Not a lot of trust between city hall staff and the taxpayers who cover the payroll.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 29th, 2017



We got a message from Kwab Ako-Adjei, the Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications for the city – he reports directly to the city manager, James Ridge.

The message:

I want to bring your attention to an article published last week which indicated that a group of residents were “banned” from using a city hall room. The article went on to say that “banning seems to have become a bit of a practice at city hall…”

“I have spoken with city staff and no one is aware of a situation where residents were “banned.” Can you please provide further information on what took place, who was “banned,” and where they were “banned” from?”

city hall with flag poles

Someone at city hall said yes – then someone else said No. Kwab Ako-Adjei, the Senior Manager, Government Relations & Strategic Communications wants to know who they are.

We got in touch with our source and asked for clarification and got a pretty blunt response. “No comment Pepper, I am not going to say a word. We don’t want anyone to get into trouble. And do not use my name.”

It took some effort to keep the person on the line to probe a little more. It “appears” that permission was given at one level but as the request moved up the food chain the Ok got turned into a no.

The word “banned” came the source – it was sent to us in writing.

Our source would not even mention which department at city hall they had talked with.

The source did say that the early conversations with city hall “were done in good faith”.

Many of the people involved with the Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) are fed up with city hall. They have had it with Council members that do not listen and they want staff to reflect what the citizens desire of their city.

We were asked recently – “Where do these people live?

Director of Transportation – Hamilton
City Clerk – Hamilton
Director of Finance – Milton
City Solicitor – outside of Burlington.
Director of Parks and Recreation – Oakville.
We are not sure any of the Director’s actually live in Burlington.
The city manager does live in Burlington – Aldershot actually.

City hall bureaucrats will tell you that they are professionals and that it is their skills and experience that matter.

Civic government is to a large degree city building. Hard to understand and respect the people you are serving if you are not amongst them.

Hard to have their kids playing with your kids, their kids in the same school yard as your kids giving them an identity with the city. Do any of the city manager’s Leadership Team belong to any of the service clubs?

The citizens of the city don’t ‘know’ the senior levels of government and in Burlington they don’t seem to trust them either.

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9 comments to Not a lot of trust between city hall staff and the taxpayers who cover the payroll.

  • Phillip

    As in most relationships, trust takes time to build and can be destroyed very quickly. It isn’t what is said, it is what is done. As my old grandfather used to constantly preach, “I may doubt what you say, but I believe what you do!” And that’s the problem in this city–the City has preached engagement, but those of us who have participated in various meetings, know that this is “window dressing”. Why? As identified by numerous contributors to this news forum, the parameters are set up to limit participation within narrow parameters defined by the bureaucrats and politicians; the process is merely to validate what has already been decided. And the bureaucrats and politicians wonder why we no longer wish to play their game?

    Further, on a micro note, I’ve had two instances this year where I needed the City to address some concerns that involved my property; these concerns involved City actions or failure to act. In both cases, despite the involvement of my councillor, nothing was done–until I sued. Then the bureaucrats got off their butts and acted. Does this build trust in City Hall? Again, I may doubt what they say, but I sure believe what they do!

  • Stephen White

    If we are searching for the best qualified people to serve the City then that may entail drawing from talent pool outside the community. Personally, I don’t care where they live. That is a personal decision. Their decision on where they live may also be influenced by other factors including spousal employment considerations, eldercare, a child in a special needs care facility, etc.

    What I do care about is how municipal public servants treat members of the public. I have attended about 40 meetings and consultations this year. I am surprised, alarmed and disturbed by the way members of the public are treated. The treatment provided by City Hall staff is markedly different than that provided by Region of Halton employees. The latter are much more considerate, respectful and engaged. They also respond to queries in a much more timely manner.

    Training in community engagement and communication practices, improvements in business operations, and a reorganization of City Hall administration, are issues that need to be on the municipal agenda come October 2018.

  • Neil

    “City hall bureaucrats will tell you that they are professionals and that it is their skills and experience that matter”

    …. and how much of our $$$$ is spent on consultants? ……

  • Luke

    So Centerline if any of the positions listed in the article are looked up on the sunshine list, the titles pay $100,000+ per year and those are working stiffs?
    I guess that makes me a chump.

    • Centerline

      I’m referring to the countless frontline staff that Fill the Potholes, Pick Litter,Plant flowers, Cut grass and maintain the Parks, Plow and Salt the roads in all weather,Drive the Zamboni at the rinks, At the counters at Rec Centers and City Hall.Lifeguards,Equipment Operators Etc… Those are the Working Stiffs I’m talking about. The ones that actually deliver service to the Public. Those are the ones that can’t afford to live in the city they work at. The $100,000 club is usually Management and higher.

  • Centerline

    No average Jack/Jill that works for the City can afford to live their anymore.Most of the “Working Stiffs” live outside the City Limits.

  • craig gardner

    so if anyone wants a city job in Burlington they have to live here? Does not sound like a good approach to attracting best available talent.