Robbins departure: was she pushed or did she jump?

Post by Mike Klassen in


Darlene Heidemann's GlobalTV story gets right to the issue - see video

It's truly been a crazy 24 hours over at Vancouver City Hall. Once again, Mayor Gregor has been hiding under his desk while senior staffers are running around trying to spin their way out of this latest PR disaster. Just when you thought staff morale couldn't get any lower at City Hall, we break a story that Deputy Chief License Inspector Carlene Robbins suddenly left her job.

A number of mainstream media have subsequently covered this story. GlobalTV's Darlene Heidemann hung out at City Hall yesterday in an attempt to interview Mayor Gregor regarding the circumstances that led to Robbins' departure. As you can see from the video above, her attempts to interview His Worship were in vain. In fact, every politician ran for the hills on this one except for NPA councillor Suzanne Anton who went on the attack. She told earlier today:

I am deeply disturbed by Robbins' sudden departure. But losing senior staff at City Hall is becoming a pattern under Gregor Robertson's leadership. He clearly wants a public service that's going to tell him what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear.

The Globe and Mail's Frances Bula also did an excellent story this morning and provided her perspective on Robbin's departure. She states on her blog:

Of all the departures from city hall since Vision Vancouver took charge, Carlene Robbins’ abrupt exit on Monday is the most puzzling.

A lot of reporters knew Carlene. She and her boss, Barb Windsor, rode herd on some of the city’s hardest and least glory-accruing problems. They pushed the landlords of slummy hotels and rooming houses to keep their property maintained, dealt with houses that were falling to pieces because of absentee or incompetent owners, and stick-handled every other problem that fell under “property use inspection.”

Bob Mackin over at 24 Hours was able to get an interesting nugget of information out of senior officials at City Hall. Despite all their spinning that they're puzzled as to why Robbins "quit", we now find out the City is aware that Ms. Robbins might actually be suing the city:

Community services general manager David McLellan claims he doesn’t know why the City of Vancouver’s property use inspection manager left her job Wednesday.

But he admitted Carlene Robbins could be preparing to sue.

On Thursday, McLellan said the 38-year veteran returned from a week vacation, met with chief building official Will Johnston, and announced she was leaving.

“We were quite taken aback by that because she’d been with the organization a very long time,” he said. “We asked her, are you sure you want to do this? Do you want to take more time to think about this? It seems like a pretty rash action.”

G&M's marquee B.C. columnist Gary Mason weighed in on his Twitter too, saying:

Think CC may be right. RT @CityCaucus: Time for a 3rd party independent review into what led up to the Pandora St tragedy where 3 men died

CTV News, CKNW and News 1130 radio also had some excellent coverage on this story yesterday. We're not sure why the Vancouver Sun, Province or CBC TV nor radio have not reported on this story yet, but if they do we'll let you know.

This most recent controversy only serves to demonstrate why an independent review into the circumstances that led to the Pandora St. fire is so necessary. It's too bad that Mayor Gregor and his Vision Vancouver colleagues decided to vote down Anton's motion which would have initiated that process. Perhaps Robbins' departure will be the catalyst to break this matter wide open, and we'll finally see Vision reverse their previous position and commit to getting all the facts out. However, without continued pressure from the media, that's not likely.

Here are links to some of the other stories we've written about the Pandora St. tragedy:

- Post by Mike


The Vancouver Sun ran a 3 paragraph story buried on page A8.

If bureaucracy was not running amuck, maybe senior staff could have kept their jobs!!!
Junior staff would do their jobs and not get drowned it paperwork and slow moving bureaucracy.

Flop houses have existed for years, reports have been written for years, recommendations have been recommended for years.

NOTHING gets done.

So where is the weak link?
What makes it impossible for a clean it up or we'll do if for you!

Who blocks it?
The legal department, maybe?

I don't know.
I don't work for the City but I sure pay part of their wages.

this Vision crowd is a train wreck. And that includes the mayor's pick for Manager and Assistant Manager. They should all be gone by this time next year

Oh, please.
No one would quit from a job like that. With only a few years remaining till retirement. Period. Unless they can't take it anymore and they know they are hunted down. No one deserves to be bullied, threaten or intimidated at work. Ballem and her sidekicks, Robertson and Vision are the WORST low life bureaucrats/ politicians that ever step foot inside City Hall,in its entire history. They should go down as the biggest, most corrupt bunch of parasites. Speechless.

I don't know why some of you have any doubts.

The facts are the facts.

A reminder as to the results of the recent "City of Vancouver’s first ever organization wide Employee Engagement Survey."

The first of its kind in the City's history.

1. Less than half of the employees think the City of Vancouver is well-run.

2. 71 percent of those polled said they haven't had a formal performance review in the past year. (Many city employees have not had a formal performance review during their ENTIRE time at the city.)

3. Overall the survey results are below other public sector (-10%) and the overall database of employers (-14%).

4. Employees with less than two years experience at city hall are significantly more satisfied than those with two or more years of service. (Learning takes time)

5. Confidence in Leadership was a low point, with 43% or respondents categorizing it as "Unfavourable".

The Straight has posted the Scribd link to the survey results:


There is only one direction from here, and that is down.

The biggest joke is the city's bizarre contention that the city will surely remain on "BC's Top Employers" list. You can rest assured that if it does remain on the list, money has changed hands.

Working at Vancouver City Hall...

In a word: TOXIC.

Everyone I talk to at city hall says they will do everything possible to get rid of Mayor Robertson and Vision. I've never seen anything like it and I've worked at CH for 17 years.

There will be an army of city employees who will be volunteering their time with NPA and COPE candidates in the next election. If you multiply these 9000 city employees by all their family members who live in Vancouver, you have a very powerful block of voters. Trust me, city employees who have been shit on for the past 2.5 years speak about this experience to their families, and THEY VOTE!

Vision can only bully us for so long before we have our say at the ballot box. This November, we'll see if Robertson remains the mayor. I certainly hope not.

(for security purposes I have not put my real name. I simply don't want to get attacked by Robertson/Ballem and their bulldogs any more than I have)

Mayor Gregor should commit to no "confidentiality clause" if the City decides to pay severance to Ms. Robbins. We have lost 3 lives at Pandora St and need to hear what Ms. Robbins has to say about that. She shouldn't have duct tape placed on her mouth by way of a confidentiality clause.

The City unnecessarily put these kind of gag orders on both Judy Rogers and Arkady Tsisserev.

Check out!

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