Saturday, December 13, 2008

SWEEPING CITY HALL


So Judy Rogers is gone and Dr. Penny Ballem is the new City Manager.

There may or may not be very specific reasons for this sudden change at 12th and Cambie. We may or may not ever learn of these deep, spooky reasons, if such ever exist.

But a more likely read is this.

The Vision team, whether you like them or not, whether you voted for them or not, is quickly proving to be the best prepared and most highly focused and organized groups ever to swoop into public office locally. It is my perception that Judy Rogers is, after 20 years at City Hall, 10 of those as City Manager, gone for no other reason than the Vision team want their own people at key positions. This move was probably in their sights six weeks ago.

It is true that Rogers had a reputation for being a tough cookie. But what would you have in that role with the likes of Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan running amok?

Dr. Ballem will be more than competent and she will be nobody's patsy as the Visionaries will soon discover. No doubt relationships will largely be collaborative and collegial. But let the new Lords of the Manor never forget that Ballem said Sayonara to Gordon Campbell when she could no longer stomach the Liberal style or agenda.

In the meantime, we must give the New gang full credit for moving ahead on several important files at once.

I will hope that Gregor Robertson can in fact do something substantive about homelessness. Like you, I won't expect the miracle of eradication, but bringing down the numbers of people sentenced to the streets will be accomplishment enough. Unfortunately, his HEAT team doesn't impress me one bit. Robertson has gathered all the Usual Suspects into a blue ribbon panel. Problem is they are all the folks who have been in position to do something all along.

No. I'd be more encouraged if Gregor found a handful of new young energized world-beaters who would get out there and bring in some real change. Buy some buildings, lease some armories, get huge donations of beds and blankets now, today.

That said, Robertson and company are to be congratulated for taking their new roles seriously and pointing their collective noses into the wind.

May they actually leave some real legacies. May they not suffer the fate of the '72 Barrett reign - arrogance, over-stepping boundaries and quick return to the benches.

We will watch with hope and interest.

6 comments:

Martino said...

I'd like to know what ridiculous amount Judy Rogers got as severance to leave her post.

Anonymous said...

The real question about change is: will Vision accept LRT on Broadway, to UBC or instead a subway at 10 times the cost!

keith said...

If the real estate downturn gets really bad, the governments, both municipal and provincial, should use the opportunity to buy unsold condo units and homes at fire sale prices, and use them for low rent housing.
Large homes could be converted to rooming houses which were very common 40 years ago, and smaller condo units could be rented to seniors and disadvantaged people.

Pelalusa said...

I never voted for Robertson and still believe the Vision council will be a disaster but I never liked Judy Rogers and always respected Penny Ballum. Let's see what happens now.

Brenton said...

"The real question about change is: will Vision accept LRT on Broadway, to UBC or instead a subway at 10 times the cost!"

Unfortunately the new Vancouver council will have little direct say in how transit develops in Vancouver. Council doesn't decide these things; TransLink and the BC government do, for the most part. Gregor will be one voice of 23 on the Council of Mayors that oversees (read: mostly rubberstamps) TransLink decisions, with the provincial government providing the bulk of funding and holding the legislative power.

There is some signs that the Council of Mayors will act in a more assertive manner, seeing as they have to approve TransLink's new funding structure, which will affect how the mayors are seen by their constituents.

Anonymous said...

It's all about appearances.

Since leaving the provincial government, Ballum has been a director of one of the largest development companies in the province.

The optics say that she's good for the development and business community. (But the reality may be something else, eh?)