If you noticed a black stretch limousine parked outside of O’Neil’s Home Cooking last Friday morning, it wasn’t JayZ and Beyonce (they dropped in in August) but we have it on pretty shaky authority that Fracesco Aquilini was in town to see what sort of a bargain basement deal he could get on Abbotsford Centre.
Aquilini, who is nobody’s fool, went to O’Neill’s because:
a) Only Abbotsford’s elite eat at O’Neill’s, and,
b) The O’Neill Classic – a delicious toasted and buttered golden homemade sweet potato bun topped with a slice of cooked ham, a fried egg, a slice of cheese, mayo and honey mustard – is something no one should miss in their lifetime
Banman, who has never been seen at O’Neill’s, had to fork over about $250 in unmarked bills just to get to the front of the line outside McNeill’s. When he finally got inside, Aquilini was almost done his sandwich but agreed to stay if Banman had anything valuable to offer him.
“How about Abbotsford Centre?” asked Banman.
“But I thought you said you would only negotiate a deal that was good for Abbotsford taxpayers,” Aquilini retorted.
“Screw that. Have you seen my numbers in the polls? Even my wife isn’t going to vote for me,” said Banman.
“I know what that’s like,” said Aquilini.
What followed was such a quick negotiation it would have made George Peary’s head spin.
“Before you say a word,” said Banman, “You want it … you got it. Can anyone else top that?”
“There’s no need to embarrass yourself Mr. Mayor. I’m a reasonable man,” said Aquilini.
Then the two got down to business.
Aquilini’s asks: [Bruce’s responses are beside each one)
1) Renaming the arena ‘Aquilini Centre’ – DONE
2) City of Abbotsford taxpayers to agree to cover any and all losses of any Aquilini family owned businesses anywhere in the world – DONE
3) A payment by the City to the Aquilini Investment Group of no less than $5 million a year regardless of ticket sales in perpetuity – DONE
4) The City to construct a special off-ramp from Highway 1 to Abbotsford Centre for the sole use of the Aquilini family and guests – DONE
5) Dave Holmberg to get on his hands and knees as a footrest for Aquilini whenever he is in attendance -DONE
6) Renaming the City of Abbotsford Aquilini Town – DONE
7) Various and sundry other small clauses totaling $10 million in payments per year in perpetuity by the City of Abbotsford to Aquilini – DONE
And so, it seems, Abbotsford is once again going to learn the lesson it keeps having to learn over and over again … if you’re a sheep, don’t send farmer to make a deal with the wolf. When dealing with the big boys Abbotsford always loses.
If you can imagine something more dangerous to the taxpayer than letting Bruce Banman try to negotiate a deal with Francesco Aquilini just before an election we’d like to hear it.