If a city ever needed a snitch system, it’s Guelph

Posted February 25, 2014

With some amusement, we witness Chief Administration Officer, Ann Pappert dismiss a suggestion by Coun. Cam Guthrie to establish a tip line to ferret out staff fraud, malingering, abuse of sick leave, and overtime.

Didn’t we receive a damning report last fall about the $5 million overtime bill in 2013 from the city’s internal auditor? It was twice what was paid in 2012 and was particularly critical of the Guelph Transit workers who ran up more than $1 million in overtime.

For you lovers of figures, 20 per cent of the 2013 overtime bill was caused by 15 per cent of all city employees.

The CAO said that she has set up her own blog and a system called “Open Door” that allows employees to anonymously submit concerns to management. What she failed to say was how well her system was working and what results have been obtained.

The Mayor sniffed that such a tip line was duplication and “beyond our (council’s) purview. This is a management responsibility.”

Well, Madame Mayor, how’s that working for you and we citizens? If it hadn’t been for the internal auditor last fall, management would have papered over that overtime debacle in a New York minute.

It’s the Farbridge way to worry about working the staff too hard. She was joined in that chorus by Coun. June Hoffland, who described the Guthrie proposal as a “make work” project for staff.

Coun. Maggie Laidlaw said the tip line proposal was “old fashioned” and had a “snitch” connotation to it and leads to low morale. And this comes from a councillor who has a reputation of bullying staff and was forced last year to apologize to staff members for her abusive behaviour?

Then, when the vote came, the result was a 6 to 5 in favour of asking staff to prepare information for consideration by the governance committee.  What is most interesting is that Coun. Ian Findlay, a devoted Farbridge soldier, voted with Councillors. Cam Guthrie, Bob Bell, Gloria Kovach, Andy Van Hellemond and Jim Furfaro.

Also noted that Councillors Leanne Piper and Lise Burcher did not attend the meeting.

Is the good ship Farbridge starting to spring leaks?

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2 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

2 responses to “If a city ever needed a snitch system, it’s Guelph

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    I wonder if any one has submitted any “snitch” type information to the CAO’s “Open Door” blog. Did “Open Door” refer to what could happen if some information was brought forward that might embarrass the council or administration in that the “snitch” would be “shown the door” and told to make sure the closing door doesn’t hit their butt on the way out?? Who in their right mind would do it with out guarantees of no repercussion? To function properly a “whistle blower” program would have to have an independent person reviewing the information revealed to ensure it saw the light of day and the whistle blower wasn’t set upon. Now could it be there are no skeletons in the closets of city hall worthy of being “whistle blown”? Has there been no shuffling around of reserves for projects that needed a bit more funding? If the administration is open and transparent there should be no trepidation of any “whistle blowing”. Right? Look over your shoulder before you answer that.

  2. Scott Mooney, Guelph, Ontario

    Maybe we need to change the name of it from “snitch line” to “Report where your tax dollars are being wasted” line. This isn’t about “snitching”, its about holding our elected government and its taxpayer paid employees accountable for the money spent. If someone is reaching in to my pocket and taking money that’s not rightfully theirs, that would be a criminal matter. It should be the same here. Commit fraud, or steal money? There should be repercussions.

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