Vancouver's lone NPA councillor claims that Mayor Gregor Robertson has turned the position of city manager into a “political appointment”. Suzanne Anton told the Straight in a phone interview that over the past 40 years, the city manager's office “has been steadfastly apolitical”.
However, she claimed that the way in which Robertson announced Penny Ballem's appointment to the post of city manager on December 12 will change the way Anton interacts with Ballem's office. “There is no question in my mind that when I talk to the city manager, I am talking to Gregor's person,” Anton said. “There is no question about that. It's just inevitable.”
Anton added that she's not commenting on Ballem's skills or personal politics. But Anton said that for her, if she talks to Ballem, it will be akin to talking to political staff in Robertson's office.
“If I say anything interesting, it goes straight to him,” Anton said. “That's just the way the world works with political staff. We all know that.”
The Vision Vancouver–controlled council called an in-camera meeting on December 12 without revealing the nature of the discussions to Anton. She said that after she arrived, she learned that Ballem, a former provincial deputy health minister in the B.C. Liberal government, had been appointed as city manager without the job being posted.
Robertson did not return a call before the Straight went to press on December 17.