Op-Ed| Algoma Public Health Scandal: The Big Finish

34

So, it’s all over. The audits have been done, the provincial report is in, Mayor Provenzano is ready to ‘move on’. But what really happened here? How do we make sense of it all? Is the fabric of our social service net mended, or still fraying at the ends?

I’m back, to take a crack at making sense of it all. Not sure I will fully succeed, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Me bumbling my way through this has to be better than the deafening silence out on the streets right now. Maybe it will start a new discussion… who knows?

To start off, I’m going to ‘simple’ things way down, and tell you a little story about a chicken ranch, and the woman who took over the chicken ranch and needed to find a good dog to guard the chicken coop. Something folksy and whimsical, to get everyone’s mental juices flowing. Try to bear with me!

Old-timers and country folk know all about this. Maybe you don’t. Truth is, an egg-sucker is a bad dog.

An egg-sucker is a dog that was tasked with protecting the chickens and the coop from predators but somewhere along the way this dog develops a taste for eggs. So, instead of protecting the farmer’s interests, the dog ends up being the biggest threat to the operation. And once an egg-sucker embarks on its quest for creamy delicious yolks, well… it’s almost impossible to get them to stop. That dog’s usefulness is all played out. Time to get a new dog.

This is exactly what happened at one particular chicken ranch (We’ll call it the ‘Algoma Public Health Ranch’). And on that ranch, they had a dog that was tasked with protecting the chickens and the eggs (We”ll call that dog Jeff Holmes). But this dog turned egg-sucker, and by the time it was found out, roughly half a million eggs had vanished. So, they had to get rid of him.

Just about that time, a new woman came along, to take over management of the Algoma Public Health Ranch (We’ll call her Dr. Barker). She didn’t have a lot of experience in running a ranch, but one thing was abundantly clear – she was in a hurry to get a new dog, to protect the chickens and the eggs. She was in so much of a hurry, that she cut some corners. Instead of paying out premium money to deal with reputable breeders, and seeking the advice of the old-timers around the ranch, she struck out on her own, and found herself a bargain. So, she made a deal with a breeder, to get a new dog (We’ll call this breeder Ron Hulse).

But wouldn’t you know it, this fella passed off another egg-sucker to her! (We’ll call this egg-sucker Shawn Rootenberg). She was told that this dog went by another name, so she had no way of knowing she got herself another egg-sucker! At least, she claims she had no idea about it, anyway.

So, she takes this new egg-sucker, and plants him right in the middle of where the last egg-sucker just got done doing his thing. Only this new egg-sucker had a way worse reputation. This one had caused widespread destruction on multiple ranches before, racking up more than a million eggs, some from his own close relatives! But the breeder held a strong belief in the rehabilitation of bad dogs, and was willing to stake the well-being of the Algoma Public Health Ranch on his hunch. So he kept quiet about this dog’s true history.

But in the midst of this terrible blunder, a minor miracle happened. For some strange reason that only she could explain if she was still around to tell the tale, this woman did something that was either very convenient, or very clever… at any rate, it was indeed fortunate… she put a muzzle on this new dog, before letting it loose in the chicken coop! So this dog ran around for months, never once sucking on eggs, but not really having the power to protect the ranch, either. It was kind of a symbolic thing, really.  A muzzled dog is basically all bark, and no bite.

To wrap this tale up with brevity, we’ll finish off by saying that some clever camper finally recognized the new dog, identified it as an egg-sucker, and the dog was run off, before it ever got the chance to demonstrate its true nature. And that’s the end of our little story.

Now folks, here is the part where audience participation come into play. Got a couple of question for ya! Ready?

  1. Was it right or fair for the Algoma Public Health Ranch to be subjected to another egg-sucker, right after they just got finished ridding themselves of one?
  2. Why did the new ranch manager muzzle the new dog, rendering it basically useless, if she didn’t know it was an egg-sucker?
  3. Would you knowingly bring a dog that was a known egg-sucker into your ranch, and trust it with your livelihood?
  4. What would you think about someone who deceived you in this way?

