Turns out that Penny Ballem got that raise after all
Media who cover City Hall know that getting spun is just part of the job. However, getting lied to outright creates consternation and mistrust among those working in the Fourth Estate. Back on December 11th, we reported that City Manager Penny Ballem after the end of the first year of her contract was approved for a raise. What made the optics of the City's top bureaucrat getting a pay increase awkward was the fact she was:
- already surveying her managers about forgoing a raise and,
- in the midst of difficult budget deliberations resulting in major service cutbacks & layoffs
Our sources on the decision to increase Ballem's pay – which was signed off by Mayor Robertson – had been 100% correct on every story to that point. In fact, we heard through the grapevine that when Ballem heard about our report she reacted, in predictable fashion, by yelling.
News media interested in this story followed up with Mayor's office staff – is it true that Penny Ballem was actually getting a raise while asking her management staff to take a pay freeze? Robertson's aide Kevin "Vancouver Kid" Quinlan told media that the story was "totally bogus" and there was "absolutely no truth whatsoever" to the claims. In fact, Quinlan said he checked with the City Manager herself and several councillors to confirm.
Hearing this news, we pulled our story, and revised it to include the denial from Robertson's staff. A few days later we even published a bit of a mea culpa, lauding Penny Ballem for showing leadership during difficult times. Well, how do you give a mea culpa for a mea culpa? It turns out that the Mayor's office wasn't telling the truth.
CityCaucus.com learned that in fact Penny Ballem received the same raise her managers ended up with, 2% until July 1, then kicking into the full 4% raise. Readers might recall the arbitrary decision, against their wishes, to reduce the pay increase of exempt (management) staff.
Penny Ballem's starting salary for 2009 was $303,000. Her annual salary compensation for 2010 will now be upped to $312,000. It was the investigative work of CityCaucus.com earlier which revealed Ballem's rate of pay.
- post by Mike