Exclusive: Penny’s peeps party

Fired city manager feted on a Friday at yacht club

After various high-profile departures, ex-city manager Penny Ballem became known for her “my way or the highway” management style at Vancouver city hall. Her reign as the most-powerful and polarizing bureaucrat at 12th and Cambie abruptly ended Sept. 15 when the Vision Vancouver-majority city council sent her packing with a $556,000 golden parachute.

More than two months later, various staffers gathered at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club for a Nov. 20 party in her honour and to give her custom-made City of Vancouver street signs attached to the same pole: “Penny Ballem Way 2015” and “The Highway.”

An 11:41 p.m. Nov. 20 Facebook post by city labour negotiator Kevin Jeske included the caption: “So fortunate to have been able to work with and learn from such an amazing human being. Freakishly smart; demanding yet compassionate; selfless and tireless. Thank you Penny.”

Ballem (left) and Jeske (Facebook)
Ballem (left) and Jeske (Facebook)

Ballem protege and interim city manager Sadhu Johnston said the street signs were paid for by staff and the party was ticketed, with a cash bar. “No cost to taxpayers for the party or the gifts,” said Johnston, who attended the event.

Johnston said staff cannot be reimbursed for the event: “100% of the expenses for the event were paid for by the participants.”

The street signs would have been rather inexpensive. The city website offers custom-made souvenir street signs for sale, ranging from $35 to $81 each.

Ballem was appointed Vancouver city manager without competition by Mayor Gregor Robertson in December 2008. City hall refuses to release minutes of the Sept. 15 in camera meeting and we don’t know what precisely caused the firing. According to Robertson’s calendar, he met with Ballem from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 14. They also met on Sept. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.



2 thoughts on “Exclusive: Penny’s peeps party

  1. e.a.f.

    “anointing” such a senior staffer with a position, with out competition was simply dumb. it is one thing to appoint your friends, but when he did that it was a tad blatent. Now of course, Robertson did want some one who could carry out his wishes, without having to do the dirty work himself. so whatever Bellim did, she most likely did with his permission. Now there is someone else in the job, who most likely has a better “bedside” manner.

    Visions has been the government of Vancouver for some time now and I certainly wouldn’t call them “green”, more like a developers best friend. we can only hope the viaduct doesn’t come down. it is almost impossible to move around in the city during rush hour, which is now almost all the time. It is all well and good to try to make the city Green and Vehicle unfriendly, but people still need to do business in town and rapid transit in the burbs does not permit people to use it and get on with their lives in a timely manner. Now that Penny has hit the highway, perhaps Megs will do the same, in the next election along with Robertson. t/here ought to be more focus on affordable housing for working people. It would be ever so easy All the city of Vancouver has to do is what New West. did. Pass a by law which requires developers to build a percentage of family units in their buildings. That means 2 and 3 bedroom units with in unit storage for kid’s bikes. There are many who might move closer to work, if they were able to do so The cost of gas, is enough to put some p.eople much closer to work, if the housing was available.

    At some point the city will not be able to draw businesses to the area, they won’t be able to bring managers in because of the lack of affordable housing. Family apartments are an alternative to individual houses.

    good riddance to Penny, now if Meggs and Robertson left it might be a much better day. then city works can paint over some of those green bike lanes and cars can move. some of those bike lanes on high hills, never saw anyone one them.

  2. George Brissette

    Prior to Ms. Ballem’s endorsement of closing Point Grey Road to non-local vehicle traffic thus creating the virtual gated community that resulted in further inflated real estate values for property owners along the revised ‘ Golden Mile ‘ Ms. Ballem supported the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s expansion of it’s vehicle parking lot to accommodate today’s newer and larger fossil-fuel burning luxury vehicles.
    The expanded parking lot combined with relaxed liquor by-laws, endorsed by all Vancouver City Councillors, also just happens to aid the RVYC in generating more revenue from building/facility/ground rentals.
    What’s needed now from the RVYC, the COV, it’s unions or Vision is a breakdown of how many attendees arrived by fossil-fuel burning vehicle or cycled to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club for the galla galla doo.
    The Public already knows that none arrived via a ride-share service.


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