Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from the blog !

Happy New Year !!
It was a year that began with widespread hope for the new Mayor and Council and ended in a debacle called "restructuring".......feel free to comment with your assessment of the year......

Saturday, December 29, 2012

the CAO Hourglass explained

Many readers have asked about the "Hourglass " system and how it works.The diagram below makes it quite clear.All information between council and staff is routed through the CAO.The rationale for this is it keeps council from meddling with staff  .Unfortunately it also isolates council from staff and they only get the version of issues that the CAO deems fit for them to hear.No one on council spoke to Sally Mole about her dismissal and the "restructuring". They will tell you that it has nothing to do with them and is totally up to the CAO.This is the clearest example we have seen in Tofino of what is wrong with the "Hourglass" system.The concentration of power,influence and information in one individual is not healthy for the town.                                                                                                                 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lana Gibson

Lana Gibson R.I.P.
She was always kind to me.....

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blog post from the Past...Still Relevant Today

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Editorial by Ralph Tieleman March 26,2011

I was debating with a friend yesterday over the merits of this blog.He was clearly not a fan of anonymous postings and my opinionated style of reporting. I don't pretend to be objective...I think our Mayor and council are totally out of touch with the people. I could be wrong.....many readers complain that their emails and phone calls are not returned by their representatives and that councilors are following their own agenda.....not the people's wishes......
Here's an idea....why don't councilor's have their own blogs ? before wasting council and staff time with ideas like municipal campsites and electric quads they could quickly post their thoughts on their blog and respond to public opinion.Blogs are relatively easy to run and they would have a good idea of public sentiment before they bring up motions at a council meeting.
I found it interesting that I had more feedback on council's decision to crush two small food outlets than I did on high water rates,Olympic spending or Tsunami sirens.
It was a single fruit seller in Tunisia that was harassed by local government and bylaw officers that led to the uprisings in the Middle East. After a bylaw officer seized his scales so that he couldn't operate his fruit stand he committed suicide by setting himself on fire.The response was overwhelming and the revolt was on.....
Here we have a functioning democracy so such extreme measures aren't necessary but it is clear that between elections democracy is not working.
Council has embraced Skype and other modern technology so why not blogs. It would work well as they could get information out to the people and the people could respond.
Hopefully it would lead to more open and accountable government.I would be more than happy to help set up the sites. thanks,Ralph

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Special In-Camera Council Meeting Announced !!!

Notice is hereby given that a Special Meeting of the District of Tofino Council shall be held on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in Council Chambers at 2:30 PM. Pursuant to Section 90(1)(c)(c) of the Community Charter, this meeting shall be closed to the Public, for purposes of discussions respecting labour relations.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Arthur Clarke

Art Clarke R.I.P.      Art was a good guy and a true friend

Sunday, December 16, 2012

George Smith Platform for Mayor

If elected as mayor I would bring the following mandate to Tofino:
o- There shall be an open communication between council and the electorate. There shall be a monthly newsletter provided to the media and published on the website outlining progress, plans, challenges faced, and so forth.
o- Council meetings shall be held in open council subject to the scrutiny of the electorate, save where prohibited by legislation. Closed meetings shall become the exception rather than the norm. We would revert to the 3 L's (labor, legal & land) exclusively in-camera.
o- I shall strive to make decisions based on good economic common sense. There shall not be deferral to so called experts except when the skills do not exist in the community. I do not believe in OPM (other peoples money) and will strive to spend taxpayers money as frugally as possible.
o- I have no hidden agenda, and no further political aspirations, I simply want to improve the village I live in, and live within our means. I want Tofino off of the list of most spendful municipalities, we are currently in 23rd place in B.C. This is not where we should be.
o- I will volunteer my time if elected, and shall not accept any regular wages for being mayor or sitting on committees. This shall not be volunteering as done by Bob Long at the Olympics. My wages can go directly to fixing infrastructure, potholes, firehall etc.

o- I would strive to enable a portfolio system whereby each councilor would be responsible for a certain aspect of the district i.e. Water, Sewer, Parks and Rec etc.
o- I would eliminate the hourglass that we have been suffering under since Bob Long's arrival. This would not be intended to micro manage staff, but to have open and honest dialogue between council, management and staff.
o- I would ensure that the CAO is steered by council not the other way round.
o- I would challenge other candidates for mayor and current councilors to review their promises to Tofino, renew their vows, and govern accordingly.
o- RMI spending shall be open and transparent with public input. No pet projects.
o- Due to prior commitments I will be away from Jan 3-Feb 4. I had no idea that I would be a candidate when this commitment was made, almost a year ago. My sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. I have no knowledge of any all candidates meetings, but would be happy to respond to written questions.

Article on Canadian mayors

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saturday Dec. 15 Alberni Bulldogs Hockey Action

Saturday at 7 pm the Alberni Valley Bulldogs face off against the Victoria Grizzlies !! At the Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni. No lockout in Alberni ! Be there for all the action !! You could win big with the 50/50 draw !

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tofino News on CBC Radio

Tofino News will be on CBC radio just after the 8 am news tomorrow....will be talking about the dismissal of Sally Mole and the bungled "Corporate Re-Structuring " or whatever it is.........

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tonight's Meeting : Corporate Strategic Disorganization

Thanks to all who showed up tonight. The Council Chambers were standing room only, the hall was full and there were people outside.....
 A full council was present including Mayor Schmunk.
report in point form
- I asked if anyone on council had spoken to Sally Mole about this issue-all councilors said no-Mayor Schmunk said he had spoken to Sally
-Brian Steven asked why Council can't explain the Reorganization and wondered why only 2 of 7 on council replied to his emails
-Liz Zed asked what they were thinking and where was the accountability
-Marnie Helliwell asked if there were any problems with Sally's job performance
-Mayor Schmunk said there were no problems
-Marnie Helliwell asked how Resort Services will relate to the existing Parks and Rec
-no answer
-John Forde thanked council and asked why is this being done now as Smith and Schmunk are leaving
-Mayor Schmunk replied that he and the CAO had little to do with it and that it was a council decision.It was nothing personal
-George Smith asked if they thought they were representing the people of Tofino and noted there didn't seem to be much support for council's decision in the crowd
-Mayor Schmunk said that "this isn't over....the ball is in Sally's court...she has been offered options "
-Ralph Tieleman asked for an elaboration on that statement
-Mayor Schmunk said as it is an employee matter it has to remain in-camera
-this was a theme that was repeated over and over....we can't talk about it
-Peggy Jamieson questioned the corporate language that is being used by council said that secrecy and corporate structure was detrimental to local government
-Jessie Blake spoke eloquently and asked council why they would get rid of senior staff
-Mayor Schmunk repeated that he can't talk about it
- Dorothy Baert stated that the reorganization would provide a "robust" parks and rec but was unable to explain the initiative.....mentioned jobs yet to be determined
- Jessica Taylor stated that this doesn't make sense and asked for an explanation
- Ralph Tieleman asked why if there is RMI money are we letting senior staff go...said there didn't seem to be a problem prior to the windfall of RMI money
-Mayor Schmunk said they needed to create a position for someone to direct the spending of the RMI money
-Brian Steven asked for an explanation
-Mayor Schunk said he couldn't discuss it but that Sally's dismissal was not performance related whatsover
-Dorothy Baert and Mayor Schmunk were the only people on council to speak during the open question period
-No one in the over-capacity crowd spoke in favour of council's decision
-sorry if I missed anyone but my shorthand is terrible
I was happy to see a large crowd show up as council tends to dismiss the blog readership as a few anonymous whiners.There was nobody anonymous tonight. There were many citizens that aren't blog readers there......People are pissed off !!
 All in all it seems that council doesn't have a clear grasp of what the reorganization is and if they do they are unwilling or unable to explain it to their constituents.Let's hope this decision can be reviewed and reversed.....Please contact the Mayor and councillors to let them know how you feel.They are here to represent you.....Thank you to Mayor and Council and all in attendance for remaining civil while discussing an emotional issue.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Council Report from Brian Steven

 Brian Steven said...
I attended the draft 2013 Budget meeting this morning. Other than the Westerly News, I was the only member of the public attending.

