Document shows 75% turnover of corporate leadership since Vision Vancouver took office

Post by Mike Klassen in


Document released to outlines recent Vancouver senior staff departures

Dr. Penny Ballem has been making a concerted effort to discredit critics who say that under her watch Vancouver has been bleeding talent at the top. A document released to shows that the City Manager's claims do not square with reality.

Since Vision Vancouver took power in December 2008 there has been an unprecedented exodus of senior staff, and simply looking at the City's turnover rate across the 9000 citywide staff does not tell the real story. In the case of the Corporate Management Team (CMT), the core group of managers who are responsible for the direction of the City's affairs, there has been a staggering 75% turnover since Vision took office.

The recent sudden departure of the admired Manager of Property Use Carlene Robbins brought the whole topic back to light. The City has been on a jihad with local media to get them to believe that Robbins jumped from rather than was pushed out of her position, but they're not providing any tangible evidence for their case. What we do know is that a 38-year employee who began as a clerk with the City at age 17 and worked up to one of the top jobs has left without so much as a thank you or a gold watch. She is now suing the City.

We've written about the large numbers of top management who've left the Hall, and taking all that experience and institutional knowledge with them. The costs of these losses are impossible to measure. We've dubbed them Vancouver's "fallen soldiers" in Vision's campaign for systemic social change.

The Vision Vancouver caucus have for the most part not made public remarks about the changes sweeping through the public service. You can go through the party's 2008 platform promises and nowhere will you read "we'll blow out senior management and re-shape the public service in our own image." But that's exactly what has happened.

According to the letter we've received, the patient (City of Vancouver) is on life support. From the sounds of things many are sticking around with the hope that Vision loses power.

Seeing the numbers of now departed staff all on one list is simply stunning. There are forty-five (!) senior employees who are now gone. The writer of the document puts the numbers into perspective:

"If you look at the org charts on the City's website, you can begin to figure out what percentage this number of people is of positions at the most senior levels. A ballpark would be around 30%."

Of course, not all senior staff can be said to be leaving simply because of the despair Vision's management style has caused. Many have simply reached the end of their careers. But the scale of losses cannot be explained by retirements alone. The writer of the document adds:

There are likely several more people not included in this list. There are also many others who would leave if they could and then others who are waiting to see if the environment changes later this is safe to conclude that more than half have left because work life was untenable.

The names on the list (numbers 10-45) have been scratched out, but most City Hall insiders would know who the writer has listed.

Last summer in another exclusive, we revealed an internal memo from the VACMPS exempt staff which indicated plummeting morale around senior staff. Then in November a citywide staff survey indicated a workforce deeply unhappy with senior management – only 27% approval.

Back in April 2009 Mayor Gregor Robertson blamed his new government's "increased tempo" and focus on "productivity" for causing people like 40-something Deputy City Manager James Ridge and other top brass to pack their bags. Yes, the swift pace of systemic social change can be a bit much for some people, your worship.

Vancouver has been an immensely successful city thanks in part to the imagination and leadership from its traditionally non-partisan public service. To regain the spirit of non-partisanship after Vision's alterations will be challenging, and tough on the taxpayer's bottom line. At the very least it is likely the NPA, should they form government later this year, will conduct a full third party review of all senior management appointments done during Vision's term.

The public as well as any future governments must have the confidence that the work of City staff is not tainted by politics, and the attempt by Vision Vancouver to politicize the public service.

- post by Mike


The Thought of The Night

"I was so 'young and naive'. Little did I know...not!"

Completely forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me, guys. Looking back now,Reality beat Fiction out of sight!

Here's my interpretation of the New Order at the City Hell... only few months in!!!

(On Francesbula - 'City’s general manager of Olympics preparations “retires”)


glissando remmy // Mar 13, 2009 at 11:15 pm

The original piece, then called “10 Little Injuns”, was written by songwriter Septimus Winner in 1868 for a minstrel show and was much more elaborate.
“Ten Little Indians” is a modern children’s rhyme (sometimes “soldier boys” or “teddy bears” is used instead of Indians to avoid offense). The song, supra, is usually performed to the Irish folk tune “Michael Finnegan”.

The rhyme was notable for being the inspiration for Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”.

The disturbing events of the past months made City Hall insiders to cry in amazement and obliged me to revisit this beautifully crafted poem.
I felt a civic obligation to bring it back to life in a new adapted form in sync with the dry suffocating wind that blows mercilessly from the City of Vancouver’s third floor.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please allow me the honour to introduce to you in premiere the new Vancouver adaptation
“Ten Little Managers”.

