Hudson’s newly hired interim Treasurer and Director General resigns after one week
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Citing significant interpersonal and political problems in Hudson, newly hired interim Director General and Treasurer Jacques Lemieux resigned from his position April 1.
Following media reports quoting District 1 Councillor Robert Spencer questioning the legality of the March 23 emergency meeting in which a resolution was passed, by Mayor Ed Prévost and four of the six sitting councillors, to hire an Interim Director General (DG) and Treasurer, newly hired Jacques Lemieux has reportedly walked off the job after a mere eight days.
“I spoke with my lawyer who had spoken to Mr. Lemieux,” Prévost told Your Local Journal, “and given the circumstances that he (Lemieux) has found himself in at the town, he no longer has the energy or the desire to take this on. It’s too much of a monumental challenge for him at this time.” Prévost said Lemieux will make himself available as a coach to whoever is designated as a replacement treasurer or DG. “But essentially, and unfortunately, he will not be back. It’s very sad, but that’s the way it is.”
In a copy of his resignation letter obtained by Your Local Journal, Lemieux states, “My decision follows an article published in the ‘Montreal Gazette’ where an elected official declared my nomination illegal.” Spencer had, in fact, questioned the legality of the last minute change of the meeting agenda that had originally stated the emergency March 23 meeting was called to pass a motion to hire a new interim treasurer. The agenda was then modified to include the job description of ‘Director General’ following the suspension of former DG Catherine Haulard last month. Haulard has launched legal action against the town for wrongful dismissal in a case set to be heard in June.
“The special meeting agenda was posted the Friday before, and you cannot change the agenda,” Spencer said. “Therefore, it was an illegal meeting. (Councillor) Ron Goldenberg walked out and if I was there, to see the agenda changed, I would’ve walked out too.”
Spencer further recounted a productive meeting Monday, March 30, in which council met with Lemieux and discussed going forward to create a selection committee comprised of Lemieux, Councillor Nicole Durand, and a greffier from another town, to start recruiting for a new full-time DG and Treasurer.
“It was nothing personal towards Mr. Lemieux,” Spencer said. “I had never met him prior to this Monday. What I was questioning was the way the hiring was done.”
Prévost said Spencer’s public statements did not reflect the councillors’ code of ethics and that Lemieux’s 35 years of an unblemished career in public affairs would not be compromised by any external political agendas. Lemieux’s letter further states, “I think the problems existing in the Town of Hudson are more in human and political (issues) and not problems of administrative processes.”
And while he acknowledged that finding the right people to fill the necessary position to manage the town is difficult, “The tasks to be accomplished are titanic,” and recommends consultation with external firms who, “… specialize in guiding you through the steps to restore a favourable climate for municipal management with both the council and the employees.”
Town Clerk takes stress leave
This latest bump in Hudson’s political road follows the news that Town Clerk Vincent Maranda has taken a month’s medical leave due to stress, aggravated hypertension associated with the increased professional demands outside of the scope of his role as greffier and an increasingly dysfunctional work environment.
“He took on a huge load all at once,” said Councillor Ron Goldenberg, acknowledging the fact that the cumulative effects of the suspension of Haulard and the departure of Treasurer Ramin Jawanda, coupled with a number of demanding dossiers including Pine Lake, were all contributing factors. Prévost said Assistant Clerk Diane Duhaime will be filling in during Maranda’s absence.
“We’ll deal with every situation as indicated. Mr. Maranda had no municipal experience. He was learning on the job and I guess the stress caught up with him.”
Reached at home, Maranda told Your Local Journal, “It was necessary for my health and as time goes by we’ll reassess what my situation is. I’ll take it one step at a time.”
Maranda said he was surprised that the previously full-time positions of treasurer and director general would be reduced to a three-day-week filled by a single person. “We’re already short-staffed and there are numerous files to deal with that have now become urgent,” he said, naming tender offers for the reparation of the Pine Lake dam and garbage collection contracts, along with treasury issues following the departure of Taxation Manager Gail Cavanaugh.
“Pine Lake requires a dedicated employee in Public Works to manage this complicated fi le. There were numerous fi les that had to be drafted and managed by me as opposed to employees dedicated to that task as we used to have in the past.”
Maranda said that at both council and staffing levels, the work atmosphere in the Town of Hudson had become a “toxic environment.”