UPDATED: Harbour Grace councillor seeks closure to staffing issue

Nicholas Mercer
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Editor's note: Originally, this story said a group of councillors in Harbour Grace had pushed for the resignations of both the mayor and deputy mayor. However, that should have read just the mayor was asked to resign. The Compass apologizes for the error. The adjustment has been made in the story. 

Kathy Tetford is a councillor with the Town of Harbour Grace

Harbour Grace councillor Kathy Tetford is looking to bring closure to the issues surrounding the resignation of two senior town officials late last month.

That's why at the town's Feb. 13 regular council meeting, Tetford tabled the resignation letters of both Ashley Janes, former chief administrative officer, and Jennifer Janes, former facilities’ manager.

During the portion of the meeting reserved for committee reports, Tetford stood as she presented the letters to her fellow councillors and the nine residents in attendance.

“I thought it would bring a bit of closure to it,” Tetford said of her reasoning to read the letters.

The councillor said there has been talk on various social media sites that the two employees had left their positions abruptly and without notice or resignation letters.

These rumours were a driving force in what drove Tetford to read the letters aloud and have them entered into public record.

“People were asking why, and I think those letters spell it out,” she said. “Hopefully, that will help and bring closure.”

The letters

Under the Municipalities Act, because the letters were tabled at a public meeting, they become public record and are made available for public inspection. Ordinarily, personnel matters like this are discussed at privileged meetings.

Due to this, The Compass has obtained copies of the resignation letters.

Jennifer’s resignation letter was dated Jan. 22.

She writes “I would like to thank the town council for this opportunity, however I feel that it is in my best interest that I no longer continue my duties as facilities manager.”

The letter continues to say Jennifer took the position to bring new programs, services and ideas that would serve all residents of Harbour Grace.

It is then she reveals her ideas were met with opposition, and she was put into situations where her “morals, ethics, and professionals and educational knowledge were challenged and to the point that I felt threatened.

“I could not foresee this threat going away unless I was to put my professional ethics aside and that is not something that I am willing to do,” she wrote.

Jennifer would go on to thank council for the support she received from them during her employment at the stadium.

Ashley’s resignation was tendered a day prior to Jennifers.

“This is a position that I was looking forward to with great energy and enthusiasm,” she wrote.

Her letter shows support for Jennifer.

“Due to unanticipated restrictions surrounding the potential threat to our facilities manager’s career and that facility, I no longer feel that I can work within this framework. I fear that the necessary remedies to resolve this issue and move forward will not be realized to my complete satisfaction,” it reads.

Ashley would conclude her letter thanking the town for the “opportunity and for the confidence you have expressed in my abilities.”

Ashley and Jennifer are sisters-in-law, and have repeatedly declined interview requests from The Compass.

It is unknown what "threats" Jennifer is referring to.

Leading to this point

On Jan. 23, word broke both the newly hired CAO and facilities manager had left their high profile positions with the municipality.

Over the next couple of weeks, the town council in Harbour Grace was inundated with inquiries about the reasons behind their sudden departure.

In the aftermath, infighting amongst members of the council took centre stage as the group took steps to rectify the staffing crisis it had suddenly found itself in.

This infighting reached a climax when a group of councillors pushed for the resignation of Mayor Terry Barnes.

Several embarrassing incidents also came to light in recent weeks, including an unsanctioned Boxing Day hockey event at the S. W. Moores Memorial Arena that resulted in the termination of a longtime employee.

A senior hockey game at the arena was also cancelled after the first period when the ice resurfacer ran out of propane, and dumped boiling water on the playing surface.

Moving forward

With the resignation letters out in the open, Tetford hopes the council can now move forward with some other issues facing the community.

The town has yet to fill the two vacant positions. In the interim, town office employee Sean O’Brien has been serving as CAO and Maureen Maher is filling the role of facilities’ manager.

“We need to get back to the business of the town,” she said.



Organizations: The Compass

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Recent comments

  • fed up
    February 17, 2014 - 23:18

    Dear "get it" I am very sorry that you just don't get it - the story behind the threats . The issues you refer to regarding the union are just a diversion from the truth. The managers decision was based on more than one event and was well thought out and supported by council. The reaction of the union is not worth raising in this Quagmire... If the truth comes out and it will in time you too will be aghast at the level of seriousness of the actions of some outside of the town council. There is someone, or several, whom the council are not acknowledging as being the major cause of this whole problem... That's the cover up. Council knows the truth but they are not saying ..they're waiting it out until it all blows over and the culprits are removed from the heat. But here's one that will never forget the council's failure to come clean with the people of Harbour Grace. This lack of taking responsibility and making the real culprits pay is nothing short of gross negligence and at worse it's a conspiracy in their failure to report a probable crime. This is fact not speculation. Suffice it to say if it were you or me we'd be up on charges today. Sorry you still don't "get it" but some day you will.

