Not all city employees are created equal

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

43 comments

fingerpointing.jpg
"Don't you dare try to blame the riot on me, buddy"

It's been rather intriguing to watch a half-dozen or so senior staff at Vancouver City Hall move into major butt-covering mode once the independent review regarding Robertson's Riot was made public. If finger pointing were an Olympic sport, several of them would have been awarded a gold medal for their performance.

Now that a week has passed since the Furlong/Keefe external report has come out, it's painfully obvious not a single person at City Hall or the VPD will ever be held accountable for their ineptitude. Despite a litany of documented goof ups by senior bureaucrats, the Mayor and his caucus colleagues aren't prepared to do a thing about it. They continue on their message track that Robertons's Riot was a "learning experience" and it's simply time to move on.

On June 15th Vancouver suffered a one billion dollar hit to its international reputation. There was at least $5 million dollars worth of damage inflicted upon local businesses. There were also countless employees and merchants who terrorized. Therefore I ask the following questions:

  1. Has a single employee at Vancouver City Hall been reprimanded, demoted or fired?
  2. Has a single civic politician been tarnished or forced to hand in their resignation?
  3. Has a single person been charged with a riot-related offense?

Sadly, the answer to all those questions is 'no'.

Contrast what happened in Vancouver to what went down earlier this week in Seattle. Lolita Simonyan, a city employee, made the mistake of using a city-owned vehicle to drive to a local casino.

Compared to creating a riot by inviting 150,000 people downtown in a confined space without an adequate security plan, Simonyan's transgression seems rather tame.

Now do you want to venture a guess regarding what her employer did to her? Rather than just accept her apology, she was fined $365 and provided a severe reprimand. In addition, she's had to face the embarrassment of having her name splattered all over the news media (and now this civic affairs blog).

The reason I make this comparison is because I remain extremely frustrated regarding how there has been zero accountability – nada – at City Hall regarding the riot. One employee goofs up and uses a city car to go to the casino and gets handed a fine. Meanwhile, another helps to facilitate a massive riot and we chalk it up to a "learning experience."

Once again...I believe the buck stops with Mayor Robertson. Both the City Manager and the Chief of Police report directly to him. Has he hauled them into his office and read them the riot act (pun intended)? Is he holding them accountable for their poor planning related to his hastily conceived fan zone? If he looking at letting one or both of them go? Not a chance.

Mayor Gregor and his political apparatchiks simply want the riot issue to fade away from the headlines. Firing or reprimanding one or more of the City's top brass now would only serve to keep the story alive for a few more days. It's much better to hunker down and simply hope the story fades away well before the November 19th election. If I were a betting man...I think they'll succeed in their strategy.

Vancouver wants to earn the title of the greenest city on Earth. But after what I've just witnessed over the last few weeks, there's no risk it will win any awards for accountability.

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us at Facebook.com/CityCaucus.

43 Comments

Daniel, the fault rests with the current mayor. It is he who should have the moral courage to stand up and take responsibility. Sadly, he lacks moral courage.

just so you all know - the majority of riots that have happened in North America in the last 100 yrs have been NHL related. There have been 8 in Canada alone since 1950 - 5 of those were in Montreal.

The riot is not the Mayor's fault - or if it were - every riot that came as a result of a NHL game would be the fault of every mayor in which the riot occurred.

You babies need to grow up and use reason a wee bit more.

All the more reason for our mayor to take responsibility. Boston was in the same playoff series. There was enough time to make a big splash about a bet between the 2 mayors - perhaps there should have been time to discuss crowd management in the 2 cities. Boston has been down this road endless times and had a very different strategy in place to ward off trouble.

We should have taken the hint!

The Thought Of The Day

"The Lady of Shallow, Penny Ballem pushed her No.2 in front of the limelight. 'That's Not Our Role' said Second Incompetent In Command, the one and only Deputy'tzup Aufochs... to the People!"

