You can't save money through layoffs says Vancouver's City Manager

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Are empty offices going to become more commonplace at Vancouver City Hall?

You can find the most amazing things on blogs. Take for example a recent posting made by Alex Youngberg, CUPE 391 President. She is the head of the powerful library workers union in Vancouver. don't remember what a library is? It's that place you go to get a hard cover book.

Only months ago, Youngberg and her union colleagues were out there complaining about what a terrible relationship they had with City management - in particular former City Manager Judy Rogers. they say, that was then, this is now. Youngberg posted a fascinating Cole's Notes version of a recent meeting she had with new City Manager Penny Ballem. In reference to her conversation with Ballem, one of the more interesting statements posted on her blog is:

"Dr. Ballem does not believe [cost] savings are achieved through layoffs"

Wow...this will be a news flash to every single private enterprise out there who've been laying off folks faster than you can say recession. The blog goes on to reveal the following exchange that Ballem had with IOC bigwig Jacques Rogge:

Favourite Ballem quote when asked about her meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge, "Guess what? Our uterus won’t drop out when women ski jump”. Our collective uteri applauded.

Then Youngberg goes on to speak about how the City Manager and the union brass now share a common purpose:

Dr. Ballem says that we may not always agree with each other but understands that we have common goals.

For those worried about the current core review process being implemented at City Hall, you need not worry:

One thing that she will be doing is engaging the management team on an evaluation of core services. This is a “high level” discussion about the operations of the city. This is not getting into the minutia of departments.

As for that hiring freeze Vancouver taxpayers heard about...well some might be a bit cynical after reading the following comment on the blog:

The city manager did take several questions on the hiring freeze and acknowledged that it was a coarse instrument that is only designed as a bridge. She sees it being as temporary as possible.

We at don't quite know what "temporary as possible" means...but could it be that the freeze will be lifted right after the City's budget is approved? Hmmm...we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Clearly Ballem is reaching out to the unions, and for this she should be applauded. A good dialogue between the City's management team and its unions can only be seen as good progress in building better relations.


The "powerful" library union?


You were recently in government, Daniel. Which City workers would you lay off?


My tongue was firmly planted in cheek when I said "powerful"...I guess that was lost on a few folks. I thought my reference to the fact people didn't know what libraries were would have been enough of a clue.

As for layoffs...the good thing about not being in government any longer is that I don't have to make those decisions any more. Your question is better directed to Mayor Robertson and his Vision crew.

The good thing about not being in government any longer is that I don't have to make those decisions any more.

And yet you have so much advice to offer!

Clearly, you are in favour of layoffs.

Devil. Details. the good civic citizen and utilize your inside knowledge and let the electorate know where, exactly, this fat can be trimmed.

P.S. And all joking aside, stay on the the good side of librarians. They know how to look up stuff, especially obscure yet devastatingly accurate stuff, n'such.

I would love to hear what the Mayor has to say but I also think Spartikus' question is a fair one-it seems that citycaucus has offered up quite a few very specific suggestions as to what the mayor and council should have done in regards to other issues facing the city.
What if the question was more along the lines of "Where do you think the city could make changes-by any means-in order to save money?"

"...the good thing about not being in government any longer is that I don't have to make those decisions any more."

Daniel, you DIDN'T make those decisions when you WERE in government, which I believe is the point. Skwawking away about waste at City Hall and coming up with cosmetic cost cutting measures that you didn't make when you were there - and then shrugging when asked where the fat really resides - is what, I believe, they call a cop out.

You're not an NPA staffer anymore, you're a critic. Step up tell us where the axe should fall. If you don't have any ideas that don't include reducing the pencil budget by half, then you really should take a break on the rhetoric.

Yes, Daniel, do offer up some cost-cutting suggestions so that Spartikuss and friends can come back and piss all over those, too.

What this should point out to anyone reading this is that City Hall is the one devoid of any good ideas on creative cost-cutting. Where are Gregor's good ideas? How about Andrea Reimer or Ellen Woodsworth? What cost-cutting ideas have they come up with lately? Chickens? Bike paths? More homeless shelters? More Taser-wielding cops?

But of course, Vision and Gregor with Penny Ballem are too busy installing spy cameras all over Vancouver, they don't have time for these pesky cost-cutting ideas their sycophants expect you to write up.

Cost cutting instead of layoffs?

OK, how about the very rich (but quiet) raise given to Vanc. firefighters (yes, I know after 18 months of negotiating with Rogers et al, blah, blah blah) one week after Vision came to office? AND they got JR's head on a platter, too. Wow, look at what you get back from our civic government when you pick up the costs of their election billboards!

Firefighters got their raise PLUS 2% so that they would be at par with SURREY firefighters, not VPD members---the basis of their original request. Gee, wonder how that is sitting with Tom Stamitakis? What fun, when it's time for the police union to come back to the bargaining table. And you wonder why your property taxes will be going up??

Now, I love cops and firefighters; in fact I wish we could get more of them (and as far as I'm concerned, cops should be making $100K per year to put up with the shite they have to put up with every day. It would be cheaper that O/T!!!).

But I think that that kind of raise in one whack is a little rich for the times we live in. Add the supplemental pension fund the old boys have (go ahead, look it up)---one that I assure you that the librarians do not have---and I would not lose any sleep over a little trim for guys who, at some halls, are spending the majority of their duty time weight-training, shooting hoops, and riding around in their rigs, girl-watching (or swearing at female NPA candidates).

As for Reimer (what a disappointment she's turned out to be) or Ellen Woodsworth (even the Mayor was distraught that Geller didn't knock her off) coming up with economic ideas, I would defer to the chickens.

Well, this comment certainly has elevated the debate to a place where we can have a frank and honest discussion - free of partisanship and chippiness - on how to cut costs at City Hall.

(Yes, that's sarcasm you're picking up on...)

Listen people!!! All I see and hear is people talk ,jab ang go on on about nothing ,first let's trim that 17% raise city hall got last year then let's trim some fat of these city managers and superintendants ,let's leave these poor workers alone since they are the ones who pay all the taxes.what I don't understand is how the people get ripped off here by the government all the time and all anyone does is talk and talk until its forgotten ,in europe civil servants have 1 union u make 1 mistake the whole country shuts down !!! Here we are like a herd of cows led to the slaughter house ,stand up unite and fight ur all going to lose ur job anyway

do the math
$60,000,000 budget shortfall
if average of $50,000 an employee
=1200 layoffs.
let's turn police and firefighters into ei and welfare bums.

Check out!

Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement