Organizationally - this is part of what city hall is going to look like.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 15th, 2019



Along with the decision to move Angela Morgan out of the Clerk’s office and have her head up a new Customer Service initiative the city manager released a new organization chart and a new configuration for the Clerk’s Office once a new Clerk has been hired.

The organization chart set out below:

Corporate structure Nov 2109

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald: probably the most effective front line staffer the city has. She came into a department that was in rough shape facing a work load that was beyond anything the city had ever seen.

Heather MacDonald will serve as the Executive Director of Planning, Regulation and Mobility; Allan Magi will serve as Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services while Angela Morgan will serve as the Executive Lead of the Customer Experience.

Commisso alone

Tim Commisso sits at his space in council where he observes and speaks when the direction of the discussion needs a bit of a reset or course direction. Said to be a “nice guy” – but he is no pussy cat.

Tim Commisso explains that the executive lead will have strategic management and operational decision making within their direct the scope of  responsibilities.   Their authority however is still at a staff level and they all report to me directly.  The EDs will be part of a New Strategy and Risk Senior Management Team that will regularly report to Council on matters related to corporate strategy and risk management;  the Vision to Focus Work-plan will be one of their major focal points.

The title Executive Lead is used for the Customer Experience initiative as it involves leading both both a major corporate project  (CRM implementation) and well as ongoing functional responsibilities including Service Burlington.  The position is new, will be in place for next three years and is a result of redeployment of an existing staff complement position.

The Executive Director of Strategy, Risk and Accountability is currently being advertised.

Every city manager puts their thumb print on the way they think the administrative and service delivery side of the things should be managed.

Tim Commisso recently told the Gazette that he will not be a front line hands on manager.  He will work at the strategic level and give staff every opportunity to strut their stuff and show what they can do.

City manager Jeff Fielding: About to put his stamp on the way the city has to be run.

Former City manager Jeff Fielding: certainly put his stamp on the way the city has to be run. But he left before the glue on the stamp took hold.

It’s certainly a different approach that Jeff Fielding brought to Burlington and radically different than what James Ridge saw as the way to get things done.  Fielding left for greener pastures and served as the City Manager in Calgary for five years and returned to Ontario where he serves as Chief of Staff for Toronto city manager Chris Murray, who was prior to moving to Toronto the city manager for Hamilton.

In the municipal world it is a game of musical chairs – except in the municipal world everyone gets a chair.

Developing a career in the municipal sector has been a challenge for those who work in Burlington.  The significantly different leadership styles that have existed for the past five years is unsettling at best.  The lower salary rates doesn’t keep people in Burlington for long and the cost of housing doesn’t help either.



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8 comments to Organizationally – this is part of what city hall is going to look like.

  • The problem the city manger faces is that he has to be in the trenches because he doesn’t have the bench strength to run the different departments. Some of the weaker or misguided senior staff have found the exit door – there are still four for sure, maybe five, that need to look for something else to do.

  • Stephen White

    If the purpose of the reorganization was to foster transparency and better understanding I’m not sure this goal will be readily achieved.

    First, simple is better. Calling something “Mobility” is not as clear as “Transit”. Similarly, “Capital Works” is not as clearly understood as “Infrastructure”. “Corporate Strategic Support” is really “Administration”. Clarity comes, in part, from using precise and commonly understood terminology.

    Second, it is still unclear what “Executive Lead – Customer Experience” is supposed to do. If the mandate of this group is “Strategic Planning” then call it “Strategic Planning”, and then move the Manager of Strategic Planning and Analysis under it. You could then move the Director of Communications and Government Relations into Administration, along with Risk and Accountability. Then, the City Manager’s Office could do what the City Manager should be doing which is providing oversight and direction instead of handling routine operational matters.

  • Mike Ettlewood

    Errata and Addendum:

    It’s MaryLou Tanner not “Louise” – not quite sure where the latter came from. But a fourth comment on the City Manager’s stated management style – “he will work at the strategic level and give staff every opportunity to strut their stuff and show what they can do”. This is all very good in a high performing organization but, arguably, that is not how most observers would characterize the current City Hall culture. It is one that needs strong direction from a Chief Executive who gets involved and who’s presence is felt throughout the building – from the ‘planning bench’ to the front lines. So far, it has been difficult to sense Mr. Commisso’s “strategic” presence.

