Hudson’s legal bills

My response to Peter Ratcliffe’s post and comments in the Off-Island Gazette is in the form of an MP4. It’s a recording of the emergency council meeting at the firehall where Mayor Ed Prévost announced town manager Catherine Haulard’s firing.

It’s just under 80 minutes long, a stunning example of an improvised, ill-considered decision that cost the town in excess of $200,000. It’s too large a file to post on WordPress or email but I’ll be happy to copy it onto anybody’s thumb drive if they stop by.

The Haulard file is just one of many.

For the two years Louise Craig and I have attempted to obtain a detailed list of the legal files this  administration has shopped out to external legal counsel. We were assured repeatedly by members of this council basic information regarding each mandate would be posted on the town website. This was never done.

Here’s a comment I received from one of the people targeted by the town’s legal pit bulls. “Ratcliffe…keeps stating the town is defending itself. HE IS SO  WRONG. IN MOST CASES THe TERMINATED  /SUSPENDED PEOPLE WERE ATTACKED by the TOWN (and forced to defend themselves- with their OWN MONEY. The town playing victim here is totally totally off.”

Anyone who has had dealings with lawyers quickly realizes they’re a last resort. This administration has made it a policy to consult with lawyers instead of using basic common sense. We could have repaved most of town for the cost of what I see as fiscal abuse. Unlike my colleague, I will continue to hold this administration accountable for what I see as a dereliction of fiscal stewardship.

 

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13 thoughts on “Hudson’s legal bills

  1. I disagree with you. Entirely. Catherine Hullard had to go. She is the reason we have legal issues to begin with. Her mishandling of the Trail Grubert file, her mishandling of the Town hall employees file. The amount of people she put on sick leave or caused to quit and would later sue the town. It was unpresedented. No one here can say that under the 43 year term of Louise Villandre, there was such animosity between employees and directors. Running the town like a bull in a china shop was a doomed plan from the word go. Her frequent altercations with residents at council meetings is part of the very reason now we have population vs. Councillors at these meetings. Her inflexibility and lead foot were the reason for her own demise, the last being her refusal to work with employees to create a collective agreement.. cue the Sheenan case, a direct result of Hullard. Which cost the town a pretty penny. Hullard being told to tell her story walking was the best decision a council could make to save face and save relationships that weren’t already destroyed.

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  2. I never said Haulard should not have been dismissed but there are ways to do it that don’t end up costing a quarter million dollars. I’ve had to fire or lay off maybe 100 people over the years and I’ve been fired and laid off myself half a dozen times, so I’ve had experience in this domain. The town needed to build a file before calling a meeting with the employee to negotiate a settlement. It’s always cheaper in the long run not to make things personal.
    Some legal bills are inevitable but I figure the town’s approach cost taxpayers at least $500,000 over the last four years.

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    1. The decision of suspending that employee was not unanimous on council. Both Ron Goldenberg and Rob Spencer were opposed. I am sure if council could have foreseen $311,000 in legal fees and still counting, that they might have spent more time and effort trying to find an acceptable solution to both parties.

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  3. I disagree with myself on this one.

    My purposeful comments to the Montreal Gazette were drafted to be read multiple ways and to see what he would include in his article and also to avoid more negative comments in the broader wider press who seem to delight in running the manure spreader and spreading our shit to a wider audience.

    The rookie mistakes I subtly alluded to were indeed horrifically handled, Jim has publicly spanked me and that was worth every lash because he opened the secret Duff dangerous stuff vault.

    He’s posted a recording of that hasty meeting that appears to have been called to handle and paper over the aftermath of a unilateral action that forms the basis of a major legal file that’s cost a huge pile of money. The public record and timing of those initial and hasty pudding repair actions probably make this file an uphill (read expensive) battle for Hudson.

    Sure these were early days in the current administration, and a DG who appears to have been standing on the end of the plank asking to be pushed because that might more than a proper dismissal or resignation. That she was pushed, partially or fully, was one of several snowballs that turned into an avalanche.

