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City’s general manager of Olympics preparations “retires”

March 13th, 2009 · 21 Comments

Dave Rudberg, the former head of engineering and, the the last few years, manager of the city’s preparations for the Olympics, has sent city manager Penny Ballem a letter saying that he is retiring.

The retirement will be effective this spring. Not a shock to city hall insiders, who are aware that many senior staff are unhappy about the new regime and that the new regime is not encouraging them to stay around,

Rudberg, who has been responsible for coordinating everything the city is doing in connection with the Olympics, including organizing the city’s two live sites, is apparently going to stay on until spring. He’s been with the city 31 years.

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  • not running for mayor

    Don’t know why Dave “retired” and I haven’t heard anything from the grape vine. I do know that he was committed to work past the age of 65 to see things thru to completion, as that was asked before he was given the responsiblity. Maybe he had a change of heart, or perhaps something else…

  • Rebecca

    Let’s try “something else”…I heard that Dave was 100% committed to see the City through to 2010. Who’s being crowned to take his place? A Vision/NDP crony??

  • Bruce M

    Pre-emptive move so that they can’t push him out early, just a thought….

  • Charlie Harper

    Clearly Penny is rubbing the veteran staff the wrong way. Expect more sudden retirements to keep on coming.

  • glissando remmy

    The original piece, then called “10 Little Injuns”, was written by songwriter Septimus Winner in 1868 for a minstrel show and was much more elaborate.
    “Ten Little Indians” is a modern children’s rhyme (sometimes “soldier boys” or “teddy bears” is used instead of Indians to avoid offense). The song, supra, is usually performed to the Irish folk tune “Michael Finnegan”.

    The rhyme was notable for being the inspiration for Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”.

    The disturbing events of the past months made City Hall insiders to cry in amazement and obliged me to revisit this beautifully crafted poem.
    I felt a civic obligation to bring it back to life in a new adapted form in sync with the dry suffocating wind that blows mercilessly from the City of Vancouver’s third floor.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Please allow me the honour to introduce to you in premiere the new Vancouver adaptation
    “Ten Little Managers”.

    (To be framed and hanged in a noticeable place in every Senior Manager’s office for future reference and as reminder of the times we live in)

    Ten Little Managers

    Ten Little Managers going out to dine
    Estelle choked her little self and then there were

    Nine Little Managers sat up very late
    Judy overslept herself and then there were

    Eight Little Managers travelling to Devon;
    Jody got left behind and then there were

    Seven Little Managers chopping up sticks
    Dave chopped himself in half and then there were

    Six Little Managers playing with a hive
    A bumblebee stung (Your name in here) and then there were

    Five Little managers going in for law
    (Your name in here) got into chancery and then there were

    Four Little Managers going out to sea
    A red herring swallowed (Your name in here) and then there were

    Three Little Managers walking in the Zoo
    A big bear hugged (Your name in here) and then there were

    Two Little Managers playing with a Taser gun
    (Your name here) shot the other and then there was

    One Little Manager looked at herself in the mirror
    Then, Penny apologetically yelled wheezy…

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy!

  • Wagamuffin

    OK, GR, sometimes I think you are wacky, but the was WHACK! 5 stars…

  • Denis

    Maybe the group that used to run the city were not doing such a great job. Maybe their advice to the past council was a bit short in cautioning that council. Maybe a few of them suddenly found out a new council noticed the mess left behind. Dr. Ballen was hired to run things in a open accountable fashion. She was attempting to do that in her last job and left because King Gordo and his Health MInister were doing end runs around her. Now we find a bunch of raods wil be closed, the so call Village for sport competators is costing a bundle. Folks losing their jobs , airlines can’t get into vancouver without extra stops. Can’t blame it all on one guy but a group of folks who maybe did or will take the pensions and run

  • Charlie Harper

    Dave Rudberg was first class all the way and was a dedicated and loay City employee. I guess if open and accountable means running all senior mangement out of town Penny is doing a great job. I can tell you this, morale at City Hall is about to hit an all time low.

  • not running for mayor

    Frances might want to ask your sources about the status of Micheal Flanigan, rumour has it he be shopping for a new job, not sure if he’s just had enough of if he will be the next to “resign”

  • JPW

    I agree with Charlie Harper. Mr. Rudberg was like the “glue” in City’s organization. He has such a calming low key demeanor but is sharp as a tack. Dave Rudberg could get things done that no one else could because of his goodwill and unassuming approach. His departure will definitely impact staff.

    The only reason I can think of as to why he is leaving must be due to a loss of confidence on the part of a regime which relies on its own arrogance and “we know best” mantra. I am saddened this is happening but I wish him the very best.

  • Scott

    “not running for mayor” –

    Sheesh, Flanigan? Know him from years back at UBC. Nicest guy in the world and was unanimously preceived as even being competent back then.

    Bruce Maitland, longtime realty head, took him under his wing and nutured him as his replacement.

    Mayor “Geoff Meggs” (sorry Gregor, you are a nice guy too but everyone knows the real power at city hall) is certainly causing a raucus at city hall.

    Looks like Glen Clark (and his former assistant Meggs (are now coming to reap havoc upon city hall. Old habits die hard.

