BRAVO, MAYOR ROBERTSON. BRAVO.
March 20, 2010 - By Frank Kurz
Vancouver - I've recently been featured in several blogs and local news stories around town. I've been interviewed by the Vancouver Courier, Journal of Commerce, CKNW, and ace reporter Alex Tsakumis. They all touch on the safety issues (and some others) raised in the wake of Vancouver's Chief Electrical Inspector (and City Electrician) Arkady Tsisserev's dismissal. What's deeply troubling is the way the city's management and Mayor have handled the very public outcry from industry stakeholders, citizens, the engineering community, and even some City Councillors, all expressing concerns over the deteriorating state of life and electrical safety in the City of Vancouver. To my knowledge, not one of hundreds of such letters and emails have been answered and it now appears that the reason for this rests on a few brief comments aired by CKNW which were made by Russ Chamberlain (Mr. Tsisserev's Lawyer). Yes, there's nothing like a Lawyer commenting on safety issues to clear the air about our baseless accusations.
On Monday, March 15, 2010, at 4:00 PM the Mayor was still denying any knowledge of Arkady Tsisserev's illegal dismissal, continuing on in the same fashion he had from the very beginning when the story first broke (that he wasn't involved in staffing issues). Then, suddenly, at 4:30 PM, things took a dramatic turn - I'd go so far as to call it a complete about face. In a surprising statement made to CKNW reporters, Mayor Robertson admitted to his involvement in an early morning in-camera Council session on January 21st which discussed the appointment of a new City Electrician to replace the outgoing Tsisserev. And on that fateful afternoon, the City lost one of its greatest assets and started down a path that has lead to service reductions, diminished staff moral, and an atmosphere poisoned by fear and distrust. March 21st will see the departure of the Electrical Inspection Department's Quality Control Coordinator and Training Officer, Bob Cornwell. His sixty days will be "up".
Bravo, Mayor Robertson. Bravo.
Doesn't it strike you as the least bit odd that Council would hold a meeting to discuss the appointment of a new City Electrician while there was one still on the job (Ark was dismissed much later in the day)? Isn't it strange how the Mayor kept repeating the same tired lines ("I'm not involved in staffing issues",and "I don't know anything about that") for two months when it's perfectly obvious he was aware of exactly what had happened WHEN it happened?
Bravo, Mayor Robertson, Bravo.
There's some good news! In the wake of all this, the City is on a hiring spree. It's looking for an assistant Chief Building Official (starting wage $120K) and the number of staff in the city manager's office has significantly increased (almost doubled). What, you might ask, is going on? You let two go and you hire six? Will Johnston, the new City Electrician (a structural engineer) now has to pay outside independent third party consultants to help him in determining the validity of variation requests and applications for deviations by electrical contractors and designers. The city has almost quadrupled (if not more) the amount of money it is now spending from what it was before January 21st. And for what? Improvement in service? Safety? Job security? Hardly!