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Chicago whiz-kid enviro leader hired to be Vancouver’s deputy manager

September 1st, 2009 · 9 Comments

City hall is buzzing this morning about the official announcement that a young guy from Mayor Richard Daley’s office in Chicago has been hired as the new deputy city manager. Sadhu Johnston has gotten lots of glowing press in the States for his leadership in giving Chicago the reputation as a leading green city.

I’ll have a fuller story on him in the Globe tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s the brief story on his departure from the Chicago Sun-Times, a link to a video of a speech he gave in Chicago a couple of years ago, and the internal memo from city manager Penny Ballem that got sent out quickly today to staff. (Announcement wasn’t supposed to be until later this week but the news leaked out in Chicago that he was leaving.)

From: Ballem, Penny
To: Corporate Management Team (COV) – DL; Au, Wendy; Coulson, Marg; Hui, Tony; Kay, Monica; Aujla, Bill; Anton, Suzanne; Cadman, David; Chow, George; Deal, Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer, Andrea; Robertson, Gregor; Stevenson, Tim; Woodsworth, Ellen
Cc: Magee, Michael; Quinlan, Kevin; Dobrinskaya, Maria; Stewart, Wendy; CMT Admin Assts – DL; Lee, Daisy; Weidema, Michelle
Sent: Tue Sep 01 13:12:51 2009
Subject: Appointment of New Deputy City Manager

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Sadhu A. Johnston as  Deputy City  Manager, effective November 2, 2009. Sadhu’s appointment caps a  four month international search conducted by a Vancouver executive search firm. The process attracted exceptional candidates from around the world.  After review by the recruitment committee of senior staff and me, Sadhu was the unanimous choice.
Sadhu brings a tremendous perspective and unique skill set to our management team.  His leadership on sustainability, city improvement projects and environmental issues in Chicago and North America dovetails perfectly with the initiatives and agenda we are delivering.In addition, he has served at the highest level of Chicago’s city administration and has hands-on experience in the day-to-day operations of a civic government serving close to three million citizens.
Sadhu has family in Vancouver and has visited the city a number of times.  He holds dual U.S. Canadian citizenship. I am delighted we have found someone with such a wealth of experience and I am very pleased Sadhu has agreed to join our leadership teamrelocating his wife and young daughter to Vancouver. I look forward to introducing him to you in November.

Penny Ballem
City Manager
City of Vancouver

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Chris

    Quite a catch. I’m looking forward to more environmental initiatives coming out of City Hall.

  • Tim Latanville

    That’s an out of the box hiring really. good on them for recruiting someone of that calibre. Finally they’ll be able to put some teeth into their environmental promises.

  • Otis Krayola

    Well, Tim, love the Visionistas or not (or not so much), I’d have to say that they’ve used – squandered? – their electoral majority to implement some fairly high profile measures. The Burrard Bridge bike experiment is about to undergo its trial by fire with the impending end-of-summer-back-to-commuting increases in auto traffic. And let’s not forget backyard chickens.

    Oh! I get it. You mean hen’s teeth.

  • Westender

    He sounds like a very talanted individual. I’ll look forward to hearing about some truly sustainable initiatives, rather than mis-guided “window-dressing” efforts like the City Hall community garden.

  • Not running for Mayor

    I don’t know our new “whiz-kid enviro leader” but it strikes me as odd that for a city with so many environmentists that we had to go so far to hire one.
    To me it seems like we’re heading in the right direction already, we have eco-density, the highest green building standards in the country, decent public transit and constantly pushing for more. No new traffic lanes into the city etc etc.
    Strikes me that biggest thing the city still has to do is to get on with it and start composting pick-up, and probably a few token window dressing items here and there such as switching the civic fleet onto a bio-diesel blend until it’s time to update to more efficient models. I’d also like to see recycling bins across the city next to garbage cans. The bottle attachment was a nice token gesture but not enough.

  • grounded

    I have to agree with Not Running for Mayor on the need for street level recycling bins. I recently had a friend visiting from Toronto and took him on bike tour of the new Southeast False Creek neighbourhood and Woodward’s via the Carrall Street Greenway. Along the way we came across the new solar garbage compactors the city has installed, which include the aforementioned bottle attachments. My friend questioned why a city that touts itself as being so progressive in terms of environmental sustainability hasn’t provided recycling (and composting) options for citizens and visitors around the city. While sorting of garbage for recyclables may occur at the city works yard (I am not sure) it certainly doesn’t create a positive impression for environmentally minded visitors, especially with the first ‘sustainable’ Olympics fast approaching. Nor does it serve as a reminder to residents to manage their waste responsibly. People often learn by doing and providing infrastructure that allows people to make decisions about their waste assists in this process. Cities large (e.g. Toronto, Montreal) and very small (e.g. Wolfville, NS) have already established a well-trodden route in this direction. As have some known for their pollution and congestion (e.g. Shanghai). Does anyone know what the main barriers (e.g. cost, Metro Van waste strategy) to this are in Vancouver?

    Finally, to Frances, thanks for providing an excellent forum for the mostly respectful exchange of ideas on this blog. I am wondering if it might be of interest to add a file upload tool so that people making an argument might be able to support it with a visual aids such as a photo or graph. Thanks again!

  • Otis Krayola

    Not running for Mayor,

    ‘No new traffic lanes into the city’? What would you call the Gateway freeway expansion? I bet you don’t live anywhere near Grandview Highway, Hastings or First Avenue.

  • Not Running for Mayor

    The city isn’t onboard with the Gateway expansion, it’s a provincial project which does not require civic approval. So the fact still stands that the city is not authorizing any new traffic lanes into the city. If it were up to the city Gateway wouldn’t be happening.

  • Otis Krayola

    @Not Running,

    What I’d like to hear (and haven’t quite) is that the City won’t do anything to accommodate the anticipated increase in auto traffic that Gateway promises. I’m not talking about an increase in physical capacity; I want to know that already-short north/south green phases won’t be cut even more with an increase in east/west volume.