(To be framed and hanged in a noticeable place in every Senior Manager’s office for future reference and as reminder of the times we live in)

Ten Little Managers

Ten Little Managers going out to dine
Estelle choked her little self and then there were

Nine Little Managers sat up very late
Judy overslept herself and then there were

Eight Little Managers travelling to Devon;
Jody got left behind and then there were

Seven Little Managers chopping up sticks
Dave chopped himself in half and then there were

Six Little Managers playing with a hive
A bumblebee stung (Your name in here) and then there were

Five Little managers going in for law
(Your name in here) got into chancery and then there were

Four Little Managers going out to sea
A red herring swallowed (Your name in here) and then there were

Three Little Managers walking in the Zoo
A big bear hugged (Your name in here) and then there were

Two Little Managers playing with a Taser gun
(Your name here) shot the other and then there was

One Little Manager looked at herself in the mirror
Then, Penny apologetically yelled wheezy…

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy!

Vision will be privately proud of their accomplishment.

They've managed to change the very people that were making it hard for them to politicize the public service.

Now, regardless of whether a new administration fires Ballum or not, there are 20 other Vision-ites running around city hall doing their bidding after they're fired by the public.

It appears their strategy has succeeded and to fix this in 3 years (2011-2014) will be almost impossible.

Privately they've popped the champagne!

Job prospects looks bright for the University of Phoenix Class of 2011

So how does that square with Vancouver being named one of BC's best employers:

Good comment, if the City is such a great place to work, it seems a little odd that senior staff are leaving in droves. Right?

Let's take a closer look at that press release though. What are the criteria?

"Entries to become the top employers are evaluated on criteria including physical workplace, work and social atmosphere, health, financial and family benefits, vacation and time off, employee communications, performance management, training and skills development and community involvement."

We'd have to understand how each of those categories are weighted. We also would need to know how the more subjective categories, such as "atmosphere" was determined.

It actually could be a very telling sign about how horrible it is to work for the city right now. Despite all the benefits of a municipal job senior staff are still resigning.

As an employer, I value surveys of staff. I appreciate their input, however there is really only one true judge of staff satisfaction. Do they stay? An unhappy employee, especially one with highly marketable skills, will not stay in a place that is making their job hard to do.

Just to put things in perspective. The release also says the city was one of the top Employer in BC and Canada in 2007. Let's remember how ugly the strike of 2007 was. You'd think, based on the comments from the union, that the city was one of the worst employers in the world. And yet it still placed very high in the rankings.

Thanks for the link. An interesting read that led me to the City of Vancouver Human Resources paper "Connecting our People" - a Hay Group analysis of employee satisfaction at City of Vancouver conducted fall of 2010 - the link attached here:

A couple of things jumping off the page:

1. Under Survey Highlights - "Staff with less than 2 years of service are significantly more satisfied than those with 2 or more years of service" This statement squares entirely with the City Caucus piece and corresponding evidence of the senior staff jumping off

2. COV appears to be under the Public Sector norm in alot of areas

3. Quotes from respondents -
"Command and Control Tactics undermine my motivation to go above and beyond my job description"
"Delegate responsibility an authority in equal measure"

4. 43% of all employees have an unfavourable level of confidence in leadership, and only 27% favourable (remainder neutral)

Anyone else with some lies, damned lies and statistics for the pot?


the source PAt Johnstone cites naming COV one of the best employers is "Mediacorp Canada Inc", whose business is to publish and sell employment weekly guides. Perhaps this is not the most objective analysis? Interesting when reading the Employee Satisfaction Survey side by side....

(Also posted this on Frances' blog) I will comment on this because the deteriorating staff morale at City Hall is one of my two greatest concerns with the current adminstration. (The handling of the OV, especially the social housing, is the other.)

I do not pretend to be close to many people inside City Hall. However, I have been consistently approached by a number of people who have left the City, and people who are still working there, expressing concern about what is essentially the politicizing of the civil service.

Now some may say,” What’s wrong with that? After all, we elected the Mayor and Council to bring in new policies and a new approach.

It is the politicians’ responsibility to direct staff, not staff’s responsibility to direct the politicians.

If staff don’t like the new political direction, they should leave.”

While I appreciate that this is often the norm at the Federal and Provincial levels, when it comes to those working in political offices, and at the Deputy Minister and ADM level, this has not been the norm in municipal government.

Indeed, if one looks at the past decades, while we witnessed different political direction at the top, we didn’t see the significant changes in senior staff that has happened over the past two years.

I am concerned that there is now a toxic environment at the Hall. Many responsible people have become angered and confused by the changes in policy and direction, and really don’t know how to respond. They are doing what they are told to do…not what they believe is right.

Yes, they can leave…but after working there for many years, and dependent on a pension, they are not always in a position to do so.

I do hope this recent memo will serve as a signal to the Mayor and Council and senior management that something needs to be done. Because it is not just affecting those who work at City Hall. It is affecting those of us who work and live in the city.

Finally, I should point out that I had another City staff person tell me this morning that the situation is getting grim.

