Friday, July 15, 2011


 Do We Really Get Our Monies Worth
From Our High Priced City Hall Managers?

A story recently in the local daily makes reference to how our managers are in the middle of the pack when compared to other cities in BC, but fails to make any mention that our top ten money earners rank in the top 5% for the entire province according the the statistics assembled by the Vancouver Sun .

The story quotes such famous councilors as Bill Holdom and Fred Pattje saying what a wonderful job our city staff is doing. I would wonder what yardstick they use to guage, and what life experience they draw upon to validate their opinions? Can either of them actually read and understand the financial reports city staff presents them with? I doubt it.

The article explains that if we want such first class help we must pay first class dollar. So lets just examine one major project these first class managers handled for the taxpayers of Nanaimo.

The Project Was Convention Centres

You may have to scratch your heads to remember the first convention centre the city undertook to have built to revitalize our ailing downtown, which was to be built on the site of the old Malaspina Hotel. If memory serves it was originally going to cost $12 million and then ballooned to $18 million or so, at which point the deal was killed. So, why couldn't our team of crack managers manage that project to a successful conclusion? Did we leave any money with the developer for a building that never materialized?

Then there was the $52 million building, which basically was thought a good idea by our crack management team when it was presented to them by some out of town fellows. You will note, the city itself never came up with a plan, and went to tender, which you will notice is a recurring theme in how city staff does business. They were unable to secure a contract which came close to securing this price which finally ballooned to over $75 million, some will tell you that number would be considerably higher, if it were not for some creative accounting.

During this same time period, our crack team at city hall, also agreed to pay $3 million as a project management fee, with the understanding that if the project manager did not perform, they would give the money back! What part of Grimm's Fairy Tales, did they study to come up with that sound piece of logic?? "Here, we will pay you $3 million in advance, and if you don't deliver, we expect the money back" ....... Helloooo!!! Anybody Home?????

During this time period, this crack team of managers also paid $600,000 to tear down the civic arena, which had recently been reroofed for about $50,000. They also paid rent for an extra parking lot behind the Howard Johnston, to accommodate all the workers, who were going to be building the two towers in Maffeo Sutton Park.

There is much said about how we need to keep paying for all this high class help or they might get lured away by the private sector. Question? Do you really think anyone in the private sector would really consider hiring the team responsible for overseeing these construction projects?

Current Construction Project

This same crack team of managers at city hall have also convinced this naive council that spending $16 million to provide themselves with a shiny new office, with shiny new equipment, without ever actually going to tender is another good idea.

Want to make any bets on what the actual end price for this office will be??

No Need For City Council

If you watch the proceedings over the past three years or so, you will realize there is really no reason for city council at all. They simply rubber stamp anything that city staff puts in front of them, and they are not capable themselves of judging whether the advice is good or bad, as they rely totally on city staff, for input and advice. After all, city staff is the ONLY source of advice council receives ..... do you see a potential problem? Don't you think that city staff just leads council around like a steer with a ring through it's nose and brings them to any conclusion they want?

That is why city staff are so dead set against an external core review at city hall, and why they will resist to the death the idea of zero based budgeting every three years. This complacent council seem to think city staff can do no wrong, which is why city council is not really needed at all, as all real decisions are made by city staff, who just gets council to put the rubber stamp on it, so that they are no longer responsible for the decision.

You see, when something goes wrong, city staff will always point to council and say "you told us to do that". Of course it was the recommendation of staff that council acted upon in the first place, so what you are witnessing is some very good smoke and mirrors.

And if the blind shall lead the blind ....... they all just wind up in the ditch!

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