Public servant of the year award
Mark Amorosi is the gatekeeper of human resources and legal matters of state at City Hall. His best quote was describing the Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System’s $12 billion dollar underfunding of its 268,000 employees’ pensions as an “actuarial deficiency”. Really? Tell that to your employers, the taxpayers, who are liable for guaranteeing defined pensions of its staff, past, present and future in perpetuity.
Captain Courageous award
Coun. Cam Guthrie took on the Farbridge clan several times throughout the year. Each time, the empire struck back politically eviscerated him because he dared to challenge their authority. His bravery may pay surprising dividends in the future.
Chump of the year award
Council called in its integrity commissioner to sort out alleged staff abuse by councillors. Five councillors sought information that had been denied them by staff through a Freedom of Information action. Mama Mia! His $10,000 report pointed no fingers and was so warm and cuddly that taxpayers took it on the nose again.
Pierre Poutine award
Marty Burke, federal Conservative Candidate in 2011, was so ensnared by the Harper Machine, that his own campaign was identified with the robocall scandal. It is still being parsed and adjudicated by higher powers. The national focus on Guelph is now called the capital of dirty political tricks. So much for the propaganda about low unemployment, dropping crime stats and the city of eternal enlightenment commentary punched out by the Farbridge communicators. Is that what “wellness” is all about?
Mouse that roared award
Coun. Maggie Laidlaw can be depended on to utter total nonsense when the muse strikes her. Her comment about the city not participating in allowing staff salaries, wages and benefits to be part of a “race to the bottom” when compared to private sector employees. It typifies her devotion to those on the public payroll, like her.
Grab your wallet award
It was some time ago when anti-big box activist Ben Bennett opposed Walmart setting up shop in Guelph. The 11-year cost of that dispute was in the millions. Now he writes that city council deserves a passing grade halfway through its mandate. Will that be Visa or Mastercard?
Cha Cha of the Year award
Musician James Gordon is a hardcore supporter of Mayor Farbridge through his organization, the Guelph Civic League. This year he supported an application to sell the former civic museum on Dublin Street to two entrepreneurs for a community arts cultural centre. Trouble was the entire deal was executed in secret and the city is alleged to have ignored another bidder. It could be that the taxpayers were not paid the highest appraised price as required by the Ontario Municipal Act. It pays to have friends in high places.
Communicator of the Year award
City Waste Manager, Dean Wyman, who can tell people off in a variety of colourful ways. Backatcha , Dean.
Cardinal Richelieu of the year award
Ken Hammill is not elected officially but has an office in city hall to mentor his protégé, Mayor Farbridge et al. Behind the throne lurks an eminence grise!
And now for the rest of the story award
The 2013 budget includes spending another $2.6 million on a second entrance to the $34 million organic waste management plant. It will include a weigh scale so that anticipated traffic to the plant is accommodated. Business plan? What business plan?
If pigs could fly award
Chief Librarian Kathy Pope announced a new $73 million downtown library to open by 2017. She is so confident that she hired a fund-raising specialist to come up with $10 million in donations to furnish the project. It is yet to be designed and built, let alone approved. Maybe library proponent Ken Hammill can scare up a few extra bucks.
Shades of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow award
Shared by Transit chief Michael Anders and executive director of operations, Derek McCaughan. In the space of a year the Guelph transit system has gone from bad to worse. The tinkering by two outside consultants has created the most expensive, underperforming transit system that satisfies few and aggravates 87 per cent of taxpayers who subsidize the system, but don’t use it.
A Royal ascent for the Royal city award
Mayor Karen Farbridge, who is entering her 10th year as head of state, sees herself as queen by any other name, one might surmise. She has incredible staying power despite her kingdom being in a financial shambles. This is due to voracious spending on self-serving major projects some of which don’t work as planned.
If the glove doesn’t fit, you have to quit award
To the genius responsible for designing the Zamboni parking garage for the city hall’s rink. Next time, if there is one, measure the machine before designing the building. That Zamboni didn’t fit.
Long in the Tooth award
When the relatives of LCol John McRae demanded the city return his World War I service medals, they sued. The case dragged on for three years, with both parties finally agreeing to leave the medals in the McRae House museum with a plaque honouring the donation of the relatives. The outside lawyer hired by the city charged $230,000 for services rendered in concluding a simple solution. Wasn’t anyone watching the store?
Stepford wives award
To councillors Lise Burcher, Maggie Laidlaw and Leanne Piper who are employed full-time by the University of Guelph and vote consistently together on council concerning any relationship between the city and the university. Is this is why the city needs a Lobby Registrar to identify those who influence council?