Culture of secrecy shrouds affairs at 12th & Cambie

Post by Mike Klassen in

1 comment

  The Cone of Silence may become standard issue for Vancouver City staff

"Vancouver City Hall has become the most secretive place I've ever seen," says a City staffer who contacted It wouldn't be the first time we heard rumours about the Cone of Silence coming down in Mayor Gregor Robertson's Most-Open-And-Transparent-City-Hall-EVER.

Take the commentary by the eminent City Hall watcher Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight. In his blog post titled Big City Secret, Charlie wonders if it weren't for the posting of an email from City Manager Penny Ballem (by my colleague Daniel, last Saturday evening), would we have ever known that a senior member of the civil service (Chief Ray Holdgate) had stepped down?

Indeed, we're hearing a lot about the shoulder checking staff are doing now that "What will Geoff and Penny think?" is the daily mantra. It can't be long before side-by-side portraits of City Hall's Great Leader and Dear Leader enshrine the offices of all City staff.

Look at the output of Vancouver's lumbering corporate communications department headed by Vision Vancouver life partner Laurie Best. Two friggin' press releases during the whole month of February, with 2 others from Kevin "Vancouver Kid" Quinlan and the Mayor's office. Are they being chiseled in granite? How can a whole communications department only produce 2 bulletins in 28 days?

It's no wonder Hoggan had to be flown in to write the Mayor's Athletes Village spin, because Gutenberg was responsible for circulation.

Here are only a few examples of the new Closed and Opaque Vancouver City Hall:

To top it all off, we're hearing that the City Manager is not communicating with senior management in the way they were once used to.

Our regular Vision commenters will find a way to justify the culture shift as part of some great plan. But all of us know that a secretive workplace is a real drag. Not much a Great Leader or Dear Leader can do about that.

1 Comment

Whooa...spinoramma....i work for the city and we can go the other way tooo..look how huge the human resources dept has become under the previous regime...there is nothing "human" about it...and thankfully I have not had to deal with their curt methods of harrassment...maybe the opposite of the above is the "whistle blower policy" that was sent out to all employees by then manager judy rogers....yes thats just the idea to motivate and get the most from your staff....let everyone be on pins and needles - scared that loooking at someone the wrong...could become huge!!
I am sure I have seen the retiring Chief story in both major papers and on both 6pm news hours....the city managers "possible" reno and office move just isnt a big deal anywhere other than CCaucus site...and your point on in camera meetings is mute...the only issue with the in camera meetings was when they were gambling millions of dollars of taxpayers money....that type and size of issue needs more public disclosure...that was the issue with the camera meetings....I can tell you that it is more open as an employee I have been to meetings addressing the staff by both the mayor and city manager...this never happened in the previous leadership..and it definetely increases morale, productivity, and is transparent and opaque!!! It actually is...and its only been what 12 weeks!
Not bad...(+ they saved 90million in interest) !!

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