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The Jody Andrews memorial service

January 17th, 2009 · 5 Comments

I’m continuing to hear from inside city hall how bad people feel about the resignation of Jody Andrews, who quit yesterday after apparently weeks of feeling that he was being effectively pushed out of his job as the manager of the Olympic village.

For obvious reasons, they’re not going to be talking publicly. But there is one person who can! A city employee with a pension.

That’s Rick Gates, who used to be a social planner and a CUPE 15 union president. He reminded me (how quickly we forget) that Jody was one of the few non-union people who stood up and publicly objected to the city’s move to get rid of the four-day work week. (Remember that brawl back in 1999, shortly after Judy Rogers became city manager?)

Anyway, Rick sent me this note below reminding me of Jody’s role and his decision to quit after the city went through with that decision. So this isn’t the first time he’s resigned on principle.

Jody Andrew’s resignation has reminded me of happenings a few years ago that may help you get a better understanding of what’s going on.
 
In May 1998, Dobell recommended to Council that the 4-day week be cancelled. A number of people made presentations to the CS&B Committee on May 14 objecting to the cancellation.  I presented on behalf of CUPE 15. Jody presented on behalf of the City Engineers. He was one of only 2 excluded staff who publicly objected to the CWW cancellation (Brian Porter from Law was the other one).
 
Shortly after the CWW was cancelled, Jody was one of the many Engineers (25% of the Department) who resigned as soon as they had other jobs. It’s interesting to note that few of these people got jobs that had compressed work weeks – they left primarily because the cancellation was seen as “punishment” for something or other, and few staff, union or excluded,  felt that such punishment was warranted or excusable. The City’s response to this mass exodus was to increase the salaries of excluded staff by as much as 30%. Jody was one of the few that returned, presumably because of the opportunity to head up the largest sustainability project in the City South East False Creek). Sustainability was and is his main interest, and in my work with him on SEFC, I can say that no one else in the City system has a better understanding of all aspects of sustainability (environmental, social, financial, cultural) than him. The huge increase in salary probably didn’t hurt any either. Given his expertise in this area, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t already have a gig lined up, as a consultant at even higher pay. Hey, maybe he’s on his way to Dubai with Beasley – there’s an ugly rumour.

And for those not diligently reading all of the comments below each post, here’s another recent pro-Jody comment.

Alex

I’ll start this email by stating that I voted for Gregor and most of his crew and I’m a city professional employee.

As a resident, it’s with great regret that the mayor I voted for is putting his political ambitions ahead of the interests of the city and its tax payers. He is putting the worst possible spin on the project and the consequences of his actions are going to have brutal long-term consequences for the tax payers of this city.

Now Mr Mayor, get this: the financial success of the Olympic Village project is completely dependent on the market value of the units that are to be sold. Your spin on the project is resulting in horrendously negative perceptive impact on the value of these market units. I’m all for being honest and open about the realities of the project, but your portrayal of the project as a billion dollar loss has no basis on reality. Just ask your KPMG audit team, who for the last month has been consuming 100% of the available time of the group of staff who are needed to keep the project on track. Did you even notice last week that the number of people working on the Olympic Village job-site has dwindled dramatically. Your loss of confidence is scaring the hell of the contractors who now fear that the city will default. There is no schedule float on this project, and we cannot afford delay.

Mr. Mayor I’m also deeply disturbed that you and your team are now making critical decisions on the Olympic Village project independent of any of the staff involved in the project. If you continue on this course the project will collapse.

Jody Andrews is a star, and he brought out the absolute best in all those who worked for and with him. I don’t doubt that he will land on his feet and I’m sure there are a number of other organizations that will compete to attract his exceptional leadership skills. I also don’t doubt that a number of the best brains at City Hall will jump ship to join him. We’re all disenchanted by your actions Mr. Mayor, and we’re going to go to another organization that values hard work and dedication.

Mr. Mayor: it may not be too late. I suggest you get on the phone to Jody and do whatever you can to convince him to return. The city needs him.

