The Vancouver School Board is building up its partisan bench strength
Parents across BC are watching closely as negotiations between the BC Teachers Federation and the Province of BC heat up. It’s still early days, but it would appear we may be headed into a labour dispute as early as this fall.
If teachers do hit the picket lines, the Vancouver School Board is bound to be front-and-centre in the media storm. Leading that battle will be Vision Vancouver’s Patti Bacchus. As Chair, she has proven herself to be a take-no-prisoners kind of politician.
I fully expect the labour-friendly Bacchus to support the teachers union as the PR battle begins in earnest starting in September. After all, big unions are significant donors to Vision Vancouver.
Luckily for Bacchus, she has just hired someone who could play a key role in the communications department during sensitive labour negotiations. It was revealed last week that Kurt Heinrich, a former Vision Vancouver staffer and regular anti-NPA tweeter, has been given a $72K per year communications job at the VSB.
Heinrich’s appointment triggered a flurry of sharply worded news releases from NPA school trustees and candidates who think this hiring stinks.
The normally reserved Trustee Ken Denike, a former School Board Chair himself, is outraged at the manner in which this appointment was handled. In particular, the fact that Bacchus actually sat on the hiring committee for a lower level communications job.
Meanwhile, NPA school trustee Candidate Fraser Ballantyne has gone one step further. He thinks Bacchus should step down as Chair of the Board over her questionable actions.
“As a retired human resources manager who formerly worked for the VSB, I must say that any Trustee actively involved in this type of recruitment process is considered highly unusual. In my experience over five years, I've never seen a Chair of a School Board sit on a low level hiring committee, let alone any Trustee.”
As recently as a couple of weeks ago Heinrich was tweeting out highly partisan and political comments about NPA elected officials. These are the same elected officials he is now expected to work with in his new public service job.
In what appears to be a demonstration of his commitment to non-partisanship, Heinrich has now deleted some of those offending messages from his Twitter account. However, I doubt this will be enough to dull the controversy emerging from his appointment.
Bacchus has shown very poor judgment when it comes to the optics of this hire. But don’t expect her to step down anytime soon.
Editor's Note: I thought our readers might also enjoy reading some of these previous CityCaucus.com posts about how "political" the Vancouver School Board has become under Vision Vancouver.
- Education Minister Reads the Riot Act to Vision/COPE Trustees
- Vision School Board Chair Defends Political Program Aimed at Kids
- Advocacy on Steroids is Not Leadership
- Vancouver School Board Report Argues School Closures and "Immoral" Act
- Vancouver Board of Education: no ideas, no leadership, lotsa politics