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Olympic project manager felt sidelined, hobbled

January 16th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Sources in city hall tell me that Olympic project manager Jody Andrews tendered his resignation today, effective immediately, after several weeks of being stripped of responsibilities and pretty much ordered not to talk to the public/media about the village.

The relatively young 40-something Andrews, who has worked at the city for 18 years, was put in charge of the Olympic village and Southeast False Creek overall in February 2005, as per this city news release back in the day. Although he’s an engineer and spent most of his time making sure that the village developers were carrying out the project according to city guidelines on design, sustainability, etc., etc., I understand that he was also the main negotiator with Millennium on financial issues. As one of my posters here noted, he also wrote the report recommending Millennium as the successful bidder. (I also linked in a previous post to a slide show he prepared for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on all the great things about the Olympic village.)

Presumably, that marked him as either a) someone who drank the kool-aid at city hall that convinced senior bureaucrats to delusionally think the Olympic village-Millennium deal was a good one, and therefore he had to go or b) someone who knew and could explain what the positives of the Olympic village project were, and therefore he had to go. Take your pick, depending on what your point of view of Olympics/the city/life is in general.

My colleagues at the Globe were unable to reach anyone from the Vision side who could offer an explanation. Councillor Geoff Meggs said, as far as he knew, Jody was talented but had walked in today and tendered his resignation. (You can read the full scraps of details we were able to get here.)

I should explain, for people who don’t understand how the city works, that while Jody would have been the negotiator or had his name on the report, he would have been part of a team that worked together. Finance director Ken Bayne and real-estate services director Michael Flanigan would have supplied numbers. The legal department would have weighed in from their end. Former city manager Judy Rogers would have been part of the team.

So everyone has got to be wondering who else is on the list to go at city hall.

Councillor Suzanne Anton called me a few minutes ago to get the news, as she’d been out for the night, and was stunned to hear it.

“Here’s a guy who’s given his life practically to the city He worked day in and day out. I don’t know how as a city we would attract top people at this stage.”

Suzanne said it seemed to her that he must have been forced out, which she can’t understand.

“It’s almost like they’re trying to sabotage the project. Do they want us to fail?” 

I, for one, am looking forward to the explanation from the city manager tomorrow about all this. I hope it will enlighten us all. I think I speak for everyone in the city when I say that it’s getting to feel a bit too much like a murder mystery around city hall these days, all these people disappearing with no explanation as to what’s happening.

We’ve had transparency about the numbers. Now it would be nice to get some transparency about all the employee corpses littering the halls.

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  • Part of me wonders about how the whole situation would be with a different council at the helm… while I appreciate the disclosure we *seem* to be getting, if we were none the wiser, we could continue to live our peaceful existence.

    This is one situation where I’m glad the media outlet I work for doesn’t get too wrapped up in this. If we get too wrapped up in the details then we can unravel too much.

    I guess I can just be happy I had something to report on a lazy Thursday night.

  • Dawn Steele

    Something doesn’t add up with this story. After he was presumably “happily” about being part of the cone of silence for 1 – 2 years, Andrews suddenly resigns because the new people are NOW not allowing him to talk to the media while they try to sift through the pile of rubble and glue it together???

    And with his name on key documents (whether he was writing for a team or not) that on the surface seem to have misled council about the chances of being in this mess, he wonders why the new guys may want him to step back while they try to get to the roots of what’s going on?

    Sorry – it’s just not computing. For a start, I got the impression that a lot of people felt they had been working under a “toxic” atmosphere created by the former city manager. Maybe the guy has just decided enough is enough!

    But really, the point is this thing stinks more every day – confidence in the city and everyone there has been shaken to the core. Go read what they’re saying out loud about Judy Rogers (and what many others are privately wondering) over at the Globe after Gary Mason’s story yesterday! That’s not going to go away and you can’t just expect people to trust that VV isn’t going to be thinking about their own political interests in all this.

    If anything calls for a full, independent enquiry, this does. And I’m talking about the sort of enquiry that looks at personal and public records to determine whether there is cause to lay criminal or civil charges.

  • foo

    “Vancouver – the soap opera” ends episode 2 with the cliff-hanger, “Who shot Jody?”

  • LP

    “That’s not going to go away and you can’t just expect people to trust that VV isn’t going to be thinking about their own political interests in all this.”


    Thanks for acknowledging that this is in fact a realty that this too, will undoubtedly involve the political machine.


  • tommi

    “And I’m talking about the sort of enquiry that looks at personal and public records to determine whether there is cause to lay criminal or civil charges.”

    Really, Dawn, and exactly who would these criminal charges be laid upon? Sam Sullivan? Peter Ladner? Suzanne Anton? That’s what I thought. How about Raymond Louie? David Cadman? Heather Deal?

    You’d have to go back several councils, round them all up and throw them all in the slammer. In fact, why don’t we just elect all of our future politicians from the current prison population so they can run the city from behind bars. Then we won’t have to pay for long, lengthy legal trials to throw them in prison from making stupid decisions, they’ll already be there.

  • Scott

    As the world turns in this soap opera!!!

    My oh my….

    From the Vancouver Sun:

    “Documents obtained by The Vancouver Sun reveal ***Coun. Raymond Louie moved the motion to give a guarantee of completion to Fortress Credit Corp.*** in return for Fortress loaning $683 million to Millennium Development, the company building the False Creek village.”

    Louie, you’ve got alot of explaining to do to Vancouver taxpayers!!!!!

  • 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.