–Britt Santowski, SPN
Sooke PocketNews is trying to get to the bottom of District of Sooke hiring dilemma: either a District of Sooke Council directive is ignored or a four year employment contract worth $460,000 is directly appointed.
On March 14, Sooke Council voted on and issued a directive to staff to compete a position, the position of Director of Corporate Services that Sullivan direct-appointed to a former colleague, Mr. Joseph (pictured). This council directive must be executed. At the same time, that position is clearly (and now permanently) owned by Mr. Joseph, now an employee. His probationary period has passed. He cannot be forced to re-apply for a job that he already owns.
Backstory and timeline
- February 1, 2016: Mr. Joseph was direct-appointed as Director of Corporate Services for the District of Sooke. At that time, he signed an employee contract, (annual pay of $115K, four weeks vacation and two additional weeks in lieu of overtime, and six months probation).
- March 14: Council directs staff to compete that job.
- July 12: Four months later, the Director of Corporate Services and Corporate Officer job position is posted
- July 31: The probation period ends on Mr. Joseph’s contract. He is now a permanent employee.
- August 2: SPN calls the District of Sooke to see if Mr. Joseph is still employed. He is. A subsequent job posting for a Wastewater Operator (Aug 8) directs applicants to apply to Mr. Joseph, so he it would appear that he is still in the position.
- September 1 4:30pm: Job posting for Mr. Joseph job closes.
The concern had been earlier raised by a resident (Gail Hall) of Sooke in a letter to Sooke PocketNews, which was published on August 4. (Letter: Is the Sooke Director of Corporate Services staying or going? Sooke resident calls for leadership.)
SPN has been trying to get answers.
Attempts to get information from the District
On August 6, SPN sent the following email to CAO Te.resa Su.llivan and Sooke Mayor Maja Tait:
Subject: Clarification on the status of the current job posting for Director of Corporate Services and Corporate Officer
Can someone explain to me how the job posting for Director of Corporate Services and Corporate Officer is now going to work?
Is that job still being competed?
If so, won’t that be in violation of Mr. Joseph’s contract? Since he has successfully passed his probation period, my understanding is that his contract is now pretty solid. Breaking that would require buying him out.
If not, doesn’t that go in direct conflict with the council directive from the March 14 Council meeting to compete the job?
From what I can see, there is a bit of a dilemma here: the job HAS to be competed as that was what Council explicitly directed on March 14, yet it CAN’T be competed without risking (real) litigation as Mr. Joseph passed his probationary period on July 31.
I do plan to write about this, so this is your opportunity to provide clarification and/or correct any mis-understanding I may have.
Thank you for your attention to the matter, a response would be appreciated.
Multiple emails produce no informative results
We received an almost-immediate response from Sooke CAO T.eresa Sulli.van.
“I will respond on Monday,” she writes, assuring us “There is a difference between a contractor and a full time employment position with the DOS.”
Now, we are really curious, as the contract signed by both Sullivan and Joseph is uses the term “employee” repeatedly when referencing Mr. Joseph. Besides there being a “contract” signed, there is no identification of a contractor.
On Monday, we issued a follow-up reminder.
“You likely won’t get one until tomorrow,” responded Ms. Sullivan on Monday. “I’ve been in meetings all day and am leaving right now for another in Victoria.”
On Tuesday, we issued two reminders. We heard nothing back.
On Wednesday morning we issued a third. We received notice from the Mayor, indicating that due to medical reasons, Sullivan is off work and is “unable to reply at this time.” Yet, it was reported through multiple sources that Sullivan was indeed at the office on Monday morning.
So, as it stands, this article is without a resolution.
Why print an incomplete article?
This is an incomplete article. There is no answer, no conclusion. Without input from the District, we cannot wrap up this article. Yet, it is important. As far as we can determine, either a Council directive is ignored or a four year employment contract worth $460,000 is directly appointed. Neither is a desirable.
After weighing pros and cons, and engaging in a number of consultations, we have decided to print the first half of this story.
It is our hope that in publishing this first half, the District responds to fill in the second half.
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