Wednesday, June 09, 2010

First Candidate for City Council - Barry Hobbis

This came out via email at 2:30 this morning

City of Victoria By-Election - November 2010
I am announcing my intention to seek the upcoming vacant seat for the City of Victoria Council. This will be a vote for a new voice on council, and for the community to be heard on a borrowing by-law for the Johnson Street Bridge.
The future of our City’s financial stability is potentially at risk as we take on debt for the Johnson Street Bridge and sewage projects, when there may be viable alternatives that cost less, and meet the needs of all. Our downtown core, and village centres, are not attracting new, vibrant businesses to increase employment; that must change. Many of our neighbourhoods, and residents, feel cut off from City Hall and need to be consulted on affordable housing, and economic sustainability, along with many other issues of concern, to ensure our local government is moving in a positive, forward thinking, direction.
To many, and to me, our council is fractured. City Hall is in a state of internal strife and media spin that is eroding the very core of serving the community, and not meeting our needs and priorities. It seems that the tougher things get the more our local government feels it has to operate behind closed doors without the opportunity for public engagement. The harsh reality is a lack of open and transparent government at the municipal level, which disengages residents and business; something that can, and must, be changed.
Barry Hobbis
Email -
Phone - 250 216 3232
Campaign Manager, Mat Wright - Phone 250 686 5945


Ted Godwin said...

It will be interesting to see what effect the endorsement of Don Roughley has on his campaign given how unpopular the guy was in his time with the city.

Yule Heibel said...

I don’t want to comment on Hobbis’s campaign - don’t have an oar in the water here - but feel compelled to comment on the Don Roughley angle.

First, Don Roughley was “before my time” (before I started paying close attention to City Hall), so I admit that I’m not completely informed. Second, though, after I published an article in FOCUS Magazine about the City’s profligacy in its hiring practices at the senior management levels (for example, all the $100K-plus hires the City has made), a recently retired rank-and-file City worker contacted me because of his huge concerns about what’s going on at City Hall.

The man is a life-long CUPE member, literally worked his way up from digging ditches into mid-level management (including night school so he could qualify for better positions in the City’s public service). He freely admitted that Don Roughley scared him a bit, but that Roughley - had it not been for his abrasive personality which put many people’s noses out of joint - was the best city manager the city ever had.

Roughley himself has indicated that the routine attacks on him by Monday Magazine (from Russ Francis in particular, I gather) were basically fodder for Monday to keep readers interested. (Sounds awfully familiar...)

My informant from City Hall told me that Victoria is headed toward deep, fecal matter: the rank-and-file (which he represents) will keep retiring over the next few years, and there hasn’t been enough new blood pumped into the system. Instead, what the City has done is use funds to hire more senior management: paper pushers who have no idea how the city actually works at street level of infrastructure. The latter are far more expensive than rank-and-file staff; and they have no idea about the rank-and-file or about the actual conditions on the street or on front-line public service, as it were. Consequently, there’s a lot of dissatisfaction amongst the front-line staff at City Hall: from what my informant said, workplace morale is crap.

Meanwhile, as the people who *do* know exactly what the infrastructure of the city entails retire, there aren’t enough “hands-on” folks to take their place - nor are the experienced ones moving into management (instead, management gets hired from outside).

Roughley got a hard time for firing a lot of senior staff (or asking them to take retirement early), but it was a cost-saving measure. Roughley figured that it made sense to save the city money - but since his departure, *ALL* of those senior staff positions have been (re-)filled, and more besides. Salaries and benefits - much of it for senior staff - make up a huge portion of the city’s overall budget, and it’s galloping out of control.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind at all if a Don Roughley came along and cleaned house a bit - he could start with the current CAO Gail Stevens who has ensured that the lines of communication are completely throttled from the top down. The mandarin caste at City Hall is alive and well - and that’s just not right. Go talk to front-line staff and to the rank-and-file - you might find that, while Roughley (in accordance with his name) may have *ruffled* feathers, but that current conditions are actually worse.

Dave Kesson said...

Hobbis is a poor candidate for council. His statement of "internal strife" around the council table at city hall is the worst type of innuendo.
His campaign slogan in the last election was "I want my city back." He is given to pressing the panic button on every issue. A good candidate has more sense then this guy.

Anonymous said...

Any sensible good candidate for Council realizes that you work as a group and you need the respect of your colleagues on Council to initiate any of your ideas. If your main campaign platform is to criticize the existing council you are being extremely shortsighted, especially in a by-election situation.