The Chair is not entitled to unilateral decision-making

Last night, we heard Regional Chair Alan Caslin admit that he unilaterally extended CAO D’Angelo’s contract not just by the OPTIONAL two years that were already in the contract, but by an additional year after that (for a total of three years), without Council’s direction, input, or knowledge.

Story here:

I’m still at a loss for how he thought this made sense. His rationale was about taking the pressure off a new Council and letting them decide what they wanted to do, rather than saddling them with this decision that is apparently so difficult only he can make it.

The original contract was to end, presumably, in October 2019 (three years from when the CAO was hired). That would give the 2018-2022 council a year to work with the man, and decide what they want to do. (Let’s put aside momentarily all of the problems with the tainted hiring process, etc.)

So, Caslin extends it. But, he doesn’t extend it just until 2021 – when the 2018-2022 Council would still be able to make a decision about whether or not to keep him, he extends it to 2022 and puts the next Council in the position of saddling the 2022-2026 Council with a CAO they may or may not want.

Which is EXACTLY what he purports to have avoided for the next term of Council with his unilateral (and hopefully not binding) decision.

In Ontario, we have what we call a “weak mayor” system, in that a Mayor doesn’t make decisions on her/his own, rather their Council makes decisions. Often, the Mayor doesn’t even get a vote, unless it’s to a break a tie. Our Regional Chair operates the same way. They don’t have the power to make decisions of this nature and certainly not on their own. Rather, they carry out the wishes of Council.

So, we are then led to wonder…if Chair Caslin thought he had the authority to make this kind of decision without the input of Council, what other decisions – that we don’t yet know about – has he made without Council’s input or knowledge?

Now, let’s go back to that tainted hiring process…

To me, if a person was acting with integrity and being transparent, they would not be making any decisions (again, certainly not alone) for the next term of Council, given the controversy around the hiring of this CAO. Everything already looks bad. Doing something like this only makes it look worse. The arrogance of ignoring the public’s concerns; of ignoring Council’s concerns, and providing a contract extension is beyond the pale.

Further, given that we’re just 59 days away from an election, one has to wonder how he thought this would play with the electorate….

It’s beyond time to Reset the Region. We need a chair and councillors who understand very well what their roles are and who will make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens of Niagara.

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