Mayor's political staff now have direct pipeline into city bureacracy
In my previous life working for what was known as the Unemployment Insurance Department, we had a saying. "There is no such thing as a mutual agreement" when it comes to someone being fired, or quitting their job.
I remember the standard question UI Agents used to ask employers. "Was it you that approached the employee first, or did they approach you about leaving". We were trained to ask the question in order to make a legal determination whether someone had been pushed out the door, or whether they quit voluntarily. To have a mutual agreement departure, both parties would have to simultaneously determine it was time for the employee to go...not likely to ever happen.
That's why Geoff "Mayor" Meggs' comment to the CBC that the firing of Judy Rogers was an "agreed resignation" caught my eye. An agreed resignation? Who does the Mayor think he's kidding? How many average taxpayers who up and quit their jobs are entitled to $571,000 of "severance" pay?
Mayor Meggs was the designated spokesperson on this thorny issue. His day must have been a long one. Here are some of his better quotes related to the massive severance pay resulting from Mayor Robertson firing Rogers:
"It may be hard for the average..for some people to understand..."
"The cost is what it costs when you decide to make a change of leadership..."
"It's exactly the right amount..."
There you go Vancouver taxpayers. Our Vision government did what we needed to do, so 'average' taxpayers should pay up, and they shouldn't complain about it.
About a month ago, CityCaucus.com filed two separate FOI requests. One asked for details related to the severance package for former City Manager Judy Rogers, while the other asked for a copy of the new City Manager's employment contract.
At around 9 a.m. today, I received a call from someone in the media who knew we had put in both FOI requests. They advised me that Kevin "Vancouver Kid" Quinlan, political staffer in the Mayor's Office was suddenly calling around all the newsrooms in town shopping around the Ballem/Rogers story...and offering up Mayor Meggs for interviews on the subject.
Hmmm...CityCaucus.com had put in our FOI request, had not yet received the details, but Mr. Quinlan was busy calling newsrooms with the details we had requested?
We then placed a call into the FOI clerk at City Hall and they confirmed they had NOT provided the FOI information to the Mayor's political staff. They had no idea how it got into Vancouver Kid's hands.
Rather, they had only provided a copy to three entities. The City Manager's Office, the City Clerk and the Communications Department headed by Laurie Best. Then at 10 am this morning, they sent it out to us via snail mail, and to a few other parties via email.
So it goes without saying that prior to 10 am, one of those three entities determined it was in their best interest to provide sensitive FOI information to the political staff in the Mayor's Office.
Once again, this type of activity is making an increasing number of good public servants quite uncomfortable with the obvious politicization of the bureaucracy at City Hall.
Clearly the Mayor's political staff have a direct pipeline into the bureaucracy, now if only we could figure out who that might be.
NOTE: The 'real' Mayor is on holidays, and unavailable for comment on this story.