Original Published July 5, 2022
by Chris Clegg
South Peace News
The Town of High Prairie, Alberta has terminated the employment of newly-hired CAO Sherry Poole.
Council made three motions at a special meeting July 4, the first day Poole was to begin work.
The first was the appointment of Poole made June 14 be terminated effectively immediately.
The second was Mayor Brian Panasiuk be authorized to work with legal counsel to finalize the details of Poole’s termination.
The third was that council direct administration to bring back three head hunter proposals to council for consideration.
The votes were not recorded.
Earlier, councillors Donna Deynaka, Sacha Martens, and Judy Stenhouse opposed the hiring of Poole while Panasiuk, and councillors John Dunn, James Waikle, and Theresa Yacyshyn approved.
South Peace News will be contacting and asking all members of council to disclose their vote.
A previous story on a divided vote on this hire is HERE
Statement from Sherry Poole before termination
June 24, 2022
“I want to preface my response with an apology – to council, to staff, to ratepayers, and to my family who reside in High Prairie to publicly pay witness to the slanderous statements vehemently delivered by Councillor Martens on June 14 as a public display was not only subjective but also defamatory in nature.
“I now understand Councillor Martens as a public official, was also wanting to be considered for the position of CAO and the lines were potentially blurred as a result that may explain why it seems apparent by her actions that she made it her independent mission in use of her authority to subjectively go about inquiring into confidential personnel information while also being directly involved in competition for the CAO position; and while also representing herself as an elected official.
“I was alerted by previous employers of Councillor Martens’ repeated requests for confidential personal information and that when she was denied she then continued to pursue councillors to seek confidential information having been reported back to their administrators with appropriate documentation as it raised concern.
“I have reasonable information that supports Councillor Martens went out on her own accord without council being aware of her search for my personal and confidential information.”
“Through my discovery, I understand that Councillor Martens did not recuse herself from personnel matters concerning the CAO hiring process as witnessed by all June 14 – she also sat on the CAO hiring committee in my first interview.
“There was a rigorous two-month interview process to which was satisfied through the reference and Criminal Records Check requirement completed and unknowingly to me at the time Councillor Martens may have had expectation unilaterally to her position to be successful in the competition for the CAO position and it would seem that when not successful would have made it her personal mission to counteract council’s decision to hire me and make a public example of me. The method and means taken are wildly disconcerting.
“I believe there are even greater concerns of a councillor going out on their own implicitly, using authority to gain confidential personnel information subjectively while overtly ignoring Code of Conduct and accountability to the Municipal Government Act. Notably all councillors are duty bound and accountable to the Code of Conduct for Elected officials and the MGA as does set out required process in dealing with personnel matters; both regulatory frameworks may have been overlooked here.
“The nature of the egregious and defamatory statements made by Councillor Martens on June 14, 2022 in a public broadcasted session will be dealt with accordingly.
“We are in a time where women are working towards recognition of equality by empowering each other to be successful in an effort to encourage equal representation, especially in administrative government that is so under-represented – this is so dismissive to such a profound philosophy.
Reasonably, the general public understands that the CAO position and its success is essential to having a cohesive council to focus on the big decisions that push the community forward and to deal with matters appropriately and fairly.
Councillor Martens methodology does seem like a departure from that.”
This item reprinted with permission from South Peace News, High Prairie, Alberta