Council’s Move Follows Release of Ontario Ombudsman’s Report calling process around hiring of former CAO Carmen D’Angelo “compromised,” “unjust,” and “wrong.”
“We value the thoughtful advice of the Ombudsman and we are confident that the implementation of his recommendations will serve to ensure that these activities should not occur again.” – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley
A News Brief by Doug Draper with Updates to Come
Posted December 5th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
At a special meeting of Niagara’s Regional Council, councillors vote unanimously this December 5th to refer the findings in an Ontario Ombudsman’s report on the circumstances around the hiring of the Region’s former CAO Carmen D’Angelo to police for investigation.
Councillors’ support for a police investigation came after a lengthy closed door session with legal counsel and was followed by a spontaneous round of applause and calls of “thank you” from citizens filling the gallery in the council chambers.
The passage of that motion to pass the investigation request on to the Niagara Regional Police Service which, in the case of matters involving possible wronging at the municipal government level, will likely to referred it onward to the Ontario Provincial Police, was followed by the passage of another motion to turn contracts the Region signed with certain former senior administrators over to the Region’s external legal counsel “to investigate all options of legal recourse.”
One of the most, if not the most controversial contract of them all was the three-year contract awarded to D’Angelo following his hiring in the fall of 2016, followed by a three-year extension of the his contract that occurred under the watch of the Region’s former regional chair, Al Caslin, and without the knowledge of the council of the day.
The special council meeting became emotional at times, with some councillors, including veteran St. Catharines Regional Councillor Brian Heit moved to tears at one point, and members of the public applauding more than once while expressing their gratitude to councillors for voting in favour of the motions.
Niagara At Large will update this story and provide more news and commentary on matters related to this whole affair in the hours and days to come.
In the meantime, here is a news released Niagara Region issued following the meeting –
Niagara Region *Media Release*
December 5, 2019
Regional Council votes to implement Ombudsman’s recommendations, forward report to police for investigation
At tonight’s special meeting of council, members voted unanimously to implement all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations to ensure that the Niagara Region can move forward with integrity and accountability.
Council’s motions directed staff to implement all 16 of the Ombudsman’s recommendations and with intention to have them completed in the first quarter of 2020. As per the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the Niagara Region will also provide his office with updates every six months.
“I was pleased to see Regional Councillors vote to implement all 16 of the recommendations made in the Ombudsman’s report this evening,” said Regional Chair, Jim Bradley. “On behalf of Regional Council, I would like to publicly and formally commend those members of Council, staff and the public who strived to uphold the integrity of our public institution during the last term of Council.”
“As noted by the Ombudsman, it is important to remember that the actions described in the report were carried out by only a small number of former employees and councillors. Regional Council remains proud of the tremendous work carried about by our talented team of staff,” said Bradley. “We value the thoughtful advice of the Ombudsman and we are confident that the implementation of his recommendations will serve to ensure that these activities should not occur again.”
As part of moving forward with the recommendations, the Niagara Region is committed to being open and transparent as progress is made.
Based on the findings detailed in the Ombudsman’s Nov. 29 report, Council also voted to forward the report on the hiring of former CAO Carmen D’Angelo to the police for further investigation, in addition to directing the Region’s external legal counsel to investigate all options of legal recourse.
By council passing these two motions, the Region now considers this an active legal matter. As such, it is the Niagara Region’s practice to refrain from commenting on ongoing legal proceedings.
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