CFN– Robert Menagh has had an interesting ride here in Cornwall Ontario. Cornwall Ontario had been without an HR manager for over a year before a hiring firm recommended him for the position here in Cornwall.
Hired by former CAO Cecil Vincent; the city had found themselves a gem. Mr. Menagh had 13 years of service in that position with the City of Hamilton, a city over ten times the population of the city of Cornwall before an incident of passion terminated his service.
I asked several legal beagles for their opinion and all stated that this issue would not necessarily preclude that someone like Mr. Menagh could not work in his position again.
As a matter of fact some said the very reason Cornwall could get someone of Mr. Menagh’s skill and experience was solely based on his situation in Hamilton.
Mr. Menagh worked seven years in Cornwall before being terminated “Without Cause”. Mayor Bob Kilger stated that the city wanted to go in a new direction in HR, but how many directions are there in HR?
Nor does it seem that the Mayor and Council officially spoke with Mr. Menagh before making a decision that would cost the city over $300,000 and leave them without a full time HR manager with only a year to go before major new contract negotiations.
HR is the largest line item in the City of Cornwall’s budget like most cities. It’s critical. If the difference between a good and bad manager is 5% that could be as much as $10-15 million dollars per year in a budget of about $150M!
Should not council have been concerned about that before firing the HR manager? After all their duty is to the Corporation of the City of Cornwall. Firing people without cause doesn’t make a lot of sense? Blind siding a manager of your largest department also doesn’t seem to make fiscal sense?
Mr. Menagh has since been mauled in some media for his $293K settlement; but is two years severance really a “Golden Handshake” for a key executive manager? Or as though he’d won some sort of lottery. Some of the experts I consulted with for this story said sometimes as many as five years is the norm for key executives.
In this difficult and limited opportunity it could take years before Mr. Menagh can find a suitable position and surely this tarnishing of his record will hurt his chances. While few will be crying for Mr. Menagh as our interview shows he was very proud and happy to be in Cornwall from playing hockey and golf, to owning his home in Riverdale and being a huge fan of Cornwall Kinsmen Lift Off being a huge music fan.
Again, why would the city terminate Mr. Menagh? Some point to the Diane Shay and other cases, but in the Diane Shay case for example, the crown dropped any charges against Mr. Menagh. Surely that should be a red flag to council? It’s easy to write cheques when it’s taxpayer dollars. Some could point out that council only get paid $14K per year here in Cornwall and that they are there to set policy; but bottom line is that the chain of command in Cornwall is the CAO reports to the mayor and Council.
Why didn’t the Mayor and Council ask for hard proof of any wrong doing on Mr. Menagh before terminating him? We most likely will never know as those secret sessions; which were in alleged violation of the Municipal act, were all in camera.
Mr. Menagh has signed an agreement with the city to not discuss any details; nor are any councilors.
The CAO has had a rough year; from allegations of a “relationship” of his own with former Glen Stor Dun Lodge Manager Donna Derouchie to his handling of the Shay, Pilon, and other cases which have cost the city over $1.4 million dollars and counting; to his stress leave after getting his car stuck in snow across from Ms Derouchie’s residence and calling a city truck for help instead of a stow truck as well while the city went through budget deliberations which raised taxes by about 2% or nearly $1.4 million dollars.
Mr. Menagh, if he was following the policy of the city and saw issues with his direct manager’s actions would of course have had to report that to council. That would be the correct procedure, but how many people have the strength of character to do that? Would you report your boss and risk your job?
Of course that’s speculation. What we know is that Mr. Menagh was terminated without cause and that Mr. Fitzpatrick is still on call. Cornwall City Council still is hiding on this and other issues.
And we tax payers keep paying the bills.
Speaking with one insider they suggested that Mr. Menagh was at fault for not following the city’s whistle blowing policy. Of course the person in charge of the Whistle Blowing policy in Cornwall was in fact Mr. Fitzpatrick; the CAO.
Thoughts? You can post your comments below and here is our 18 minute interview with Mr. Menagh.