Translated in plain English 'That's Not Our Role' goes like this:
"Vancouver! Ask Not What City Staff & Vision Apparatchik & Mayor Can Do for You - Ask What You Can Do For Them & their Hollyhock Friends Instead!"

You have to give it to them though. After three years of doing only ONE thing... trying hard to replace all but a few City Staff with friends, relatives, affiliates, donors, mouthpieces, Kurts, American Pies... and not giving an iota on the well-being of this Vancouver city, ahem, it's hard for them now to let go. They are that ass tight with each other!

Like any good New Age Capitalist Commie would say: "We thought this Jift (Job as a Gift) was for Life!"

Pitiful and unacceptable!

They are a MasterCard publicity Stunt at its best, those Hollyhock & Vision Vancouver punks. They are!

"One Blond Ale beer bottle $5; Same bottle as a Molotov Cocktail thrown at a police car $22 (cost of gas is terrible); one trashed window display $2150; Burnt car in front of a Penny Ballem sterilized police force $$$$$;
2 $ Million in Direct damage Costs; 1 $ Billion in Tourism & Image Damage; seeing all those corrupt, incompetent City Hall City Staff & Politicians covering their butts all while drawing fat paychecks day in - day out with impunity... PRICELESS!"

Hey, just in!

"According To #Robertson's Riot "Revue" of $1,968,613... Crime Doesn't Pay! They Got That Right! Thanks To @VisionVancouver @MayorGregor ... Taxpayers Do!"

More here:
http://twitter.com/#!/glissandoremmy

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.


This baby (quite the insult -jeffery) has always believed that the sign of true leadership is the ability (of those who profess to be our leaders) to admit when mistakes are made.

It's taken almost 3 months of dodging and weaving for anybody (in authority) to say that maybe the Live sites were not a good idea.
That the City shouldn't be in the business of planning HUGE events.

You think????

I don't think that the Live sites were a good idea, but I also don't think that they caused the riot. A riot could just as easily have happened anyway, Live sites or not, win or lose. One of the 1997 riot recommendations was to provide a place for people to go. So they did, and it was no better.

The problem with this witch hunt for politicians and bureaucrats to blame is that it takes the focus off who is responsible for the riot: the rioters.

Until everybody involved takes a good,honest look at themselves we will have this problem again.

Vancouver had become ridiculously involved with the outcome of a hockey game.

Politicians wanted a photo op.
Bars wanted bigger sales.
So did the liquor stores.
Buses had 'go Canucks go'

I counted half the pages of the local newspaper coverage ' The Stanley Cup'

I felt like I was watching 'Lord of the Flies'.
Especially when I know that there are people who like to start things!

Weapons to a street party?

for the money that was spent on the live site, cash could have been offered to various neighbourhoods to hold community events. Would have spread out the crowd, made it more family friendly but alas... the photo op would not have been quite the same.

The plan could be ready to go and all you have to do is hit the launch button regardless of the year.

I like your idea Julia.

Vancouver is a City of neighbourhoods where people know each other. We need to strengthen our n'hoods, and maybe in this is a case of "small is better". Rather than anonymous, out of control parties, why not gatherings involving a core group of people who know each other are brought together with those who will get to know their neighbours by being there. Isn't that a healthier way to build strong communities?

I happen to think the downtown core gets far too much of the money and the focus. Not everyone lives downtown or wants to go there. There are at least 15 significant neighbourhoods outside of the downtown peninsula. Whether it is money for the Olympics, or Vancouver 125 or the Stanley Cup... why can't the residents of Collingwood or Marpole celebrate in their neighbourhoods with the same level of enthusiastic support from the City of Vancouver.

That seems like a worthwhile thread Julia. Vancouver will have a stronger fabric if we can have stronger local neighbourhoods. Seems to me that we could do this by promoting more walking in these neighbourhoods, having more life on the streets, more local art institutions, local celebrations ... it would be a good way to get local density. I also think we need to take a close look at zoning and make it easier to integrate workplaces into the local living fabric. Maybe you could write a post on this for CC and we could carry on the conversation there.

