Posted August 28, 2015
The Mercury ran a FrontPage story this week accompanied by a photograph of the new open government manager, Andy Best.
Well, let’s start by testing how transparent and open Guelph’s new manager really is.
* When was it decided to establish a new position to manage a transparent and open government (T and O)?
* How was the salary of $91,000 determined if this position is a first in Canada?
* Why is the position a contract position with a one-year duration?
* Where was the position posted?
* What were the job specifications for applicants?
* How many applicants responded to the job posting?
* Who posted the position and who interviewed applicants?
* According to the story in the Mercury, why is the focus on developing Internet –based communication programs when a large portion of the population does not use computers or smart phones?
* Were you not a president of the Guelph Civic League?
* Did you not support former mayor Farbridge in her failed re-election campaign?
* Did you receive compensation for work done on behalf of the Farbridge campaign?
* Why is there no mention of opening council and staff meetings that are consistently conducted in camera?
* Who do you report to?
This exercise smacks of a patronage appointment for work done on behalf of the previous administration. It is too coincidental that a loyal supporter of the former mayor and her chosen slate of candidates lands a great job with the city. Is it possible to assume that this position was not part of the 2015 budget?
And if it was, why wasn’t it debated in an open and transparent council meeting as part of the budget discussions?
This is exactly the kind of policy decisions that were made, in secret, for the past eight years by an administration that failed to protect its fiduciary responsibilities to the people.
There is no secret about the fall-out. Most voters decided that losing more than $14 million on the failed New City Hall project called for a change in the way the city was being managed.
There is no room for patronage appointments, particularly choosing those who were party to the failed policies of the previous administration.
The policies proposed by Andy Best in the Mercury, illustrate that the real problems in Guelph need to be solved by reducing costs, reviewing all management procedures and fixing the aging infrastructure.
It isn’t necessary to establish a department that is planning new communication services that has nothing to do with transparency and open government.
Andy Best cites the do-it-yourself budget simulator program on the city website, allowing citizens to tinker with departmental budgets. It amounts to nothing more than a survey. It is devoid of the nuts and bolts of budget management. A clear example is the lack of any information about the costs of lawyers and consultants.
It’s a dreadful sham that will be disregarded when the real budget planning gets under way next month.
That’s a sad excuse for selling T and O to the taxpayers.