Modified April 19, 2013
Guelph’s daily newspaper, owned by a corporation located out of town, claims that paying an existing employee a $20,000 relocation bonus because she was promoted to Chief Administration Officer, is “entirely appropriate”.
Let’s examine the facts. Ms. Pappert’s predecessor, Hans Loewig, never lived in Guelph and remained a resident of Brantford for his four years on the job. The taxpayers paid his travel expenses, including overnight stays in Guelph hotels.
There was no push by the administration to demand he live in Guelph.
Then he announced his retirement that turned out to be the long goodbye. The city hired a headhunting consultant to search for a Loewig replacement. The cost of that exercise was allegedly $45,000.
Apparently council was comfortable paying Mr. Loewig his full salary of $203,000 plus benefits for almost nine months after his announced retirement while the search for a replacement was conducted.
The result of the search came up with 10 candidates deemed to be qualified. That list was winnowed down to three among them Ms. Pappert and Executive Director of Human Resources, Mark Amorosi, plus one outsider. That individual changed his (her) mind and backed out of contention
To this day, no one outside of an exclusive group of elected officials knows why Ms. Pappert who lived in Waterloo was chosen over Mr. Amorosi, a resident of Hamilton. The public was never told the details of her qualifications for employment or her benefits and bonuses. Her starting salary has since grown to more than $200,000.
The daily paper keeps referring to “industry” standards that apply to hiring senior public servants to bolster its opinion that Ms. Pappert’s hiring was “entirely appropriate”.
Public service is not an industry. Governments of all shapes and sizes determine public service salaries and benefits. And the taxpayers pay those employment standards. It’s a big difference from that of private industry.
The facts are that public service employees have a cast iron security in their employment. They have seen their remuneration creep up beyond comparable private industry positions in many cases.
If the paper is interested, it should expend its resources to do comparative reporting on what public servants in Guelph are earning and those in private industry. Before welcoming Ann to Guelph, it should point out her professional qualifications were adequate when she was Executive Director of community and social services. But her new position carried more responsibility including a thorough understanding of financial management that a CAO needed to perform. During that previous period of employment with the city, the issue of relocation was never raised because there were other senior managers who did not live in the city that pays their salaries.
Further the daily paper never reported the relocation bonus paid to Ms Pappert. It came from the blog world. So why the sudden interest in it now? The cat’s already among the canaries. Have we reached a point where we have to bribe talented people from out of town to work in the city administration?
The decision to have the new CAO live in the city was made following revelations and public criticism about the sweetheart deal made with Hans Loewig.
It is true that choosing where to live is the job seeker’s choice not the prospective employer. But this council leadership made a mockery of hiring the new CAO by spending thousands in a charade when the final choice was just sitting down the hall.
Is it any wonder the people are growling?