By Gerry Barker
September 9, 2019
The city announced last week that a former member of the Cam Guthrie re-election team has been hired to be manager of corporate communications and government relations.
Jodie Sales comes to Guelph from the Town of Milton where she has held a similar position for three and a half years.
On the surface it appears she is qualified for the job.
However, was the position advertised? Were other candidates applying for the position? Was Ms. Sales or other candidates interviewed for the posted position?
Tell us, was the job posted and where?
Before accusing me of nit picking, this is a job serving the public interests. It entails that there is opportunity for qualified citizens to apply. The city release did not mention the salary or benefits for the position.
Further, I am not criticizing Ms. Sales but the methods used by the administration to hire anyone for a staff position, especially one described as an “executive position.”
Perhaps in hiring employees over the years, the administration must focus on being careful to ensure that the recommended candidate will not be disruptive or offend other employees. Recommendations by a friend or relative of an employee should always be part of the hiring process.
Prior to being appointed to the management job, was Ms. Sales interviewed by senior management? Recruiting is 50 percent performance knowledge and 50 per cent having a gut feeling.
In this case, the perception is that she had the inside track on getting the job because of her work on the Mayor’s campaign.
Mayor Guthrie was asked if he had recommended her and denied he had any part in the process. Judging from that I would surmise that he was consulted but politically, he denied it.
Maybe he did not have to say anything. One thing we do know is that she did a bang-up job handling communities for the Guthrie campaign.
The most interesting part of this announcement is, what is the role of council, including the Mayor who is the only member elected across the whole city?
That email sent by the Mayor stated: “All city administration hiring is done through the CAO or other city management.”
Former DCAO Mark Amorosi who stated that council did not approve staff increases they are approved in the annual budgets. He confirmed this during a recent sworn testimony. That would indicate that council does approve salary increases because it must approve the annual city budget.
Those increases, according to the Mayor and Mr. Amorosi, are set in December for the upcoming calendar year. But the increases are not publicly released until 15 months later.
In formulating the 2015 city budget, did council have the right to approve or disapprove staff salary increases? If true, why didn’t council tell anyone? The salary increases were only reported annually each March in the provincial Sunshine List.
It lists every public employee in Ontario who earned more than $100,000 annually.
That data names the employee, the salary and taxable benefits. That list is the only record available to the public.
In recent years, the administration has published its own list prior to the Sunshine list. It is incomplete when compared to the previous provincial list to illustrate changes in salary or job responsibiliyies.
Case in Point; In 2015, the public did not learn about the three senior staff manager’s increases until Match 2016.
The 2015 budget was approved in January boosting property taxes by 3.96 per cent, including adjustments reported later.
I will be reporting more details of this and other tactics used by the administration to suppress information of concern and what is in the public interest.
I also recognize that our new CAO, Scott Stewart, is not responsible for these tactics that were created by a previous administration. Instead I am hopeful that all bylaws covering procedures and operational details be reviewed and open for the administration to open government, to accountability.
I personally wish Ms. Sales success and fulfillment in her new position.
The administration leadership has markedly changed in the past year and the opportunity exists to return our city into one of progress, financial responsibility, transparency and accountability.
A good first step is to reintroduce online voting in 2022.