Oh look, a squirrel!

Yesterday I read two stories which, when read one after the other, show an interesting contrast.

The first is from the BBC, which continues its core policy of using money forcibly lifted from the pockets of British citizens to campaign for Hillary Clinton by relentlessly posting negative articles about Donald Trump:

In Vancouver, the developer of a new Trump Tower has been under pressure for months to drop the Republican presidential candidate’s name from the project. Meanwhile, the Trump Tower in Toronto is the subject of a lawsuit after facing years of controversy.

Squabbles over real estate in provincial Canada deserve front-page billing on the BBC’s website, apparently.

Donald Trump’s controversial run for US president is having an impact on his businesses in Canada and knock-on effects for those who have partnered with his brand.

The opening date for the Vancouver hotel has been delayed until 2017, well after November’s US election. A contest offering a chance to meet with the Trump family for the grand opening caused a stir.

Caused a stir!  Oh my!  Pass me my smelling salts, Maude!

Across the country, the Toronto building, which opened in 2012, has been the target of a lawsuit by small investors who claim they were misled into buying into the project. Its developer, Talon Development Inc, has tried to remove the Trump name from the troubled hotel and condominium complex.

The story is similar in other countries.

Is it?  Let’s see.

In Dubai, a firm building a golf complex with Mr Trump removed his name and image from the property. In Turkey, the developers of Trump Towers Istanbul have tried to distance themselves from the Republican hopeful. And there have been protests outside Trump buildings in the US.

Only at the BBC is a lawsuit involving possible fraud “similar” to protests about somebody’s opinions.

An Angus Reid Institute poll released in December indicated that 56% of Canadians supported having the Trump brand dumped from the two Canadian towers.

Presumably 44% of Canadians responded with “What the fuck has this got to do with me?”

Brent Toderian, a Vancouver-based city planner, was the first to openly oppose Trump branding on the 63-storey Canadian tower, designed by famed architect Arthur Erickson to have a distinctive 45-degree twist as it rose into the sky.

“We’ve taken a building that is the second-tallest in the skyline, carefully planned at least in part by one of our most revered Canadian architects – a very elegant piece of architecture for our skyline – and retroactively duct-taped Trump’s name to it,” he said in an interview.

So we have a Vancouver-based city planner who appears to be unaware of how the naming rights of buildings work.  Isn’t Canada the place all those super-clever Americans are going to flee to in the event of a Trump Presidency?

The luxury hotel and condominium tower in downtown Vancouver is owned by the Holborn Group, a private real-estate developer which partnered with the Trump brand in 2013.

Why should the wishes of mere owners of a development override the concerns of a random city planner?  Democracy has failed, people!

The project is licensed to use the Trump name and brand – including for Canada’s first Mar-a-Lago Spa by Ivanka Trump – and will be managed by the real estate magnate’s company, which is also overseeing the building’s interior design.

Why, it’s almost as if the Trump brand adds value.

In December, Mr Toderian renewed his call for the Holborn Group to distance themselves from the Trump name. He was joined by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who said the brand had no place on the city’s skyline.

The owners of that skyline beg to differ:

The Holborn Group did not respond to requests for comment but in previous statements has noted that the still-unfinished building will create some 300 new jobs.

300 jobs is a small price to pay for looking virtuous.

“Donald Trump’s hateful positions and commentary remind us all of much darker times in our world’s past – and it is incumbent upon all of us to forcefully challenge hatred in all of the ways that it confronts us,” he wrote in a letter to the developer.

Translation from whining Canadian into other forms of English: “I don’t like Trump and everyone should be forced to agree with me.”

Fortunately there is somebody up there with some sense:

“Holborn, a company that has contributed immensely to the growth of Vancouver, is not in any way involved in US politics. As such, we would not comment further on Mr Trump’s personal or political agenda, nor any political issues, local or foreign,” CEO Joo Kim Tiah said in December.

And yet more sensible folk are voting with their feet:

Despite the fuss, nearly 10,000 people have applied to work at the Vancouver Trump Tower, according to the hotel’s general manager, and Holborn says it has sold all the luxury condos in the building.

Presumably Vancouver-based city planners don’t rub shoulders with the types that work in hotels very often.  Apart from when snapping fingers at them.

In Toronto, project developer Talon was close to a deal to sell the troubled 65-storey hotel and condominium complex at the heart of the city’s financial district earlier this year. However, Toronto’s Trump Tower is currently off the market.

