CityCaucus was provided with a leaked copy (see above) of Vancouver's Human Resources Manager's letter of resignation
The rumours had been swirling over the last few days that another "biggie" was about to pack it in at Vancouver city hall this week. Given that a few of the top brass are busily meeting with headhunters on a weekly basis, it was anyone's guess as to who that "biggie" would be.
As Frances Bula first reported on her blog (note we're acknowledging her excellent sleuthing and giving her credit...let's hope that starts to go both ways) Kevin Ramsay, the city's human resources chief, has called it quits and by doing so has given Mayor Robertson's hand-picked city manager a human resources headache.
I placed a few calls in to city hall staffers this evening to gather some of the early reaction to Ramsey handing in his resignation to Penny Ballem this afternoon. The general consensus is that he left because he wasn't prepared to work under the new political "doctrine" being imposed on senior managers and frontline workers alike.
I'm told that corporate management team meetings are now almost always very tense affairs. Everyone is on pins and needles waiting to be the next one to be yelled at for whatever else has "gone wrong" at city hall on any given week. Morale is at an all time low, and those senior managers who still remain (and there aren't many folks) long for the days when the team was all pulling together for a common goal. Ballem's musings about rolling back the pay for senior managers as part of the Core Review process has not helped improve matters any.
In the last several months since Robertson was elected, there have been many changes in his senior personnel. Here is a summary:
- Kevin Ramsay, Human Resources Manager - resigned
- Ray Holdgate, Fire Chief - resigned
- Dave Rudberg, Head of Olympic Operations - resigned
- Jody Andrews, Deputy City Manager - resigned
- James Ridge, Deputy City manager - resigned
- Judy Rogers, City Manager - fired
- Laurie Best, Director of Communications - shuffled to new assignment
- Brent Humphrey, Director of Strategic Relations - resigned
- Who's next ???
Regardless of what kind of spin the mayor and his staff (and all others drinking the Kool-Aid) want to put on this, the firing, resignation and shuffling of so many senior managers in such a short period of time is clearly a vote of non-confidence in both Robertson and his new city manager.
As reported here earlier, I'm also told at least one other corporate manager had also handed in a letter of resignation, but was convinced to stay on...at least for now.
It's my understanding that all these changes in the senior ranks are having no impact on Ballem at all. As far as she's concerned, the recent resignations of the city's collective corporate memory are part of a general housecleaning that should have happened years ago. As any good doctor might say, it's a "healthy" part of the renewal process.
The problem Ballem faces is that after a few months on the job, she too would like to make a few changes of her own at the top. I'm advised she was just about to let a senior member of the corporate management team go when she received the letter of resignation from former deputy city manager James Ridge.
Once Ridge had quit, she couldn't let anyone else depart for fear that it would look like the boat truly was sinking under her leadership. Ramsey's departure gives her even less wriggle room to make the kind of changes she would like to make at the top - despite the fact her political masters and some developer types are apparently calling for it.
There appears to be one more major shoe to drop, perhaps as early as this September when another senior member of the corporate management team looks to be calling it quits. Once the ink is dry on what appears to be somewhat of a lucrative offer, Ballem will have almost no corporate memory left at her management table. This at a time when the city will be needing that memory most as it is about to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kevin Ramsay was a great public servant with an even better reputation for getting along with almost everyone. Even the union heads seemed to pleased with his new, even-handed approach.
Now he's heading off to work in the quaint community of Squamish, B.C. about an hour north of Vancouver. Yes...he's leaving the most beautiful city in the world that's on the verge of hosting the biggest event in its history to go work in Squamish.
Don't get me wrong - I love Squamish. But my heavens, things truly are a bit stinky in the state of Denmark when a tiny logging town has more allure than working at Vancouver City Hall. A bit sad I must say.