Fellow councillors played no role in the decision
by Bill Sawchuk - The St. Catharines Standard
Regional Chair Alan Caslin admitted, during a special meeting of council on Thursday, that he unilaterally extended the contract of embattled CAO Carmen D'Angelo.
D'Angelo's is paid $230,000 a year on a contract that was was to have ended in 2019, with the option to extend it for two more years, which would take agreement to 2021.
Caslin said he signed the extension himself. It also appears he added another year on the deal, which means taxpayers will be paying D'Angelo until 2022.
Council, which votes on the hiring of the CAO, played no role in the decision. No vote was held. No bylaw was enacted.
"Without extending that contract, it would have left council extending a contract in perhaps the last months of their term," he said.
Caslin also appeared to tell council he took the liberty of adding another year to the original deal, so a "new council would have had the opportunity to extend the contract with the existing CAO — or pick a new one."
Caslin said he made the decision "without any malice" and that he wasn't acting in an "underhanded manner."
"It just made more sense to me," he said. "Whether I had the authority or not, we can talk about that. If I didn't, I apologize. I thought I was doing the right thing for the corporation in extending it to the new council session.
"I am not trying to hide from it. If I made a mistake, I have no problem in owning up to it."
The information about the extension originally came to light during a closed-door session at a council meeting at the end of July.
Council went behind closed doors to learn more about the hiring process for the CAO position.
During the closed-door session human resources staff told councillors that it would cost $1 million to terminate D'Angelo's employment.
Councillors have been pressing staff for details ever since.
St. Catharines Coun. Bruce Timms said he had been requesting to see the CAO's contract since Aug. 15 — with no luck.
"Contract should be totally public, other than the address of the CAO," he said.
D'Angelo said he would agree to councillors seeing the contract but was worried the information would be leaked to the public.
The suggestion was made that the director of human resources would allow councillors to read the contract in his office — and only under his direct supervision.
The news comes on the heels of council voting to ask the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate the hiring process.
Members of Caslin's staff supplied D'Angelo with confidential information about the hiring process, including questions that would be asked by the search committee.
The confidential information would have given D'Angelo an unfair advantage over other candidates that applied for the job.