Posted May 4, 2015
On Wednesday night at 5 p.m., in the city council chambers, the compliance committee of council will hear reasons why GrassRoots Guelph did not have the authority, or is it audacity, to support candidates on the October 2014 civic election.
The complaint made by Susan Watson, Farbridge friend, and, along with her partner, Dr. Ian Digby, donated more than $4,000 to a number of candidates from the ranks of various unions in and out of Guelph. The complaint is based on the right of a non-profit, non-partisan, incorporated organization to support candidates of choice and assist them financially if necessary.
The irony of this search and destroy effort is that the political organizations that supported the Farbridge campaign boasted of running pro-union candidates in every ward and financially supporting them.
David Galon, another Farbridge supporter, contends that it is all right for unions to be actively involved in municipal elections but not a legal citizen’s activist group, dedicated to informing the public of the dismal record of the Farbridge years.
And, how dismal was it?
Her legacy of mismanagement, misrepresentation and having her surrogates spin the truth in a manner that is almost laughable.
It all came to head in March 2014 when a judge found the city illegally terminated the general contractor of the new city hall, Urbacon, September 2008. The blame for this was placed on former CAO Hans Loewig, not the mayor, not council.
Do you believe that this was the action of a power-tripping CAO, fed up with all the missed completion deadlines, and on his own, threw Urbacon off the job? Well, as it turned out, the vast majority of voters didn’t believe it and the mayor lost her re-election bid.
That March 2014 judgment was when the people decided they had enough of Karen Farbridge and some of her councillors who either quit or were defeated.
The real cost of that monumental error in judgment is still not known. An educated guess it is north of $18 million when the city’s legal fees, settelements of other associated lawsuits and payments to third parties such as the subcontractors are made public.
So, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, a Farbridge hands-on choice for the job, said the Urbacon settlement will not affect property taxes. She further said the $8.89 million settlement with Urbacon will be paid with your savings from three reserve funds and the funds would be replenished over the next five years.
On April 25, 2015, council approved the highest property tax increase in five years of 3.96 per cent.
Enter stage left, the oracle of ward six, Karl Wettstein. He moved that instead of the $900,000 that was to start the replenishment of the vacated reserve funds, that council approve only $500,000. His motion included shifting the responsibility of finding a new plan to re-fill the $8.93 million taken from the reserves to the city staff.
At this rate, the Urbacon costs will be around for your grandchildren to pay. That is if they can afford to live in Guelph.
But hey! That same night council approved spending $600,000 on multi-use paths on busy Woodlawn Avenue.
If this wasn’t a spit-in-your-eye to the citizens of Guelph, we don’t know what is.
But this soap opera is not over yet. Susan Watson, along with her lawyer from Toronto, is determined to destroy the fundamental right of citizens under the Charter of Rights – freedom of association – to gather and oppose political thought and action without frivolous attempts to destroy that right.
Take some time to attend the Wednesday night meeting and show support for Glen Tolhurst, a decent man who offered his experience and knowledge to the voters of ward six. He lost and the reason for this Watson-inspired charade is, what?
Even more interesting is who is paying for this exercise?