According to the City of Vancouver's Code of Conduct for staff, Section 5.4 states very clearly:
Any political involvement must be as a citizen, not as City staff, and such activities must not take place while at work.
Last week, a series of very interesting tweets were sent out from Mayor Gregor Robertson's Director of Communications during work hours. As you may be aware, Kevin Quinlan is paid by Vancouver taxpayers to assist the Mayor with his communications activities. There has been increasing speculation over the last several months that Quinlan may be on his way out as Robertson tries desperately to improve his media relations strategy.
According to the City's code of conduct, Quinlan is not supposed to be overtly campaigning or making partisan political attacks on company time. If you recall, former Chief of Staff Geoff Meggs got in hot water when it was discovered that he put the Mayor's office phone number at the bottom of a Friends of Larry Campbell news release. The NPA roasted Campbell and Vision for using taxpayer-funded staff to conduct partisan political activity.
Last week in a desperate attempt to bolster his boss' sagging approval ratings, Quinlan began to send out some highly partisan tweets which attacked the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) and city councillor Suzanne Anton. It was something you would expect during an election campaign from paid hacks, but not from a taxpayer-funded communications staffer in the Mayor's office during work hours. Here is a sample:
454 units at OV not selling. NPA plan to recover money? dump another 252 units on market. same NPA thought Fortress investmnts [SIC] was good idea
It will be interesting to see how the Mayor explains this one away to the media. Anyone want to venture a guess how he can justify anti-NPA tweets during business hours? "Oh...that's just Kevin. Sometimes he gets carried away."
If other City staffers were caught sending out tweets during the day slamming the Vision party or its elected officials, rest assured there would be hell to pay. If so, then why are the Mayor's staff allowed to conduct partisan political activities from his office without any repercussions?
Does the Code of Conduct not apply to Mayor's office staff? If it doesn't, are his staff permitted to openly campaign against the NPA or other opposition parties on company time? These are good questions and hopefully the Mayor can shed some light on whether his employees must also adhere to the same Code of Conduct the other 9000 staff must adhere to on a daily basis.
- post by Daniel