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SteelTown
Mar 17, 2010, 11:22 AM
City manager overhauls entire team

March 17, 2010
Andrew Dreschel
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/738646

In a major shakeup, city hall's top bureaucrat is tearing down and rebuilding his entire staff team from the ground up.

City manager Chris Murray is moving to hire two new influential advisers to help guide the city's priorities. He's letting all his existing staff go and making them reapply if they want to keep their jobs. And he's bringing the city's legal department under his wing.

Murray says the shuffle will provide stronger support to council for key strategic initiatives such as the Pan Am Games and the push to bring light rail to Hamilton.

The reorganization, which has council's blessing, includes hiring a new senior adviser of inter-governmental affairs to connect with Queen's Park and Ottawa.

It will also involve a new director of corporate initiatives to be Murray's right hand.

Rumours are already humming that rising stars David Adames, head of tourism and the city's Pan Am Games pointman, and Jill Stephen, director of strategic planning and rapid transit, may apply to be Murray's lieutenant.

"I'd be surprised if they didn't apply," Murray said. "Those are very talented folks.

"I think there are other good people in the organization who will be applying, too."

The new hires will add more dollars to the city manager's $1-million budget, but there is no net increase in cost to the municipality because the money will be re-allocated from other departments.

Murray says the new director of corporate initiatives will help him with day-to-day matters and support strategic plans to move the community forward.

The salary range for that job is $105,000 to $124,000. The range for intergovernmental affairs adviser is $95,000 to $112,000.

Murray says five existing jobs in his office -- including project manager and communications positions -- will be massaged to include new duties.

The jobs have all been posted and current staffers have been encouraged to re-apply for them. Those who aren't rehired will be shuffled into other departments.

All postings are open to both external and internal candidates.

Murray rejects the idea that the move shows a lack of confidence in his staff.

"I work with great people and I hope that every one of them does apply."

Nonetheless, he's clearly looking to put a fresh, perhaps more dynamic face on his office, which is responsible for the overall running of the city's departments, developing corporate policy and providing advice to council.

It's understood that at least one councillor believes Murray's hiring of an intergovernmental affairs adviser duplicates the work performed by Mary Devorski in the mayor's office. But according to Mayor Fred Eisenberger, Devorski handles the political side of senior governments, while Murray's new hire will be the city's "eyes and ears" in their bureaucracies.

Eisenberger says the city has tended to be underserviced in this area. He's glad to see more attention given to the development of federal and provincial policies that could affect Hamilton.

"I don't think we can do enough of it, to be honest with you."

Murray agrees. He says the city's drive for light rail, for example, is all about government relations and making sure all political parties in the province know why it's important to Hamilton.

"This is not about duplicating the great work in the mayor's office. This is about having someone that I can turn to who is very much in touch with the administrative side."

Murray became city manager about 14 months ago. He says he waited to launch the reorganization until he had properly familiarized himself with the job.

Having bided his time, he now seems to have the bit firmly between his teeth. He hopes to wrap up all the hirings by the end of April or early May.

SteelTown
Mar 17, 2010, 11:23 AM
Would be great if Jill Stephen became the senior adviser of inter-governmental affairs. It would be her job to get Queen's Park on board with LRT funding for the B-Line.

realcity
Mar 17, 2010, 1:11 PM
This is good. Bold daring move by Murray but good for him good for Hamilton

matt602
Mar 17, 2010, 6:00 PM
Indeed, it's time for a shake up. Maybe this city is finally going to get somewhere now.