The city doesn’t want you to know who its bureaucrats are, so the Examiner is giving you all their names, email addresses and phone numbers

The city doesn’t want you to know who’s working for you.

Over the past few years there has been a concerted effort to hide the names and faces of city bureaucrats from the public. I’m not talking about the men and women working out on the streets and rec centres; rather, I’m talking about the managers, the people in charge. These people are paid by us, the citizens, and they work for us, the citizens. We are ultimately their bosses. And yet we can’t know who they are.

Let’s follow the change through the years, as represented on the city’s website and caught on the Internet Wayback Machine.

First, here’s what the website looked like in 2005:

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Note that the webpage clearly identifies then-Chief Administrative officer George McLellan, complete with a photo, his job description, the names and phone numbers of the people who work in his office. Further down (not shown in the screenshot above), the page also gives the name and photo of McLellan’s deputy, Dan English, and lists English and his assistants’ names and phone numbers.

Elsewhere on the website in 2005, you could find the names, photos and short biographies of all the city directors:

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This practice of openly naming city directors, showing us their pictures, and telling us a little about them continued right through to May 22, 2012, when all the above information was still provided for the CAO, the deputy CAO, and all the city directors.

But sometime later in 2012, a curious thing happened: the photo of Chief Administrative Officer Richard Butts disappeared. The photos of the city directors, however, remained. In the screenshots below, the lefthand capture comes from May 22, 2012, while the righthand capture comes from August 5, 2012. (For clarity sake, I only used the photos of the first two directors, Brad Anguish and Greg Keefe, but the other four are similar.)

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by October 23, 2012, the directors’ photos were removed as well:

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But maybe photos aren’t necessary, right? We still had the bureaucrats’ names, so at least we knew who was working for us, even if we didn’t know exactly what they looked right. So not a huge loss.

Well, maybe. But the last time I can find the listings for the CAO and city directors is April 4, 2014. On May 28, 2014, the city launched its “refreshed” website, which included the new city logo and other so-called improvements. There’s much to criticize about the new site, including that had you bookmarked any of the old pages, your bookmarks were now useless.

Another big change in the new website was that even the names of the directors are missing. It is possible to find them, but they’re not all collected in one place — you have to search for the position and then go through each of the pages and guess if the person listed is actually the person who holds the position now.

For example, say you want to know who the Director of Finance is. If you search for “Director of Finance,” here’s what you get for results:

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Clicking through on the top few search results you can see that Ron Singer was the Director of Finance in 1986 in the town of Bedford — I have no idea why that’s one of the top results, but it might be because a couple of years ago I was searching for the state of Bedford’s finances when Peter Kelly was mayor of the town.

Anyway, clicking through a few more of the top search results you can find a more recent reference to the Director of Finance from as recently as November 25, 2014, and that lists Greg Keefe in the position. So you might reasonably guess that Keefe is still the Director of Finance.

But you’d be wrong. Greg Keefe has retired, and Bruce Fisher is now the Acting Director of Finance. I just happen to know that because I’m a reporter, but I have no idea how anyone using the city webpage could discover that.

There is a concerted effort to make the city bureaucracy faceless and nameless. The public isn’t supposed to know who is in their employ. If you’ve got a problem, you’re supposed to call a similarly nameless call centre employee at 311, or call your councillor. It’s none of your business who actually does the work that you pay taxes for.

This is ridiculous and wrong.

We should know who our public servants are. So as a public service, the Halifax Examiner is publishing the organizational chart of the city bureaucracy, complete with the job titles, names, email addresses and phone numbers of all the senior and mid-level city managers, and graphic representations of how they report to each other.

To download the city organizational chart, click here.

I believe this chart is about six months old. If any city employee could send me a more updated organizational chart, I’ll publish that without naming who provided it to me.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Perhaps the disappearance of the photos and then the names of the senior staff of the city are related to the changes to the logo… H/\LIF/\X. Ahh, branding and similar horseshit. Nice work, Tim.

  2. Excellent post again Tim, but I do feel a bit queasy about the cell numbers being included, as these are likely carried around by everyone 24/7, much like I did when I worked at my previous jobs. Should their office numbers be sufficient for the public to know?

  3. Hey just wanted you to know the chart might be more than six months old as at least one of the staff in the clerks office have been retired for at least a year..