Your guelphspeaks Weekender

Posted September 13, 2015

Lipstick and Urbacon — The Farbridge family compact — Our celebrity soup judge — Susan Watson’s soapy Opera’s final curtain


City Hall’s anxiety to bury Urbacon’ multi-million mistake

There has been a lot of scrambling at high places in the past few months to bury the Urbacon project and its deficit of more than $23 million.

A while back, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, told the city that she was ordering an audit of the Urbacon project’s ultimate costs by an independent firm.

At this stage it was another turn of the Urbacon spinning wheel. Is it the one that keeps spinning out the city administration’s version of what in hell happened eight years ago and the fallout?

The company hired to perform what turned not to be a full-bore audit was Deloitte and Touche. You remember them. They audit the city’s finances to prepare for the annual Financial Information Report mandated by the province.

They were hired to do a “special purpose audit report” examining the city’s Urbacon numbers. Despite the claims of senior corporate analyst, Jade Surgeoner, that it was a “proper auditing procedure with the same rigour of an audit” it was not a full-bore audit.

Did this investigation include: Deloitte interviewing the people involved? Did they read Justice MacKenzie’s judgment? Did they interview the three CFO’s who were involved in the Urbacon file? Did they review the FIR’s from previous years to check their own accounting of city finances?

So let’s stop calling it an audit. It is not uncommon for auditing firms to perform this kind of examination, but it is not an audit. To keep claiming it is, is misrepresentation.

The CAO has been on this file long enough to understand the difference. Why would the city hire Deloitte to perform the work? Why not an independent auditor who would drill down to what this debacle really cost the citizens?

Deloitte has a contractual long-term relationship with the city to audit its books. But the process does not include any items less than $600,000. That’s part of the terms of the contract and it was negotiated with the city.

In view of the enormous loss of Urbacon, it is inappropriate to claim the file is closed and it’s behind us.

The mayor should re-think his comments and understand that he and his CAO Pappert just wave the magic Deloitte wand and Urbacon will disappear, is an insult to the citizens of Guelph.

The Mercury editorial got it right describing the city’s attempt to close down the investigation as putting lipstick on the Urbacon pig.

This is one that won’t go away.

*            *            *            *

Is the Farbridge Factor still running the city?

There is ample evidence that control of the city administration still remains in Farbridge’s hands through her loyal surrogates. The examples are all around us.

The includes the super-sized property tax increase, transferring unspent budget funds from one year to the next, creating more bike lanes on major arterial roads, processing other cities’ garbage and waste, operating a crazy quilt of capital projects. Yep! It’s still more of the same lies and mismanagement that people thought they got rid of last October.

Starting at the top the CAO and her two deputies were part of the failed Farbridge administration. Following down the organizational chart the next level of managers were also part of the Urbacon cover-up.

Why Mayor Guthrie is sticking with those friends of Farbridge (FOF’s) who are still in charge, is a mystery given his pre-election promises.

*            *            *            *

Here comes the judge!

We note that Coun. James Gordon is the celebrity judge at the annual Borscht Festival. With his record on council, particularly voting for widening Speedvale to allow bike lanes, despite overwhelming opposition, he should stick with the soup, the one he’s already in.

His shameful vote against the wishes of the ward two people he represents, shows he supports his socialistic doctrinaire policies as opposed to serving the people.

Gordon was the former founder of the Guelph Civic League and architect of the Farbridge victory in 2006. He was also the NDP candidate for Guelph in a provincial election but lost to Liberal Liz Sandals.

*            *            *            *

The Watson soap opera draws to a close

If ever there was a waste of the taxpayer’s money, Susan Watson’s plaintive complaint has to rise to the top.

The city staff fed the arguments presented by Watson to prosecute former candidate Glen Tolhurst for accepting a $400 donation from GrassRoots Guelph Voters Association, Inc.

In the end, Watson’s case had no foundation in law and the citizens have to pay. Pay for the political whim of a person who donated with her husband more than $4,250 to candidates including the former mayor and her five supporters who were elected in October 2014.

It is the height of hypocrisy to use public money, personal influence to attempt to discredit and embarrass citizens who opposed her friend Karen Farbridge. With some success it would appear.

It is doubtful Watson has any remorse over her power play. She never apologized to Mr. Tolhust or GRG. Sorry but the damage has been done and if she has any political aspirations, she should think twice.

Susan, why not do the honourable thing and repay the city’s costs for this excursion seeking revenge. You lost and you should pay.



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