Posted July 8, 2012
The spin begins with the announcement that since January 2011 the city’s impetus is to resolve the many legal issues through mediation to avoid lengthy and costly court resolution.
If only it were true.
The story in the papers said that mediation was agreed by the group of Guelph developers who had sued the city for jacking up development fees by as much as 100 per cent. Their claim was $2 million. That mediation started July 7.
City solicitor Donna Jaques stated that the mediation process has been successful claiming there was, “a renewed commitment to working with our stakeholders … and doing business better.“ She added that trials result in acrimony and mediation reduces this.
The score quoted in the news release failed to include the costs to taxpayers of the alleged successful mediation of disputes in some specified instances. Only that agreement was reached.
One of the disputes settled by mediation cost some $233,000 in legal fees including possibly the cost of the mediator. It was a lawsuit concerning ownership of medals launched in 2008 by the heirs of the World War I hero, Lt.Col. John McRae. The suit was settled in February 2012. The issue was resolved with an acknowledgement recognizing the donation of the McRae medals by the relatives and a small plaque set up at the city-operated McRae House.
Revealing the McRae settlement costs had to be an accident.
If that is an example of resolving a minor legal problem, what can citizens expect the legal costs between the new City Hall contractor, who was fired and the city administration? This is no small legal matter to which an unknown amount of money has been spent already. But the citizens are rarely informed of the costs of legal action.
This dispute involves a $19 million lawsuit by the company and a countersuit by the city of some $5 million. The city has already spent money to settle subcontractor liens against its own headquarters.
This has been one of the most litigious administrations in the history of our city. The former Chief Administration Officer, Hans Loewig, fired the contractor. Two months ago council approved a staff recommendation to settle the matter by mediation.
City solicitor and her associate, Scott Worsfold, paint a picture of peace in the legal valley. It ain’t necessarily so.
The public paying the operations of the city have a right to know when lawsuits are presented, the chief reasons for the suit and terms of the settlement … good or bad.
The administration’s policy of keeping the taxpayers in the dark is another example of mushroom politics.
Question: Why does the city get into so many litigious situations in the first place?