Exclusive: Internal memo & survey reveals plummeting City staff morale

Post by Mike Klassen in


An internal memo shared with CityCaucus.com reveals deep unhappiness among exempt staff

CityCaucus.com received a copy of a memo and survey that indicates a growing dissatisfaction among over 700 non-union staff working for the City of Vancouver. The memo dated June 15, 2010 is to the City's corporate management team and is signed by President Bill Boons and Vice-President Christine Warren on behalf of the members of the Vancouver Association of Civic Managerial and Professional Staff (VACMPS).

The memo begins with a respectful tone describing a Citywide culture of respect, fairness and a workplace that "drew a clear and important line between administration and politics."

However, the second paragraph goes on to say, "It is truly unfortunate that the environment noted above has changed." It says that "staff in all parts of the organization felt negatively affected by the new style of management." As a results VACMPS was asked "to stand up and present a strong and unified voice to senior management regarding both their concerns and their desire to work toward improvements."

So low key is VACMPS that they barely appear in a Google search. A pair of memos going back to 2000, then the rest is coverage from CityCaucus.com last year. But recent grievances among exempt (non-union) staff forced VACMPS to reactivate its relationship with Vancouver's top brass: "Based on the wishes of our members and on our constitution, we believe that a more formal relationship with the employer is now necessary."

The documents presented to CityCaucus.com are in two parts. A three-page letter, with a 15-slide PowerPoint presentation featuring survey results taken from over 70% of exempt staff, or 502 employees. The letter at times has a tone of despair:

"It is also important that senior management is fully aware that the 700+ exempt staff are at risk of becoming disengaged."

The memo states that "after 21 meetings with 225 exempt staff, VACMPS can identify some strong and consistent themes".

These are:

  • A loss of respect and trust throughout the organization;
  • Managers have lost their ability to manage – decision-making has been centralized and many staff have resported being unable to provide good service;
  • Inefficient and expensive processes have replaced methods which were cheaper and more efficient (emphasis ours);
  • Staff retention is becoming an issue; we are beginning to lose corporate knowledge on a significant scale;
  • The City seems to be moving away from its core values...many younger staff report that they are reconsidering their decision to build a career at the City (emphasis ours);
  • Staff are fearful of reprisals which is leading to a "heads down/don't rock the boat" attitude. Creativity and excellence are not being stimulated.

The fifteen pages of survey results follow. At the top of the list of items cited by survey respondents is "Lack of trust, respect and acknowledgement of skills/abilities/decision-making", with 52.7% agreed. The next slides outline the additional major concerns by management.

Back in December during a gruelling budget process there was significant pressure put upon management staff to carry the load and forego wage increases due to them.

The rest of the survey sums up with this list of concerns:

  • "If senior managers continue to leave the result will be a lack of continuity in decisions and information"
  • Low morale
  • Need for budget transparency
  • There is less independent thought and creativity
  • Feeling of security among staff

The vast majority of respondents describe themselves as having "limited or moderate empowerment". The give barely passing marks to the City for their effort to uphold stated corporate values. The slide discussing "concerns about losing staff" has its top response (a whopping 35%) saying "I am undecided about my future".

The rest of the document lists several proposed solutions put to senior management for how to improve the present situation.

It's not clear what progress if any has been made since these presentations were made to the City Manager and corporate management team, but the fact we received this information only last week suggests that the situation is still dynamic.

Certainly the decline in morale at Vancouver City Hall has been palpable and sad to watch for many. The loss of so many senior managers to early retirements and firings is having predictable consequences.

Vancouver voters by-in-large are most interested in the quality of the services they receive from the City. If, as we've been hearing, that some staff are now "working to rule" as a result of present conditions, it may be only a matter of time before the troubles among 700+ non-union employees raises the hackles of the greater public.

As with this document, we invite other public servants to share their brown envelopes with CityCaucus.com.

- post by Mike


Which comes first? Politics or policy?

Politicians are there generally to launch agendas based on political aspirations as well as to be held accountable for the management of funds provided by the taxpayer.

City staff, and espescially the generally exempt professionals in planning, engineering and communications services are supposed to be there to provide expertise, options, management and sober second opinions on some of the high flying (or non-starting) ideas from politicians, as well as putting forward their own ideas of how Utopia should look --and be run.