I tied this story to a simpler time, and a simpler reality, to accomplish one basic goal. What I’m trying to do, is introduce the topic of morality and ethics into the equation, because after reading all the media stories, reviewing the facts, and then reading the government’s report, I can’t seem to find basic common sense or morality anywhere. Do we still, as a society, have a basic grasp on the difference between right and wrong? Do such things still exist? Do they still matter? Watching the Algoma Public Health Unit scandal from start to finish, I am left with an overwhelming sense of futility. The world has gone insane. I just can’t relate to it anymore.

Here is a brief synopsis of the whole APH scandal, at least, my understanding of it.

  • Jeff Holmes pilfered roughly half a million dollars from APH coffers, while in the capacity of Chief Financial Officer for that organization.
  • During the fallout from that event, Dr. Kim Barker took over as Chief Medical Officer at APH.
  • She was inexperienced, and anxious to fill the empty CFO spot, even on a temporary basis.
  • So, she pushed for a replacement, ran into difficulty, and struck out on her own to secure Shawn Rothberg as interim CFO.
  • She hired Rothberg, who turned out to be a convicted fraud by the name of Shawn Rootenberg. The consultant who helped secure Rootenberg for APH, Ron Hulse, knew of his real identity, but felt that Rootenberg deserved a chance to prove himself, and could only do so under an assumed identity
  • Dr. Barker claims she didn’t know that it was actually Shawn Rootenberg she hired, but limited his abilities as interim CFO, not granting him signing authority, or access to HR, or payroll, even though those are traditional duties for a Chief Financial Officer.
  • Rootenberg spent six months as acting CFO, completing his contract, before his true identity was discovered.
  • All hell breaks loose in local media, and audits and reviews are initiated.
  • Dr. Barker resigns.
  • A waterfront development project, and a medical marijuana grow-op project, go up in smoke, because of Rootenberg’s perceived involvement in them.
  • The Algoma Public Health Unit is left in a state of shock and disarray.

So, this all leads us up to today, and the provincial government’s ‘Assessor Report’, authored by Graham Scott. This is the final say, the authoritative ‘bill of goods’, on the whole APH scandal. It’s the thing that should make us all rest easy, that order has been restored, and our public health service is in fine working order. So, did the report accomplish these feats?

No, it didn’t. Not by a long shot.

The ‘Assessors Report’ is a 56 page document. Let’s keep in focus, front and center, what precipitated this report, shall we? Do I need to remind everyone of what that was? Let’s say it all together – the review was requested because it was discovered that a convicted fraud had operated as interim CFO at Algoma Public Health for six months, under an assumed identity!

So, what does Mr. Scott have to say about the deception that led to his involvement at APH? Absolutely nothing! Well, maybe he did say something, but there are large sections of his report that were redacted in bold black, that make the whole thing remind me of CIA terror reports coming out of the United States during the whole torture scandal over there. If this was a government report, generated for the people of Ontario, why are there areas redacted? Who got copies of the full report? What happened to public transparency? Why is nobody freaking out over this?

Sorry, I digress.

Anything negative Mr. Scott might have had to say about Mr. Rootenberg’s use of an assumed identity is completely cloaked behind black. He does mention that Mr. Rootenberg messed up on a few levels, and makes mention of Mr. Rootenberg’s efforts to secure a Starbuck’s franchise on APH property, but there is no statement of any kind visible from Mr. Scott, that condemns, dissuades, or denounces the manner in which Mr. Rootenberg secured his position as CFO for Algoma Public Health.

This is the most disheartening aspect of this report for me. This was the golden opportunity for Mr. Scott to talk about the merits of honesty, integrity, and moral conduct in public service! We get none of that from him. Instead, what we get, and something I find absolutely appalling, are subjective overtures of praise for Mr. Rootenberg from Mr. Scott. In his report, Scott states that Rootenberg ‘approached his work with energy and vigor and moved quickly to address many of the serious issues facing the APHU’. But he doesn’t stop there. Scott goes on to say that Rootenberg was ‘project oriented’, and makes a further comment, explaining how ‘it is hard to win a popularity contest as an ICFO’.

I’m sorry, but in the absence of any visible denouncement of Mr. Rootenberg’s failure to properly identify himself in obtaining this position, Mr. Scott’s words of praise fall flat and repulsive on my deaf ears. If he could employ subjective license to praise Mr. Rootenberg, surely Mr. Scott could have employed some of that same liberty to balance the equation of moral conduct?