Don't like Vision.
Didn't like NPA either.
I'm actually looking at the list of all the people gone thinking
"why do we need so many of them?"

Had to deal with something once and finally kept a flow chart of who I'd talked to (e-mailed,etc.)

37 individuals!!
Round and round we go.
We all fall down.

Whaaa? And this was written when?
(glissando remmy // Mar 13, 2009 at 11:15 pm) You must be clairvoyant or something. Your 'Ten Little Managers' reduced me to tears and laughter. Who knew that two years later we are maybe talking 20, 30 Little Managers... Genius

I'm hearing similar messages Michael. There are also rumours about one or two other very key senior staffers who are thinking about resigning. It is,indeed, unsettling, and not just because of the immediate unnecessary personal hardships and damage this carnage is creating.

Let's think about next year. If the Visionistas return, then they entrench deeper, and carry on politicizing our once widely respected civil service. On the other hand if there is a new broom, say an NPA, or even an NPA/COPE coalition, then what? We'll have elected representatives of the people with a different agenda and values than the politicized Visionista staff. What then?

How will it be possible to govern in a manner which responds to and respects the will of the voters? Once the bond of trust between the elected representatives and the now politicized staff is broken the system, if it can be called that, is broken.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how this scenario can be played out?


Start a different system. Have our elected officials stand on their principles, ideas, work, knowledge, etc... Not what party they belong to.

We tried that Boo. The 2005-2008 city council was made up of equal parts NPA and equal parts Vision/COPE, with an NPA mayor. That mixed council led to one of the most underhanded election campaigns ever. Taxpayers will be paying for the hundreds of millions of dollars in damage caused by the dirtiness of that campaign.

Let's remember that this wasn't the first time the NPA has suffered a devastating loss to an opponent. In 1996-1999 the NPA held every last seat on council falling in 1999-2002 to 8 city council seats and the mayors chair, but in 2002-2005 they were decimated to holding only two lowly council seats.

However when Larry Campbell took over the mayor's chair in 2002 there was not nearly the level of ill-will felt by the voters. Why? Because Larry Campbell fought a clean fight. There were no 'leaked documents.' There were no unfair accusations. He campaigned that he wanted the job because he was the best person to lead Vancouver.

Gregor and Co. came to power by brokering a backroom deal with COPE to not fight against them. They then proceeded to use every smear tactic in the book.

So yes Boo, let's judge people on their principles, ideas, work, knowledge, etc.

Principles, Gregor and co have none.
Ideas, they're full of them, bad ones.
Work, Twittering about the "theatrics" at public hearings does not count as "Work" to me.
Knowledge, they certainly know how to destroy a city.
etc., Abusing public process, Making almost every last senior staff member feel so uncomfortable they leave, oh and of course reckless disregard for the rules of the road.

Sounds like they should be the lead characters on a remake of The Sopranos, not actual civic leaders who control a large public purse.


That's nothing like what I mean. I mean no parties. Each individual stands on their own merit.

Of course some like-minded people will gravitate towards other like-minded people, but if you can't work in an environment with different people and different ideas, then what are you doing in politics anyway.

what you are suggesting sounds suspiciously like a principled stand. If you forego parties in favour of intelligent individuals, where will it stop? The lack of political machinery will remove a certain amount of financial incentives, and we won't know what wheels to grease to get a rezoning application through or a bike lane re-routed. Before you know it, the average person may actually feel less alienated by Silly Hall and want to get involved in the process again - and then what will you have?

On a similar note - "if you can't work in an environment with different people and different ideas, then what are you doing in politics anyway."
Yikes- I actually agree and think that is a very good statement. This must be one of the signs of the apocalypse. Who is writing this, and what have you done with the real boo?

(LOL - nice succinct and good answer there guy!)

Apparently overlooked in all of this was the bloodletting at Parks Board after the Bloedel Conservatory fiasco.

I am hearing the city is giving serious contemplation to incorporating the parks board as a department of City Hall and negating its status as an independent body. Does anyone else know more?

@ Douglas & Gerry

You are hearing correct. The decimation of the Park Board continues every day under Vision.

It's is being felt in Community Centres, planning, purchasing and more with the idea to guy everythin leave it wither as a shell and then disband it.

It's a pity that some commissioners already see as part of its mandate day care and other non park or recreation oriented "mandates"

Most of the following was posted over on Frances Bula's blog, but the discussion here is further along so with apologies for those following both blogs, here it is again.

The Corporate Management Team has been turned over 75% in 24 months. This is an extremely high risk situation. No longer should we debating if the politicization of the bureaucracy has happened, or even why for that matter, but what it means to the governance of the City now that it has happened.

