Forward-looking questions about what happened during development of the Olympic Village

In the welter of weekend Olympic Village analysis, Sun columnist Bob Ransford’s comments, buried deep in the Home Section, stand out both for their clarity and for Ransford’s willingness to consider what lessons the city needs to learn from the unfolding crisis that first came into public view during the 2008 election.

(Ransford is a consultant who does a lot of work in the development industry and helped lead Peter Ladner’s NPA mayoral bid.)

For those who don’t want to read the entire article, consider this excerpt, which summarizes some of the questions Ransford wants answered:

They are questions about how a city government conceived, planned, approved, structured, financed and managed a mammoth public project, risking hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars. They are questions about showcase projects and models of sustainability and about the financial viability of attempting to achieve multiple green-building and sustainable-development objectives on one project.

They are questions about how civic governance works, whether politicians had the information they needed to make decisions, about how that information was managed and presented and how decisions were made. They are questions about the structure of the public service in city hall, about what expert resources are available to decision-makers, about accountability, oversight and the ability to call on outside expertise.

I agree with what I believe Ransford is implying: that the OV problems were the product of a city hall political and managerial culture that was not up to the task. Ultimately, those at the top — mayor and council — are accountable for those failures, whether we like it or not.

But if we’re to avoid these problems in the future, voters need to understand what went wrong, why and how the problems can be fixed. Better city government should be one of the silver linings in what seems like a very dark cloud.