First of all, thanks to The Province's Mike Smyth for the great shout out in today's newspaper. My mom will probably buy several copies as a result. Mike made his regular appearance on CKNW's Morning News with Philip Till, and had a few things to say about Vancouver vs Seattle's response to the weather crisis. Here's the clip (email subscribers click here):
We said earlier that the glibness of the response of Mayor Robertson and Councillor Louie reminded us of another similarly underwhelming response to a weather emergency -- George Bush and Hurricane Katrina. We all remember when in August 2005 President Bush, after being holed up on holiday in Crawford, TX, saw fit to fly Airforce One over New Orleans after the levies broke.
When landing at YVR on Saturday after a Mexican siesta, do you think Gregor grasped the scale of the problem back home?
Stinging from criticisms from CityCaucus.com and others, this is what Mayor Robertson had to say:
"It's silly to politicize an extraordinary event," he said. "But it's fairly predictable that the political peanut gallery would do this."
He's particularly miffed at the suggestion he should have done media interviews from Mexico.
"I was in daily contact [with city hall] during my so-called holiday -- to the chagrin of my family," he said.
I'm going to let this rather selfish sounding statement from Vancouver's Mayor slide for now. Although I'm reminded of particularly vitriolic attacks from the Vision Vancouver campaign when NPA mayorality candidate Peter Ladner candidly admitted he'd like to take a week off after campaigning all year. The campaign posted a YouTube video (now taken down) titled "Peter's first week in office" and circulated it to supporters.
If Gregor's post-holiday snow troubles isn't a case of what goes round comes round then...
Since the Mayor is struggling with understanding how he and City Council failed Vancouver, here is a quick Leadership 101 to kick start the post-mortem process.
- Communicate with the public. If your Director of Communications took holiday time over Christmas then there is no reason that this person and support staff should have conditional job descriptions that require 24/7 availability during any crisis. The City Manager must be able to get a hold of this staff anytime, and must have the ability to post bulletins through web, media releases and any channels available.
- Get on the phone with the unions. A bunch of city staff would not come off holidays to shovel snow. This is a BIG problem. The unions spent a LOT of money and time to get you elected. Mike Jackson of CUPE 1004 will pick up the phone if the Mayor calls. You tell him, "Look, you got me elected, and now you're making me look like a chump. Get your staff back on the roads..."
- Let the City Manager know her responsibilities. We have to ask, if Judy Rogers was still City Manager, would we be in the mess we are in now? Gregor hired Penny Ballem. She owes him big time. The Mayor should have called Penny to get her to bust some chops in the communications and engineering departments.
- Own this. DO NOT blame CityCaucus.com or CKNW for your problems. You ran to lead this city. So lead.
You're welcome for this free advice. Now get to work and find a way out of this avoidable disaster.