Kerry Jang puts his foot in it at Tuesday's council meeting - see video
The floor of the city council chamber is a place to battle over opinions and ideas. At times the political hyperbole flies and our elected officials too often try to one-up each other in pointless arguments.
None of us, however, want council chambers to be a place for put-downs, especially when it involves a non-partisan public servant. That unfortunately is what we heard from Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang at Tuesday evening's council meeting. In his attempt to toss darts at lone NPA councillor Suzanne Anton, Jang decided to mock the City's now former manager of the freedom of information office Paul Hancock.
It was not a good day for Vision Vancouver. It started with a newspaper report on a poll conducted by Justason Market Intelligence that shows Vision Vancouver's popularity seriously on the wane. Their mishandling of the Olympic Village file and their unwillingness to take responsibility for their own mistakes have frustrated Vancouverites no end.
Once undecided voters are now decidely opposed to the idea of re-electing Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver.
Then there was the TERRIBLE staff survey results presented to council at the start of Tuesday's meeting. CityCaucus.com began tweeting out that the staff survey results would be coming and the word was they would be "ugly." Penny Ballem booked a room at Robson Square UBC Campus at $1100 to discuss the results with her senior management team just prior to the council presentation.
Likely because of our tweets, a hastily prepared 2-line press release about Ballem's presentation was issued a mere 45-minutes before the council meeting would start. Haven't we seen these "late distribution" tactics by the City Manager once too often?
After a looooong and rambling intro on the positives, the slides in PowerPoint Penny's presentation showed that the trust in City Hall's leadership had plummeted. Only 27% of surveyed staff felt they had confidence in senior management.
The numbers were so low that members of the Vision council were at a loss for words. Each Vision/COPE councillor mumbled about how great it was that the City had done a survey, but none dared to mention the substance of the results. Questioned by the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee after the presentation – see his story – Penny Ballem shrugged off any concerns about her leadership. Further, she blamed staff for not understanding her mission.
“There is no comment that this is the wrong direction. This is just that they don’t understand enough yet [where the city is going],” she said.
The survey, conducted by the Hay Group, showed a majority of employees also are generally happy and productive in their work, even if they are unclear about some of the directions in which the city is going.
Ballem said it was a head-scratcher that people would be happy in their work but still lack confidence in the leadership of their management.
“It is a little bit of a disconnect. It is hard to quite get your head around it. But I think the clear message is that we need to do more work explaining what the broad strategy is of the city,” she said.
Slides like this one from her PowerPoint don't get much more grim. The blue line zig-zagging along the bottom is the measure of satisfaction within her staff. The line above it is the average for all public sector workers. They barely come close.
Of course, Ballem only will release her PowerPoint to the public, and not the actual survey results, which of course means yet another FOI will be submitted.
So, with all this background in mind, we return to Coun. Kerry Jang and his unfavourable remarks about Paul Hancock.