The Farbridge Factor lives on through the Gang of Seven’s majority on council

By Gerry Barker

Posted December 27, 2015

Things are different this year because it’s easier to predict what won’t happen in 2016 than to select events that will. The political events across three levels of government have reflected change but particularly disappointing in the case of Guelph and the provincial government.

We are swimming in a sea of mediocrity as the stunning level of incompetence both by civil servant staff and their elected political bosses, fails the test of basic business practice and financial management.

FYI: The Farbridge Gang of Seven consists of Councillors Leanne Piper, Cathy Downer, Karl Wettstein, Mike Salisbury, June Hofland, Phil Allt and James Gordon.

So, let’s take a peek at what will happen, or won’t. You be the judge.

*   The five senior managers of the city staff, all hired by the Farbridge administration, including CAO Ann Pappert, DCAO Mark Amorosi, DCAO Derrick Thomson, City Clerk Stephen O’Brien, City Solicitor Donna Jacques, will still be on the job 12 months from now.

*   Soaring electricity costs, increased taxes and, not the least, a feminist arrogance that belies integrity and logic, will accelerate the relentless decline of the Ontario economy compounded by the failing leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

*   The Canada Pension Plan will be tinkered but provide little change except to increase employer/employee contributions.

*   Kathleen Wynne’s two great flops will be the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores and establishing the new Ontario Pension Plan. At least you can drink away your fear of rank political stupidity but another tax grab is harder to swallow. The result will be a reduction of jobs shoving the ailing Ontario economy further down the sinkhole of spiraling debt and zooming taxes.

*   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will demand 24 Sussex, the Prime Minister’s official residence, be renovated so he can move into the home in which he grew up.

The public reaction will be unnerving when the price tag is revealed.

*   Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper will lick his wounds and take out a Tim Horton’s franchise in woebegone Alberta. He won’t have much time as he joins several boards of directors of major corporations including banks, oil producers and auto manufacturers.

*   Karen Farbridge loyalist, Susan Watson, following her losing complaint about funding of a civic candidate by a voter’s activist group, (it cost taxpayers $11,400); will announce she will be a candidate for Mayor in the 2018 Guelph election. Should we make that former Farbridge loyalist?

*  Interim Conservative Leader, Rona Ambrose, will surprise parliamentary watchers by holding Justin Trudeau’s feet to the fire regarding his campaign promises.

*  Like the Ancient Mariner, Education Minister Liz Sandals will keep her job and sleepwalk through the new round of teachers’ union negotiating process that starts in January. Maybe this time she will ask for travel and entertainment receipts when paying the unions to negotiate with her government.

*   The Guelph city staff proposal of a ten-year, two per cent property tax levy for infrastructure, will fade into black as the Gang of Seven, controlling Guelph council, will vote against it all in the name of political survival.

*   Electricity rates in Ontario are more than 55 per cent higher than Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia and will increase by ten percent January 1st. The McGuinty/Wynne green energy team has proven to be expert in funding wind farms and solar arrays by paying the private operators more than triple the base per Kilowatt rate for 20 years but also their capital costs. And we, the end users, have to pay for this through our hydro bills, plus HST. Is that a great deal or not?

*   Gouging at the pump by Canadian gasoline producers will continue despite the 60 per cent drop in wellhead oil prices. Gasoline, at 95 cents a litre, is still 70 per cent higher than the same product in the U.S selling, on average, for $2 a gallon.

*  The appalling lack of understanding finances by a number of Guelph councillors will continue despite allowing operating deficits for the past three years. Provincial law forbids municipalities to carry budget deficits – read that overspending – into the next year.

*  Chances of the public being told the details of that police shooting in the Guelph General Hospital emergency waiting room will not be revealed in 2016. And the Ontario Liberals will not rewrite the Police Act that makes it impossible to fire a police officer for an offence. It appears officers have to kill someone to get fired by the police department.

*  It’s been a tough year for Mayor Cam Guthrie coping with a majority bloc of followers of his defeated predecessor. He still needs citizen support to carry out the changes that most of us voted for in 2016. Let’s renew our resolve to support the Mayor and his five members of council who are determined to create changes in management and reduce spending.

Here’s to having a Happy New Year!

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5 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

5 responses to “The Farbridge Factor lives on through the Gang of Seven’s majority on council

  1. The Towne Winer

    Have a safe journey GB and hope that Barb is feeling better now…

    See you on the other side!

    Happy Humbug!

    Cheers and Tall Boys Craft Beers!

    Fine Wines and Mineva Water Refined!

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  2. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Replies to a few of Gerry’s points raised above:
    – the 5 senior managers – hopefully the CAO’s contract will not be renewed in 2016 and a new CAO will slowly deep six the other 4 mentioned managers to get some financial reality in the city staff
    – 24 Sussex renos -considering the previous tenants ran the joint into the ground and did not practice maintenance of a capital asset / infrastructure (kinda like the situation in Guelph, Eh) along with the reported stench of cat pee where the rescued cats where housed along with drafty windows & a leaking roof, the decision to renovate does not rest with the PM. Crikey, even Mike Holmes would have a difficult time returning that “fixer-upper” to a reasonable condition. It’s a no brainer to “make it right”.
    – for Watson to run for mayor would require her to step out into public and engage in intelligent debate while not bellowing thru a bull horn. Such a change would entail either a frontal lobotomy or religious conversion. Not bloody likely, bro!
    – to ensure the staff proposed 2% infrastructure tax levy (which would compound to 22%) dies a quick death, the citizens of Guelph will have to tell each and everyone of the 13 members of council of the political suicide in backing such a hare brained proposal which would force home owners on fixed incomes out of their residences.Enough of the bloc of 7 will see the light and vote with the other 5 members of council to kill the tax levy.
    – Guelph citizens who voted for change at the mayoral level will revolt against the repeated “coups” by the bloc of 7 and demand financially responsibility by council and staff. E-mails to all members of council will be the 1st step in making the demand known.

    • lurka

      In to a response to my email,Cathy Downer replies that there was to be no 2% or any other mathematical configuration as an infrastructure surcharge on our tax bills.

    • lurka: I guess Ms. Downer forgot that the 2 percent property tax levy was deferred to a committee meeting in February this year. She is right it is not part of the 2016 budget. It will be considered in the fall when the 2017 budget talks begin.

  3. Len H

    Reading these days about governments on all levels, I am reminded of one of Mayor Norm Jary’s favourite quips used in many of his numerous speaking engagements (to this day I might add): “The term statesman is a fancy word for a dead politician. What we need more of these days are statesmen”. No truer words have ever been spoken, Norm, you excluded of course.

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