Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Jan 15, 2015)

If there are issues


By Bob Cooper

This week’s news coverage of the strange events surrounding newly elected Saanich mayor Richard Atwell reminded me of the 1992 Presidential campaign of billionaire Texas rancher Ross Perot.  Running as a self-financed independent, his home-spun populist style and the fact that he was not beholden to either big business or big labor struck a chord with the average voter long disenchanted with the political establishment.

Just as it was starting to look like Ross was going to pull it off he appeared on national television and told a stunned audience of a raid by 5 rifle toting Black Panthers, hired by the North Vietnamese, who entered his ranch to assassinate him only to be driven off by his attack dogs.  In about 15 seconds people from Maine to San Diego watched their hopes evaporate as they realized that Ross was nuttier than a fruitcake.  The difference between the two was that Perot’s flameout happened before the election.

Les Leyne of Victoria’s Times Colonist describes Atwell as having “set a new benchmark for weirdness” that’s eclipsed the provincial legislature (Saanich eclipses legislature's weirdness).  

Think about that for a second, then realize that he’s also surpassed Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.  No small feat in either case. 


This all began last month with a 911 call to the home of one of Mayor Atwell’s campaign workers after a physical confrontation between Atwell and the worker’s boyfriend which arose out of suggestions of some Bill Clinton style monkey business between Atwell, who is married, and the worker.  In response to direct questions from reporters Atwell initially denied the affair.  Later he had second thoughts and fessed up.  His Come to Jesus moment was likely motivated by the potential of almost certain discovery but it avoided the need to hunt for contradictory evidence like credit card bills, motel receipts, stained blue dress, etc.


As anyone in public life knows, it’s never the act that gets you, it’s the cover-up.  In this day and age most people couldn’t care less that Atwell had an affair but he lied.  He didn’t sidestep the question by saying, for instance, that his private life is no one’s business.  He lied.  He claims he did it to protect those close to him (as opposed to protecting himself, of course) but it’s a lie nonetheless.

Then he wanted to be believed as he launched into a murky tale of spyware planted on his computer and a sinister campaign of harassment by the Saanich Police Department involving him being stopped 4 times in recent weeks for no reason whatsoever and being asked to blow into a Roadside Screening Device on two of these occasions.  According to Atwell both samples yielded a zero reading bolstering his claim of lack of justification.

The discovery of ‘spyware’ left Atwell so traumatized that he has to work at home and can’t even bring himself to enter city hall.  In the first place, the ‘spyware’ is a program called Spector 360.  It’s openly marketed as a product that allows an employer to monitor computer activity in the workplace which the employer is allowed to do (as a number of us have discovered over the years).  Secondly, the same product had been installed on a number of other computers at City Hall as opposed to the mayor being singled out.  Atwell claims this was all done without his knowledge but it now appears he was given a standard computer security form which explained the program but returned the form unsigned (Mayor received computer security form, didn't sign it), making this either an incredibly stupid attempt at deflection or a case of Cyber-Munchausen Syndrome.

By far, the most serious aspect (actually the only serious aspect) of all of this is the accusation of abuse of authority that the mayor has levelled against the Saanich Police Department to the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.  It’s very much in the public interest that the OPCC move on this and resolve it as quickly as possible.  His Honor may not realize it but in the Digital Age it’s almost impossible for a police officer to interact with a citizen without leaving some sort of record of it and a couple of off-line searches should be very telling.  If there is something to it let the chips fall where they may, but a critical clue (to anyone trained in Statement Analysis) appears in the last line of Michael Smyth’s column in Jan 15, 2015 Province (Saanich mayor certain they're out to get him) where the mayor is quoted as saying:   “If there are issues here,” he said, “I will be vindicated.”

A truthful person would not have used the word “if”.

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2015