Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

New Town Clerk Arrives

Posted by auroracitizen on November 30, 2009

We have a new Town Clerk to replace Lucille King, but they won’t be called a Town Clerk — according to the Nov 24th Town Press Release he is the Director of Customer & Legislative Services. We are not really sure what that means and the Press Release wasn’t very clear, but he is definitely taking on the role of Town Clerk.

You will recall Ms King’s abrupt departure with 3 weeks notice after she released, in accordance with the rules of her position, the report from Mr Nitkin to Councillor Buck without the approval of Mayor Phyllis Morris.

Well her replacement has arrived — John Leach — a 20 year veteran, mostly in Vaughan. The interesting news is that Mr Leach was dismissed from his job at Vaughan. The Toronto Star reported this in November 2007.

As an aside, it would be interesting to hear Councillor MacEachern’s thoughts on this issue since she was the key proponent of the recount a numbers of years ago when the Town initiated some electronic voting. After spending approx. $10,000, the then Town Clerk was shown to have acted completely appropriately and the votes were confirmed as correct. Another total waste of Town funds on a personal agenda.

Now this hiring could be good news, since it could mean he stood up for what is right and paid the price. Or possibly he was following direction from Council and ended up as the fall-guy for their actions. We will probably never know, so let’s not jump to conclusions. Let’s evaluate his performance on its merits here in Aurora.

Hopefully, having a senior staff who has experience working with a dysfunctional Council will be to our benefit — time will tell.

31 Responses to “New Town Clerk Arrives”

  1. said

    I believe two members of staff were the subject of fallacious and unsubstantiated accusations of wrong-doing in Walter mMestrinaro’s recent foray against the town’s administration. Our assistant solicitor, now taking her leave, was one of the targets . A valuable member of Treasury staff was another.

  2. White Knight said

    I commented on Councillor Buck’s blog a couple of weeks ago. I was wondering who the 2 men were with whom the mayor was huddled around the table in her office. I was pretty sure that one was Mr. Garbe but wasn’t sure about the other. I wondered if the huddling was about the recruitment of the new town clerk (this was before the appointment was announced).
    Now, we all know that the mayor doesn’t read such publications (as she has sworn many times) but, call it coincidence – or not, since I posted my comment her blinds have been drawn. So much for openness and transparency!! She believes so much in transparency that she is now hiding behind blinds in broad daylight. I NEVER saw the blinds drawn prior my comment and I pass the town hall almost every day. Perhaps she is suffering from migraines due to the latest staff issues.

  3. Following Events said

    What is the story behind this job listing?:

    Is it newly-created or renamed (like many others) or cleaved from an existing position?

    • said

      The story is the consultant study to re-organise the administration. The job description describes the function of the person currently doing the job who has been doing the job with complete competence for the last seven years.She came o the job with excellent credentials and experience.

      She ran afoul of the mayor and Councillor MacEachern at the outset of the term in responding to the request to explain the meaning of the term corporate communicatioon.

      There is a requisite for an academic qualification in the job posting that she does not have. Nor am I aware it has ever been suggested she should obtain the same. The town has a policy of providing financial support to any employee willingto spend the time obtaining additional training or education which would be of benefit to the municipality.

      The positiomn is open to external competition. The person currently holding the position is free to compete for her job.Now watch what happens.

    • Anonymous for a reason said

      My heart goes out to the “incumbant”. She is yet another victim of MorMac’s reign of terror. Each week brings another incredulous tale from the town hall. How can this be exposed in a more public media?

    • Broderick Epps said

      Re: Ms. Buck’s response. I guess its safe to say we now know the next person who will be leaving the employ of the Town.

    • Council Cop said

      What is also of interest is that the town communications employee that needs to reapply for the job she has been doing so well for so many years has had glowing job reviews all along, with the exception of the last couple of years when no job reviews have been conducted because of senior staff turn over.

      I have to wonder if a wrongful dismissal or effective dismissal law suit is the potential outcome of this latest mismanagement.

  4. said

    Hope springs eternal.

