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Massena hiring process will remain unchanged

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MASSENA - Mayor James F. Hidy’s proposal to give department heads more power when hiring employees failed to gain the village board’s support at this week’s meeting.

The village board’s personnel committee formed in early 2010, prior to Mr. Hidy’s election to the mayor’s post. Officials formed it to oversee all future village hires, select final candidates for jobs and sit in on those interviews conducted by department heads, who then recommend to the board who to hire. Mr. Carvel and Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies are the committee’s two members.

Mr. Hidy wanted the department heads to regain their former responsibility of selecting five final candidates to interview. That responsibility should be left with them, he said.

“I see this as a non-micromanaging type of process,” Mr. Hidy said. “This is what we pay those folks to do.”

“They know their departments. They know what their looking for in an applicant,” he added.

The rest of the board disagreed. While no vote was taken, a discussion on the topic revealed Mr. Hidy did not have the support he needed to change the policy.

“I’m okay to leave this as it is at the moment,” Trustee Patricia K. “Trish” Wilson said.

Trustee Francis J. Carvel said the current policy was only put in place “a short while ago,” and he saw no need to change it.

“There’s a check and balance,” Mr. Carvel said.

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld said there must be a good reason why the personnel committee exists, as neither he or Mr. Hidy were on the board when it formed.

“You and I weren’t here when they ran into the hornet’s nest,” Mr. Ahlfeld said. “Look at Francis. He looks 82 years old instead of 62 years old.”

The “hornet’s nest” Mr. Ahlfeld referred to was the controversial 2009 hire of a Department of Public Works employee. Officials proposed the committee after citizens began questioning the role then-Mayor Randy G. DeLosh played in hiring a Virginia man he characterized as a family friend, Nicholas G. Shakallis, to fill a post at the DPW.

Mr. Shakallis resigned a few months later. At the time of its formation, trustees said the committee would ensure the village’s hiring process would be conducted fairly.

But Mr. Hidy said the problem was because of Mr. DeLosh, and not because of the department heads, who he said did as they were told.

“Did you want to hire that guy?” he asked DPW Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mr. Fayad did not answer.

While in favor of keeping the committee, Ms. Wilson did wonder how Mr. Carvel and Mr. Deshaies selected five candidates for interview out of a pile of applications.

“What qualifies the representatives from the personnel committee to know who the qualified candidates are?” she asked.

“You look at the work experience and what they put on the applications,” Mr. Carvel replied.

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