While watching last night’s Council meeting, Councillor Strathearn (Councils representative on the Midland Public Library Board) addressed what he characterized as the “rumours” he had been facing with respect to his part in the CEO hiring for the library.
The controversy was touched off by letters from concerned citizens and a story we broke on January 20th that reported that the volunteer board of directors had hired a new CEO after only interviewing one candidate (the first applicant) and to further complicate matters, that they had done so well in advance of the advertised closing date of the competition.
Apparently succumbing to public pressure, he felt it necessary to speak to the matter (normally a matter for the Chair of the Library board) in open council to deal with the concerns raised and to field questions from his peers on Council.
After explaining around the issue (watch it all online when Rogers publishes the video), he finally concedes that they did interview and quickly hire the first applicant, and then when asked if any other applicants submitted their interest after announcing the new hire (while the competition was still open), he replied that indeed six more had applied. He defended the early hiring as striking while the iron was hot, and rejected the other applicants as being unsuitable upon review of their applications (no interviews) – justifying the poor decision to circumvent accepted hiring and job competition practices by selecting a candidate while the competition was still active.
So, it would seem that earlier comments by the Chair of the Library board, citing our website’s stories and “baseless and speculative” and then Strathearn’s own characterizations of our latest story as “rumour” were themselves “baseless”. He, for his part, reluctantly confirmed all the details tonight in front of cameras and his peers. He remains unrepentant and stands by his (their) decision and defended it against a barrage of questions by Council concerned about the optics of this process and potential liability by anyone who felt they were equally or more qualified and was never even interviewed for this top job.
What’s next? Only time will tell, but the community was told that the volunteer library board is open to citizens attending their meetings, reviewing their minutes online and forwarding concerns to them directly although it is telling that the only way this story saw the light of day or had anyone speak to it was through investigative journalism.
You can review the tweets from tonight’s meeting at https://twitter.com/ourmidlandca or wait for the video link to be added to this story in the days to come and draw your own conclusions about what some in the community jokingly have dubbed “LibraryGate”.