Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A current of hubris in Mr. Hahn's replies

The recent study by the Comptroller General of BC, (commissioned by the BC Government) has raised a few hackles with BC Ferries President and CEO David Hahn.
As we outlined yesterday on the blog, the report into the workings of BC Ferries and Translink has caught the attention of the media and the public with it's detailed accounts on salaries and the inner workings of transportation in the province.

On Monday, Mr. Hahn finally offered up his thoughts on the report and for the most part he wasn't particularly impressed with the deliberations of Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland, who found fault with some of the procedures when it comes to the remuneration of top officials and board members at BC Ferries.

Hahn described the report in part as, biased, nonsense, craziness, and dumb, and those were the good parts.
Even those sections of the report that didn't deal with salaries, weren't well received. Where the Comptroller General outlined how the company was reasonably well managed, Mr. Hahn wasn't impressed, suggesting that perhaps her observations were understated, suggesting that, I’d probably take exception with the word ‘reasonably, he said. “I think it’s so much better, it’s night and day.

The President and CEO became the focal point of the media coverage of the report this weekend with the revelation that with salary and benefits, his annual take home remuneration tops over the 1 million dollar a year level.

He went on to question whether she completely understands the process of the BC Ferries board or has a true picture of how the Ferry Service operates today as opposed to a few years ago.

He also took issue with the concept that there is no accountability at BC Ferries and a conflict of interest between Board appointments and their duties while on the board. He offered up the prospect of a cost of between 3 to 5 million dollars more if a bureaucracy was to be created to oversee the Board and Presidents work.

Overall, Mr. Hahn suggested that the Comptroller General appeared to be biased towards a public sector model.

He clearly isn't taking kindly to public review of his time at the helm of the service, but by the tone of his replies is making sure that the target on his back is lit up in bright colours.

He wasn't alone when it came to offering up some thoughts on the report, Elizabeth J. Harrison, the BC Ferries Board Chair, outlined their observations on the first glimpse of the Comptroller Generals efforts, with a letter posted on the BC Ferries website.

It will be interesting to see what reaction that the report which was delivered to Transportation Minister Shirley Bond back at the end of October receives, even more interesting will be the government's reaction to and interpretation of Mr. Hahn's reply to it and if they are in agreement with his thoughts on the current state of the Ferry Service.

Minister Bond and the Government may soon have to decide if the quasi-private nature of the Ferry Service will stay on the same path as today, or if it is to gain a level of government oversight.

The current model is leaving more than a few questions and concerns unresolved at the moment. What the Government does with the Comptroller Generals Report could go a long way in determining if this quasi private structure could soon evolve even more towards the private side of the scale, or if there is still a place for the Government when it comes to coastal fleet of vessels under the command of Mr. Hahn.
Vancouver Province-- Million-dollar B.C. Ferries boss says he isn't overpaid
Vancouver Province-- No accountability behind board's booty haul
Victoria Times Colonist-- B.C. Ferries boss dismisses report of being overpaid as 'nonsense'
CBC News-- BC Ferries dismisses criticisms
Globe and Mail-- BC Ferries CEO defends his $1-million salary

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