Carlene Robbins sues City of Vancouver

Post by Mike Klassen in


GlobalTV provides more of their interview with Dave McLellan (video) broke the story on January 28th that Vancouver's Manager of Property Use Inspection Carlene Robbins (who acted also as Chief License Inspector, despite claims by the City to the contrary) was yet another senior manager leaving City Hall under questionable circumstances. We reported a rumour that Friday that Robbins was taking legal action against the City, and on the following Tuesday the Vancouver Courier's Naoibh O'Connor confirmed it.

As we reported originally, this matter surrounds the Pandora Street fire in December which resulted in three deaths. No issue has been so rife with hypocrisy as Mayor Gregor Robertson's handling of the death of three homeless men who had bedded down on a freezing cold night on a back deck, only to burn to death. In spite of the persistence of local media, Robertson went to great lengths to avoid discussing the matter. He eventually got cornered by reporters, but still wouldn't talk.

Of course, Gregor Robertson checked out of town hours after the fire happened, tweeting his followers that he needed a vacation.

Now we have the Notice of Claim filed by Robbins lawyer to B.C.'s Supreme Court. In it you can read the timeline of events, and their direct relationship to the Pandora Street fire. The claim describes how Robbins job wound up in limbo, and that a work environment "of hostility, embarrassment and humiliation" ensued.

In essence, it puts in doubt claims by Community Services Manager Dave McLellan that Robbins departure after 38 years of employment came as a complete surprise, and to his knowledge had nothing to do with Pandora Street.

Carlene Robbins
Notice of Claim against the City of Vancouver

The video interview by GlobalTV's Darlene Heidemann is almost uncomfortable to watch, as McLellan's responses are so awkward. It's footage like this which might be subpoenaed by Robbins lawyer. But we would recommend the whole series of clips we've collected here on with regards the Pandora Street fire.


I watched this on Global last night.

McLellan was tripping over himself when it came to responding to Heidemann's questioning about the 'city and liability' in relation to the Pandora Street fire.

He was attempting to do the two step and it was very obvious. He was very nervous, you could see it.

I hope the families of the victims are watching this closely.

Typically I don't like to see a city sued over anything as it comes out of our tax dollars, but in this case, I wish Ms. Robbins the very best of luck.

The Vision bullies need to be taken down notch or two, or more.

I think back to watching the council meeting just after this incident and Councillor Anton asked Penny Ballem if an exit review was done.

Ballem said yes, that a 'lenghty exit review' was done and that everything was fine.....

Carlene is a hero to us all here at city hall who are tired of the bullying coming out of the mayor's office and city managers office. Way to go girl.

Her lawsuit should be a class action lawsuit on behalf of all of us who are being crapped on every day by Magee, Ballem and Robertson.

Let's hope they all take the witness stand and are cross examined by Carlene's lawyer. That should make Vision a bit nervous now won't it. They have to tell the truth in a court of law.

Taken from downtowneastsideenquirerblogspot.

The Naked City

We told you so. Lies are in David McLellan's comfort zone. We warned you in January when McLellan, the City's General Manager of Community Services, was appointed by City Hall as media spokesperson on the departure of Deputy Chief License Inspector, Carlene Robbins. Robbins' exit from City Hall shortly after a fire at a flophouse in East Van killed three men, raised suspicions in the blogosphere.

I can still see in my mind's eye, the clip of McLellan telling the media that Robbins' departure was not related to the flophouse fire. McLellan said he had been in a meeting with Robbins and she had suddenly up and left, turning in her building security pass before leaving the building.

Now Robbins has filed suit in BC Supreme court suggesting that McLellan knew more than he was admitting. Robbins claimed that after the flophouse fire at City Hall, she was removed from the job she had held for 12 years, that she was effectively fired and lost her $105,000 salary. That story was broken last night by CKNW, so it is old news.

What is also old news, at least to Downtown Eastsiders, is the environment Robbins described the City as being motivated to create for someone they viewed as a political liability. Robbins' claimed in her suit that under Mayor Robertson's squeaky green regime, an environment of "hostility, embarrassment, and humiliation" was created.

Downtown Eastsiders have been using those exact words for years to describe the way they are treated when the City decides they are a political liability. A targeted individual is subjected on a regular basis to overt hostility, embarrassment, and humiliation, until they leave and don't come back. It's not only the big things that can drive a person out the door, like being verbally or physically abused in a highly public manner, chased around the building, libeled in secretive "security" reports, it is the small things too. Like if a targeted individual goes to the front reception desk where membership cards are sold and renewed annually, the receptionist, Kim, may huff and puff to express her exasperation at having to answer a mere question (for twenty something dollars an hour). The targeted individual then has a choice: absorb the abuse or risk having security called to write them up in the City's security database. Enough of these episodes and most people leave and don't come back.

One security guard, Ty, when angrily barring a woman who says she had never seen him before in her life, made comments revealing that he was being incited by Penny Ballem and Mayor Robertson to get dissidents out of the building.

