Councillor’s comments ruffle feathers at county level

BARRY’S BAY – The Township of Madawaska Valley (TMV) seems to be in some hot water with the County of Renfrew’s human resources department.
The issue was brought up at the November 4 TMV human resources committee meeting. Chair of the committee, Linda Neuman presented an email from Bruce Beakley, director of human resources at the county.
His email essentially said, he would not be able to help the township with its pay equity job evaluation process and concluded with, “It would be in your best interest to seek out another ‘professional’ to assist you with these services.”
According to Neuman, Beakley took offence to a comment quoted in the September 25 issue of the Valley Gazette by Councillor Bob Kulas on the topic of hiring a new CAO for the township.
“The longer we wait, the more we procrastinate,” Kulas was quoted. “It’s time to hire a professional. That’s where I stand.” In that same article, Kulas said to stroke Beakley off that list too, because he’s got two strikes against him for hiring the last two CAOs.
At the November 4 meeting, Neuman reiterated that Beakley was offended and disturbed by those comments.
“Too bad he didn’t have the guts to call me,” Kulas replied.
Neuman sided with Beakley, however. She said he has always been professional in the hiring process and never forced the township to hire a certain individual.
“He was very angry with this whole thing,” Neuman said. “As a consequence to this, he has put the Township of the Madawaska Valley at the bottom of his priority list.”
Neuman said if the township wants his help with pay equity, it will likely happen sometime late 2014.
“He said he is choosing to work with municipalities who appreciate his professionalism … and that he will work with people that are positive and support him,” Neuman explained.
She admitted that as a chair, she is partly to blame for the incident.
 “I should have made a point to make sure that everyone knew that it wasn’t … all of the committee’s feelings,” Neuman explained. “At least it wasn’t mine anyways. I didn’t do that, so that’s something I have to deal with Mr. Beakley and I will.”
She warned if negative comments continue at the council table, no one will want to help the township.
“As a consequence to all of this … we are going to have to hire a company or a firm that works on pay equity and pay them double, maybe triple the amount of money that we would pay county,” Neuman outlined.
She said Beakley has never charged the township lawyer fees and has always charged the township minimal amounts to cover his and his staff’s expenses.
Mayor David Shulist, who has verbally spoken to Beakley about the incident, echoed Neuman concern.
“Councillor Kulas’ point of view, I don’t see, but again, at the same time, he is at the table, he has an opinion. But sometimes we have to be concerned about the affects it’s going to cause,” Shulist said.
Read more in the November 6, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.