Contract provides for City Manager to keep her medical practice

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Some on-site medical help at the Hall might come in handy

As developer consultant Jim Green said on the Bill Good Show yesterday, "I think Dr. Penny Ballem took a pay cut" to get her $304,000 City Manager's job. I guess we're supposed to feel lucky that Ms. Ballem has made this kind of personal sacrifice for our beloved city by the sea. of course revealed the details of Ballem's contract publicly for the first time last week.

It might be just me, but does nearly matching the salary of the outgoing City Manager, who had 20 years experience on the job, as the "entry level" salary for Ballem seem just a little generous? Isn't she already getting the 3-4% increase per year that all other City staff are getting through 2011? How about raising her salary subject to a performance review after 24 months? Oops, we forgot...City Manager's do not get performance reviews by third parties. Ballem's contract states:

"...the City Manager and the Mayor of the City will mutually establish Performance Targets for the following year."

What a great deal that is. You get to do your own performance evaluation, alongside the guy who hand-picked you and whose own personal political reputation depends upon your success. It's a quibble, I suppose, but it's also interesting to note that those who criticized executive compensation at City Hall in the past are now silent that a left-wing Council is running the show. Credit goes to the Vancouver Sun's Barbara Yaffe who today asked her own questions about executive compensation at City Hall.

There is a clause in Ballem's contract that raises eyebrows for us somewhat. Ballem is afforded the opportunity to practice medicine on a limited basis. Penny Ballem is a medical doctor of hemetology, a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and she's also allowed to bill MSP on the side if she so chooses provided it does not impact her primary duties as City Manager.

Is moonlighting without precedent for Vancouver City Hall's top cats? Actually, no. There is a long history of the leadership at 12th and Cambie doing work on the side to make ends meet.

Few knew that Judy Rogers was a weekend submarine captain involved in deep sea recovery operations. Before her Ken Dobell managed professional wrestlers on the side, and is reputed to have been the first person to use the term "smackdown" in relation to the sport.

It was what Vancouver's mayors found time for that may be of greatest interest.

Mayor Philip Owen, a man of the people, drove a taxi cab during evenings he wasn't in Council chambers. People would supposedly get in the cab and say, "Hey aren't you.." before Owen would cut them off with "Yeah, yeah, where do you want to go?"

Sam Sullivan, when not dreaming up ways to densify Vancouver, found time to buy and sell auto parts on Ebay.

It took Gordon Campbell a long time to shake his love of restaurant work, as he bussed tables throughout his first term as Vancouver's mayor.

Larry Campbell put many hours in as a stand-in on locally shot TV shows, often doing City Hall business right from the set over a phone.

Two of our mayors were also heavily involved in entertainment pursuits. Mike Harcourt did a ventriloquist act down at the old George the Fifth on Howe Street every Friday night. And Mayor Jack Volrich found time to tour with the Harlem Globetrotters selling t-shirts and other keepsakes.

And the revered Art Phillips? Art was much more low key about outside pursuits, but we can confirm that he made a pretty good living writing Harlequin Romance novels while in office.

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