Vancouver City Hall gifts itself a $34,000 post-Olympic party

Post by Mike Klassen in

41 comments

staff-win-gold
A humiliated looking Capt. George Vancouver gets a makeover from council

CityCaucus.com has been contacted by irate employees at Vancouver City Hall, who sent us this invitation for a party to be thrown by the City of Vancouver for up to 9000 city employees as a "thank you" for helping to stage the Olympics. Vancouver city staff were seconded from their regular day-to-day activities to staff venues such as the city's Live Sites. These were not volunteer positions, as staff still received their full salaries for working in the new venues.

The 4-hour private party to be held April 15th at the Olympic Athlete's Village within the renovated Salt Building, will provide complimentary food and beverages, prize draws and a no-host bar. According to sources the budget for all the free goodies and staging the event is $34,000. It's being referred to by some as a suck up to staff for scaring the bejeezus out of them with threats of layoffs for the past six months.

Part of the event will be the so-called "Victory Celebration" that will be a big shout out to staff undoubtedly with City Manager Penny Ballem and Mayor Gregor Robertson at centre stage. It's widely recognized that many folks contributed to the success of the Olympics, including Vancouver's civil service. We here at CityCaucus.com proposed that perhaps a party should be held for volunteers, and not necessarily paid employees who probably realize that every dollar spent feting themselves is one not going to public service, nor one that perhaps might make their job easier.

With all the service cuts and tortuous debate around restraint we've gone through since last year, why does the city feel all of a sudden that it can afford to spend tax dollars throwing an exclusive party for staff? After posting a significant deficit, increasing taxes and fees across the board, and laying off several staff and valuable contract employees, many at the Hall are asking if this is the time to be spending tax dollars on non-essential items like a huge staff party.

After all, didn't the city just spend millions on a much bigger party? And there are more taxpayer funded parties coming that we will be reporting on in upcoming post. Of course, most of us remember Vision's first extravagent $85,000 inaugural party staged for political friends and insiders.

We're pretty sure the public, and our readers will have something to say on this story. Be sure to check out GlobalTV tonight at 6pm, who will have further details on this breaking story.

UPDATE: City Manager Penny Ballem was quoted on GlobalTV tonight that the reported $34,000 budget is a "drop in the bucket" and totally justified. Notably, $34,000 was the "drop in a bucket" that Ms. Ballem was paid for just under two week's worth of work for eHealth Ontario. Why Ms. Ballem spoke to the media tonight regarding the party, and no one from city council was accountable is a question we should all be asking Mayor Robertson.

41 Comments

Mike,
In the former communist countries, where they eat corruption like bread and butter this little Party would be called
a "Pilaf". How despicable. Throwing a party for those who "helped" organize the previous "party", and all that on "paid leave" from their duties.
HOW ABOUT IF WE ALL SHOW UP AT THE PARTY NEXT WEEK? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO? ARE THEY GOING TO THROW US OUT? WE ARE PAYING FOR THIS AREN'T WE?
MARK APR 15 IN YOUR CALENDARS.
One more, add to that the $$$$ thrown on Olympic tickets for "dignitaries" "staff" "guests" "businessmen"...All public dough. Phew.

What a disgusting display or corruption. I agree with Higgins. Every taxpayer in Vancouver should show up to the party on the 15th and see what their tax dollars can buy. These guys were on PAID LEAVE from their employer to "work" at the olympics. I should be so lucky. They claim there is no money at city hall to pay for the stanley park petting zoo or bloedel conservatory, but there is money of this kind of a party. I think Bill Vanderzalm should be organizing a recall in Vancouver instead of stupid referendum on the hst tax. We need to get rid of Robertson and his cronies NOW!

The Thought of The Day

"Any Friend of Other People's money is a Friend of Penny!"

I absolutely agree with both Higgins and Gertie. We should crash the Party just like in college, only remember, bootleg your own booze this time my darlings!

ASK PENNY category:
"Is it true that's going to be a Roaring 1920's Theme?"

Because, if that’s the case then I expect to see everything from the gangster hats to the stripe suits down to the black-white shoes! No expense should be withheld ladies, Ra, Ta, Ta, Ta, Ta!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I'm in. Everyone should show up for the party. Mark it in your calendar. What are they going to do, kick us taxpayers out of the event? We paid for it so we're entitled to be there.

