If Mayor Gregor Robertson wanted the community led to believe that what looks like the firing of Deputy Chief License Inspector Carlene Robbins was not a firing, it would be convenient to assign the task to David McLellan. McLellan has demonstrated that lies are within his comfort zone, lies so persistent that police have been asked to conduct a fraud investigation.
McLellan is the City's General Manager of Community Services, a job in which he oversees Carnegie Centre where he has continued to allow fraudulent "security" reports about critics of City staff to be filed in the City security database, prompting a criminal complaint. He has also allowed Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty to keep her job -- Carnegie members fear her contract has been renewed -- despite the fact that she has repeatedly being caught lying to the media (lies which have been extensively covered on this blog), and she has deceptively used her role as a City bureaucrat to fundraise for the political organization, CCAP, an arm of COPE.
McLellan has apparently learned from his predecessor, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, who "resigned" (Downtown Eastside residents believe she was fired) after signing a letter linking her to the barring of an elected official from Carnegie based on manufactured evidence, a barring that continues under McLellan. McLellan simply evades communication with victims. Today was the first time victims heard his voice. He was on the radio.
The City has assigned McLellan the task of talking to the media about the sudden departure of Robbins from her job. The timing of the departure has raised questions, as it came after calls for an independent inquiry into the deaths of three men living in an East Van house where bylaw infractions were rampant. In an at times lackadaisical voice tone, McLellan, who is paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year, took the line during his CKNW radio interview that the departure of Robbins' was a resignation, not a firing.
If Robbins resigned, what about City staff saying, according to citycaucus.com, that Robbins' had been given an ultimatum: quit within a week or be fired. And what about Robbins retaining a lawyer, something that even McLellan admitted that he had heard, according to City Caucus. CKNW radio reported that Robbins had called her departure after 38 years of service, a "constructive dismissal", a phrase that is used when an employer makes an employee's work life so intolerable that she has little choice but to resign. McLellan, though, told CKNW that there had been no changes to Robbins' workplace situation.
It sounded to me from the radio interview -- I just heard a clip -- that McLellan was lying by omission. He said the fire had been caused by a faulty electrical cord, not a bylaw infraction, so there would have been no basis for firing Robbins. McLellan seemed to be concealing the fact that the City inspectors had written a report prior to the fire, a report since made public in which the heavy reliance on electrical cords in the house was identified as a safety hazard. The inspector wanted this risk remedied through the installation of more electrical outlets by the owner of the house. Sounds like a bylaw infraction to me. This safety concern is public knowledge, and surely would have been known to McLellan since he was the media spokesperson on the case.
The inspector's report had apparently not been ignored by Carlene Robbins. She and the Chief Building bureaucrat had been in regular communication with the owner of the flophouse. That's more communication than McLellan has ever had with victims of Carnegie abuses, even though there is evidence linking Carnegie barrings (and sexual exploitation) of clients with deaths.
Why isn't McLellan being fired?
Update: Robbins has since spoken to the Courier newspaper and indicated that she did not leave the City on the best of terms. "What I'm saying is that I am currently in a dispute with the city and I'm trying to resolve it privately."