In his press release, Mr. Scott states emphatically that there was absolutely no evidence of any illegal activity on behalf of Mr. Rootenberg. Well, since we now know that Dr. Barker prevented Mr. Rootenberg from having any signing authority, or any access to APH funds, is this really such a surprise? Are we supposed to be impressed by that?

So, what does Mr. Scott conclude in his report? What is the ‘end game’ for the Algoma Public Health Scandal?

Well, the Board members who were in place prior to the fall Municipal Election, including the Board Chair and City Council member Marchy Bruni, were turfed unceremoniously. I’m strangely comfortable with that. Call it bad luck, whatever you want, but Mr. Bruni seems to have jumped out of the frying pan, and into the fire, getting caught up in the huge mess while on the PUC Board and the Tainted Water Scandal, and landing right smack in the middle of the APH Scandal. He may be humiliated by his removal from the APH Board, but from where I sit, it’s more of a mercy killing. The APH Board watched the whole train wreck unfold, and were like deer in the headlights the whole time. They needed to go.

The other notable thing about Mr. Scott’s report, are his two ‘options’ for Algoma Public Health. Option ‘A’ involves dismantling the APH completely, and having it absorbed by Sudbury. Option ‘B; involves turning APH into a meaner, leaner version of itself, but doesn’t involve getting absorbed into Sudbury. I am not comfortable with either of Mr. Scott’s options, for one simple reason: both options include a cut in management positions at APH. Let me explain my opposition, in a little greater detail.

While APH was dealing with the fraud committed by Mr. Holmes, a dysfunctional Board, an inexperienced Medical Officer of Health, an interim CFO who was actually a convicted fraud, somehow managed to keep Algoma Public Health functioning, and providing service to the people in our community. In the midst of all this scandal and fallout, and under extra scrutiny, they persevered. So, for all their troubles and efforts, both of Mr. Scott’s ‘options’ include cutting their throats? The net effect is, those who did their jobs and didn’t screw up, still have to pay. That might not be Mr. Scott’s intention, but that is the net effect. We already have our sacrifice, the Board members must go. So, why are the unsung heroes being punished? Why are those who caused this whole scandal allowed to walk away unscathed?

Nothing about this scandal sits right with me. It stinks from top to bottom. Morality and basic common sense has been thrown out the window. The guilty get praise, and the innocent get punished. The world is upside down, friends.

But there is a silver lining in all of this. If you are a person with a troubled past, a criminal record, something you feel is preventing you from becoming the success you were always meant to be, take heart! In Ontario, you can start fresh! You can realize the dream!

All you need to do is find someone who is willing to help you conceal your identity. Assume a false name, find a consultant to help you present yourself as someone else and process your pay, and get yourself that awesome corporate position! The police won’t care, the government won’t care, and the vast majority of people in society are too ignorant or blind to realize what you are doing is basically wrong! And if you get discovered, and an investigation gets launched that costs the taxpayers many thousands of dollars, all the naughty bits will get blacked out, but you might even get complimented by a government official for your creative efforts!

It’s a great day to be alive in Ontario, isn’t it?

For Northern Hoot, I’m R.B. Shea (an alias, but don’t hate the player, hate the game!)

Assessors Report on Algoma Public Health

owl_feather

Share.

Editor’s Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of the Northern Hoot, but only of the comment writer. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please keep comments on topic. For more information on our commenting policies, please see our Terms of Use. If you see a typo or error on our site, report it to us. Please include a link to the story where you spotted the error.

  • Donna

    This is, by far, the best call out to the deception, corruption and willfull blindness Sault Ste Marie has operated under for decades! And, not just in APH.

  • Elizabeth Baldwin

    I wish someone would also focus on the Public Health Board members at the time. They do have the ultimate responsibility. They need to understand their mandated responsibilities and their legal responsibilities. Rubber-stamping what is given to them to approve is a dangerous and a far too common practice. If they were just volunteers, I might have some sympathy, but they are not. APH Board members are paid. Whining about not having Board training is lame. They are the very folks who get to ask for it, and should have. They would also have been given all the materials related to their roles and responsibilities. If they take their responsibilities too lightly, they need to be ashamed, and accountable.

