How many people does it take to turn out a city press release?

Posted October 31, 2013

There are two methods of communication that city hall practises. Ten staffers in the communications department generate the carefully controlled information.

Their communiqués tell us what they want us to know.  They never communicate what we need to know.

This has been the pattern of the Farbridge administration since it was elected in 2006. The current catch phrase in politics is “openness and transparency” in conducting the business of the people.

Have you noticed that when an Election Day approaches, there is a scramble to identify those in power with being “open and transparent” in its deliberations and decisions?

It’s happening in Ottawa where the Conservatives are scrambling to prevent a meltdown in confidence of the Prime Minister and his office before the Calgary Conservative convention.  Premier Kathleen Wynne recently announced measures to open the dialogue regarding her administration’s decisions.

Here in Guelph, the Farbridge administration, in its zeal to lead up to the 2014 October election, has hired a Toronto firm to develop a “an open and transparent” plan for her administration to follow.

Two things are important here: One, why is it costing $100,000 in taxpayer money to state the obvious? Two, why do they need such guidance now after seven years in office?

The answer my friends is because the GrassRoots Guelph (GRG) petition requested an audit of the city finances and operations by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).

The rumours are flying around city hall about who knew what and when about the GRG initiative to obtain an independent study on what the petition has carefully outlined to warrant such a procedure.

The administration is in full denial mode, as to be expected.

But the evidence is there that this administration did not consult with city taxpayers about spending $53 million on solid waste collection and management. Even now, the city will not reveal the operating costs of this wasteful adventure.

There are two reasons: Either they cannot determine the costs, or the costs are so far out of line that they do not want to reveal any details. If you challenge the Mayor on consulting the public she will always bring up the many public consultations related to city spending that the administration has conducted.

The trouble is citizen committees; boards and public advisory groups are heavily larded with Farbridge supporters. This may be politically expedient but the taxpayers are mostly shut out.

In a gathering of adherents to the Farbridge initiative referred to as Community Wellbeing, held in the River Run centre, it was revealed that most of the crowd attending were city employees. Further, the Mayor admonished the audience that although the consultants were there, there would be no questions.

For more on this, check out the GRG Journal newsletter at

The four basic anchors in the GrassRoots Guelph playbook are clear and concise: Over spending, Taxation, Student rentals, Waste management.

Just as important are the GRG goals to bring transparency and clarity to all city operations, bring fiscal responsibility and create programs to attract businesses to the Royal City.

Given the experience of the past seven years, this is not hard to understand.

And the Farbridge administration goes down the rabbit hole, denying the charges and complaints.

How do you feel about how Guelph taxpayers have been treated? Make your voice heard by joining GrassRoots Guelph and join the hundreds who have already made that choice. Send your name, full address, email address and telephone number to


Filed under Between the Lines

13 responses to “How many people does it take to turn out a city press release?

  1. boomer

    So she is essentially spending OUR taxpayer dollars in an attempt to get re-elected. Shame on her. (Again.)

  2. Will

    The problem is,,, do we have a contender to run against her in 2014?

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    I believe that when the phrase “openness & transparency” is used in context with her majesty, like minded councilors, lap dog administrators, and PR flacks it refers to the phenomenon observed when a light is shone in one ear and due to the “openness & transparency” of there being “nada” in a cranial vacuum, the beam of light emerges unhampered from the other ear.


    The beauty of the “…rotten eggs and tomatoes…”is that they’re handily available at Market Square and are Ontariooooooooooooo grown and we’d be supporting our local farmers and providing overtime to City cleaner-uppers.

  5. Nobody

    So I assume this is your election for Mayor website and GRG is the cover for support….I guess you’ve learned from the left all too well.

    • Nobody: That’s what I like about the left, their penchant for offering opinions anonymously. I am not running for mayor. I am not a card carrying member of the Conservative party. I’m just a long-suffering taxpayer who has seen his taxes almost double since Farbridge was elected, the city won’t pick up my garbage, shovel my street after a snowfall or pick up my dead Christmas tree. Is that enough reasons to figure out where I and hundreds more like me are prepared to do what we can to change the way our city is being managed? GrassRoots Guelph is a group of concerned citizens who are not beholden to any political party, special interest or corporate entity. Why are you so afraid?

  6. Jeff

    Why should tax payers pay to pick up your dead Christmas tree? You obviously found a way to get it to your house, you should be able to get rid of it as well.

    • Jeff: Using the same logic, why should I subsidize a waste management system that refuses to pick up my garbage? Why should I subsidize the creation of bicycle lanes on a busy roads when I don’t ride a bicycle? And my all time favorite: Why should I subsidize the payment of $100,000 to a Toronto consultant to create an “open and transparency” plan for application by city council? The city ceased picking up Christmas trees last winter to save money. They also failed to cut the weeds in boulevard boxes on main roads this year as a cost cutting measure. Now that’s in-depth financial management.

  7. Jeff

    Really??? are you that stupid. how about some actual facts


    Gerry:Did “they” fail “…to cut the weeds…” in “Downtown” boulevards as well or did they use the propane weed burners as was the custom previously?

  9. Jeff

    Gerry: Using the same logic, why should I pay for bike lanes when I don’t own a bike, I also don’t have a car, so why should I pay for roads, signs, lights, highways, parking lots or snow plowing, I don’t have kids, so why should I pay for schools, parks, arenas or camps. I’m not physically challenged, so why should I pay for handicap parking, special programs and accessible buildings. I compost my organic waste, so why should I pay for an organics facility, or yard waste collection or loose leaf pickup. I don’t ride the bus, so why should I pay for Guelph Transit. I couldn’t care less about hockey so why should I pay for the Sleeman Centre, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so why should I pay for your tree to be picked up.

    We all pay a little piece of everything, so that everyone can have what they need, whether we use it or not. If you disagree with that system I’d suggest you move to another country.

    I’d also suggest you look into what an open government plan is and what it entails, it’s not to “state the obvious” there is a huge technology component behind it which costs money to save money.

    and my question marks were in exactly the right place.

    • Jeff: My point is clear. Garbage or waste disposal is a key component in the health welfare of our city. The Farbridge administration has emphasized its concern that waste must be diverted from the landfills. The waste management plan of this administration cost taxpayers $53 million and yet the city’s own consultant report says almost 50 per cent of the waste collected was sent to the landfill in 2012. Now we learn that more than 6,400 households in the city do not receive waste collection services from the city. The city refuses to pick it up because it’s system is not designed to do so. Jeff, understand that most people willingly pay taxes to support their community. They get angry when the serve ices they pay for are not available. Their frustration increases when the city refuses to fix the problem. Or stonewalls requests for a non-performance payment in lieu of paying for their own garbage removal. And the city should be used to that dance. It accepts a bed tax of $75 per student in lieu of property taxes that would be charged to the University of Guelph, the city’s largest landowner. Hope this helps you understand what people are upset about.

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