The media is reporting Saanich council is hiring an interim CAO now, with the eventual selection of a permanent CAO made by next November’s new council, so one year away, minimum.
Not only is the time lost a concern but of far greater concern is the timing of hiring for this most senior management position; it is being politicized. Mayor Fred Haynes suggests this position can and often does run with the electoral cycle. This is simply not correct nor should it be. What have we missed at the mayor’s standing committee on finance and governance, and council’s preponderance of in-camera meetings, all closed with very little or no public record.
This position requires a near-perfect match of knowledge and long-term experience, with the ability to be open and accountable on everything to elected officials and hundreds of employees. It should not be a political appointment, assuming a cycle tied to elections. What extra costs will arise for time, staff, applicants and taxpayers for this? All hirings for temporary appointments can lessen accountability compared to hiring the permanent person right away: is this acceptable?
What good reason not to maintain continuity; choose now instead of next December?
There are also serious questions within the community regarding the point(s) of contention in today’s workings between staff and council that have caused Mayor Haynes’ announcement. We still hear nothing about the reasons for Mr. Thorkelsson’s termination; no mention of possible severance pay. Silence on the circumstance is neither fair to the parties nor circumstantially tolerable. If there is no ‘just cause,’ taxpayers could well be on the hook for many thousands of dollars. If there is, then no severance pay should be necessary. But none of the items mentioned so far have transparency.