Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Did Duben Get Caught In The Revolving Door Too

Why would such a high-powered lawyer and high-ranking City Administrator take only a VP job at Enwin? To be honest, it does not seem like a great position. It seems like they are adding in another "layer" to the Organization Chart there. And don't you find the Press Release very "cold."

Which came first....the decision for Joe Levack, Enwin's VP Corporate Services, to leave or to move Duben to Enwin? Or is it all just pure co-incidence?

The Star claimed that Levack was "regarded as second in command behind Zalev." In his new position, is that Michael's role too no matter what the job description says? Will he keep watch over Max's shoulder?

Alternatively, I just wonder if Michael was in effect "Perlinized?" Were there conflicts between him and Edgar (aka Eddie)? Remember Dennis Perlin went from Windsor CAO to head of the Development Commission where he became virtually invisible until he left.

After all, I am told that Duben is likeable. It would have looked bad if they just turfed him, especially after the Star articles on how bad City Administration is in retaining senior people.

Hmmm. Did Michael have a contract of employment similar to John's?

The whole thing is a big surprise considering how he was hired. However, it also means no "severance payment" if he was "SDRed" since he has a new job. Or alternatively, if he leaves Enwin, the severance money comes out of there, not Edgar's Budget!

Here is the Star story when Michael was first hired:
  • "'Top candidate' was hired:

    City officials deny new senior bureaucrat got job because of links to the mayor

    Although Windsor's newest senior bureaucrat worked in the same law firm as Mayor Eddie Francis and was hired without an advertised national search, several councillors and the city's top civil servant say Michael Duben got the job on his merits alone.

    Duben, 37, who assumes his new duties Sept. 7, will be responsible for human resources -- such as negotiating labour agreements with city unions -- in the permanent job which pays between $114,000 and $135,000 annually.

    But there will be other duties such as overseeing parks and forestry, recreation and leisure services, corporate and facility management and culture and heritage.

    Councillors approved Duben's hiring this month. They were initially told of the proposal by city manager John Skorobohacz, who had wooed the lawyer over several breakfast meetings. "We had an exhaustive debate," Ward 4 Councillor Ken Lewenza Jr. said of the July 12 in-camera meeting during which councillors approved the hiring. "It was felt Michael was the top candidate."

    Skorobohacz said Monday he first approached Duben about taking the job earlier this summer and floated the idea to Francis and councillors during an in-camera discussion about replacing city executive Steve Salmons. Salmons recently returned to his former duties with the Windsor library after a stint as one of several top managers during a short-lived reorganization at city hall begun under the previous administration.

    Duben said the only contact he had about the job was with Skorobohacz.

    "Eddie was quite surprised. I wouldn't put Eddie in that situation," Duben said of discussions with Skorobohacz.

    Francis was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment.

    "I knew full well the mayor had articled with him," Skorobohacz said of Duben, a labour lawyer who also has represented developers and property owners dealing with the city.

    After meeting with Duben on an unrelated matter, he said he approached the lawyer about the new job and then went to council with his plan for the new position.


    As for not advertising the position, Skorobohacz said the human resources post had been advertised for two years and six people interviewed without success.

    "I could have advertised the position, but some people will not risk putting their reputations on the line relative to going through the recruitment process," he said of Duben's job.

    Skorobohacz said he did not discuss hiring Duben with Francis before meeting with councillors about it. Several councillors said the mayor expressed discomfort because of his personal relationship with Duben.

    "Eddie felt a little uncomfortable about the discussion," Lewenza said. "Eddie did not play a role in the discussion. He really took a hands-off approach."

    Added Ward 3 Councillor Al Halberstadt: "Eddie expressed a bit of fear that it would be seen as him going out and getting Duben.

    "We had done a countrywide search for (the human resources position). The idea with Duben is he'd be one of the overseers of the corporation and human resources would be a major component," Halberstadt said.

    "The mayor had no input whatsoever," said Ward 2 Councillor Ron Jones.

    Skorobohacz was part of the initial city hall reorganization, but left Windsor to work for the town of Innisfil. In May, he returned to the city after councillors vowed to reorganize the reorganization, partly on condition he have "latitude, especially at the top level of positions.

    "I needed the ability to put my team in place....The same thing probably should be said about my position," he said, adding if his job had been advertised he would not have responded."

Considering the so-called restructuring at City Hall, what is really going on? Just like SDR being the excuse for Tyagi going or the non-contract contract of the former CAO. Or do you have an idea that may be better.

Here are some other possibilities:

  • 1) Duben went over to Enwin to learn everything and to become its new President since Max Zalev is going.
  • 2) Max is to leave Enwin with a nice package after all of his years of effort but will remain in charge of the City's Audit Committee
  • 3) It has to do with something involving the Zalev lands (even though I do not believe that Max has any interest in them any longer) but who knows what. If true, I suspect it will become another mind's eye vision for the next election to keep South Windsor voters in Edgar's camp. After all, it was a project mentioned in Gord's column just after the last election
  • 4) Duben is being "parked" at Enwin temporarily and later to head up some big City project while at the same time to allow Edgar to show cost savings.
  • 5) Perhaps Michael and John were a team and when one went, so did the other.
  • 6) Who knows what goes on in the minds of City Hall decision-makers. Heck, even they do not know.