I was able to ask a couple of questions at the end of the meeting. I asked how many staff positions are included in the 2013 salary and benefits envelope for Parks and Recreation. Council didn't seem to know the answer and referred it to staff. After some fumbling looking at figures and discussion between the COA and the finance officer, I was told that there are two full time positions (a program person and an assistant), as well as a summer student.

I asked where the other positions / structure mentioned in the December 03rd Press Release were located. They said that it was RMI money and will be covered by that envelope. I told them that I was trying to visualize what the new structure mentioned in the PR was going to look like and I was not getting any information to help me do that. They talked amongst themselves about maybe getting the new org chart out. Cathy said that they want to create a position to oversee RMI projects. They asked if I understood this. I said I understood only partially what they were doing. They said that they are confident that P&R service delivery will not be affected. I said that I knew that was not possible with the removal of one full time equivalent from such a small program. Discussion ended and they went on to the in-camera session.

I learned more this morning of what is going on than I have in the past week and a half. It appears more bungled than I thought. I don't see how they can tie a position for RMI projects that will be funded by RMI translates into a P&R position funded from the general budget. As they did not seem able to explain the new structure, it is looking more to me as if they really did fire Sally simply to save money.

I was surprised that I was the only person there. I hope that the people of Tofino who are concerned about the gutting of this program come out tomorrow to communicate their concerns.

Tuesday Dec.11 At 5:30 Council Meeting Please Attend

There is an open question period prior to Tuesday's Council meeting at 5:30 pm at the Council Chambers.If you have any concerns regarding the recent "Corporate Re-alignment" that resulted in the firing of Sally Mole please attend.Whether you are against this initiative or support it let council know how you feel.
 Writing in to the blog is slightly helpful but signing a letter to council or showing up at a council meeting is infinitely better.

  The District has adopted some new language that is intended to disguise the fact that this is a small town and have you believe it is a mammoth corporation .
   Organizational Alignment with Corporate Strategic Plan
   Corporate Strategic Planning process
    District’s short and long term corporate
    management, decision-making and implementation, and budget alignment
     District’s Resort
     Development Strategy (RDS)
    Sustainability department and the establishment of a new Resort Services department.

   While council seems to dislike your anonymous comments the Press Release for Sally's termination was posted by an anonymous "media contact"

Please show up at this meeting whatever your thoughts......thanks,Ralph

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parks and Rec Update

I just spoke to Sally Mole about the current situation.She said that she has not been contacted by any councillors with regards to her dismissal. She said she was not offered an alternative position.She said she has not received any reprimands or letters of criticism in her time with the District.
  The only person at the District that writes an annual performance review is the CAO.
 I realize that council is not legally required to get both sides of the story but one would think that you should hear from a 20 year employee before they are dismissed without notice.I respectfully ask council that they contact Ms. Mole and at least give her a chance to present her side of this story.
          Thanks,Ralph Tieleman

Friday, December 7, 2012

Comment from Brian Steven

I do not normally write on blogs. I believe in open communication with all levels of government. I am not a bully and I despise bullying. I am not posting anonymously.

I am frustrated by Council's recent actions and lack of communication / consultation with the community. I have to speak out on this issue. I respect everyone who runs for municipal office, whether they are successfully elected or not. I respect those who get elected and serve their community, whether I voted for them or not. Theirs' is a challenging and time consuming job. The right decisions are not always made. Admitting your mistake and reversing decisions is sometimes just the right thing to do.

I am struggling to understand the recent decision to downgrade Parks and Recreation and fire the Director. Parks and Recreation is the one program within our village that is truly for the citizens of Tofino, helping to make the community a healthy and enjoyable place to live at a time when everything seems to be directed exclusively at tourism. I recall only one member of Council speaking of downgrading or getting rid of Parks and Recreation during the election campaign, with most Councillors and the Mayor speaking of support for Parks and Recreation during the all-candidates meeting. Some of this discussion centered on attracting and maintaining young families in the community.

Now, less than a year into their term, with both the Mayor and the CAO leaving, Council has made this decision (without community input or consultation) that will impact our Parks and Recreation program and every person who lives in this community. You can describe it anyway that you like, but firing Sally Mole after 20 years of service (losing that local knowledge and experience) and moving the program into another department is a degradation of the Parks and Recreation service that will impact the people of Tofino over the coming years long after this Council is gone.

