“That was the beginning of the downward spiral for those in charge at APH”: Millroy

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The Algoma Public Health fiasco, which saw the health agency employ a convicted criminal to oversee its financial operation and eventually resulted in four of its board members being asked to resign by the provincial minister of health, seems a long way back now.
Yet it may still be on the minds of some voters in Ward 4.

Because incumbent councillor Marchy Bruni, as the city’s representative on the APH board, was chairman at the time and it was mainly his involvement that led to the ignominious end for himself and the other three.

When the news broke on Jan. 15, 2015, that interim financial officer Shaun Rothberg was actually Shaun Rootenberg, a man with multiple convictions for fraud in his past, APH issued a news release in which it gave Rothberg some praise and said his services had been obtained through a consultant.

That was the beginning of the downward spiral for those in charge at APH.
Former board member Karen Marinich questioned the claim that his services were obtained through a consultant, saying Rothberg was hired solely on the recommendation of Medical Officer of Health Kim Barker.

Minutes of a in-committee meeting from November 2013 backed up her claim, showing that Barker told the board that hiring through a consulting firm was going to be expensive and that the board consider hiring a candidate for the interim position who had developed a relationship with the Group Health Centre.
She didn’t mention, of course, the candidate’s name, which was Shaun Rothberg, or that she was involved in a personal relationship with him. His pay was to be $4,000 a week plus expenses.
Within a week of Rothberg’s background becoming public, on Jan. 21, 2015, Barker had lost her job.

A severance package was negotiated with her by Bruni, as board chair, and Bob Paciocco, APH’s legal counsel. The two presented details of the negotiated agreement to the board in closed session, presenting the deal as the best the board was going to get
Barker got six months severance pay (about $150,000 based on her $300,000 yearly salary), a letter of reference and immunity.

I wrote shortly after discovering the details of the severance package that under ordinary circumstances it would be logical for the chair of the health agency’s board and its legal counsel to negotiate Barker’s severance package.
But I also pointed out that these weren’t ordinary circumstances.
The three parties involved had ties that extended well beyond Algoma Public Health, into the business of growing marijuana for public consumption.

“Aside from their roles at APH, a corporation profile report dated Jan. 28, 2014, shows all three as members of the board of Algoma Medicinal Alliance (AMA), a marijuana grow operation for which developer Amit Sofer was hoping to obtain a federal licence to establish in the Sault.” I wrote after receiving a copy of the report…
“Barker, in fact, had been listed as president, secretary and treasurer as Sofer was seemingly attempting to present AMA as a community project with Joe Fratesi, the city’s chief administrative officer, also on the four-person board.”

The APH board had been under fire in the community but in defence of some members it should be noted that they were not informed about APH becoming involved with AMA until it was a fait accompli, that they were not informed that Barker was a member of AMA, that APH was going to make an approach to the city through then chief administrative officer Joe Fratesi that if AMA came to fruition that Fratesi be appointed to its board.
They had no say and no vote on any of this.
They did get to vote on the appointment of Bruni to the AMA board when they were approached by Sofer and Fratesi on his behalf on Feb. 17, 2014, and they voted their approval, with Marinich as the only dissenting vote..

However, it turned out this was just another case of the APH board not being informed.
As the corporate profile report dated Jan. 28 showed, Bruni was already listed as a member of the AMA board before he approached his own board for approval.
With so much untoward happening, Eric Hoskins, minister of health and long-term care, ordered a forensic audit of APH and an assessment of the board’s performance.
Graham Scott was appointed to assess the performance of the board and as a result of his report Bruni and members Janet Blake, who was vice-chair, Debbie Kirby and mayor Ron Rody of Wawa were asked to resign. Members who had just recently been elected were allowed to remain in their positions to form the nucleus of a new board.
The report of the forensic audit conductd by Allen Tait has never been released.

City council put questions to the APH board about the going-ons there but weren’t happy with the report.
When some councillors began putting questions directly to Bruni, who was sitting at the table with them, he asked them why they were asking him and suggested they should be asking APH,
That, of course, only meant he would get the questions but in written form while sitting in another chair.
It was only another part of what had become theatre of the absurd.

