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Turnover skyrocketing at Vancouver city hall? Um, no

February 1st, 2011 · 25 Comments

There’s been a lot of reporting on staff departures at Vancouver city hall in the past two years, partly because the new Vision team has made a point of cleaning house, partly because some of the departures have been so high profile, and partly because the city’s former political staffers at Citycaucus have done an energetic job of flagging every departure.

But it’s not the first time there’s been an exodus from the hall.

The first high-profile swan dive I recall was deputy city manager Ted Droettboom, a highly respected guy who quit when then-councillor Jennifer Clarke insisted on bringing in new zoning to the False Creek Flats’ industrial area in preparation for the fabulous high-tech/dotcom boom. Remember that?

Then the tide flowed out copiously after Judy Rogers, with enthusiastic cheering from the development industry, canned the four-day wor week.

Others have quit under various administrations over the years. So is this term unusual?

Here’s the memo from city manager Penny Ballem to various people at city hall.

chart showing retirements, voluntary and involuntary departures for the regular, full-time City staff (+/- 6605) (VPD, VFRS, Parks, Library and City Hall) over past 10 years. (2003 retirement levels higher as a result of pension eligibility changes.)
Year    Retirement      Involuntary     Voluntary       Total Turnover 
2000    2.3%            0.3%            2.7%            5.3%   
2001    2.4%            0.3%            2.2%            4.9%   
2002    2.1%            0.3%            1.8%            4.2%   
2003    4.1%            0.3%            1.7%            6.0%   
2004    2.2%            0.2%            1.8%            4.2%   
2005    2.2%            0.3%            2.1%            4.6%   
2006    2.2%            0.3%            2.6%            5.1%   
2007    2.4%            0.3%            3.3%            6.0%   
2008    2.1%            0.4%            2.4%            4.9%   
2009    2.4%            0.3%            1.6%            4.2%   
2010    2.9%            0.2%            1.4%            4.5%   

So, the answer would appear to be …. no.

My observation. This helps give some needed perspective, as the political opposition tries to stampede all of us in the media and public into thinking people are leaping from the upper floors of city hall. (Some are excited and energized by the changes. And many in the business community are relieved to see some changes.)

But the chart doesn’t give a sense of the psychological impact at the hall of the unusual number of high-profile departures from the city or departures of people like Carlene Robbins, who were apolitical, not particularly Judy Rogers’ clan members, and well respected by many.

It also doesn’t isolate out the different sectors of city hall, so the hall by itself or the park board by itself can’t be compared.

Categories: City Hall Talk · Uncategorized