I have read the only item of communication from Council on this issue in the past week, a wordsmithed bureaucratic propaganda "press release". The release only raises more questions. It attempts to portray the changes as merely an organizational change, rather than the service impacts. Buried in here is combining Parks and Recreation with "Resort Services" (which I can only guess is more tourist services). I note that Parks and Recreation is not even mentioned in their "strategic objectives". I have sent an e-mail of my concerns to each member of Council, but so far, have not received even one acknowledgement. "Open and transparent communication with the citizens of Tofino" is included within the strategic objectives, but it is not clear to me when this strategic objective will be put into practice.

This is a fundamental change in the way Tofino will do business and in the services that will be provided under the umbrella of the Parks and Recreation program. Council may think that they have a mandate to downgrade Parks and Recreation, but they do not have a ethical mandate without first going to the citizens of Tofino.

Parks and Rec Wages

This is the list of District of Tofino employees earning over $75,000.00 per year in 2011.No employees associated with Parks and Rec appear on this list so it isn't the gravy train that council would have you believe.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Braden Smith Speaks Out In 2010 Westerly Article !!

Tofino’s new CAO shifts district office environment from negative to positive; Freedom of Information request reveals former CAO’s dropped plan for a new management structure

story by stefania seccia
Appeared in the Westerly News September 30 2010 print edition
Tofino’s chief administrative officer (CAO) Braden Smith said he wants to hire locally and be as transparent as possible with the community while a freedom of information request by the Westerly reveals the former CAO wanted council to pass a new management structure report to deal with an “unhealthy work environment.“Despite being new to the position and still assessing the strengths and weaknesses in the district, Smith already knows the main theme in his management style is accountability.
I think the reality is we’re in a small town,” Smith told the Westerly during an interview at his district office. “We need to communicate our messages, both our successes and some of our challenges and I think what I really want to put some effort into is communicating and messaging.
One of Smith’s noticeable changes since he took over the position after former CAO Bob Long resigned in June is hiring locally.
All of the hires, replacement hires, we’ve made they’ve either been local or they’ve been in-house,” Smith said. “My perspective is I found it to be really challenging, being in the periphery for the last four years, the revolving door in the municipality and the cost associated with hiring someone new and then leaving has just been astronomical to the municipality.
I think it not only huge in the financial cost, but it’s also huge operationally because it takes a bit of time to get up to speed, understanding our policies and bylaws and then you leave and then someone else has to do it.
Last week Aaron Rodgers was promoted from assistant planner to manager of community sustainability, which will replace the director of development services position. He’s also lived in Tofino for the past 15 years.
So the continuity of staff is something that I think we’re lacking here and a lot of it has to do with living in Tofino, it’s not an easy place,” Smith explained. “My goal to respond to that is look internally first to fill positions and I think that…it’s really good because it’s a motivator to the existing employees.
Tofino local Nyla Attiana was given the job of director of financial services in August and Bob Schantz was promoted from building inspector to public works manager.
I think it’s going to pay dividends in the short and long term because you’ll have long-term employees committed to the organization rather than the puppy farm of every two years people just cycle through,” Smith said.
Smith uses an example of one man who told him that in the three years he was developing his property he dealt with 14 senior staff members.
So, when people say things are not getting done, well I wonder when a new person comes and says, ‘Yeah, I’m going to have to review the planning portion, or the engineer portion, or the corporate portion.’ Twelve of 14 people in that time is just crazy,” Smith said. “That was…my first commitment, we’ve got to fix this revolving door and I think this is the first way and it inspires the existing employees to step up and if that isn’t fulfilled, to look to the local community first because we actually have a lot of good, qualified people that live in the community that want to be here and have been here and are contributing. They just need a job.
Smith also explained how recently one union employee said she’s noticed a night and day difference and is feeling a lot happier in her job.
For the past couple of years…I think there was pretty significant challenges with our staff both union and management,” he said. “I think it’s really changed. I think council noticed it, I’ve noticed it and the other staff members say things are getting better.
The Westerly News obtained a copy of former CAO Long’s organizational review, which was brought up at two in-camera council meetings on June 2 and June 8. The recommendation and solution components of the report were withheld.
