Disciples of the Green Age at the Hollyhock Institute are elated that Sadhu Aufochs is coming
Normally governments dish out bad news on busy occasions like Provincial Budget Day, so it's a puzzle as to why Vancouver City Hall timed their full court press publicity on the hiring of Sadhu Aufochs Johnston (which CityCaucus.com broke yesterday morning) over the last 24 hours. Papers are full of quotes from City Manager Penny Ballem and Gregor Robertson's normally retiring Chief of Staff Mike Magee on how pleased that they nabbed the new kid of Ohio as one of the heads of Vancouver's civil service. You'd just think they'd be proud enough of their hire to time the news a little better.
Once elected last November, the Vancouver Sun decided to dig a little more deeply into the financial backers of the person they described as Vancouver's New Age Mayor. When thousands of dollars from supporters like Raffi and several wealthy American social justice & sustainability advocates poured into Gregor Robertson, it signaled that the power and influence within Vancouver City Hall was getting a decidedly green tinge.
During Robertson's first months in office, the introduction of backyard chickens and a costly veggie garden on the front lawn of 12th & Cambie were feeble ways that the Vision council would show how it would lead Vancouver out of the age of carbon dependence. But with the hiring of green czar Sadhu Aufochs Johnston (he should be referred to by his first and middle names, just like "Anne Marie" or the Russian convention "Vladimir Ilyich"), Vancouver is confirming its reputation Mecca for New Age politics.
Sadhu Aufochs is married to Manda Aufochs Gillespie (she prefers just "Manda"), the Midwest's so-called "Green Mama." Also in her early thirties, Manda shares not only a middle name with her hubby, but a passion for yoga and composting.
...she can be found riding her bicycle with her daughter at the helm, carrying home food from the local farmers market, while talking on her cellphone about the merits of cloth diapering.
What can we expect from Vancouver's new "Chief Composter" once he's in the City Manager's office? Certainly a change of style of previous Deputies. This job was epitomized by Brent MacGregor, who was Judy Rogers' #2 for years, and who retired in 2007. Brent was a deal-maker extraordinaire when it came to working with Vancouver's developer community, and when working with public sector unions and city staff.
Johnston is probably not cut from the same cloth as MacGregor, nor does he know much about the city. In fact many of the top leadership in Vancouver now come from outside city limits. Even Mayor Robertson has only lived in Vancouver since 2005, growing up on the North Shore and in California. Most of Penny Ballem's recent career has been based in Victoria. Now the Deputy City Manager will need to learn the ropes after growing up in Cleveland and Chicago. Time will tell if having a bunch of noobs running Vancouver is a help or a hindrance.
One thing is becoming clear to City Hall watchers. It's likely that several committee rooms and even Council chambers may have to replace the furniture with yoga mats. Certainly Robertson, Magee, Reimer and Sadhu Aufochs would have no beef conducting meetings in the lotus position.
Johnston comes from a family that rejected the mainstream.
His parents wanted to be around like-minded people who were interested in alternative spirituality, “tired of the rat race of mainstream life” and shared their passion for yoga and meditation, Mr. Johnston said.
Given the priorities of his upbringing, you could say that by lining himself up with Vancouver's farmboy mayor, Sadhu Aufochs Johnston has found his new bliss. And all will be perfect if Vancouver's rough and tumble politics don't get in the way.