Having just read the recent article about the city of Vancouver throwing itself a celebratory 2010 party I felt compelled to share my view. It does seem a bit wrong that those within the 'circle' get all the benefits ( free tickets ect and parties) and those on the outside ( the public and volunteers) who contributed a lot are left with not much other than great memories. I was a ceremonies volunteer and although I felt as if us volunteers didn't get enough verbal credit and there was a great deal of appreciation towards the blue jackets and behind the scene workers.

Yes, we did get perks (I got to see the ceremonies and keep my costumes etc) but it will always the head honchos who get the parties and such while the volunteers who put in tons of work as well get some plush toys and a letter saying thanks. Although personally I feel as if the perks I got far outweighed the small contribution I made, there were hundreds of blue jackets sitting on chairs in the rain all day with bull horns, somehow I don't think a Quatchi key chain is a good way of thanking them.

Have a big party in the convention center to thank them all is needed and hopefully the city and VANOC realize this, it shouldn't be just the big wigs having all the fun, that was the one thing that annoys me about the games, it just seems as if unless you're an athlete or have credentials you aren't getting the full experience. The divide between regular joe and in the know was quite evident and bothered me....but needed for security I guess.

VISION can't organize a piss up in a brewery - how are they going to manage a suck up in a salt refinery?

And who's childish idea was it to disgrace the statue of Capt. Vancouver?

@Mike. I'm somewhat confused with what you've said. In your other article "Throw a party for blue coats & cops, involve the kids" you say you would approve a party for the blue coat volunteers and security, but you do not approve of a party for the City's seconded staff (who wore the blue coats) and the staff who remained at their regular duties.

Where I'm confused is, were the cops and security not paid their regular wages for their time during the Olympics? Does this not put them in the same boat as the Civic staff who stayed to keep the City running? I know that not only did all of the security staff and police officers make their regular wages, they also got tonnes of overtime to keep the Venues safe.

The seconded Civic staff who wore blue coats also got paid their full regular wages. You would support a party for them but not for the Civic staff who stayed to keep the City running?

My point is not about whether or not the $34K is appropriate or not, but about where you draw the lines for who should be attending or not.

In my opinion, Civic staff who stayed behind at their regular duties should be recognized just as much as the secuity, police, and blue coats. They all got paid their regular wages. They should be all recognized or not recognized together.

@redeye. I think Mike's point is the fact we're spending taxpayers money on a party at all. When you say we should throw a party for city staff who stayed behind and kept the city running, I have to laugh. Isn't this your job? This sounds a lot like the federal liberals who once said "I'm entitled to my entitlements". Something is rotten in city hall. City staff have lost touch with the people you are supposed to serve.

How about taking some of that money you're going to use for the party and giving it to Mario's Gellati who was terribly impacted by the Games and LOST A LOT OF MONEY! Do you think he's in a party mood right now? NOT. That $34,000 could go a long way to help make up some of his losses.

The Games were great. But to throw a party for all 9000 city staff is just an indulgence beyond comprehension. Given all the lay offs during this recession, the employees should just be celebrating the fact they have a great job with great pay and benefits. I say cancel the party and find a better use for that money.

As for Penny Ballem saying this money is a "drop in the bucket". OMG. Why does the mayor put this woman in front of a camera. She's an embarrassment. Does she actually listen to what she's saying? That's such a slap in the face to all tax payers.

@ Charles. I said specifically, I do not approve or disapprove of the $34K spent on the party. I really have no opinion on that.

My comments are based on the speration of staff who stayed at work and got paid, vs Police, security, seconded staff who basically also did their work and got paid. I don't understand why Mike would support at party for them but not the staff who kept street lights working, cleaned up the streets at night, cleaned up at various venues, etc. There was a lot more to making the games a success than just wearing a blue jacket and greeting people.

"I'm entitled to my entitlements."

Geez, you'd think the people who follow this site, Bula's, etc... would have picked up on the fact that it is the backroom types from the Federal Liberals running Vision by now.

Sure there are some COPE and NDP crackpots like Gregor, Meggs and Reimer in the mix, but since the Conservatives have been in power in Ottawa and the Liberales (pronounced like the Mexican police Federales - think "crooked") can't get their hands on our federal tax dough, they've found themselves some pockets to pick at the civic level in our fair city.