It should appear to work well over the short term while the elected officials are aligned with their appointed officials, and may continue to some degree of success if Gregor is re-elected with a majority. It will be a grand experiment to see City Hall (elected and appointed officials) continue to be run by a single political party for an extended period of time. Most would agree the "night of the long knives" didn't work out so well in the long run for that political party and, if history repeats itself, this taxpayer-funded experiment in Vancouver can only end badly.

The other scenario is equally concerning, and that is if Gregor and/or his majority is not re-elected. In that case the appointed political administration from the earlier regime will be out of step with the new elected Council, and this will create complex eddies of political influence that will be very hard to control and almost certainly result in less than optimal governance. Again, a grand experiment, the inefficiences of which will be funded in the end by the taxpayer.

For those uncertain yet as to whether this is really happening, be assured it already has. Also be assured that most or all of the 75% of the Corporate Management Team who were pushed out are consummate professionals and few will speak ill of the institution they devoted their careers to, no matter who is in charge of it. So don't expect scathing public admonitions from these people. Look instead to the facts, and look instead to the calibre and integrity of the people who replaced them for your answers.

Boo's suggestion is great, but one election too late. The damage done to good governance by those entrusted by the public to represent them is severe, and not nearly as easy to repair as it was to do. This will be Gregor's real train wreck: a slow-motion train wreck we're all going to be part of, but that we can't stop. And that is just plain sad.

@JPS. What a fantastic analysis, and a depressing outcome. Thank you for (cross) posting this. It validates what we've been saying for months.

If the NPA should form government, their first order of business should be conduct an independent review of ALL senior management appointments with an eye to rid all political taint.

I know that the situations are not analogous per se, and I do hope no one misinterprets what I am about to say next, as there are great differences between then and now.

However, the politicization of bureaucracy to a revolutionary way of thinking was the underpinning of power for 12 years (1933-1945) in National Socialist Germany. We have seen this experiment before. The replacing of career civil servants with party members resulted in criminal levels of corruption, and cronyism not to mention the destruction and despair. It took many years to clean up the mess.

The criminal abuse of power that resulted was made possible in large part because those whose jobs were to execute many a bad and evil policy were adherents to the philosophy, and not a more independent arm of government. The difference between then and now, some Visionistas may say, is that "this time we recognize that was wrong, and we know that we are right."

Sad thing is, that's what many well-meaning, committed National Socialists said at the beginning of the fascist rise, too.

A politicized civil service was a bad idea then. Its a bad idea now. Stopping it in its tracks is the only proper way to run a democracy.

Allow me to paraphrase:
"I'm not saying, but...NAZIs!"

Bringing the Godwin Number to 21.

As I stated in the opening, I hoped no one would misinterpret. I can see I hoped for too much when one tried to dismiss the post summarily through use of the Godwin Number. But I am not surprised. For all those who want to react against mys post without forethought, I challenge you that the Godwin Number is wrongly applied.

I am not using the term 'Nazi' unintelligently (ie cycling nazi, soup nazi, or Godwin-Number referencing Nazi), but comparing the current politicization of the civil service to a historic phenomena that led to the further moral and physical destruction of a society. I owe it to those who fought fascism to learn from it and recognize its breeding grounds, and am unapologetic about referencing the National Socialist movement from a historical perspective.

If you wish to go beyond your current understanding of politicization and the civil service, I recommend you read further about the phenomenon of the phenomenon as it happened. First and foremost I recommend reading the works of two German nationals. Karl Heiden's wrote an in-depth analysis of change in Germany under National socialism in 1935 called the "The History of National Socialism". Sebastian Haffner wrote "Germany Jekyll and Hyde" in 1941, and was scathing towards the politicized civil service (which he escaped) and the technocratic man.

It happened before. It can happen again. Politicizing the civil service, the content of my response, is the issue. What, pray tell Pat Johnstone, do you really think about it - Godwin Number notwithstanding.

RE: Politicization of the Civil Service and its Historical Precedence

I previously posted re:similarities between formative years of National Socialism in the 1930's and today's civic scene with respect to politicizing the civil service. I did this because what we are seeing today (replacement of career civil servants with a more politicized staff) closely resembles one of the methods used in 1930's Germany to take and hold power.

In further response, I will elaborate one more time my answer using excerpts from Franz Neumann's 'Behemoth - The Structure of National Socialism" - published 1942 and let others decide if they see similarities from then to now.

P.380 - " The infiltration of the party into the (civil) service is accomplished by three devices.... expelling non-Aryan and other unreliable elements, by indoctrination of personnel, and by party monopolization of all new openings in the (civil) service."

"The legal basis for appointment (referring to judicial arm of the civil service) is now the Civil Service Act of 26 January, 1937, requiring the civil servant to be 'guided in his whole conduct by the fact that the party ... is the bearer of the German idea of the state."

P. 382 " In the middle and lower hierarchies.... key positions are in the hands of the party.... The party has unquestionable control over promotions and fills new positions from the ranks of its reliable members."

