Posted December 28, 2013
The project started some two years ago. The rebuilding of the CN railway underpass on Wyndham Street was a key restructuring of a vital connection to major arterial roads north and south of the railway bridge. It is not just another line but the major rail link between Toronto and Windsor.
When the new underpass was opened it was discovered that large trucks could not use it because the height of the overpass between the new road and the bottom of the bridge was miscalculated. It was a bridge too low to accommodate large-scale commercial traffic.
Responsibility for this error rests with Janet Laird, the Executive Director of planning, engineering and environment. Reporting to her was acting city engineer, Don Kudo. He has relinquished the job in favour of a new chief engineer recently hired.
Then there is the case of Rajan Phillips who recently resigned after 14 years on the job. Was he pushed or did he jump? He was a key engineer in charge of transportation issues and projects. Was the underpass project his baby, or not?
This bollixed project remains a metaphor for how poorly managed and dysfunctional the Guelph city staff has become.
It is mindful of the years of the old Soviet Union in which a dictator, Josef Stalin, imposed collectivization of planning and execution (unintended pun) by a group of loyalists to the principles of central control of all matters of state.
Today in Guelph, there are vestiges of these colossal Soviet past economic and social failures existing within the administration of our city.
First, a group of activists bundled together to form a formidable collective that succeeded in gaining control of our city government in 2006. They came from different spheres of interest including heritage, forestry, anti-development, waste diversion, bicycle access to major routes, isolationism, labour issues, environment, and assorted single issue special interests.
No shots were fired, no executions, just the seduction of voters with lies and promises.
Susan Ratcliffe, a staunch supporter of Mayor Farbridge and her administration, recently inferred in a column that taxpayer’s interests were not those of all “citizens.” It is another reflection of the classless society envisioned by those on the left.
This is the epitome of what has happened to our city as it spends wildly on dodgy projects and special interests, ignoring the fact that someone has to pay.
I know people are going to say that I’m going too far in blaming the administration for its Stalin/Leninist collectivization policies.
But stop and think about it.
There are the millions spent and about to be spent on a 20-year solid waste management plan.
There is the ten-year plan to spend $13.3 million on bike lanes.
How about the multi-millions spent, and to be spent in the Downtown Secondary Plan?
Then there is the plan to bury a geo-thermal heating and cooling system beneath the Baker Street parking lot to serve downtown buildings. We presume that won’t happen before the plan to build a new downtown library and cultural centre on the parking lot is underway.
There is the $16 million plan to create a new riverside park on the site of an existing strip mall and stand-alone veterinary clinic.
Let’s not forget the “Wellbeing” invovation to bring all Guelph lifestyles to a higher standard What has this to do with administering a city?
The granddaddy of these plans is the overall city strategic plan. There are plenty of other examples but one can see that planning and execution are two different things.
Former U.S. President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read: “The buck stops here.” Unfortunately in Guelph no one knows where the buck stops. Certainly not with our mayor who exists in an impenetrable bubble staying aloof from the madding crowd.
Her collection of executive directors is lax, failing to apply basic management principles then dodging the bullet when the stuff hits the fan.
A classic example of this is in his 2012 annual report of human resources, Executive Director, Mark Amorosi, said that initiatives were in place to control absenteeism and overtime. In 2013, the internal auditor reported that overtime costs would be $5,065,000 or twice as much in 2012.
To top it off, Amorosi told the audit committee that some 225 licences were purchased for the Kronos staff accounting software and many managers said they were too busy to attend the training sessions.
This is what happens when collectivization dominates the core of government, any government.
And we can only blame ourselves for letting it happen here.