  • RBShea67

    Just to be clear, there are other reports still pending, but I called this the ‘big finish’ because frankly, it has dragged out so long that I doubt many will still be tuned in by the time the other reports emerge. And apparently, there was collaboration between this assessor and the other report being worked on, so I can’t imagine there will be many more surprises.

  • Steffanie Petroni

    I agree. At this point any change in course would be motivated at a local level. As Elizabeth Baldwin mentions- perhaps a stricter vetting process of Board members. Or perhaps a collective surge of indignation among the community that pressures a response from local decision makers. Other than that…It’s business as usual.

  • If there is known wrongdoing doesn’t someone have to pay ?
    A poor man has to pay 5000 dollars for driving without insurance on his vehicle , a rich criminal gets a break ?
    What’s up with that ?

  • chicken ranching .. classic. At least the Scott report gives the hen house a good cleaning …:)

  • RBShea67

    In the early going, my first impression was that Dr. Barker was simply caught by her inexperience, and this is how Rootenberg slipped into the CFO position. Now that much more detail is in place, I’m far less convinced of her innocence in this affair. Side-stepping the Board and the HR department, giving them a one week window to find a CFO, removing APH personnel from the interview process, personally recruiting Rootenberg, then shielding him against questions about his background, are simply too many coincidences to ignore. Then when you add in the fact that she prevented Rootenberg from having signing authority or access to APH funds, you have to ask yourself a basic question: Why would she do that, if she had no knowledge of him, prior to hiring him? You see, if Rootenberg signed official documents under a false name while acting as CFO, that would be fraud. But apparently, that never happened, because he had no signing authority. Coincidence, or convenient? Maybe we’ll never know.

  • robert franklin stroud

    What the article glosses over is that in his role with APH, Mr. Rootenberg was found to have done nothing wrong; and, in fact, the Report notes that his efforts helped to save millions while securing property and protecting local jobs that would have been lost but for the incompetence and corruption of previous administrators (Yes, maybe an ex-con can see things that lily-white and often politically-connected and incompetent auditors/administrators can’t). In short, this should have been a feel-good story about the rehabilitation and reintegration of a formerly incarcerated person benefiting everyone. The only reason it was not was because of politics, small-town thinking, and the financial interests of those that want to maintain the status quo.

    As for the developments noted now not taking place, you again fail to focus on the fact that Mr. Rootenberg — on his own time and with his own initiative –was the person trying to bring those opportunities to an area that had given him a second chance. But for his efforts at bringing people and ideas together, these projects would not have existed for others to later scuttle.

    Congratulations “pitch-fork brigade” on your Pyrrhic victory, but know that anyone with any sense can see that the Sault or APH is not better for it.

  • RBShea67

    A ‘feel good story’, huh? That’s fascinating. Why don’t you ask Dr. Barker how it feels to have her career trashed? Why don’t you ask the Board or staff at APH whether having Rootenberg play his game at APH if it was a ‘positive experience’? Or ask the taxpayers of Ontario how it feels to shell out many thousands of dollars in audits and assessments, because a grown man didn’t have the guts to admit who he was, and own up to his own actions? We may see things ‘lily-white’, but at least we’re not totally blind. And in the short time he was there, Rootenberg committed a serious breach of Ministry protocol, disposing of APH property that should have required Ministry approval. Doesn’t sound like the ‘con-summate’ professional to me! The only thing Rootenberg accomplished while in the Sault was burning down careers, while trying to benefit himself. He is no hero.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Yes, Mr. Rberg seems to have been the beneficiary of the support of two people, Mr. Hulse and Dr. Barker, who apparently believed in him and his worthiness to receive an opportunity to demonstrate that he could still do excellent financial work. And guess what?

    By all accounts Mr. Rberg did awesome financial work at APH.Go figure?

    Maybe Mr. Rberg was just looking for an opportunity to re-establish his credibility as a financial guru. And if you look at THE WORK he did for APH he certainly deserves the title of Financial Guru.

    Yet you, RBShea, just can’t seem to get over the fact that he used a moniker to deliver on the apparent promises he made to Mr. Hulse and Dr. Barker to do excellent work for the APH.

    Using a moniker is LEGAL RBShea. You know that.

    Mr. Rberg got an opportunity to reestablish his Financial creds, and he delivered BIG TIME for our community.

