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New communications director an old friend of Vision

January 6th, 2010 · 19 Comments

The news that Ryan Merkley had been hired as a temporary communications director came in a week in December when I was swamped with other things, so I didn’t note his impending arrival.

However, here is my post noting that Ryan, a prolific Twitterer by the way (see evidence at Tab 1, his photo of city hall as he arrived at work Monday), started this week.

Merkley, a young, energetic guy with an interest in new ideas, was working with Toronto Mayor David Miller and was a big advocate of that city’s move to open government, i.e. making city data available to those who want to reconfigure it for various apps. As I’ve noted in previous posts, there are a lot of links between the Miller people and the Robertson people. Ryan has been one of those links.

But he’s no stranger to Vancouver. He was part of the crew that came in to work on the Vision Vancouver campaign in the fall of 2008. I’ll be interested to see whether this “temporary” job gets extended at the end of six months.

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  • bill from the southside

    The continued politicization of city hall in Vancouver is disturbing, at best. What ever happened to the fundamental concept in local government (in particular) that staff were apolitical and able to provide broad perspective and independant advise to elected officials? Maybe this was never really the case with Vancouver, as it is undoubtedly the ‘poster child’ for highly charged (local) politics – I don’t know having never worked there. It would be interesting to hear more from CoV staff on the environment and path this organization seems to be heading down

  • Blaffergassted

    Any word on how the hiring of Vision’s new executive director is going?

  • spartikus

    What ever happened to the fundamental concept in local government (in particular) that staff were apolitical and able to provide broad perspective and independant advise to elected officials?

    Um…this is a communications director we’re talking about.

  • mole inside

    the work force did used to be much less politicized, especially at levels below City Manager. Now all one needs to say at any level is “it’s a Council priority”. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is a democracy. But in this climate I see good policy and practice ignored or thrown out the window because it isn’t, or is thought by someone in authority, not to be a Council priority. The worse problem is that this Council is in such a hurry that there is no interest in thoughtful change. It’s ‘change this now, don’t bother me with the history of why things are the way they are’. The majority of career civil servants embrace innovation and improvement. We hate stupid, short sighted change for change’s sake.

  • I’ll second spartikus. Think of Toby from the West Wing. Highly political position, working directly under the Mayor’s chief of staff, I believe.

  • landlord

    Has anyone else heard that Council wants to ban cars from Beach Avenue, Cornwall and Pt. Grey Rd. on Sundays? Has there been any consultation with the affected neighbourhoods?

  • Landlord:

    It sounds like you are asking about the Ciclovia proposal which went before Council last spring. The proposal was for a one day event. Similar events happen around the world and are generally quite popular. Here’s a link to a Georgia Straight article regarding the proposal:

    Googling for ‘ciclovia’ will bring up more information about ciclovias in other cities.

    Closing at least one lane of Pt. Grey road to vehicles has been a subject of debate for some time and is an idea originally floated by Peter Ladner when he was a councillor.

  • FBT

    Yes, and we see where Peter Ladner’s ideas got him.

    Nice try though in using an NPA as the initiator for bad ideas.

    It’s so refreshing to see and hear Vision blame the NPA for everything thats wrong in the city, but yet when a misguided NPAer like Ladner floats an idea they love, it’s absolutely brilliant.

    Still pathetic as usual Chris.

  • I actually think the idea has merit and was trying to provide Landlord with some background info and give credit where due.

    One thing I’m learning about politics and advocacy is that unless some brave soul is calling you names and misrepresenting your aims and methods from beneath the comfortable quilt of anonymity you’re not doing it right.


  • FBT

    Well then I guess your buddy Alex Tsakumis is right on the money then.

  • It’s with some trepidation I tackle the topic, but I’m guessing Alex wouldn’t classify himself as a politician or advocate. My guess is ‘independent commentator’ or similar would be his preferred term for what he does.

    Having said that, I don’t have an appetite for his methods, but I wouldn’t for a second deny him his due in recognizing his ability to garner attention. In that sense he is very definitely ‘doing it right.’

  • spartikus

    Unless you are claiming some sort of special background or inside knowledge – for example “Melina Scholefield is resigning because she is unhappy with the way things are going at City Hall” – the use of anonymity or a pseudonym is irrelevant to the strength or weakness of one’s argument.

    I don’t put much stock in the argument, or lack thereof, made by FBT on this thread, but I don’t care FBT goes by “FBT”.

  • FBT has no argument. All he/she did is hack Peter Ladner, question my motives, and call me pathetic for providing a link and some background information.

    I don’t have a problem with aliases or pseudonyms at all, it’s the behaviour of some who utilize them I find wryly amusing. I think my observation that they seem to breed incivility and name-calling is a valid one. Why? Been there, done that.

  • City Watcher

    The Director of Communications position does not report to the Mayor or his Chief of Staff. This is a non-political position reporting ultimately to the City Manager. That’s the official structure anyway, however in practice these lines do get blurred.

  • spartikus

    I’m not sure it aliases that breed incivility per se, after all, one of this blog’s prominent commentators does so under their real name and seems to revel in being rude. Rather, I think the ability to respond instantly and the inability to read body language of the person you’re responding too plays the greater role.

    Personally, I view my pseudonym as a sort of “brand-name” that I try to take care of.

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    Blaffergassted, I applied for the ED job thinking (perhaps a little too optimistically) that a member of the undead would be best qualified for this position, but I haven’t heard anything yet. Will keep you ghosted.

    As for the other thread that developed: I hate it when people use only first names or psuedonyms too, but not because they are generally uncivil or their arguments are weaker (for example, AGT, Keam, Geller and I don’t use psuedonyms, and we are often the gassiest and most pernicious posters). The real reason we hate psuedonyms is because we would really love to know who Glissando Remy, the Hoarse Whisperer, GMGW, Joe Just Joe, Spartikus, Not Running for Mayor, and the rest of the cast of whacky yet articulate characters who frequent this site really are. We are curious beasts, after all!

  • FBT

    Thats all too funny because there are those of us who know, whom many of those people are, we just respect the anonymity they’ve pursued.

    For all the rest, keep wondering!

  • PGH

    I wish my boss let me show up for my 8:30 am start time at 9:05.

  • david hadaway

    Well, I wish my buddies would float me into a new job from which someone else’s buddies would sack me after two years with half a million severance.