The NPA has misread Machiavelli

Here is a comment [allegedly] left by Dave Weir, Kurt Heinrich’s predecessor at the VSB. I’m going to post it in it’s entirety:

I have refrained from engaging in the debate about the Vancouver School Board cuts because I wanted to put the situation behind me, but I feel the need to defend myself given the change in messaging from the school district.

When I lost my job, I was told it was strictly budget related. The superintendent, in handing me my termination letter, said that he had told the board that eliminating the communications department was an “unacceptable risk” for the district, but that the board had decided to proceed nonetheless in order to save money.

Within weeks, the district’s financial picture improved and they revised their deficit projection to a $1.5-million surplus for 2010-11. Suddenly, the school district needed to re-establish communications. It had only been two months since we were severed.

At the same time, the messaging changed. The elimination of communications was no longer about budget, but part of a restructuring plan and that they never intended to leave the position vacant for long. Suddenly, talk was about how the job descriptions had not changed in a number of years and that the way communications needs to be done is not the way it used to be done.

Readers are left to believe that we were not being progressive with our communications program. Let me remind everyone that Twitter celebrated its fifth birthday this past week, and it’s only been a year since the superintendent ordered the district’s Internet access opened up to social media. Communications responded to the changing landscape by drafting a social media strategy last summer that garnered attention because we were leading the way among school districts.

Were we as successful as we wanted. No. We did not have the time needed to evolve our social media strategy given the demands placed on us by various departments and trustees. The reality of those demands from trustees were detailed in the Special Advisor’s report when she criticized trustees for the volume of work we were tasked with doing to support trustee advocacy.

And thus the problem with the current focus in messaging from the school district. A job description is only the starting point for work. A job description establishes where a position sits in an organization, and the level of remuneration. It does not create day-to-day duties. Those are set given the demands and priorities of an organization.

If we are to believe the current messaging, then why wasn’t the communications department tasked with a renewed focus. Instead, we spent hours upon hours supporting issues such as the school closure consultation because that’s what we were directed to do.

VSB Insider was right to ask whether I was contacted with a recall offer, since I was supposedly laid off due a budget shortfall, and therefore had recall provisions within the terms and conditions of employment for exempt staff. To answer VSB Insider: No, I was not approached about being recalled.

I will leave it for everyone to draw their own conclusion. .

That’s rough. I feel for Mr. Weir. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the worst and say the But I personally know why I was targeted for elimination was because Weir was an NPA’er.

That’s not Kurt Heinrich’s fault. Gregor Robertson, Penny Ballem, Patti Bacchus – they’re fair game. Being held up to public scrutiny is part of their job description. But Kurt simply applied for a communications job and – lacking any evidence to the contrary – won the competition fair and square.

And yet he, and his family, have to endure his name dragged through the public mud all  because he participated in the political process. “Hack”. “No experience”. Etc. Here’s “Glissando Remmy”, the Vancouver blogosphere’s alleged poet laureate, “Cosmopolitan #Vancouver Writer and Political Satirist”…!/glissandoremmy/status/92090509350281216

He lives in Vancouver and apparently he’s not so busy that he can’t bully a non-public figure on Twitter (In a comment on the same City Caucus thread Glissando is surprised, surprised I say, that his Twitter comments were found thuggish and objectionable by others. He is shocked and horrified and wonders if he needs to reinforce the walls of his echo chamber).

I don’t know what they are hoping to accomplish. Oh “the base” will be worked up into a froth, but it just takes a gentle breeze from the east to accomplish that. The rest of us? I’m no expert, but it seems to me you, you know, shouldn’t introduce a subject that has the potential to produce blowback. For example, here’s Alex Tsakumis on Mike Klassen:

Very quickly, because it’s as thin as a razor, here’s Klassen’s public portfolio of accomplishment: Sullivan gifted him a plum patronage appointment to the Planning Commission while Sullivan was Mayor. This was strictly for being a Sullivan waterboy, as Klassen has NO EXPERIENCE in real estate matters–ever. His credentials in this regard extended to picking up the occasional copy of ‘Architectural Digest‘ from the news rack at Starbucks after ordering a double dummy. Worse yet, to listen to some of his fellow planning commissioners, the learning curve for Klassen was enough to have most people catching up on their sleep while he used regular meetings as tutorials.

That’s it. He’s done nothing else

The Commission is supposed to be made up on member of the general public. In a startling coincidnce it would seem a member of  “general public” was also “the Mayor’s webmaster”. This was, of course, to pack the Commssion with friendly bodies so the Mayor’s pet EcoDensity would have smooth sailing simply a coincidence. It strike me as very unwise for Mike Klassen to bring up the subject of experience.

Political instincts seem to be lacking here. It’s like they only read the part of Machiavelli that says you should exhibit ruthlessness and not the other part that says you should only exhibit ruthlessness when all other options have failed.

But then, this is the same braintrust that turned this:

…into this…

Editor’s note: I’ve said it many times publically, but I’ll repeat it again -> I don’t work for, volunteer for, am “directed by” or donate to any political party. Anywhere. I’m writing this because this sort of nonsense fucking pisses me off. I’ve tried suggesting many times in the past both publically and privately the perils of collateral damage.

Obviously it’s fallen on deaf, or obtuse, ears.


One comment

  1. Stepan Vdovine

    For the record, Mr Weir’s following assertion is completely incorrect:

    “At the same time, the messaging changed. The elimination of communications was no longer about budget, but part of a restructuring plan and that they never intended to leave the position vacant for long.”

    VSB Chair Bacchus is quoted in The Tyee mere days after April layoffs stating the following:

    However just because these positions are vacant now doesn’t mean their roles won’t be filled in the near future, says Bacchus.

    “There is some plan for some restructuring, some consolidation of positions, some reorganizing, redefining of positions. So while those two individuals in that department were laid off, effective today, it doesn’t mean that there will be no communications department,” she told The Tyee.

    The Tyee, April 7, 2011