That these two groups: hacks versus wonks---sometimes don't come within miles of each other on the "what' and "how' of how this city should be run really should be of concern to all civic taxpayers.

And given the meglomania at all levels of government and the bureauocracy---local, provincial and federal---the WASTE of your taxpaying dollas is a fact.

The infighting is legendary. The top tier politicians are whip-cracking, malevolent jerks, who punish those who don't tow the line, on issues both large and small. It's really about control. In my humble opinion/experience the word 'sociopath' is not too strong a term to use about those at the top. To hell with coming to any kind of consensus.

Meanwhile, the lead bureauocrats are protecting turf and building fiefdoms, hopeful that they will outlast the latest clutch of elected goofs.

Staff, managers, and directors are pushed and pulled in multiple directions, exhausted by timetables that are either insanely short or working to goals and timelines that can be chucked at a moments notice by whatever governement aide needs to do some ass-covering/kissing.

Now, add in all the bs about protocols between local governments. the province and the feds. Duplication is rife. Which means all the cross meetings, all the parsing of program jargon, all the careful communications plans---are handle, many times, by two or three levels of bureauocracy. And even then, political expediency trumps able planning, regardless of smart, able-bodied staff.

To get back to local CoV staff, I feel sorry for what is going on now. Regardless that they are experts, right now they are treated as galley slaves. JUST DO AS WE SAY! is the mantra---I have heard this from people inside. No accountablity for what happens long-term---just give us the short-term optics that we crave! This is a huge sea change from former councils who relied on staff experience to help them reach conclusions that had both the imprimateur of thoughtful, considered short AND long-term planning as well as the stamp of fiscal responsibility on each program.

I have no doubt that the resumes are flying out of CoV. Who wants to work in an atmosphere where your expertise is dismissed, and your own vision is only as good as long as it matches the current crop of bullies, who only themselves have a surface understanding of most of th issues the City is facing?

Incredible that you guys release two great stories yesterday and the mainstream media acts like nothing happened. No front-page stories about $1000 per day contractors the mayor hired. No stories about plummeting morale at city hall. Vision gets another pass from the MSM who remain either intimidated or in love with this tree-hugging gang of misguided hippies. Why?

Mike, Daniel,
Probably a good time to warn your sources (the leaks) that they may want to lay low a bit.

Pretty good chance of a "sting" operation to figure out who the leak is in the Hall right now.


It's the top story on 'NW this morning.

Congrats, CC!

Too bad this appears to be nothing more than already over-paid, over-vacationed, over-pension, exempt workers lining up at the trough for more money.

Maybe they should go Ronald Reagan v. Air Traffic controllers on them?

I have no issue with the majority of city hall employees who, by and large, carry out their duties in a diligent fashion.

I do have an issue with the senior management who advise senior officials and elected representatives on policy. it is characteristic of all organizations that these same senior ranks become insular, prone to take sides, and suffer few consequences if they are in error.

I am surprised it has taken so long to effect cultural change at city hall and if it is painful, welcome to the world of accountability - where many of us toil on a day to day basis.

Change is really welcome. Get used to it.

Don't look now, but I think there's a troll named "rf" in the room.

rf in house!
It always goes quiet in here when the public troughiteers get called out.

This a very sad state of affairs. Over the past two years very talented and dedicated staff professionals have retired far sooner than they would have due to the present climate at the COV. (And it appears from this letter that those who are soldiering on are worse off). It's a loss we can hardly measure or afford and it wasn't just the history and corporate insight flying out the door but a substantial piece of the city's heart. Some of these staff actually gave up much higher remuneration in the private sector to work and help create one of the best city's to live in.
Politicians come and go at three year intervals but the city structure remained strong with staff incrementally moving up the ladder, gaining experience and eventually taking the place of retirees. That process is almost a thing of the past. Of course a shake-up is not always bad but to systematically dissemble what was primarily a well-oiled machine due to a politically motivated agenda seems wasteful, childish and so lacking in critical thought that I fear our "most liveable city image" will be but a blip on some past radar.
And on another note, the city deparments, so diverse in the servises they deliver, can not all be cut from the same cloth to be transformed into an interchangeable robotic force, which I believe the current City's Services Review is hoping to recommend.
It now is clear to me that those of us who usually sit on the sidelines basking in the great city we helped build, will have to fight to get our city back, sooner rather than later.

