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Hiring practices at the District of Sooke questionable — 39 Comments

  1. nice work, Brit! I had misgivings when I first heard about the connection between Councillor Reay and Mrs. Sullivan though Shari Lukens’ campaign. Seems shady at best.

  2. Looks like another classic Conservative party move… Hire your friends and pay them with tax payer dollars.

  3. 70% of people that live in sooke can’t find a decent paying job anywhere near hear yet cousellors can hand out a high paying job to political affiliations. My opinion is that is a clear example of conflict of interest!

    • Lea Ann, I think there might be some exaggeration in that 70% number unless you add “in Sooke”. This isn’t a place that’s full of high-paying jobs, as there are not a lot of businesses located here. People, by and large, who want good paying jobs and live in Sooke commute to those jobs.

  4. The dismissive response from the acting mayor is disappointing. It leads me to the to think that further investigation is needed. Teresa Sullivan may well have been the best candidate, but hiding behind confidentiality sounds like an excuse. Appropriate action would have been for Kerrie Reay to excuse herself once Teresa became the prime candidate. There would be no need to keep such action confidential.

  5. There are countless situations where someone is on a hiring committee where they have worked with or dealt with the candidates that are in a competition. This happens everywhere and if it didn’t there would be no opportunity for advancement in an organization. If a prior working relationship is seen as a conflict, then that would rule out any existing staff from the District because all of the councillors have a working relationship with them. Also, the decision wasn’t made by Kerrie or the hiring committee alone. Committees only make recommendations and Council does the hiring and appointing of a CAO. Kerrie has impeccable credentials and has been awarded for her service and integrity in public service after 31 years working for the Province. I do not share her politics but I can attest to her integrity and dedication as a respectable and outstanding public servant.

    • Dear Ms. Eve
      I believe when the successful candidate “tweeted” of her good news PRIOR to the posting closing, that gives a sure indication it was a done deal before the next stage of recruitment commenced. That IS public information and found by googling. You are correct that a committee only gives recommendations to Council, however is it inappropriate and an obligation of Council to MEET the highest paying staff member prior to agreeing that she is the best candidate for
      the job?
      We seem to be focusing on Councillor Reay and they appears to be a great conflict on interest, however Council vote as one body, so I ask ” what were they thinking?”
      I’m sure you’re sincere with your character reference of Ms. Reay, after all she is a colleague of Councillor Kasper who was also on the hiring Committee.
      Thank you Britt and I urge you to pursue on behalf on the tax payers of Sooke.

  6. Also, as someone who has done a lot of hiring you truly cannot divulge the details of a competition or you will be sued. It is done that way to protect the applicants. Each of the applicants has the right to receive information about their own performance and ranking however they do not have the right to hear about others’ performance and ranking.

  7. Doesn’t meet a test for conflict of interest. One person formerly associated with an entity can absolutely hire another former employee of that entity without a conflict of interest. You need to allege some benefit to the hiring entity. i. e. did the hiring committee materially benefit from, or could it have from, the decision?

    • I agree with this comment. I don’t know anything about the new CAO but I can’t see how this is a conflict of interest. Since when is it a conflict of interest to hire someone that you have a previous work relationship with?

      • Was the process Terms of Reference followed correctly? And why waste staff resources, money and time if they already knew who they wanted to hire!

  8. My understanding is that Michael Dillabough, CFO, was acting CAO for the last year. He has now left the District for other opportunities. My question would be why Teresa Sullivan was chosen over Mr. Dillabough? Are her credentials and experience that much better to justify that decision. If not, what was the reasoning behind that decision? As a taxpayer I am curious if that was in fact the best decision for Sooke considering what a key position this is?

  9. There’s a history of conflict in Sooke regarding CAO’s. The previous CAO’s wife not only sat on the municipal payroll of his prior town appointment, but also sat on the board of the recruitment company retained to hire him for Sooke. Wasn’t it Reay and Kasper who were also in charge of the selection committee at that time? What did Sooke get out of him during his 3 year tenure here before comfortably retiring…not much for his $155K annual salary paid for by the taxpayers. And everyone is aware of the current CAO’s previous relationship with Reay and again, Reay and Kasper were on the selection committee. Common denominator’s are Reay and Kasper and these two should be removed from Office immediately. Reay in particular with her recent bad judgement in cutting funds to the arts community (which she then back peddled on and voted against her own recommendation) doesn’t give a lot of confidence to her decision making abilities. And BTW, most people know that Doni Eve is married to Rick Kasper, so her previous accolades to Reay and the hiring procedure that her husband also participated in must be taken with a grain of salt…or perhaps a clump of salt!

    • History has proven that creating myths from untruths and promoting them as fact has been very successful in harming the reputations of individuals, groups and more importantly, communities. Sadly, I have witnessed over the years that spreading rumours based on gossip, misinformation and innuendo is also common in certain segments of Sooke. Intelligent readers will see these tactics for what they are, and good journalism will sort through what is true and what isn’t.

