Real leadership is about personal sacrifice. In Penny's case, that amounts to about $12,000
On Thursday, we made the difficult decision to run a story based upon information provided to us by valued sources within Vancouver City Hall. What we learned we could hardly believe, but we had never been let down by these sources in the past. Dr. Penny Ballem, City Manager and head of Vancouver's civil service was approved for a pay increase in line with other civil servants, or about four percent. At an annual salary of just over $303,000 that would be an increase of just over $12,000.
What made the timing of this increase unfortunate was that it was coming after Ballem had surveyed her management team for not taking the 4% increase, and that she was overseeing major cuts to staff and services at City Hall.
Our sources had never been wrong before, which goes to show you there's always a first time for everything. Our story about Dr. Ballem getting the increase after her annual review with the Mayor ran for most of Thursday. First thing on Friday morning we received a communication that assured us that Ballem was not receiving her increase after all. In fact, the Mayor's office were mischaracterizing the facts by telling anyone who would listen that CityCaucus.com had made the story up.
While it is possible that a revelation of Ballem receiving a pay increase posted on CityCaucus.com may have influenced the day's events, this is certainly not about us. This is about Penny Ballem's leadership. Twelve thousand dollars is not chump change. Ballem could have paid for a gorgeous vacation in the sun over the Christmas break, or whirlwinded through some European cities next summer with that money.
Instead, Penny chose to forego the increase in the face of tough times at Vancouver City Hall. For this sacrifice, we must give her credit.
Dr. Ballem was mixed up in controversy earlier in the year, when it was revealed by the Globe and Mail that she had received over $30,000 from Ontario taxpayers for roughly 2 weeks worth of work, which records show amounted to a single PowerPoint presentation and one email for eHealth Ontario. Clearly, Ballem has learned from her experience and is now setting the bar for her fellow managers at Vancouver City Hall.
It has been suggested by some – for example Vision Vancouver supporter Jim Green – that Dr. Ballem "took a pay cut" when she took over the top job at City Hall. While we're not sure how much of a "pay cut" that actually was for someone who is now receiving over $300K + benefits, but we do know that she has now refused (permanently for 2010) a pay increase to the tune of twelve grand.
Ballem is to be commended for her sacrifice – that $12,000 may go some way toward saving coveted facilities like the Stanley Park Children's Farmyard – and the modesty she has shown by not notifying fellow staff about it. Surprisingly, that duty has been left to CityCaucus.com, the only place so far where you can read about Dr. Ballem's salary freeze.
- post by Mike