That was written in 1942. The following was written in 2010, part of a 'Huffington Post' Interview with Joel Solomon:

"Joel Solomon: We had this idea to work in a number of streams at the same time - for profit, not for profit, leadership, and public service .....

Most recently, we've been working with others on Vision Vancouver, a new political party. ..... The election of Mayor Robertson is the result of creating conditions where these things could take hold. "

A private individual funding and founding a political party with a 500-year vision and an eye on 'change' (for 'change- read politicization) of the civil service.... in Joel Solomon's own words. And using the same techniques with respect to infiltrating the civil service as were used effectively by the National Socialists (among others - fascist Italy and Soviet Russia used similar techniques to get their civil service on board too).

PS - My post led to an ad-hominem attack from one Pat Johnstone who, ignoring the context of my post, uses the Godwin Number -essentially calling me unintelligent for using the one word (Nazi) I did not use. If Pat Johnstone is reading, I would love to hear your opinion on the Vision Party's deliberate politicization of the civil service using Vancouver as its model.


It doesn't matter if you used the word nazi or not, you're comparing local politics in a relative small city to a national party in a former global super power.

Along with the undertones of racism etc..., it's a poor comparison. I mean what are you arguing? They're going to start forcing drivers to wear stars? Force Vancouver's kids to join pro-cycling youth committees?

Stop with the hysterics.

I am not 'hysterical' . That Boo is another adhominem that I reject. Skipp to the bottom of my post if you wish to see where I challenge you to comment intelligently.

I ask commenters what they think, and put some historical parallels out there for people to consider. Yes some things have changed historically (with respect to the aryan clause -not applicable and thank your given diety for that). But I quoted the book 'Behemoth' fairly and accurately to avoid any questions of impropriety had I been outed for editing Mr. Neumann out of context).

The content is about a social movement gaining traction through the politicization of the civil service. Joel Solomon is admitting to creating conditions whereby the civil service is staffed by political people. Delete the Aryan reference and the first quote from Neumann reads as follows:"

"The infiltration of the party into the (civil) service is accomplished by three devices: expelling ....unreliable elements, by indoctrination of personnel, and by party monopolization of all new openings in the (civil) service."

#1 Has Vision expelled from COV an 'unreliable elements'?
- Ark Tisserev, Carlene Robbins, and who knows how many others .... directly applies to MK's blog piece
#2 Is Vision trying to indoctrinate personnel?
- Joel Solomon references 'creating conditions'
#3 Is Vision monopolizing new openings? -you can probably bet your butt cheeks.....

I hope you don't mind my using historical knowledge and reason to combat activities that, in previous times, were effectively used to promote previous visionary social movements and allow government to run wild over its subjects. Delete any reference to National Socialism if you wish - just substitute your favorite undemocratic movement.

If you want to contribute beyond a useless ad hominem attack meant to derail the topic, feel free. The topic is politicization of the civil service, and the question is whether Vision Vancouver has an agenda to do that, and what you think of the turnover at CIty Hall.

There are plenty of examples you could use, choosing Nazi's is a poor choice.

You also assume a lot.

"#1 Has Vision expelled from COV an 'unreliable elements'?
- Ark Tisserev, Carlene Robbins, and who knows how many others ... directly applies to MK's blog piece"

Have they said they were expelled? Can you provide quotes?

"#2 Is Vision trying to indoctrinate personnel?
- Joel Solomon references 'creating conditions'"

That's a pretty big assumption. Any evidence of it?

"#3 Is Vision monopolizing new openings? -you can probably bet your butt cheeks....."

Again, any evidence?

Sorry, I'll pass on conspiracies and grand social movements until there's some evidence. Is vision poltically motivated? Sure, they are probably are. Are they doing this for some grand indoctrination of the City? That's a stretch.

As someone who's family was killed at the hands of Nazis, I'm usually very cautious of people likening things to pre-World War 2 Germany.... However in this case I appreciate what douglas is trying to say. He is not saying Gregor is looking to be anywhere on par with the Nazis. In fact he was TREMENDOUSLY cautious with his words to only draw similarities to the level of corruption that exists when a civil service is politicized.

People are coming forward (although off the record) in droves to complain how working at the hall now means you have to fall in line with Vision Vancouver or you get turfed. That's blatantly politicizing the civil service.

douglas' point is to shed light on exactly how dangerous that can be. I agree with his perspective. History has proven a politicized public service is NEVER in the best interest for society as a whole. It only leads to corruption.

Boo - I will answer you one item at a time. One aside first: I do not think referencing National Socialism in this forum is a poor choice. Ignorance of history - that's a poor choice!

