Once advocates of whistleblower legislation, Vision now opts for stealth
We'll begin with a quote from the Vision Vancouver election platform, signed off by then mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson:
"We will begin by rebuilding trust with Vancouver’s citizens through a more effective, open, and accountable municipal government."
If this is a goal for which Mayor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver government are to be judged, then after seven months they get a failing grade.
A week ago CityCaucus.com broke the story that the City of Vancouver would be hiring former BC Liberal candidate and broadcaster Robin Adair as an intergovernmental liaison. He will NOT be hired by the Mayor's office as political staff as was erroneously reported elsewhere.
Only look at recent comments coming out of the Mayor's office about "heads rolling" (circulated by fellow blogger Frances Bula as a warning to staff) on the untimely release of news about a recent hire at the City of Vancouver. This, from a party that advocated for whistleblower legislation.
Given CityCaucus.com's wide array of sources within Vancouver City Hall, how would it look if a vindictive administration took to punishing staff for making public information public?
We might also point out that there is a City Hall hiring freeze with all departments in lock down mode, but we guess this freeze does not apply to senior management.
On the one hand we want to compliment Ms. Ballem on a good hire. Undoubtedly, Robin Adair will be a welcome representative of the City Vancouver in Victoria. If not for about 400 or so votes Adair would be sitting as part of a Gordon Campbell government. His experience in the Victoria scene is top notch, and he knows the government inside and out by most accounts.
However, was any search for this newly created position posted internally at the City? Was there any indication of compensation for what this position might be, or an open competition for this job? Here, in her memo to staff released yesterday this is how Ballem justifies the hire:
Being Host City for the 2010 Winter Games brings remarkable opportunities for Vancouver. We need to leverage these to our full advantage as we consider the implications of hosting government leaders from around the world. In addition, the commitments of the provincial and federal governments to stimulus and infrastructure funding, the significant policies and capital infrastructure plans under consideration by Metro Vancouver, Translink and member municipalities; and the complex environment of First Nations relationships all point to a need for enhanced intergovernmental activities at a senior staff level.
I am pleased to announce that Robin Adair will be joining the City on July 20, 2009 as General Manager, Intergovernmental Relations and Strategic Partnerships.
Bringing with him extensive experience and expertise in building partnerships with provincial and federal governments, the business community and the media, Robin will be working over the next 18 months to build a platform for these critically important relationships.
Translation: we've decided that we need a go-to guy who's buddies with the Premier, and we've made that decision and you just have to accept this bafflegab as justification.
But what's that we hear blowing in the wind? Listen. Yes, it's the reverberating echoes of Councillors Louie, Deal and Stevenson yelling for three years that Mayor Sullivan should be the City's ambassador, not a third party. Yes, that was then and this is now as they say, but the hollering from Vision over their opposition to hiring a lobbyist still rings in the ears of City Hall watchers. "Why don't you pick up the phone and call the Premier," they howled. Blecch. What hypocrisy.
Back at City Hall staff and managers who are slugging it out with no overtime, no new head count and no replacements for staff who go on mat leave, quit or retire have to be just a little grumpy over the City Manager's decisions.
As for the ongoing practice of secrecy under this Vision government, there's little evidence that they'll soon practice what they preached.