Wanted: City Engineer who's into yoga

Post by Mike Klassen in


Outgoing General Manager of Engineering Services Tom Timm

Tom Timm, the head of the largest department at Vancouver City Hall, and arguably the most powerful bureaucrat as General Manager of Engineering Services, is leaving the building at the end of March. Tom was too shrewd and diplomatic to publicly reveal his personal feelings about the current Vision Vancouver regime and the nanomanaging Penny Ballem. Tom had a lot of gas left in his tank, but just couldn't take it anymore according to insiders.

Who will replace Timm? A "broad search" is underway according to Penny Ballem. The headhunting firm whose post office box is located at Manson's Landing, Cortes Island, is apparently working overtime to find someone who knows something about managing thousands of employees, building streets and sewers, is a powerful advocate for social change, and can sit comfortably in the lotus position.

Another vital job requirement is having a thick skin for the occasional brow-beating by the City Manager, and not minding when she whistles for you to report in her office.

Who will rise to the top job in the massive City Engineering department? It most certainly won't be Timm's Assistant City Engineer, the extremely bright and qualified Jerry Dobrovolny. Jerry has a huge target on his back from CUPE due to his work as spokesperson for management during their 2007 strike.

While we sound glib about whether someone from the Hollyhock crowd could fill the shoes, never underestimate the quest for social change led by Solomon, Newell and other acolytes of the Mayor through Vancouver's government. If there is someone who can fill this job with the right political pedigree, they're a shoo-in.

Here below is the email sent out by Timm himself on his departure, followed by Penny Ballem's message. Note that Tom coyly recognizes "the political leadership that the City has enjoyed over the years" as part of his success in the job. Interpret the statement as you will, but it's hardly a shout out to the folks running the City today.

From: Timm, Tom
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2010 3:17 PM
To: ENG All Staff (COV) - DL
Cc: Sanderson, Sherrill
Subject: FW: retirement

Please see the attached note from Dr. Ballem which announces my decision to retire from my position as City Engineer.

I am very proud of what Engineering Services, as a Department, and as part of the larger City organization, has been able to accomplish in helping to build what is widely recognized as the best City in the world to live. That recognition is a tribute to both the political leadership that the City has enjoyed over the years and to the excellent service that it has received from the administration and from all of our employees. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this organization.

We have also all rightly felt proud of our contributions to the huge success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games which provided the opportunity for us to showcase Vancouver to the world. That event will certainly stand as the single largest highlight of my career with the City.

I would like to thank all of you who I have worked with for your efforts on behalf of the City, and for the support that you have given me, particularly over my past five years as City Engineer. I wish you all continued success as you work on behalf of the citizens of Vancouver to maintain the quality of life that sets this City apart.


From: Ballem, Penny
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2010 3:11 PM
To: Corporate Management Team (COV) - DL; Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Coulson, Marg; Deal, Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Magee, Michael; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer, Andrea; Robertson, Gregor; Stevenson, Tim; Woodsworth, Ellen
Subject: FW: retirement

Having honored his commitment to guide Engineering through the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Tom Timm, our much beloved City  Engineer, will be retiring at the end of March 2010.

Tom has been with the City since 1978. He has served in many roles over the years - mostly in engineering where he became an assistant city engineer in 1988, the deputy city engineer about 10 years later in 1999 and finally the city engineer and general manager of engineering in 2004. Some of you might have forgotten that he also served as the city building inspector for 2 years in the late 1990's. Tom has led numerous initiatives throughout his many years of service, and he leaves a number of important legacies behind, including many successes during the  2010 Games. We will all miss Tom's leadership, his wry sense of humour and his passion for the great Canadian Game.

The City will be undertaking a broad search process for Tom's replacement. I have asked Peter Judd, Deputy City Engineer, to assume responsibility for Engineering during this process. I know you will all join me in wishing Tom the very best in his retirement. As is the custom in Engineering, there will be a raucous celebration of his departure at a time and place to be decided!

Penny Ballem

- post by Mike


My understanding was that Tom Timm actually intended to retire earlier but wanted to stay on for the Olympics.

As fun as it is to spin every retirement into a Vision Vancouver bloodbath, we do exist in the era of baby boomers retiring so the fact that all these people who are at retirement age are..... retiring - not exactly shocking.

Bob. Have you been drinking too much Hollyhock bathwater? You vision people take the cake. This guy is still relatively young and still has at least 5 years left in his career. What poppycock...or is that hollyhock?

