City Council resumes after the summer hiatus on September 20, 2016.
One item the public should be watching for regular and substantive reports from the Mayor’s office to City Council (and by extension, to taxpayers) about the work of Mike Magee, former Chief of Staff, currently “Special Advisor to the Mayor.” The ultimate employer is the taxpayer.
A motion by Councillor Adriane Carr approved on May 17, 2016 included this text:
… THAT City Council request the Mayor’s office to regularly report back to City Council the work of the newly created City-paid Special Advisor to the Mayor, currently a role held by Mike Magee, on its progress working with the federal government on issues facing Vancouver such as housing affordability, transportation, opposition to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion project, and other such efforts resulting from Council decisions.
In “Lineup change in Vancouver mayor’s office” (April 14, 2016), Vancouver Sun reporter Matt Robinson covered changes in staffing and Mr. Magee’s new role. Mike Howell also covered the story in the Vancouver Courier, in “Mayor’s special advisor rejects ‘paid lobbyist’ tag” (April 25, 2016), and “Mayor Gregor Robertson insists he will seek fourth term: Robertson’s loss of communications director, reassignment of chief of staff provokes questions about mayor’s future at city hall” (14-Apr-2016).
The term was to be four months, supposedly starting May 2, which would have it ending in September 1. What is next for him?
The roles of some public servants in the municipal government are rather politicized. For example, both Magee and Quinlan, mentioned in the article, have worked in crucial roles in civic elections for Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver. All the more reason for close public scrutiny of Mr. Magee’s taxpayer-funded time as a lobbyist for Vancouverites.
Some points of the article:
- Mayor Gregor Robertson’s chief of staff will take on a special advisory role to push the federal government to deliver on key priorities for Vancouver.
- Mike Magee headed the mayor’s office for the past eight years and will hand his post to deputy chief of staff Kevin Quinlan on May 2, according to a staffing update from the mayor released Thursday. The switch-up comes at a time of strengthened ties between Ottawa and Vancouver, and on the heels of a federal budget that promised big cash for projects across the country.
- Magee’s new position “will ensure Vancouver’s priorities are front and centre with our new federal government,” Robertson said.
- … Magee will work the full-time position from Vancouver. It is slated to last just four months. He will be paid the same salary he receives as chief of staff, and there will be no resulting increase in the mayor’s budget, Robertson told reporters Thursday afternoon.
- When asked why Magee’s term is just four months, Robertson said he plans to consider where the city is positioned with the federal government before assessing next steps. …
- Non-Partisan Association Councillor George Affleck questioned the point of Magee’s upcoming role. “I believe the mayor is the chief lobbyist of Vancouver. To take taxpayers’ funds and use them to pay a lobbyist, not only is it redundant, but I don’t think it’s responsible spending of taxpayers’ dollars,” Affleck said, adding that while the mayor’s budget may not increase with the new role, that same budget has swelled significantly since Robertson took office….
- [Councillor] Louie added that it is not unusual for cities to have governmental relations offices or for staff to make trips to Ottawa to speak on issues important to them. “This would be no different.”
- Quinlan has worked in the mayor’s office since 2008 and Robertson said his new role as chief of staff — in addition to running the office — will be to strengthen its focus on affordable housing, sustainability, transportation and poverty.
- Quinlan steps into his new position at a time of significant change in both the mayor’s office and the city. Katie Robb recently joined the office as the mayor’s communications director after Braeden Caley left for Ottawa earlier this year to work as a senior director of communications for the Liberal Party of Canada. Meanwhile, Vancouver has a new city manager and deputy city manager in Sadhu Johnston and Paul Mochrie, after Penny Ballem was fired last fall.
See full text at the Vancouver Sun.
Motion by Councillor Adriane Carr, adopted by Council with amendments on 17-May-2016.
Minutes and video:
FINAL MOTION AS APPROVED
1. The City of Vancouver has made it clear through motions at Council and through staff presentations to the National Energy Board that one of the city’s top priorities is to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which poses unacceptably large risks to the global climate and to the City’s natural environment, economy, quality of life and $31 billion “brand” as one of the world’s greenest cities, is not approved by the federal government;
2. The Federal Cabinet and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite playing a leadership role at the December 2015 Paris climate talks to aim to keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5 rather than 2 degrees centigrade, is being reported as favouring approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project;
3. The Federal Cabinet will decide on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project following the National Energy Board’s recommendation to Cabinet which is due by May 20, 2016.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A. THAT Council continue to support staff using all opportunities to actively and vigorously oppose the proposal for a massive expansion of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on the grounds of negative impacts to the health, environment and economy of Vancouver, and its contribution to dangerous increases in climate pollution.
B. THAT City Council request the Mayor’s office to regularly report back to City Council the work of the newly created City-paid Special Advisor to the Mayor, currently a role held by Mike Magee, on its progress working with the federal government on issues facing Vancouver such as housing affordability, transportation, opposition to the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion project, and other such efforts resulting from Council decisions.