Come on now, Larry Campbell who is a founder of the Vision party is a Federal Liberal Senator. Their new chief is a Federal Liberal backroom guy. They've given out $300K in Olympic tickets to their friends and are now wasting even more money on a party. What more do you need to hear before you all realize who's running this town?

For years the NPA was a mix of Federal Liberals and Conservatives and it worked while the Liberals had their hands in a bigger cookie jar. When that changed, their lust for power and money didn't stop, they just needed a willing flock to fleece. They found one in Vancouver.

Gregor's chicken coops and all of their other faux-green initiatives are mere fluff to keep everyone talking about something else while they rob us blind.

Between the Joel Solomon-backed flakey wing of the party and the Liberales cleaning out the cash, this city has been bent over and screwed without the benefit of at least one of the 18,000 condoms now clogging up those waste-water toilets in the OV.

Hmm, the attached intive has a link on it to RSVP. Wonder what would happen if all of CityCaucus' readers decided to attend?

"As for Penny Ballem saying this money is a "drop in the bucket".OMG."

Charles, so very true.
That's a drop in her $315,000/ year bucket. That's why. Easy money, eh Penny? It does feel like taking candy from a baby, doesn't it? Shame.
As far as I am concerned though, Penny and her Vision cohorts sit comfortably on the bottom of my spit bucket, for some time now.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I am horrorfied at the expense that Penny has discretion to spend but then spending $50,000 to put together a report for chicken shelters is equally horrifying.
But then where is City staff on these issues. Don't they have a vote to say it is a needless expense. All they have to do as servants of the public purse is not attend the party. What about CUPE it should send a memo to it members not to attend. Staff should be part of the solution to unnecesary spending rather than part of the problem. Being part of corruption is easier than trying to stand against it. The definition of corruption is not doing what you should be doing, that is, thinking and then hide behind your job description. The food contracted for the April 15 2010 event can be shipped down to the DTES for a real party for the people impacted by the Olympics.
audreylaferriere@yahoo.ca

@Glenn. Your comments about the federal liberals running vision from behind the scenes are bang on. Clearly their attitude of being entitled to their entitlements is showing in vancouver. We now have the fed libs running vancouver and you can see it with the lavish parties they are throwing for their friends and insiders. You speak the truth my brother. Pretty sad state of affairs. Can a new city-oriented sponsorship scandal bee far off?

Maybe Penny will be the bartender.

In Vancouver the City Manager takes direction from Council. No matter how camera-shy members of Council may be, anything the City Manager does must be approved by the Mayor and his colleagues. To assume otherwise merely supports Jonathan Ross's absurd premise that the City's Senior Managers are going rogue.
Where is the Mayor? Will he hide in his office until the next feel-good photo-op? If decisions like the party are defensible it is his responsibility to act as spokesperson.

This is why Aaron Jasper would make a much better Mayor. He doesn't run and hide from the media like Robertson does. Why is Robertson in a bubble whenever there is a controversy?

Some of you are confusing the Federal Liberals with the Federal NDP party. The NDP is behind Vision, not the Federal Liberals. Some of you are just trying to paint any non-Conservative party with the same brush, which would be inaccurate and biased.

Did I actually read someone put the name Aaron Jasper and the word mayor in a sentence?

Either your comment was meant to illustrate just how pathetic Gregor is..........

or your kool-aid was spiked with some type of hallucinagenic drug that gives far too much credit to Jasper's abilities.

One has to wonder if the 4 Vision park board commissioners are having a race to see which can be more pathetic and Jasper's leading by about 10 lengths.

@glen. You read it right. I think Aaron is a great future leader of Vision, but only when Gregor decides to move on to become premier or whatever. Aaron has demonstrated he's a much better chair at the park board than Hundal. He's media savvy, smart and has a lot going for him. Don't write him off just because you may not support vision. Keep an open mind.

Not so fast Hu. The federal liberals are running vision - full stop. You can't run and hide now that the wheels are coming off the vision bus. To now point fingers and say the NDP is running vision is laughable. The federal liberals have their dna built right into the vision constitution. You can run and hide now. there is no confusion here. Their senior staffer is a Liberal. Their attack dog blogger is a Liberal. Their backroom operatives are mostly Liberal (some NDP too). When it walks like a Liberal. Talks likes a Liberal. It's a Liberal. That's why vision thinks they are entitled to their entitlements.