    The fact is, we must have a clerk. The position is pivotal. He must be an encyclopedia of knowledge. He must have a circle of clerks to draw upon for solutions to problems not heretofore experienced.He must have a good working relationship with provincial municipal affairs.

    He must be completely confident but quietly unobtrusive in public.
    Council must function within our bylaws and relevant provincial legislation. He must know his stuff. He has statutory powers and responsibilities which must be acknowledged and respected.

    No elected official can reasonably be expected to have all the rules and regulations at their finger-tips. The clerk’s hand needs to be at the elbow of the Presiding Member while the member is presiding.

    A clerk who has mastery is a joy to behold. But it takes the eyes of an eagle to catch the action. .

    All that said, we still have the same problem we had before.

  5. Council Cop said

    It looks like just another day at the Town Hall…

    The Assistant Solicitor, Zella Phillips has apparently just handed in her notice.

    The Mayor’s executive assistant is also apparently off on stress leave. I guess that working at the City of Toronto for so many years could not have prepared Robin for Aurora’s style of politics. It’s a shame that such bad things can happen to such good people.

    One has to wonder if the Mayor is going to try and suggest that all of this is just normal staff turnover. Lord knows that the tone the Mayor has set at the Town Hall couldn’t possibly have anything to do with these latest departures, at least as far as the Mayor is likely to see it !!!

    • Anonymous said

      apparently she’s joining the town of newmarket…

    • Anonymous for a reason said

      The Mayor’s exec asst. will be the next for the chop and everyone will know why despite whatever spin her mayorship tries.
      The costs to the town as a result of Morris will need their own line in the budget.

  6. Knowledgeable in Aurora said

    I heard a rumor this morning that two more staff are gone. The Mayor’s assistant is apparently off on stress leave and the Assistant Solicitor gave her notice. Unbelieveable!

    • said

      An e-mail was circulated yesterday in response to a query from Mr. Elliott,Interim Treasurer. The message refers to an “inappropriate” rumour which found its way to the media.
      Apparently Robyn, The Mayor’s Executive Assistant is doing well but will not be back in the office for another week. The wording of the e-mail was approved by Robyn

  7. KB said

    Hopefully, Mr. Leach will bring not only experience, but also a back bone, with him to his new position.
    I have to question why
    a. He’d want the job in light of the last 3 years of dictatorship
    b. Was he chosen to be the next “yes” man?
    Becareful Mr. Leach, you too could be fired for standing up for your principles.

  8. Fred said

    Does anyone read Stephen Somerville’s column in The Auroran?

    • someone who loves this town more than politics said

      It is unfortunate that Stephen Somerville’s column is on the same page as Scott Johnston, I read the latter with much respect and feel more informed from Mr. Johnston’s message, but by proximity then have to wade through Mr Somerville’s drivel and have to wonder if he suffers from developmental issues that keep his writing at a grade 4 level. I always leave Mr. Somerville’s column feeling a little more bewildered and in search of a crossword or a Sudoku puzzle to prove to myself that my intelligence is intact and has not been compromised.

      In regards to this weeks’ column, he uses the late Dick Illingworth’s statements as a launching point.

      Mr Illingworth was correct in his assessment of a “weak mayor system”.
      I am very thankful that the municipal act doesn’t extend additional powers to the head of council.
      As far as I’m concerned we got this right, everyone around the council table is equal, although the majority at our council don’t see it this way.

      Mr Illingworth was speaking about building a team, through trust, in an already formed council.
      This is a facet of leadership.

      Mr. Somerville’s fanciful notion of a “strong mayor system” is not this at all.
      He is proposing that candidates run as teams, or members of a party or a slate before they are elected to council.

      Warning bells should be going off here.

      Mr. Somervilless rationale is that “any measure” to peak interest in voting should be examined. I disagree, this measure is drastic and I have no desire to see municipal politics diluted by introducing existing party lines.

      I doubt if Mr Illingworth were still alive that he would endorse this approach.

      Are we as a public really that stupid to need to have official political party designations on municipal candidates for us to make a decision? If so then we are doomed.

      Anyone who can’t bother to take the time and understand the issues shouldn’t have it glossed over for them.

