Dr. Kimberly Barker, who was forced to resign as medical officer of health after it was revealed she had hired a convicted criminal with whom she was involved to run Algoma Public Health’s finances on an interim basis, fought for years to keep a KPMG report of its investigation into the matter from public view.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why.
Barker apparently did not want to see become public what she seemed to to believe would be salacious details of her romance with Shaun Rothberg, a man who was really Shaun Rootenberg, a man who had spent time in prison for fraud.
But reading The Canadian Press story in The Sault Star on the KPMG report, which it obtained through a Freedom of Information request, I really didn’t see much that hadn’t been reported at the time.
We didn’t know they had met on a dating site and we also didn’t know that she knew that the name Rothberg was an alias at least seven weeks prior to his hiring as interim CFO, a move that came about after the board’s previous business administrator was charged with breach of trust and theft..
But in regard to Barker’s worry about it being revealed that she was in an intimate relationship with Rothberg, their involvement was brought up in many instances locally following her firing without any complaint from her.
Questioned by reporter Elaine Della-Mattia of The Sault Star, Barker said that she was not in a relationship with Rothberg. However, in what amounted to a non-denial denial, she would not disclose to Della-Mattia whether she had been in a relationship with him.
I mentioned in a column on Jan. 24, 2015, just after the story broke, that Marchy Bruni, a city councillor who was then chair of the APH board, told me he had heard the rumours that the two were romantically involved but did not know if they were true.
I mentioned in a column on Feb. 21 that Barker reportedly had personal relations with the man she hired at $4,000 a week plus expenses in late 2013 to serve as interim chief financial officer and in a column on March 21 I said that she happened to be personally involved with the interim CFO.
It seems to me that in challenging the release of the KPMG report, she did nothing but bring more attention to herself.
CP mentioned that Barker hired Rothberg through Rhulse26 Consulting through talks which began before the health unit board approved a search for a new chief financial officer.
Considering Rothberg was the one who introduced Barker to Ron Hulse, head of the Toronto-based consulting firm, it was hard to believe that an intermediary would be required to put the two together on a professional basis.
Rothberg served as interim CFO for 27 weeks until May 31, 2014, and, according to CP, Rhulse26 billed the health unit for $120,514 for Rothberg’s services and another $61,698 for developing a business plan.
I wondered in that March 21 column about how Rothberg was paid, considering he wouldn’t have a social insurance number under his alias. I also wondered whether Algoma Public Health was paying Rhulse26 so Rhulse26 could pay Rothberg under his real name, Shaun Rootenberg, therefore avoiding any problem with the alias.
In regard to Rothberg’s hiring, I couldn’t see how RHulse26 was involved at all.
After the story about Rothberg’s background was broken by David Helwig of SooToday, the APH board and Barker in a news release said they were shocked by the revelation in regard to the man whose services they secured through a consultant retained by the board.
But former APH board member Karen Marinich, who was there when Rothberg’s hiring was discussed, disputed that his services were obtained through a consultant.
She told me Rothberg was hired solely on Barker’s recommendation and provided me with the minutes of an in-committee meeting of Nov. 20, 2013, that backed up her claim.
Titled BA (business administrator), Hiring Update, the minutes read:
“Dr. Barker spoke to the in-depth work to be done in administration, suggesting that an interim financial officer be hired until which time the business administrator position is filled. She relayed that six responses were received from recruiting firms but that the cost to secure this service was extensive. Dr. Barker spoke to an opportunity that arose in partnership with the GHC (Group Health Centre) and proposed that the board consider approving an interim candidate who has developed a relationship with the GHC and could assist in fostering this partnership – a model for public health and primary care working together.
“Discussion took place. The board was in agreement to hire the recommended financial officer pending his availability to provide ‘full-time’ interim service to Algoma Public Health. It was also agreed that the resolution to employ recruitment services for the business administrator position, which was passed at the October board meeting, be rescinded and resolution 2013-111 was passed in open meeting. The board reiterated that operational functions such as this proposed hiring are at the discretion of the MOH and that Dr. Barker could notify the board of such changes not requiring approval from the board.”
I said in my column I had a hard time taking from these minutes that a consultant had any involvement in the hiring of Rothberg, even though Barker, Bruni and Ron Hulse, the consultant, insisted that was the case.
Marinich said she tried many times to get background material on Rothberg and provided me with emails showing how futile her persistence was.
Barker didn’t leave empty-handed.
She got six months severance pay (about $150,000 based on her $300,000 yearly salary), a letter of reference and immunity.