Integrity of office and public trust.
Yesterday morning I tweeted news that the City's top properties guy: Bill Aujla, manager of Real Estate and Facilities had tendered his resignation to go and work for the Aquilini Group as VP of Real Estate.
The news has garnered a lot of comment, mostly outrage and support for stronger lobbyist rules; but also defensiveness from the libertarian build-more-supply set who've suggested that 'rules' would put a chill on hiring top talent mangers at the City.
Firstly, I want to be clear: I've met with Bill Aujla on a few different projects and found him to very helpful and smart. I also found him to have a good social justice lens. I'm not questioning his character or ability.
My concern is the wild west of lobbying and political influence, and that there aren't strong enough rules to that effect.
I don't think its unreasonable for city staff to seek employment in the private sector after their tenure, but in the case of top managers, especially where they deal with highly sensitive and valuable information we need some rules.
The idea of rules isn't especially draconian or out of the ordinary. In the corporate world, non-disclosure arrangements, non-competition clauses, and "cooling off periods" are all par the course. Other governments have regulations in place to address "revolving door politics." in France, public officials who move between the public and private sectors are mandated a three-year wait between working in the government and taking a job in the private sector. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolving_door_(politics)]
Noteworthy that in Mr. Aujla's case, many of his meetings would have been "in camera" because if that information was made public, it would easily evoke a run on speculation and price gouging.
Big money influence, loose lobby rules, conflict of interest: it's the perception and well-warranted concern of these issues that has eroded public trust in city government.
These concerns are consistent with our Vancouver Green ethics: we voluntarily rejected developer and big money contributions and have been leading the charge for better whistleblower protection and conflict-of-interest rules.
PS. That Aquilini's have city's top real estate guy, former VPD chief, and at least two mayor candidates in their fold should be an obvious cause for concern.