Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Clark rips North Vancouver mayor over CAO review North Vancouver city manager Ken Tollstam's last peformance review: 2006
COUN. Rod Clark of the City of North Vancouver is harshly criticizing Mayor Darrell Mussatto for his handling of the city manager's performance reviews.
"I've been trying for three years to get a performance review and set annual goals for the city manager," Clark said in council Monday. "A far-too-cozy relationship has developed between the city manager and the mayor. The performance review and goal-setting for the city manager is the mayor's job."
Clark called for the city to "develop policy on a timely performance review of the city manager and annual goal-setting for this position," a motion that won unanimous support. His motion follows more than a year of verbal requests in council for an update on the review policy.
Ken Tollstam has been the city's top administrator since 1993, after holding a series of other senior posts at city hall. His $254,000 annual salary is the highest of any municipal bureaucrat on the North Shore. His most recent performance review was in 2006. Other senior staff positions at the city are reviewed annually.
Clark said Tollstam himself should have sought out another review of his performance at some point over the past five years. "There has been an almost total failure of accountability for our city manager's position," Clark said.
After the meeting, Clark struck an even more combative tone. "I think it borders on negligence that council hasn't done this and I lay this right at the feet of Darrell Mussatto," Clark said. "He's been the mayor since 2005. In 2006 there was the one cursory goal-setting and review of the city manager and nothing since.
"When I initiated the calls for the review, I was assured by Darrell Mussatto that we would get a report back from him about what Ken's intentions are with respect to retirement and how we would go about a 360 review of the city manager's position. And then nothing, absolutely nothing."
Clark wouldn't say if he had any specific complaints with Tollstam's performance.
Mussatto did not comment on the motion during the council meeting, but in an interview afterwards he said Clark's timing caught him by surprise.
"We had a discussion in camera last week and I felt council heard the answers they wanted to hear, so this just came right out of the blue for me," he said.
"Council agreed last week to do a review of Mr. Tollstam and Mr. Tollstam is going to come back with options, and how other municipalities do it. We agreed on that. So it's not like anyone's trying to hide anything. We'll have a company or a process that we can look at to evaluate Mr. Tollstam."
Mussatto said he expects to see options to consider within two to three weeks, and a new council will make the final decision following the Nov. 19 elections.
Mussatto also said he thought Clark had "a good point."
"We never had a policy with (former mayors) Jack Loucks and Barbara Sharpe. Does that mean it's OK for me not to have a policy? No. I have to take as much responsibility as the rest of council in this getting to five years," he said.
Tollstam said he had no problem with a performance review. Following the consultantled review of his work in 2006, he said, the council of the day dropped the process.
"It was taking up a lot of time and effort for them - these are their comments, not mine - and they didn't feel they were getting bang for their buck," he said. "They thought the better method was to work with the mayor dayin, day-out. We always have meetings every month, just the CAO and council to talk about issues. . . . Council picks out the options they want us to focus in on, whether it's more affordable housing, something in the cultural area, pools, rinks, whatever. My mission is to make it happen."
Most of these motions are passed unanimously by Council in the name of sustainable density. The developers come in, produce only market housing of which there is no shortage in the DNV, and leave with their pockets full of money.
But what about the average person who chose to live here long ago, when life in the District was laid back and tax rates were much lower? How do they feel about sitting in gridlocked traffic idling away their hard earned cash and adding pollutants to our environment? Many people drive cars out of necessity, as there have been few improvements made by TransLink on the North Shore. The three seabuses promised to be in operation before the Olympics still haven’t become a reality and in some parts of the district services have been cut back. Yet our Mayor, who is the chairman of the Mayors’ Council for Translink, voted in favour of a two cent per liter gasoline tax and he also committed to raise our property taxes to fund the Translink Evergreen Line, while we in the District of North Vancouver are left waiting in gridlock traffic as we ponder what will it be like with all the barriers, detours, and obstructions in place when the actual building under our new “sustainable” OCP is underway.
