Yukon News

Whitehorse council fires city manager

Ashley Joannou Wednesday March 15, 2017

Alastair Maitland/Yukon News

citymanager.jpg

Whitehorse city manger Christine Smith was let go March 14

Whitehorse’s top bureaucrat has been let go.

Late March 14, city hall issued a press release stating that the city “has revoked the appointment of Christine Smith as city manager, effective immediately.”

Mayor Dan Curtis said Smith was fired without cause but wouldn’t go into any detail, calling it a “personnel matter.”

He thanked Smith for her work.

The city manager reports directly to city council and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city.

Curtis said council met at a public meeting March 14 at 5 p.m. and voted to revoke Smith’s appointment. The news release announcing Smith’s removal came out moments later.

City spokesperson Jessica Apolloni, said notice of the special meeting was posted on the bulletin board inside city hall 24 hours before the meeting took place. That is the minimum requirement under the bylaw, she said.

Linda Rapp, the director of community and recreation services, will be acting city manager until an interim city manager is appointed by council, the press release says.

“We’re going to be as timely and efficient as possible (when hiring a new city manager.) But we have incredible bench strength at the City of Whitehorse,” the mayor said.

Whitehorse’s city manager is appointed by council through a bylaw.

Smith was hired in March 2014.

She previously worked as director of community affairs for the Yukon government.

Smith was born in Calgary but lived in Whitehorse and Faro for parts of her childhood. She graduated high school at F.H. Collins Secondary School.

According to the city manager bylaw, which was amended in 2015, Smith’s salary is somewhere between between $175,000 and $195,000 a year.

The bylaw lays out how much the city pays a city manager if they are fired without cause.

In Smith’s case she is entitled, in lieu of notice, to six months’ base salary for her first year of employment and two additional weeks of base salary for every additional year she was on the job.

Contact Ashley Joannou at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This post was updated to correct an incorrect date and add additional information. 

30 Comments

Think about it wrote:
4:30pm Wednesday March 22, 2017

“You’re kidding me ” you are absolutely correct. To those who want an explanation , think about it for a minute. The manager was exceptionally well paid and her contract included a provision to be terminated without cause. That was part of the deal. If the city started enunciating a reason, then it’s no longer “without cause” is it? Then we’d embark down the road of unfair dismissal and lawsuits. Is that what you want?

booger eater wrote:
7:29am Wednesday March 22, 2017

@ are you kidding me, We have every right to complain. I am guessing that You are in , and I will put in a” upper management position” and believe the buck stops with you and the hell with the common folk just shut up and pay right? Just too much of that elitist attitude with us the common folk paying the bill, and being told to shut up about it!

You're kidding me wrote:
2:40pm Tuesday March 21, 2017

Not one of you is owed an explanation. You can get on your high horse all you want and say that because you pay taxes you have a right to know the details of this highly personal situation. The fact is it’s none of your business. It’s a workplace matter. Keep your nose out of it. Move on.

People of the City of Whitehorse wrote:
12:20pm Tuesday March 21, 2017

we need to get our city, into optimization operation mode. Starting with the cost of services. Why servicing costs keep going up/ City tax payers need to have a say in where their capital dollars are spend.
City will not supply budget documents, so tax payers can see where the City is spending its money.
Castle on the hill would be evaluated in the form of needs operationally.
City staff need to know what is expected of them.
When the City operation, is continues turmoil, than it is not operating properly, costing tax payer lots of money, that needs some direction.  Wilf Carter

Carbon neutral wrote:
10:44am Tuesday March 21, 2017

@theotherside I totally agree. Calling it karma and going back to those two managers is just a distraction. Christine Smith is saying she never got any reasons, which I believe the bylaw says should be delivered. The two managers never said that, they seemed to be bound to confidentiality. Regardless of the wisdom of that decision, due process didn’t seem to be an issue.

I can’t really make sense of the timeline here, and that’s frustrating in a city with three media outlets. The timeline or the process. Just because council is saying it’s a personnel matter, doesn’t mean there’s not some outstanding questions they shoul answer. What do they mean, they voted? Why did they get to vote on a bylaw at one meeting? What else can they vote on in that manner?

