Tem­po­rary re­place­ment hire ruf­fles coun­cil­lors’ feath­ers

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY PAUL HERRIDGE

Coun. Charles Wis­combe has sug­gested he be re­placed as chair of Marys­town Town Coun­cil’s Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee.

He expressed his dis­agree­ment with the way coun­cil hired a tem­po­rary re­place­ment for a key staff mem­ber.

Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor Daisy Se­nior has been on sick leave from her po­si­tion, since the be­gin­ning of the year.

Coun. Dave Brenton brought a mo­tion for­ward dur­ing Tues­day’s meet­ing Dan Walsh, a heavy duty me­chanic with the town, who had ap­plied for the po­si­tion in­ter­nally, be hired to fill the po­si­tion for the next six months.

In do­ing so, he stressed the po­si­tion was tem­po­rary and noted if Mrs. Se­nior was un­able to re­turn to work af­ter six months, the job would be opened to the pub­lic.

The mo­tion passed but with both Couns. Wis­combe and Leonard Pittman vot­ing against the pro­posal.

Coun. Wis­combe said he wanted to go on record to state his dis­ap­point­ment the de­ci­sion to bring a mo­tion for­ward to hire Mr. Walsh was made dur­ing a priv­i­leged meet­ing May 6, which had been called to dis­cuss the town’s wa­ter treat­ment plant.

He said the meet­ing turned into a dis­cus­sion of sev­eral other mo­tions, in­clud­ing the Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor po­si­tion, which he said he per­son­ally didn’t feel ready to deal with at the time and asked to have de­layed.

“As chair of Pub­lic Works, I had not had any dis­cus­sion on hir­ing other than sug­gest­ing we, as a com­mit­tee, ad­ver­tise the po­si­tion.”

Coun. Wis­combe said a con­ver­sa­tion to make the mo­tion must have taken place prior to the meet­ing, or it wouldn’t have come up, and noted he felt a rec­om­men­da­tion should have come from the Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee.

Con­sult­ing his councillor’s hand­book af­ter­wards, he pointed out the guide in­di­cated coun­cil has a duty to

“Per­son­ally, I can’t do this when I don’t know what is be­ing dis­cussed un­til the last minute, and this is not the first time that we ended up in this sit­u­a­tion.”

– Coun. Charles Wis­combe

eth­i­cally pre­pare for coun­cil and com­mit­tee meet­ings.

“Per­son­ally, I can’t do this when I don’t know what is be­ing dis­cussed un­til the last minute, and this is not the first time that we ended up in this sit­u­a­tion.”

Upon fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion of the hand­book, he said he felt he wasn’t given proper no­tice to dis­cuss an­other topic at the priv­i­leged meet­ing and there­fore his request to have the dis­cus­sion post­poned should have been granted.

Coun. Wis­combe also sug­gested coun­cil didn’t ad­e­quately con­sider the fall­out from pro­mot­ing an in­di­vid­ual in house.


A sec­ond mo­tion to hire a per­ma­nent heavy-duty me­chanic was brought for­ward and passed later in Tues­day’s meet­ing.

“I just want that on the record so I can ex­press my dis­plea­sure and con­sid­er­ing what has tran­spired, I be­lieve, Mr. Mayor, it’s in your best in­ter­est to ap­point some­body else to my po­si­tion, be­cause I don’t think I have the con­fi­dence of coun­cil to deal with this sit­u­a­tion.

“As Pub­lic Works chair, if I did, then I would have been in­volved in the de­ci­sion mak­ing at a greater stand.”

Coun. Pittman said he was of the un­der­stand­ing the tem­po­rary po­si­tion was go­ing to be ad­ver­tised both in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally.

“I’ll have to bring for­ward that from here on in if I don’t have the in­for­ma­tion, I’m go­ing to vote against what­ever it is. Un­less I feel com­fort­able with some­thing, I’m go­ing to have to vote against it.”

Coun. Brenton in­di­cated it should be made clear staffing is­sues are of­ten dealt with out­side the pub­lic fo­rum first, sug­gest­ing “ hope­fully with a rec­om­men­da­tion as a solid body when we do come to the pub­lic.”

As for other con­se­quences of pro­mot­ing from within, he said coun­cil holds a per­son from mov­ing up be­cause there is no im­me­di­ate fill in for the va­cated po­si­tion.

“ What you do, if you pro­mote some­body, you deal with the con­se­quences. You don’t hold some­body back.”

Coun. Brenton ar­gued the de­ci­sion to hire a tem­po­rary Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor didn’t come out of the blue. He noted the po­si­tion has been empty for five months, which sug­gested Pub­lic Works should have al­ready dealt with the is­sue.

Deputy Mayor Keith Keat­ing later ac­knowl­edged the mat­ter was brought up “at al­most ev­ery meet­ing,” af­ter ini­tially wait­ing 6-8 weeks fol­low­ing Mrs. Se­nior’s de­par­ture. But Town Clerk/Man­ager Den­nis Kelly sug­gested dur­ing those times it wasn’t im­me­di­ately nec­es­sary to bring some­one else in.

Coun. Keat­ing also in­di­cated his un­der­stand­ing from Mr. Kelly was the po­si­tion had to be ad­ver­tised in­ter­nally first.

Coun. Brenton said the tem­po­rary Op­er­a­tions Di­rec­tor po­si­tion was ad­ver­tised in­ter­nally, for two to three weeks, be­fore the priv­i­leged meet­ing.

“So, I can’t see how this was sprung upon any­body. You knew that we ad­ver­tised in­ter­nally, and we we’re go­ing to have to deal with it. We were ei­ther go­ing to take any in­ter­nal ap­pli­cants, or we were go­ing to go out­side.

“ There was a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion. Some peo­ple wanted to go out­side. It would have been tough be­cause it would have stale­mated the whole op­er­a­tion, I say, for an­other month or two months.”

The per­ma­nent heavy-duty me­chanic po­si­tion will be ad­ver­tised in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally, sub­ject to the gov­ern­ing col­lec­tive agree­ment.

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