Hiring & Firing practices questioned following the dismissal of Recreation Director
The Town of St. Paul Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Holly Habiak was under fire, by the residents, at Monday’s Town Council meeting. More than 35 residents filled Council chambers to display their outrage at the dismissal of a popular employee, Gary Ward. Ward was dismissed as the Recreation Director earlier this month following months of speculation that his job was in jeopardy.
Despite the apparent outcry of support for Ward, any person wishing to speak at a Council meeting must be on the agenda. Since the group was not, Town Council had to vote to allow a representative for the group, Paul E Boisvert to speak. Town Council voted unanimously to allow Boisvert to address Council and CAO Habiak. “There’s a state of unrest in the community,” Boisvert’s opening remarks were quoted that there was a “lack of confidence” in Town Administration.
Habiak was appointed Town CAO following the dismissal of Harvey Filger. The security of Ward’s position of Recreation Director was questioned earlier this year, under Filger’s appointment as CAO. On March 14th, Council chambers were packed with over 40 people wanting answers to rumours that Ward would be dismissed as Recreation Director– this was prior to Habiak’s appointment of CAO.
At that time, Boisvert says he became increasingly frustrated with Council over decisions the group had made over the past year. He stated that he came to a breaking point when rumours spread throughout town that the Town was looking to relieve the Recreation Director, Gary Ward, of his duties. Boisvert, speaking for the group, wanted to know how major town decisions were being made, why the residents were unaware of the decisions, and if Council and the Mayor were involved in the hiring and firing of Town employees.
On Monday evening, Boisvert asked that Habiak undergo an independent investigation into Town practices. Habiak, pointing out that no other municipality does such a practice, stated that she would consult a lawyer before making any decision on the request. Further, Habiak suggested the group follow proper protocol and take action with Municipal Affairs. Boisvert stated the group had already spoken with Municipal Affairs and pointed out that the request is not against the Municipal Government Act. Habiak affirmed that due diligence would have to be taken, she would consult a lawyer and personally speak with Boisvert following her consultation.
Boisvert was quoted as stating “the administration of this town sucks; it royally sucks. What kind of ethical BS is going on?” He urged other concerned residents to press their Councillors for answers.