Public service is noble work. People might scoff at the use of that word. If a person doesn’t see the job as a noble calling – they are perhaps not in the right industry.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 27th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There has been a lot of material published in the Gazette on the Red Carpet Red Tape initiative that Mayor Marianne Meed Ward brought to city hall.

The Small Business Sector, the Large Manufacturers, the Developer and Real Estate and the Rural Sector all had strong points to make and serious concerns that they wanted addressed.

In the midst of all this is a full time staff that comes to work each day

Moral at city hall cannot be very high. Staff have seen four city managers in a six year period and are now directed by an interim who had some prior experience with city hall; the planning department has seen huge changes, engineering had to deal with The Pier fiasco.

City hall - older pic

Is it the building or the people who work in it that are the problem? Something isn’t right.

Roy Male, a former Executive Director of Human Resources was an active advocate of the municipal sector as a great place to work.

But there are not that many people who will rave about the service they get from city hall. Some of the decisions are just plain stupid.

The Gazette has worked with people in a number of departments and we can say that there are some very good people toiling away on behalf of the public. We have watched a number of those people grow in their jobs, become more skilled and more mature. There are some who are not going to make the grade and there are some who found the environment was just not for them and moved on.

We talked recently to a staffer who moved from a department in city hall to a city service that had operations elsewhere.  He was a happier man and loving the job he was doing.

We talked to one planner who moved into the private sector after saying “the Mayor threw me under the bus”.

Municipalities are where we live, the quality of day to day life is determined to a large degree by the people who work for the city.

We need to be proud of them and they need to give us reason to be proud.

These are good jobs, with good pay scales and great benefits. People who work for a municipality are in place to serve the public. These are not just ordinary jobs – public service is noble work. People might scoff at the use of that word. If a person doesn’t see the job as a noble calling – they are perhaps not in the right industry.

One resident with a high profile and some valuable city hall experience gave serious thought to running for Mayor and decided the place was just too toxic and not likely to change.

Jeff Fielding did his best while he was city manager to create a different ethic and attitude.  When he got an opportunity to work for the city of Calgary which has a great civic administration and one of the best mayors in the country he couldn’t pack fast enough.  He loved the city, returns frequently to play golf with friends – he just might decide to retire in Burlington.

The most recent full time city manager once wrote staff a memo saying that he “had their backs” referring to comments made by the public during the October election.  The role of a city manager is to ensure that the people working under his direction are always accountable to the public.

The objective is to get to the point where a city hall staff member asks: What can I do for you today?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

Related article:

What has been learned so far from the Red Carpet initiative?

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1 comment to Public service is noble work. People might scoff at the use of that word. If a person doesn’t see the job as a noble calling – they are perhaps not in the right industry.

  • david barker

    I wonder why some see working in public service, whether as an employee or as an elected official us seen as being any more noble than any other occupation. I believe those public employees or elected officials do what they do because it suits them in terms of pay, benefits, enjoyment, ability to utilize talents; and in the case of elected officials – power. Those working in private industry or in the professions likely look for the same from their workday. How is a professional providing high quality advice, or a tradesman providing high quality craftsmanship any less noble?

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