Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Douglas Jay does not stay

They aren’t saying when, how, where and most importantly why, but Mayor Jack Mussallem representing the city of Prince Rupert did say who, advising Rupertites that Douglas Jay, formerly the city’s Corporate Administrator is no longer working for the city.

The long running staffing situation apparently came to a conclusion over the holiday period, with the two sides deciding to move on, at least that’s the impression that Mayor Jack Mussallem is presenting, this after sharp eyed locals noticed that Mr. Jay’s former job was recently put up for consideration with an advertisement in the Daily News.

Mr. Jay had not been working at City Hall for a number of months now, his departure from the offices of 3rd avenue running in a parallel timeframe to the tempest created over the hiring of Tannalee Hesse, the wife of city Manager Gord Howie over the summer.

Ms. Hesse’s hiring by the city, without the benefit of the proper procedures being followed, created a very heated few months over the summer, as many local residents focused on the hiring as just the tip of their concerns over some of the machinations of city hall of late. (See Podunkian passims here, here, here and here)

While little was ever said about the status of Mr. Jay, or why he no longer conducted his duties on behalf of the city, the timing of his departure and the hiring controversy sparked any number of concerns and rumours around the city over the course of the summer.

Since that controversial period, the city held a number of closed door meetings to sort out internal issues, including one meeting that raised more than a few eyebrows, that after the city rented out the penthouse of the Coast Hotel to conduct civic business.

It was under that ongoing layer of intrigue that Mr. Jay’s employment prospects seem to have been the focus of council’s attention, a long running situation that apparently led to the final decision to part ways announced this week.

While the Mayor has fallen back on the always popular cloak of city policy of confidentiality over employment matters, there will no doubt be questions raised around the city regarding the departure of Mr. Jay, many of them unanswered ones from the summer period and now new ones concerning any additional payouts of benefits and salaries. Not to mention the need to once again seek out upper management resumes at a time when the city is still struggling financially.

While employment matters most likely do have a certain amount of confidentiality about them, the lack of transparency from both this new council and the past one on the reasons regarding his departure and the lack of detail on any potential severance packages, will no doubt still keep the curious interested and definitely will keep the rumours floating.

The Daily News reviewed the latest details of the mystery as part of Monday’s paper.

Senior municipal manager parts ways with city
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, January 12, 2009
Page one

Mayor Jack Mussallem cannot say exactly when it happened or who decided it, but he confirms it is a fact that the city's Corporate Administrator Doug Jay is no longer with the city.

Mussallem confirmed the city had parted company with Jay after an ad was placed in Wednesday's edition of the Daily News.

Citing city policy, Mussallem said he could not speak about the details of the contract's termination, only that he could say it has happened and that the city was set to move on.

"We're moving on and Mr. Jay is moving on and that's all I can say about it," said Mussallem.

City council watchers widely believed the municipality was discussing Jay’s employment during a special meeting of Council held in the Coast Hotel two days before the local elections, while former Mayor Herb Pond was still in office.

Pond said at the time that the current council would keep a very busy agenda right up until the new council took over on the evening of Dec. 1, when the new council was sworn in.

While it is not clear when the ending of the contract came about, Councillor Nelson Kinney said that no vote or decision was made officially in the Coast Hotel that evening.

According to Kinney, official word that Jay was no longer with the city was news to him.

He said that while council had decided to vote a certain way in the closed meeting in December, he was under the impression there were some legalities to work out before the contract was ended.

"When we had the meeting we had it voted on and the rest of it was up to the lawyers," said Kinney.

"I've never been told straight-out that he's gone."

Jay is understood to have been on sick leave since April.

The city was embroiled in controversy at the time he went on leave after it was revealed that the municipality had employed the wife of City Manager Gord Howie for 18 months of contract work without tendering the vacancy.

The majority of the contracts with the contractor were signed by Pond at the time, who cited a need to make an unusual decision at an unusual time because the city was bereft of qualified candidates to complete the work offered to Hesse.

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