Oh, and here’s one more in this morning (Saturday) that someone sent to my email.

Frances,
Just had to say that I work for City Hall and knew Jody Andrews. He’s a gem of a guy and many of us are saddened that he’s left. This is a guy with integrity, honesty, a true leader and to boot, a great sense of humour. Always had a smile on his face walking down the hall, always acknowledged staff, always interested in the people that worked for/with him. No micro managing, empowering his staff to do their job. There are few such people in the work force so when you come across one such as Jody, you just know that he’s going somewhere. Our loss, someone elses gain. We’ll really miss him. Just had to share that with you about him.
 

Categories: City Hall Talk

  • td

    Jody Andrews resigned because of the way he was treated by the new regime at City Hall. To hold him responsible for the mess is unfair because financial, contractual, and legal considerations weren’t his portfolio, he came in as an engineer and project manager. Other people were supposed to bring those things to the decisions.

    The City can ill afford to lose someone of Jody’s talent, commitment, and dedication.

    Unionised employees at the City have gotten so much crap from management in the last few years (remember the strike) that it is disheartening to lose a manager who was able to bridge the divide, someone whose professional ethics included fairness.

  • David

    I’m not saying Vision fired him, but even if they pushed him out aren’t high level bureaucrats traditionally fired when new governments take power? Maybe it doesn’t happen as frequently on a municipal level, but it sure does provincially and federally.

  • tommi

    Being project manager of the SEFC development is not a political position. Jody has had to work with various politicians of all stripes over the past few years, and did it extremely well. However, now the non-politicians are getting caught up in the Blame Game as Meggs, Gregor and other Vision/COPE councillors are out there vigorously politicizing this issue. That has unfortunately poisoned the well and created a demoralizing atmosphere for the professional staff at City Hall. The exodus has only just begun.

  • Andrews Should Go Overseas

    My sources at city hall tell me that not all at the City are saddened to see Jody go and are interested in bringing in new talent.

    The clean-up of the management team at the City is part of the turn over process that private sector organizations go through when they fail to meet targets and objectives – with the intensity of the Olympic project the staff at the City are just getting used to this level of accountability.

    Andrews enjoyed the public point position when all was great and he could present the high and lofty goals of sustainability etc. but when the tough got going and the public wanted accountability (including his own report and suggestions that all was fine) then he hid behind the veil that he was not responsible for the financials.

    A new management regime is needed with better management skills at the City -for those at the City who are uncomfortable and want the old way sustained by the likes of Andrews should look elsewhere for employment and allow new talent and approaches.

    Not sure what the market for ex-deputy city managers/project managers who have misled the public and mismanaged projects of this size is but Andrews should get ready for a much higher level of accountability with less job protection if he wants to venture out to the private sector after 18 years of city life….

  • Mitch

    The predictions have all come true:
    – Exemplary City staff have either resigned or been fired – at horendous costs to the taxpayers.
    -False Creek and the Olympic Village is a finacial disaster
    Vision Vancouver Council is in denial and damage control.
    According to “shadow mayor” Geoff Meggs – yes that’s right Gregor, you are just a figure head – the prevoius NPA council decided to award the contract to Millennium after changing the housing mix sought by the Larry Campbell council. The staff recommended Millennium, although the process was skewed by putting all the weight on price. Again, this was under the NPA.
    Jody Andrews resigned soon after the 2008 election. I don’t know the reasons, but he was the responsible staff person during the selection process that saw Millennium approved to do the project.
    Deputy City Manager Penny Ballem is a highly-qualified public servant who served as deputy minister of health for the provincial government under Gordon Campbell.
    With the assistance of third party experts the city has recovered all available assets put up as guarantees by the Millennium owners, provided they had some value.
    Council is working hard to support taxpayers interests and have made some important gains, including saving $95 million through switching to public financing.

    Something is rotten in Denmark they say, and I would like to see a full public inquiry on this stinky situation.