Hogan’s hobbyhorses

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He has his fans, and he has his foes. He’s been accused of conflict of interest, he’s been slapped with lawsuits, and he’s presided over everything from near financial collapse to hurricane devastation.

But in the end, it was Bill Hogan who made his own decision to quit his post as mayor of Placentia. He’s walking away from 44 years in politics as of September’s municipal elections.

Hogan was briefly a Liberal cabinet minister in the 1990s. In 1997, he was elected mayor of Placentia and served until 2001. He was elected again in 2005. Over that time, he tried unsuccessfully to regain the Liberal nomination for the district, but has since shelved most of his partisan ties.

For Hogan, it didn’t matter what stripe you were. What mattered is what you could do for Placentia.

When Hogan started his current reign as mayor, the town was looking forward to a windfall from the plan to build a nickel plant at the old Argentia navel base. To Hogan’s dismay, the company changed its mind the following year and opted for Long Harbour next door.

On Wednesday, however, TC Media discovered that Hogan may at least get some vindication on another of his longtime hobbyhorses.

Earlier this week, the town granted a work permit for Husky to potentially build an offshore oil platform in Argentia for its West White Rose project.

In exchange, the town gets monetary pledges, as follows:

• a signing bonus of $250,000

• construction permit fee of $250,000

• grants in lieu of taxes of $500,000 each for 2014, 2015 and 2016

• grant in lieu of taxes in 2017 of $250,000

According to sources, the deal was voted on and accepted at a town council meeting on Monday night — but is conditional on Husky’s development moving ahead.

And there’s still no guarantee it will.

In 2000, Hogan teamed up with then-St. John’s mayor Andy Wells to fight Husky’s decision to build a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit for White Rose. The mayors wanted the company to build a gravity-base system (GBS) instead.

They lost that battle, but may be close to winning the war. As well as reaching an agreement with the town, Husky received an environmental green light from the province this week, with conditions.

But the company is still playing its cards close to its chest. A spokeswoman said Tuesday that no decision has been made.

Meanwhile, another of Hogan’s campaigns may still be dead in the water. A decade ago, the mayor had hoped to see onshore work resulting from White Rose’s bountiful natural gas reserves.

To date, however, Husky says the economics just aren’t there, and the provincial government has expressed no interest in pursuing it.

You win some, you lose some.

Geographic location: Placentia, White Rose, Long Harbour

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