My Advice to Future Mayors

Since completing my term as Mayor one year ago I have often been asked what advice I could give to future mayors. Here are some suggestions I could offer.

1. Develop a good relationship with civic union leaders immediately.
Early in my term I announced to senior staff that I was planning a courtesy meeting with civic union leaders. The advice I received back was emphatic. As the city was starting negotiations such a meeting could be disruptive. As I tried to do throughout my term I deferred to the experts on collective bargaining but asked them to inform me when the time was appropriate. This is I regret. I am not naive enough to believe that I could have prevented a strike. The longest and most bitter strike in the city’s history occurred under Mike Harcourt and a Council with close union connections. But I could have learned just how poisonous the relations had become between the union and some of the senior management.

2. Make sure false statements get corrected on the public record.
The unfortunate reality of democracy is there is a whole industry devoted to making the Mayor look bad. An example is the accusation that I tried to personally trademark Eco Density. You can find this allegation in many places including the editorials of this newspaper. I have actually found this claim amusing. No one has been able to tell me how someone could make money by having such a trademark. The only possible benefit would be to protect the city’s right to use it.

In Manhattan with David Owen

Thanks to an invitation from the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the support of the Rick Hansen Institute Lynn and I headed out to Manhattan with a copy of David Owen’s new book Green Metropolis in hand. The Reeve Gala was spectacular thanks to Henry Stifel, Vice President of both the Christopher Reeve Foundation and Morgan Stanley Bank. It is not often we get to chat with Meryl Streep and get our picture in the New York Times.

After I had finished my duties we explored the streets of Manhattan and the ideas of David Owen. Owen is a staff writer with the New Yorker Magazine who scandalized many environmentalists by stating that the most environmentally sustainable place in North America is New York City. This is counter-intuitive to most people and it is only when you actually measure the real impact of people on the planet that you realize he is right. By every measure of environmental Impact per capita New Yorkers do less damage to the planet than anyone else on the continent — and by a long shot. It is not because they are more environmentally concerned that the rest of us. They are famous for being concerned with commerce, free-market and making money. I rather doubt New Yorkers spend much time at all worrying about the planet. There is only one reason they far exceed the rest of us in environmental stewardship and that is high density.

Sam Sullivan: Are taxpayers at risk? No. Are Vancouver citizens? Yes.

Sam SullivanIn my fifteen years at Vancouver City Hall I have witnessed the Property Endowment Fund (PEF) make about $1.5 billion in real estate profits for Vancouverites. The PEF is the envy of cities from around the world, and it has created financial security for our city that you, me and the rest of the citizens of Vancouver will continue to benefit from.

What have you heard about this fund over the past 15 years? Probably nothing. No headlines. No press releases. An investment that has been extremely well-managed by our civil service, quietly accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars of value on behalf of the citizens of Vancouver is just not an item that will make the front page. But it’s a great success story.