I think it is a shame that people try to suspend legitimate debate by decrying any reference to that particular point in history. I also believe that part of history is poorly taught from a civics standpoint, and poorly understood as a phenomena. That lack of understanding leads to ad hominem attacks that try to stifle a legitimate point of view.

I am anti-fascist, and for a number of years have studied how fascist movements (the most well-known of which being National Socialism - or in the lexicon of others 'he-who-can't-be-named') started, co-opted people and gained power. Jackboots and racism are only one part of the picture, and cloud our understanding of how a people lost control of their democratic institutions, mostly through a relatively bloodless, legalistic revolution.

I reference National Socialism in defence of democracy, and without apology. My hope is that by providing sources (in this case I have now referenced three anti-nazi authors who wrote concurrent with the rise of the regime) I can draw parallels with current social movements, and others interested in that information can then better inform themselves, rather than wallow in ignorance. I owe those before me who fought fascism that much.

Now to address your concerns in in order:
#1. have they said they were expelled?
No, and cute try. TI will refer to two cases in point and point ot the trick in your trick question. The two most prominent cases are Ark Tisserev and Charlene Robbins.

Ark Tisserev was fired without cause. from CBC March 31 2010" Ark Tsisserev ... was fired from his position just weeks before the Winter Games began on Feb. 12" rk had legitimate life safety concerns re: Olympic Village that could have implications on achieving occupancy certificate prior to Olympic Games.

Originally this was called budget restructuring. His position not allowed to be cut for budget considerations under Vancouver Charter. His position was refilled at same pay grade shortly thereafter (thus putting lie to the idea of budget cuts)
see also:

Charlene Robbins - abrupt departure. Cannot be classified as resignation, as Charlene Robbins retained legal counsel (verified by General Manager of City Services David McClellan on CKNW Jan 26). CKNW reported that Robbins had called her departure after 38 years of service, a "constructive dismissal", a phrase that is used when an employer makes an employee's work life so intolerable that she has little choice but to resign. Robbins has since spoken to the Courier newspaper and indicated that she did not leave the City on the best of terms. "What I'm saying is that I am currently in a dispute with the city and I'm trying to resolve it privately."

Why do they not state they were expelled? It may affect financial terms of their settlement.

To #2 - any evidence Joel Solomon is trying to create conditions within the civil service? Yes, unless you are calling Joel Solomon a liar. See his quote I previously posted where he states "We (Referring Renewal) had this idea to work in a number of streams at the same time - for profit, not for profit, leadership, and public service .....

Most recently, we've been working with others on Vision Vancouver, a new political party. ..... The election of Mayor Robertson is the result of creating conditions where these things could take hold. "

Also he made a speech (see CC April 1 2010) "Joel Solomon: I chose to move my career to Canada because of a great opportunity to work with a visionary inheritor of a substantial amount of resources named Carol Newell.... we put together a strategy … which was to take a long term look at how to deploy financial resources towards systemic social change focused in one region."

Renewal (Joel and Carol's foundation) funds Hollyhock, a leadership retreat known to be frequented by our mayor. The Deputy City Manager, Sandu Johnston (handpicked from Chicago, and a member of the civil service) was married at Hollyhock, a facility and retreat funded by Joel Solomon. I am sure it is very pretty.


hand-picked Deputy Manager ( Sadhu Johnston) fills a senior civil service position opening based on congruent views with the political agenda (VanMag Nov. 1, 2009). Johnston later weds at Hollyhock (I am sure it is very pretty)

Ark Tisserev replaced as City Electrician with Will Johnson. Will is not an Electrical Engineer.

Assistant Director of Inspection Services (created after dismissal of Ark Tisserev) has been filled by Mark Roozbahani, holding a Chemical Engineering degree from Tehran and an MBA form the University of Phoenix. A Chemical Engineer therefore heads up the department in charge of Building, Electrical and Property Use Inspections. Life Safety Engineer, an important and credible group, are alarmed ( but his background in Energy Management would appear to be a fit with the new czars. To be absolutely fair to Mr. Roozbahani, and as an advocate of green energy management, there may be place for a man of his experience somewhere in the city, but this is simply the wrong position IMO given the life safety implications that flow across the board.

Reference the Hay Survey (connecting Our People 2010-2012 - Human Resources Strategy for COV"

"Significant change in organization – fro decentralized to more centralized"
–Council agenda: requires prioritization of resources andactivities across organization
– setdirection for transformation of processes,
–Corporate Management Team ownership of prioritization of strategies for effectively delivering council's agenda anf work of city staff

In plain English, council's bidding trumps any other business of the day

"Staff with less that 2 years of service are significantly more satisfied than those with 2 or more years of service."

In plain English, out come the brooms....

Survey comments
"Command and control tactics undermine my motivation"

Pennny Ballems Georgia Straight comments re: survey s- not unusual for a new government, and that they represent a lack of understanding of the city's direction among employees.

