Hold onto your wallets! Here are some staff leadership decisions that go unchecked and often unreported

Posted June 7, 2013

You have to wonder who is running the store at city hall these days.

In a column in the local daily, the city hall reporter stated that the recent granting of a flooring contract for renovation of the Farmer’s Market, without tendering, was okay, but okay for whom?

The arbitrary decision by the city’s manager of corporate building management was sloughed off by the writer and echoed by Coun. Jim Furfaro, who said he was satisfied the staff made the right decision.

Really? Is this the same staff who ordered special bricks from the U.S. for paving the Market Square, that failed to meet delivery on time? It caused well-publicized grief to businesses on that section of Carden Street for more than three months because the street was closed waiting for the bricks to be installed.

Is this the same staff that obtained approval in the 2013 budget to spend $170,000 to renovate the Farmer’s Market, only to come back and say the renovation will cost $500,000? Council went along with it.

Is this the civic staff that cut a deal with Maple Reinders to build a $34 million compost plant and gave a subsidiary company, Aim Environmental, exclusive rights to run the plant and sell the finished compost? After two years this plant has failed to reach its forecast capacity of composting 30,000 tonnes of feedstock and taxpayers don’t have a clue of the operating costs.

How much feedstock treated in the plant does it take to meet operating costs? Outwardly it appears the cost of operation depends on volume. In 2012, only some 17,000 tonnes was processed of which 15,000 tonnes was usable for composting.

Is this the same staff that recommended paying $15 million to convert waste pick-up in the city to bins and automated trucks that empty the bins into the vehicle?

Is this staff responsible for recommending paying $25,000 to a U.S. video company to promote Guelph with NFL all-star quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, as host and starring Mayor Karen Farbridge? How much city staff rime was spent in the making of this turkey? There is no tangible evidence that this project delivered one tourist or business enquiry to the city.

Is this the same staff that proposed to Council that property taxes in 2013 should be hiked by 8.5 per cent?

When it comes to city management it is apparent today that there is no system of checks and balances to protect your investment. Many decisions are based on self-serving whimsy, many of which come back to bite the taxpayers.


Filed under Between the Lines

8 responses to “Hold onto your wallets! Here are some staff leadership decisions that go unchecked and often unreported

  1. Time for the people of Guelph to get off their butts and picket City Hall. I, for one, am game, just don’t want to be out there all alone. I have had enough of this City picking into my pocket because they cannot managed the money they get from us. I’d rather have the Mayor of Toronto, looking after our city. At least at the end of 2012 he had over $286M in Surplus.

  2. I am from Cambridge, and run the Cambridge Advocate, and we deal with the same issues as Guelph, and I suspect , most municipalities. The problem we have in Cambridge is this..
    McGuinty gave each municipality the right to opt out of being policed by the “Ontario Ombudsman”! ( except for closed door meetings)
    Most of the residents of Cambridge are not even aware of this. City hall now get to hire an outside entity with our tax payer money to investigate any complaint the public may have against them.
    It’s the old fox in charge of the hen house…Heather I agree with you, we need to do something, I am hoping 2 cities are better than one.. we should join forces. You’re welcome to contact me.. debbievitez@hotmail.com

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    This squandering of money will have a price to be paid by the mayor, her trained seal cohorts on council, and the administration after the municipal elections in Oct 2014. The only concern is “how much havoc can they cause and at what cost until then”?

  4. jerry

    HI Glen
    Unfortunately the cost will be enormous and last a long long time.
    So hold your breath because the smell of sh-t from city hall will get pretty thick.
    And the only way to stop farbridge and council is by putting in a ton of
    complaints.By contacting council members and putting so much pressure on
    them that they fold.
    Getting under their skin to the point that they actually feel the pressure
    every time they move.
    I myself am constantly contacting my rep and putting the pressure on.
    And when he whines about it i remind him he is a elected official and this is
    what he he gets paid for.
    I think if we constantly complain to them eventually they will fold.The history
    shows they do.They are like a bunch of bullies that try to fly under the
    radar and that’s how they are getting away with this much crap.
    We all need to stand up in the next election and vote farbridge and council
    Instead of just the 20%that been voting.

  5. Steve

    Gerry, I suspect you probably have a valid point or two in this post, but you lose it again by bringing up too many unrelated issues. I get the idea behind the “Is this the same staff…?” approach (i.e. you don’t trust anything this government, and possibly all government, does or says) but where do you stand on the untendered flooring bid? You never did say.
    As for the “Is this the same staff…?” questions, the answer is probably “No” since these issues and decisions emanated from different departments under two different CAOs. They do have a single mayor and council in common but many of the issues you mentioned are purely staff decisions, not council directives.
    That said, I do enjoy reading your blog even though I know I won’t get reasoned and informed opinions or insight from it. I find those who are against everything a government or politician does are just fighting a purely personal or ideological battle and the facts and issues are secondary. Of course the same goes for those who agree with and support every decision, but they don’t usually have blogs because who would read them?

    • Steve: Your response is interesting. I have been commenting on Guelph civic politics for seven years. I plainly disagree with the management of the city administration. Recalling and tying in events that are related is part of writing the blog. Voters cannot be expected to read and retain the details of the long-term record of this council dominated by a single-minded ideology. I feel it is part of my mission to remind them of why and how the city got into the mess it is in. Without understanding how taxpayers have been misled by this administration in so many ways, one cannot grasp what’s going on right under our noses. You may or may not agree with that hypothesis, but as a resident and taxpayer I have the right to say and reveal data. Accordingly facts are important. There has been three CAO’s since the Farbridge group was elected and five CFO’s (one lasted one week). With respect I suggest that you examine the history of this administration before commenting on my motives. FYI, I am a middle of the road fiscal and social conservative. Please stay involved with guelphspeaks because we welcome all points of view except personal attacks and profanity.
      PS – All purchases over $2,000 should be tendered to at least three vendors.

  6. Let’s face the facts; it would appear that very few on council and the mayor are unable to make reasonable and responsible decisions….do they all drink from the same tap?

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