friday, shots fired at a house at 121st and 94th ave – resident called cops after finding bullets stuck in the walls of his home

-1:44 am Saturday, multiple shots fired  near a  Fleetwood pub, with multiple casings located and target unclear.

-ten minutes later , 1:55 am on Saturday,more shots rang out from a different vehicle near 81st ave and 150th st.- again, target unknown

Add these to the already long list of shootings detailed in this recent blog post: , and you have quite the scene in Surrey. Frankly, it’s a joke. Once again I’m embarrassed to tell people where I live, because the impression is ….( as one reader pointed out) Slurry. Scurvey. No wonder the mayor and  most of the council live out of the main parts of the city. . With everything that’s going on lately, the mayor better be praying that nothing goes down at the upcoming Winterfest,most of the activities are located in lovable, shootable Whalley.  Let me end this with an excerpt from an email that was sent to me last night about how one resident feels about Surrey.

” Well, yet another murder in Surrey… ummm two blocks from my children’s school…

Living in Surrey is so wonderful – the peaceful sounds of sirens and gun shots,(the sound of retaliation) the smell of pot coming from the neighbors house and the domestic dispute on the street….the soothing sounds and smells to help me rest at night…Well, the homicide investigation team will be working hard on this case just like all the other unsolved shootings in Surrey…”

I hear you, anonymous, I hear you.

To my American readers: there is a company in Florida using a link to a past blog post of mine on their business website, under the title ” Love Thy Teenager” , clearly trying to evoke an emotional reaction from potential customers that might engage them to purchase their services for parties and functions.  – I would like to say that while I do not condone drinking and driving, I also do not endorse this business or its services, or the fact that they are using one my blog posts for a commercial purpose . I have asked them to remove this link  immediately, however they have not acknowledged my contact in any manner.I generally don’t have an issue with other bloggers linking up to past blog posts, but this is clearly a profit driven venture.

The sadness that overwhelms me every time I see the Robert Dzeikanski  tasering video will never subside,and with every bit of testimony it gets worse. Clearly, this is a case where everything that could go wrong – did. And Robert was a victim of a system that broke down at every possible juncture. Although I am disheartened that nothing will likely happen to the RCMP officers who, in my opinion, carry some culpability in his death – one can hope that everyone involved will take away stern lessons from this, and allow changes to the system that can prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. CBC has carried ongoing coverage of the testimony occurring at the Braidwood  inquiry, and the following links will give you access to some of that information :


Yet another Surrey murder, the Premiers deficit threat and why I support FSA tests.

Yet another shooting death in Surrey hit the news this morning.

At least it was in Whalley and not down the street from me, but I’m sure that is of no comfort to the neighbours who lived in the area of the crime.  Watt’s up these days  in Surrey ? Seems to be no end in sight for my fellow Surrey residents, and I think it’s safe to say there is likely a fairly large percentage of  people who are carrying weapons of one kind of another in my fair city. God forbid you flip the wrong person the bird around here. You might end up dead.

What will it take for the mayor to take this seriously?  I don’t want to hear about any more questionable statistics, and I don’t want to hear about how she thinks it is the media’s fault for perpetuating this horrible feeling of fear, that she maintains residents don’t have. It simply is not true. Very few incidents happen in her Cloverdale neighbourhood, or in the South Surrey area where almost all councillors reside.

Gunfights in the middle of the day, a targeted hit in a residential neighbourhood, another shooting in an apartment block where families live and work and children play. We do not have the number of RCMP needed to take care of business here, that is  shamefully clear, and the reputation that Surrey has been working hard to shed has quickly gone down the tubes.  I can’t even fault people for thinking this way, because  honestly- lately I feel like I should be carrying “protection” when I go out.

Talk to some of the residents who have bought into those highrises in Whalley and you will hear how they feel duped because they thought the area was going to get better. And I laugh because a damn good portion of their evils were just pushed down the King George corridor to Newton and area.  This requires something  more concrete than flowers on the boulevards, and more than school children’s pride -inspiring projects. This requires strict attention to every aspect of criminal behavior in our city, starting at graffiti and petty theft/vandalism, to the more serious drug trafficking, production and murder.

Abbotsford Police chief  Bob Rich is trying a rather unique approach to handle his cities problems, by telling local businesses to refuse service to local gangsters and their families…..

Hmm….. you go, Bob. And while this type of action might work if EVERYONE stands up at once and does it, more than likely it is going to lead to retaliatory violence and destruction taken against those very same business owners. And then what comes  of it? The police are supposed to be the ones to protect us, not ask us for help in handling their issues. The better move might have been to urge everyone to get their provincial and federal politicians asses moving and rehab our sentencing and penalties within the criminal justice system.

Watching Premier Gordon Campbell  last night, talk about how he is now forced to run a deficit after denouncing them for so long, I think no one could fail to notice how he succinctly pointed out that education and health care would be the areas of target should he try and run a balanced budget.  Nice one premier – get the people back in line with the fear of more cuts to two areas of our provincial system that have already been stressed under your leadership.

Funny how there was no talk about cutting back on all these 2010 expenditures, or tolling the Sea to Sky to reduce expenditures and increase revenue( can you say cash cow ? ), or handing in his own expense account. I mean, of course we all have to do our part here, but I don’t think we can count on the Premier taking transit anytime soon… Perhaps the premier might want to look at it from the average taxpayers viewpoint. We are getting screwed over no matter how you look at it, or how you add the figures up. BC assessments might have been frozen, but property taxes are going up in almost every city. These Olympic projects still all have to be paid for, don’t they, so whose pocket does it all come out of in the end?

