Friday, November 25, 2011

Leadership At CIty Hall

Has It Gone To The Dogs??

Let's face it, not many of us like conflict, and for the most part want to be liked by everyone and just get along in peace and harmony. While those might be common traits with most of us, they are not always desirable when it comes to demonstrating leadership.

This past council has demonstrated some 'conflict avoidance' actions which have perhaps been good for keeping the peace but have resulted in questionable results for the citizens of Nanaimo.

Mr. Berry's 'Handshake"

The first glaring example of such pacifist type action, was when our previous city manager, decided he would like to retire a couple of years early, and since he was such a terrific fellow and had given selflessly of himself for years, doing his duty without once complaining about his six figure income, it was decided by Mayor Ruttan to offer Mr. Berry two years of salary, and send him into early retirement. Conflict avoided!!

Shiny New Office For Staff

Then there is the issue of the shiny new office for city hall staff. You will have to forgive me, if what I offer here is not exactly accurate, for you see, the details of this little deal are still securely hidden away from prying public eyes behind the secrecy veil of 'in camera'. Remember now, what I am offering is the product of my imagination, and may in fact not be entirely accurate but given observations of city hall, I feel confident there is some truth in my version of events leading to spending $16 million of YOUR money on a shiny new office.

It seems that city hall staff pitched the council on the fact that perhaps relations between staff and council might be more harmonious if council agreed to provide the under appreciated staff with some shiny new offices, which would satisfy their bruised egos. The problem of course was constructing a story which could be sold to a gullible public, which seldom pays attention, partly due to a snoozing local fourth estate.

Who can argue with the issue of safety, both of city hall staff and the general public who visit the city hall annex to conduct their business?? Good starting point for the strategy of gaining the use of $16 million for a shiny new office space. This could be accomplished if you hired an engineering firm and asked them to sign off on the seismic integrity of the existing office. For those unfamiliar, it would be difficult to get an engineer to put his stamp of approval for seismic integrity of a great many Nanaimo buildings, and that would include many homes.

Now, the city hall staff had in their possession an engineers document pointing to the unsafe state of the city hall annex. They would have to ignore the fact, the same document estimated it would cost less than $4 million to bring the building up to current seismic codes. The best way to keep this whole deal away from public scrutiny was to hide the process behind the oft used tool of supreme secrecy known as 'in camera'.

In order to be sure they could control the end result and get the building they wanted, city hall staff would have to 'go around' the procurement process outlined in their own purchasing guidelines and stitch the whole deal together using an Expression of Interest to provide staff with a safe working environment, without renovating their existing office for a fraction of the cost of building a shiny new building. Remember that was always the 'end game' in the first place; a Shiny New Office For Staff.

They were able to convince a conflict-avoiding council that they should approve the expending of $16 million of YOUR money instead of spending a mere $4 million to fix up their current office, and they convinced them it should be done without going to public tender! So that there would be no repercussions at the last election, council agreed to keep forever secret the identity of councilors who supported this scheme hatched and brought to completion by a very clever city hall management team.

There are two more glaring examples of a conflict-avoiding city council which are worthy of more investigation but these two are both blatant examples of how tax dollars can be spent willy-nilly when you have a city council being led to and fro by a very skilled city hall management team.

You may think that city council calls the shots at city hall, and you would be forgiven of your ignorance, as that is the image portrayed to a gullible public by all the actors in this little drama which gets played out daily on Wallace Street.

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