You've got to hand it to Shirley Hoy. The woman is the consummate bureaucratic survivor. I mean, who would have believed, when David Miller was elected mayor a year ago, that Hoy would still be atop the civil service heap 12 months later?
Most observers pretty much took it for granted that the city's chief administrative officer would be one of the first victims of Miller's brandished broom. Oh, sure, Commissioners Joan Anderton and Paul Dill - the administrative duo who brought the Union Station restoration project into disrepute - were the most obvious targets.
But anyone who'd watched Hoy trying her damnedest two years ago to deliver on Mel Lastman's ill-fated plan to turn the city's waterworks over to an appointed board of well-connected citizens was well aware of Miller's disgust with her antics.
"It seems there's an enormous amount of pressure on the civil service right now to produce what the mayor's office wants instead of being professional and independent," then-councillor Miller said in an interview with NOW in October 2002. "It's totally inappropriate."
Yet Hoy has just been handed the top job of city manager in a revamped civic admin that's partly of her own design.
Anderton and Dill, along with four other commissioners who've occupied the high-paid tier on the bureaucratic flow chart, found their positions eliminated in the new scheme. Word around 100 Queen West is that only Treasurer Joe Pennachetti, who's already been picked for deputy-chief financial officer, will be retained.
Change is sweeping through City Hall, and the other commissioners will be better off accepting hefty six-figure severance cheques before heading to warmer climes.
It's Hoy who'll be calling the shots once she helps some hired headhunters, the mayor and a committee of councillors sort through resumés in search of her new sidekicks.
"Shirley Hoy has my full confidence," the chief magistrate declared last Friday when he first unveiled the results of his review of the city's administrative structure. Apparently, he's found that special someone who can do what the mayor's office wants and be professional and independent at the same time. And good for him that council went along with the plan by a 33-to-nine vote Tuesday after two days of often nasty bickering and name-calling.
But it's easy to understand why some council colleagues who aren't usually hostile to Miller, like Kyle Rae and Sylvia Watson, would raise concerns about the highly secretive manner in which the mayor went about his administrative reform exercise.
It wasn't just perennial council malcontent Rob Ford who wanted to know why the CAO and Pennachetti were exempt from the competition every other senior manager will be required to enter.
Michael Walker was equally miffed that the search for new blood didn't start right at the top. In the end, Walker voted to support the mayor's vision. But not before he'd accused Miller of being disrespectful and contemptuous by allowing just six councillors into the inner circle that helped a $67,000 consultant prepare the review's recommendations.
"This doesn't lend itself to open and transparent government," the Ward 22 (St. Paul's) councillor said.
Works committee chair Jane Pitfield was also left shaking her head at Hoy's preordained appointment. "Should we not be asking all of management to reapply?" the Ward 26 (Don Valley West) councillor asked. But a motion to that effect garnered only nine of 42 available votes. Hoy's supremacy was secure. And Miller was adamant that that's exactly as it should be.
"She shouldn't have to compete for her job," he said of the new city manager. And neither should Pennachetti's appointment be challenged. "This council needs to move forward, and if the city manager and the CFO weren't in place it would be very difficult to do that. We'd be paralyzed for several months - right through our budget process."
Clearly, Hoy had a year to familiarize herself with the new mayor, and, according to City Hall insiders, she's considerably more comfortable with his political philosophy than with the right-wing agenda Lastman fronted.
She's obviously done a good job convincing Miller of this, because ultimately it's his credibility that's on the line.
"The mayor will live or die on the basis of his plan," Councillor Howard Moscoe pointed out. "If this thing is a disaster, then the mayor will be defeated in the next election."
And Shirley Hoy will have to deal with yet another boss.