Tom,

You're dead wrong about the Federal NDP being behind Vision. You clearly have no idea of what you're talking about.

Jessie,

Since you're being serious about Japser being a great future mayor, then seriously, check yourself into drug rehab NOW - before it's to late.

He had a chance to show that he had some political common sense when the issue to close the petting zoo and the conservatory first reared its ugly head.

He could have stood up and said "no way". Rather he took the head-up Ballum's ass road and stuck to the Vision road-map.

Now he's changing his tune because he saw how much of the public would vote against him next time.

Jessie, people don't forget and this mistake amongst the dozen others he's made was the end of his political career.

Mark my words, Jasper will not garner enough votes in 2011 to be allowed to squeegee car windows at Main and Terminal.

I'm in favour of the party. Yes, there are cutbacks of all sorts but ultimately, it's those staff working for this City that should at least have something to look forward to and for one (1) night feel that they're appreciated. I understand it will not be some lavish event. You people need to swallow some valium and chill out.

Being a public servant myself, it sucks to see people around you get bonuses, options, get paid lots of money, etc. while we get kicked in the ass over and over again. One party. Perhaps timing isn't right but is it ever in the eye of you, the public?

Jessie O, Daddy O!
Where should I send your medication?
Jasper replacing Robertson, and Robertson going for Premier? LOL
Jasper is a Joker and Robertson is a Gonner! Both should take some additional training, in like a trade or something,so they have something to fall back on.
I see a dead black cat in their future as politicians.

Rebekka
The civil servant my ass! How would you like me to invite myself to your house and eat your food, drink your booze? Because this is what you are saying here.

Oh poor Rebecca... this is the all-too-familiar and classic cry of the oh-too-typical 'snivelling servant':

"Where 's my Christmas bonus? My friends in the private sector get all kinds of perks that I don't get working for the city/province/feds, ..."

Boo hoo! When the economy is booming snivelling servants all cry about how hard done they (we) are. But... when the economy craps out... whoa! Feels pretty good to have our cushy gov't jobs (with defined benefit pension, full benefits, Extra (Earned?) Days Off, etc...)

If you want all the 'perks' of the private sector - join them. Just be prepared to be unemployed much sooner that your former colleagues who remain in the 'civil service'

I like my 'cushy' gov't job and pride myself on my own work ethic. I don't need some BS party to 'pat me on the back'.

Pitiful...

$34000.00 could have paid the rent and ended homelessness for 4 or 5 people for a whole year.

They could have at least invited the Homeless in, for a real meal, and to indulge in the NO Host City Bar the Taxpayers of Vancouver paid for.

A busload of us are planning on heading out of the downtown eastside and crashing the city's little Olympic party. Let's see what happens when a bunch of homeless and marginalized people are rubbing elbows with the city manager and her ilk.

What a bunch of whiners...whine, bitch, comlain..that's all you do!

As if you guys hosting this blog never sucked on the teet when you were empowered. You know the drill. Come on down and have a drink with us. Make sure you wear your citycaucus buttons. You can start a great thread about the party later.

Rebecca,

You are the Wikipedia definition of the new civil servant from hell. Yes, it's true you do serve. Yourself. You know what? That's good. Rebecca take your brothers and sisters alike and GO SERVE YOURSELVES!

$34,000 is a lot of tax-payer funded booze, city hall insider.

Why don't you do a pot luck, instead?

Start growing some in the City hall Community garden, where it will pollinated by the bees from the roof, and fertilized by a few roaming, rowdy chickens.

Or politicians.

Mayor Moonbeam, of course will be performing his annual "Ode to Spring" dance, for the enjoyment of all...

The City actually spends much more than this each year in additional garbage, recycling and street cleaning fees disposing of unwanted issues of 24HRs, Metro and similar free rags. What a waste of trees.

So put the shoe on the other foot for a change. You're a business owner with employees. Your staff never get any "extras" as in the private sector...that's a given and accepted. This is a business. What do you do to boost morale (which is very low) due to a mish/mash of jobs disappearing or people leaving, do something to recognize your workers who had to give up any vacation or time off starting end of last year to prepare for the Olympics, run a business that would attract/keep star performers instead of the number of workers who do nothing for the city, care about the city, protected by the union and are there to make a buck?