Talon chairman Alex Shnaider was also trying to have the Trump name removed from the building, at one point seeking to do so through arbitration. Those efforts also appear to have stalled. A lawyer for Talon refused to comment other than to note there is currently no lawsuit between the owners of the hotel and Mr Trump.

Emphasis mine.  The BBC doesn’t give up easily, though:

The building is the subject of a lawsuit by disgruntled buyers who lost money after investing in the property, in one instance almost 1m Canadian dollars ($750,000; £613,000).

I’m listening.

The Trump Organization does not have an ownership stake in the building but it operates and manages the hotel and licenses the Trump name to the complex for a fee.

Oh.  So the upshot of this entire article is that a building which Trump has no ownership stake in is the subject of a lawsuit in provincial Canada, and a Vancouver-based city planner doesn’t like a development that 10,000 people want to work at.

Why is this on the front page of the BBC again?  That was a rhetorical question.

The second piece is a comment over at Samizdata by “bobby b”:

A few weeks ago, I listened to a radio interview of a Democrat operative talking about the Dem National Committee e-mails that had been leaked, which showed that the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders, that the DNC and the press were working hand in hand, and that an awful lot of campaign money and influence was coming in from foreign sources.

His, and his interviewer’s, and their call-in commenters’, take on the situation was that they should be more careful with their e-mail and comm security.

Not a word of concern for the lies and deception that the e-mails made evident. Not a word about how our government is supposed to work versus the bastardization of a system they had created. Not a word about the felonies committed in allowing foreign money to affect our election.

No, their take was, we have to lie more securely.

Rampant corruption at the very highest political offices across the land is actively ignored by our contemporary media.  Instead they distract us with non-stories about people we aren’t supposed to like.

In a few weeks we’ll find out whether the mainstream media is still relevant.  Whatever the result of the election, I think they are damaged beyond repair and their remaining time is very limited.

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4 thoughts on “Oh look, a squirrel!

  1. Funny they should mention that Toronto building. A quick search reveals that its controlling shareholder, Talon, is owned by a billionaire called Alex Shnaider, born in Leningrad in 1968. At age four, his parents moved to Israel. In the early 1980s, they moved again, this time to Canada. In the 1990s, he started selling steel products on behalf of Ukrainian producers, making enormous margins, and ended up with a share in Zaporozhstal, a major steelmaker. Judging by the provenance of his $1+ billion fortune, he’s essentially a post-Soviet oligarch.

    Forbes wrote in 2005:

    The Trump International Hotel & Tower started out as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Condominium Residences, backed by a developer named Leib Waldman, who had fled Pennsylvania years earlier to avoid serving time there for embezzlement. When his past was uncovered by the media in 2002, the Ritz pulled out and Waldman disappeared again…

    Brought into the deal by Waldman’s former Toronto partner, Shnaider bought the downtown site for $28 million in cash late last year, assuming majority control of the equity in a putative $500 million, 70-story tower that, so far, exists only on paper… Trump is licensing his name and will manage the property. No equity yet; no profit participation. The two barely know each other.

    Basically Shnaider and his partner Val Levitan needed Trump’s brand to sell the condos and suites to smaller real estate investors. The idea was that the apartment owners would rent them out, pay a management fee to Trump as the hotel manager, and the difference would be their investment income. It didn’t work out that way because by the time the tower was built, 2012 I think, the real estate market had collapsed, rents had gone down and occupancy rates were dismal. Some of the investors sued Talon, complaining they had been tricked into thinking they were buying from the Great Donald Trump himself rather than from a bunch of shady New Russians. The claims were probably indefensible, but obviously Trump was the opposite of a toxic brand in 2005.

    Now though, Shnaider wants to wiggle out of the management contract with Trump, but that’s not the reason why the hotel is on sale. Talon can’t pay back the bank loans, that’s why. According to Vice:

    Zucker [Shnaider’s lawyer] says Trump himself has nothing to do with why the building, where most of the condo and hotel units remain unsold, is being shopped around.

    “Trying to deal with Mr. Trump is separate from the sale of the hotel,” said Zucker. “One doesn’t hinge on the other.”


  2. Pingback: Shnaider Tower | The Dilettante's Winterings Shnaider Tower | At 55°45' N.L.

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