A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

09 January 2006

And They Call This Justice?

So this is how it works:
About 1997 Robert Harrison was hired to cut down protected trees in Pacific Spirit Park. Harrison was a cocaine addict and claims to have been offered $5,000 for the job that he never actually recieved.

For his part in the deaths of 34 trees, Harrison received a conditional 9-month sentence, 18 months probation and 50 hours' community service.

His employer, who allegedy paid Harrison and two others to cut the trees, was Jacqui Cohen, owner of the Army & Navy store chain (nice place, I shop there myself). She paid $50,000. It seems as though she disliked the fact that her family mansion had dropped in value from $7.5 million to $5.9 million and decided to open up the view by clearing the obstructing trees. She told investigators that her home "just happened to be across the street" and denied knowledge of the cutting. Doubtless the fact that she was negotiating the sale of the property at the time didn't figure.

Cohen received no time, and the current value of her now-ex home is unknown. But I raise this story to make a point.

June Matheson, already a rich woman, also decided to improve the view from her home. She deliberately and with malice aforethought went to the US to purchase a poison with which to kill the trees. She bored holes in the trunks, poured in the poison, and went home, happy in the knowledge that her property value was climbing.

After an investigation costing the taxpayer many thousands of dollars, and an expensive prosecution her "punishment" is that same $50,000. Not even a fine, but a voluntary payment to the Parks Board, who admittedly have declared themselves satisfied.

My question is: Do you think the value of her home increased by more or less than 50K for having a view of English Bay?

So if you're a mansion-owner, $50 K solves all. If you happen to be a coke addict, you'll get a sentence and a (longer) record. Now if the value of your water-view home rises to $1.69 million from its former value, what percentage of that is 50 K?

Three percent. That's what it is. And remember, it's not a fine. It's $30 thou in "replacement cost" and a $20,000 donation to the Parks Board. There's no penalty here beyond the poor woman feeling badly about now having a home with no view.

So the logic is, if you need someone to commit a crime, hire a rich, old person. They clearly have nothing to lose.


At 10:59 a.m., Blogger Lori said...

Jacki Cohen is known as quite the benefactor of the downtrodden residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. I wonder what I would find if I looked into that part of her history -- does this philanthropic behaviour arise from remorse over her past misdeeds, or does she separate the two sides of her life? Is she trying to make up for throwing a drug addict to the wolves, or did she meet the drug addict she needed through her work in the Downtown Eastside?

Maybe I don't want to know.


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