Was Guelph’s CAO Loewig missing in action?

Last summer there was a major shift in managing our city.

It had become apparent that Hans Loewig had exhausted his usefulness as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the city administration.

Loewig had been absent from the job frequently and when questioned, the Mayor said he was receiving “blocks of time off” according to the terms of his contract.

Mr. Loewig has not been 100 per cent on the job for the past 18 months. The rumour mill has him dealing with medical problems.  Drawing a pension from his former job with the City of Brantford plus more than $200,000 from Guelph has provided the CAO with a comfortable semi-retirement.

But is it fair? Is it fair that he should draw a full-time salary for part-time work?

Now he has magnanimously offered to remain on salary until next November to assist his replacement.  His contract ends in 2012 but he has agreed to leave early to accommodate the city.

What were the terms of his contract with the city? Why have the Mayor and council not been forthright with the taxpayers about this situation?

And please, don’t bring up that old chestnut that it would be an invasion of Mr. Loewig’s privacy to reveal the terms of his contract. As a public servant, his salary is no secret why not the terms of his contract?

What the public didn’t know was that these absences left a huge power vacuum in the management of the city.

His absences became so critical it called for a reorganization of senior city management to fill the void.

You will recall there was a major shuffle of staff that resulted in some key managers leaving and a committee of four executive directors effectively becoming the new CAO.

Interestingly, it was done prior to the October election. Why, a citizen should ask, was such a shift needed? Why drastically change the management of the city from its traditional system of a single senior manager in charge, to four managers?

What happens if the committee of four is divided on policy? Who breaks the tie?

Another fact is that three of the four executive directors, Mark Amorosi, Ann Pappert, Janet Laird, don’t live in Guelph. Operations chief Derek McCaughan is the only senior manager residing in the city. If those charged with managing a staff of 1,400, paying taxes elsewhere and responsible for the operation of the city, what does that say about loyalty and fidelity to their employers, the taxpayers of Guelph?

An analogy may lie in senior managers of a corporation who invest in their own company, giving shareholders the comfort of knowing that they share the burden of success or failure.

Shouldn’t the same principle apply to senior public servants?

In fact, Guelph should make it a condition of employment that senior managers reside in the city including anyone earning in excess of $125,000 a year.

I believe the situation with Hans Loewig was a cover-up by the Mayor and the previous council. These employees are public servants who draw their pay and benefits from the city tax pool.

The taxpayers should have been told and the matter dealt with before this committee of four executive directors was put in charge.

To suggest that Hans Loewig was on the job when all this happened is ludicrous and smells of lying by omission.

Gerry Barker is a Guelph taxpayer. Reach him at gerrybarker76@gmail.com

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