GrassRoots Guelph: Right wing Ogres or the Farbridge regime’s real opposition?

Posted October 2, 2014

Lately, the heat has been turned up to discredit GrassRoots Guelph (GRG). The sources are varied, some surprising, some expected. Collectively, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy GRG’s credibility. There are repeated descriptions of GRG citizens as rightwing, American style, tea partiers determined to slash and destroy the record of the Farbridge administration.

Well, this isn’t who we are. We are a collective of growing numbers of diverse citizens who have been informing the greater population of the transgressions of the Farbridge administration for the past eight years.

GRG and guelphspeaks.ca (GS) have been the only opposition to the Farbridge administration. For the past seven years, Guelph resident Gerry Barker has written columns in the Mercury and published more than 540 posts on the guelphspeaks blog site. His audience has grown since the beginning of this year as more and more people visit the site.

GRG and its GS partner have exposed serious financial mismanagement by the current regime including details of the Urbacon $15 million debacle long before the traditional media became engaged.

In 2012, dealing only with the facts, GRG produced a four-page petition detailing financial mismanagement of the city finances. It was presented to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister’s officials analyzed the contents and confirmed the petition figures were accurate. Yet the minister turned down our request for an independent audit of the city’s finances and operations.

Nothing has changed in the GRG petition; it is as accurate today as it was in 2012.

GRG has exposed many examples of poor city financial management. The juggling of accounts is a common practice by the Farbridge administration. It takes from reserve funds unrelated to its needs. Or it takes money from a budgeted project and spends it on another. Starting to ring a bell? That’s how they’re going to pay for the Urbacon lawsuit settlement.

The required annual city financial reporting to the Province, is a 400-page document that is impenetrable to the average citizen. However, GRG has a financial analyst who exposes the way the city manipulates your money to cover up the truth.

This leads to abuse of the public trust. And this is not coming from some “right-wing American tea-partier,” as the Farbridge brain trust would like you believe. It’s the result of due diligence, city generated information and investigation.

In eight years, this administration has operated virtually in secret, has lied by omission, and has spent millions on such projects as the Waste Resources Innovation Centre (WRIC) on Dunlop Drive.

Here is some new information that voters may want to consider before voting for the Farbridge bloc again.

Item: Guelph citizens paid $35 million for an organic waste facility, triple its needs for 20 years, located in the WRIC. If organic waste dumped at the plant has any non-organic material, the entire load is sent to the landfill.Including such materials as plastic, glass etc.

Item: The plant has yet to operate at full capacity after three years of operation.

Item: The special trucks ordered to collect the bins have had many breakdowns of the arms used to pick up the bins. The city has been paying $8,000 per truck for repairs for a job that can be done for $2,500.

GRG is the only organization in the city that is bringing this kind information to the attention of the citizens.

The Farbridge name-callers have had a free ride for eight years but now they face a citizens group that challenges the management of the city.

It is GRG that keeps reporting the performance of the city administration. Unfortunately, the Guelph Mercury and to some extent the Guelph Tribune, both owned by TorStar, often do not question city press releases or dig to get the other side of the story.

There has been a recent shift by both papers in digging into stories and commenting in editorials that is more questioning in nature.

The Farbridge supporters realize the threat to their cause and resort to labeling and name-calling to discredit GRG, and its determined team, to create change in the way the city is being administered.

GRG is not running for office. But we are recommending some good people for voter consideration who will create change. (See our ad in the October 2 issue of the Guelph Tribune). We are open and transparent. We have broad support across the city from citizens who realize that there must be change at city hall.

But, if you don’t vote for change, then you don’t count.

GRG is working to increase the number of voters in the October 27 election.

This is the greatest fear of the Farbridge hardcore supporters. It will be the awakening of the great silent majority. Its time has come.

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10 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

10 responses to “GrassRoots Guelph: Right wing Ogres or the Farbridge regime’s real opposition?

  1. bostoncollie

    I just recently found this blog and have found it to be very informative. There is such a void of information provided for our municipal candidates. Keep shining the light on City Hall.