What will our communities look like with an additional 20,000 people moving to the District of North Vancouver? Currently almost every new family buying property in the DNV brings their vehicles. With only two bridges, two Seabuses and an inefficient transit system, plus an additional 10,000 vehicles, I cannot see how the words “densification and sustainability” could possibly define a better life for the majority of residents who own single family homes in the DNV. Sustainable densification is an oxymoron at best, unless you are a municipal government looking for a short term tax-base gain. Who knows what will happen when this tax base gain becomes unsustainable. Will our taxes skyrocket or do we build more centres and invite another twenty thousand or more people to live in the district? And then in the future will we need more and more centres and people, just to remain sustainable?
I attended many of the OCP public participation meetings and none of my comments were written in the hundreds and hundreds of glossy brochures paid for with our tax money. And, just previous to these so-called community input sessions, the DNV stopped advertising the council agendas and meeting dates. Instead they purchased several insertions of full page, full colour advertising in our local newspapers promoting their OCP. This is not open and transparent government. How can you fight something if you don’t know it exists? We should be encouraged to attend Council meetings, not shut out.
I am not against progress, increased population or development, these things will all happen in time anyway and without disrupting the entire District of North Vancouver for decades to come. Why do we need to bring 20,000 more people into the district if not to increase the tax base? The District is entrusted with our money to provide services to residents in our Municipality. Why do they continue to put major resources into new developments while our established infrastructure is in dire need of replacement and repair?
In the DNV we still have kilometers of antiquated asbestos-cement water mains prone to failure. Prudent minds may think why don’t we fix our outdated infrastructure first, before sinkholes appear in our streets caused by broken water mains and creating one emergency situation after another. People wake up to flooded basements and damage – and costly repairs at the expense of the homeowner. Many of our roads are patched and bumpy with manholes either above or below grade. There are ongoing trouble spots in our street network which need attention. Our traffic and transit problems must be solved before any new major development takes place.
My name is Wendy Qureshi and I’m running for Council in the District of North Vancouver.
As a councillor I will be committed to keeping our district vibrant, as it is now and work toward fixing long overdue and neglected problems. Only then we can talk about development in the district, by the people and for the people who live here now–and not for developers and outside government bodies whose interest is not necessarily best for the citizens of the District of North Vancouver.
To accomplish my platform I will need your help! Why not attend a council meeting or two or join your community association? Why not get involved in our Municipality and have your say?
Did you know that in the last municipal election only 17 per cent of the citizens in the DNV voted?
In a healthy democracy it’s people like you who come out and vote for the candidate who will serve you best. You take the time to discuss with your family, friends, and neighbours the important issues facing our communities and our District. Please get them to vote, regardless of what candidate they choose to vote for. The choice is simple: If you want high density then move to the West End or vote for all current councillors and mayor. If you want flowing traffic, safe streets for cars and cyclists, and transparency at district hall — then vote for me.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street movement spreads across the globe, yet most people don't bother to vote in civic elections, which affect them most
Do you wonder if your kids will ever be able to afford their own home? Are you a renter wishing you could afford an apartment that's just a little bigger and in a more convenient neighbourhood?
Are you finding your daily commute is taking longer and longer?
Is traffic now congested on local streets when you drive to the grocery store?
Have property taxes and the cost of utility charges for your home climbed to a level where they are now a noticeable financial burden?
Do you often feel as though decisions are being made without your knowledge or input about changes in your neighbourhood that are literally reshaping the place you call home?
Do you worry about the sprawl that continues to gobble up land as it follows the growth of freeway expansion extending up the Fraser Valley?
Have school closures in your neighbourhood over the last few years made you wonder about the future of your community?
If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, then let me ask you: What you are going to do about it?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Or is it a law degree, high IQ, wealth, the ability to speak well, relationships with powerful people, an encyclopedic knowledge of public policy, business experience, a background in government service, or a forceful personalty?
It turns out that maybe it is almost none of the above. I did some asking around of some engaged, local, political, personalities and the most common theme seemed to be "being independent."
It would take some research but, by checking out the 'incumbent' candidates records on how they stood and how they voted on issues, should tell you if they stuck to their positions and were truly 'independent'.
As far as new candidates are concerned, you can really only go by what they say.
Most candidates have websites and those who don't will have a contact e.mail address.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Best of luck to all candidates!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Northvancouverpolitics.com has entered the competition. You can vote for us here on the main page. Click on the link vote for NVP.com at Votermedia.org