Fast and Furious versus Guelph’s vending machine services

Posted November 17, 2012

In her recent state of the city address, the Mayor Farbridge spoke of shifting the administration emphasis from supplying  “vending machine services” to one that is open and collaborative with residents.

If only it were true.

Yet another attempt to give citizens the idea that they have some say in how their city is to be run.

If the last six years of this administration’s handling the city’s business is any example, paying lip service won’t work despite sugar coating the most secretive and closeted administration on record.

Even the Mayor stated that people don’t understand the complexities of municipal government. Sounds like something George Orwell would write in his novel, 1984.

The Farbridge faction’s attitude on council believes this and treats citizens accordingly.

City Clerk Blair Labelle, told the governance committee dominated by the Mayor and her cohorts, that it will cost $100,000 to create structure that is “ flat, streamlined and tech-enabled. They even invented an acronym – F.A.S.T.

This proposal ranks up there with the other feel good attempt to comfort and control we peasants called the “Wellbeing Initiative”.

Where does this stuff come from? Is it possible there is a secret lab rat testing facility buried in the basement of City Hall?

Managing a city with competent people is not rocket science. This Farbridge administration is a collection of dream catchers with only bare bones ability to know how our city actually works.

If they did, their ambitious capital projects, uncontrolled spending on staff and consultants, would not have driven up the city debt. Intertwined is the abstract financial administration that few understand, including most staff and members of council.

The result is the current charade of staff tabling a proposal to increase property taxes in 2013 by 8.5 per cent. If not approved by council, then existing services would have to be cu, was the implied threat.  The initial staff proposal would increase the operating budget by $15,000,000.

So council instructed the staff to come back with a proposal allowing a tax increase of no more than 3 per cent.

The staff response was insulting and petty. They said that services would be cut including splash pools and cutting off the water in the St. George’s Square fountain, among other things.

What we have here is a power struggle between council’s majority and the senior staff led by Chief Administration Officer Ann Pappert. This is the same CAO who called the council requirement “regressive and unpalatable”.

Perhaps she should look for another job.

Standing in the shadows is Ms. Pappert’s mentor, Mayor Karen Farbridge, who discreetly remains above this growing division between council and her chosen CAO.

Mayor Farbridge is wily enough to recognize and ignore a political disaster in the making. Later this month, the public will be given the opportunity to provide their views about the city budget. Already it’s shaping up to be a donnybrook of unprecedented proportions.

This is a mess created by the Farbridge record of hiring staff to meet her council’s needs over the past six years. The city staff is bloated and consumes 89 per cent of the operational budget.

Was the Mayor and council expecting the solution to their problem was by cutting staff costs?  When that topic was raised, council scurried into a closed-door session cutting off public exposure and comment.

To have the nerve to introduce a new system called “Flat, streamlined and tech-enabled”, dodges the fundamental issue and insults the taxpayers.

No amount of outside consultant fees now topping off at $1,200,000 is going to solve this problem.

As the late, great Toronto Mayor Nathan Phillips used to say: “Let’s pull up to the public trough”.

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3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “Fast and Furious versus Guelph’s vending machine services

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    The captain / mayor and her loyal followers of the good ship City of Guelph should check with the captain of the Titanic to see the benefits of rearranging the deck chairs whilst sailing towards the ice berg of the Oct 2014 civic election.

  2. Mike

    I resent the Vending Machine Service reference. Our Vending company provides an extremely efficient and accurate level of Service. With the aid of modern technology like internet connected machines and highly trained representatives, Vending is a highly evolved business…Not like the “truck-slammers of yesterday gone. The Trunk-Slammers (TS) don’t pay taxes. They don’t reinvest in modern equipment. They don’t train their staff properly, if at all. TS don’t care about tomorrow it is all about today.

    Perhaps the reference should be the Vending Machine Truck-Slammers!

    • Mike: The vending machine reference originated with Mayor Karen Farbridge who said the city did not dispense service like a vending machine. My comment was not aimed at your company or the industry but was necessary to include in the criticism of the the Mayor’s administration’s communications that are often too glib and obscure selecting a determined point of view.
      But communication to the taxpayers is not one of the Mayory’s admirable attributes. In fact, I have coined a word that describes the Mayor’s infrequent public speeches called Munispeak. It’s almost like a new language that has become so pervasive among the bureaucrats who control the city, that the average taxpayer is unable to comprehend. Her recent “State of the City” report to the Guelph Chamber of Commerce was classic munispeak loaded with acronyms, perverted visionary statements bearing all the earmarks of a dedicated policy wonk from another planet. She never allows ordinary people to question her during her rare public speeches. She never holds a press conference to explain her policies and allow questions. She is without question, Guelph’s closeted mayor.

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