A former park board employee says the park board was not following its hiring practices in filling a new management position.
Stew Jordan told the Courier he's been contacted by almost a dozen park board employees concerned that the new position was created and filled from outside the organization without being posted internally as is procedure. "I've been hearing from employees who are too afraid to go public," said Jordan. "It's ironic this is anti-bullying month and these employees are feeling too bullied to complain."
The park board created the city-wide recreation services manager job in November. In a Jan. 5 letter to park staff, Thomas Soulliere, director of recreation for the park board, said the new manager was chosen through a recruitment process late last year.
Jordan is a former, longtime park board employee recently hired as a consultant to both Sunset and Kerrisdale community centres to assist in finding efficiencies and help negotiate their joint operating agreements with the park board. The former senior staffer took early retirement in 2010 after 45 years with the park board. Jordan said since speaking to the Courier last November about negotiations between the park board and some of the community centre associations, he's become an unofficial sounding board for disgruntled park board employees. He added he considers himself more disillusioned than disgruntled.
Park board media spokesperson Joyce Courtney questioned whether a former employee would understand all the current requirements for a new position.
In an email to the Courier, Courtney explained that in 2011 five supervisor positions were posted and filled internally from more than 600 applications. The new management position was developed in November and park board management decided not to post the job but instead draw from the pool of candidates who had recently been screened for many of the same qualifications, skills and knowledge. "Employees in the internal candidate pool were considered first for the city-wide position, and while some had the potential to develop into a management role over time, an external candidate was identified as the one with the right combination of skills, knowledge and qualifications," Courtney wrote.
Jordon doesn't buy that explanation. "If there wasn't one park board employee qualified for the job, there's a problem with their training program," he said. "The bottom line is this is killing morale. What's the point of all of the succession planning they've been spending thousands of dollars on if they're not going to hire internally? When I worked for the city, merit was very important, but I guess it doesn't count any more."
CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro said the new hire was outside the union's jurisdiction because it's a management position. "It's a non-union position so we can't file a grievance. If it had been, I'd have been kicking and screaming," said Faoro. "But I find it hard to believe that position wasn't posted. I haven't received any complaints."
Faoro noted despite the hiring freeze at the park board, a number of new managers have been hired as the organization is in transition. "Under Malcolm [Bromley] the park board is being radically restructured and we support that," Faoro said, referring to the park board general manager who was hired in December 2010.