Saint John council removes 3 members of city boards

Saint John council has dismissed three high-profile members from two city boards and says more firings are on the way following an earlier decision to limit board terms to six years.

Decision to limit appointment terms to 6 years is retroactive to sitting board members

Saint John council has dismissed three high-profile members from two city boards and says more firings are on the way following an earlier decision to limit board terms to six years.

Christopher Titus and Bernard Desmond, the chairperson and vice chairperson respectively of the city's Power Commission, were let go prior to the end of their terms.

Claude MacKinnon was also removed from his position as chairperson of Saint John Industrial Parks.

Desmond said he was stunned to hear he had been dismissed five months before he completed his term with the commission that oversees Saint John Energy.

He called the action "a slap in the face."

"They're really a beautiful council, aren't they," said Desmond.

"They really are looking after the people that served the city well.

"I tried to do the very best I could, not only for Saint John Energy, but for the city."

MacKinnon also learned of his dismissal from CBC News. While disappointed, he said he respects council's decision.

"I guess I'm surprised, but not surprised," said MacKinnon, whose term was scheduled to end December 2014.

"We've got a number of things going on and we're in the midst of it, however, council has got an agenda of their own and I've got to respect that."

Titus could not be reached for comment.

More board firings expected

Coun. Gerry Lowe and Coun. Ray Strowbridge voted against the decision on Tuesday night to remove the sitting board members.

"The rule was made in 2012. These people were all appointed prior to that. They were appointed by a different council. And does that play into it? Think about it," said Lowe.

"I listened to a presentation at closed session by Claude MacKinnon and it was excellent. I mean if you're not doing a good job, then the people can come back here who appointed you and remove you.

"But just to remove you because you changed the rule halfway through the game … I definitely don't agree with it," he said.

City council plans to review all of the appointments to the city's agencies, boards and commissions, and more appointees are expected to be let go in the coming months.

In October 2012, council voted to limit board appointments to six years, but did not specify that it applied to sitting board members.

Coun. Shirley McAlary said the board members served the city well, but that it was "really good and healthy and progressive for the city to have a turnover."

"I don't want anyone to think we're zeroing in on one particular person because we're not," said McAlary.

Letters that detail the term limits will soon be sent out to the various city agencies, boards and commissions, she said.