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:
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?