    The only thing that you should be shouting about, RBShea, is the fact that the APH’s hiring policy for consultants and contractors, and the Board of the APH itself, were sufficiently WEAK to allow for the hiring of Mr. Rberg in the first place. And that’s definitely something worth shouting about because not all former criminals will be as worthy of being hired by the APH as Mr. Rberg was, but some of them will be.

    Believe it or not, RBShea, some criminals do rehabilitate IF GIVEN REASONABLE OPPORTUITIES TO DO SO.

    We both agree, RBShea, that giving Mr. Rberg the opportunity at APH to demonstrate his Financial creds was NOT a reasonable opportunity if he had signing authority, and access to sensitive personal client and personnel information, but apparently Dr. Barker did NOT give him that access when the Board hired him so Mr. Rberg’s opportunity WAS APPROPRIATE in light of the restrictions that the Board apparently placed on him!

    Let this ‘he used a different name’ thing go RBShea.

    Focus on the Board selection process, and the solidification of the APH consultant and contractor hiring policies going forward.

    To crucify Mr. Rberg for seizing the opportunity given to him by the confluence of a myriad of events in order to do SUPERB work for our Health Unit is simply a waste of your time, and does a disservice to Mr. Rberg, and the excellent work he did on our behalf while he was at APH.

    Life is not perfect, RBShea, but we can certainly offer praise where praise is due. Just read robert franklin stroud’s post to see the kind of praise that we should be showering Mr. Rberg with. From what I can see that praise of Mr. Rberg has been well earned, and is certainly deserved.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  • RBShea67

    So, if someone is a convicted sex-offender, but they feel ‘reformed’ and want a second chance, they should be able to hide their identity, and take a corporate job at Children’s Aid, as long as they do a good job? Is that the logic you’re trying to peddle here, Mr. Brown?

    Does swinging it over to a scenario like that burst the logic bubble for you? Do you not see why it is critical for people in positions of public trust to have integrity? Does integrity factor at all in your world, Mr. Brown?

  • RBShea67

    Mark, perhaps you should ask Rootenberg’s brother about the merits and morality of people properly identifying themselves. He was defrauded by his own flesh and blood for over a million dollars. You see, pretending to be someone you’re not can lead to very dire consequences, Mr. Brown. Honesty and integrity have value in society, and for good reason.

  • MarkT

    Mark- you’ve missed the point of the article. Deliberately concealing your identity to gain a position of authority and power is unethical. Rootenberg et al went to great lengths to cover up his felonious past. As far as rehabilitation, individuals who commit the level of fraud such as Rootenberg tend not to be rehabilitated lending to a predisposition towards personality disorders. In fact, the very best thing for someone like Rootenberg who struggles with deception and money is to NOT ever seek a position where he’s working with finances- not even at a convenience store. True that Barker had enough foresight to muzzle her boyfriend however Rootenberg did seek out a position in finance which in and of itself suggests that he’s not rehabilitated. It’s like an alcoholic ‘just sniffing’ a mug of beer. As for the benefit to the community …Our APH is in greater peril now then before Rootenberg came to town – likely for the purposes of grooming the City. Giver your head a shake Mark- you’re on the wrong side of the road right now.

  • RBShea67

    Fortunately, for those of us who live in Canada, there is no Statute of Limitations for criminal offences. Anytime down the road, a keen eye and a determined mind can piece this whole thing together all over again, and any crimes that were missed in the early confusion, can still be brought to justice.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Dear MarkT,

    You said, “Deliberately concealing your identity to gain a position of authority and power is unethical”, yet Mr. Rberg apparently did NOT conceal his identity, according to RBSheah (and I agree with her based on the restrictions placed on Mr. Rberg), from Dr. Barker and Mr. Hulse.

    Mr. Rberg, therefore, did NOTHING unethical according to your definition of unethical MT.

    If anyone is to be called ‘unethical’ according to your definition, MarkT, it would be Mr. Hulse, and Dr. Barker.

    Why aren’t you focusing your ALL your complaints against the two who facilitated the hiring of a person who was seemingly know to them as a recently convicted criminal MarkT? Especially Dr. Barker?

    Perhaps it’s because you know that Dr. Barker’s credibility and integrity is untouchable!?!!

