Posted April 14, 2015
The assistant city clerk has advised Glen Tolhurst, a former candidate in the October civic election, that she had received a complaint about a donation made to Mr. Tolhurst’s campaign by GrassRoots Guelph (GRG).
According to the clerk, the complainant, Susan Watson, friend of Farbridge, has hired lawyers to demand an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election financial statement, already on file at city hall.
Yep! They are still trying to demolish GRG, the citizen’s organization that played a major role in defeating former mayor, Karen Farbridge.
There has been a lot of recent whining chaff coming from former supporters of Ms. Farbridge, alleging that GRG acted illegally in donating money to candidates or engaging in its democratic right to challenge elected officials. It reminds one of the novel 1984 when “Big Brother” controlled action, thought and deed with his harsh rules.
The Municipal Election rules allow third parties to participate in civic elections. Funny, this question did not arise following the Guelph Civic League’s very active participation in the 2006 civic election that wiped out the city council save for two members.
It was a new Democratic Party’s municipal tour de force in which professional organizers and funding were employed to elect a majority of self-described progressives, including former mayor, Karen Farbridge.
Since then, nothing has changed despite the defeat of Farbridge and some of her supporters, plus two who decided not to run.
The 2015 budget topped out at 5.96 per cent property tax increase, yes, that’s correct. The majority of council approved a 5.50 per cent increase. But ignored the shifting of the tax burden from multi-family residences and industrial to the remaining residential taxpayers. Also the provincially mandated increase in assessments on all property in the city was ignored. This will result in an estimated end-cost to taxpayers in terms of percentage of 4.50 per cent for 2015.
Now these people want an audit of Glen Tolhurst’s election financial report. He was not successful in his bid for council. So ask yourself, why now?
The answer friends is revenge. Revenge on Glen and the thousands of GRG members and citizens for their role in dumping the former mayor. They want to discredit GRG and the blog guelphspeaks.ca so that those organizations will not be a factor in the 2018 election.
What can the citizens do, who voted for change, about this continuation of policies that have created the highest municipal tax rate in Ontario? The first step is to organize and complain to those councillors who voted for this 2015 budget.
The next step is to challenge the 2014, 2010 and 2006 election financial reports filed by former members of council who supported the former mayor who chose to run and request an audit of each. The grounds of which would focus on the donations each received and from whom.
The list would include mayor Farbridge, Councillors Ian Findlay, June Hofland, Maggie Laidlaw, Leanne Piper, Lise Burcher, Todd Dennis, Karl Wettstein, Mike Salisbury, and Vicki Beard.
Another step is to request the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate how the draft versions of the 2015 budget were revised upward by council without public input. This would include examination of meetings held by the majority of members, who met together privately to develop strategy and the emails exchanged between that group.
It is possible to take action to curb the excesses of this budget and future decisions.
Susan Watson, you may have awakened the dozing tiger of public protest.