By Gerry Barker
Posted January 27, 2016
As the old song goes: “ It’s days of wine and roses,” as the sun finally sets on the Gang of Seven Farbridge progressives who have shanked any kind if reform attempted by the new Guelph council.
The repetitive 7-6 vote dominance by this group has dumped thousands of dollars in increased property taxes and user fees in just 13 months onto the backs of citizens.
This week, two members of the Gang o0f Seven, June Hofland and Karl Wettstein, were not attending the meeting. The reason is not clear.
This action shattered the Gang of Seven’s majority on council. Along with Mayor Guthrie, five other reform-minded councillors suddenly had the majority.
For reasons currently unknown, the council went into camera, i.e. private session.
Upon returning to the public meeting, the five members did not turn up. The Mayor cancelled the meeting.
So what happened? Why did these five councillors fail to attend a meeting of council, to which they were elected and sworn to uphold the city’s operational bylaws governing procedure of the people’s business?
There is no apparent reason for this unprescedented action.
They just quit their responsibilities.
Let’s name them. They were elected to represent the people in their individual wards. Do you think those electors would realize that their taxes would increase by 11.62 per cent in just one year? Did they realize that their representatives would vote for these increases?
Included in this group profile is Ward 2 councillor, James Gordon one of the walk-outs. He voted to increase property taxes in the 2015 and 2016 budgets; he also voted to spend $14 million to widen Speedvale Avenue from Woolwich to Manhattan Circle. It was strongly opposed by citizens.
In Ward three, councillor June Hofland won by just five votes and was not at the boycott incident.
Boycott walk-out, Ward three councillor Phil Allt, is another supporter of the tax increases and it is apparent that his ambition is to join the NDP caucus in Queen’s Park.
Walk out parparticpant Ward four councillor Mike Salisbury also supported the tax increases. He also has little understanding of the city’s finances and believes that if you don’t spend it in one year, you can spend it in the next year.
Ward Five councillor Leanne Piper is a doctrinaire Farbridge supporter. She also voted for the tax increases. The mystery surrounding her performance is the real cost of the Guelph Police headquarters renovations. The contract deadline was December 9 and there is no announcement of the cost of this major project. Hello!
Ward five councillor Cathy Downer was also a member of the boycotting Gang of Seven. She also voted for the 2015 and 2016 budget increases and spending $267,000 on the open government project that is being run by Farbridge supporter, Andy Best.
Ward Six Karl Wettstein did not attend the bocotted meeting. Regardless, he voted to raise property taxes and user fees.
It’s now clear that this Gang of Seven is determined to obstruct any attempt to reform the city’s administration.
This action only illustrates the blind stupidity of this group in not realizing their responsibility to reflect the majority of the people’s wishes for change.
So, when the chips are on the line, they walk out.
Call them, tell them to get back to work and do what they were elected to do.
Conversely, if they can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
If they continue to thumb their noses at the city and the people, then dock their pay, cancel their perks and inform them in writing of their responsibilities.