In October 2016, Niagara Region hired a new CAO. Many people who have been following regional politics were immediately skeptical (to put it mildly) about the hiring. Given the goings-on at regional council, there was much reason to be at least skeptical.
Then, in April 2018, Grant LaFleche exposed the hiring process of the Region’s CAO, Carmen D’Angelo, to have been compromised.
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Region’s CAO hiring compromised by leak
In response, Council contracted a lawyer to investigate the hiring process.
Toronto lawyer, arbitrator leading CAO probe
That lawyer cleared the Region’s hiring of the CAO as “not unlawful.” Of course, as many of us were watching this meeting unfold, we were frustrated by the lawyer’s approach (for instance, the question was never if the hiring process was unlawful, but if it was unethical) and by how cavalier he seemed to be about such things as having supposedly seen a paper copy of the memo, but not being able to find a digital copy and instead of agreeing with Mayors Sendzik and Augustyn that that must mean it was deleted, he suggested that maybe it wasn’t created electronically.
Lawyer clears D’Angelo hiring
Following that investigation, the CAO indicated that parts of the lawyer’s report were incorrect, which leads us, obviously, to question how much of the rest of the report was flawed (particularly given that the lawyer says he reviewed 200,000 documents in a mere 78 days…do the math on that and you’ll know it’s entirely unrealistic).
Report leaves questions unanswered
Following that and a number of citizens (including myself) calling the report into question and asking further questions, LaFleche dug deeper to give everyone a sense of what the lawyer’s report did and did not answer.
The Regional CAO hiring: What we know and what we don’t
And then, last night, this bomb dropped:
ALL THE CHAIR’S MEN: D’Angelo got CAO interview questions, answers written by Caslin’s staff
In addition to Carmen D’Angelo receiving information on other candidates, he was provided with the interview questions and suggested answers. He proceeded to use some of those suggested answers in his presentation to the hiring committee.
If you’re not outraged by this revelation, I don’t know what to say.
I’m outraged by it.
Over the last four years, we have watched this Council engage in questionable act after questionable act, from spewing hateful remarks to not stopping others from spewing hateful remarks; to charging taxpayers for lobster lunches, mileage to Toronto for nothing to do with Niagara, roaming charges in the thousands of dollars, and legal fees that were initiated by the person claiming them back; to flagrant disregard for the role of the media and accountability to citizens; to the unlawful, unjust, and unreasonable seizure of a respected journalist’s laptop and notes and a citizen blogger’s recording device; to outright lying about what happened on the evening of that journalist being removed from Regional headquarters; to, now, this completely disgraceful hiring process for the CAO. (And this doesn’t even include any of the unethical behaviour at the NPCA or at the Police Services Board.)
And, now, in addition to hiring an unqualified CAO and rigging the hiring process, they have put Niagara Region at risk for several lawsuits that there’s no way we can win.
Sidebar: Even if Alan Caslin had zero familiarity with standard Human Resources practices; even if we could somehow chalk this up to just naiveté rather than outright corruption, he doesn’t have to go far to learn a bit more about how these processes should go. His partner is a Human Resources professional.
So, while others were calling for resignations (which we know we won’t get) and indicating they were speechless, I had some things to say (video transcript at the bottom of this entry):
We need regional councillors around that table who will not ever engage in these kinds of actions and behaviours; and we further need regional councillors around that table who will vocally and repeatedly call it out if/when they see it. For four years, we’ve had a regional council made up of people who either:
- are at that table out of self-interest and for whatever power they feel they can wrest from being in this position; or
- they’ve been quiet about the goings-on at that table (this is the majority of them); or
- (and this is a very small number of them) they’ve stood up again and again to speak out about what’s been going on; to ask questions about how other councillors continue to get away with this behaviour.
It has to stop. This cannot continue. It is not in the best interests of Niagara’s citizenry.
Of the 31 people around that table, 18 of them voted for Alan Caslin to be Chair. Eighteen! Anyone who voted for him must go. Anyone who has been quiet for most of the last four years must go.
While I find the list of candidates for regional council to be somewhat troubling, there are some good candidates on that list as well. There are people who are knowledgeable; there are people of high integrity; there are people who will stand up to this outrageous behaviour every single time.
Now, more than ever, it is time to Reset the Region.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Laura Ip, and I’m running to represent the people of St. Catharines at Niagara Regional Council.
I’m popping in this evening, not prepared for this at all, because I just read an absolutely enraging article on the St. Catharines Standard website.
If you’ve been following regional politics at all, you know that Grant LaFleche and Bill Sawchuk, as well as other reporters, but mostly Grant and Bill, have been working tirelessly to expose all of what is going on at the Region as far as closed doors decisions and other absolutely contemptible behaviour and actions.
So, tonight’s article indicated that not only was the hiring process of the CAO tainted; we knew that, even though a lawyer indicated that it was not unlawful, so many members of Council took it to mean that they had gotten a pass on that one, but Carmen D’Angelo received the interview questions as well as suggested answers prior to his interview on October 12. He also received more information about other candidates who were being interviewed, so confidentiality has been breached as far as the other candidates go and their professional reputations, obviously the issue of…imagine, imagine applying for a job and someone that you are competing against has the interview questions and suggested answers beforehand. Absolutely despicable behaviour.
Carmen D’Angelo must be fired immediately, no severance, no notice, no nothing. Not only is he unqualified for the job, we know that, but this hiring process has been a complete sham, so he absolutely must be fired immediately.
Jason Tamming and Rob D’Amboise, who were involved in this, absolutely, for breaching confidentiality, if nothing else, for breaching confidentiality must be fired immediately. Again, no notice, no severance.
And Chair Caslin, not only should he resign, except we know, of course, that he won’t, not only should he resign, he should not be running to represent the Niagara region again. He should be withdrawing his name from the election immediately; however, since, again, we know that he won’t do that, he should be sanctioned by Council immediately, to the fullest extent that they can. Unfortunately, our system, in this respect, is flawed in that we cannot remove someone from Council, but he must be sanctioned by Council immediately.
This whole thing is absolutely, again, it’s despicable; it’s unethical; it’s immoral; this is not how we should be doing politics anywhere, not in the Niagara region, not anywhere.
Anyway, I’m sorry, I’m upset, so I apologize for that, but something has to be done immediately.
On Monday, October 22 or at the advance polls, please come out and vote, make sure that you are voting for people who have integrity; who will do what they say they’re going to do; who have the best interests of the citizens of Niagara in mind, and they are not running out of self-interest or for power or any of those things.
So, please, do what you can to help us Reset the Region on Monday, October 22, 2018.
If you have any questions about me or my platform or anything like that, go ahead and please visit my website – lauraip.ca – and certainly you can get in touch with me via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, through my website; there’s a number of ways that you can get in touch with me as well.
But I just had to pop in, this is a long video, it’s four minutes now, to discuss that article and what has to be done right away. Thanks for watching and see you on the campaign trail.