By Mike Archer. Anyone with inside connections at the City of Abbotsford has good reason to check their phones as their speed dial numbers may need updating.
Of note, neither Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeb nor General Manager of Finance Pat Sloanes, who are both reportedly leaving City Hall, are among the nine managers whose positions have been cut. No explanation has yet been made public about their departures.
As reported in the Times, Other managers who have recently left include Director of Water and Solid Waste Tracy Kyle, Director of Economic Development, Ken Baerg, and parks and facilities manager Rick Daykin.
When you add these to the abrupt departure of former City Manager Frank Pizzuto at Christmas and the tragic death of former Parks and Rec Manager Mark Taylor, you have a wholesale management change at the City of Abbotsford which is unparalleled in the City’s history.
This is nothing less than a complete restructuring of the management structure and, if what we are led to believe about City Manager George Murray is true, he hasn’t made these decisions lightly.
City Council evidently approved of his restructuring and the other two departures so Murray clearly has their approval and support in the way he is rebuilding and restructuring the team which runs the City.
For the staff whose positions have been eliminated it is unfortunately a difficult and uncertain time to be looking for a job. For those who left under different circumstances there isn’t much to say until we have certainty about the circumstances which led to their departure.
Murray has clearly grasped what most of council has spent most of the last decade ignoring. Abbotsford has been saddled with a bureaucracy which has served the taxpayers very poorly and has done a great deal of damage to the City.Though Murray is being tight-lipped about the departures of Jay Teichroeb and Pat Sloanes it seems unlikely that The Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident was not at least a factor in Mr. Teichroeb’s departure. His dual responsibilities for economic development and the bylaw department make it difficult to avoid him in any discussion of management responsibility for the actions taken, especially when extrapolated over the long term during which the shameful behaviour of City staff and the Abbotsford Police Department is alleged to have occurred.
We can only continue to hope that the community will not be left wondering how their City managed not only to behave in such a sickening and egregious manner, but who knew about it and how it was allowed to go on for so long and, more importantly, what is being done to ensure such behaviour is never again allowed to occur.Mr. Murray seems to have acted quickly, decisively and effectively on the Chicken Manure file. He also seems to have taken his time and acted strategically as far as the overall management structure of the City is concerned.
We are still guessing at this stage. Citizens deserve a better explanation than that which has so far been provided.
Let’s hope that, beyond the quick and dirty press release dropped as everybody heads out on summer vacation, we will yet learn just how our administration was allowed to get so far removed from acceptable management practices or even legal requirements which most municipalities in Canada simply take for granted.Since the taxpayers will be paying the price for bad governance for a long time they have a right to know how it happened, who is to blame and how it is being avoided moving forward.
We know City councillors prefer to sit silently looking at their computer screens during our typical 20-minute, unanimous-approval council meetings but somebody should earn their keep in this City, stand up and be counted and talk to the community about what has happened.
This community has suffered a terrible breach of trust with people who have been very well compensated for performing functions on behalf of their friends and neighbours with the expectation of competence, performance within the law and a bare minimum of human decency in the way the conduct themselves.The community did not get what it paid for. More than that; the community was betrayed by its political class and the power structure which has either stood by quietly or actually profited from the awful mismanagement at the City of Abbotsford over the last decade or more.
This is not a crisis involving a couple of low level authorities. This is a crisis of confidence in a City which has been led astray by its administration and lied to by its political class.
If the councillors who have been around for three or more administrations claim to have nothing to do with the rot which was allowed to set in on their watch then they are more incompetent than we ever feared possible.Unless someone explains how the mess which has been made of Abbotsford’s finances, planning, economic development, bylaw, water and sewer and overall civic administration occurred and who was responsible not much is likely to change. Murray seems to have performed his part of the job admirably.
Where is the political leadership required to make his tough decisions make a difference for a community which has lost faith in its leaders?
Before Mayor Banman attempts to leave this behind, as though it wasn’t splattered all over him, he ought to think of just what kind of legacy he wants associated with his name.Will he lead his community out of the moral and ethical swamp into which those responsible for governing it had allowed to slide?
Or will he take the shoddy approach which got us into this boat, smile, change the subject and try to sing his way out of this mess.
If our political class is going take all of the servile tribute they expect from Abbotsford’s subservient out-of-town newspapers and continue to cash their pay cheques made possible by the money their friends and neighbours have to provide to the City cashier by next Tuesday, the least they can do is explain how they managed to make such an awful mess of the jobs with which they were entrusted.
If there has ever been a moment in this City’s history when there was an opportunity and a need for a politician to earn their pay … this is that moment.
Happy Canada Day.