Posted October 13, 2013
This is the anatomy of how the petition assembled by GrassRoots Guelph was blocked by the power of elected officials in Queen’s Park and the City of Guelph.
It is a messy and ruthless use of power that trampled the rights of citizens to express themselves to legally request the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to conduct an audit of the City of Guelph’s finances and operations.
The four-page petition was prepared by GRG in the past 18 months using its own resources including financial analysis. This ongoing analysis of financial documents produced by the city showed blatant disregard for clarity, careless financial management and a record of excessive spending of taxpayers’ money.
Despite receiving the annual rubber stamp of such documents by the outside accounting firm Deloitte and Touche (as required by law), the terms and conditions of such an audit are limited to only review expenses and revenues exceeding $300,000.
In the opinion of the experts advising GRG, this allowed the city administration an enormous amount of leeway to run the city finances and operations with almost carte blanche impunity.
The GRG petition clearly demonstrates the misleading aspects in accounting and subterfuge that the Farbridge administration has practised beginning in January 2007.
The petition can be found on www.GrassRootsGuelph.com. All citizens should read it and understand how their city has mortgaged their future with excessive often needless spending.
So we now learn that the petition represented a threat to the city administration and the Liberal government in Ontario.
Here’s how dirty politics has bludgeoned the people of Guelph.
The GRG board of directors approved the final draft of the petition on September 26, 2013. It was decided that Liz Sandals, MPP representing Guelph in the Ontario Legislature should be given a copy as a courtesy “heads up.”
On Friday September 27, Ms. Sandals told the delegation that she would arrange to have her staff send a copy of the petition with the attachments to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s staff. She was non-committal about the petition contents but promised to read it.
Liz Sandals, also a Minister in the Liberal government, cautioned that it may take “three to four months” to go through the vetting process before a decision would be made.
On Tuesday October 1, the petition package including supporting attachments and signature sheets of 162 Guelph taxpayers was delivered to the Municipal Affairs Minister, Linda Jeffrey.
The next day, GRG formally asked Ms. Sandals to sponsor the use of the media room at Queen’s Park to conduct a press conference as required by the rules of the Legislature. This request was never granted.
Prior to that, the only copies of the petition outside of a small group of GRG board members was in the hands of Liz Sandals and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
On Tuesday October 8, press releases and kits were sent to a selected group of Toronto media detailing the petition and why it was not just a Guelph story but also an Ontario story.
On Wednesday October 9, GRG contacted the press gallery to seek help in securing a room for the press conference. GRG was assured the request could be accommodated.
Now here’s the kicker.
The City of Guelph was not sent a copy of the petition. The two local papers received their copy of the release shortly after 9 a.m. October 10, the day of the conference.
Ms. Sandals did not cooperate with arranging the media room at Queen’s park. As it turned out, it was an overt attempt to muzzle GRG and a slap in the face of her constituents in Guelph. Many of who are supporters of GRG.
Even more interesting is how the city obtained a copy of the petition in time to allegedly make calls to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, have the staff review it and publish a response at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, October 10. The odd thing was the Mayor’s response was published in Coun. Ian Findlay’s blog and Coun. Cam Guthrie’s blog. But not in her own blog.
Despite a promise of confidentiality by Ms. Sandals to GRG, she had the only copy of the petition except the small group of GRG directors from September 27 to October 1 when the full petition was delivered to the Ministry of Muncipal Affairs and Housing. There was no way the city officials could have accessed the material unless it received an advance copy. Sandals later refusal to assist GRG to conduct a press conference in the media room reveals the Liberal government does not want to deal with this issue.
So that’s how power politics works. It’s something to think about how those in power can abuse the rights of citizens to question and protest the actions of elected officials.
The final word. GRG has just begun to press its concerns on behalf of the citizens of Guelph. The launching of the www.GrassRootsGuelph.com website in just three days has had a stunning response from citizens who have read the petition.
This dog has just begun to hunt.