After the previous post which introduced the origins of the fractured nature of Town Council, it seemed logical to start a detailed look where that one left-off, that being the February 2020 scuffle over the CAO, Harry Schlange. But in the name of completeness, we will start back a little further.
July 3, 2019 – The Man For The Job
With the municipality without a Town Manager (aka CAO) since early 2019, the Town had set out on a search for a replacement and by the summer it looks like they found their person.
At the July 3, 2019 Special Council meeting the following motion arose after the closed session:
Unfortunately, there was no recorded vote on this motion and it occurred before the Town live-streamed their meetings. The lack of a recorded vote does not mean it was unanimous nor a “5-4” vote, but rather a simple majority “show of hands” sufficed to pass the resolution to say “You’re Hired!”. Whatever the vote breakdown was, it is interesting observation that of the two motions, four out of five members of the “G5” are represented here.
From the employment contract of Harry Schlange, it is known that his official first official day on the job was September 3, 2019, but as with many administrative positions, work begins long before one’s first day.
February 4, 2020 – The CAO On “Administrative Leave”
After the CAO had only 5 months into the job, matters came to a head when someone claiming the name “Jamie Spencer” sent an email to dozens of local politicians and media outlets. The content of the correspondence raised serious allegations in the form of questions about the CAO in the workplace.
It was later learned through local media these anonymous claims were in addition to existing workplace complaints already filed by Town staff. These serious accusations and the need to deal with them immediately caused the Mayor to seek out legal advice, then put the CAO on Administrative leave. He also called a Special Meeting of Council the next day to deal with the situation.
February 5, 2020 – No-Show, No-Go
According to NewsNow, most Councillors confirmed their attendance with the Clerk for the February 5, 2020 Special Council Meeting but the minutes show that Councillors Dunstall, Kadwell, Sharpe and Vaine were absolute no-shows (Councillor Ritchie was on holidays). As a result, with less than 5 Members of Council present at the meeting no business or votes could be legally transacted.
With those Councillors having staunch support for the CAO, but being down a member due to Councillor Ritchie being on vacation, a 4-4 tie-vote on any question regarding the CAO would have resulted in a defeated and failed motion.
So why did those four Councillors suddenly become unavailable to show up for the meeting? If one or two couldn’t make it, that is possible, but when all of a sudden four of them did not show… the concept of coincidence starts to seriously wane.
February 10, 2020 – Welcome Back CAOtter
A full complement of Council attended the second attempt to discuss the CAO allegations and administrative leave on February 10th. After nearly two hours of closed session discussion, this interesting motion from Councillor Sharpe was passed:
To refresh your memory on this vote, it went this way:
|YEAS TO REINSTATING CAO|
|NAYS TO REINSTATING CAO|
And here is a clip of how the open session vote transpired on the livestream:
So what really happened here? Quite a bit.
First the resolution stated that Schlange had not been accused of any misconduct, but this excerpt from NewsNow, seems to indicate a different story:
Despite those existing concerns around workplace conduct, five members of Council, constituting a majority, voted to put the CAO right back into the workplace with possible complainants. You don’t need to be a Human Resources specialist to figure out how inappropriate that was, not to mention this was before any expert investigation even took place. The resolution was so jarring that NewsNow reported some employees in attendance were “moved to tears” and “bolted for the door” when it was passed.
Mayor Becomes “Fair Game”
Not content with simply dealing with allegations of the CAO and workplace misconduct, the resolution passed by Councillors Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, Sharpe and Vaine by its wording also targeted the Mayor and his action to put the CAO on administrative leave from the workplace. A shadow was now publicly cast over the Mayor’s actions.
The Third Party Investigation & Final Report
So what happened as a result of the “Third Party Investigation”? Well, you will find out more, shortly, in Part 2.