By Gerry Barker
July 14, 2016
With the departure of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, questions arise over the details of her replacement and new CAO Derrick Thomson’s replacement as head of operations.
You will recall that when Ms. Pappert informed council of her resignation, Mr. Thomson had already resigned and had taken a job with the Town of Caledon where he is a resident.
Fast forward to within days of Pappert’s resignation; the city announced that Thomson accepted the job offered by, at the time, his former employer. It was the top staff job in the city.
Then, in his new job, he appointed former subordinate, Colleen Clack, to replace him as head of Operations and Guelph Transit.
Ms. Clack earned $142,017 in 2015 as General Manager of Culture, Tourism and Community Investment. So, when is the administration going to tell us her new salary and benefits package as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO)? The former occupant of that job was Mr. Thomson whose 2015 salary was $207,554 plus a taxable benefit of $6,472.
Is it just a coincidence that Mr. Thomson and Mr. Amorosi, who do not live in Guelph, each were paid identical taxed benefits of $6,472? Over the space of a year that figure represents a lot of travel and other personal related expenses. Do they submit receipts to claim that taxable benefit?
In this case Corporate Services, DCAO Mark Amorosi, in charge of staff human relations, should explain to citizens the salary and benefits that Ms. Clack will receive in her new position. And please, don’t wait until the release of the 2017 Sunshine List next March to discover her pay package.
Even then, the public won’t learn Ms. Clack’s real salary package because her pay will not reflect a full year as DCAO.
The same problem exists with Mr. Thomson. In June, he inherited the CAO job in which Ms. Pappert was paid $257,248 plus a $6,508 taxable benefit in 2015. Is he now in line to receive a $50,000 increase to match that of his predecessor?
This is another example of the veiled secrecy and lack of moral turpitude practised by senior staff and council in the past nine years.
Mayor Guthrie has stated council must protect the staff from criticism because they cannot defend themselves. That’s what he said in January 2015 when guelphspeaks posted a reference to discussions about Ms. Pappert’s contract being conducted behind closed doors.
He was so angry over the leak from a closed door session, that he attacked me personally by sending an email to an undisclosed number of people to ignore me because, he claimed, I did not get facts right. All he accomplished was to confirm that Ms. Pappert’s contract negotions were underway.
Since then, the mayor has proven to be the one who doesn’t get the facts right. And he has an edge because he presides over those closed sessions frequently conducted by council.
His actions over the past 19 months show him to stay away from controversy, bend to the will of the Bloc of Seven Farbridge supporters and protect his self-image.
Don’t the people who pay the bills top the pecking order of protection in public organizations? Not if you believe the mayor.
Now, he is considering running for a second term in 2018. He had better count on an act of God to make that happen. He has permanently fouled the nest of public opinion.
His Waterloo arrived when he did not disclose the huge senior staff increases for 2015 that were approved in another closed session December 9, 2015. The public was never informed. The only way it was revealed was through the provincially mandated Sun Shine List published last March, more than three months after the council approval.
This was no small mistake. It was a deliberate attempt to cover up a totally unjustifiable increase to senior executives. Mayor Guthrie should have announced the details in open council. Instead he, and members of council, hid behind a Farbridge-inspired procedural bylaw that forced all members of council not to reveal any details of closed sessions.
Having said that, perhaps the mayor can explain why council did not call the Integrity Commissioner to investigate a closed session leak. Coun. Mike Salisbury confessed that he sent details of the January 25 closed session to a “friendly” blogger Adam A. Donaldson, in which five members of the Bloc of Seven walked out in protest.
Apparently that breaking of the bylaw was not worthy of an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner, Robert Swayze.
There are many instances where Mayor Guthrie has failed to act on behalf of the people who elected him.
He has a chance to redeem himself in the upcoming 2017 budget talks by cracking down on spending, rebuilding the tattered reserve funds and call a halt to those closed sessions.
It is so convenient to schmooze behind closed doors, frequently discussing subjects not included in the official reason for the meeting.
Conducting most of the city’s business in private has been going on far to long.