Raj Hundal to City Hall - butt out!

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

3 comments

Park Board looking for new staff
Vancouver Park Board Chair hangs out the help wanted sign now that he's apparently back in charge of the hiring process for a new General Manager

Yesterday we reported that Raj Hundal, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board was going to make some sort of announcement. We have now obtained a copy of Hundal's statement whereby he makes it very clear who is in the driver's seat when it comes to hiring a new General Manager for the Park Board - and it ain't Vancouver's City Manager. Here is an excerpt from the statement he read into the record last night (emphasis ours):

As Chair of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation I accepted a letter of retirement from General Manager Susan Mundick. Susan has been an incredible resource to both the Commissioners on the Board and to our staff.

Susan feels that now is the right time to retire and I respect her decision. Susan, I speak on behalf of the Board when I say thank you for your years of service and we thank you for helping us in this transition process.

In the interests of securing a new General Manager for the Park Board, we will be moving to have an open recruitment and hiring process that will identify a new General Manager to work with the Park Board. The recruitment and hiring process will include input from senior staff.

But ultimately, and I want to be very clear about this, the final decision on hiring a new General Manager will be made by the Park Board.

The fallout from the recent dust-up between the Mayor's office and the Vision-dominated Park Board continued well into today's televised council meeting. A stern looking Mayor Gregor Robertson looked at Councillor Anton, wagged his finger in the air and scolded her for the recent media release the NPA caucus issued complaining about his Park Board power grab. Here is what His Worship said:

I want to caution elected officials in particular how we talk about our staff here at the city. There have been disparaging comments of late in recent days that are absolutely unacceptable they breach the code of conduct that we have here as elected officials as there's absolutely zero tolerance for making those kind of remarks about staff who are public servants.

We cannot as elected officials be in any way denigrating or slagging the efforts of staff working on behalf of the people of Vancouver. So I just want to make sure we stay on the positive here. We rise above it and we focus on getting the job done and supporting each other in all the important work we need to do here in Vancouver.

Anton was off camera, but I would rather doubt she was slumping back in her chair and feeling battered and bruised by "Father" Robertson during his somewhat out of character afternoon sermon.

Since when is there "absolutely zero tolerance" for elected officials to question whether the Mayor's office (through the City Manager) is interfering in Park Board affairs? Is it not Anton's democratic right, both as a former commissioner and city councillor, to speak up if she thinks the Mayor's office has gone too far? Not only is it her right, but as the lone opposition councillor, it's her job to raise public awareness regarding these types of issues.

City Manager Penny Ballem is most certainly a seasoned and professional public servant who works hard on behalf of the council she serves. But the fact remains she was also hand-picked by Mayor Robertson and his Vision caucus in a backroom process that ignored the City's normal hiring practices.

Robertson didn't hire a national search firm. He didn't post the position on the City's website. Nor were any other possible applicants offered the opportunity to apply for the City's top job. Nope. There was simply a decree from His Worship that Ballem would take over the reigns of power after Judy Rogers was fired.

Unfortunately, the by-product of all this politicization is that senior staff have clearly now become the target of criticism that only a year ago would have been the sole domain of elected officials.

3 Comments

Great. Now that the Parks Board Chair has found some spine, maybe he will start advocating for our parks and community centres.

Maybe he will speak up about the $3 million their Vision Vancouver collegues on council removed from the parks budget with nary a whisper from Parks Board.

Maybe.

Kudos to the Park Board Chair on this.
Despite the fact that these are challenging economic times, we still need to stand up for Parks and Recreation which our Chair is doing.
Now keep it up!!!!

But who will speak up for the cuts they made to the arts budget. Sigh.

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