Niagara MPP Raises Concerns About How Regional Government Does Business On Local Radio Show

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.

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster

Welland Riding MPP Cindy Forster

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.

NPCA CAO Carmen D'Angelo is picked for CAO post for Niagara regional government

NPCA CAO Carmen D’Angelo is picked for CAO post for Niagara regional government

“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 kmcgarry.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote .

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

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4 responses to “Niagara MPP Raises Concerns About How Regional Government Does Business On Local Radio Show

  1. Gail Benjafield

    I listened to the Radio show, and boy, has The MPP got it right. It is a ‘Forensic’,not financial audit that is required of the taxpayer-funded Conservation Authority. It’s hiring and firing practices, its blatant partisanship, its complete stonewalling on transparency asked for by many..

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  2. Could it be that because he was taking heat for his belief that wetlands which took thousands of years could be duplicated in another area instantly that his political friends decided that they could protect him in another position? Perhaps he believed “immediate” wetlands were possible to meet the needs of his political friends to complete a financial deal they made with foreign businessmen to ‘concrete’ the existing wetlands.
    Is it under his watch that the Conservation Authority expanded its mandate to include economic development of parklands?

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  3. Sheila Krekorian

    The radio show link is worth 10 minutes of your time to listen to Cindy Forster explain concerns about appointment of D’Angelo to CAO. He will be making more than $200K/yr and responsible for billions of dollars of our money but is mistaken in quoting a 3:1 ratio for biodiversity offsetting lands in exchange for those at Thundering Waters which was favourable to the actual figures of 1.3:1. The picture of him above smiling like the cat who ate the canary is says it all.
    The problem with complaining to MNRF McGarry about NPCA’s conduct is that activites of each body are money-driven and not guided by “conservation” ideals. Most of my FOI requests to the MNRF (which arent “free” of charge, by the way) regarding why MNRF is “hosting” deer hunts in the Short Hills Park and what they are doing to ensure safety are denied and tied up in an appeals process by the same Ministry that is entrusted to protect our “natural resources”. By the time I get the redacted information, a year or more has passed and another hunt has occurred leaving more questions about safety unanswered and MNRF unaccountable.

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  4. Not to mention, while acting as CAO for the NPCA, he was soliciting business from the Niagara Region Police Services Board under the guise of DVM Consulting and got untendered contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars from this body. He also failed miserably at providing value for money since the survey he administered was rife with methodological errors rendering it useless, which makes me question his competence.
    Since he didn’t seem to understand the negative optics and lack of integrity in those actions, I question his judgement and competence to be Niagara Region CAO. This is why a forensic audit is required.
    The public trust in the NPCA has completed eroded and he has jumped ship to the Region and who knows what can happen there. They are responsible for critical services in the Region that he has zero experience administering.

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