Pathetic City Culture Perpetuated: THE VOTER

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This post is not directed at Kim Ayotte who appears to be an excellent example of service to the public and dedication to the City of Ottawa.

I must, unfortunately, include the qualifier “appears to be” since so many of those in Ottawa’s senior leadership cadre have, in spite of indications to the contrary, been shown to be not the best they could be.

In a normal civic administration, the recent rate of turnover in senior ranks would raise a concern about the loss of corporate memory. Observers of city management are, in many cases, glad to see a clearing out of the old guard that has brought us such calamities as the LRT, Lansdowne and the list goes on seemingly endlessly. We are actually in the rare situation where losing the knowledge of behavioral history and “how we do things around here” is actually a good thing.

It’s a sad thing that several vacancies have been filled from within with people who are immersed in Ottawa’s managerial culture and who have no interest in turning the page. That is, of course, made more serious by the fact that potential municipal leaders from other places know of the toxic morass that is the upper ranks in Ottawa’s bureaucracy and are choosing not to come here to work lest they be tainted with the reputation that pervades senior management. Many people who want to be able to continue to find employment don’t want a stint working-in-Ottawa on their resume. “Ottawa” is no longer an exciting and rewarding place to work and there are no guarantees that your career will survive a stint here.

The result of that is that positions continue to be filled from inside which perpetuates the problem and builds a growing downward spiral that is hard for anyone to escape. How do we solve this? I don’t know but not hiring the current city manager would have gone a long way to stopping the spiral as well as send the message to outsiders that there’s at least some interest here in disrupting the status quo.


There are some good people working at the city. You just have to get past a lot of others to find them and their lot is not easy.

The Voter is a respected community activist and long-time Bulldog commenter who prefers to keep her identity private.

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2 Responses

  1. Been There says:

    Excellent points and very well said Voter. Hiring a person that started in the mail room is seldom the best choice , if an organization is looking for a culture change.

  2. Paul says:

    A friend’s wife used to say “plant a potato, get a potato”.

    Outgoing city staff seem to have planted a lot of potatoes.

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