Probably the most frequent question the chattering classes have asked me on the Vancouver Christmas cocktail circuit over the last few weeks (other than who do I think leaked the Olympic documents - stay tuned, I'll post something about in-camera meetings later) is whether Vancouver City Manager Judy Rogers will last under this new Vision administration. The short answer is yes - at least for now.
Before I left my post at City Hall, I had numerous conversations with Vision types about Rogers. Yes, I know what you're thinking...Vision and NPAers actually speak to each other? Despite what you may read in your favourite blog, once the cameras are gone, the staff have exited and the lights in the chamber are turned off, political types do actually talk to each other. Hey, it's a fish bowl in there...we need to stick together! I digress.
Prior to the November 15th election, I kept hearing a recurring theme in my discussion with the Vision folks. It centred around how, if given the chance, they wouldn't "make the same mistake twice".
You will recall when COPE/Vision got elected in 2002, there was a LOT of internal pressure to let her go and replace her with a partisan. Sources say it was former Mayor Larry Campbell who would hear nothing of it. In the end, the only thing Campbell dismissed were calls from his fractured caucus to dump her.
Having worked closely with the City's corporate management team for almost three years, I quickly realized the loyalty, dedication and support that Judy has among these people. The reality is she brought many of them to the dance floor. And for those that she didn't, the loyalty remains. This is something you don't see being replicated across the country. It's unique, and is a testimony to Judy's style of leadership.
So back to the question, will she stay or will she go?
I still believe that if Robertson were going to let her go, his advisors would recommend he do it quickly, before Christmas, and hope that the public was not paying attention. In politics, that little trick is called "take out the trash Fridays".
But the last council meeting of the year is fast approaching and there are still no in-camera (aka secret) meetings scheduled to make a change at the top. Yes, Mayor Robertson would actually have to go behind closed doors to give Rogers her walking papers, ironic considering the furor the in-camera practice has caused here lately.
So at least for the next few months, Rogers, the ultimate CBS Survivor (she's lived through former Mayors Philip Owen, Larry Campbell, Sam Sullivan and now Gregor Robertson) will live to see another day.
But how did this come to pass when so many Vision folks wanted their first act of government to be the selection of a new city manager?
I believe the answer lies in those loyal, dedicated colleagues I referred to earlier who sit around the corporate management board table with her. I know them well, and I also know that if Judy were to be pushed, a few more would voluntarily head out the door with her, leaving the city with a huge management vacuum.
For those who chose to stay under the new leadership, they would forever remember how their popular leader was shabbily treated. Hmmm...angry public servants, management chaos...that doesn't sound like a recipe to help move your agenda forward.
It is for this reason why saner heads have prevailed on the third floor of 12th & Cambie. Everyone realizes this is not the time to push the red button.
Vancouver is about to host the Olympics in 14 months. At the same time, it is trying to make a dent in homelessness by steering through the bowels of city planning the most ambitious social housing development plan in the city's history - in record time no less!
The global economy is in meltdown, and our local economy is now teetering on the brink, with major developments in the city either shutting down, or slowing down construction every day. If there was ever a time for stability at city hall, now is it.
I think Mayor Robertson looked around after he got elected and realized that he might appease some members of his caucus if he were to push Rogers out, but in the long-run, it would impact his chances of getting re-elected in three years.
On this one, like his predecessor Larry Campbell, he made the right decision.