Oct. 30, 2015

What's going on at city hall

By Merv Unger Oct. 30, 2015

By Merv Unger


I dropped by city hall the other day, and I swear the EXIT sign was flickering. 

The departure of two more managers makes the great exodus almost complete. Sick leave and retirements will likely take care of the rest.

This reminds me of The Dukes of Hazard television comedy featuring Boss Hogg as the one-man gang running the county. There seems to be a very close analogy between our city hall and the esteemed Mr. Hogg’s way of doing civic business.

I wondered what Boss would have done in Nanaimo to get things his way. First of all, I think he would round up the support of a sufficient number of councilors – five makes a majority. Then they would begin harassing city management staff because he had an axe to grind, possibly over some long-ago grievance.

One by one the targeted staffers would fall until there were none left and Boss could install his very own choice to be the surrogate manager while he himself continued to pull the strings.

Having a media puppet certainly would not hurt either.

All the while, Boss’s minions would fall in line, always looking for his nod before voting on any measures. Those who did not fall in line would be targeted for insult and denigration.

Part of his approach would be to line up support throughout the community, telling the public that they no longer needed to talk to staff or other council members, intoning them just to trust him.

He’d have a few more tricks up his sleeve, but you get the message. It’s certainly one imaginary scenario of what has led us to such a dysfunctional city operation, starting at the council level.

Keep in mind, all of this comes from my imagination related to an old TV show character, I may be totally off course.

We’ve had all sorts of commentaries in the media about council needing to just get along, to behave like adults.

But how is that possible with the Boss Hogg scenario? There’s three years left in this term and things can only get worse. Usually when there’s a great exodus from any organization, be it a city or a business, it becomes more difficult attracting new staff to replace the good ones who have left.

As the city launches its search for new senior managers, will there be any qualified managers who will want the job?

Like I said, it’s all imaginary.

Merv Unger is a retired journalist living in Nanaimo, B.C.