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Charlottetown’s top bureaucrat fires another deputy CAO

Charlottetown council members were advised last week by the city's CAO, Peter Kelly, that he had fired the deputy CAO. Kelly said he could not provide reasons for the firing, and told council members not to speak to the media. (Shane Ross/CBC - image credit)
The City of Charlottetown has terminated the employment of deputy chief administrative officer Tina Lococo, CBC News has learned. 

Council members heard about the departure in an April 8 email from chief administrative officer Peter Kelly.

“I’m writing to announce the termination of Tina Lococo, effective immediately,” Kelly wrote in the email.

He said he had told Lococo her employment with the city would not continue, adding he was “not at liberty to discuss specifics” with members of council.

Kelly also advised council members in the email not to speak to the media about the dismissal.

But privately, several councillors expressed some level of shock or concern to CBC News at the fact Kelly has parted ways with another deputy who seemed well-qualified for the position, three years after the previous deputy CAO, Scott Messervey, was fired.

Messervey is a chartered accountant who had previously worked with the office of P.E.I.’s auditor general.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Lococo has a law degree from Dalhousie University, and previously served as executive director of corporate services and solicitor with the town of Midland, Ont.

No interviews granted

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown told CBC News that under the Municipal Government Act, the hiring and firing of all staff falls within the purview of the city’s CAO.

Under the same legislation, city council is responsible for decisions on hiring a CAO and terminating that person’s employment if necessary.

On Tuesday, Brown directed CBC News to contact the city’s communications team to arrange an interview with him. He later declined to provide an interview at all.

Kelly also declined an interview request, citing Lococo’s departure as a human resources matter.

Councillors fear reprisals

A number of Charlottetown councillors told CBC that on-staff expertise in accounting and legal matters — the kind of expertise Messervey and Lococo had — provides an additional level of oversight for city operations.

But none was prepared to speak on the record, citing investigations and sanctions levied by the majority of councillors against some of their counterparts in recent years.

For example, Coun. Bob Doiron was fined $10,000 in 2020 for breaching the city’s code of conduct bylaw and its harassment policy. The city provided no details regarding those breaches.

At the time, Doiron had been calling for an independent review of city finances.

In 2021, the city hired an independent investigator who determined another councillor, Mitchell Tweel, was in violation of council’s code of conduct for not attending planning committee meetings.

Tweel was ordered by council to pay a $500 fine and to apologize.

Latest deputy served 6 months

Lococo was hired in October and served in her position for about six months. Before that, the city had been without a deputy CAO since Messervey was let go in January 2019. The reason for his departure was never made public.

CBC News reached out to Lococo, who said she was not prepared to comment on the matter.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Some councillors noted that Lococo had been pushing the council to conduct an evaluation of Kelly’s performance as CAO. 

The city’s own HR policy says all staff are to undergo evaluations at least once a year. Kelly’s last evaluation was conducted in 2019.

One councillor told CBC that Lococo had been placed in charge of coordinating that evaluation process using an outside firm.

The only individual who can explicitly assign any staff member with a task is the CAO. – City of Charlottetown spokesperson

In an email sent to CBC News Wednesday, a spokesperson for the city said “there was a discussion between council of the whole, the CAO and the Deputy CAO regarding the CAO performance review,” but said Lococo had not been assigned to lead that review.

“The only individual who can explicitly assign any staff member with a task is the CAO,” the email said, adding that councillors had indicated their desire to begin the review process and there had been a discussion about engaging an outside firm to do that.

Another councillor told CBC Lococo had discovered the city had been following some draft policies that had never been passed by council, which could lead to challenges of some council decisions.

CBC has no evidence to explain the reason for her dismissal, however, let alone whether either of these factors played a role.

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Credit belongs to : ca.news.yahoo.com

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