How long-in-the-tooth governments lose their mojo

Posted September 24, 2013

Politicians never die they just fade away.

It’s an axiom that political fatigue increases with the length of time in office.

We don’t have to look too far to see how Guelph’s city government, tightly controlled by Mayor Karen Farbridge, is experiencing the elements of political fatigue.  Criticism of the administration’s policies is mounting as people question the left wing prerogatives of power.

In the past almost seven years, a sorry picture of crass use of power and incompetence has emerged.

Opposition to the Farbridge agenda has been limited because the media, for the most part, has declined to challenge the administration on some of its most egregious and costly ideas, schemes and management of projects.

MetroLand Publishing, a division of TorStar Corporation owns the two newspapers in the city. The publisher of both papers is located in Kitchener along with the editor in chief. Both publications must protect their franchise because they accept advertising from the city that spends upwards of $500,000 a year.

An example of this media lock-up by the city was a recent six part series on the waste management program. It was a syrupy collection of manufactured successes of the program leaving out the financial facts and processing details including the true 2012 tonnage diversion of waste to the landfill.

Not only is the Farbridge administration tired, cranky and careless with public funds, it is secretive about deals and contracts that have cost the city millions of taxpayer dollars.

For example, the huge cover-up is how the administration has hidden the real costs of some of its dubious enterprises such as the $33 million organics processing facility; the $15 million cart/bin collection system that fails to service some 6,400 households; more than $5 million on bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares.

Pandering to special interests including Heritage Guelph, Guelph Community Sports, more than 50 community groups, the bicycle lobby, employee unions and associations all extract taxpayer money.  The handouts have become so bad that the city could not afford to cut the weeds from boulevards this summer citing budget cutbacks.

Legal costs paid to outside lawyers have soared because individual departments were hiring lawyers without going through the legal department. Such costs are historically about $400,000 annually. In 2012 they shot up to $850,000.  The costs in 2013 will be equally higher because of the new City Hall lawsuits’ trial last winter. Judgment is expected sometime this fall.

People are asking why the administration is spending so much money on legal cases that are often self-inflicted because of political differences.

A classic example was the city’s attempt to withdraw from the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health organization. The plan was to avoid paying its $10 million share of a $17 million new headquarters on Stone Road. The administration took the matter to court and lost. That legal bill has never been revealed

All this adds up to taxpayer abuse by those elected to represent them. Let’s be clear. There are five councillors who are exempt from this charge because they are not part of the Farbridge majority. Most try to stem the Farbridge steamroller but her supporters vote as a bloc defeating opposition changes in the administration’s agenda.

It is an unsavoury situation that only the voters can change in October 2014.

The silent majority is starting to wake up.

Become informed and participate in helping to bring change to 1 Carden Street. Join GrassRoots Guelph, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit group of fellow citizens and receive regular reports on how your city is being managed.

Sign on with your name, address, email address and telephone number at

Together we can make things happen.


Filed under Between the Lines

2 responses to “How long-in-the-tooth governments lose their mojo

  1. paul

    and the walls will come tumbling down…..Oct. 14th/14…RIP Mayor Farbridge……

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