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  • Writer's pictureSamanntha Wright

Letter to the editor - Due diligence absent

Letter to the editor, January 8th, 2019 - submitted to Rocky View Weekly

Dear Editor,

At the Dec. 11, 2018 Rocky View County (RVC) council meeting, four councillors attempted to slow down the hiring of RVC’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Al Hoggan. Our reasoning was simple – proper process wasn’t followed.

Coun. Kevin Hanson clearly laid out the flaws in the recent CAO hiring process. The most significant were that partway through what had been a “normal” process, Reeve Greg Boehlke seized control and, over one weekend, executed an offer of employment and an employment contract supplied by the then-candidate, Al Hoggan, himself. These documents did not include any provision making them conditional on council’s approval – an approval mandated by legislation.

Discussion and agreement of the salary, benefits, probation period, and term of the contract was not had within council, and appeared to be negotiated unilaterally by Boehlke. Furthermore, these documents were not reviewed by any other member of council, RVC’s employment lawyer, nor the recruitment firm hired to oversee the CAO hiring process, until so late in the process virtually all employment terms were legally promised and rendered invariable for further negotiation.

We don’t understand how our fellow councillors can say they saw no flaws in the process. Red flags were well raised when this council’s majority approved Hoggan’s hiring on one interview, despite numerous requests for additional interaction with him and other potential candidates.

All these flaws, taken together, seriously question the due diligence with which the hiring decision was made. Worse, because of this lack of diligence, serious and potentially damaging information surfaced only after the County announced Hoggan’s appointment as CAO on Oct. 17, 2018.

On Oct. 30, 2018, the province announced it would conduct a municipal review of Kneehill County – where Hoggan had previously been the CAO. The review was prompted by a petition signed by over 20 per cent of Kneehill’s residents. The petition cited numerous questionable decisions in which Hoggan played a critical role. This highly relevant information was never disclosed to council during the hiring process.

If a CAO was the administrative leader of a municipality known to be under critical observation by the province, would his resume have survived the scrutiny of the recruitment firm? Alternatively, if a CAO had been recently investigated and was cleared, how would he/she have fared in our own hiring process? These discussions were never given a chance.

Contrary to Boehlke’s assertion, council did not “forget” to pass a resolution before he and Hoggan signed the employment documents – due to Boehlke’s fast-tracking, council was never given the opportunity. Perhaps Boehlke just doesn’t understand the appropriate process for hiring a CAO ­– an easier pill to swallow had he not been involved in hiring three others during his tenure on council. However, it should be safe to assume Hoggan, an experienced CAO, would have a thorough understanding of the process.

We find it extremely troubling that while being recruited, Hoggan never disclosed the troubles in Kneehill County, rather he left it to the grapevine to inform council. We remain unsure of the motive behind this behaviour given that it was certain to leave county leadership in an extremely precarious position.

We are truly sorry the process unfolded as it has and we wholeheartedly believe that democracy should prevail. We tried to make our colleagues understand the risks of rushing ahead before we could demonstrate we had exercised the due diligence our residents should be able to expect from us. However, we believe the failure in leadership and the blatant disregard for the process left us with no other option than to vote against hiring a CAO at this juncture.

Couns. Jerry Gautreau, Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Samanntha Wright

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