    We lost a big chunk of Hudson along the way. A Fence issue, no matter how intractable and difficult both sides might want to be, in Hudson should be resolved face to face by the fence in question with a few people. Instead we send fines, get a citizen’s back up, and while nobody’s talking we’re suing and counter suing, spend way more than the fence’s value on legal fees. Are we a community of rules or of understanding friends?

    Some impassioned criticisms in social media spark thousands more in legal fees and threats of suits to fellow citizens. Not just the optics, but the actions stink of thin skinned fear and desire to dominate to submission.

    Is power more important than compassion and understanding?

    I had great hopes for this administration, I have deep compassion for the challenges they accepted, the leadership health issues they have managed and the complexity of Hudson. So, ultimately, I’ll say that they worked hard in difficult situations, did the best they could do, but based on the legal bills and unfinished files they have not fulfilled my hopes.

    I recall saying similar about past administrations as well. I think the problem is Hudson, a place that never lets facts get in the way of a strong opinion.

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  4. I have been lucky to work with several world-class organisations and the “core competency” , in my opinion, which distinguishes these enterprises is their complete belief in their employees and the process by which they manage their human resources. They work extremely hard in the upward and downward communication process. Enforcing a performance review procedure which is iron -clad is always part of the template but the key is that a “firing” is seen as a failure of ALL
    the people involved. Thus supervisors will take a great deal of time and effort to avoid such an occurrence (because it would be a black mark on their file). This cooperative ethic percolates through the organisation and produces high level of productivity .

    I am afraid that the Town of Hudson has never had this viewpoint (not just the last administration) and the productivity is abysmal because of it. Correcting the problem requires a paradigm shift for the whole organisation but the Leadership group must be the first and most committed to achieving the needed change. Unfortunately I do not see it happening – ever . !!!

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    1. Jeez, Bill, you lost me. Sometimes you have to fire people who are poisoning the entire shop.Nobody likes the process because it’s testimony to a bad hire, but if you tried to sell me that line when I was trying to keep the troops motivated enough to produce a good product in a competitive market, our conversation would have been short and not sweet.

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  5. Municipalities are different beasts than corporations. I’m sure quality and core competency has a place, but for employees to get fired up they need to work for a leader or be a leader. We chew up our council monthly in public meetings, that’s not good for the respect of the employees either. This has been, in my humble moderately successful entremanure opinion, a ship without a direction or purpose for a long time. The people who were fired probably or certainly needed to go, the exact methods were what caused most of the the legal issues. Our leaders mistook this for a corporate environment and ran into a municipal environment with much more acceptance of mediocrity and employee associations schooled in legal challenges. It was a swamp, we got bit by a few.

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  6. The Trail Grubert file? Hullard. The Chevrier File? Hullard. The mass exodus of almost all of the directors when Hullard was DG? Hullard. CCTV Camaer systems at the town hall and Technical building at our expense because someone was supposedly following her around? Hullard. Moving employees around without resolutions from Council? Hullard. Believing someone in a Blue Honda Civic is out to get you? Hullard. Sheenan file? Hullard. (Sheenan was SOLELY engaged by the town because Hullard dug her feet in and refused to partake in the collective agreement process- which is something a town manager should do) Responsible for one of the darkest times in employee morale this town has ever seen? Hullard.

    The Vallente injunction, which Hullad chose to proceede with has cost 13,363$. Sheenan cost 22 grand in legal fees. The Brian Grubert, Passborg and Lea Durocher … whatever you want to call it.. has cost over 4,000$. Villandre is up to 18,400$.

    Had she have stayed any longer, the legal cases she was mustering up at record speed would have out budgeted her own.

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      1. You are absolutely right. Here’s a years salary plus 20,000$.. that would have come to 120,000$. Right now her legal dossier is up to 313,000$.

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