As much as I like Julia's idea, and hope they will be followed up, I also think there is a place for massive public gatherings that bring the people of the city together and mix them. The fireworks are one example. On a more limited scale, so is the Gay Pride parade and the Vancouver Sun Run. So as a city we need to figure out how to do this. I find CC's political posturing silly, but the issues they raise are important.

1. How do we as a city, and that means all of us, get better at organizing and participating in large city wide celebtations. I am not a huge fan of spectator sports, but let's face it, hockey is a big part of Canada and this city and we should build on that.

2. The focus should be on learning. And you cannot have learning without failures. If you build a culture in which failure is punished you have stagnation.

3. People do need to be accountable. They don't need to be disciplined or pilloried, but they need to step forward and own up to their mistakes. That is not happening. And CC has done nothing to create an atmosphere in which it could. The editors of CC and the commentors on these threads, especially the cowards who like to sling mud and hide behind silly names, should start by looking at themselves.

You can see the makeup and character of the crowd is very different in these two videos, the first is game three the second is game six.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAcE_pYw7No

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJnfOMhT6vI

In this playlist Robertson endorses Chief Chu's leadership on Sept 6, Ballem acknowledges the possibility of a riot at a Council meeting on May 31st.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL70AA048DBE74E94B&feature=viewall

Mayor Moonbeam . . . not ready for Prime Time but very suitable for tree hugging at Hollyhock.

no other event in the city is approved if the anticipated 'invited' crowd exceeds policing resources. If there was sufficient police for 35,000 - then it should have been ticketed, spread out, no invitation extended and an encouragement to celebrate local should have been pushed instead of the free for all.

If you can't be confident that you can control your numbers - you follow the Boston model and plan celebrations outside of the high-emotion-alcohol window.

+1. I like Julia's idea as well. I don't know that it would have changed whether there was a riot or not, but I think it is worthwhile none the less. Surrey had a neighbourhood party, and it attracted a more family friendly crowd. That is the positive. The negative is that those bent on destruction went right past it on their way to downtown so they could start a riot. Would the same thing happen throughout Vancouver, with numerous smaller family sites under control, and a downtown core with all the troublemakers?

I also suspect policing costs would be far greater if there were numerous sites, but perhaps they could have resources stationed at fewer locations, able to be dispatched if and when trouble started.

Somehow Translink and the police must have a way to be able to stop floods of trouble makers from converging on downtown.

Since I have no idea what all the laws are on this it's up to the authorities to recognize the urgent need to prevent nonsense like this from happening again.

Mayor Moonbeam . . . not ready for Prime Time but very suitable for tree hugging at Hollyhock.

Translink stopped the inbound buses during the Gold medal game of the Olympics. It closed the bridge... early. It can be done. Why were transit police allowing drunks to get on to skytrain? Lazy, or greedy for the transit fare!

Or the big question?

Who can close the transit system down?

Not you or me.

nope, we can't shut down transit but the VPD or RCMP certainly can. They did it during the Olympics and they did it when the riot was underway.

"...those bent on destruction went right past it on their way to downtown so they could start a riot".

I've spoken at length to VPD. They say biggest problem they had in dealing with the troublemakers was the looky loos who got in the way and prevented them from getting to where the 'crimes' were being committed quickly enough. They said if not for that it would have been a very different outcome. So if the neutral part of the crowd was less, and many of those in the n'hoods, they could have done their job.

Don't think policing costs would be greater, probably far lower if there were say 23 sites in our 23 neighbourhoods. Say a team of 3 or 4 in each with 2, maybe 3 backup units of say 50 who can be to a given trouble spot in minutes. That's 200 to 250 instead of 400+ + RCMP, etc. There's a little thing called social pressure which helps calm things down also.

The above would be 1/3 the cost and think of how much wear and tear would be saved on downtown businesses and their staff.

... and how great it would have been for neighbourhood restaurants and general community spirit.

