Posted April 11,2013
It seems that the City of London council is considering hiring an integrity commissioner. This follows the case of the Mayor who has been indicted for misuse of campaign funds.
One of the Dalton McGuinty legacies was allowing municipalities to hire a private integrity commissioner instead of using the free services of the Provincial Ombudsman, Andre Marin. Guelph was one of the first in the Province to hire a private lawyer of Caledon to act as integrity commissioner.
The lawyer was paid a retainer of $25,000 and, in his one and only investigation, charged $10,400. He was called in to investigate an alleged leak to the press of a plan by five councullors to seek a report that staff withheld, through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Commissioner never interviewed the five councillors and his subsequent report was about as mealy-mouthed as one could ascertain. It was much ado about nothing. But taxpayers paid for it.
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The revelation that the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) was paid a moving bonus of $20,000 to move from Waterloo to Guelph is another example of wasting the taxpayer’s money. Apparently when Ms. Ann Pappert was promoted from Director of Parks and Recreation to CAO, her contract included payment of travel and moving expenses.
But the lady did not move after being on the job for more than a year. The administration gave her a deadline to move to the city within a specified time or lose the $20,000. Suddenly her excuses about not being able to sell her Waterloo home evaporated and she purchased a home in Guelph.
This is yet another example of misappropriation of public funds.
Ms. Pappert was already an employee when she was promoted. Did the administration believe that she could live wherever she chose in her previous position, but had to live in Guelph as CAO? The question is: Who else in the senior ranks has special moving bonuses or the like?
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Last year, the city paid an American outfit to make a video of Guelph with former NFL all star quarterback Terry Bradshaw as the host. It featured highlights of the city including a spot by Mayor Karen Farbridge. The production cost $25,000. The sales gimmick was the promise that the video would be played on TV station across North America during the off hours.
Well, it fell on CAO Ann Pappert to report the results of this promotional video. Her report followed an article in Maclean’s magazine that labeled the Guelph video as one of the stupidest uses of taxpayer’s money by a municipality. Ouch!
Ms. Pappert glowed about the number of views the video attracted but failed to mention what, if any, resulted in creating business and tourist leads and contacts. When this was questioned, it was met with stony silence. No doubt the Mayor and her economic development chief can play their copies of the video in the comfort of their own homes. Memories are made of this.
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Some may argue that spending $70,000 is chicken feed in a $400 million corporation. The danger lies in the ability of city leadership to do anything they want, whenever they want and spend taxpayer’s money without recourse.
A recent example of how money is manipulated is the $2.6 million allocated in 2013 to build a second public access and weigh scale at the transfer station. Now on the surface, that is a good idea. But it turns out that only large loads of waste material can use the access.
But when you examine the source of the funding, it reports that $998,000 is from the federal gas tax rebate slotted for transportation needs; another $430,000 comes from unnamed subsidies with the balance of some $1.1 million paid by the taxpayers. When you step back and think about it, all that money is sourced from taxpayers.
To suggest that it only cost taxpayers $1.1 million is ludicrous. That gas tax rebate was never intended to be used for weigh scales. It comes from the federal treasury that collects the tax at the gas pump. So taxpayers have already paid the gas tax and now they are paying again.
This is nothing but pure manipulation of your money. It all stems from the Majority of Council doing a terrible job of contracting the organic waste facility ($34 million) and automated waste collection system ($15 million).
Predictably, those chickens are coming home to roost.
As Desi said to Lucy: “Lucy, you gotta lot of ‘splainin to do!”