Fellow Coun. Steve Butland came to Bruni’s defence, suggesting there were other sides to the story that were yet to be told.
However, he kept them to himself at the time and they have never surfaced since.
I wrote 16 columns in regard to the roof coming off at Algoma Public Health. I just reread them all as I thought about doing this piece.

I think if there is one lesson for council it is this: Make it a policy that councillors appointed to boards are not to become the chairs of such boards. It should be made clear that they are there to represent the city’s interests on them, not to run them.
If there is a lesson for all members of the APH board, it is not to stray from their mandate.
It was hard to believe that a health agency that preaches against smoking would become involved in a business that actually promotes it. Marinich, it appears, was the only one to speak to that.
But I guess the question now is, with the passage of time and memory lapses does anyone really care any more?
Maybe the election will tell us.

Mayoral candidate Rory Ring suggests I don’t see him as a legitimate candidate.
He is wrong.
I consider anyone who files nomination papers a legitimate candidate.
I just don’t consider him a worthy candidate.

Doug Millroy can be reached at dmillroy@gmail.com.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I am in ward 4 and will be voting mcleary,/// mr bruni you should be ashamed of yourself, you had ulterior motives in that whole scandal, you are one of them that have to go

  2. And if there is one lesson for voters, Mr. Millroy, it is this:

    VOTE for people who have INTEGRITY… people who will do the right thing when the doors are closed and nobody is looking.

    People with INTEGRITY like former APH Board member Karen Marinich who stood up for APH in closed-door Board meetings, when nobody was looking, to say NO, I”m not going to vote to have APH partner with a private organization that promotes smoking.

    Vote for elected representatives who will have enough INTEGRITY to break confidentiality and go public with their closed-door information to reporters like Mr. Millroy when the leadership of their organizations are telling lies to the public like Karen Marinich did when Dr. Kim Barker was telling the public she had nothing to do with the hiring of her boyfriend.

    Vote ONLY for people who you believe to have the closed-door INTEGRITY of a Karen Marinich; People who use their closed-door votes and information to protect and advance the goals and objectives of the organizations and groups of people they represent.

    VOTING for closed-door INTEGRITY is the ONLY way that back room deals that enrich a few well connected individuals will be eliminated, and our city and public institutions will start making decisions that enrich ALL CITIZENS.

    In the case of the election tomorrow, vote ONLY for the candidates YOU believe have the closed-door INTEGRITY of Karen Marinich.

    You can’t go too far wrong if you do that, no matter what the candidate’s skill, age or background is. It really doesn’t matter unless they have INTEGRITY.

    And if you feel that NONE of the candidates have that type of integrity, then GO TO THE VOTING BOOTH, hold your nose, and PICK ANY ONE OF THE NON-INCUMBENTS…

    Do not stay at home and not vote, and definitely DO NOT SPOIL YOUR BALLOT.

    Nothing will change if stay at home, or spoil your ballot.

    It’s the dawn of a new era in Sault Ste. Marie, and we need VOTERS to vote in representatives with Karen-Marinich-type closed-door INTEGRITY, or at the very least vote in fresh faces with fresh ideas.

    Not voting will get us the same old same old. Who wants that?

    Get out and VOTE TOMORROW.

    Sincerely,
    MAB

  3. How about the severance package the Mayor and Council gave out to Figliola? Who left employment while under investigation for fraud against the City. Or anyone else from City Hall who also left under questionable circumstances?
    Mr. Milroy, why target just one Councilor for the APH problem when Mayor and all of Council over the last four years have been doing the same type of thing with City employees?

  4. Milroy has guaranteed that Mr. Bruni will have to deal with this BEFORE ward 4 goes to the polls. What say you Mr. Bruni? Your silence has been deafening in this matter.

  5. A forensic audit. Precisely what should have been initiated by Mayor Provenzano to find out where all the tens of millions conveniently disappeared to compliments of the Essar group of global thieves.

