Hits, runs and errors, the Empire strikes back

Posted March 21, 2014

If you ever want a metaphor on the seven-year hitch of the Farbridge administration, you don’t have to look farther than the green Living Wall in city hall.

This was a proud benchmark for the green team, aka the Farbridge control group on city council. Now we learn that it isn’t easy being green. The Living Wall has not stood up too well in its city hall environment. In fact it died and had to be replanted.

Its care and monitoring, staff reported, is costing $1,000 a month. Heck, it’s a small price to pay for principle, you think? A similar experiment failed when the green team put plants on the roof of the new city hall. That too proved to be unsuccessful and a reported $250,000 was spent to replace it.

Which brings us to an article written in the new Guelph Citizen blog. The author was Andy Best, last known as president of the Guelph Civic League, still remembered for its ramrod support of the Mayor and her team of greenies in 2006.

Mr. Best was extremely critical of GrassRoots Guelph, calling the organization a “struggling” advocacy group. For a year, he charged the volunteer citizen’s group was looking for a conspiracy under every rock in town

What he failed to realize was not only was his statement pure hyperbole, but the GRG easily uncovered real problems in the green team’s financial reporting. In fact, the Ministry Officials admitted that the numbers in the petition were accurate.

Andy, you are a naughty boy. Your misguided diatribe against a legitimate citizen’s group, that has raised real concerns about the way the city has been run for the past seven and one half years, is not journalism but propaganda.

Here are more OOPS! As written in your GCL editorial.

OOPS!  GRG never, ever said the administration was “cooking the books, lying to citizens and generally making a mess of things.” What was said was professional accountants might interpret manipulation of financial data by an administration could be “cooking the books”.

Andy, a word for the wise, GRG does not make stuff up. We don’t have to. With expert digging into the city’s financial statements and reports, it is apparent that there is financial manipulation to mask reality and support excessive taxation and spending. The two top city officials charged with accounting and reporting the state of the corporation finances, neither has a formal degree in finances. During the Farbridge administration, there have been three Chief Administration Officers and five Chief Financial Officers.

OOPS! So Andy, you say GRG is bad for the city and civic engagement.  Under your claim, there should be no citizen protest or criticism of an administration. Those administration policies and confrontational tactics with other jurisdictions have damaged the reputation of our city far and beyond what GRG is alleged to have done.

OOPS! Let’s talk about taxes. Out of 444 Ontario municipalities Guelph property tax rates stand 19th. Still think that’s middle of the road? Why did the council announce the property tax increase for 2014 would be 2.37 per cent when the real figure is 4.36 per cent because of the increase in assessment? Oversight or lying by omission?

OOPS! GRG doesn’t hate anyone, particularly your boss and mentor Karen Farbridge. This isn’t grade five anymore, Andy. The group does object to the Mayor’s operation of the city and that was the genesis of the formation of GRG. It was those ‘Vision” statements by the Mayor that made peoples’ financial sphincters tighten.

OOPS!  The petition is far from dead and more and more people are signing it. You’ll be hearing more about this later.

OOPS! Andy, by spending several paragraphs claiming GRG reports are lies, demonstrates a paucity of clear thinking. What possible purpose would GRG achieve if it represented falsehoods?  We certainly cannot speak for Deloitte and Touch, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing or Cam Guthrie. But we can praise internal Auditor Loretta Alonzo who uncovered the $5 million 2013 scandal of excessive employee overtime and attendance to the job. Hmmm, wonder why Deloitte failed to pick that up?

OOPS! Sorry Andy, But excessive taxation and service charges, waste mismanagement, student housing and spending on mindless programs are major issues the GRG will examine and reveal to citizens.

OOPS! A number of citizens are wondering about who is paying the bills for the Guelph Citizen and the editor. GRG is a volunteer organization that depends on its members to fund the operation. Nobody gets paid. There are no major donors or angels just ordinary, taxpaying folks who want to change the way our city is being run.

Your trouble is, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, “you can’t stand the truth.”

Of course you haven’t been around town that much.



Filed under Between the Lines

2 responses to “Hits, runs and errors, the Empire strikes back

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Is it possible that the environment at city hall, what with all the toxic bovine excreta emanating from within, had an adverse impact on the life expectancy of living things and was the cause of the demise of the green wall and roof agri experiment? Is it possible that the aforementioned ex GCL honcho has had his faculties discombubulated by the the city hall environment? Would that be the cause of what seems to be an aggravated case of the “oopsies”?

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