So what's wrong with Peter Judd ?

We know he's not a greenie progressive know-better than us and I'd bet dollars he'd rather eat broken glass than spend a weekend at Hollyhock with the ritzie tree hugger set, but he's a damn fine city engineer.

Peter Judd is the man we need !

There is no way that man retired willingly.....do you really think we can't read between the lines?
The problem as I see it Bob, is that the young ones forget, that each day they are all walking one step closer ... shall I dare say it, to being one of those baby boomers... forced to retire before their time.
Something to think about...Karma is a reality, and the truth always has a way of coming out ... eventually.

The brain trust that has either left the building or is heading towards the exits is terrifying.

Elected officials are generally one issue wonders when they get elected - regardless of political persuasion. Who is going to hang around to keep them and the city out of trouble.

Yes, Peter Judd would be excellent but do you really think he would put up with the nonsense? If you can't enjoy coming to work every morning, no amount of money is worth it. (just ask those who have already found the exit)

Tom was an ok guy who was part of the old guard. Most of us are glad to see ya go. We also know you got out before the real crap hit the fan. Enjoy your retirement. Your going to walk away clean.
ps Judd's a decenet guy and so is Jerry, but I think Neil Carley is the best they have out there.

There is no way Jerry, Neil or Peter will get this job. Trust me, unless they can show the proper Vision (aka Hollyhock) pedigree, they simply don't stand a chance. They are likely being headhunted by other cities who know how poisoned the work environment has become in Vancouver. I would't be surprised to see an announcement soon where one or more of them has flown the coop.

The Thought of The Day

“In my opinion, when an Ordinary Cat is caught killing another Ordinary Cat he should receive no less than Nine consecutive Death sentences.”


Excerpt from Virginia Daily, USA:
“City of Vancouver’s Top Engineer Executive Search turns lethal!”
March 15th, 2010
By Leet Halljo

Who would have thought? After being invited to apply for the Top Engineer job with the City of Vancouver as a condition for his release, Marco T. Catelli, currently sitting on the death row in a USA Penitenciary had this to declare during his Virginia Supermax facility ad hoc conference:

”Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Press, Chief Warden and Public Officials in attendance,

One week ago, today, I’ve received a letter from a Head-hunting agency, offering me a loophole deal. My life being on the line, I’ve immediately stopped wanking and I’ve proceeded in an inconspicuous manner and put Beyonce’s Poster, back on the wall. That was not an easy task, believe you me.

I’ve given this offer much thought and consideration since.

I did my due diligence and during the past few days, I’ve talked over the phone a number of times with some City of Vancouver employees, very generous folks; they accepted my collect calls immediately after telling them what the reason for my calls was. I’ve also got some valuable feedback from a very nice guy named Jody. He called. Thank you.

I was encouraged to accept the position and work for the City Manager as a condition of my release.

I was overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from my felon community but I am here to inform you that I have turned down the offer. I for one choose death! Thank you.

I want to thank the Search Committee for considering me instead of searching for me; a big Lotus goes to their Yoga representative for easing my payback problems and to Andrea for advising me on how to introduce the 100 mile radius diet into my daily life. Thank you.

Please, tell my family and friends that I love them; tell Premier Campbell of BC, that I would have loved to meet him in person, you know, peer to peer… tell him that he just lost my vote . As a sign of appreciation I am leaving my entire collection of Topolino comics to Mayor Gregorio”
Following the conference, Ms. Ballem’s answer was frank:
” I am shocked and disappointed, a total let down. I hope he gets two consecutive death sentences! ”
Mayor’s response:
“I have four words for you. To. Po. Li. No!”
Search Committee response:
“Another day another buck!”

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Wow! I can't keep up. Please see my comments @ .

This just keeps going. Vancouver's elected representatives have a duty to inform citizens about what they're doing. What is their plan? What is it costing? Where are they going? Why?

Dr. Ballem seems to be in the centre of all this. It's interesting to note that people usually operate from the confines of their particular discipline or professional education. In her case as a medical doctor she does what they are trained to do: if they see a problem, you take it out. I'm not sure how many times it is possible to do an appendectomy on the same body.

There is no doubt that penny will do a super job of spending tax payers money to look every where and then pick the wrong person, more than likely one more of her friends that show up at that parade downtown once a year. The one with the rainbow for a flag. Which is all right IF THEY ARE THE BEST. Not just because they are a friend.

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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