At some point, enough ordinary people will have had enough

As a member of the Royal BC Museum Society I recently received the following note from the RBCM Board Chair.

You may have read media stories around Professor Jack Lohman’s employment contract, which was negotiated in good faith over two and half years ago. As Board Chair, I want to be clear that Professor Lohman has the Board’s full support and that we feel very fortunate to have him leading the Royal BC Museum. He is a strong representative of the values of public service and has an impeccable record. On behalf of the Board, I am sorry that our fine organization is currently under some negative scrutiny. I want to assure you that as a public sector organization, we are committed to transparency and accountability and will  do our best to properly fulfill changing policy guidelines issued by government.

We have a lot of exciting initiatives in progress under Jack’s strong leadership and I look forward to us working together to fulfill the museum’s vision.

Yours sincerely,

Suromitra Sanatani
Board Chair, Royal BC Museum

It seems that during the hiring process of the new CEO of the RBCM in 2012 the rules with respect to spending in the hiring process of executives in British Columbia taxpayer funded organizations created a problem so the best way around this was to hide any additional monies needed to bring the “best” candidate in. Please read Les Leyne’s article – I am not making this up.

Now I am not suggesting that the new CEO is or is not the right person and he alone should be kept out of this discussion. Any further discussion about his abilities and/or competency is moot and becomes a distraction in this conversation. The real issue is that it seems that either the rules around money in the hiring process are either too restrictive for the type of hiring being conducted with taxpayer monies (Hmm ask the teachers about restrictive rules) or it is a case of who cares about the rules at the top end and if we want person “X” then we do whatever is needed to hire the person and just hide what was done to accomplish this task. After all, the task was to hire the best person – and gee aren’t we lucky to have such a great person.

BUT WAIT – when all of this backhanded behaviour is brought to the public’s attention we quickly talk about transparency and accountability and “changing policy guidelines issued by government”. Ahh come on – there is no hiding behind corporate double speak at this point – after all, first we find out about the behaviours of the board at Kwantlen Polytech and now the RBCM. There is a pattern here and I am sure at some point the public will hear of another magical hire with taxpayer monies.

Please Ms Board Chair of RBCM do not play fast with your words and do not disrespect your membership. I do not question the character of the current CEO and I also believe that the RBCM is a world class organization. I do believe however that the board’s behaviours are suspect and that you make this situation worse by weaving in language such as transparency and accountability and this only serves to suggest a level of obfuscation in your letter. Let us separate the actions of the board from the organization as a whole.

I was taught, as I believe most of us were that we “cut our cloth accordingly” (my mother’s words) however it seems that in the power circles of this province this rule does not apply. Dear Ms Premier – if you want the teachers and every other citizen to work with you and you want all of us to work for a common good then this must apply to everyone in this province. We know that it does not apply to all because each new day we find egregious examples of disrespect for our systems and an apparent belief that there are multiple sets of rules for different classes of citizens in this province. Examples from Kwantlen Polytech and the RBCM are just symptoms of a much larger problem in this province.

Let me try some words that might ring a bell for some: how about trust, ethics, and respect. We have done a fine job of twisting what is meant by these terms but let’s cut the crap and recognize that most of us do understand the truth and do understand the difference between the truth and the twisted language of politics and corporate double speak.

Yes, at some point enough ordinary people will have had enough.


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