Lawyer clears D’Angelo hiring process
Marvin Huberman didn’t have access to key digital document
The lawyer hired to investigate the 2016 hiring of Carmen D’Angelo as Niagara Region’s chief administrative officer has found the process was not done improperly.
However, Marvin Huberman of the Toronto law Firm ADR Chambers, told regional council Thursday that if he had access to sources and a key digital document used by The Standard in an April expose that found D’Angelo obtained confidential information about other candidates for the job, the conclusions in his 43-page report may have been different.
“I wish I had access to every single piece of information that’s missing in this piece, but unfortunately we don’t,” Huberman said. “And part of the problem is there are people apparently that are sources of this information that apparently know who sent it to who and when and so on and so forth, but they are insisting on remaining anonymous and none of the documentation they purport to have has been produced even by the newspaper. There is nothing else we can do.”
In his presentation to council Huberman said he could not use The Standard’s reporting as evidence because a news report is legally considered hearsay rather than direct evidence.
Huberman did accept D’Angelo’s statement that he did not receive the memo but that his recollection is imprecise.
D’Angelo told Huberman he was busy with the Niagara-onthe-Lake recruiting process in September 2016 and then his phone was stolen so he cannot check his emails from that period. Huberman said common sense suggests D’Angelo’s answers were “improbable” but he could not find they were not credible or unreliable because they were consistent with other statements by him.
“I am therefore hesitant to devalue Carmen D’Angelo’s statements based on perceived inconsistencies or suspicion alone,” Huberman wrote.
Huberman’s report says the memo that outlined the biographies of five candidates for the $230,000 a year job was written by Robert D’Amboise, the policy director for Regional Chair Alan Caslin, at Caslin’s behest. The lawyer further concluded the memo was not sent to D’Angelo.
However, Huberman told councillors he only had knowledge of a paper copy of the memo, and did not have access to the digital version that was at the heart of the Standard’s months-long investigation.
The electronic document, obtained by The Standard, contains digital information showing it was created by D’Amboise. Other digital information obtained by The Standard shows D’Angelo had the memo in September 2016, nearly a month before interviews were conducted.
Candidate information is to be kept confidential and is not shared with those applying for the job to ensure fairness.
The Standard has not established how D’Angelo obtained the memo.
Key sources in The Standard’s expose reached out to Huberman during his 30-day investigation offering to provide information about the CAO hiring process on the condition that Huberman kept their identities confidential.
Huberman said he could not make that promise.
Council voted to accept Huberman’s recommendations, including hiring an external governance auditor and develop training so that councillors and staff better understand their code of conduct, by-laws and the Municipal Act.
To read more about this story and the full report go online to www.stcatharinesstandard.ca.
Fort Erie councillor Sandy Annunziata and Port Colborne councillor David Barrick talk during a Niagara Regional council meeting.
Protesters outside of Niagara Regional Headquarters before a council meeting. Thursday.
Toronto lawyer Marvin J. Huberman gives his presentation on the CAO hiring process in front of regional councillors.