By Gretchen Wehmhoff
Dahl Memorial Clinic will see a new executive director. The Clinic Board advanced Albert Wall’s name to the assembly, who approved his contract at the Nov. 16 regular meeting.
Wall will take the helm as the new director as interim executive director, Thomas Steiner’s contract ends.
Steiner was hired in August 2022 on an interim basis of $150,000 for three months; it has been renewed at a significant cost to the municipality.
Wall’s annual salary will be $160,000 as well as six months temporary housing from Dec. 1 through May 2024 and regular municipal employee benefits.
The path to a new director has been passionate and contentious.
The process, after initial screening by the borough manager, mandates that the Dahl Clinic Executive Director Selection Committee interview and score the applicants. The committee then invites leading candidates to a second interview. In this case, only Wall, having received the highest interview and resume scores, was invited to a second interview and a “meet and greet” with the clinic board.
At the Oct. 26 regular clinic board meeting, the selection committee recommended the clinic board pass Wall’s name on to the assembly for approval to enter a contract with the MOS.
Not all clinic board members were supportive of the recommendation. The meeting was filled with challenges to the process outlined in municipal code, objections to Steiner not receiving a second interview and confusion when a board member attempted to abstain, then signifying present when all members are required to vote per MOS code.
The Clinic Board did not approve the selection committee’s recommendation at the meeting, but called an executive session for Nov. 6.
Correspondence from Mayor Sam Bass to the board stated that after speaking with the borough attorney, it was determined that an executive session could be illegal.
Former Mayor Andrew Cremata spoke at the Nov. 6 meeting.
“I contacted a couple of board members today who had no idea that this meeting had been scheduled. Even the liaison wasn’t aware of it on Saturday, nor that an executive session had been scheduled,” said Cremata.
After hearing that he had been brought up at the Oct. 26 meeting, he listened to the audio recording.
Cremata admonished the board for not understanding the code, reminding them that the assembly is the only body that approves the way money is spent in the MOS, and that the process for selecting a new executive director was established and not open to modification by the board.
Information obtained during the Oct. 26 meeting found only one of the two candidates (Wall) was willing to accept the posted salary. Cremata believed members of the board overstepped the law by wanting to appease the second candidate.
“By attempting to entertain an applicant that has already stated he would not accept the posted salary, you are breaking the law. This board has no authority to offer a job to anyone outside of the selection committee process, nor the authority to offer an increase in salary,” Cremata said.
The projected term of Wall’s agreement as Dec. 1, 2023 through Nov. 30, 2025.