  • Mike Ettlewood

    Several Comments briefly:

    First, it would be extremely helpful and a marker of a true ‘customer-centric’ organization if the charts included in this article were posted on the COB website with the ability to drill down on each organizational box to learn the program/operational purpose of the position, the name of the incumbent and the applicable contact information (phone #, email etc.).

    Next, and just a sidebar – as stated in the article, “the title Executive Lead is used for the Customer Experience initiative as it involves leading both a major corporate project (CRM implementation) as well as ongoing functional responsibilities including Service Burlington. The position is new, will be in place for the next three years and is a result of redeployment of an existing staff complement position”. Can we say – thank you Louise Tanner for contributing your complement to the cause? Best thing that you ever did IMO.

    Finally, what an exceedingly odd choice of incumbent for this new position. Ms. Morgan, again IMO, has not distinguished herself as City Clerk, has not shown the attention to detail and delivery needed for implementing a complex CRM initiative and has certainly never been ‘client-friendly’. So, with these caveats aside, I suppose that she is an ideal candidate.

    • “Has never been client friendly” is an understatement … trying to obtain public information that we eventually got and showed disregard for the Municipal Elections Act criteria for filed and thus certified nomination papers saw us escorted out of the Clerk’s office and then tailed for several months by Security.

      We used the public information in an audit which was agreed at a webcast Audit Committee Meeting (Dec. 2016) would go on the February, 2017 Audit Committee agenda. We publicized our success in a Burlington Post ad at a personal cost of $800 to encourage taxpayers attendance. However, the draft was pulled from the December Council meeting and the final from the February Audit Committee. When we asked when it was going back on the agenda we received a Trespass Letter to be enforced by Halton Region Police if we stepped foot in City Hall for the next two years. Ridge claimed there had been an external investigation and our audit was considered harassment! We were never interviewed by an external investigator and whoever the investigator was is a City of Burlington closely guarded secret. A down turn in health prevented taking legal action.

      Dave’s legislation audit skills were used by Halton Police and the Crown to make Halton a safer place when his audits were used by a present Halton Deputy Chief and the new Chief of Peele Police to get warrants from a JP. They also got a huge amount of money put back into the coffers of the public corporation he worked for after the police failed to recover a single penny. Anne’s have garnered references from a national organization, a respected family lawyer and many more. The paper based on her audits in the health care industry were selected for use in an international conference’s education tool! Using her legislation compliance audit skills to assist Muslim families at odds with CAS saw several children returned to their families and a very grateful Toronto Muslim community. We do what we do as practising Christians who believe faith without works is dead and are encouraged by “Work for the benefit of the city to which I have sent you.” Jeremiah 29 vs. 7.

  • Etts Price

    One thing that MUST not be forgotten and needs to be integrated into ANY customer contact situation, is that a lot of Seniors do not use the Internet. These large numbers of residents and opinions often slip through the cracks of surveys and both information gathering and relating.

  • Perryb

    Before I retired (nearly 20 years ago), I was quite involved in the newly defined concept of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The idea of supporting the people at the customer interface with an integrated software system was very powerful. But even then we realized that all the best processes and software In the world would not work unless the bureaucratic culture using it is compatible. “The customer is #1” had to be more than a slogan. Unfortunately, many bureaucracies view the customer as a raw material, with the end products being smooth functioning of the bureaucracy, as well as its survival and growth. So the real challenge is to ensure that the culture is compatible, and if it is not, to evolve in that direction. One can only hope that this new organization can achieve this. (PS — staff operating in an effective customer service environment find their work challenging and fulfilling.)

    • David

      A company I used to own had a division that reconfigured work stations for some of the more major corporations, after Twenty Five years of them reorganizing, streamlining or consolidating their Accounting, Customer services and or sales Dept’s, One of the my long term employees wryly mentioned to me that nearly every one of our corporate customers after twenty five years of moving about are pretty much all physically moved back where they all started from albeit with different CEO’s, managers and staff.

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