  2. Jerry

    Hi Gerry
    Something happened today i thought you and others might find amusing.
    Talking to my sister she mentioned to me that herself as well as my nephew
    (age 17)niece (aged 15)and my young niece (age just turned 4)got their
    municipal election forms for the upcoming election.
    Talk about incompetence at city hall.
    I told my sister she should take my 2 nieces and nephew to vote and see
    how they handle that.Should be good for a few chuckles and a few red
    faces.

    • Jerry: Yikes! Do they have approved photo ID? Yet another example of incompetence. The voter’s list is updated regularly and before a municipal election by the clerk’s department in conjunction with the tax department. It seems elementary but here’s where it goes off the rails. The administration hired a new city clerk from Vaughan three months before the civic election. He is barely into the job and is responsible not only for a vote by paper ballot but the introduction of online voting in the advance poll. That’s a steep hill to climb by any standard. Let’s hope the vote is clean, without serious problems and the outcome is fair and above board.

    • Louis

      Someone on Facebook, said their daughter also got two voter cards with unique numbers on it as well, looks like Guelph already screwed up and the polls aren’t even open yet. But bring your story to your facebook page, and to the attention of the city, I am sure they will love to see and hear how much they already screwed up with voter cards.

  3. Mary Heyens

    Gerry Barker, GrassRoots Guelph and Guelph Speaks Staff,

    Please hold a Town Hall Meeting or similar event because so many Guelph voters need to have their voices heard, and, ask questions of the 2014 municipal election candidates. Questions are generated and screened by the Mayor’s office; this is not a democratic process. If you hold a Town Hall Meeting, many candidates will show up and some won’t, but, it will be to their disadvantage. I understand that the Ward debates planned by GRG had to be cancelled. If GRG can hold a Town Hall Meeting, many people will come. The media will shine a big spotlight on the meeting and what the public have to say. You have great community support. I will volunteer my time to help. GRG has built a solid foundation and you have captured the attention and support of thousands of Guelph residents. I am grateful to have met many good Guelph residents through your organization. Thank you. Mary Heyens, Guelph, E: heyensmary@gmail.com. T: 519-822-2058

    • Mary Heyens: We tried to hold a series of all-candidates meetings in each of the wards but it went south when the Farbridge supported candidates refused to attend. As we are a citizen’s organization with limited resources, the decision was made to spend funds on a series of ads in the Guelph Tribune. The first of these ads was published October 2 and there will be three more published every following Thursday. The ads spell out a program of revitalization of the Guelph civic government called “New Directions – Guelph”. The aborted ward all-candisdates meetings were a time consuming and costly exercise. If anything, we have learned that the opposition will stoop at nothing to discredit our organization. Maybe we should take that as a compliment. Our focus remains on recommending 12 excellent candidates for council. Check out the Trib for their names and ward.

  4. Essie

    Gerry – What about the article in the September 30 Trib which states that the Ward 5 candidates were in fact willing to attend the GRG event? If cancelling the debate was actually a matter of GRG’s finances and some undoubtedly challenging logistics, why blame the candidates? I live in Ward 5, don’t subscribe to Rogers Cable anymore & therefore can’t watch the broadcast of the Chamber of Commerce debates, so would have appreciated another opportunity to see and hear from the people who are running in my ward.

    • Essie: Some of the ward five candidates said they were prepared to attend after we had to cancel all of the All-Candidate’s meetings due to a poor response from the Farbridge candidates. This was a calculated effort by the Farbridge supporters to kill the meetings. We made the decision to do so after receiving cancellations or excuses. I too have no Rogers community TV channel. I can see your dilemma. We are still working as hard as we can with the limited resources. The latest polls and responses indicate that people are welcoming our list of recommended candidates. We will be publishing more details on the grassrootsguelph.com website and guelphspeaks.ca.

  5. Mary Heyens

    Gerry Barker: Thank you for your reply, and GRG’s list recommending 12 excellent candidates for council. I read it on page 13 of the October 2nd Guelph Tribune. I will be sure to read the “New Directions – Guelph” ads in the Thursday Tribune leading up to October 27th.

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