November 27, 2014
My goodness, to read the public prints these days; one would believe there wasn’t an election. It was all a huge mistake that Mayor Karen Farbridge was removed by an overwhelming majority of citizens.
The “regressive’s” ink-stained regurgitation of all the alleged great things their beloved leader accomplished in her eight years, is an astounding revelation of their values that the majority of voters soundly rejected.
Why did this happen? Why was this perceived brilliant individual, hammered by the great silent majority? Was it an accident? Possibly a misunderstanding? Or was it because they caught on to the mismanagement of their city by an individual who believed she was omnipotent?
Ms. Farbridge had to run on her record. Her adamant refusal to accept responsibility for the Urbacon mess, estimated to cost more than $21 million, did not go unnoticed by the citizens. The actual cost has yet to be revealed.
But Urbacon was just the tip of the Farbridge iceberg. There are scores of projects promoted by the former mayor that had cost overruns, lacked business plans and endured mindless inattention to spending.
In fact, the financial condition of the city in the wake of the election demands an independent audit to clear up the confusing labyrinth of the Farbridge-controlled city finances.
It includes investigating the use of reserve funds that were misused in many cases as being underfunded or used for financing other projects not connected to the purpose of the reserve. Remember that the Urbacon costs were not going to cause an increase in property taxes? Wait and see.
The new council deserves to have an audited benchmark that states the actual position of the city finances at the end of fiscal year 2014.
And while that’s going on, call in the city appointed auditors, Deloitte and Touche, and review the existing contract and reset the parameters of the auditor’s responsibilities to council and the people.
Depending how the rump of Farbridge councillors on the new council react, two things are likely to occur: They will vote to deny the independent audit or some may defect and vote for the audit. Either way, it will mark the beginning of yet another potential dysfunctional council.
The mayor’s remarks on election night revealed her true feelings when she reminded her audience that the “regressives” will still have a majority on council. What a lousy start for Mayor-elect Cam Guthrie. She also failed to congratulate Guthrie on his victory.
Now, even before the new council warms the seats, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, announced the departure of executive directors Janet Laird and Derek McCaughan and major changes at the top. A new executive structure is put in place with three deputy CAO’s.
Chief among them is the rise of Mark Amorosi who takes over finance and CFO Al Horsman’s responsibilities that will be integrated into the new Corporate Services Department. The city will name or hire a new treasurer.
Does this mean the survivors Amorosi, Horsman and Derrick Thomson all receive hefty pay increases along with their new responsibilities?
More to the point, why were these changes made following the October 27 election and did the outgoing council approve them? Is it the precursor to continuing the failed management of the city that the electors rejected?
Does CAO Pappert require three deputies to do her job?
Will Mark Amorosi finally move to Guelph from Hamilton in view of his new, extended responsibilities? Does he have the qualifications to manage the finances of a $400 million corporation in addition to his other responsibilities?
Why was Horsman essentially removed from the CFO post to assume infrastruction, development and enterprise (whatever that means). Did he know too much?
Horsman also takes over the woeful waste management portfolio vacated by Janet Lard. Does this mean that major changes are coming to Guelph’s dismal waste management system and record? Does Horsman know anything about waste management?
These are legitimate questions that the new council must face. On the surface, it appears despite the drubbing the Farbridge forces had in the October election, the senior staff sees it as business as usual.
Shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic just won’t cut it.