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Judy Rogers-Penny Ballem 3

December 14th, 2008 · 2 Comments

The party talk this weekend is all about the Visionista’s move to replace Judy Rogers with former deputy health minister Penny Ballem, a highly unusual move at a local government level.

It’s not unusual to get rid of a city manager. It is unusual to put in someone with zero experience in city issues. Typically, cities see it as wildly adventurous to get their city manager from a city department besides engineering.

People are splitting, of course, somewhat along party lines, but not always. Leftoids see Ballem as stunningly competent and not at all a political appointee. One NDP MLA told me she was never seen as particularly doing anything to help them while she was the deputy minister for health and she worked for five years in the Campbell government before her final flamet-out, which was more directed at deputy premier Jessica McDonald than Campbell.

But one developer type said, if the new government was going to make a change, better they make it quick and at the beginning.

Others, of course, see it as the completely politicization of the bureaucracy, the lefties bringing in a fellow traveller to do their bidding. (I kind of doubt anyone with a reputation like Ballem’s of being a strong, forceful manager is going to be quite that compliant with anyone.)

I’ll have more about the dynamics of firing city managers on my CTV blog tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s the final version of my Globe story today.

Categories: City Hall Talk

  • obscurantist

    “Leftoids see Ballem as stunningly competent and not at all a political appointee. … Others, of course, see it as the completely politicization of the bureaucracy, the lefties bringing in a fellow traveller to do their bidding.”

    Another way to look at it is as a bit of a stunt by Vision.

    I don’t see any indication that Ballem is a “fellow traveller,” and that’s probably why Vision picked her, to project this image of, ah, non-partisan professionalism. (I’ve also heard that Tamara Vrooman, Carole Taylor’s deputy finance minister who’s now CEO at VanCity, is involved in the new City Hall team, although I don’t know the details.)

    On the other hand, Ballem’s reputation for “stunning competence” could also be inflated. She left the public service ostensibly because of disagreements about the premier’s office butting into her turf. That could suggest that Ballem is actually quite similar to Rogers in terms of her territoriality, and / or that she knew she would be forced out but arranged to leave first on her own terms.

    The last time I can recall a new figure appearing on the City Hall scene, with a reputation as an accomplished civil servant capable of bridging the partisan divide but also unafraid to speak his mind … well, I know there’s no consensus on whether Larry Campbell’s term as mayor was a muddle or a glorious success, so I’ll leave it to others to decide whether the comparison is a positive one.

  • “she (Ballem) worked for five years in the Campbell government before her final flame-out, which was more directed at deputy premier Jessica McDonald than Campbell.

    As a self-confessed ‘leftoid’ here was my take on the critical passage of the infamous ‘Ballem Letter’ at the time (and the questions it raised-most of which still, more than two years later, have not been answered*).

    ____
    *or even asked by many of those in a position to do so.

    .