Posted September 7, 2015
Was change what the voters were looking for last October when they overwhelmingly defeated former mayor Karen Farbridge? Here is a sample of what turned people away from the eight-year term of the mayor, her leadership and council supporters.
* Her failure and that of her council colleagues to apologize to the people for the Urbacon decision, one that occurred under her watch in 2008. Today there are four Farbridge councillors re-elected who served on that 2008 council: Leanne Piper, Mike Salisbury, June Hofland and Karl Wettstein.
* The staff’s cover up of the real costs of the new City Hall before the election. CAO Ann Pappert said the Urbacon settlement would not impact property taxes.
* Mayor Guthrie promised to keep the 2015 tax rate to 2.1 per cent. His dysfunctional council voted March 25 to increase property taxes by 3.96 per cent. This is one change people believed would happen and it didn’t.
* Taking ten months to finally reveal that it cost $23,066,755 more than the original $42 million contract. The money is gone forever like a puff from the magic dragon. The money could have built a nice new downtown main library. Poof!
* The senior staff shake-up last November before the new council was sworn in, reducing the executive group from five members to three. It gave them a promotion as deputy Chief Administrative Officers and an annual raise each averaging $182,000. Al Horsman, one of the three deputy CAO’s has left the city for greener pastures.
* Guelph still does not have a Chief Financial Officer. Why not?
* A sweetheart deal of Guelph Transit student boarding passes to University students. The arrangement gives unlimited GT usage for 90 days for .833 per day. Guelph high schoolers don’t share that deal. No wonder there is a $15 million public subsidy to keep the buses rolling.
* Creating a waste management department for an estimated $55 million and not asking for public input or revealing the operating costs.
* Installing a bin collection system for $15.5 million that fails to service an estimated 6,000 homes and businesses.
* Rebuilding Wyndham Street in which the rail underpass was incorrectly designed. It prevented large commercial trucks from using the route due to the lowered clearance height. The engineer in charge is still working for the city.
* Creating a Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc (GMHI) that now boasts more than 135 employees working outside the municipal staff structure. Since its formation in 2012, it has paid the city $9 million in so-called dividends. GMHI did it despite running a deficit in each of those years. The payments came from Guelph Hydro that was folded into GMHI. That has all the earmarks of another tax on citizens through their hydro bills..
* Now we come to the complaint of Ms. Farbridge’s supporter, Susan Watson. She complained of an alleged illegal $400 donation to former candidate Glen Tolhurst given by GrassRoots Guelph Voters Association (GRG).
* A Farbridge appointed committee of three unelected individuals ordered that Tolhurst’s official election expenses report be audited. The estimated $10,000 cost of this frivolous political attempt to discredit Tolhurst and GRG for $400 rests with the city to pay. For her actions, Susan Watson should pay the city’s expenses.
The audit has exonerated both Tolhurst and GRG of contravening the Municipal Elections Act.
It’s time to strike back and fight for what you voted for
There will be a meeting at city hall this week by the Compliance Audit Committee, to receive the report, hear counter arguments and make a recommendation to council as to who must repay the cost of this audit.
Current public opinion is that that Ms. Watson should pay the costs.
The meeting on Thursday starts at 5:30 p.m. It is an awkward hour for many citizens but nevertheless important to be present. If, for no other reason, than to signal there must be change in the direction of the civic government.
This meeting is a possible starting point to show the administration that the people want change to stop the wasteful spending and taxing.
Attending this meeting will send that message.
The Farbridge forces are hoping no one turns up. Prove them mistaken.