    Yeah, that’s got to be it. You are sooooo ethical, and have sooooo much integrity that it’s easier to pick on the former criminal for attempting to make up for the trespasses that he trespassed against others, and for which he has served his pennance, than it is to try to complain about the Dr. who apparently believes in restorative justice, and who is willing to put her name, credibility, and livelihood on the line for that belief.

    You’re nothing but a coward MarkT. Pick on the good Doctor if you feel your claims of ‘unethical behaviour’ are justified.

    I dare you.

    In the mean time I’d be verrrrrrry careful about making any further loud, pseudo-intellectual complaints about Mr. Rberg. Your ‘algoholic’ characterizations are misplaced at best, and legally actionable at worst.

    Mr. Rberg did NOTHING wrong getting in to APH. Others let him in.

    Mr. Rberg did NOTHING criminal at APH. Ask Graham Scott (nothing was sent to the OPP… read p.55 #7 of the Report).

    Mr. Rberg SAVED APH a bank vault of money during his tenure. EVERYBODY says so.

    Show some INTEGRITY MarkT. Do the ethical thing and praise Mr. Rberg Mark T.

    Or be a coward.

    Your choice.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

    P.S. If you have to ask about my integrity, RBShea, then you really don’t know me. Also, please show some INTEGRITY and give Mr. Rberg the praise he so richly deserves for a job well done at APH. What has this world come to when people who rail against the lack of ethics and integrity don’t even have the simple decency to offer praise for a job well done? Ethical behaviour and integrity would be fantastic! All I’m asking for here is a little decency from you and MarkT. Please don’t disappoint me. Praise Mr. Rberg for the fantastic work that others allowed him to do.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Actually, RBShea67, somebody in a position of supreme authority for hiring decisions and employee oversight down at Childrens’ Aid would have to vouch for the ‘reformed’ sex offender you are comparing Mr. Rberg to if your EXTREMELY INACCURATE metaphor came anywhere close to the logic that I’m ‘peddling’ here. Nice try though kiddo 🙂 Perhaps you want to try comparing Mr. Rberg to some 1945 German war figure next? Go crazy kiddo. Sincerely, MB

  • RBShea67

    A convicted fraud, concealing his identity to get close to money. A convicted sex-offender, concealing his identity to get close to children. I see a moral equivalence there – why can’t you?

  • MarkT

    I will disappoint you. And I won’t lose any sleep over it.

  • RBShea67

    Don’t try to speculate on what I have or haven’t said, Mark. I suspect you have enough on your hands, just keeping track of what you are saying.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    You ask for ethics from all others, yet cannot offer simple human decency. May the L_rd have Mercy on you.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    There is a moral equivalence in what you described in your reply to me directly above, RBShea, but, again, Dr. Barker apparently knew EXACTLY who and what Mr. Rberg was, and the criminal behaviour he had demonstrated in the past.

    Apparently Mr. Rberg did not conceal his identity from the HEAD of the APH… the one person at APH who has supreme authority and responsibility over hiring and employee oversight… the person at who’s desk the buck stops for everything at APH given that there was no CEO at the time.

    That person being Dr. Barker.

    Yet Dr. Barker was still willing put her job and reputation on the line for Mr. Rberg.

    That is where your ‘moral equivalence’ metaphor breaks down RBShea. There is no PRACTICAL equivalence in what happened at APH and what you described in your reply to me RBShea.

    You are correct, RBShea, that Graham Scott had an opportunity to talk about the damage a weak hiring policy can have on the Public Health of a society in terms of not setting out strong ethical goals of integrity to simply live a good, clean life, but he didn’t, and I dare say it was not part of his mandate, his mandate was to OBJECTIVELY REPORT on what he FOUND, and he did just that. Nothing more. Nothing less. Graham Scott’s reports of Mr. Rberg’s good work for the APH were objective because they were based on what was said over and over again in the interviews he conducted. Despite your protestations, RBShea, the reporting of Mr. Rberg’s good work at the APH by Mr. Scott was not subjective. It was entirely objective just like the rest of his REPORTING.

    The solution of placing an ethical star of integrity for everyone in our community to reach for on a day-to-day basis in this case is actually the responsibility of the Board of the APH because they let Dr. Barker put Mr. Rberg in a place where he should not have been given the opportunity to be. Luckily it worked out for Dr. Barker and the APH, but it easily could have turned out really badly for the APH.