Personally, I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference in the way the city worked before or after she got hired. But a council building this record of letting managers go is creating problems with their reputation that they don’t need to.

the otherside wrote:
7:14pm Monday March 20, 2017

I required the same transparency for the other managers being fired…but this is not about them.The info i require now is about this instance. Deflecting by combining the two has no merit in this occasion.They are two separate instances and required two separate answers at two separate times.Stick to this story…the other is only to be relived in its own forum another time.

Can some one wrote:
11:54am Monday March 20, 2017

find out if the City of Whitehorse has three law suits against it.
How law suits have the City of Whitehorse faced in the last five years and why.
Wrongful dismal would be some of them.  Wilf Carter

Harry Flieck wrote:
8:05am Monday March 20, 2017

  Wilf for Mayor. I think you’ve definitely got the experience and qualifications for what it takes. Look at it this way ( could you do any worse?). Would you cancel the unnecessary resort on the hill that has soared in costs to 90 million and is not even approved as yet. Restore our stolen surplus fund that was also obtained under false pretences ( excess taxation by gouging) that was not intended for capital projects and wish lists of Mayor and council. Horribly run dump without free store and the highest tipping fees that are 10X what southerners pay. Ridiculous inefficient transit system that would be run much differently by a private contractor. Dumb little traffic circles plugging up traffic flow in quiet neighbourhoods.
Is there room for improvement? Yes, in many areas. To those conscientious City employees that get smeared with this same brush of incompetence, I’m sorry. Keep up the good work.

Ed Mikolas wrote:
10:02pm Sunday March 19, 2017

I lived and worked in Whitehorse years ago. Found the people great and the city was a good place to live and enjoy life. Plan to come this summer to visit the city.  Hope all good things happen to the Yukon. One of my favorite places.

My Suggestion wrote:
6:19pm Sunday March 19, 2017

I think we should ask mayor and council to tell us why Christine was fired at the Town Hall meetings.

Maybe they will have to pay more in severance if they do but its important to us and they do work for us. They are many explanations out there and some do not loo good for council thus they need to come clean as far as transparency which has been promised many times.

All Useless wrote:
12:39am Saturday March 18, 2017

you people and your boring lives.  nothing going on in this town so you have to manufacture drama at every turn.  as if you couldnt find better things to do with our money and your time.  instead you waste it whilst accomplishing basically next to nothing.  you’re all useless.  couldn’t manage your way out of a wet paper bag with a butter knife.  zero vision, zero accountability, ZERO respect!

james wrote:
8:54am Friday March 17, 2017

Good job Mayor. She fired 2 people right off the bat. Two really good managers for the city. Then she fires the Deputy Fire Chief for no reason at all. Glad she is gone.  (Theotherside), all three people she fired got no reason at all for being fired so stop being a baby. Hopefully the three people she fired will somehow make there way back into the city and get rid of some dead beat employees that need to go.

Unfortunate wrote:
8:22pm Thursday March 16, 2017

The CAO is responsible for the management of the City, but has to have a relationship with her Council. If there is a lack of confidence in the Manager then she should go. That said, seems to me that there are more respectful ways to mutually terminate a key position, allow for calm heads to prevail and for Mayor and Council to show leadership. If the CAO is saying it was a surprise and she was not a part of the discussion to do a smooth transition, then Mayor and Council get a huge FAIL… I think that the Mayor and Council have shown the inability to collaborate together and communicate effectively in Council meetings, so its not a stretch to see a problem brew and the CAO take the brunt of it. Lots of ego’s on Council with a couple exceptions.

Mandeep are you running for wrote:
4:28pm Thursday March 16, 2017

mayor position the next time? By your talk you are. What experience do you have in directing a government. What experience do you have in managing a municipality? Do have habit of hanging the phone up in some one ear, when thy don’t agree with you? Wilf Carter

DodgtDan wrote:
3:12pm Thursday March 16, 2017

I suspect that Curtis’ little chat with Edmonton Mayor Don Iverson last month covered some off-agenda items such as ‘how to fire your City Manager as cheaply as possible’. ( Iverson forked out 800,000 dollars for ex-Edmonton City Manager Farbrother’s severance last year ). Looks as Smith was a comparatively cheap severance !

Dan Curtis must go... wrote:
2:34pm Thursday March 16, 2017

and I pray that some viable and accomplished candidates step forward and the voters hand him his pink slip soon.