However, a Tofino resident who received a leaked copy of the report from an unknown source passed the full report along to the Westerly.
While Long was reviewing the organization structure, the environment in the district office was tense.
In the report, Long described the working environment as unhealthy and identifies that it had been 12 years since a review of the district’s management structure took place. He added that the structure should undergo review every five years as good practice.
My experience for the year and a half that I have been here is that of regular confusion regarding the completion of projects, maintenance and department head responsibility,” Long wrote in his report. “This leads to ongoing inter-personal conflict regarding authority, credit, blame, accountability for error, etc.
He said the dysfunction was culturally embedded and has carried on for a long time, which was exacerbated by unprofessional discussions designed to undermine the management team, council and the mayor.
Regarding the interpersonal conflict, I have mediated many of these disputes between department heads, particularly between the engineer and the director of parks and recreation,” Long stated. “I do not believe that the present interpersonal circumstances can be easily solved. These circumstances predate me.
Long also said the staff resources can no longer grow due to limited funding and other issues such as the future implementation of a costly secondary sewage treatment facility.
Over time, the district has tailored the management structure to reflect senior management’s strengths and weaknesses,” Long stated. “In a perfect world, management structure would reflect the ability to deliver council’s vision. In a less-than-perfect world, the structure will reflect other objectives likely more focused on the strengths and weaknesses.
Long’s vision for the new structure was having a director of development services, director of financial services, engineer and a new position called director of operations, which would put that person in charge of both the recreation and public works departments.
The senior managers agreed to a new management structure by consensus after looking in detail at each position and its work function,” Long explained in the report.
Under the director of operations would be the recreation programmer and foreman, with the foreman overseeing the public works and parks staff.
The largest change in structure involved the consolidation of all District of Tofino labour forces under one senior manager as Director of Operations,” the report stated. “The engineer would cease to be involved with the public works crew and would oversee contracted projects and look after sewer/water infrastructure planning working directly with Director of Operations.
However, Long wrote that the director of parks and recreation then pulled her support of the plan. According to Long, both Sally Mole and Mike Papuc, foreman, declined to take the new position when it was offered to them.
This new management structure supports the coordinated delivery of District services through one manager thereby clarifying accountability and responsibility,” Long stated.
In this way, coordination is maximized (and confusion minimized) the labour pool will build numerous skill sets and be cross-trained to the extent possible.
Long said the community’s political environment proved difficult to deliver services and there was no tradition of civil discourse with many issues being dealt with at a visceral and personal level.
District staff is commonly the centre of these personal attacks including being personally sued, vilified and ostracized,” he stated. “My research with past CAO’s confirms this as one of the leading reasons for staff relocation. The local government world is small and these community circumstances are well known.
The report’s recommendation was to implement the new management structure outlined in the report, but with Long’s resignation the report will not be utilized.
The Westerly was unable to obtain transcripts from the in-camera meetings with mayor and council.
Smith said he’s read the report, but his hiring strategy will not follow the structure from Long’s organizational review.
The reality is in any organization there are challenges and there will continue to be challenges,” Smith said, “we just need to face them and be proactive.
A footnote to this story regarding Bob Long being removed from his position in Yellowknife

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Special In-Camera Secret Meeting !!

   The remaining District of Tofino staff are on edge as another in-camera special meeting was announced today !!! Let's hope they are not firing more competent staff !!
                                                                                                                                                Notice is hereby given that a Special Meeting of the District of Tofino Council shall be held on Monday, December 10, 2012 in Council Chambers at 10:00AM for the purpose of discussing the 2013 budget. Pursuant to Section 90(1)(c)(c) of the Community Charter, a portion of this meeting shall be closed to the Public, for purposes of discussions respecting labour relations.

George Smith Running For Mayor

Ralph, Tofitians, blog readers

I have decided that this would be a good time to for me to try and help Tofino. Having spent a long while in Tofino and witnessed many of the bizarre decisions of this, and councils before, I will throw my hat into the mayoral by-election ring. 

