Editorial: If a CAO falls in the forest does anyone hear why?

The big news last week for those of us who keep our ears to the track with respect to municipal politics is that Morinville turfed another Chief Administrative Officer. For those of you keeping track, that is something like three in the past five years.

Council held a special but brief meeting last Wednesday night, voting 4-2 in favour of terminating the contract with Edie Doepker who had joined Morinville as administrative head two years ago. As of our press deadline Thursday night, the reasons for the parting of ways were not disclosed and – frankly – likely never will.

In a litigation-fearing society that worships at the altar of political correctness, the interconnecting facts that complete the whole story are too often swept under the rug to make room for a sanitized and Koombyah-around-the-campfire press release that is more often than not identical to the last time someone got the boot. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, to borrow from an old television show many of you are likely too young to remember. But for good or for ill that is the way of the world today. Truth gets whittled away at until it is feelings compliant.

Whatever the real reason for the majority of council’s apparent displeasure with the employment arrangement, the decision to release Doepker into the free market was made by a majority vote of council. Doepker was council’s sole employee and it was within their right to do what they felt was in the greater interest of the community – if in fact the decision was made for the greater interest of the community. We’ll likely never know.

Doepker’s role as CAO could not have been an easy one, particularly over the past year. Working with a partially new council she was responsible for ensuring the completion of Morinville’s new brand and the implementation of it, the completion of a Municipal Sustainability Plan to guide the community over the next quarter century, and the design and implementation of five, three and one year business plans so council and subsequent councils have some continuity from term to term to keep the boat that is Morinville headed to shore and hopefully away from any hidden icebergs.

Sadly, Doepker’s term as CAO may not be remembered for that background work, initiatives that will perhaps not truly be realized until the plans she helped put in place roll out over coming years, should this and future councils follow them. What will surely be remembered is the large increase in Town employees at an administrative level added to budget 2011, the number of consulting firms brought in to do various projects and the two debentures for the Community Cultural Centre and Civic Plaza, the latter which closed for renovations the day after her dismissal. None of which would exist without the appropriate majority vote in council chambers.

Although not being a resident of Morinville was a bone of contention with some in the community, Doepker did an admirable job of attending various town functions. Whether dressing in full historical garb to attend Morinville’s centennial celebrations or coming out on a Sunday afternoon to acknowledge the work of the volunteers who built the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens, Doepker represented the community she managed with intelligence, respect and a degree of class that never came across as snooty or above the residents she chose to mingle with at Town events.

Whatever transpired behind closed doors to lead to the parting of ways or to warrant the “moving in a new direction” referenced in the Town’s press release issued late Thursday afternoon, Doepker will be remembered by this publication as an administrator whose door was always open to the media and whose public professionalism and positive attitude could and should be a role model to those left to follow in her footsteps.

-Stephen Dafoe
Editor, Morinvillenews.com
Editor, Monday Morning News

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  1. We the people of the Town voted the councilers in and should have the right to know WHY Doepker was released. There is a problem in the mix somewhere so let us know what it is. We vote you in we pay your salary.

  2. I have serious concerns over this new development. Several of our elected officials have publicly stated they do not understand the terminoligy or how the budget process works.In other words they don’t know how to do the job they were elected for. Then they fire the one person who has the pulse of our finacial system. The new direction they are taking us on seems to be a big finacial hole in the ground. We are going to be spending more dollars that the citizens of our town can afford.

    We have released three top people in the past five years. The pay outs for these staff members is money we did not have to spend. There is a strong chance that more people will fall once we change again to the new direction. What is going on with our town? I feel sorry for the people that work for our town. They have no leadership what so ever. You folks deserve better than this shoddy guidance by people who seem to have no idea what they are doing. Please know that the people of our great town understand and appreciate the hard work that each and everyone of you do.

    It has been raised by several people in town to request that the province investigate the possibility to appoint someone to oversee our current situation. This seems very reasonable to me as it has been stated by our council members they don’t understand what they are reading or doing. We have a great town and I for one don’t want to waste anymore time or money on changing “directions”, finding new staff members or hiring consultants to locate a new COA. We need to have a firm direction and a stable town government. Right now we have nothing firm except the dedication of our town staff and a strong comunity. We can build on that foundation if we can get people that care as much as we do to run our town.

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