By Gerry Barker
May 9, 2016
Breaking News: See details at the end of this post
It is now evident that there was a cover-up in November 2014 when CAO Ann Pappert and three executive directors were part of a reorganization of the senior management structure of the City of Guelph.
It was hatched behind closed doors by the defeated administration in its last days in office and approved before December 1, 2014, when Mayor Guthrie’s administration opened shop.
CAO Pappert announced that the executive director system of senior management would be replaced with three new Deputy Chief Administration officers, Mark Amorosi, Al Horsman and Derrick Thomson. Each was given a $6,000 salary increase.
Now this major reorganization had to be approved by council, the one that the voters had defeated just weeks before. Sitting on that council in November was Coun. Cam Guthrie now Mayor-elect Guthrie.
It is odd that in view of his position as chairman of the audit committee in the Farbridge administration, that he did not demand what was the urgency to make these changes even before his new administration took control December 1st? He was silent on the subject.
CAO Pappert said the planning for the reorganization started before the civic election was held. Why, one might ask? Because it was the beginning of a plan to increase the salaries of four senior managers, once the reorganization plan was adopted by the outgoing Farbridge administration.
It had to be done before December 1st, when the Guthrie administration took over.
Did the incoming Mayor know and vote for the senior management reorganization? As a member of the council he helped defeat, it appears logical that he was aware and voted for the change before he officially took office. We’ll probably never know the truth because of the Farbridge closed-session management system.
The bottom line is that major management change had to be approved by council before Mayor elect Guthrie took office.
The five executive director staff positions were replaced. Leaving the city was Environmental Services chief, Janet Laird who retired. Operations director Derek McCaughan left with no explanation offered to the public. New DCAO Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman, was shifted to Environmental Services, engineering and planning; DCAO Human Resources director Mark Amorosi, Corporate Services, added responsibility of all finances and personnel; DCAO Derrick Thomson took over Operations.
This is what the new mayor inherited and he accepted it without a whimper.
That is the first part of the plot. In February 2015, the blog guelphspeaks.ca revealed that secret talks were being held with CAO Pappert concerning her contract.
Stage One, the Mayor attacks the editor of GuelphSpeaks
The Mayor went ballistic and the witch-hunt was on to find out who leaked it because there were closed-session discussions by members of council. FYI, this is a hangover from the Farbridge administration that locked up closed-session discussions. There was the threat of discipline by the Integrity Commissioner if councillors leaked details of closed-door discussions.
It is a practice that suffocates public interest, opening the door to unbridled corruption, preventing openness and transparency of government.
The practice continues to this day despite the Open and Transparent Initiative Plan that is a Farbridge initiated head fake in order to to maintain secrecy of operations. It was all about perception not actuality.
Did I mention that so far it has cost more than $856,000, including $500,000 to a Toronto Consultant to develop the plan. Plus $92,000 to Farbridge supporter, Andy Best, hired last June by the city to be General Manager of the Open and Transparent Initiative Plan. Add in $264,000 in the 2016 budget to fund the plan. This has to be the sickest joke in the history of city governance.
Mayor Guthrie was so angry over the so-called leak that he sent out an email to an undisclosed group of recipients. Here is a copy of this email from Guthrie exactly as published. It is not known who the recipients were.
From the email entitled – Confidential – Not for blogging
I am writing to you all regarding our first interaction as this council with the writer of the Guelph Speaks blog, Gerry Barker.
The post in question is here: https://guelphspeaks.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/how-ann-pappert-has-transformed-from-a-puppet-to-a-dictator/#comments
Ann is our only employee. She cannot “stick up” for herself in public. Yet we can.
It is my advice that we shouldn’t contact or respond in any public way to this man or his post. When that has occurred in the past, it goes horribly sideways and only draws attention to what he writes. It gives him a spotlight and that’s the last thing anyone wants.
I am asking our HR department to look into this blog, and then to advise me of any action we can take as her employer, to protect her reputation. Preliminary advice from HR has been in agreement to mine, that we ignore.
I will not tolerate this whatsoever as mayor. These blogs distract us all and in-turn takes our collective focus off of helping this city.
I would be extremely upset if I found out any member of this council is in communication with a person who sole purpose is to belittle and disparage our CAO and our staff.
I will keep you informed of this issue and I’m willing to talk further in person about this if need be.
* * * *
Cam: is this a criticism?
Now that the details of the great salary cover-up outed 14 months later, why was Mayor Guthrie so concerned about the secret salary negotiations with the CAO and her DCAO’s not revealed? Think about it. Nobody outside that closed-session meeting awarding the increases knew what was going on, or worse, what happened.
Imagine if those huge salary increases had been made public before the 2015 budget was struck in March? The action of the Mayor and those councillors who approved the increases is a dereliction of their sworn duty to protect and maintain their fiduciary responsibilities. This was a large-scale deception that not one elected member of council or staff broke the code of silence since February 2015.