Then one of you get Phillip Owen out of retirement so the NPA can at least win the next election.

I have no problem with elected officials setting priorities and ensuring that the will of the people is carried out. That is what they are elected for and accountable for.

What scares me, is when these same elected officials start to set policies or initiate projects with no concept of what might be involved or what the impacts might be.

I recall listening to a debate several years back about property taxation and the burdened it currently puts on the business community. Decisions were being made in that council sessions by people who did not understand the concept of a triple net lease and who in fact gets handed the tax bill. When we are talking about a billion dollar budget, how can you make appropriate decisions when you don't understand the fundamentals?

Council comes from various walks of life - and so they should. It is fool hardy to assume they understand everything they deal with on behalf of the city. That is what staff are for. They should be the suppliers of information about context, long term impacts,financial implications and best practices. They should be making recommendations, offering cautions and then leaving the final decision to those we elect.

If staff get left out of the conversation, and are ignored or disrespected, we are leaving our city in the hands of '1 issue wonders' and that is frightening.

The Thought of The Day

"Management is only as good as methods it uses, as people who use them...so they say. Wrong. Is only as good as the worse of them."

And with the top bureaucrat and the top politician being the weakest links, City of Vancouver have become a template case for the 'Failed Cities by Doctrine' seminar.

Some New Age guru teaches this on a faraway island. Kayaking, tree hugging and self-worshipping are included. Sorry, no Cell Phone coverage.

We live in vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I am an ex exempt City employee - from private sector and now back in private sector - a few comments; The "old way" at the City is not sustainable and requires a dramatic change. The Services Review is the best thing that could happen to the City from a taxpayer standpoint. The Services review is a great idea but lost a few key members that were driving the program. Not sure where this stands now. Maybe someone can report?

The City is inefficient and the payroll is bloated. (Forget the salaries, check the vacation entitlements!) To change the current work environment the City needs to attract and retain new employees with drive and ideas. The core problem is twofold . 1)the management style of senior folks (sorry Penny/Patrice)- they are not open (trusting?) to actually letting people do what they are trained and skilled at doing. 2) Existing staff have grown used to the old ways - they have a vested/pension interest in not rocking the boat too much. Staff can threaten all they want but long term employees won't find much demand for their services elsewhere - these folks have been tagged (right or wrong doesn't really matter) with lazy City worker already. Bit of a catch 22 - stalemate until next election?

"Too bad this appears to be nothing more than already over-paid, over-vacationed, over-pension, exempt workers lining up at the trough for more money.

Maybe they should go Ronald Reagan v. Air Traffic controllers on them?"

Excellent point, rf. And why did senior management give these cretins, these slobs, these trough-dwelling swine the opportunity to voice their opinions through a survey? It's egregious! FIRE THEM ALL! Fire them and replace them with something better.

Problem solved.

I guess things are that simple in "your house", rf. Too bad the rest of the world isn't that simple.

The survey was held, and the employees responded. The results are in. Live with them.

NOT related to this story but notable - from today's Globe & Mail:

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is putting the brakes on a project to increase the number of rental units in the city’s West End so he can consult with the community members he called “hacks” during a council hearing in early July.

The project in question is a 22-storey tower on Comox Street. The building, which would replace a church, will have 193 units and is 30 feet taller and five times the density that current zoning allows.

A group of West End residents have been actively campaigning against the development, a fight that came to a head at a July council meeting where the mayor swore and called the citizens “hacks.”

City hall microphones picked up Mr. Robertson asking “Who are all these fuckin...who are these hacks man? Are they NPA hacks?”

The survey results were very different from what they asked for.

The survey was all about treatment and duties.

The recommendations were to ask for more money and vacation time.

Power to the people! Imperial Gregor has suffered yet another defeat. We need to press on and in a year from now the government will change and we will be free of this imperial mayor. I think the Province now calls him Mayor Milquetoast.

In all seriousness, kudos to everyone who signed the petition and fought vision on this. But the fight is not over as they have only put a temporary halt on their plans. We need to keep the pressure up on this and so many other issues. Vision is starting to crack apart at the seams and I couldn't be happier.

It'd be worth City Caucus contacting Ryan Merkley (sp?). Recruited to Vancouver to head up the City's communications department, he stayed the minimum he could - just six months.

