If St. Catharines Standard Story is Correct, both Al Caslin and Carmen D’Angelo should be fired out of their jobs – ASAP!
A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted April 7th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
I do not often send Niagara At Large readers off to other venues for news. I prefer to keep them here, but please listen up because this is different.
If you are reside in Niagara, Ontario – if you live, work and pay taxes in this region – then the front page story in the Friday, April 6th edition of The St. Catharines Standard is a MUST READ.
There are many good people who were opposed to the hiring of Carmen D’Angelo, who was CAO at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) to the position of Chief Administrative Officer of Niagara’s regional government right from the start.
Reasons for that opposition were largely based on questions and concerns that had been mounting over D’Angelo’s leading managerial role at an NPCA many in the community felt was having the guts that once made it a respectable conservation and environmental protection body torn out of it.
But The April 6th story investigative story in The St. Catharines Standard raises issues about the matters leading up to the October 2016 hiring of D’Angelo to the $230,000 a year position of CAO at Niagara Region that go way beyond whatever toxic impact he may have had a hand in at the NPCA.
The Standard story, carrying the by-line of reporter Grant LaFleche, focuses on a plethora of information the newspaper uncovered from documents and well-placed sources that raises serious questions about the integrity of the process in place to hire a person to the top position of a level of Niagara government that is now entrusted to manage a billion-plus of our tax dollars each year!
This important story – one that everyone who lives, works, pays taxes and has an opportunity to vote in this coming October’s municipal elections must, in my view, read – raises serious questions about the possible compromising and corrupting of that hiring process by some of our municipal leaders.
And it also raises serious concerns that we, the people who entrust our municipal leaders to do right for our communities, have been cheated of the best and brightest public servants we could have had working for us in regional government.
The candidates vying for the CAO position alone, according information obtained by The Standard, included individuals who, unlike D’Angelo, had experience working as CAOs of municipal governments. One candidate was “a government manager with degrees from Harvard and MIT,” according to one document obtained by the newspaper.
“D’Angelo did not respond to repeated requests for an interview for this story,” reports The Standard, and Caslin hasn’t had much to say, except in an email or two, either.
From the point of view of this reporter and columnist at Niagara At Large though, the final couple of paragraph’s in the April 6th Standard story say quite a lot about why D’Angelo was picked over other talented candidates and about the kind of bullying, authoritarian culture that has taken over at the Niagara regional government level over the past three-plus years with Caslin at the helm.
Those paragraphs read as follows –
“The relationship between Caslin and the CAO (D’Angelo) is smooth.”
“The extent to which Caslin feels comfortable with the current head of regional staff was made public in June, when a secret recording of the chair – made by controversial St. Catharines Coun. Andy Petrowski – was released on YouTube.”
In describing D’Angelo’s role to Petrowski, Caslin was direct: ‘He works for me.’”
My take on Caslin’s “he works for me” line is this –
‘Al, the chief administrative officer for a government body funded with our tax dollars, is not supposed to be working for YOU! That is the way things operate in a totalitarian state or in Trump’s White House were the staff are expected to take a loyalty oath to ‘the glorious leader.’
The CAO and other senior members of staff in a government in a democracy are supposed to be there to bring their best ideas forward on behalf of the public they serve. If you, as an elected leader, and other elected representatives on the regional council decide not to follow the recommendations of professional staff, that is your decision.
And if we don’t like your decision, we, the people, will take care of you at election time.
In the meantime, and in the wake of this good reporting by The St. Catharines Standard, Caslin and D’Angelo have a lot of answering to do. So do those who sat on the committee that assisted in selecting D’Angelo for the CAO job, including Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton, Grimsby regional councillor Tony Quirk, Welland Mayor Frank Campion and Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale.
So do all of the other regional councillors who ultimately voted to approve hiring D’Angelo at a snap meeting Caslin scheduled in October of 2016. In fairness to him, the only one of those on council who voted for D’Angelo and immediately expressed regrets that he did so was St. Catharines regional councillor Tim Rigby – a councillor this reporter has known to be an honest and decent representative for his community over the years.
Easton, for whatever reason, was in favour of hiring D’Angelo when she sat on the selection committee, but did not show up for the final council vote.
Here is an image showing the way the vote went down for hiring D’Angelo on that October 2016 day. Note that only eight members of the regional council were brave enough to vote “NO” to hiring D’Angelo.
Those who were brave enough to vote NO included; Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani, Thorold regional councillor Henry D’Angela (that is D’Angela with an “a”), Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn, Welland regional councillor George Marshall, St. Catharines regional councillors Brian Heit, Kelly Edgar aand Debbie McGregor, and Lincoln regional councillor Bill Hodgson. (Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekopp and Niagara-on-the-Lake regional councillor Gary Burroughs were absent from the meeting that day.)
I will conclude with this. If the information, along with everything else we already know, in this April 6th St. Catharines Standard story proves out, Caslin should be impeached and D’Angelo should be fired.
I encourage each and every one of you out there to contact your directly elected members of Niagara regional council and your mayor (because the mayors sit on the regional council) and demand that they get to the bottom of this and be prepared, based on the evidence, to commence impeachment and firing proceedings.
This is outrageous folks. The people of this region, including younger people who are just getting started here, need far better government than this!
To read The St. Catharines Standard story, click on – https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8376169-special-investigation-region-s-cao-hiring-compromised-by-leak/ .
To read one of the commentaries Niagara At Large posted following the hiring of Carmen D’Angelo to the top regional job, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/11/05/eight-regional-councillors-who-deserve-the-support-of-the-people-of-niagara/ .
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