"In broad organizations [that] are just starting and where you have change going on, and where you have a strategic agenda, especially for government, that is challenging and broad and ambitious, it's not at all uncommon,"

If it is not uncommon, how com ethrough all previous councils (NPA / COPE transitions) have there never been this much acrimony flowing out from City Hall?

I thank you so much for your comments. I tried to be very careful - and I thank you for seeing through the veil of other's rhetoric and understanding my point.
Heartfelt thanks - it is encouraging

douglas I haven't finished reading your post but I had to laugh at you feeling the need to clarify that yourself as anti-fascist lol :)

Using that example is just such an extreme, this is local politics for christ sakes. There's no fundamental takeover of the entire political system planned here, there's no massive social upheaval being planned, there's no militiristic overtones here, there's no racial undertones, nothing like the undercurrent of anger post's not comparable.

As for the rest of it, I don't have time or the inclination to verify any of it. It might be true, it might not. Sounds like there's still a lot of guesswork and speculation in there.

I mean what are you suggesting? Gregor's a fascist? They want to take what end? Abolish elections? Kill political opponents? Let's say everything you're accusing them of is true. Ok, then what? What's their end game?

Its a free forum. You are free to be dismissive. And I am also free to criticize your banality accordingly. You have the time to ask for verification, but don't have the time to review? That is a deflection . I am more than willing to expand on my views in defense of a good society, regardless of your attempts to belittle my views. I will conclude by asking you to give a concrete defense of your views, just to be fair. In the mean, drink whosever Kool-Aid you like.

As for my views on fascism - I stated before publicly and without hesitation that I believe the breeding grounds of fascism should be identified early. I am not ashamed of what I am saying. I am appalled that so many people like you seem poorly informed when it comes to history.

I do not know you personally, but you seem like one of those people who are not educated properly about fascism (putting you in the majority to be sure). Your references to killings, militarism and a racial subtext suggests your exposure to fascism in history books has been limited to what some historians describe as the 'Nazi Pornography.' That these things happened is fact and inexcusable. But it is not enough to know that it happened. We should also be aware WHY and HOW it came to be.

Fascism has identifiable breeding grounds in social circumstances. Fascism is a sociological phenomenon. Politicization of the civil service is one of its hallmarks.
Fascism was considered a popular movement in its day, an antithesis to democracy during a time where a society in desperate need of hope was, for intents and purposes, willing to forego certain freedoms and make certain sacrifices for the sake of what was sold to them as a positive social change. People overlooked some of its ugly spots, because it promised to rescue German society for an abyss.

Is Gregor a fascist? Gregor is a member of a movement (vision Vancouver/ Hollyhock/ Renewal/ Joel Solomon) that believes what it is doing in the name of a positive social change for their society and the environment is all a good thing. After all, without this social change, climate change is going to nip up and kill us all, right? Damn the torpedoes, we need to get some friendly bodies into the Vancouver's Civil Service lest global warming wipes out all the crops in the Sudan! (hyperbole to be sure, but used only for effect I assure you)

Other people who believed in their correctness to the point where they politicized their civil service to achieve 'noble aims' are, to name a few - Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, Robert Ley, Herman Goehring,Heinrich Himmler, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Rudolf Hess, Hans Frank, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Martin Borrmann, Franz von Papen, Julius Streicher, and Alfred Rosenberg. Get the picture?

Of them, I would at risk of repeating myself suggest anyone interested in how otherwise good people can get tripped up in the faulty logic of the moment read especially Sebastian Haffner's pre-holocaust analysis of Albert Speer contained in his 1941 " Germany, Jekyll and Hyde". Speer is the one man who came closest in my opinion to having any humanity among the National Socialist elite, and his work in the civil service as a supposed 'apolitical' is still damnable in the eyes of a just God.

Those names I mentioned were intelligent people (with the possible exception of Ley) who all believed in what they were doing, politicized their staff. Enough people followed without asking enough questions to lead to the end-game: the part of fascism you have been trained to recognize - the militarism, the murders.

The point is that a politicized civil service is an initial step towards the abyss, and leads virtually immediately to cronyism and corruption. There are checks and balances in any good society. The first step towards absolute power resides in elimination of said checks, and anyone with a Vision for social change and having absolute belief in the correctness and necessity of what they are doing wants that power.

Cronyism and corruption are hand-in-glove with unopposed power. Own the bureaucracy and you own the government.

You are free to disagree ( a hallmark of a free society) but Boo-
1. Do you believe the civil service in Vancouver is being politicized and
2. If yes: Is that in your opinion a healthy thing for our society and why?
3. If no: explain why not

Boohoo- I don't apologize for my views, and I don't back down from your or any other attacks. If you wish to challenge my views, and you have concrete views instead of the more rhetorical deflections to offer, I respectfully welcome your retort.