Penny Ballem is right though, that every department making independent decisions about moving office locations with no City approvals process just doesn't make sense. One department made a $43 million 10-year lease commitment. No one was looking at the big picture.
That's poor management.
So Penny and Gregor are saying they need to centralize all decisions so they can change some systems that really are wasting taxpayer dollars. Some of the 'bloating' and expense decisions, based on old management systems, do need to be micromanaged for a while until new systems are put in place.

Management didn't get the response they wanted so the whole thing is a wash? You're just digging yourself into a deeper hole. Give it up.

If the pay, benefits, vacation, pension etc. are all so great (as per rf) why are:

- 17.5% actively looking for other employment
- 13.5% planning to retire early
- 35% undecided about their future (with the COV)

That kind of loss (while it may be an opportunity for 'new blood') will come at the expense of extensive 'bleeding' (from the amount of corporate knowledge walking out the door.)

Again, assuming these management positions are all overpaid, civil servant positions filled by a bunch of underachievers (paraphrasing from rf now) why would more than half (52.7%) identify their most significant concern as "lack of trust, respect, and acknowledgment for skills/abilities/decision making"?

If that many people are considering walking away from such a cushy job I am not sure where the silver lining is? Sounds more like an ominous future for the City(zens) of Vancouver. (And the poor folks who are going to get hired to fill these vacant positions. Try doing your job serving the taxpayer when no one around you knows anything about their job either - because they are also 'new blood'...

We have been top heavy at the Hall for a long time and while I admire many of our managers who do truly carry a heavy load with high expectations, there are a number of exempt people who were hired after the last strike with huge benefits to be in place to manage the city for "The Next One" Great way for an organization to operate.
These people are the ones who should be worried and rightly so.
They know the writing is on the wall for 2011 so they have leaked this out for support.

You don't need to worry about the "exempt people who were hired after the last strike with huge benefits" - they do not have a lot of corporate knowledge to take with them.

You should be worried about the "managers who do truly carry a heavy load with high expectations" - these are the ones whose departure will create a void.

The real question is - how many of THESE managers (the ones carrying the load) are represented amoung the disgruntled...

@ terri. AMEN!!! Well said.

Everyone should take a moment to think about this story.

700 out of 10,000 non-union City employees filled out a survey. These employees make $75,000 - $250,000 per year. And apparently they are unhappy with their jobs.

So if they are unhappy they should quit and get another job. But they aren't quiting because they don't have the education or experience to get an equivalent job in the real world. The only ones leaving are the ones getting fired.

The City Manager should continue cleaning house because the City needs to change the way it operates.

If the city of Vancouver is shedding some middle managers, 286 of whom make over 100K, then we should give Gregor some credit for prudence.

Overpaid middle managers are upset because:

a) They have to learn to use computers.
b) They didn't get a raise, when those making half their salary did.
c) They are afraid their obsolete position will become more obsolete.
d) They have to report to people who are actually accountable to taxpayers.
e) They have to manage their budgets.

Which is resulting in them:

a) Looking at the job ads. Morale is probably low when they realize that there are no better paying jobs out there for middle managers.

What took previous governments decades to build, this Mayor and Council will destroy in one term. We have a great city, due in part, to a wonderful, non-partisan public service who have worked their tail off to serve us. Hard to believe that in one term, Vision will have eliminated decades of brain trust and ruined the reputation of the city as a great place to work. I can't imagine voters will be dumb enough to forget what Gregor Robertson and his crew have done come the next election. Shame on all of them.

I picked up my morning Sun and Province and am glad to see CanWest isn't bullied or intimidated by Robertson, Vision or Ballem. They did two great stories on what's going on behind the scenes here at the hall. 24 Hours newspaper also has somethig as well.

You can bully staff and the media for only so long before the chickens come home to roost (pun intended). Many of us can't wait for these guys to be gone and will drag our feet over the nex year if that's what it takes. Two can play the political game if they want it that way.

