Cindy Forster Talks About Region’s Rush To Hire New CAO And Why She Believes There Is A Need For A Forensic Audit Of The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted November 3rd, 2016 on Niagara At Large
“What was the rush,” asked Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster during 10 minute of air time she was granted this past November 1st on 610 CKTB radio’s Larry Fedoruk Show.
What was the rush, indeed!
Forster, a former Welland mayor and regional councillor who is now serving as the Niagara riding of Welland’s MPP, was making a reference to the very few days between the time a number of Niagara regional councillors heard rumors that Carmen D’Angelo –CAO of the embattled Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) – was teed up to be hired as the new CAO for Niagara’s regional government.
Rumours that D’Angelo had been chosen by a committee of five, including Niagara regional chair Al Caslin and two regional councillors that sit on the NPCA board – Grimsby councillor and Welland’s mayor Frank Campion – began circulating fast and furious this past Thursday, October 27th and Friday, October 28th, and continued through the weekend until Monday, October 31st, when a “special council meeting,” also scheduled only a few days earlier, was held to vote “yes” or “no” to D’Angelo being rewarded the highest paid (at more than $200,000 in salary and benefits a year) and arguably the most powerful municipal office in Niagara.
A number of councillors were caught all but flat footed in the few days and hours leading up to Monday’s special council meeting when this journalist and others called to ask what was going on because they still weren’t given anything but rumours about the individual Caslin and his cabal had lined up to be the regional government’s new CAO.
“I have had councillors that called me,” said Forster on the CKTB radio program, “and say they never saw a resume (for D’Angelo) and they couldn’t get the meeting delayed until all the councillors could be available. … What was the rush? They have been without a CAO for a while.”
Indeed, no explanation was given by Caslin or anyone else as to why they could not have done what has usually been done in the past when regional council business is not completed at one Thursday evening council meeting – reconvene on the very next Thursday evening on the calendar.
Okay, there was some unfinished business from the Thursday, October 27th council meeting around securing some insurance coverage for the regional government by a deadline the following week. But approving that only took a matter of minutes at the special Monday session so it’s a head scratcher why that could not have been completed on October 27th since the council had already spent more than two hours that evening discussing it behind closed doors.
So that brings us back to the question of what was the rush to get the CAO hiring over with.
On that one Chair Caslin, I got to tell you that I share the same suspicion that many other citizens across Niagara do – that the rush was about you getting your pick for the big job approved before others had enough time to get enough of a case out there in the public realm that might possibly stop it.
You knew that there were serious questions and concerns among people – some of which Forster outlined on the CKTB show (and which you can hear by clicking on the link to the radio podcast below) – about Carmen D’Angelo’s qualifications to be the chief administrator of a regional government that staffs about 3,000 people and hands about a billion dollars of our tax money annually, and about operations at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority during D’Angelo’s two-year tenure as the NPCA’s CAO.
You knew there were serious concerns controversies here before that special meeting of council was scheduled so rapidly, leaving councillors who scrambled to attend it with not much more to say or do than to cast a vote “yes” or “no” to D’Angelo’s hiring. Then, almost with a simple “bewitched” twitching of the nose, there was a media release, all dressed up with the regional government’s logo, and ready to go before some even had the time to drive home from the meeting, announcing the hiring.
On the same Monday afternoon, we were also already informed who would serve as the NPCA’s acting CAO as D’Angelo moves into the regional headquarters by the middle of this month.
Who says the wheels of government grind slow?
A resident in this region may have to put in a call at least three working days in advance of their waste collection day to have an old mattress picked up at their curbside, but the region sure can finish up the hiring of a new CAO in a flash if it wants to.
But it isn’t finished up yet. There is Cindy Forster’s call to the province’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry for a full forensic audit of the NPCA – a call that is being reinforced by hundreds, if not thousands of citizens across the region – and I don’t think people are going to forget who on the regional council voted “yes” and who had the courage to stand up against the cabal and vote “no” to this hiring.
There will be much more on this issue, posted on Niagara At Large and on other sites, in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tune.
Meanwhile, here is the link to Cindy Forster’s words on CKTB’s Larry Fedoruk Show, followed by contact information for Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Kathryn McGarry.
Listen to this radio show, then contacted Minister McGarry and join those demanding a forensic audit of an NPCA that must be made fully accountable for how responsibly it spend millions of dollars of our tax money each year.
Here is the link to the radio show – https://soundcloud.com/larryfedorukshow/niagara-peninsula-conservation-authority-mpp-cindy-forster
And here is the contact information for the Minister –
Hon Kathryn McGarry,, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Suite 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block 99 Wellesley Street West Toronto, Ontario M7A 1W3 – email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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