The empty desk has come to symbolize the "fallen soldiers" at City Hall
With the Olympics now a memory, the dust is beginning to settle at Vancouver City Hall. Staff are coming back to their normal work assignments and the job of getting everything back up and running has begun. You can expect it will take at least a couple of months before the whole machine is fully operational again.
Looking back at the Games, there were a lot of people at City Hall that worked to make them a success. Unfortunately, before the Olympic flame was even lit, many of them were either fired or they "voluntarily" chose to leave before the Games got underway. They're known in some quarters of City Hall as the "fallen soldiers". In many instances, they were casualties of a new regime hell-bent on carpet bombing the upper ranks in order to send a clear message they are all about "change".
I knew many of them personally and they indicated to me at one point or another they had every intention of sticking around until the Games were over. In fact, a few stated they were postponing retirement to ensure they could be working for the City during the Games. For some of the younger employees, many of them left because they were simply fed-up with the deteriorating working conditions being imposed upon them from upstairs. Can you say "nano-management"?
In no particular order, here is a partial list of the key City staff who have vacated their offices over the last 12 months or so:
Dave Rudberg: Dave was in charge of the 2010 Olympic operations when he suddenly announced his "retirement". City Manager Penny Ballem issued a statement indicating that on the eve of hosting the Games, Rudberg had decided to spend more time with his grandchildren.
Tom Timm: As Chief Engineer, he was one of the most senior employees at Vancouver City Hall. Tom recently announced he was calling it quits. Many thought he still had quite a few more productive years left in him before retirement. His departure was a 7.0 on the Richter scale and is considered a big loss to Vancouver.
James Ridge: He previously worked in North Vancouver and was a career public servant before joining the City of Vancouver in 2007. He came highly recommended and was seen as a possible replacement for Judy Rogers when she retired. James announced last year that he was quitting and even took a lower paying job at UBC.
Jody Andrews: He worked his way up the ranks and became Vancouver's Deputy City Manager. He was well liked by almost everyone at City Hall and was a real up and comer. He managed the Olympic Village project which became the showcase development during the Games. Mayor Robertson recently announced it won an award as one of the most sustainable neighbourhoods. Jody quit his job and is now working in the Middle East.
Patsy Sheer: She was one of the senior lawyers in Vancouver and was always pleasant to deal with. Shortly after Vision took office, Patsy announced that she was leaving her post at City Hall.
Judy Rogers: One of the first acts of the Vision council was to fire former City Manager Judy Rogers. Countless magazines and media publications referred to her as one of the brightest public servants in the province. She ended up receiving over half a million dollars in severance and had a gag clause imposed upon her as part of the agreement.
Ark Tsisserev: Up until January 21st, 2010, Ark worked as the City's Chief Electrical Inspector. Mayor Robertson then chaired a meeting in which Ark was removed from his post. Soon after senior staff took away his laptop and keys and brought him to the front door. He then hired a lawyer and settled out of court with the city for an undisclosed amount of money. Questions remain as to what led to his dismissal.
Sue Mundick: Rumours persisted for months prior to her departure that Mundick was fed up with all the nano-managing coming out of the City Manager's office. Then only months before the Games, she finally announced she was leaving City Hall for good. The debate rages over at the Park Board as to whether they have any autonomy left under this new Vision government.
Donald Macpherson: He was the architect of the City's internationally acclaimed Four Pillars Drug Strategy which is now being emulated around the world. He called it quits and announced he was going to work in the private sector. This was shortly after a decision was made to restructure his department and give it a much lower profile within City Hall. As a result, the Four Pillars Strategy is now in tatters.
Cameron Gray: He was the top guy in the City responsible for ending homelessness through the construction of new social housing. You could argue that he was simply about to retire regardless of which government was in power. However, his departure came at a time when the new Vision government announced it wanted to make homelessness a top priority. Gray was known to oppose a quick fix policy of simply pouring dollars into expanding shelters, favouring a focus on long-term housing solutions instead.
Mike Zora: As Human Resources Manager for the City during the 2007 labour dispute, he was regularly under attack by the CUPE leadership in Vancouver. Mike announced that he was packing up his bags in 2009.
Kevin Ramsay: He took over from Zora to become the City's new head of Human Resources. He wasn't in the position long before shocking everyone with his announcement that he was quitting to accept the position of Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Squamish. If I recall correctly, he left just after the decision came down from Vision to pull Vancouver out of the Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bureau.
A big THANK YOU from CityCaucus.com goes out to all the city staff (both currently employed and departed) who helped make the Games a real success! I understand that many of you put in countless hours and spent time away from your families over the last number of years to make this event a reality. You deserve a lot of credit for all the work you did both on site and behind the scenes! Kudos to all of you.
- post by Daniel