Tuesday, March 31, 2015

City Council hires Dr. Barb Faggetter as "resident scientist"

Dr. Barb Faggetter has been hired on
as the City's "resident scientist"
The first significant hiring through the funding of the Legacy Corporation has provided Dr. Barb Faggetter employment as the City's "resident scientist".

With Dr. Faggetter set to take on environmental assessment work on issues related to the proposed LNG development planned for the Tuck Inlet area of the city.

The announcement of Dr. Faggetter's hiring came by way of a posting to Mayor Lee Brain's Facebook page, as the Mayor made mention of her position while updating residents on his recent trip to Texas and the Exxon Campus.

"Council has zoned 10 conditions into the process itself and have hired Dr. Barb Faggetter as our resident scientist to oversee the Environmental Assessment" -- Mayor Lee Brain providing an update on the Exxon/Imperial LNG proposal for Tuck Inlet

The Mayor was touring the giant facility as part of the city's efforts to secure an LNG processing and shipment facility for the Tuck Inlet area.

In addition to the announcement regarding Dr. Faggetter's employment, the Mayor also outlined that Exxon has plans to release the design of the facility to the public shortly.

Mayor Brain announced Dr. Faggetter's
hiring through a Facebook post last week
As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, the Exxon project commenced its Environmental phase on March 5th.

The hiring of Dr. Faggetter appears to have been conducted as part of a number of closed sessions of Council in recent weeks.

At least we can only suspect that is where the hiring was considered, as there has been no mention of it made, or welcome aboard provided to the Doctor in recent open sessions of Council.

The Mayor's Facebook update was the first mention of Dr. Faggetter's involvement with the now ongoing environmental phase of the proposed Exxon project.

By not addressing the topic in public, residents will have no idea if the decision to hire her was unanimous, or if anyone on council had any concerns about the process involved.

Nor it seems, was there much of an intensive search for other qualified candidates for the position of a resident scientist, as no employment opportunity ads, or tender for services has appeared on the city's web page in recent weeks, signifying that the search for any position was under way.

Dr. Faggetter had previously been hired on as part of a contract basis by the Legacy Corporation to conduct an overview of the Lot 444 area related to the city's rezoning plans of last year.

Previous to that, she has made numerous appearances at City Council sessions to provide observations on local LNG proposals.

Of note among her presentations were sessions related to her concerns over the Pacific Northwest LNG Lelu Island development and more recently her findings to Council on the Tuck Inlet proposal from Exxon.

And while Dr. Faggetter most likely has the qualifications for such a position as "resident scientist" as the city may have defined them, the method of the city's approach to the hiring, is something that might be of note for those that are concerned about transparency issues when it comes to the Legacy Corporation staffing for such positions.

Beyond the lack of a proper posting procedure for what appears to be a civic position, there was also no public discussion at Council about the process as it relates to the staffing of Legacy Corporation related positions.

At recent budget information sessions, the City outlined that Legacy funding would not be used to cover municipal budget shortfalls, or other concerns related to civic operations.

Instead, the revenue streams from the Exxon money related to Lot 444 development is to be directed towards staffing issues related to development, which we imagine is where the hiring of Dr. Faggetter comes in.

To this point residents have no knowledge of the term of employment for Dr. Faggetter, leaving it unsaid as to how long she will be on the payroll,.

As well, so far there has been no explanation as to the terms of reference for her work, what the city's expectations are regarding her oversight on the Lot 444 issue, or what amount of salary she will be paid in relation to her expertise on the issues the city may be concerned about.

Instead, the only mention the public receives of the hiring comes by way of the Mayor's Facebook page,  that while helpful in a vanity press kind of way of providing updates on the Mayor's activities, probably should not be taking the place of a proper information flow from the city itself.

Positions of employment and decisions related to developments with the City and the Legacy Corporation, should primarily be routed through the City's website, with a proper trail of information regarding how those decisions have been achieved available for review by the public.

For all it's talk of transparency and consultation on issues related to the Legacy Corporation, the handling of Dr. Faggetter's appointment would suggest that Council still has some work to do when it comes to keeping the public up to date on what the newest City owned corporation is up to.

More on the Tuck Inlet LNG project can be found from our archive page here.

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