I, as many will know, co-own the pharmacy and lead an amazing team of staff, and have faced the challenges of hiring/firing, attracting and keeping staff many, many times in this community. I believe in, and practice transparency while being able to keep and respect confidentiality where required.

I neither tweet, nor facebook but I do email, and phone. My email is and you can reach me, or leave a msg at 250 725 3101 x 225

If you have any questions please post them and I will respond in a guest post, as I don't want to have blog entry with a long train of responses, nor create a bunch of work for Ralph.

George Smith

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Council Votes Unanimously to Eliminate Sally Mole !!!

The Corporation of the District of Tofino
Monday, December 03, 2012
For Immediate Release
Organizational Alignment with Corporate Strategic Plan
Tofino, BC  – Mayor  Perry Schmunk of the District of Tofino, today announced a number of
organizational changes made to align the District’s staff resources with the Corporate Strategic
Plan adopted by Council earlier this year.
The goal of the  Corporate Strategic Planning process was to identify and document the
priorities of the Corporation for the 2012-2014 term of Council and to lay the foundation for
the development of a more detailed and longer term Corporate Strategic Plan.  The strategic
planning process and the Plan are used to guide the District’s short and long term corporate
management, decision-making and implementation, and budget alignment.
With this strategic plan, the District will work with the community to advance:
• Water infrastructure –plan, build and maintain water infrastructure.
• Sewer infrastructure – plan, build and maintain sewer infrastructure.
• Tourism strategy  – develop a Tourism Strategy which encourages and supports a diverse
local economy.
• Official Community Plan (OCP) review
• Develop service level standards  – develop  service level standards for the delivery,
maintenance and replacement of infrastructure.
• Communications – open and transparent communications with the citizens of Tofino.
To ensure success with these strategic priorities, the District will be making several changes to
its personnel and organizational structure.   The most significant changes will include an
amalgamation of the Parks and Recreation  programs and services into the Community
Sustainability department and the establishment of a new Resort Services department.  This
new department shall be responsible for the  implementation of the District’s Resort
Development Strategy (RDS) which represents an annual budget of approximately $650,000.
Responsibilities shall include  Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) project management,
implementation of tourism related capital projects, special events and festival support,
strategic partnerships and other resort services such as signage, shuttle service, Ambassador
Program, and the tourism master plan.
These changes will not  impact the current Parks and Recreation program services offered by
the District.  As a result of the change and in keeping with the Plan, there will no longer be a
Director of Parks and Recreation position.  We ask for your cooperation throughout this change,
and thank  Ms. Sally Mole for her 20  years of dedicated service to the  community and the District of Tofino.
Media Contact
The District of Tofino

 What the press release doesn't say is that Sally Mole was fired with no notice after work on Friday.It doesn't state the these "organizational changes" were initiated by Bob Long and Jerry Berry when John Fraser was Mayor.This certainly looks like a settling of scores rather than "organizational change"
 The press release doesn't explain why it was necessary to fire Sally Mole when the Mayor and the CAO only have a few weeks left in Tofino.
 The press release doesn't explain why all this took place in secret in-camera meetings with zero public input.
I do know that Mayor and all councillors voted unanimously to eliminate the position of Parks and Rec Director effectively firing Sally Mole.
 Please contact your Mayor and councillors and ask them to explain why they voted for this.When  the severance package is taken into account along with an increase in wages to some employees there will be no saving of tax dollars.If a court case ensues it will likely cost the District of Tofino a considerable amount. Given Tofino's record with Yew Wood and Rosie Bay let's hope this can be avoided.
 Some councillors and the Mayor have blamed the blog for the high turnover rate at the District but this is something they've done on their own and they've done Tofino's reputation as an employer a huge disservice.

   Who in their right mind would want to work here when they can be fired with no notice after twenty year's service ? Who would want to be CAO or Deputy Clerk or Public Works Foreman when you can be blindsided by "organizational change" or simply harassed out of your job?? Anyone applying should talk to Mike Papuk or Dorothy Ng or Roberta Martell or Jennifer Robb before they make long term plans.........

 Some councillors have suggested to me that Sally Mole's work was unacceptable but that is certainly not what I have heard from the community.Please contact your Mayor and councillors and remind them that they work for you and that their voting on matters such as this should reflect your wishes.