I agree that the looky loos were a problem. And taking them out would make it easier for the VPD to deal with any troublemakers who came downtown regardless of whether there was a Live Site or not.

"Don't think policing costs would be greater, probably far lower if there were say 23 sites in our 23 neighbourhoods. Say a team of 3 or 4 in each with 2, maybe 3 backup units of say 50 who can be to a given trouble spot in minutes. That's 200 to 250 instead of 400+ + RCMP..."

So let's agree that all the additional party sites around town would only require 200 or so police. Sounds reasonable. But now you still need the original downtown police resources to deal directly with the troublemakers who chose not to go to the neighbourhood sites. You can't staff up neighbourhood sites and then decide that no resources are required downtown if one of the rationales is that a downtown police team will be able to deal with troublemakers. I think that downtown team would, for arguments sake, be similar in size and composition to what was deployed with the last riot. And all the neighbourhood sites would require resources on top of that.

@Bill McCreery

The "looky loos" wanted to be where the action was. The action is downtown so they would go downtown, not to the 23 or whatever other number of other sites.

I'd also be concerned if the some of the other sides where not served well by transit. The last thing we need is to set up sites that encourage drinking and driving which causes unacceptably high levels deaths, injuries and property damage.

The allure of going downtown to party would have been significantly less if neighbourhood and regional events got the same kind of funding and promotion that was given the Live Site.

The communities outside of downtown got shut out during the Olympics because of the same mentality. It is getting a little tiresome. What are we 'chopped liver'? :)

It would be worth a try. If it could not be handled successfully, revert to the Boston strategy - no gatherings downtown at all. If you can't behave... you lose the privilege to party.

Every community could have a celebration strategy in place ready to go regardless of whether it is Grey Cup, Stanley Cup or a Cultural celebration. Put it all together and stick it on a shelf. You know your capacity, you know your policing requirements, you know your budget. Stick the money away as a city and only use it if it actually happens. If it doesn't save it for the following year.

Good golly... why does this have to be so hard.

Julia is the person we need to hire to take care of the next event..she has the ideas, and I'll bet she can read a balance sheet...excellent comments!

It's because people like Richard and like-minded Vision / Greenest City allies have this antiquated notion from past decades of a "downtown" to where all rural roads point.

As a resident for five years I can say Vancouver's downtown never quite hit the mark relative to other cities I've lived in. And it's folly to entertain musings that it is anything more than a small patch of commercial towers, a notorious skid row, and noisy thoroughfare dumping grounds on which lands glassy "vertical suburb" shoebox developments.

The action was NOT downtown. There was no action, thus the crowd took matters into their own hands and MADE their own. Someone at the city thought penning 150K+ in some artificial construct on Georgia, and encouraging them all to come was a great idea. Whomever did should be held responsible.

Having multiple sites spread out amongst neighbourhoods is the right way to go. That shouldn't be too difficult to comprehend for those capable of more than amateurish college efforts. If this is puzzling, there are plenty of cities who manage sporting events fine without the violence that can be referenced.

Well, last time, there was no official gathering in downtown and guess where the troublemakers came.

And if they won the cup, downtown is where the big celebrations would be so there will need to be a big police presence downtown regardless of how many "celebration" sites there are.

They went to Robson and Thurlow, so what? Indeed, the mayor at the time was not acting as chief cheerleader inviting $150K+ to come downtown, like this time.

Secure the downtown, short the Canada Line at Roundhouse, and Expo/Millennium at Stadium. For the downtown neighbourhood live site, hold it at the Concord Pacific parking lot. Enjoy.

Here's a reality check for teachers who think they are underpaid.

How much would it cost (or would you need to have) to get a 25 year pension with interest rates at their current level?

Lets use the current 30 year bond rate of 2.84%.

If you make $75,000 and get 60% of your peak for a pension after retiring at 55 (after 30 years of teaching)...

You get $45,000/year.

You would need just shy of $800,000 to guarantee that in the bond market.

So if you are making $75,000.....take the $800,000 and divide it by years of service.....