It was the provincial Sunshine List of those public employees earning more than $100,000, published 14 months later, that the increases were revealed. By that time, the CAO and DCAO’s had received the money.
Yet not one peep from any elected official about this including the mayor, who now describes himself as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation of the City of Guelph and Chairman of the board of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.
It only goes to show, once again, that getting elected is one thing, managing your fiduciary responsibilities in a manner that represents the people who elected you, is quite another.
Stage Two, Mayor Guthrie goes berserk, again
Recently, Guelph citizen, Rena Akerman, circulated a detailed critical analysis of the five-year performance of CAO Ann Pappert to Guelph citizens. (Details may be viewed in the guelphspeaks.ca archives.)
Once again, Mayor Guthrie responded sending her a letter threatening legal action and to immediately apologize to Ms. Pappert. Ms. Akerman replied that she would not and stood by her analysis.
Between the response to the Akerman email and guelphspeaks.ca post, repeating her Pappert performance data, many thousands of residents have read the content. The email and GS post combined have gone viral.
At this point in your term Mayor Guthrie, most people rate you as a D: Deaf, Dumb and Deceptive. Deaf to the legitimate concerns of the people; Dumb to threaten citizens who object to your administion and its shaky record; Deceptive in failing to provide an open and transparent administration. Informing people is part of the job and that includes timely senior staff salary details.
The Orange Crush Seven are always addressing the issue of Integrity. I doubt few understand the word let alone pronounce it. If they did, they would end their obstructive tactics that have created the most dysfunctional council in recent memory.
The Mayor seems immune to standing up to the Orange Crush council majority that has made him look incompetent, unsure and afraid. That’s exactly what the Orange Crush supporters are salivating over. Why doesn’t he see it?
It is astonishing that he takes the side of the senior management staff and disparages citizens who object to the actions of his administration.
There are some on city council that are using the office to which they have been elected, as a stepping stone to greater government positions. These councillors have already abandoned their constituents by using bloc-voting to achieve personal goals and the misguided agenda of a lost administration.
Is Mayor Guthrie beyond redemption? Best guess is probably. But some anger management counselling might help.
Mayor Guthrie is too dependent on a senior management staff appointed by his predecessor to function as the elected leader of the city.
Now that the salary increases are public, he fails to see the effect of deliberate deception or cover-up in which he participated as Mayor of Guelph and allowed it to occur.
The people get it. It might be a good idea to apologize, Mayor Guthrie for allowing this to occur.
A final financial note.
Since DCAO Mark Amorosi took over the financial management of the city, the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Al Horsman, was moved to Environmental Services and left the city last August for the position of CAO of Sault Ste Marie. Two Amorosi hires to be general manager of Finance and Treasurer have left the city. Janice Sheehy the latest holder of the office left in March to a job with Peel Region. Guelph has been without a CFO since November 2014.
What does this say about competent financial management?
Breaking News! Latest development on the CAO salary increase
It was revealed today the details of two, closed-session meetings of city council to discuss the contract of Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert.
According to the official agenda of the October 13. 2015, a closed-session meeting reviewed the performance of the CAO. The process went like this: Each member of council rated the performance of the CAO. The outside consultant received the councillor’s ratings and prepared a consolidated report.
The consultant reported that the aggregate score did not qualify the CAO for an annual salary raise because it was less than required.
Apparently, there was additional discussion by councilors that ranged from the boring to the ridiculous. These included that the CAO should be treated to an increase “out of respect” and “fairness” and “perhaps we were too tough on her.”
Disregarding the consultant’s advice, the majority of council voted to give her the $37,591 increase making her the highest paid CAO in the group of similar sized Ontario cities.
It is troubling that the identity of those councillors voting for the CAO salary increase is never revealed because of the ridiculous closed-session rules.
The CAO was not present at the October 13 meering. How about this for irony? On November 9, the meeting to determine the 2016 budget, during another closed-session before the regular meeting, the CAO was informed of her failing score but agreed to take the increase any way!
Question: Is this raise retroactive to January 2015? It now apparent that the CAO salary increase was not included in the 2015 budget, struck March 25, 2015. Is her increase part of the now approved 2016 budget?
With all this going on without the public’s knowledge, it represents a total display of a majority of council ignoring their own opinions and the consultant’s advice. Instead, emotion prevailed to award a record salary increase to the senior employee. A decision that they themselves, voting secretly, previously failed to approve an increase.
This is yet another example of the dysfunction of our elected council to make rational decisions reflecting the will of the people.
These closed-sessions must be arrested and only held under strict guidelines.
Right now the public interests are not being served.
But Ms. Pappert still took the money.
More Breaking News!
In yet another closed-session of council tonight May 9, the matter of correspondence regarding city staff will be reviewed. This follows the threat of legal action by Mayor Cam Guthrie against Rena Akerman for emailing a critique of the CAO’s five-year performance. Based on the individual assessments of the CAO’s job by councillors, it now appears, Ms. Akerman’s information was accurate.