    • Exactly Robert, Mayor Provenzano and Marchy Bruni have both tossed our hard earned tax dollars around like it’s Monopoly money.

      Mayor Provenzano negotiated away $2 Million dollars of INTEREST on taxes the new owners of Algoma owed the city.

      Why?

      Oh, I don’t know, maybe Mayor Provenzano wanted a big sigh of relief from the community, and a good news announcement about the state of the plant heading into the Oct. 22nd election?

      You tell me, Robert, was that announcement worth $2 Million dollars to you? It wan’t to me, but I’m just a little guy who MUST pay interest on my taxes when I’m late making a payment. BTW Algoma is STILL under Bankruptcy protection.

      But, hey, Mayor Provenzano got his $2 Million dollar good news announcement.

      As for Marchy Bruni, like FT said, Bruni was happy to give APH’s Kim Barker $150,000 in severance instead of saying to her, “MAYBE we’ll give you immunity if you answer ALL of our questions, and then leave loudly and quickly so every time you apply for a job everyone will know who you are and what you did here. And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

      Instead, Bruni and APH lawyer Bob Paciocco led the charge to give Barker $150,000 of our hard earned tax dollars, immunity from her scandalous behaviour AND a letter of reference (???) without getting any answers to any questions about her questionable involvement in this entire APH scandal leaving Dr. Barker’s reputation LOOKING completely unblemished to the rest of the world.

      Instead, Bruni and APH lawyer Bob Paciocco led the charge to give Barker $150,000 of our hard earned tax dollars, immunity from her scandalous behaviour AND a letter of reference (???) without getting any answers to any questions about her questionable involvement in this entire APH scandal.

      Why keep Dr. Barker’s reputation looking unblemished you might ask?

      Short Answer: Eventual PERSONAL MONEY for Bruni, Paciocco, Joe Fratesi and Dr. Kim Barker as paid Directors of a medical marijuana grow-op going through the strict government approval process that couldn’t have even a hint of a blemish on it as Doug Millroy has written above.

      $150,000 of our hard earned tax dollars just so Bruni and friends could eventually get PERSONAL MONEY for themselves.

      Thank goodness for Mr. Millroy and other top notch reporters Mr. Bruni and his friends’ plan to stuff their pockets at taxpayer expense was slammed shut in the middle of the approval process. Still, Councillor Bruni’s leadership still cost us lowly taxpayers $150,000 for nothing.

      Marchy Bruni doesn’t deserve to be elected to ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.

      And as far as I’m concerned there’s something much worse going on in Sault Ste. Marie than the opioid crisis IF Marchy Bruni gets elected to City Council on Oct 22nd.

      It’s the dawn of a new day in Sault Ste. Marie, I urge Ward 4 voters to start fresh with new UNCONNECTED blood.

      Vote McCLEARY and MARSH in Ward 4. They’ll be there for YOU, not themselves.

      Sincerely,
      MAB

  6. Maybe Ward 4 residents don’t care that Marchy Bruni convinced the health unit that a $150,000 severance package to the health unit’s head doctor lady was the best deal he thought they could get?

    You know, the same Doctor lady who resigned from the embarrassment of recommending that an ex-con fraudster be hired as the health unit’s finance guy, and then proceeded to have relations with the ex-con finance guy while they were working together at the health unit?

    Maybe Ward 4 residents think that $150,000 was the best severance payout the taxpayers could get just like Marchy did?

    And maybe Ward 4 residents think that Marhy Bruni deserved to use his inside information, and his position as the health unit chair, to put his name down, together with his buddies Joe Fratesi and the disgraced doctor lady, as eventual paid directors on the board of directors of a medical marijuana grow-op?

    I mean what good is it having position and inside information if you can’t get paid for it (eventually) right Marchy?

    Disgaziato.

  7. Interesting indeed definitely to me.

    The apparent investigation for what purpose and motive is naturally what I am questioning for good reason.

    I have thought to add more yet decided to leave it at that.

Comments are closed.