Vancouver looks for new communications boss to advise city council and city manager

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      The City of Vancouver is advertising for a new director of corporate communications.

      The closing date for applicants is September 30, and the winning candidate will report to city manager Penny Ballem.

      The long list of duties and responsibilities includes developing strategic communications plans, offering advice to city council, and overseeing the preparation of news releases and advertising.

      In 2010, the city announced that Mairi Welman had been hired for the job, replacing Ryan Merkley, who held this position on a contract basis for six months.

      Prior to that, Laurie Best was the city's communications director.

      Welman is a former communications director for the Recycling Council of B.C. and also worked for Metro Vancouver when it was known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

      In 2012, she was paid $155,819 by the city.

      The city has not responded to the Straight's email request for an interview to discuss the ad, which offers no salary information.

      Welman still lists herself as the director of corporate communications on her Linked-In page.

      After Welman was appointed, the city imposed a gag order on most municipal staff, ensuring that communications were directed through designated spokespeople.

      In this regard, the city was implementing a communications model used by the provincial and federal governments.

      After Mayor Gregor Robertson came under heavy fire for this in the media, he created the Mayor's Engaged City Task Force, which made recommendations to enhance communications with residents.



      An idea

      Sep 6, 2013 at 6:41pm

      It will be very interesting to witness the style of the new hire. Why doesn't a writer/editor from the Straight apply? Wouldn't that be something? I'm not being facetious. If they got the job (but we know they wouldn't and we know why they wouldn't) that new hire would be the most professional, civically plugged in, and socially-conscious employee they've probably had in years--and one who can spell. Oh to dream.

      Charlie Smith

      Sep 6, 2013 at 7:44pm

      Dear An idea,
      I won't be applying for the job. In fact, your note had me thinking of that great Clash song "Working for the Clampdown":

      They put up a poster saying we earn more than you!
      When we're working for the clampdown
      We will teach our twisted speech
      To the young believers

      We will train our blue-eyed men
      To be young believers

      The judge said five to ten but I say double that again
      I'm not working for the clampdown

      No man born with a living soul
      Can be working for the clampdown

      Kick over the wall 'cause government's to fall
      How can you refuse it?

      Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
      D'you know that you can use it?

      The voices in your head are calling
      Stop wasting your time, there's nothing coming
      Only a fool would think someone could save you

      The men at the factory (hey, what about Vancouver City Hall?) are old and cunning
      You don't owe nothing, so boy get runnin'
      It's the best years of your life they want to steal

      But, you grow up and you calm down and
      You're working for the clampdown
      You start wearing the blue and brown and
      You're working for the clampdown

      So you got someone to boss around
      It makes you feel big now
      You drift until you brutalize
      You made your first kill now

      ...okay, enough said.
      Charlie Smith

      Save Vancouver

      Sep 6, 2013 at 11:48pm

      AKA Professional Turd Polisher wanted to sugarcoat Gregor Robertson's and Vision Vancouver's kowtowing to developers. Must be able to apply a green mist over rapacious neighbourhood destruction. Salary commensurate with ability to toe the party line.


      Sep 7, 2013 at 9:44am

      Whomever they pick, I'm sure it won't be someone with much journalistic credibility. My prediction would be that the chosen candidate will be a person who has worked as a face/voice in media, but not actually done work in the field.

      Lee L

      Sep 7, 2013 at 3:09pm

      Where else but Vision Vancouver (aka Agenda 21 ) would you need to hire someone to keep them all on message?


      Sep 8, 2013 at 10:40pm

      A position in the bureaucracy paying a hack far too much to make sure all civic employees spout the party line in public. What a shock. Billions of dollars are wasted country-wide on the various levels of administrators and managers, those who don't provide any direct public services yet consume a disproportionate amount of taxpayer money. Bureaucratism is the most constant threat in our country, far more dangerous than any elected government.

      Bureaucrats decide their own pay scales, manage the budget and control their own numbers. Provincial bureaucracies in health, education & ICBC eliminated frontline public service positions to fund additional positions in management. Elected governments have little oversight or power to control decisions made by bureaucrats. They are given plum positions with high salaries & perks to distribute but the real power is in the unelected tumor behind the scenes.

      When a government minister announces budget cuts or increases where that money is removed or spent is decided by bureaucrats. They are experts at hiding the true costs of their "services" by burying management salaries within the costs of frontline services. Some healthcare bureaucrats working in offices who never see the public have their salaries hidden under the budgets of community health clinics because they are, on paper and from kilometers away, supervising frontline clinical workers. Between the range of clinical professionals and support staff it is easy to find spots for a half-dozen of more off-site supervisors at one clinic.

      Bureaucrats are also more than willing to eliminate frontline services altogether if they need additional funding for new positions in administration. Fraser Health eliminate the entire Community Nutrition program a few years ago, blaming the government for "cuts" due to cost increases but actually spending the money on a new layer of bureaucrats and funding a bonus pool. Naturally the public blamed those evil Liberals or those greedy union workers.

      The Fraser Health bonus system is worth noting. While clinicians with doctorates in their respective fields have faced a defacto salary freeze for 8 years the bureaucrats have had regular bonuses. The eligibility for a bonus is determined by the individual bureaucrat: if you feel you met your goals for the year you get a nice fat cheque courtesy of taxpayers and redundant workers.


      Sep 10, 2013 at 11:27am

      Vision’s message does get confusing sometimes. Vancouver residents are clearly evil doers with an annoyingly tendancy to get the way of Vision's developer friends latest ugly glass high rise. But what to call them? Non-progressives? F*cking hacks? NIMBYs? Bourgeoisie? Homeowners (apparently a bad thing). I hope Vision’s new communications manager has the right skills to more effectively communicate Vision’s utter disdain for the people that elected them (not that the councillors do such a bad job at that)