  • fed up
    February 17, 2014 - 10:28

    lets see. four councilors got together and passed a resolution asking the mayor to resign. Great..good for them. Now my question is..... why didn't those same councilors get together and pass a resolution to have the police investigate the threats referred to in the resignation letters of the 2 employees that resigned. who are these people ...why are they getting away with trying to intimidate our employees. Do we also have a lame council...too weak kneed to do what is right for the town and what is justice for the 2 employees. I just can't believe that we elected such wimps in charge of our town. It just makes me sick.....to think that they would just sit around the table and not one of them would stand up and slam his/her fist on the table and say that we have to make a stand against this. when are we going to end it once and for all? Only when we cast off the shackles of local oppression will Harbour Grace ever rise out of the dark hole of repression . WE need to take our town back. Too bad and so sad that we voted for a bunch of cowards who campaigned so hard to make themselves look like real leaders. If you can't do the job ...resign and get out of the way....and please stop making excuses to your friends and relatives....you're only fooling yourselves and that appears to be a simple task. Rise up people ...it seems no one on council will!!!!!!!!!

    • Get IT?
      February 17, 2014 - 15:09

      I am not sure if the council are to blame for the resignation of the facilities manager. If you have been following the story, a stadium worker got fired, then a pretty blatant "mistake" by a current employee occurred that cost the town and its local hockey team significant $$. I wouldn't suggest that it is any group or any one "person" that made these threats, if the threats were criminal, an investigation would have occurred and people charged. My personal opinion one I have developed through common sense and not fueled by silly conspiracy theories is that the manager fired the employee without realizing the shockwaves it would send throughout the union. I doubt very much this manager has much experience with employee relations and unions can be very difficult to deal with (just go around a demonstration and bring up a managers name) you will see the kind of threats and nastiness that occurs. Not blaming her, its not an easy job, but I will suggest the union was quite unhappy with the sudden firing of the employee, I am sure the employee was happy, along with coworkers. Try your best to wrap your head around it people, there is no under lying conspiracies here, no skull and bones underworld chapter guiding the decisions of Hr. Grace.

    • Solidarity forever.......
      February 18, 2014 - 07:03

      To "Get IT?" I don't think its a "silly conspiracy", it is obvious that a lot of people have seen things happening in the town for a very long time and they are smart enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together! How do you know there isn't a criminal investigation? There is a reason Harbour Grace isn't thriving like neighbouring communities, it is because things like this have been happening forever and now that the people are doing some digging and asking questions you are trying to get in their heads and make them think they have come up with some crazy conspiracy. It isn't a conspiracy, it is history repeating itself. And come on, the rumour mill is flying, everyone knows the manager wasn't threatened by the union! ha ha

  • Joanne Reid
    February 15, 2014 - 09:54

    Threats they claim. I am trying to make sense of all this. If previously, some councilours wanted the mayor to resign, I am curious if he is the one who made the threats. He has not come forward as a leader to defend or condemn himself. Is is bond by the lawyers not to speak? We the town of Paradise need him to come forward and tell residents what happened. It seems that this Boxing Day fiasco has two parts. The act itself and the reprocushions. Come on Mayor Barnes speak and set it straight so the tow can stop the rumours.

  • Townie
    February 15, 2014 - 09:19

    Havent lived in Harbour Grace for 3 years and can count on two hands how many times ive been back there. The town, and its senior officials (some), should be ashamed of how business is conducted within the town. Ignorance im sure was involved with the threats. The "boxing day ordeal" im sure included the ignoramus who fueled the shifts in positions on council. Two of the most important positions for what little is left in that dead beat town couldnt even have been held long enough. Goes to show that council may as well fold, and let carbonear take over. They have been doing things right for a very long time. Time for Barnes to shift back to the wharf and put his interests elsewhere. Im one of the few who didnt vote, and im sure those who did vote for this new council are kicking themselves in the rump for it.

  • Tax payer
    February 14, 2014 - 14:40

    Thank you councilor Tetford. This is the most info we have gotten so far. Thanks for having the guts to come forward and give us residents some answers. This is not closure but its a start.

    February 14, 2014 - 13:26

    What member of town council was responsible for “threatening” these young ladies? The taxpayers of Hr. Grace have a right to know!

  • Reading between the lines.
    February 14, 2014 - 10:31

    So.......Threats were made to the stadium manager's career and to the stadium. Why didn't council tell us about these threats instead of implying (and saying outright) they had no idea why these women resigned. Are the police involved in investigating this? It certainly seems like a police matter. If not, why not? Also these ladies felt they had to resign or comprise their personal and professional ethics - something is wrong here. Does this mean council did not provide the necessary support to handle the threats? Up to now how has this been handled by council? Let's see...... How did they protect the employees who were threatened? How is the stadium being protected? Is the acting stadium manager also being threatened?..... So many questions and so few answers. Closure? I doubt it!

    • Response to Reading Between the Lines
      February 15, 2014 - 09:32

      It's the same old story why Hr. Grace with a vibrant history will never succeed! There are several families in the town who have historically ran the town for years and still think they are above everyone else. These families think of no one else to the demise of the town. In my opinion if you read between the lines you will find that these very people are the reason for the resignation of these girls. I am also willing to bet that Hr. Grace will not get the new sports arena but the neighboring town of Carbonear will be given it! I only hope is that the new council has the guts to stand up to these families that have ran the town for years! Unfortunately I don't think this will happen because there are only a few of the new council that have the guts to stand up to these bullies.