      Reducing an election to voting for a “party” and not the candidate is what has failed us at the provincial and federal level. Municipal politics are free of this level of crap and we should be happy about it.

      An “Opposition party” at the municipal level, is as laughable, and unnecessary as Mr. Somerville’s column.

      Once parties are formed and operate as blocks in council, as we have seen with our current one there is no opportunity for independent thought.

      I think Mr. Somerville needs to read his own words, and in his words, is the one that needs to come “out of the closet”, or at least step of his “front porch” and experience the world the rest of us Aurorans live in.

  9. White Knight said

    To anyone who can answer my question:
    Who actually recruits a town clerk? Town administration staff or, God forbid, the council?

    • Knowledgeable in Aurora said

      Typically the HR department starts the process with a recruitment strategy. It can include internal and external postings and if they recommend an outside agency Council may be required to approve an exptediture, otherwise HR together with the CAO would vet applicants, conduct first interviews and short list candidates. Council would then interview the shortlisted candidates with HR and the CAO present and make their recommendation to the CAO who would then proceed with offers of employment subject to the candidates willingness to accept. I believe this is the process for all Senior or Department Head positions. Anything below that should have no Council involvement.

    • Fred said

      So…..the Mayor has a HUGE influence on the hiring of all senior staff.

    • Anne said

      If the recruitment process is anything like the process of appointing citizen members to advisory committees, then we are doomed.

  10. Positive 2010 said

    I saw “Three wise men “in the Christmas Parade and thought maybe they would be great on council .
    Better still The Mayor could hire them but smart people by now must know better ….unless they are ” Yes ” people .

  11. Grace Marsh said

    I had the pleasure of working with John for 5 years in Vaughan. I found him to be decisive and he knew his stuff. As most of you know the newspapers often do not have the whole story in situations like his, so don’t read too much into the Star’s accounting of his departure from Vaughan. One of the serious problems we have today, is the lack of experience and knowledge of the Clerk’s position. That will not be an issue with John. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

    • Lot's Wife said

      With all due respect, the $600,000 cited in the article would buy a very large pinch of salt.

    • Junius said

      Thanks Grace,

      I value your judgement. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do find it difficult not to view this with a jaundiced eye.

      But, I will work at keeping an open mind!

  12. broderick Epps said

    “You will recall Ms King’s abrupt departure with 3 weeks notice after she released, in accordance with the rules of her position, the report from Mr Nitkin to Councillor Buck without the approval of Mayor Phyllis Morris.”

    Read this statement several times and it will become quite evident that MS. King was FIRED for doing what she was required to do. Since what was required ran counter to Ms. Morris’ agenda it was your out of here. Two town clerks in three years, a CAO, several town lawyers,senior works department officials,… you get the drift. Ms Morris who touts her HR experience in her resume on the Town Website can’t work with staff. Its been her problem since she became a Councillor. If re-elected the carousel will continue as she seeks compliant to her, patsies in senior positions to coverup the fact she is over her head as a leader.For those that want to dispute me, look at Granger/Gaertner/Gallo/Wilson …her team.Name one instant where they took a contrarian stand against Morris.
    Look for Mr Leach to either be a “yes Ms.Morris yes Ms. Morris three bags full” Town Clerk or a soon to be ex-Town Clerk. Neither bodes well for Aurora.

    • Anonymous for a reason said

      If Ms. King was fired, then there is a real possibility that there were further legal expenses in association with a firing of a senior staff member. Plus a tidy severance. All unnecessary costs to the town because of Morris’ vendetta against Councillor Buck.

  13. Richard Johnson said

    “Customer & Legislative Services”… nice handle. I wonder if it will actually translate into better customer and legislative service ?

    Will this new job description mean that people like me and reporter Sean Pearce of the Banner will still have to file Freedom of Information requests in order to get some of the most basic questions answered ? This is hardly what I would call a responsive and transparent government of late so here’s hoping that we have just turned a corner; and just in time for the next election I note !

    I’m still waiting for responses to two simple questions, however the legal deadline is December 11th so I expect to receive something late on the 10th.

