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 CityCaucus.com. 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?
Here are only a few examples of the new Closed and Opaque Vancouver City Hall:
- In-camera meetings have skyrocketed under Vision Vancouver with no signs of slowing down
- The City Manager's hidden renovation scheme had to be revealed by CityCaucus.com
- Fire Chief Ray Holgate departs and only is publicly revealed by CityCaucus.com
- Minor items like the Hoggan contract and the Vision Vancouver inaugural backslap have to be detailed through FOI requests
- The 311 phone service starts rolling out yet the City refuses to discuss it
- BONUS POINT: Vision Vancouver delays disclosure of Raymond Louie mayoral nomination donors
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.