Wow! A Vision Vancouver staffer is now doing public relations for the Vancouver School Board
Our CityCaucus.com research team have just received this note from NPA command headquarters. We don't have a lot of time for additional analysis at this point, but thought we'd share with you School Board Trustee Ken Denike's take on the hiring of Kurt Heinrich. Kudos to the Vancouver Courier school columnist Naoibh O’Connor for breaking the story.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2011
NPA School Trustee Ken Denike says Vision Vancouver hire at VSB "unacceptable"
Vancouver, BC – The announcement this week by Vancouver School Board Superintendent Steve Cardwell that he has hired Kurt Heinrich, a Vision Vancouver political operative, as his new Public Relations and Media Specialist is unacceptable. The choice flies in the face of the School Board's non-partisan mandate, says NPA School Trustee Ken Denike.
"By bringing on a recent Vision Vancouver political operative into such a sensitive and vital non-partisan role as Public Relations officer shows incredibly poor judgment by Superintendent Cardwell," says Denike. "I am usually extremely reticent to publicly comment on the work of our staff, but this decision goes beyond the pale. You simply cannot put a political partisan into a job which requires the highest standards of public service non-partisanship."
Kurt Heinrich has been working as a outreach worker for the Vision Vancouver party, and has held no senior professional communications positions before being hired by the VSB. He has continuously displayed his partisanship over his @kurtgheinrich Twitter account, attacking NPA elected officials as recently as a few weeks ago.
"This is a very disturbing development which shakes my confidence in the current School Board administration," says NPA School Trustee candidate Fraser Ballantyne. "As a former Vancouver school administrator, I understand the critical importance of having a qualified, experienced, non-partisan person communicating with the public on behalf of the School Board."
Trustee Ken Denike adds, "I will be discussing this matter directly with the Superintendent and I will register my concerns about this decision with the Ministry of Education."
In response to the Courier's story, Heinrich is dismissing media questions that his appointment should be of concern to NPA school trustees. Here is an excerpt from the Courier's story:
“I initially did outreach, so organizing and after the election it was mainly communications,” he explained. “I didn’t do a lot of media—here and there we’d do some releases, but the majority of it was web communications, so I’d update the website and I did writing and support for the board.”
I asked Heinrich if he thought his links to Vision would create a perception problem.
“I don’t know. I hope not. I’ve done my best to establish myself as a professional communicator. I sit on [the Canadian Public Relations Society] board for Vancouver as their online communications chair and I’ve worked for the last year and a half as an account manager here at Peak [Communicators]. I’ve done tons of work for a whole range of clients. I’m sure some people will say, ‘Well his Vision connections make him a Vision guy,’ but I see myself first and foremost as a storyteller for the district. I can’t really skew how people will perceive me, but I can just do my best.”
A quick search of Heinrich's @KurtGHeinrich Twitter account will find that as recently as a few weeks ago, he was still firing partisan missiles at NPA elected officials. Here are a few recent tweets:
@vancouvermetro Anton is just trying to score political points off of a Vancouver tragedy. Good on @MayorGregor for not indulging her - July 6
#classy RT @paulnixey: While Vancouverites are looking for ways to help clean up the city, the NPA are looking for ways to politicize riots - June 22
The power of @VisionVancouver RT @StepanVdovine: Just had a cab driver tell me he'll never vote NPA and didn't charge me for a ride. - June 14
There will be more to come on this story in the coming days...stay tuned.