Been busy working on a few longer pieces about welfare rates and police dogs that have kept me from the business of city hall.
Apparently, I picked the wrong time to be absent.
You've probably heard planning director Brent Toderian got axed.
Interesting timing for Toderian's departure as it comes the same week Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vancouver Economic Commission hosted "Cities Summit 2012."
The summit, which ran Wednesday and Thursday at the Vancouver Convention Centre, was to examine "the pressures city regions must address as the world urbanizes at an increasingly rapid pace," according to the press bumph from the commission.
As planning director, Toderian's role was to oversee the shaping of Vancouver as it runs out of land to develop, and more people migrate to the city.
Interesting to see who replaces him.
This is the second major sacking of a senior staffer by the Vision Vancouverled council since it took office in December 2008. As city hall watchers will recall, one of Mayor Gregor Robertson's first acts after he got elected in 2008 was to dump then-city manager Judy Rogers.
Penny Ballem was hired to replace Rogers, who was a friend to previous NPAdominated councils and even former COPE mayor Larry Campbell, who successfully argued that Rogers get a huge raise.
Why was she axed?
Robertson actually said Rogers wasn't fired and described her departure as "a mutual agreement" between Rogers and council.
"Technically," he said at the time, "it's a cessation of her duties by mutual understanding. We saw this opportunity to make change and she agreed that the best thing is a smooth transition."
Of Toderian's sudden job loss, Robertson was quoted by fellow city hall scribe Jeff Lee at the Sun saying "this really was about looking forward."
Toderian, who was hired by the NPA administration of Sam Sullivan, was to give us more insight into his termination "without cause" in an interview Wednesday with my colleague Cheryl Rossi.
An issue I've been writing about for years got the attention of council again this week.
Campaign financing. Council again unanimously requested the provincial government to make changes to laws that currently allow political parties such as Vision and the NPA to raise endless amounts of cash to get elected.
We'll find out in March how much each party spent in the 2011 campaign but both parties have hinted they raised and spent a couple million bucks each.
So how will an independent candidate ever get elected in this city? Good question. Yes, Carole Taylor did it back in the 1980s. But that's a story for another day. In the meantime, just be encouraged your that civic politicians still want some change in this area. Or, if you wish, don't be encouraged by what some pundits have described as a charade, knowing full well the provincial government isn't going to budge.
So what is the likelihood of any changes being in place for the 2014 vote?
"Let's see what the province does this time," said Vision Coun. Raymond Louie, moments after council voted on the matter. "I'm sure they will respond."
He paused, smiled. "With what I am not sure."
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