Posted October 3, 2014
This is a sequel to the Guelph Factor and any other Factors that are bandied about as the city moves toward Election Day, Monday October 27.
The Mayor’s formidable record of winning elections regardless of what people think of her, gives her the edge in a normal election year.
This year it’s different.
Some serious cracks have appeared on the sunny, green and confident record of Mayor Karen Farbridge.
In preparation of this important election, the Mayor’s crack team of advisors and dedicated supporters, have persuaded 19 candidates to run for council and support the re-election of the Mayor for a fourth term in office. However, the maximum number of candidates to be elected for council is only 12.
In Farbridge circles, this is known as swarm politics. You know, throwing up that many candidates increases the chances of forming another dominant Farbridge controlled council. It’s part of the Farbridge Factor.
The Farbridge deep thinkers know that if she fails to bring along at least six councillors on Election Day, the next four years will be testy, to say the least. The solution is to nominate three times the number she needs to be successful at the polls.
With electing six councillors, that means that 13 Farbridge supporters vying for office will bite the dust. The risk is that the Farbridge-nominated councillors will dilute the Mayor’s support and base. The anti-Farbridge electors could polarize and elect a majority of council, thereby returning power to the council and not just the mayor and senior staff.
The Farbridge Factor candidates are mostly derived from the labour movement and the New Democratic Party. Part of the national strategy of the NDP is to run candidates in municipalities across the country to bolster their chances in federal and provincial elections. That is the strategy that the late Jack Layton used with great success in Quebec electing, for the first time, The NDP as the Official Opposition in Parliament.
Let’s start with the five Farbridge incumbents seeking re-election.
In Ward Three there are councillors June Hofland and Maggi Laidlaw. Both were on city council when the Urbacon firing occurred but have not admitted any responsibility. Laidlaw is a self-appointed protector of the working class but in reality is a silk stocking socialist. Ms. Hofland is a spear-carrier in the Farbridge administration. As chairman of the finance committee for the past three years she brought zero experience in municipal financial management to the job.
In Ward Five Leanne Piper is the right hand of the Farbridge team and has steadfastly voted for a number of heritage projects, including naming her own neighbourhood as a “Heritage District.” Her real claim to fame is known as the night of long knives. She orchestrated a move to dump Coun. Gloria Kovach from the Guelph Police Services Board. Ms. Kovach, a long time councillor, had unanimously been appointed for four years in 2011. But Ms. Piper pirouetted into the job in a subsequent vote. It was a shabby and disingenuous action.
In Ward Six, we have Todd Dennis who, despite his membership in local Conservative organizations in town, flipped and has supported the Mayor following his election in 2010. He has had an undistinguished term in office. Bench mate Karl Wettstein is another soldier in the Farbridge forces whose reputation includes long-winded murky statements and overuse of acronyms. And, not answering constituent enquiries.
Also running in Ward Five under the Farbridge banner is Kathy Downer, former councillor and campaign manager for Mayor Farbridge in 2010. She is a dedicated progressive candidate with a narrow agenda. Two other leftist candidates were persuaded to retire and make room for Ms. Downer so the vote would not be split.
In Ward Four, Mike Salisbury is attempting a comeback after being defeated in 2010. He was on the Farbridge team in 2008 when Urbacon was tossed off the work site. His greatest claim to fame was travelling to Edmonton with Coun. Ian Findlay (retiring), to investigate how that city handled its after-closing fouling of the public streets. A six-week test in Guelph collected 2,400 litres of urine of the male variety. Women, zero. Since them nothing has occurred to solve this problem.
If those seven Farbridge council candidates are elected, then it’s four more years of the Farbridge domination of city government.
That leaves 12 other Farbridge council candidates out in the cold.
In contrast, GrassRoots Guelph has recommended 12 candidates who are ready to bring common sense, checks and balances and realistic budgeting to the council table. They believe in an open and transparent government.
These candidates recognize that citizens can no longer sustain uncontrolled spending on projects with little relevance to the general public good. Nor the lack of management control of finances that have resulted in unsustainable tax increases required to pay for those projects that voters never approved.
This group of candidates will not allow another $15 million cost overrun of a major project. In 2008, council was receiving periodic updates of progress of the new city hall project, but was not asked about the firing of Urbacon. Now the Mayor won’t accept responsibility.
Frankly, under normal times, this cover-up of the circumstances surrounding the Urbacon dismissal, would call for an independent inquiry of all the factors that led up to this multi-million dollar mistake. The courts have solved part of this Urbacon mess but key details are not forthcoming.
In a $400 million corporation, it is expected that elected representatives mustensure that money is not misspent on specious adventures. The Farbridge Factor includes allegedly making the city world class in sustainability, the environment and, in eight years, doubling the mileage of bicycle lanes.
The Farbridge Factor record must answer for eight years of mismanagement and acknowledge responsibility for its performance.
There is a great future for this city but the time has come to reset priorities that serve all the people all the time.