    That, RBShea, is the fault of the weak ‘Contractor and Consultant hiring policy’ that was in place at the time, and the weak nature of the APH Board that was in place at the time.

    Graham Scott’s recommendations are strengthening the make up of the Board of the APH, and the Board and the current administration of the APH are strengthening the APH’s ‘Contractor and consultant hiring policy’ to require Criminal Records Checks from SOME of the consultants and contractors that they hire including the people that those consultants and contractors have in their employ.

    That new APH ‘consultant and contractor hiring policy’ is still not the ‘Shining star of ethics and integrity’ that would help people in our community reach toward living the kind of exemplary lives of ethics and integrity that you, MarkT and I would like to see people CHOOSE to live RBShea, but getting that policy changed to being one that REQUIRES ALL contractors, consultants and the people in their employ to get Criminal Records Checks before being allowed to work anywhere on behalf of the APH is where our energies should be focused IMHO.

    Let’s pursue getting the current Board and Administration to make Records Checks for ALL APH workers, contractors, consultants and the people they employ MANDATORY so people have a shinning star of ethics and integrity to shoot for in their daily lives. Shall we?

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  • Linda Nowicki

    Robert, Mr. Rottenburg did everything wrong, starting with not being honest about his identity. If he wanted a clean start, he should have come clean on his identity. The Board members were derelict in their duty but that does not surprise me. In my experience, most directors on municipal and similar boards have no training or understanding of their duties and obligations and unfortunately some that do, don’t have the courage to challenge decisions. They sit only to rubber stamp what administration suggests which is why administrators can get away with fraud and deception. To think only one board member challenged Mr. Rottenburg’s identity and received no support and that no one followed up is incredible. They should all have resigned before being forced to by the Health Minister. Indeed, the communities that they represent should have moved to replace them.

  • Linda Nowicki

    Dr. Mark Andrew Brown,
    How noble that Dr. Barker chose to give a man a second chance. However, she was not putting her money or business at risk. She had a fiduciary obligation and trust to the Board and taxpayers and no right to jeopardize that trust and taxpayer funds. It should have been the Board’s decision to give the man a second chance not Dr,. Barker’s. If Mr. Rottenberg wants a second chance, then he should find someone like Dr. Barker in the private sector willing to risk their business in the belief that he is reformed.

  • RBShea67

    Dr. Barker has stated that she was unaware of Rootenberg’s identity or history at the time of hiring. Barring any proof to the contrary, all of my writing has been done with her innocence being assumed.

  • RBShea67

    Very well stated, Linda. On some Boards I am aware of, the individual members of the Board can be held personally liable for actions that occur within the organization they represent. I don’t know if that is the case at Algoma Public Health, but that information alone should make people wary when considering a position on a Board. It is a solemn duty, but many people seem to regard it as merely a symbolic role..

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Good point Linda. If Dr. Barker knew about Mr. Rerg’s recent criminal past then she should never have put Mr. Rberg in as the severely muzzled Interim CFO. The hiring policy for consultants and contractors at the time was sufficiently weak to allow that to happen. That policy now needs to REQUIRE Criminal Records Checks from any person who works for the APH, or any person who provides service to the APH. That policy still doesn’t read that way Linda. What are you prepared to do about it, if anything? Please advise. Best Regards, Mark Brown

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Okay RBShea67, but you assuming that Dr. Barker was NOT aware of Mr. Rberg’s recent fraud incarceration is, I believe, a BAD assumption based on the facts you reported about Mr. Rberg neiher being granted signing authority, nor being given access to APH Client and Personnel files at the START of his contract with the APH.

    Or maybe Mr. Hulse set that up in the employment contract to protect Dr. Barker and the APH because of what he knew about Mr. Rberg’s past.

    Yes, that has to be it because Dr. Barker’s integrity is untouchable.