      Also, with respect to the comment about my “accolades” to Kerrie, this was for her alone (my husband doesn’t need the little woman rising to his defence as he is quite capable of doing that on his own). I was first introduced to Kerrie Reay by Councillor Brenda Parkinson and have formed my opinion about her integrity from sharing many bus rides on the daily commute to work and hearing her insightful questions at the Council table demonstrating that she listens to the community. I believe that’s one of the many reasons why she topped the polls with more votes than any other councillor.

  10. Certainly looks like a conflict of interest from what I’ve been reading! No harm in looking into it with a decision being made based on facts.

  11. Just to add a little perspective to this argument, “if you couldn’t hire people you know”. The Sooke school district is the largest employer in the Western Communities. If we didn’t hire people we know how many of your friends, neighbours and relative would be unemployed today. “If we couldn’t hire people we know” we couldn’t promote from within, all administrative people would have to be hired from different districts. Our rule for conflict of interest is if you have a pecuniary interest you must state it and leave the room. So whenever we discuss the wages of a staff member if you are directly related to someone who may benefit from that discussion (wife/husband or parent/child) you must leave the room.

    • I think people are missing the point somewhat with the “conflict of interest” term. It’s not just about “knowing” someone, it’s partly about any influence or financial or in kind gain and this scenario certainly has grounds to have some questions answered for clarity.
      After all Council have no problem leaving Council Chambers during a meeting due to a conflict of interest and the reasons that have been given (check the meeting video) is because they knew the person personally.

  12. I believe the process has not followed the Terms of Reference as released by the District. It states that Council ( not solely Committee) will interview eligible candidates. Was that the process followed? Or was it just the Committee that interviewed eligible candidates? Seems strange that you wouldn’t want to meet the highest paid staff member that you’re buying with tax payers money before you bought the product?

  13. For me, this is an incomplete story, and therefore, not a story at all. No interview of the new CA0, and or Kerrie. All this is, is conjecture and speculation at this point, and that is not good reporting. This media group may find themselves in a libelous situation. Hopefully I am wrong, but if I was the subject of this story, I would be looking at my legal options. I saw on the PocketNews site, a comment about it being pretty clear this CAO had the job early on, due to a quick Google search and a social media comment by the CAO. However, has anyone asked her what that was in reference to? She did own a consulting company, and could have been a job anywhere, and who knows what I was about, but I do find it hard to believe someone with her extensive experience would be ignorant enough post about a new job that had not yet been announced, at the risk of jeopardizing her career and reputation. I just ask that people don’t jump to conclusions and write off our new CAO before she even gets her feet wet. Let’s try and get our town moving in a positive position.

  14. This sounds like conflict of interest to me. I also find it troubling that the new CAO tweeted that about her new job before the closing date. I believe further digging is needed. I have been to counties where the hiring of friends is customary and to those of you who thinks this is no big deal should see it when it is common. Trust me you would not like it. She may have the qualifications but asking questions about it is not wrong.

  15. I was wondering. I applied for this position and never heard a peep back. I think I was much more qualified than the current CAO. Never got an interview, probably because I would have been more competitive.

  16. An excellent story Britt, raising some very important questions. You have done so transparently and respectfully.

    I’m so sorry to learn that you feel that you must steer clear of the story now due to legal threats from the District. I wonder if there is an appetite among SPN readers for a legal kickstarter fund?

  17. Great work Brit. Please keep at it. I read your stories carefully and found them factual, logical, and fair. I would like to know how much of our taxpayer dollars these politicians in question are now spending on lawyers. I am not impressed.

  18. I am not sure how conflict of interest comes into play here. They clearly knew each other before Sullivan was hired but there is no relationship between the two that could be a conflict of interest.

    Can Kerrie Reay get any benefit from hiring Teresa Sullivan? I can not see what that could possibly be

    Has Teresa Sullivan been placed in a situation of conflict of interest because of Kerrie Reay being on council? I do not see how – Sullivan is directed by the council through the mayor. Ican not see what possible conflict of interest could be happening here.

    Teresa Sullivan was a Colwood councilor for a term and active on the Westshore with politics – she has meant and gotten to know almost all the people on all the Westshore councils.

    Just because people know each other is not a conflict of interest. There has to be some potential benefit to the people involved and I can not think of anyway in which this could happen given the nature of the role of CAO and council member

  19. why has no one asked Parkinson or Logins why they voted against to get better understanding, to at least some degree?

    re-reading the article, and at the distance of time, it seems that it was more of a question to the people of Sooke rather than any form of statement

    and at this distance of time and with Logins voting in favour of something that her mum was presenting, clearly no financial gain or anything for the councillor yet the optics are poor – what are the legal limits for conflict of interest (as i dont believe Logins crossed any line) and where do ethics and the public perception need to be considered?