That means you got an extra $26,500 (approx) in benefits each year.

So you really are making over $100,000.

And that's with simple math that assumes you were making $75,000 all along.

It also means when you were making $40,000 the first 5 years, you were getting about $66,500.

Have fun at the bargaining table.

you missed one calculation that my teacher friends constantly remind me about - they too pay into that pension plan so the $800,000 you are referencing is partially funded by the teachers themselves out of their base salary.

Still, quite astonishing when you consider the annual contract only requires 10 months (+/-) a year of service.

That's true, however, they only contribute 6% of earnings. The other 9% and what ever holes have to filled to pay them the amount comes from the rest of us.

So on a $75,000 salary, they pay in $4,500/year.

So take my number down to about $22,000 a year as the value of the benefit.

Then ask yourself, teachers and public sector employees......are you really underpaid?

Just because another jurisdiciton is dumb enough to overpay, doesn't mean that yours should be.

In the corporate world, the company that consistently overpays eventually goes bankrupt

Not to further this totally off topic discussion....but

"Still, quite astonishing when you consider the annual contract only requires 10 months (+/-) a year of service."

What you would likely find equally astounding is the amount of work they do/time they spend for 'free' out side the scope of their contract.

boohoo, I get really weary of this 'how much is done out of contract' conversation. I have been hearing this from friends and family for decades and the martyr complex really makes me want to puke.

I am on salary, with no pension. I am contractually obligated to 40 hours a week or whatever is required to get the job done. In addition, That means evening meetings, weekend events, over time and if all works out well, I can take a few days off a year to offset.

I don't get sick days, I don't get medical and I consider myself LUCKY to have the job that I do at the salary I am paid.

I live and work in the real world like most other revenue generating taxpayers. If teachers don't like the working conditions, they should look for a different job.

Martyr?

I'm simply making the point that calculating time and money as per their contract is kinda silly because it doesn't reflect reality (for most, of course there are always some). But I know it's easy to piss on teachers, so go ahead.

If the greatest teacher in the world worked in BC they'd top out at 90, 100k whatever it is and that's that and they'd be woefully underpaid considering their worth. The greatest private sector employee could make easily 10 times as much. And, the worst teacher in the world would still make 60 or whatever it is, but the private person would make minimum wage.

The system is broken, but don't blame teachers. Your half ass insult about 'revenue generating' is just that. Teachers don't generate revenue--is that your point?

Boohoo, my comments were not personal I and I would ask you to extend the same courtesy.

You have lost me in your private/public argument. Given we are waaay off topic and this subject is far too personal for me, I am going to withdraw from the conversation.

lol ok Julia. My comments weren't personal either, but sure if we're now to far off topic, so be it.

I really hope you were not trying to make a point that over the course of a year that teachers work more hours than the average person?

They do get those 3 months off (summer, spring break, christmas).

A couple of months off to offset the 4 weeks the rest of get should do the trick of levelling that playing field.

"I really hope you were not trying to make a point that over the course of a year that teachers work more hours than the average person?"

Nope, not that at all.

And this whole thing about "you can't pay them enough for what THEY do"

Gimmee a break. Some are absolutely fantastic. Don't get me wrong.

Many are the guys/gals from university who were the biggest slackers/jocks/meatheads I've ever met.

It's not as if the majority (or even close) of teachers are brilliant people who made some magically moral based decision to give back to society and take less money than they are worth to embrace the world of teaching.

The majority are average schmucks like the rest of us working a job.
The altruistic stuff only comes out at contract time.

Whatever rf, you obviously have an axe to grind bringing it up here, so have fun with that.

Note that the teachers pension plan has a $1.4 billion unfunded liability. The best solution is to set up a defined contribution pension plan for teachers and all other public servants. While the employees, in this case teachers, do contribute to the pension plan, always keep in mind this is a defined benefit plan that guarantees a benefits to plan members regardless of what the employee contributes and largely leaves the tax payer with the responsibility of funding this huge unfunded liability.

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