Yours  and mine, my friends – yours and mine.

After tons of time and money spent- I’m sure – BC  teachers have been told that they must administer the Foundation Skills Assessment tests they have been fighting to scrap.

I have no doubt Irene Lanzinger will be beaking off about this for some time to come, but I think this is good news and let me tell you why I support the administration of the tests.

I have 4 kids, aged 17,15,4 and 7 months. One is graduating highschool this year, and one is entering kindergarten. In my many years dealing with teachers in the education system, things have changed drastically- and in my opinion- not for the better. While there are many wonderful educators still around, there are also some teachers out there who aren’t teaching because they love educating  and inspiring young minds, but because they like having so much time off. Hence, there is a lot of resentment for extra -curricular “duties”, as well as accountability.

Teachers never used to have computerized report cards, they were all handwritten with exceptional comments and insight offered to parents. We knew what our kids learned and didn’t learn because the teachers kept us in the loop, and alternatively, it was exceptionally easy to spot the teacher that wasn’t up to par. Teachers helped kids after school to get ahead and didn’t mind putting in what was required to get the job done.

All that has changed, and I see it all the time. Teachers out that door at 3pm like someone lit a fire under their ass. Teachers who don’t even comment on report cards. Teachers that resent any queries from parents and avoid answering questions if at all possible.

These tests not only tell us how our kids measure up, they tell us how our teachers measure up too. That’s not a bad thing in my eyes. Is there any job accountability currently? Not really. Am I worried about kids allegedly stressing out about these tests in particular? Nope ,no at all. Kids need a bit of competition skills and they need to learn how to deal with it. Too often we stress the ” everybody wins” theme in schools and its not producing a generation of kids who have no idea of what it means to strive for the best.  It is all in how this test – as with anything else- presented, and this excuse bites on the part of the teachers. Present it to the kids as if its a problem for you, and you are going to have a problem. Present it as if its no big deal, and you’ll get the usual whiners but no real objections.

If it were true they hate seeing kids stress out, then they would be objecting to all tests – not just this one.

Its time we stood up for more accountability on the part of the adults we entrust our children to for a good portion of their young lives. As parents its our both our responsibility and our duty to ensure our children have the best possible education, and I for one, welcome the opportunity to see how my children, their educators and their schools measure up.

Oh great…. sounds like the Police chopper  hovering around over head again…. time to install some bomb deploying capability on that thing so they can handle these idiots once and for all.

Fallout from BC Casinos money laundering,crime”revelations” should fall on one mans shoulders

I’m curious as to Derek Sturkos job description. He IS the head of the BCLC, is he not? Does it not all come down to him in the end?

I’m willing to bet Mr. Sturko’s as head honcho are numbered, because the fastest and most efficient way for the Liberals to handle the latest PR nightmare is to make him the fall guy, appoint someone new, and claim a fresh start. Sweeping changes at BC’s casinos, is the line we’ll hear. Massive reform. No more money laundering (ahh, sure), no more babies in left alone in cars, no more crooked staff, no more drug deals, muggings loan sharks and extortioners….. yeah, right. Don’t fool yourself.  The ONLY way to stop all of the above activities is to close the casinos, and that’s not going to be happening anytime soon.

If the average citizen knew exactly how much revenue flows into government coffers as a result of all that gambling, and where it went, they would begin to understand why we really wont see anything change. They might institute a few new protocols to try and prevent the money laundering scandal from popping up again, but to make any real changes would mean starting from scratch. New staff, background checks on all of them- you think there aren’t good friends of gangs working in there now? Guess again.

Enoughs enough. The reality is that the way the current system is set up makes the province incredibly dependant on casino revenue. Not just the government, but all of us.  Take a look at these figures from the BC government website titled ” Where The Money Goes”  :


This overview shows the distribution of revenues from commercial gaming in British Columbia. All figures are projected for 2007/08.

Gaming revenue

Total revenues from commercial gaming in B.C. are expected to be $2.49 billion. After expenses, including prize payouts, total government revenues from gaming will be about $1.03 billion.

Government revenue will be distributed as follows:






Supporting communities
  Non-profit community organizations $147.6 million
  Local governments that host casinos and community gaming centres $75.8 million
  Local economic development projects $14.6 million
  Horse racing purse enhancement $5.0 million
Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch operations
  Core operations, including salaries and business expenses $11.8 million
  Responsible gambling education and problem gambling services $7.0 million
B.C. Government programs
  Health Special Account, to support health care services and research $147.5 million
  Consolidated revenue fund, to support other government programs, primarily health care and education $615.1 million
Government of Canada transfer
  Under a federal/provincial lottery agreement $8.6 million

 See the entire link with supporting reports at :

So you see, they are not likely to be shutting down, fining, or otherwise impeding the operation of any casino as a result of this news. Look where that money is going.  Gaming grants are the biggest and most dependable for many non-profit organizations, such as the one I worked for previously. It was the lions share of our budget for the year. I don;t condone it, I think it could have been done differently, but nonetheless, the government has become dependant on all the money wittered away by gamblers.

The evils of gambling are apparent, and really, there is little anyone can do to prevent it from occurring. Alcoholics will always get liquor, addicts will always get their drugs and gamblers will find away to gamble. Gangs will always pay of casino staff who work for peanuts, as well as managers and pit bosses,for ‘favors’.

Its the nature of the business. Ever been to Vegas? Why would you think Vancouver is any different? So, Derek, if you’re out there, I could be wrong about this whole thing, but you might want to start looking for ways to “cash out”. The BC government has a good record of finding a fall guy to take the rap and your days playing the game are likely to be limited.