Guelphspeaks’ annual Dubious Distinction Awards

The year 2011 was a bonanza for news commentators as the city administration kept tripping on its tongues and procedures. For it was like providing newsy catnip every day.

Lurching along throughout the year we experienced the Occupy Guelph movement that had no purpose, leadership or program as it turned out. City spending seemed to pop up every day as hapless taxpayers were left in the dark wondering what would happened next.

The litigious Hans Loewig finally decamped from his part-time $206,000 job as Chief Administrative Officer. Only to be replaced, following a $40,000 headhunter fee to find a replacement. Voila! The winning candidate was right under our noses as Executive Director Ann Pappert was given the job.

Let’s look at our candidates for Dubious Distinctions this year.

Coun. Leanne Piper – Crafted a resolution striking Coun. Gloria Kovach off the Police Serves Board and naming herself as replacement earns her the Sleaze of the Year award. Was it the extra money Leanne? Or was it your lust for power? Don’t even think about running for Mayor in 2013. As a matter of fact, don’t even think about running.

Dr. Janet Laird – As the Executive Director in charge of the $33 million compost plant, she passed the ball more frequently than Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Ducking the truth and obscuring the facts earns Dr. Laird a 15-yard penalty for fading into the woodwork of city hall.

The Compost Plant – It could be Mayor Farbridge’s folly. The plant doesn’t work. It started up In September but odours started drifting into nearby residential areas. It was shut down November 25. Now it turns out that two key elements in the plant were only roughed in (costing some $76,000) and the actual equipment was not installed. This dog won’t hunt.

The Three Stooges – One would argue this trio of city staffers, charged with managing the Market Square development on Carden Street, were only following orders. The small businesses facing the project were subjected to customer-killing dust, blockages and broken promises by city staff. The dumbness gets even better as the city threatened to sue these poor souls because they were making noises.

Market Square – This is the granddaddy of Farbridge monuments. The detail included importing paving stones from the U.S. that missed their promised delivery. Then the skating rink, pavilion, toilets and garage for the Zamboni machine topped off this example of wretched excess when the economy sank like a rock in 2008. Hail to the Chief!

The Gang of Eight – The Farbridge majority on Council who ruthlessly run the show accompanied by more warts that a horned toad. They are so busy building their monuments and reputations that the city debt has ballooned to more than $118 million. This bunch has painted themselves into a fiscal corner from which there is no escape. That’s why our per capita debt rate is almost twice that of Kitchener and Waterloo and our tax rate is one of the highest in Ontario.

Selling the Streetlights – Whoa there cowboy! A staff report suggested the city would sell the streetlights to Guelph Hydro and receive $3 million. That’s akin to moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. The city is just loading the debt onto Guelph Hydro that the city already owns. Bernie Madoff where are you when we need you?

The Guelph Civic League – Known for playing fast and loose with the facts, the GCL submerged itself for sometime during the gestation period creating 10 Carden Street. The new moniker resulted in a $135,000 Provincial Government Trillium grant. Coming out of the closet, the GCL is arising as a pseudo civic organization providing support to citizen groups and operating workshops. It is nothing more than a propaganda machine supporting the Farbridge Gang of Eight.

Mayor Karen Farbridge – Her power is omnipotent and she uses it ruthlessly. She has grown into a highly skilled, manipulative politician who is determined to leave her mark on Guelph regardless of citizen discomfort or cost. Her legacy will not be the imported bricks on Market Square or the compost plant that has a dubious purpose and future. No, her legacy will be the financial mess in which she and her cohorts will leave the city. Winning the lottery won’t help.

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