Councilor McLaughlin Submits 41 Questions on the Wellness Center

In what is looking to be a showdown on the Wellness Center, Councilor Michael McLaughlin has submitted 41 questions about the past management and hiring practices at the City’s Wellness Center – questions that are to be addressed at the March 4 Council committee meeting.

The meeting, to be chaired by Councilor Anthony DiPierro, is a follow-up to the skirmish at the Feb. 11 meeting between McLaughlin and administration officials Omar Easy and Lara Ammouri.

In that meeting, McLaughlin – after many frustrating moments – agreed to submit all of his questions on the Wellness Center in writing for a committee meeting.

This week, he has done just that.

“I agreed to be fully transparent and so I have submitted that list of questions well in advance of the meeting,” he said. “Everyone has them. My only hope is that we get to the bottom of this, and that the questions are answered, and no one declares we can’t talk about any of them due to ‘personnel’ matters. I think we can get answers on what happened.”

What happened was a spiraling of the management at the Center last month and late last year. That climaxed with the resignation of Wellness Director Karen Avila last month when it was learned her credentials were not bonafide.

McLaughlin’s questions revolve mostly around the hiring practices at the Wellness Center and are directed at Easy, Ammouri and Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

A few examples are as follows:

•Dr. Easy, what efforts were made to obtain qualified employees for the Wellness center, and what mediums were used (i.e., radio, news publications, etc.)?

•Lara, who was involved in the hiring process?

•Mayor DeMaria, what role did you play in hiring decisions? Who had the final approval? How did we determine what employment positions would be needed to run the Center? Other lines of questioning include designated parking spaces, contracts for equipment and if the City will pursue reimbursement from Avila for her salary that was based on the phony advanced degrees

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