As I said before, you're all a bunch of chronic, bitching, complaining folks but I don't hear any alternative suggestions as to what the city can do for their staff. Maybe go do your part and really find out what it's like to work there and either run for Council or apply for some of the jobs that are posted.

Rebecca,
Or is vaffanculo?

You are so on Penny's corporate ladder! First let me point out to you that I PAY TAXES IN VANCOUVER therefore I AM YOUR BUSINESS OWNER and YOU ARE MY EMPLOYEE!!! It's written in your job designation: CIVIL SERVANT. Ballem is an administrator of MY MONEY, appointed by a corrupt council. She is utterly overpaid and incompetent, surrounded by a cohort of newly hired phonies. See what this wicked lady is doing here? She is turning the taxpayers (ME) of this city against the very people that work for this city(I am not including you in this category, babe) Her decision to hold the party was taken arbitrarily with no consultation and complete disregard of MY FINANCIAL SITUATION as A BUSINESS OWNER. It's like stealing from my CASH R3EGISTER when I look away and then gives you some to shut you up. YOU DON'T WORK FOR TIPS DEAR, VANCOUVER CITY HALL IS NOT A RESTAURANT AND WHAT YOU THINK IS YOUR RIGHTS IS NOT A TIPS JAR.
Capiche?

Oh dear Higgins...you just don't get it, do you? No one works for you (thank god) as you'd suck as a boss! How narrow minded! No consideration whatsoever of potentially another view...tunnel vision is the other word that comes to mind when I read this particular story. What if some taxpayers say no to a thank you party...what would they say yes to? Anything? I betchya when it serves your personally you'd be all for it!

Rebbecca.
You do work for every citizen in Vancouver..you are the only one that doesn't get it.
Thou who doth protest TOO loudly, is usually feeling guilty about something.
Come on Rebbecca, get a life outside of city hall, missing one office party won't hurt you.... unless it's all you've got. Your knickers are twisted way too tight over this dear.

The Thought of The Day

"I am thinking, is the Working Bee actually the Queen Fly in disguise!"

Rebecca,
Few weeks back I've posted, on this very blog, a poem titled "The Queen Fly and The Working Bee" where I was pretty sympathetic towards all of the "working bees" at the City Hall.

I still am, considering the Queen Fly in charge, for now.

If what you are saying it's true though, and the rest of your brethren is thinking just the same, I will too agree with what others have pointed out, well, that you deserve whatever...

And next time when you'll lay down in your chez-longs outside, on the City Hall's lawn waiving your "On strike" or most probably "Locked Out" signs and ask drivers to honk for you in support...trust me, I repeat, trust me on this one, you'll get the finger, you know, that one in the middle!

So go ahead, make a statement,if you want to show your true colours, be a scab.

Attending that ridiculous party, would look just like crossing that thin line of common sense,self-esteem, and consideration for the Vancouver citizens, I hope you are above this...because the Taxpayers of Vancouver, your True,Real and Only Boss, if you didn't know by now, are On Strike!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Rebecca - I work for the federal public service in Vancouver and we don't have tax-payer funded parties. We have potlucks and every once in a while my boss takes us out for lunch out of his own pocket. We all have a great time. What say you to that?

We thought about a growop in the community gardens to help with the budget issues but figured the Angry Taxpayers would demand first dibs on the harvest. Wait a minute, I am a taxpayer too, which makes me my own boss.. I will definitely going to the bash on Thursday to get my money's worth.
Cheers!!!

The issue is priorities. When this council and mayor and Park's Board talk about closing facilities, laying people off, cutting services, cutting the Vision committees budgets, closing shelters, and more, and then turn around and throw their paid staff a party they illustrate that they have lost sight of why they were elected.
Let me add some other expenditures here to make my point:
$8,000,000 to keep the Heritage train running for 2 months, $1,000,000 to spruce up city hall for the Olympics, $344,000 for Olympic tickets, $21,000,000 to but the Vanoc building for the VPD

There is only one way to stop the spendingof tax payers money for the private interests and political gain of this council and mayor and that is to fire them all the next election. We need a mayor and council who are not in the pockets of big money including big developers. We need a mayor anc council who put the public interest first.
This group has been spending like drunken sailors for some time and need to be voted out of office.
It is time for us to find a few good men and women to run this city who put people and services first.
We all had hope when Gregor was elected but his $78,000 swearing in party shattered my hope some time ago.

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