Interim city manager has begun to get a grip on the job – how much bigger is it than he thought?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 8, 2104


 Odd how things sometime work out.

Pat Moyle is driving home in his car, wife with him.  He takes the call.

Burlington’s Mayor Rick Goldring is on the line.

Patrick MoylePat Moyle believes he knows why Goldring is calling.  Burlington needs a city manager – the one we had found that Calgary was more to his liking.  Moyle had recently retired as the Chief Administrative Officer of Halton Region and he knew everyone over there with municipal administrative skills.  Moyle thought Goldring was looking for some names of people that might be available as interim city managers until the municipal election is over and a new council is sworn in.

Goldring wanted a little more than a recommendation –he wanted to be able to put Moyle’s  name on a business card and have him serve as the interim city manager for as much as a year.

Apparently the Mrs. Moyle wasn’t ecstatic about the idea but Pat wasn’t taking to the Florida retirement stuff all that well – he still had harness he had not worn out and wanted to stay in the game.  Pat said he would get back to Goldring but as one listened to Moyle explain the sequence this was a done deal.

 Pat Moyle certainly knew what Burlington was all about – perhaps better than many at the “director level” in the city.  He knew what the long term issues were, he was more than likeable and had worked with the top line people in the past. And he was certainly no slouch during the six years he served as the Regional CAO.  This was going to be a good fit

Then there was that nice little $50,000 plus bonus for the city.  Traditionally the municipal sector hires outside consultants who run an add and collect resumes.  The tab fir that task comes in at around $50,000 each time.

The bonus for Burlington was that Moyle was going to be attending the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, taking place just down the road in Niagara Falls.  Moyle just took a bigger brief case and began to collect resumes – and get a clear sense as to who might find themselves wanting to move up the food chain and enjoy better beef.

Moyle might manage to clean up some of the problems at the city’s General Manager level as well.

That is the easy part of the job Pat Moyle took on as interim city manager.  The rest of June is going to keep him humping.  The Burlington Air Park appeal of Justice John Murray’s decision requiring the air park to comply with city bylaws will be heard next week.  It will take a few months for a decision to work its way into the hands of the public but by the end of the appeal hearing the city will have a sense as to where this might go.  Wise people do not attempt to think through how an appeal court might decide.  The decision could be handed down right smack in the middle of the waning days of the municipal election.

There are some very positive upsides to the appeal court decision for the city.  Once the legal problems are solved the city can get on with the business of getting it right for the rural part of the city.  That may mean different ownership of the air park property.

Less than a week after the Air Park appeal is heard Moyle will have to take part in the mediation of just who owes what for the construction of the pier – which is about to celebrate its first official year of existence.

The median will stretch over several days at the end of which a settlement will have been reached or the case goes to trial.  Going to trial would probably be the better thing for this council.  At this point no one knows what each of the five parties wants from the other.  The numbers get put on the table the first day – which is when jaws we are told will drop.

The financial and emotional damage done to Harm Schilthuis and Sons Ltd., (HSS) has been absorbed – now they want their money and an apology that will make the past four years easier to have had to live with just a little easier.

When Jeff Fielding was managing the financial and legal side of the pier file he frequently used the phrase “everyone is going to have to give a little”.  Fielding had a  way at times of being very persuasive – but Jeff Fielding is no longer on the city payroll and his approach won’t work without him.

Moyle is for the most part on his own with a legal team that no longer has an upper hand.  HSS is very clear on want they want; AECOM, the project managers have always been in this for the long haul.  PV&V , an insurance brokerage may not have to pay a price for siding with someone other than their client. But it is the city that stands to lose the most.

If there is a settlement the public is going to want to know how much the city settled for – and that isn’t a number they will want to put on the table – so the city ensures that a gag order is included in the minutes of settlement.

Pier - rebar being putr down Oct 9-12

Steel re bar being put in place on the pier deck for the second time. First attempt got stripped back to the original beams

But if HSS digs in their heels and demands that they finally get paid and be given the level of apology they feel they deserve – and they are the ones who have been trashed by most members of this city council and gotten by without payment of invoice that were approved for payment for more than three years – then the city has a tough one in front of them.  The days of everyone having to give a little are long gone.

Assuming the pier becomes a campaign issue – and it should – there is an opportunity for every Councillor and the Mayor to reflect on what they could have done differently

Pat Moyle has been with us as interim city manager barely month – he might be a significantly different man by the end of June.  The Senior management team he leads might be quite a bit different before he turns in his keys as well.  We got lucky with Moyle and if the idea to sound him out was Mayor Goldring’s – great, finally, some leadership.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.