Where do they cut the 4million for Fire Rescue Services?
I have seen the fire dept many times quick and efficiently save buildings and lives- also respond to car crashes, medicals, heart attacks, suicides, alarms, boat / marine fires, public education, Haz-Mat, Auto Extrications, EMS, Technical Rope Rescue and Confined Space...and more...(we are on the earthquake zone) and also have USAR in the Vancouver Fire Rescue Dept.
Ms.Ballem needs to understand the "big truck" goes to the "medical calls" cause it is the "tool box" of the job and many times the truck is dispatched to other (alarm calls and fire calls) when going to and from the medical call....it would affect timely responses if they had to go switch a vehicle to respond....curious any feedback if cutting the 4mill - would affect the citys insurance rating - and how much that would cost...
how much have they spent on bike lanes and renovating city hall? do priorities need to be looked at here..? or voted on ....hmmmm

After reading this I can see why the Mayor's office media "hit list" has city caucus columnists in the number one and three position. As for the list itself, now that' it's become public it's only a matter of time before the mayor is forced to make some big changes with his political staff. I think a new communications director can't be too far off. Are there any vision friendly bloggers out there looking for a full time gig in the Mayor's office? Hmmmmm....

@Dan. This story is not about salaries. Penny Ballem and Patrice Impey are getting top dollar for their management positions. If this was about trimming budgets then Ballem wouldn't be hiring consultants at $1000 per day.

This story is about a pervasive and toxic culture of mistrust that is growing inside Vancouver City Hall. Everyone is shoulder checking now. Reports are being customized to suit the new political masters. Fostering leadership is now traded in for sycophancy.

As earlier comments have described, putting Penny Ballem in charge of this process is having the fox mind the henhouse. Vancouver's public service used to be considered among the best places to build a career...*used to be*

In addition to Mike's reply to Dan, a reply which is bang-on by the way, this is also simply a result of the guys and gals currently in power having created "sides". They view themselves as on the union "side". They know who got them elected. They know who supplied a lot of the money. They know who went on strike in order to make a political point. The strike sure as hell was not about money.
There were signals and statements from early on that this intellectually challenged Mayor and his handlers were going to take on exempt staff.
This all comes with very little surprise. We are witnessing our own little version Animal Farm.
What is surprising about the comments is the amount of rhetoric that is "anti-management". Clearly, many people have bought in to the "struggle".

@ Jer. They've already done it:

"Mairi Welman, now with Recycling Council BC, as new City of Van communications director", hired last month.

Note the conciliatory tone of the Mayor's PR yesterday but, also note the repeated emphasis on rental housing commitment. Are we seeing Welman's hand here? He'd already set up the advisory committee, this is just a new spin on old news. It takes the time pressure off but, doesn't change the end game.

After hearing a Vision rep on CBc this AM on the same subject, WE STIRs, the message was the same: rental housing even if we [read taxpayers] have to subsidize it to the tune of $150,000 / 400 sf unit.

ahhhh the firefighters. who doesn't love them.
Funny how when you search the public sector database for the COV it comes up with about 400 Firefighters making north of $100,000.

Admittedely they end up doing the paramedics job most of the time. Meanwhile the paramedics get paid half as much. Certainly a waste of money.

When do the laws of supply and demand kick in?

There are 1000 strapping young lads and lasses lined up for every single available job with the fire department. Think I'm kidding? Go to 8-rinks a survey every single 20 something coming off the ice and ask them if they want to be a firefighter!

Why does the city pay $100,000/year + ridiculous benefits and pensions for a job that thousands would do for $65,000?

Ballem is out there saying this report is about old managers who just aren't able to cope well with her new style of change. If that's so, how does she explain the fact both Robin Adair and Ryan Merkley quit on her. Weren't they hired by Ballem to enact the so-called progressive change she is referring to? If even her own agents of change can't stand working at 12th and Cambie, why should any of us? This is not about the old guard, it's about a new politicized public service.

@ Mike and Dan

Congratulations on being in the top 5 of the 'Vision Hit List'!

Well done!

Mike - do you get an 'I'm #1' t-shirt??

"Everyone should take a moment to think about this story."

In the words of a certain anonymous city manager, "duh". That's the point of CityCaucus bringing this story up. Meanwhile, the sleepy and apathetic mainstream media, for the most part, ignored it.

700 out of 10,000 non-union City employees filled out a survey. Yep. And there is a relevant point that has not yet been mentioned in these comments: There is yet another pending employee survey at city hall. Billed as the "first of its kind" for city hall, the goals are to find areas of improvement, to get a feel for employee engagement and to make the city a better place to work. Gee, I hope it works. It will conclude at the end of September.

Hopefully (for city management's sake) the other 9,300 employees are a little happier than the 700 exempt staff, otherwise we'll all be meeting back here in October to discuss yet another embarrassing survey result.