    • Anonymous for a reason said

      Richard, I applaud your letter to the Banner editor last week. Can you share what the two simple questions are that require a FOI?

    • Richard Johnson said

      To “Anonymous for a reason” , December 1, Regarding my two Freedom of Information Requests

      My two FOI requests are rather simple but I trust that if (and that’s a big “IF”) the truth ever comes out they could be quite telling.

      My first question of the town tries to clarify what the town’s procedures are for removing material from the town’s website. You will recall that Deputy Mayor McRoberts tabled a motion to remove the material posted on the town’s website that called into question unspecified actions of Councillor Buck’s. Council clearly stated that it wanted to move on from the corresponding “Integrity Issue” and yet at the very same time, in the same council meeting, they refused to remove the offending material from the website by justifying that to do so would be “reconsideration” of an earlier motion, which is not allowed. This logic strikes me as being a potential manipulation of procedural rules.

      If the Mayor’s interpretation of the rules is in fact correct then anything posted on the town’s website by an order in council without a clearly stated expiry date can never be removed by a later order in council. I tried for weeks to get a response to this simple question from Mr. Cooper who was the acting Town Clerk and Solicitor, but to this date he has never sent me a response of any kind. The Deputy Mayor even asked politely for the Clerk to respond to my three e-mails but to no avail. Not a peep.

      My second question stems from the fact that while Mayor Morris appears to be running around the town and indeed the province trying to state that Aurora can serve as an example for implementing a code of conduct and for setting a new tone of civility in government affairs, she at the same time has called into question the former Integrity Commissioner’s professional credentials without being challenged. As a result of the Mayor making statements to AMO, The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the media in which she suggested that Mr. Nitkin was not qualified to be an Integrity Commissioner, the Mayor was eventually issued a cease an desist order. I have good reason to believe that merely hours after receiving the said cease and desist order the Mayor also went as far as to say or imply to a reporter that Mr. Nitkin was fired from the town because he falsified his resume as it relates to his past relationship with the Association of the Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). I trust that you will agree that this is a VERY serious allegation for anyone to make, let alone to be made by a Mayor against a former Integrity Commissioner !

      Given his international credentials and his line of work, it understandable that Mr. Nitkin was obviously shocked to hear of this assertion and he pointed out to me that his report was actually posted on AMO’s website for some time which suggests that the Mayor’s assertions were very likely unmerited and groundless. I also know that at least some councillors had never heard of the Mayor’s claim in this regard, therefore I wanted to know officially why the town fired Mr. Nitkin one day after releasing a report that the Mayor found unfavourable.

      If the Mayor turns around and denies that any such thing was said as was claimed by the reporter, then only she and the reporter will know the truth.

      At this stage I do not expect a timely response or a straight answer from the town but clearly this is not the government we were promised in the last election and the Mayor is hardly setting the example that she espouses to live up to as far as I am concerned.

    • broderick Epps said

      Richard.The point about Ms. Morris publically accusing Mr. Nitkin falsifying his credentials is quite serious.The Mayor (yes the one with over ten years HR Experience… her words) should know casting stones at someone you have dismissed leaves one open to litigation for defamation or damaging Mr. Nitkin`s ability to get work.If what you have said is true Ms. Morris is treading on dangerous waters. The fact her HR experience may be overblown if non-existent is soo ironic especially given today`s departure from the town.

  14. Junius said

    Once again, the Town is creating the impression it is doing what is expedient rather than what is right.

    Arguably, the Town Clerk is the most important non-elected official in the Municipality. The impartiality of the position must be paramount. Or, as expressed in other terms, it is not good enough for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done.

    If the article in the Toronto Star is correct, then Mr. Leach acts (or, at least acted once) in an arbitrary manner – not a desirable trait. (And, if that is the case, then Mayor Morris will find a reason to fire him. )

    If, as mused in the main post, he was just following direction from Council, then one must question his impartiality.

    I agree that Mr. Leach should be given an opportunity to prove himself. But it is exceedingly difficult not to approach this with a jaundiced eye. We can only hope.

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