The mummification of city council

Posted July 18, 2012

My first mistake was watching the recent city Council meeting on local television. It had all the elements of watching paint dry.

Any attempt by councillors to amend proposals was shot down by the Mayor’s gang on Council whose inane reasoning resulted in defeat of anything unique or different.

It is as if the agenda has been pre-digested by the pro-Farbridge councillors and, because of their majority it’s their way or the highway.

Opposition is stifled at every turn. The five members of Council who are not on the Farbridge team, battle in vain against the diet of political Pablum. It flows out of the secret, closed door meetings held before the regular, and public, council meeting.

Here’s an example of the Mayor’s controlled operation, using picked surrogates to defeat a proposal, this time from Coun. Cam Guthrie, to meet twice in August to do the city’s business.

You’d have thought Guthrie had done something unspeakable in the punch bowl at the Mayor’s garden party.

Coun. Karl Wettstein surfaced like a U-boat on the prowl to speak against the motion citing that it wasn’t necessary to hold council meetings in August. He theorized that the federal government can run perfectly well with the House of Commons off for three months.

The subject of staff hardship was slowly emerging. Coun. Leanne Piper cited how she never stopped being a councillor as she fielded constituent queries and information during August.

The Mayor added her comments stating that this “little council meeting” requires a huge commitment by staff to prepare for such a meeting.

Not one councillor dared to say: “Well, that’s their job, isn’t it?”

Guthrie’s motion was defeated and there will be no Council or committee meetings in August this year. The rationale? Because it’s always been done it that way.

So when it comes to the citizen’s business, August is not happening.

It’s kind of like France, right?

The irony is that Council debated that there would be no tax increases next year. That moved to decide that up to three percent would be acceptable.  The staff report then recommended the starting point could be three per cent. Of course more than $5 million was for increased staff wages, salaries and benefits. This was included in the three per cent scenario.

These Council meetings are laden with pre-digested decisions, arcane procedural rules and iron-fisted control by the Mayor.

It’s the unfortunate fall-out of more than five years of dictatorial operation of the city.

At present, it is discouraging that there is little free discussion by all members of Council on behalf of the citizens who pay the bills.

The city’s business does not stop in August, but the board of directors, aka Council, apparently does.


Filed under Between the Lines

14 responses to “The mummification of city council

  1. paulphelan

    Here’s a plan….while the mayor and city council are absent in August we simply send in some intelligent folk who truly care about the city of Guelph and take over city hall and try and make some sense out of the Farbrige mess…change the locks on the door and when they return from there oh so well needed rest…they will be locked out and forced to move on to another unsuspecting city where they can start a new dictatorship and destroy another city…I pray it is in a country far far away…perhaps another planet…ya…that’s the ticket…another planet

    • paulphelan: Whoa there pardner! That’s a bit drastic and also illegal. The best bet is to organize with friends, neighbors and other like-minded people and prepare for the 2014 election. There is already the spirit of change in the city and I feel certain the opposition in 2014 will be formidable and organized.

    • paulphelan

      Lets hope that the opposition in 2014 will be formidable and organized…how bout some anti Farbrige teashirts at Guelph’s Going Out of Business sale????

    • paulphelan: You scare me! The lynch mob door is down the hall to the right. Time will come soon enough to take legal political action to change our civic government. Be patient!

  2. R&J

    We watched the council meeting as well and could not have said it better!!! Hoffland is anoying as we know what comes out of her mouth before she says it. “I WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR THIS”

    • R&J: It seems that every day that goes by there is news of a Council boo-boo. The August shutdown of Council meetings only amplifies the arrogance and disdain for the citizens.

  3. geo

    When I watch a Guelph council meeting what fascinates me is the ability of councillors Burcher, Findlay,Piper, and Wettstein to speak ad nauseum on any subject and yet say absolutely nothing. Hoffland’s comments are usually confusing too but I think that’s because she’s usually confused. These four pale in comparison however to Ann Pappert(she being our $160,000 C.A.O. who lives in Cambridge; must be the taxes) When she’s finished speaking on the subject at hand, the look of astonished confusion on the faces of the councillors and spectators is something I’ve only ever seen once before and that was on T.T.C. when riders were trying to make sense of the announcements coming over the P.A. The fact that this is a valued skill in the Farbridge encampment speaks volumes.

    • paulphelan

      Why would Guelph employ a CAO who is not even a citizen of Guelph in the first place?

    • geo:While there are no rules about where a city staff must live, from a moral and responsibility aspect the senior officials on staff should reside in the city in which they are employed. I understand of all the executive directors heading up staff, only one lives in Guelph. I believe the CAO’s salary is now $195,00, slightly less than the $206,000 paid to former CAO Hans Loewig who spent most of his time away from the job.

  4. geo

    Mr. Barker
    $195,000? She should be embarrassed at half that.

  5. Paul I

    Yes the gang of eight loyally do the bidding of thir Mistress.
    Did you all miss her comment that Council should also cancel meetings for January sothat staff can do other things in December! Like what? Oh yes December is party month for Christmas and there is no reason why this poor overworked and overcompensated City staff should miss out on the Christmas Spirit by preparing for January meetings, And it is not like there is a shortage of them. Staff is now up to 1506 FTEs which I think is about 90 more than the year before. I think it would be nice to get the staffing figure for Farbridges first term for Mayor as well as how the staffing costs have increased. Gerry can you get some of this information? It would help explain why we are being taxed so highly.

    • Paul ! Check out the data posted in how the Mayor is taking the city down the financial rabbit hole. It’s a careful analysis how the city has been run for the past five years based on its own financial data.

  6. paul

    I checked it out Gerry and it is indeed quite frightful and upsetting.

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