    In any case, getting the APH Contractor and Consultant Hiring Policy changed so that EVERYBODY who does any work for the APH has to get a Criminal Record Check done before being allowed anywhere near the APH it’s clients is the most important thing going forward IMHO.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  • RBShea67

    In keeping with the spirit of our Western values to ‘assume innocence until proven guilty’, I will continue to assume Dr. Barker’s innocence, until evidence surfaces to the contrary. The fact that Mr. Rootenberg was not given signing authority is a matter of curiosity, but falls well short of condemnation. It raises reasonable questions, but does not draw any conclusions. Hope this clears things up for you.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Innocence until guilt is proven is certainly sacrosanct within the walls of a courtroom, but I’m not so sure you have used any of the water cooler water to douse the flames of gossip that have been spreading like wildfire in the court of public opinion with regard to the so-called dog in the previous APH barnyard. It’s time for this chicken to fly the coop 🙂 Sincerely, MB

  • RBShea67

    If people have burst into flames over this scandal, I can take very little credit for that. Solid journalism from people like Mills, Milroy, and Helwig are the reason this little episode in our town’s history wasn’t just swept under the rug, and public accountability remains possible. If morality and integrity are restored, it will be due in large part to their efforts, not mine. We are truly fortunate to still have people left in this town, who are willing to take risk, to bring us the truth.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Dear RBShea,

    Even though Mr. Milroy and Mr. Mills have dug up many salient facts with respect to these weaknesses of the APH Contractor/Consultant Hiring Policy and the APH’s previous Board, the simple fact is that these two COLUMNISTS, Mr. Mills and Mr. Milroy, deal in OPINION. Just like you and I deal in OPINION. Case in point: In Mr. Mills most recent opinion piece last Saturday he calls for “Justice” as if, in his OPINION, some PROVABLE criminal injustice is still looming. FACT: No criminal injustice is looming. FACT: The ABSENCE of a referral to the OPP of some criminal activity by ANYONE at the APH during the time of Dr. Barker’s employ by the Assessor, Graham Scott, is PROOF of no looming criminal injustice. Mr. Mill in his Saturday OPINION piece fans the flames of gossip in this community and DETRACTS and DERAILS people of morality, integrity and ethics from coming together for the purpose of DOING SOMETHING to DEMAND that the APH, and all other taxpayer funded entities, REQUIRE CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECKS of EVERYBODY who go anywhere near their Corporate Offices and/or their Staffs and/or their Clients.

    THAT is simply the right thing for moral and ethical members of integrity in our community to GET TOGETHER AND DO.

    What is done is done, and has largely been REPORTED on. Nothing criminal is coming. To wait around for more stuff to gossip about that will NEVER come is simply a colossal waste of time when our efforts could be going into DOING SOMETHING to help make things better forever.

    I hope you, MarkT, Linda Nowicki and other people of integrity in our community who have posted here, or who are reading this article and comments, will devote your EFFORTS to making sure that every person who does work in and around the APH has to FIRST submit a CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECK so it can be used in an evaluation of a person’s suitability to work in and around the APH.

    The integrity, ethics and morality of our society depend on us getting the APH Contractor/Consultant Hiring Policy changed to include Criminal Records Checks for ALL.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

    P.S. David Helwig is a top-notch JOURNALIST who deals only in FACT.

  • RBShea67

    As stated to another poster here, there is no Statute of Limitations in Canada. So, if new facts emerge some time in the future, a criminal investigation can still be launched. So while such action may not be ‘looming’, it is still a possibility.

    As for criminal records checks at APH, it is my understanding that Mr. Rootenberg slipped past such scrutiny, because there was no policy in place to screen people who were employed under contract from consulting firms. It is also my understanding that this oversight has been corrected, and is now APH policy, so there should be no further lapses of this kind.

  • Mark Andrew Brown

    Dear RBShea,

    The new APH policy for screening of people who seek to work in and around APH offices, staffs and clients only requires SOME consultants and contractors and their people to submit Criminal Records Checks, NOT ALL.

    The problem has, therefore, NOT been corrected RBShea.

    Do you really want a recently released convicted rapist cutting the grass in and around where a program for Healthy Babies and Healthy Children is being conducted?

    DO SOMETHING about this!!!

    If you have even one moral bone in your body that is.

    Sincerely and Factually,
    Mark Brown

  • RBShea67

    It is unfortunate that you have abandoned any effort to maintain intelligent discourse, Mr. Brown.

    You’ll just have to catch the last train to Goofyville, all on your own.