Do the ("real") world a favor, Arthur: Do not become a manager. Conducting an employee satisfaction survey, discovering that employees are not happy, then turning around and tell them to "quit and get another job" is clearly not an attribute of a good leader.

You are right about one thing. The city needs to change the way it operates.

If anyone thinks that the remaining 9300 employees are happier than our managers they have been drinking the koolaid for too long. To read this morning that the public service has not been politicized is a joke. How else would PB explain rewriting a senior managers report to Council when his professional recommendations did not comply with the party line. She left authors name on it, however, just to add salt to the wound.

@ Rod. Checkmate!

Quinlan it is time for you to resign. Do it for the sake of the party. The Mayor's polling numbers are plumetting. The headlines are terrible. The revelation of a media hit list is devastating. It's all spinning out of control for you. Leave now while you can still hold your head up high.

I checked your facts..they are not totally accurate- learned that a large amount of those #'s are for retirees / wage payouts..(one was the former chief)
THese are not FF positions but a few Captains and mostly Senior Chiefs....
A FF does make 58-78/yr depending on years of service. I also learned that they pay their own sick plan...(odd for a public sector union to do this)
They are highly trained and do a diverse and changing job fulfilling various roles and specialities.
They are highly trained and what also surprised me is the amount of cancer and higher than normal death rates for the toxins they are exposed to in their careers. I have a greater appreciation once learning some of these facts. Many work 2 jobs to support their families..they also have lots of other stressors and job incidents that require critical stress debriefings too....They did support the current mayor and council who already cut there budget by over 2million apparently....and it is already running very lean??
thats what I learned in a few phone calls...I guess the next best step is to talk to the "hall level workers" too and union

Why is there so much angst about Ms. Ballem.

The real responsibility lies with the elected representatives who, on normal governance, are supposed to ensure that there is adequate oversight of non-elected officials.

If they are not carrying out oversight, then they will suffer the wrath of the electorate (even more than they attract at the moment).

Memo to Council: get your act in order.

The reason why Ballem is getting heat is because it's her job to prevent the politics from encroaching into the workforce. She is suppose to be a qualified manager who can approach political agendas with a realistic business mindset. Instead she's just another power tripping lackey of the current council.

Something is wrong when the city's most experienced and knowledgeable workers are leaving and being replaced by "yes" types.

MrJ, thxs for the info, it's helpful.

The focus in this matter should be the fact that Vision during their last year's budget go-round cut not only the Fire Department but, services, programmes, facilities & jobs right across the board. What is now becoming clear is they were doing this not because of the recession but, to fund their own agenda.

This appears also to not have been enough. I am advised they are also dipping into already approved departmental budgets to fund unapproved work such as the Hornby Bike Lane rewiring & surveying.

It will be an interesting next few months when next year's budget discussions start.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Vancouver asked for change in the last election and now they're getting it.

Democracy is a beautiful thing.

what else is interesting - the Firehall 15 that has the blue tarped roof has been approved (and $$set aside) apparently in 3+ elections - voted on by residents over (yes votes)each time.
THe ballot apparently has stated "new firehall" (not new #15hall) and each time the approved $$$ went elswhere.
Looks like its going to happen again - the last election same thing - approved funds...still no new hall - I went by the derelict building at 22&Nootka for a look...sad site....where is the money gone for this voted on and approved project ....(a bikelane??) + the residents of the area are getting shortchanged on what used to be a 2 firetruck hall down to 1 truck (further away in the tent at skytrain) and the other truck respondsfrom PNE area??? The taxpayers deserve some action since they voted in 3 elections and think they got 3 new halls...to date not one!

Democracy is a beautiful thing. Right on! It’s time for change! Get rid of the dead wood! New blood! This fresh young City Manager will … oops. Penny Ballem is our new blood? Seriously?! This isn’t what we voted for.

Actually, we didn’t vote for any of the replacement staff now running our city. Most of us never imagined that our new, green Mayor would empower his misguided miscreants to wipe out both the seasoned and the gen-x managers who made Vancouver one of the most livable cities on the planet year after year.

