Stand clear! City hall wants you to pay attention now rather than in September
The folks down at 12th & Cambie wants the public to get past the whole empty-building-new-mayor's-office-story now rather than in a couple of weeks. We've learned from inside sources that Penny Ballem described the strategy as a "controlled avalanche" to colleagues. Meaning that she's aware that most folks are still in summer mode, on vacation or out of town, thus reducing the political damage.
What we've also learned is that the city manager is not very happy about the move, which will take place in two parts. Yes, you read that correctly. Dr. Ballem and her staff will first move to the second floor of city hall, wait several months until the sixth floor is ready for occupancy.
Why the rush, you ask? That's where the story gets even more interesting. Last Friday Mike Magee walked into Ballem's office to notify staff that they were all to be moved out within a week. Some affected staff are still on vacation and will come back to find their desk on another floor.
The reason why Magee pressed for the immediate withdrawal is because Gregor Robertson leaves for China on September 4th and returns after 10 days. When he comes back Robertson's office will be fully outfitted where the city manager currently has her office. Magee wants no disruption for Hizonner, and he must have his new "private" office at the end of the hall on the third floor fully set up when he returns to Canada. We've been told it's getting a fresh coat of eco-friendly paint, tinted emerald forest green of course.
So, as we've argued since we first reported this story last year, this game of musical desks is not about space or privacy, but about Gregor Robertson's grip on power at city hall and the expansion of political staff.
The question now is what is the quid pro quo for city council? When will they get their own political aides? You can bet that a deal has already been struck to ensure that city councillors get their piece of cake next, otherwise Robertson risks a revolt from his own caucus. They're the ones who will have to answer for this reckless spending, and not Gregor who is carefully hidden under his desk.
Perhaps Ballem and Magee are the smart ones, and we won't remember this in a few weeks...
On another note, we'd like to recommend to our readers a charming video report by the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee who broke the empty city hall story yesterday. Lee gained unprecedented access as media into the empty upper floors, and even rides the "secret" elevator used by the Mayor. Check it out by clicking the image on the right.
- post by Mike