Posted September 25, 2014
There have been two articles published recently in the Guelph Mercury that demonstrate an abysmal understanding of the facts regarding the Urbacon Buildings Group Corp lawsuit that has cost this city to date, $8.935 million.
Underlying the op-ed page article by Aaron Massecar is the clumsy defence of his leader, Mayor Karen Farbridge. But first, what is a mayor? What are her responsibilities?
Mr. Massecar goes to great lengths to parrot the administration line that the mayor and her council were not responsible for the termination of Urbacon. He says, according to the judgment delivered by Justice Donald MacKenzie, the responsibility fell on Chief Administration Officer, Hans Loewig, and project manager, Murray McRae.
Well, not so fast Massecar. Hans Loewig never testified at the five-week trial. In fact he retired before the trial began. That fiction came from his successor, Ann Pappert, who laid the blame for firing Urbacon on him, allegedly because he had the power to terminate contracts. But canceling a $42 million contract, without the approval of the council who are fiduciarily responsible? Come Massecar, you should acknowledge where the buck stops.
Keep in mind there is more to come with the city facing to pay the costs of the Aviva lawsuit it started and lost. Now the mayor says that judgment of costs will not cause an increase in the tax rate because the money will come from reserves and will be replenished in full within five years.
Just pause for a minute. Where did the reserve funds come from and who will be replenishing the amount removed? It’s coming from the people who pay taxes and user fees that citizens use daily. Yes, the Farbridge administration has even set up water/sewer and Hydro charges as profit centres.
Which brings up the focus of the Farbridge supporters who claim this is not just about taxpayers. Really. Property taxpayers contribute some 46 per cent of all city revenues. They are the stakeholders in this $450 million corporation.
The Farbridge administration, in two terms, has increased property taxes by more than 38 per cent. Going forward, within eight more years, Guelph’s property taxes under a Farbridge administration will double.
On a personal note our property taxes have doubled in 11 years.
There is sufficient evidence Mr. Massecar that there are no snap judgments, just the plain truth. To blame Mayoralty candidate Cam Guthrie, for politicizing the Urbacon affair is wishful thinking. He’s just reflecting what people are saying. Your mayor and her council supporters have yet to accept responsibility for this financial debacle.
So “taxpayers” is a bad word. In a letter to the editor, Darina Griffin writes that pandering to self-worth by calling us (?) taxpayers is exploitive and is a cynical use of the label.
She goes on to state: “That there are no facts that support the notion that our finances are mismanaged.”
You can’t help these people. They are so indoctrinated into believing the Farbridge propaganda distortions that obliterate the truth, lie by omission, and do most of their work behind closed doors.
Let’s try to help them understand what has happened under the Farbridge watch.
The Judge’s detailed 54-page judgment made it very clear that the city wrongfully dismissed Urbacon. The contract was not badly worded as the mayor alleged. The problem lay when there were more than 300 change orders demanded by the city that made the contractor’s completion schedule impossible to meet.
In fact, the city hall project was 95 per cent completed at the time of termination. Further, four weeks before the firing, Hans Loewig sent an email to Urbacon expressing how pleased he was with the progress and looked forward to an official opening in January 2009. This email was introduced as evidence at the five-week trial.
So Mr. Massecar and Ms. Griffin, there is ample evidence that your beloved leader can no longer dodge the responsibility. She is the chief magistrate of the city and must answer for this and other mismanaged events that have proved costly.
Taxpayers are citizens. But not all citizens are property taxpayers. So get over it. Save your rhetoric for the union and other cell meetings. This “we are citizens” campaign smacks of old time labour rhetoric creating class warfare.
It is an attempt to create division among the voters. It’s driven by the unionized employees who represent 80 per cent of all city workers. It is obvious they are supporting the Mayor because they have a lot of skin in the game.
And Ms. Griffin, suggesting that the facts of financial mismanagement are a “notion” only underscores your ignorance of the facts.
But then, you are entitled to your opinion.