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Mayor’s comments about departing bureaucrats rile many

April 28th, 2009 · 32 Comments

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s comments that city hall bureaucrats are leaving because they can’t handle the pace of his aggressive agenda are really kicking up a s**storm.

The comments, for those who haven’t seen them, are in Jeff Lee’s story in the Sun here and the mayor said substantially the same thing to me, which will be in my Globe story tomorrow.  (Though he did cite other reasons as well in my story, noting that political change often results in staff changes.) The main bits of Jeff’s story are here.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Tuesday his aggressive new agenda and the looming 2010 Olympics are probably responsible for some of the resignations of high-profile bureaucrats.

Speaking only hours after James Ridge, the last remaining deputy city manager, resigned Tuesday, Robertson said he has demanded more productivity from people.

“At this point we are getting fantastic productivity from staff. We’re doing more in these last several months than I think city hall has achieved in several years’ time,” he said.

Asked if that increased tempo was responsible for the spate of departures of staff, Robertson said yes.

“Yeah, I do think that has something to do with it. Some of it is my agenda and my desire to get a lot more done at city hall, and some is the pressure of 2010 and the variety of forces that have come at us this year,” he said.

“It’s a change in how we are doing things here with a real focus on productivity, so there is undoubtedly more pressure this year, and that doesn’t work for everyone.”

NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton phoned me up literally spluttering with rage after reading those quotes, saying the mayor has “no grace” and is “gratuitously insulting.” I note that others on this blog are expressing similar sentiments.

Certainly it does seem odd to characterize Ridge, who’s a pretty energetic guy, as someone who can’t handle the hustle and bustle of city hall. Or to imply that Jody Andrews, the other 40-something deputy manager who left, couldn’t handle the pace.

But it reminds me a lot of when deputy city manager Brent MacGregor left, under former mayor Sam Sullivan’s regime, and the Sam camp put out the word that, well, he wanted to take it easy and he had other things to do and his resignation wasn’t really anything to do with city-hall politics. MacGregor, of course, is now busy consulting for Concert Properties and running the fireworks society and not showing a lot of signs of someone who wants to take it easy.

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