    Forget about Sullivan’s silly antics. This is gonna be way more fun (for politicos, not city taxpayers).

  • T W

    There is something wrong here.

    When civil servants and civil servants posting anonymously, pretend that they are manning the gates to repel the barbarians, they seem to forget that we, the taxpayers, elected representives (of all stripes) to represent us. While not all the representatives are perfect (are any?), it is their job to set policies, not the staff.

    Further, sometimes senior staff act as if they had adopted the views of the regulated community and give a good impression of not being as balanced and unbiassed as possible.

    In my view when senior staff start leaving, it is as much a positive sign as a loss to the taxpayers.

    Any comments?

  • Paul

    When you have a very well-respected manager with over 30 years of experience leaving 12 months before his project is complete, there is no positive.

    It’s really that simple.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    While there’s little doubt that those who have left the City recently were excellent people whose intentions were good, it has been widely reported that over the last several years various city departments had plummeting morale and were becoming increasingly isolated from each other. The most publicized case in point: ignoring the warnings of CFO Esther Lo on the Olympic Village financing deal, then trying to hush her up. Some commentators seem to be in denial about the state of affairs at the city preceding the election, wishing instead that it was still business as usual and predictably trying to shuffle the blame onto the new guy. But if it were business as usual at city hall for the last three months, we’d be in far worse financial shape than we currently are.

    Vision is doing the job the voters asked them to do: they are questioning the bungling of a billion dollar deal rather than rubber-stamping decisions based on resumes and tenure and popularity and, let’s face it, political ties – over the past decade the City’s senior bureaucrats have been increasingly dominated by Liberal cronies under Dobell and Rogers. Sure, the abilities of the people who have left may be unimpeachable, but ultimately they need to be judged on their actual job performance. Not many Vancouverites are happy with the result of their management of our affairs.

    The heads of GM, Fanny Mae, AIG etc. are, I assume, well-respected and top-rank people, yet for all their brilliance they managed to flush trillions of dollars down the toilet. Should we continue to put our faith and money in them too just because they have impressive credentials?

    To expect nothing to change after a world-class screw-up seems pretty naïve.

    Or am I just being gassy?

  • LP

    No you’re just being gassy, jack.

    Outside of Ms. Judy and the Esthelle Lo financing debacle, there isn’t much media to give the general public enough information for your suppositions on the rest of the management staff.

    When you state that “not many Vancouverites are happy with the result of their management of our affairs”, you’re speaking for a whole lot of people that may not agree with you.

    If you ‘actually’ had some poll data that was taken, that asked people who they blame between the elected officials and the city managers (when poor decisions are made); I doubt enough would be informed to say anything but the elected officials.

    Just because you have a negative opinion on the generalities of running a city, doesn’t mean that certain individual senior managers were/are not exceptional at their jobs.

    This “world-class screw-up” of the OV financing, shouldn’t be used as an excuse for them to purge the staff of people that have a difference in opinion with them.

    One last thing. Penny Pallum has no experience running a city and nor does our new cfo, or our mayor – who reportedly knows how to make and sell over-priced juice – which does give him some relevance in selling over-priced condos (I guess).

    If they continue to purge the ranks of experienced staff when disagreements arise, pretty soon the lunatics will be running the institution and then you’ll see how bad morale can get and how f*cked-up this city can truly become. The foundation has been laid.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    As I said, LP, some of the commentators about this post seem to be in denial about the state of affairs at the city prior to the election, and are naïve to assume there won’t be changes after such a major screw-up. Clearly, you are both in denial and naïve. And if you need a poll to tell you that most Vancouverites are unhappy about this mess, I’m afraid you are also totally out of touch.

  • Paul

    Gassy Jack,

    What was it specifically that Dave Rudberg screwed up?

    What, beyond ideology, would have warranted him being forced out?

  • LP

    Oh gassy, you just keep stinking it up in here.

    Perhaps this went over your head so I’ll just reiterate my main point.

    Most people in this city blame the various mayors and councils for the poor decisions made over the years, and NOT the main city staff.

    If you think otherwise, it is you who is naive and in denial. Perhaps some beano will cure your problem.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Paul, it never once occurred to me that Mr. Rudberg was an ideologue. Frankly, I find it very hard to believe, but you’re right, that is the only logical conclusion to be drawn from his decision to retire early.

    And LP, I concede your point. Being so in denial, I had forgotten how much everyone loved Ms. Judy’s iron fisted micromanagement and her hiring of Dobell and Plante. We do so love over-paid underachievers with bad ideas who are in conflict of interest. At least those appointments weren’t based on ideology.

  • Paul


    The sassy gassiness in your deflection of my intention makes it clear how serious your approach is to all of this: A respected man with 30yrs of dedicated service to the city was forced out months before he could complete his career because of ideology….not his own.

    Forget the facts, it’s about ideas, right?

    Regime change at all cost!

    Onward to May, Comrade!

  • spartikus

    A respected man with 30yrs of dedicated service to the city was forced out

    And here I thought he retired. I was fooled. Probably by his resignation letter.

    Forgotten facts indeed.