Withholding Information Is Not Greatness: BENN


Saturday columnist Ron Benn disagrees with new city manager Wendy Stephanson’s definition of greatness.

Some words of advice from my mother. If you have nothing good to say about someone, say nothing at all.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t lie through your teeth. Sorry mom, but while I agree with the general tenure of your advice, not this time.

Former city manager Steve Kanellakos’ leadership style involved limiting the quantity and quality of information provided to council: the component of local government with the statutory obligation of oversight of the management of city hall. Think about that for a moment. He willfully circumvented the statutory internal controls of the organization that of which he was the manager.

That is not just my opinion. It was the opinion of the provincial LRT inquiry. So many instances were found that the inquiry publicly censured Kanellakos for acts of egregious malfeasance.

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Kanellakos did not act alone. No, he worked with others, including then OC Transpo general manager John Manconi, then former mayor Jim Watson and other members of the city hall management group in these acts. He actively participated in a WhatsApp group that willfully circumvented the city’s on-line documentation systems.

Very simply put, Kanellakos’ leadership style was to actively encourage and participate in acts of subterfuge, the purpose of which was to not be held accountable. And his successor, Wendy Stephenson, considers that leadership style to be great?

In what might have been a “throw-away line” in an interview, Wendy Stephenson endorsed the very behaviour that forced Kanellakos out of city hall. A clear signal to all in city hall that it is business as usual. As usual being to continue to under report, to withhold critical information, to hold council in open contempt.

A mature council would ask Stephenson for clarification. They would ask if her apparent admiration for her predecessor is indicative of her intent to continue his style of leadership. That is, of willfully withholding the information required by council to fulfill its statutory obligations of oversight.

OLG odds are that no one on council will take her to task. Neither in private nor in public. Such is the quality of council. I truly hope that at least one councillor proves me wrong.





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