Like her predecessor three years earlier, the last assistant chief executive to be fired from the city of Charlottetown told councilors her firing came after she raised concerns about city administration.
Tina Lococo was fired by her boss, Charlottetown general manager Peter Kelly, on April 8. That’s just six months after being hired as an assistant, after serving as a lawyer and executive director of business services for the Ontario town of Midland.
In an email to the board, Kelly said he was “not free to discuss specifics” as to why Lococo was fired.
But in an email she sent to Charlottetown councilors two weeks later, and obtained by CBC News this week, Lococo said she recently sent “a series of detailed confidential emails to the entire council” outlining “several areas of concern to the city…which in my professional opinion required the attention of council.
“Coincidentally, the managing director terminated my employment before I had a chance to discuss these concerns with the full board.”
It’s unclear whether all of the concerns Lococo had offered to discuss in private meetings with advisers are listed in the email obtained by CBC News.
[Peter Kelly] simply said, “You know it’s not working” and that he “was terminating my employment immediately, without cause of course”.-Tina Lococo
In the email, Lococo said she wanted to see the corporate culture of City Hall changed so that “all staff (present and future) can do their jobs properly and report irregularities without fear of reprisal or loss. his job. “
Lococo declined to provide an interview or commentary to CBC. CBC has requested interviews with Kelly and Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown. None of these interviews were granted within three days of this request; no statement was provided.
Second deputy sent back to the council by e-mail
Meanwhile, the board has not publicly responded to allegations made three years ago by Lococo’s predecessor, Scott Messervey, which emerged in CBC reports this month.
Messervey is an accountant who previously worked in the offices of the Auditors General of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
In his own letter to the board after being fired by Kelly in January 2019, he said he believed his dismissal “was in retaliation for highlighting the significant number of problems at City Hall and the incidents of Mr. Kelly where he had exceeded his authority”.
Messervey’s letter then lists 18 specific concerns, ranging from millions of capital cost overruns that he says were approved by Kelly without the necessary board approval, to a meal that he says was spent as than a finance meeting, although the costs included alcohol and meals for some counselor spouses.
CBC has not substantiated these claims.
Fired during a phone conversation
In her email, Lococo told advisers she had requested a meeting with Kelly “to discuss my role with the city and the issues I have identified thus far.”
What she got instead, Lococo said, was a short phone conversation with her boss, during which her employment was “unceremoniously terminated without discussion.”
His letter continued: “He simply said, ‘You know this isn’t working’ and he was ‘terminating my employment immediately, without cause of course. “”
Lococo immediately told advisers that after the call she received an email from Kelly – on her personal email account, as she had already been locked out of her city’s email – stating, “Your continued employment with the city is not considered consistent with the direction the city will take moving forward.”
Lococo told advisers that Kelly never provided him with the authority “to do the job he hired me to do” and said he “didn’t properly address my concerns about a host of issues “.
Similar concerns were raised by Messervey, who in a statement to CBC said Kelly was dismissive and did not share the concerns expressed by Messervey.
In her email, Lococo listed 15 different projects she had been involved in, saying she hoped the city would continue to move forward with them. Among these :
- Working with the city’s attorney “to settle the Enterprise case,” a controversial deal in which the city began buying all of its vehicles from an international fleet management company, bypassing local dealerships.
- Leading a “comprehensive review of contracts for the city, including taking a closer look at ongoing problematic contracts and potential resolutions.”
- Address concerns of a “toxic work environment” at City Hall.
- Leading an organizational review and corporate restructuring of the city, including the creation of legal and risk management departments and a city clerk’s office.
- Complete a comprehensive review of bylaws, policies and procedures
Lococo also mentioned in the email that it “could no longer participate in the formal CAO evaluation process.”
City policy requires all staff to undergo a performance review at least once a year. In the media, Mayor Philip Brown said council had agreed the chief executive’s review should take place every two years.
Kelly’s last review was completed in 2019.
Provincial review found no violations: minister
Earlier this week, the official opposition called on the province to step in and investigate Messervey’s allegations.
After that request, Communities Minister Jamie Fox told CBC News that his department had already launched a third-party review.
Fox said the review found there were no violations of Prince Edward Island’s Municipal Government Act. But the review was never made public, and Fox’s department provided no further information.
The two con. Bob Doiron, who met with Fox in 2019 to discuss Messervey’s concerns, and the mayor told CBC News they were not aware of any ongoing review.
Things ‘got personal’: Kelly’s statement
In the termination letter Kelly provided to Messervey in 2019, filed as part of a dismissal dispute in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, Kelly wrote that he had dismissed his deputy “following an unsuccessful probationary period”.
He raised concerns about Messervey’s interactions with staff and board members, saying some staff felt Messervey was “looking for mistakes, rather than trying to work with them to achieve the goals of the city and county”.
In a letter in response, Messervey disputed this, saying his efforts were “solely aimed at improving city operations.”
As for Kelly’s response to the previous CBC story involving Messervey, he sent a statement saying, “Unfortunately, the ongoing matters have become personal and I will seek guidance to ensure that my responsibilities, as well as those of others are respected.
“The administration, as well as my personal character, have been questioned and these must be dealt with accordingly.”
Prior to coming to Charlottetown in May 2016, Kelly spent two years as General Manager of Westlock County in Northern Alberta. His time there led to a provincial review which concluded that he had authorized unbudgeted expenditures without proper board approval.
Prior to that, he served as Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality from 2000 to 2012.
During that time, he championed the cleanup of Halifax Harbour, issued an apology to the people of Africville, and helped the city host the 2011 Canada Winter Games. also been embroiled in a controversy over the expenses of a series of failed concerts.