Mandeep wrote:
1:12pm Thursday March 16, 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJkRt6KqCp4

Just saying… I may not have worn a shirt and tie but my research is fairly solid + consistent.
No transparency + unaccountable for finances + not taking care of major infrastructure + poor government relations.

Thank you as always to the citizens of Whitehorse who allowed me the opportunity to run. However; it should be known that the next election will see people walking into a hornet’s nest of problems. The money + management + legal battles are just coming to the forefront.

Yukon Stan wrote:
11:25am Thursday March 16, 2017

Christine apparently does not even know why council wanted her gone.  That is unacceptable communication council; where was the direction,  and goals and objectives in performance appraisals.

This leaves another dark mark on mayor and council. This city is not well run.

WestofBelfast wrote:
10:18am Thursday March 16, 2017

Well good luck trying to recruit a suitable and qualified replacement.  Nobody in their right mind would take that job now.  Seems to me there was another guy who held the position for a short time after Dennis Shewfelt, but I can’t recall his reasons for leaving town.  Sounds like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen to me.

mike smith wrote:
9:45am Thursday March 16, 2017

Hey “the otherside”, she didn’t deliver a reason when she canned two long term senior managers, who were actually well liked and competent. What goes around comes around.

Happy Camper wrote:
9:20am Thursday March 16, 2017

I guess it is time to start a Yukon Sunshine list. Most of our territorial governments a very top heavy. http://www.whitehorse.ca/departments.
The city of Whitehorse has a $70M operating budget (http://www.whitehorse.ca/home/showdocument?id=6132)
One thing the budget does a poor job of splitting the $$ into labour, contractor, material, fuel, utility and material costs. From experience I would guess 40-60% of the city of Whitehorse spend is on labour. Food for thought…

booger eater wrote:
8:14am Thursday March 16, 2017

Everyone! The CAO is the only employee council has. Every other employee is the CAO’s. Thus the Firing of Fendrick, and of Crist was well within the authority of the CAO. They were probably management positions and had an employee contract. For no other reason other than they did not serve the mandate of council there contracts can be terminated. This what happened to Christine.

the otherside wrote:
10:08pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

They must deliver the reason for the firing. It will be criminal for insinuations and innuendo and hearsay to come up with all sorts of harmful collateral damage with the public jumping to conclusions.Not to mention the RIGHT TO KNOW.The silence could be extremely damaging to her..or to Curtis…or to council as the public’s imagination runs wild into all the possible deviant possibilities that occured at city hall….

Disgusted wrote:
7:35pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

This lands squarely at the feet of King Dan. He is incompetent and has to go

Tax Payer wrote:
4:22pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

Who is responsible for recruiting the City Manager?  Who is responsible for making sure that the candidate selected for the City Manager position has the credentials and the experience to run the City of Whitehorse?  The City let the last 2 City Managers go what did that cost the tax payers?  I can only surmise that they did not have the required MBA, municipal experience and maybe not the drive to make the City of Whitehorse the best place to live.

Hugh Mungus wrote:
4:13pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

Meanwhile Fendrick has a big grin on his face.  Karma always prevails.

ralpH wrote:
3:06pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

The minute a council looses confidence in, suspicious of, or feels intellectually in superior to the CAO They will be pushed out. In Christine’s case I am sure she did an excellent job and had the city’s best interests at heart. I know Her and worked with Her, no more willing and helpful person you will meet. If I was to lay blame it would be at the feet of this council. They simply did not heed advice they were given,and probably took offence with the fact, it did not flow with Their ideas on how the city should proceed. The ratepayer will bear the cost of this incompetence.

The people of the City of Whitehorse wrote:
1:33pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

are feed up with the lack of political management by the mayor over the last five years. He will not permit key financial information released to the public, which under section 236 states, the public has the right to access them. Is there some thing to hide?
Where is the City of Whitehorse optimization program, to make sure the City is cost effectively been managed properly and the budget is mostly effectively invested! Show tax payers of the City of Whitehorse, because there is none.  Wilf Carter

How many City of Whitehorse wrote:
1:27pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

City Managers have got fired or pushed out over the years? Lots? Why?

City Manager takes the fall wrote:
1:26pm Wednesday March 15, 2017

for major issues that have came out and bad spending.

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