But I reserve the right to call bulls$*t if you offer up the usual fluff with no substantiating views of your own. You can dish it out my friend, but so far you have rarely offered anything up in return.

No one is asking you to apologize, it was a small chuckle at your need to state you're not pro fascism.

There's a difference between a corrupt political system (I think we're already there) and fascism. Politicization of the civil service may be one of its trademarks, but so is militiristic opression, forcibly silencing the opposition, severe social and economic restrictions, etc...

You might think vision is bad, it ain't that.

1. Yes, which is why I have been calling for the abolishment of political parties all along.
2. No it's not.

Seems to me we agree, I'm just not willing to so flippantly call gregor a fascist.

Just a fun fact. Did you know that members of the National Socialist German Workers Party were so envious of the Dutch people's reliance on cycling as a mode of transportation that they set out building massive networks of cycle tracks in Germany?

These were all but wiped out in the war and post WWII Germany returned to largely car-based infrastructure.

Now settle down boohoo, I'm REALLY not suggesting anything. In my research I just stumbled upon it and thought it was tragically humorous based on this conversation.

I don't believe Gregor is a fascist per se. I do however believe he's buying into a program that has the potential to be fascist (small f) and destructive the fabric of the city. I also do not believe Gregor is in any way shape or the leader of any movement. He's just a happy looking mouthpiece.

We may disagree about fascism in its absolute definition; we are entirely agreed about the corruption. I don't think our city is past the tipping point for an opening for a fascist regime by any means, but there are other signposts in our western society at large at this point that lead me to be cautiously on guard about the health of democracy. For that reason I believe that by cracking the door open to what I would identify as a hallmark of fascism even one iota, it warrants a heavy response.

That to me is my debt to my father and others who fought for freedoms to study and learn what they fought against and attack it at its source. And anyone who is buying (oops, meant to say 'supporting financially') a political party and talks about a 500-year vision (such as a Joel Solomon) scares me. I'm still just trying try to get to Monday in one piece.


Now that you have so effectively demonstrated Godwin's Law, perhaps you might want to google Molly Ivins' "First Rule of Holes".

Asking people to "comment intellectually" upon your now 3000+ word argumentum ad Hitlerum is, frankly, bizarre.

Interesting ad hominem, Pat. I used historical parallels written at the time of sweeping social change to point out how a previous political movement stifled and replaced an independent civil service with its ideological cronies.

It's lengthy because a) some information required substantiation of my views (trying to show where I am coming from) and b) Boohoo requested other substantiation of my views (which is his/her right, and which I gladly provided in retort).

Having not once mentioned "he-who-must-not-be-named" (a pre-requisite of Godwin's law, I would think) I called you out for the previous ad hominem attack, as I personally believe such a form of discourse to border on what some people call 'cyber-bullying.'.

You do not have to agree with my views or my methods, and are free to disagree with them. But ad hominems are cheap, lazy attacks lacking substance, and are made to discredit another person without addressing their views or points made. If you have an opinion about Mike Klassen's piece and the politicization of the civil service (what he referred to a 'Vision's campaign for systemic social change.') you have not yet offered it.

Douglas, Please stop referring to my comments as ad hominem. I have not attacked you personally at all. For all I know, you are an upstanding citizen, with the highest moral character, powers of intellectual insight not seen since Newton, and the lovemaking skills of Secretariat.

I am attacking your argument. An argument that allows you to say, without a hint of irony: “I don't believe Gregor is a fascist per se.” An argument that is ridiculous on the face of it, and only becomes more absurd the deeper you dig into it.

Godwin’s Law does not require direct reference to Hitler, but the important second part of Godwin’s law is that once the Nazi argument is made, all further discussion becomes irrelevant.

Godwin's law in no way shape or form attacks an argument. It attempts to inhibit discussion and is anti-free speech (see Glenn Greenwald's "The odiousness of the distorted Godwin's Law" on

'Godwin's Law' says 'discussion over' because of references made to 'hitler' and 'nazis' .

It should be noted I never used (except in response to the invocation of Godwin) the words 'nazi' or 'Hitler' - this was deliberate on my part. You 'paraphrased' my words - you who used the word 'Nazi', attempting to attribute it to me and thus try to silence a debate.

I substantiated my views using especially Franz Neumann's analysis of the techniques used in 1930's Germany to politicize the civil service.

If one is not free to reference historical examples of a how a civil service came to be undermined, politicized and ultimately corrupted, then how can society compare similar techniques being employed in service of another political agenda, and ultimately, how can society learn?

see also:
Quirk's Exception:
Intentional invocation of Godwin's Law is ineffectual.

and from Godwin himself on :
"The purpose of Godwin's Law is to provoke remembering, not forgetting (and certainly not silence).
- Mike Godwin"

.... fun chatting with you ....

Check out!

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