Investigation In To Alleged Irregularities Around Hiring Of CAO Carmen D’Angelo Must Be As Independent As Possible
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted April 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Okay, let me try to put what I am about to say as bluntly as I can without restoring any of the seven words George Carlin once warned against ever using on television.
That’s my pledge to keep my language as clean as possible. So with that and three deep breaths, here I go –
There is no damn way in a fair and just world that Niagara regional chair Al Caslin or anyone else who had anything directly to do with the selection of candidates for the Region’s top staff position of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO ) two years ago should have anything to do with an investigation into alleged irregularities or wrongdoing around the hiring of the Region’s current CAO, Carmen D’Angelo.
That means absolutely anything! In the interest of avoiding any perception of a conflict of interest, it means nothing at all!
One would think that the individual sitting serving as Niagara Region’s chair – a chairperson whose office is a suspected source (if not the one and only suspected source) of a memo that allegedly made it into Carmen D’Angelo’s hands and may have contained information gave him a competitive advantage in the CAO hiring process well before D’Angelo was finally chosen – would know that well enough to step completely aside.
Yet here we have Al Caslin – in a manner that smacks of a virulent strain of arrogant, bullying contempt and an authoritarian culture that has metastasized through the body politic of regional government in Niagara since Caslin rose to the helm three years ago – circulating an email to Niagara’s mayors and directly elected regional councillors earlier this week, informing them that he is “requesting” an inquiry into the hiring process.
“In the interest of openness and transparency, I have requested that an independent HR inquiry of the entire hiring process be undertaken,” Caslin told members of Niagara’s regional council this past Monday, April 9th in the email. “The director of human resources will be bringing forward options to regional council (during the upcoming April 12th regional council meeting) on Thursday.
In the interest of openness and transparency, and freedom from any party that may have a conflict of interest, Caslin should not be requesting anything with respect to this matter except for Carmen D’Angelo’s resignation.
What Caslin should do when this whole CAO hiring business comes up at this Thursday’ regional council meeting, is step aside and let another member of the regional council – in this case Thorold regional councillor Henry D’Angela (no relation to Carmen D’Angelo), whose turn it is to take the gavel at the meeting when the chair is absent or must step aside in the event of a possible conflict.
If Caslin does not step aside on his own, members of regional council should demand that he do so in the interest of the greater public he swore an oath three years ago to serve.
In a brief interview with Niagara At Large, Henry D’Angela said he would be prepared to assume the chair’s seat for the CAO hiring issue if he is called upon to do so.
D’Angela added that along with Caslin, he believes that other members of the regional council who sat on the candidate selection committee for the 2016 CAO hiring, including Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton, Welland Mayor Frank Campion, Grimsby regional councillor Tony Quirk and Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale, should also declare a possible conflict and remove themselves from any discussion on how this matter is addressed from here. So should any other member of council that had anything directly to do with the candidate selection process.
And how should a matter that has to do with something as serious as the hiring of the top administrator of a billion-dollar-a-year government operation is addressed?
In his view, D’Angela says it must be subjected to an investigation that is independent and as open and transparent as possible so as to restore public trust in hiring process and any lost trust in the integrity of regional government as a whole.
And who should carry out such an investigation?
D’Angela said he is open to the idea of approaching the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office to do it, just so long as it is completed, and the findings and any recommendations for protecting the integrity of the process are tabled in a timely manner, and does not drag on beyond this coming October’s municipal elections.
(The Ontario Ombudsman’s Office is already investigating another incident involving the seizure of a St. Catharines Standard reporter’s computer at the Niagara regional headquarters this past December and a report on that investigation is still outstanding.)
Of course, D’Angela said he is prepared to consider other ideas his fellow regional councillors may put forward for a fair investigation too.
This reporter also hopes that regional councillors will take time at this Thursday, April 12th meeting of the council to consider whether Carmen D’Angelo’s employment contract at the Region should be rendered null and void as soon as possible, given reports he allegedly received confidential information about the selection of candidates for the job in advance of his hiring.
What do you, the taxpaying residents of Niagara, think?
If you agree that Caslin and any others who may have been directly involved should declare a possible conflict and keep their nose out of any further discussion of this matter, contact your members of regional council and your mayor (since Niagara’s 12 mayors have a seat on the regional council) and let them know how you feel this issue should be addressed as soon as possible.
Do what you can to contact them before 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, April 12th when the regional council meeting is scheduled to begin.
For the names and contact information for your regional councillors and mayor, click on – https://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/profiles/default.aspx .
To read another recent commentary Niagara At Large posted on this issue, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/04/07/niagara-regional-chair-cao-have-a-lot-of-answering-to-do-2/ .
And once again, Niagara At Large salutes and supports those journalists at The St. Catharines Standard for the good investigative work they have done on this issue.
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