While we’ve been reading the press releases about public servants younger than Penny Ballem retiring to spend more time with their grandchildren, City Hall has been pushing out the professionals and managers who brought us Vancouver’s blue box recycling programs, city-wide bike networks, neighborhood traffic calming programs, and the world’s most energy efficient communities. Why would these people go first? For those of us who think for ourselves, this is not a rhetorical question. If you’re not in this category and need a hint, think ethics, integrity, and marketability. Another hint? Look for these traits in the people who have left, and those who have replaced them.

But wait, democracy is beautiful thing. Politicize the City Hall administration! Replace career professionals and managers with political appointees! Strong mayors, not weak ones! It’s better for you! Our mayor had to pass a rigorous career progression to become our city’s CEO. An accredited university degree, professional internship, master’s degree in business administration, at least 20 years of progressive experience managing large public service delivery programs and corporations, and then selection by a professional recruitment firm and a panel of peers from the private and public sector, so he should know how to run this city! Yes he can! Oops. Our mayor has a college arts degree.

Oh well, I think we elected him because we wanted a green mayor, not because of his education or credentials. We thought we liked what he stands for. But that was when he was going to be our chairman of the board, not our self-appointed CEO. What makes him qualified to wipe out a generation of municipal leaders to replace them with his hand-picked, politically appointed City Managers, CFOs, Deputy City Managers, Communications Directors? Are we ready for all these people to get fired and replaced when we change our minds about this mayor and elect a different one who has all sorts of other people in mind for these positions?

This Mayor couldn’t trust a non-partisan administration when he took office, how will the next Mayor view the partisan one that replaced it? I guess that will just be tough, eh? Tough on the taxpayers, since we’ll be footing all the bills.

Democracy is a beautiful thing, but this is just plain sad.

I think what needs to be mentioned here is that one of the author's of the VACMPS Memo outlining alleged morale issues amongst Management and Exempt Staff has been a leader in ruling against innocent Cupe15 menbers (City Employees) where the City Employees have been brutally bullied and harrassed by Managers and Exempt Staff. Is this not a clear conflict of interest? Upset Management and Exempt staff are not treated fairly and are micromanaged?....Upset there is a loss of respect and trust throughout the organization?; Upset Staff are fearful of reprisals which is leading to a "heads down/don't rock the boat" attitude. Creativity and excellence are not being stimulated?....Ms. Co-author, you helped make the working environment just that!!!!! Could it be you are more upset now that you and your Management and Exempt Staff cronies can't continue to rule the roost unchecked and are now held to accountability?

Well now, talk about calling the kettle black!!!!. Karma is a beautiful thing. Don't like what is going on....get to the back of the line beoches where you belong.

Powerfully said JPS.

The term "garbage in, garbage out"comes to mind [this might well be VV's idea of recycling]. But, we as an educated, continually evolving & developing society deserve much better governance than this one.

i think it's hilarious that non-union staff are running like scared rats now that city hall has discovered how many of them actually do nothing.let's not forget that a lot of them were put into non-union positions so they could be SCABS and cross the picket line during labour disputes.i work at the city and if you got rid of 75% of non-union staff in my department trust me you wouldn't know the difference!they had no problem raking in the overtime cash and crossing the picket line during the last strike,now it's time to cut the dead weight at the top.

there are a lot of mixed messages floating around about the successes of management. in one breath, the Stanley park children's farm is being closed for purported budget reasons. which is bizarre if you consider that Stanley park is one of most visited sites in the city. the other mixed message is from an internal retirement note, congratulating the respective manager for there accomplishments and acumen related to the same farm. go figure.
the other internal factoid was a managers' kin being hired for a position that was never posted. gotta love the family connections.
do not get me wrong, the barrel does have good apples and leaders.
when the new city manager is done, the barrel will hopefull be emptier as indicated by initial vancouver service review document, most comments revealed that management did not know how to do their job and the sentiment from the union employee survey being conducted will give more ammo and insite from those on the front line of bad management.

the most fun any Vancouverite will have this year is realizing that with almost a billion dollar operating budget, one of the most tangible items of the summer is the no smoking policy in parks. all jest aside, money well spent and hopefuly less garbage on the beaches via butt discards and packaging. it beats replacing / repairing the combined sewer overflows in to False Creek, English Bay and Burrard.

ps, did any vancouverite read the bio for the new parks manager. they are bringing chagemanagent to the table.- is this a move to merge the green and orange into brown or a shepard to walk the lame out to pasture.

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