City of Guelph Mindmixer: This is what you get for $100,000

Posted April 3, 2014

Readers will recall that the Farbridge administration had an epiphany about conducting an “open” government. Not content to open up their operations using their own resources, they hired a Toronto consulting firm to lay out an open government plan that cost us $100,000.

The execution (pardon the pun) was to buy large ads in the local newspapers proclaiming the new “Open” policy and conducting a survey on the city website with the link called “MindMixer.”

Folks, I’m not making this up. But it gets better. From its “mindmixer link”, the city asks for comments on a number of subjects to open government including:

            Councillor History

            Expose a list of former landfill locations in Guelph

            Engage Political Science department

            Enabling City Guelph

            Determine how students are involved with the Municipality

            Engage students (Youth)

            Develop an approach to collecting data

            Evaluate Social Media

            Work with Poverty Elimination Taskforce re: homelessness

            Track increased engagement

            Expose a list of all street closures in Guelph

            Expose a list of all public sculptures in Guelph

            Expose a list of all murals in Guelph

            Expose a list of commercial film locations in Guelph

            List of current filming locations

            Expose the list of public library locations

            Expose the garbage collection schedule

Now, would someone tell us what all this has to do with developing an open and transparent government? Is this another wonky brainstorm idea from the Farbridge bin of leftist rapture? What ever happened to public trust?

Here’s the real list of what should be done to accomplish an open government and, there is no charge.

* The public’s business must be conducted in public

* All meetings, council, committee and sub committee, must be advertised and open      to the public

* All details of capital spending from project’s start to end cost must be made in public

* The only closed door meeting allowed would be conducted for personnel matters, real estate and contract negotiations

* Council must have access to staff for information at any time

* Financial reports must be stated in terms that citizens understand

* Financial staff must prepare and distribute a quarterly summary status report

* The mayor must hold quarterly media news conferences open to the public

* All budgets should use zero-based procedures preparing forecasts of expenditures and revenues

* All revenues must be reported in financial statements

* All civic meetings must be scheduled for the convenience of the public, not the staff

* All correspondence from the public must be answered promptly

* All engineering and planning decisions regarding development must be made public

* Donations to city organizations must be reviewed every six months

* Community organizations, accepting public funds, must report quarterly on how the money is spent

* Appoint an ombudsman to deal with complaints of the administration

This is how an open and transparent government should operate. The lack of these principles is what led us to face a lawsuit that will end up costing the city millions of dollars, money it does not have.

Even Ontario’s ombudsman, Andre Marin, has stated that far too much of the public’s business is being conducted behind closed doors in many Ontario municipalities.

Commenting on lists of sculptures, murals and film locations is an artful sham that fails to cut to the real root of the problem. For eight years, the Farbridge administration has conducted 90 per cent of its business in secret and behind closed doors.

Yes, this group of Farbridge supporters has been “mindmixing” with the public to achieve its extravagant agenda and cover up its mistakes.

The issue has now emerged and it’s about the competence of this administration.

This week, with the revelation of the Urbacon affair, we learned how inept and careless this administration has been using your resources to take the city where most people did not agree to go.

And we paid $100,000 for this advice?








Filed under Between the Lines

10 responses to “City of Guelph Mindmixer: This is what you get for $100,000

  1. Boomer

    Too much ‘sidespeak’ from this administration. Bunch of fancy words in a feeble attempt to baffle us with BS. Get to the point on matters, take responsibility for your decisions. Act on behalf of the masses not your friends and they’re special interest. NO MORE NEPOTISM. Had a city staff member tell me there’s rumblings within our URBICON building by city staffers that this administration is finished. Crossing my fingers!

  2. Boomer

    I’d vote for Cam Guthrie in a heartbeat. He has no qualms on calling out our mayor and her cronies for their bad decision making. He seems to look at the operation of council and the corporation as a BUSINESS not a game of WHACK A MOLE….where you make one snafu disappear and another pops up! Sure he grandstands a bit BUT do you know a politician who doesn’t? And when he makes sense. it’s not the shell game Farbridge is handy at.

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Gerry: I know you have a keen sense of humour but the list of stuff you attribute to the “mindmixer” is class A April Fool’s content; however, you were a few days late in publishing your findings. Tell me this is not what the council really spent our hard earned dollars on. This no laughing matter, rather it is a wholesale condemnation of the council and administration. The joke will be on them come the October civic elections.

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: Honest this info was taken right off the city’s website. Not even I, who has been tarred by the mouth breathers to my immediate left with making up stories, could match this. MindMixer! Now I’m jealous. By the way, can you direct me to the sculptures in the city? I’m in desperate need for a MindMixer fix.

  4. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Perhaps they meant “statues” in the city and if they are of the mayor & 7 like-minded councilors , we all know what the pigeons will do to them.

  5. geo

    It reads like a grade 6 social studies project. Money changed hands for this?

  6. Paul

    Fust an observation:
    DID YOU KNOW? Of the 13 members of Council only THREE of them provide a phone number where you can contact them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The three are – Bell, Findlay and Wettstein! The other ten including the Mayor hide behind a City of Guelph phone number with an answering machine service. GOT A PROBLEM LATE AT NIGHT OR ON A WEEKEND? Tough Luck – Hang in there Voter!


      Perhaps this $100,000 list is geared to totally integrate the City’s governance and administration with the UofG?

    • EngagedCitizen

      Since when does a city council double up as emergency services? This is a silly comment. I’m all for transparency in govt, but if you have a problem, go to city hall during regular business hours, or send them an email, or leave a voice mail. Or, better yet, maybe government could invest into a “Citizen Relationship Management” solution (yes… they exist!) If you have an emergency – call 911. The last thing our government needs – even a totally inefficient and incompetent one – is for quacks to start calling them at all hours of the night. And believe me, the ER gets enough of that every day. Just ask any 911 operator how many times they get called because some idiot “can’t find the remote control to their TV”, or because someone needs help “moving a piece of furniture” or just because their “car wont start and I need a boost”. Yes, this happens. And the last thing we need to burden our government with is even more lunacy that will prevent them from getting whatever meager tasks they already have to do.

    • EngagedCitizen: You are right on with your comments. The problem is that the previous administration was not transparent nor open in its decision-making processes. It is important for people to be responsible and engaged in how their city is being run. When less that 50 per cent of eligible voters fail to vote, you have the makings of irresponsible action on the part of the elected members of council. Guelph’s most recent example was the majority of council voting for a 3.55 per cent property tax increase that morphed into a 3.94 per cent in approving the 2015 budget. They did it in the face of the newly elected Mayor Cam Guthrie who, in victory, pledged to keep the tax rate to 2.4 per cent.

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