There are many stories, and many organizations in the poverty industry that use these tactics, and the powers that be know....and condone...

Excellent blog the link is listed on City Caucus recommended links...

CBC has this story 'closed for commenting' on their web.

@ Ingrid: "They have to tell the truth in a court of law."

Ingrid- you and your colleagues have my every sympathy as you cope daily with the poisoned atmosphere that I keep hearing about at the Hall. I do however have to offer one correction - they do not have to tell the truth in a court of law. They have to make sure they don't get caught lying.

As I always tell my clients - "if the glove fits .... "
Sincerely Yours
- Johnny C

A lot of city staffers are also quietly asking what happened to the City Clerk. All we've been told after her sudden departure last week is that she is off on leave. You guys may want to fish around and find out what's going on there. I think you might have a story.

I still can't get over the fact that there was a swifter reaction from the city over cut down trees than dealing with this flophouse.

Max I know!!
I remember posting that here when the tree cutting issue first came out. The inspector was out the very next day!! Willing to is a sad day when a tree, trumps human life...same department of city inspectors?
Questionable isn't it.

"...footage of Sadhu Johnson, Penny Ballem, Kerry Jang, Dave McLellan and even Gregor Robertson."

I am totally behind Carlene on this, however, I wished she sued all the above instead of the City. The way I see it, she sues 'ME and YOU' for the back-dealings and corrupt business conduct of the 'ABOVE GUILTY MORONS'. Something has to give sooner or later.

Attention Mike or Daniel

The filing lists Carlene Robbins home address. For privacy's sake you should black that out (if able).

My sources say that Will Johnston had Carlene's report and recommendations for the closure of the Pandora Street house ON HIS DESK fully a week before the fire happened. There are a lot of files on Mr. Johnston's desk that require attention. I understand that a number of these have been shifted to Mr. Roozbahani's desk. Vancouver STILL does not have a City Electrician, Chief Electrical Inspector or Electrical Safety Manager. This violates the City's Charter and the Provincial Electrical Safety Act. When the Province starts fining the City, who's going to wind up paying the Piper? If we have a citizen (or visitor) death that's related to the recent news story about electified lamp posts, how will the City explain their callous inaction and, more importantly, who are they going to find next to take that long lonely walk out the door?
Kudos to the gang at City Caucus for keeping this issue front and centre. My best wishes go out to Carlene. You rock, girl!

Max wrote: "CBC has this story 'closed for commenting' on their web."

Standard practice for them when a case is sub judice, Max; I wouldn't read too much into it.

Watching from afar, I keep wondering when the Vancouver public service is going to 'pop.' Is this the moment?

There's truth, then there's "truthiness", "plausible deniability", half-truths and "can't remember" etc., etc. Don't hold your breath waiting for these lieopards to change their spots.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
- Groucho Marx

You are absolutely right.

There's one other factor - I've observed in the past that the City's litigation lawyer (Parkin, I believe) has this funny tendency to misstate the law and/or the facts when it comes to defending the City in any legal action taken against them. This, of course, helps him win those cases for his City masters.

Carlene is not some sort of folk hero. I dealt with her while she worked in the property use office and she was argumentative, unsympathetic, refused to listen to what I had to say, and gave the impression that she didn't give a crap about residents in this city. You want to talk bullying? She was a bully and I'm glad she got turfed.

dear whatever...

The possibility exists that Charlene responded to you in the same manor you deliver in your post..

The mirror and deflect effect...

your moniker says it all...

George, I wish you'd been there. It's very hard to deal with someone who simply will not listen to you. I had to deal with her about a pretty routine issue and she had made her mind up about me and my house before I'd even arrived at her office. She wouldn't take me into a meeting room or office and instead conducted our business in the middle of the hallway, making sure I had no privacy to discuss anything with her. She attacked everything I told her without really listening to what I was saying, went out of her way to make me uncomfortable, and certainly didn't respect what I had to say. Frankly, city hall is better off with people who can't conduct themselves with a modicum of decorum or professionalism.

That with should be "without." I don't mean to imply we should put more unprofessional people in civic government. My brain is tired today, and thinking back on that meeting with her still fills me with a sense of embarrassment and ire.


I understand what you are saying, we have all had bad experiences with people we encounter during the course of our thing that jumps out at me from your comment..

"She wouldn't take me into a meeting room or office and instead conducted our business in the middle of the hallway, making sure I had no privacy to discuss anything with her."

Why were the 2 of you having a conversation in the middle of the hallway?
Did you approach her as she was walking down the hall? Perhaps she was busy when you walked up to her. Maybe she had 10 things on her mind, or running to the ladies room, or a meeting with her boss, and you wanted an immediate answer in the middle of the hallway, about your house!

There are always 3 sides to every story.. each party has an opinion then there is the middle ground of reality....and let's face it we all have a bad day from time to time.

I think you've made this personal. When in reality this conversation was about Charlene's job as by-law inspector, for 3 men that died, due to lack of by-law enforcement by the city....

Check out!

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