Where have all the politicians gone - out hustling for votes while the city manager holds the fort.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 15, 2014



What happens at city hall when all the politicians are out asking voters to re-elect them?

Patrick Moyle

Pat Moyle – got put back in harness after retiring as CAO for the Region of Halton. Serving as the interim city manager until February.

“Well the business of running a city still goes on” explains interim city manager Pat Moyle. The budget for next year is being put together and the early work on the Strategic Plan the new council will use for the next four years is being worked up” added Moyle.

The biggest task of course is finding the replacement for Moyle who leaves in February. “We have being renting a place in Florida for the past three years and we are planning on heading our very early in February.

Given that Pat Moyle got the Burlington gig when he took a phone call in his car while his wife was giving him hard looks – there is no way Pat is going to move on that getting away date. One can hear his wife saying: “You are retired now you know.”

Movement on the new city manager hire will begin just as soon as the new Council is sworn in – which will be December 1. Between now and then Burlington has what is sometimes called a “lame duck” council. The council whose term is coming to a close cannot make any major decisions. It cannot hire or fire and it cannot spend more than $75,000 that has not already been budgeted for.

Moyle has already thought through the process he plans to use. “There is a lot of interest in this job” he said. “Burlington has a really good reputation” (even though the city has gone through two city managers in the last four years) and there will be quite a few applications both internally and externally.

Whoever gets the job will have to hit the ground running.

Burlington is adopting a Results Based approach to the budget where there is a budget for every service as opposed to a budget for a department. Each service will have an owner, that is someone at city hall, who will be responsible for delivering what the budget promised.

All the business cases have been completed” said Moyle. They are now ready to go to Council where they get approved.

What isn’t known is – who will be returning to office. There are at least two council seats that are at risk with a possible third.

Moyle plans on having the workup on the Strategic Plan look at some adjustments to what is in place now. “I want to recommend that the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan be more specific and more task oriented.
The 2010-2014 Strategic Plan was a huge improvement on what had been done previously. In the past the document consisted of a lot of pictures and nice sounding platitudes. The 2010 document was the result of a lot of hard work over 11 half days of meeting with a highly qualified facilitator who took a group that consisted of staff and all members of council.

Black G LaSalle KPMG

Georgina Black took the current city council through an extensive Strategic Plan development.

Georgina Black of KPMG started out by telling the group they needed to identify their BHAG – an acronym that few understood. That was when Black knew she had her work cut out for her.

BHAG stood for Big Hairy Audacious Goal – and Burlington didn’t have one. There were a lot of individual ideas but even at the end of the Strategic Plan exercise there was no crystal clear goal.

They ended up with three guiding principles that have led the thinking of the current Council.

Vibrant Neighbourhoods – Neighbourhoods are at the heart of what makes a city great. They are where we live. Where children play. Where we return after a long day. Where we connect most closely with other citizens.

Prosperity – Prosperity is more than the absence of poverty. Our vision of a prosperous city has sustainability built into it, so that we’re not just planning for today or tomorrow, but for years to come.

Excellence in Government – We want Burlington residents to be proud of their local government. To be confident that the city is well managed, forward-looking and responsible.

A reasonable question from a reasonable person would be: How have we done so far?
Moyle wants to recommend to Council that they re-visit those three guiding principles and then attach specific objectives to each and work those objectives back into the budgets for the next four years. A tall order.

Pat Moyle took on the task of serving as interim city manager when the previous occupant of that job re-interpreted a 60 month contract into one that lasted 26 months.

Fielding, Phillips and Scott

That guy on the right is the last man standing. Former city manager Jeff Fielding, on the left, moved on to Calgary, Kim Phillips, centre, retired. What’s next for Scott Stewart?

At the time the city had just two General Managers with one due to retire. It was felt that some additional bench strength was needed.

“Moyle sees Burlington as a great city with good people in place at city hall” but adds “there has been quite a bit of churn at the staff level.”

Moyle wants to improve on the level of citizen engagement in the creating of the Strategic Plan. There was precious little citizen engagement when the 2010-2014 Strategic Plan was created. Council was still struggling with the concept of citizen engagement and had not approved that policy when they were working on the Strategic Plan.

The city has not done all that much in the way of engaging people – but that is another story. It will be the new city manager who will have to determine the will of Council and then direct staff on just what level of citizen engagement they want.

Pat Moyle likes working with and being around politicians. “It is the level of government that is closest to people; it is the purest form of government we have” said Moyle who has been in municipal government most of his career. “I have learned more from them than they learned from me. These are very human men and woman who have to listen to conflicting views and find a solution that will keep most of them happy.”

Mayor Rick Goldring explaining to Kilbride area residents what was being done and the time frames the repair crews were working to in their community.

Mayor Rick Goldring explaining to Kilbride residents,during the ice storm last December,  what was being done and the time frames the repair crews were working to in their community.

“They aren’t perfect – they are there because they reflect the wishes of the community.”
An interesting lesson from the August flood is the state of readiness on the part of the city. Moyle thinks there should be some changes and will recommend a shift that puts the Fire Chief in charge of the hour by hour tasks.

Fire chief Tony Bavota handing out cards with direct line telephone numbers and ensuring that people got the help they needed. Bavota said he wasn't going to worry about lines of authority - if they need help - Bavota did everything he could to get it to them.

Fire chief Tony Bavota handing out cards during the ice storm with direct line telephone numbers and ensuring that people got the help they needed. Bavota said he wasn’t going to worry about lines of authority – if they need help – Bavota did everything he could to get it to them.

“The politicians certainly have a role to play: said Moyle; but having people in uniform in charge is important. It is the fire, police and emergency measures people who have to carry out instructions. Moyle thinks having people with experience in emergency situations is a better way of managing things.

One would like to think that a city would have strong political leadership that would speak to and for the citizens when there is an emergency. It will be interesting to hear what people think of a new and different approach.

An interesting side note to the swearing in of the new council December 1st. The city always brings in a local judge – local in this case means a Judge from the Superior Court which sits in Milton. It would be ironic if Justice Murray were asked to swear in the new Council – he was the Judge who found in favour of Burlington when the city sued the Air Park for not adhering to the city’s Site Plan bylaw.


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