Monthly Archives: January 2017

Running a city is easy, just don’t tell the citizens what’s going on

By Gerry Barker

January 30, 2017

We live in a liquid society in which change is constant, unsuspected and starkly inconsistent.

In the past ten years, our city has experienced this. A minority of citizens and their elected representatives has dominated our lives with their visions imposing change in which the vast majority of citizens do not agree.

People are always on the move; they sell and leave, people move here to obtain cheaper housing only to discover their costs are too high. People die, babies are born and businesses come and go. It’s a fluid condition that is constant.

Briefly, here are some of those policies that have failed not only operationally, but with multi-million dollar losses of public funding. The Community Energy Initiative (CEI) is currently holding the record for wasted time and resources. So far, losses by Guelph Municipal Holding Inc. (GMHI), total more than $26 million and is still increasing daily. It was founded and chaired by former mayor Karen Farbridge who created GMHI under the guise of managing city-owned properties including Guelph Hydro.

Keep in mind the taxpayers of Guelph are still responsible for GMHI’s finances.

Let’s just stop there for a moment. Guelph Hydro has an estimated book value of $170 million. Its monthly cash flow from more than 55,000 customers is estimated to be more that $13 million. Of that, Hydro must pay for the power it distributes, staff and overhead.

A few years ago, the former mayor, a member of the Guelph Hydro board of directors, attempted to convince council to merge with Hamilton and St. Catharnies distribution systems. It was one decision her council did not support.

Now Hydro is asking citizens to indicate preferences for selling or keeping the utility. It could be a prelude to selling the utility and using the money to bolster city finances. Wonder if GMHI is transferring that $1.5 million annual dividend to the city’s coffers?

The GMHI effect on city finances looks like, and smells like a gigantic Ponzi scheme in which the shareholders, that’s you and me, are repaid with our own money.

As chair of GMHI and a member of the Hydro board, Ms. Farbridge, with the support of four members of her council serving on the board, transferred the assets of Guelph Hydro to GMHI. Over four years it paid the city $9 million in “dividends.”

It is important to note that the Guelph Hydro Board does not hold public meetings. So the details of transferring Guelph Hydro are not known.

Then Guelph Hydro loaned $65 million to GMHI. When asked, CEO Pankaj Sardana said the money came from investors and did not identify Guelph Hydro or Guelph Hydro Electric Services subsidiary as the contributor. In 2015, that loan appeared on the city’s Financial Information Report as an “impaired asset” valued at $69 million.

Mr. Sardana and former CAO Ann Pappert reported to council May16, 2016 that GMHI

had no financial ability to even pay the interest on the loan. This is a liability, not an asset. It will never be repaid to Guelph Hydro because of the GMHI financial collapse in 2015.

With both Ms. Farbridge and her CAO Ann Pappert gone, there are only two members remaining of the GMHI board who served for four years. Neither Coun. June Hofland or Coun. Karl Wettstein is talking about their participation.

Mr. Sardana said the business plan was flawed and stated that the CEI project, the two district energy nodes (pumps) built in the Sleeman Centre and the Hanlon Business Park, have failed to meet contracted targets and performance. Most of the $8.7 million cost of these pumps has been written off or down.

But no one on Council or the staff is talking about the $65 million loan to GMHI.

All this happened behind closed doors with no public participation or information.

Ms. Farbridge set up a system of conducting council business in closed session. She did the same thing chairing the GMHI board.

Today, little has changed. Mayor Cam Guthrie has a dilemma. He is trying to maintain his base that includes former Farbridge supporters. He talks about reducing overhead but turns around and votes to hire 13 additional employees and level a two per cent property tax levy described as replacing the infrastrcuture. Except half isgoing to “City Buildings.”

He could have said: No.

The evidence shows that her eight years in office was a disaster of the former mayor’s own making as she attempted to change the city regardless of what the people favoured or cared about. Millions were spent and misspent on her agenda.

But her councils were unable to build a new city hall without going over budget by $23 million; could not install public washrooms downtown to meet the needs of visitors and folks out for the evening. In 19 years, her council did not build a new downtown library but spent $5 million for three lots facing on Wyndham Street that are now used for parking cars.

Along comes the planned Wilson Street Parking garage in which there is a pedestrian bridge between the Garage and City Hall. Question? Is this for the use of the public or to serve the staff working in City Hall? And whatever happened to that Canada Revenue charge when the city was offering free parking to its employees but not charging it as a taxable benefit?

It’s time for a new deal

We must work to encourage independent candidates to run in every ward seat. People with common sense who can establish a fresh responsible direction for our city, have business experience and who understand a balance sheet.

They should run on cutting the operational overhead, shutting down those closed session meetings, emphasizing accountability and open government. Past management practices have contributed to the drain of our reserves to balance the books and pay for ten years of mistakes.

We need new ideas, new direction and appeal to the younger demographic who will inherit the future by dealing upfront with the mistakes of the past.

These closed session meetings have to stop. Only those authorized session meetings concerning employee relations (not salary negotiation), public contracts and labour union negotiations.

From personal experience, I asked the city clerk, November 7, to request that the city appointed closed session investigator to open council’s closed session meeting Dec. 10 2015. This was the meeting that approved the $98,202 increases to three top staff executives.

I’m still waiting.

 

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A tale of two cities: Why Guelph’s policies will never overcome its $250 million infrastructure deficit

By Gerry Barker

January 27, 2017

Thanks to an observant reader, I have received an expert analysis from a U.S-based organization called Strong Towns (http://www.strongtowns.org).

The comparison of Lafayette, LA, population 125,000 and the City of Guelph, population 121,000 are strikingly similar revealing the real reason both cities have no money.

Both cities have the problem of repairing and replacing aged infrastructures costing billions. Guelph has one advantage over Lafayette in that the median home price is $300,000 that is double that of Lafayette. Similarly, the median household income for the city is $41,000. The median property taxes there are $1,500.

The Lafayette report states that there is barely enough revenue to spend on infrastructure needs, thereby the city is barely treading water on the issue.

But let’s start with how Lafayette showed the real problem. The report authors with the assistance of the city staff determined that within ten years it would cost $32 billion to replace the city infrastructure. Then by adding up the entire tax base for that period, it revealed that only $16 billion would be received.

The report states: “It’s obvious to me why this is fatal, but for those of you for whom it is less clear, let me elaborate.

“The median house in Lafayette costs roughly $150,000. A family living in this house would currently pay about $1,500 per year in taxes to the local government of which 10%, approximately $150, goes to maintenance of infrastructure (more is paid to the schools and regional government). A fraction of that $150 – it varies by year – is spent on actual pavement.

“To maintain just the roads and drainage systems that have already been built, the family in that median house would need to have their taxes increase by $3,300 per year. That assumes no new roads are built and existing roadways are not widened or substantively improved. That is $3,300 in additional local taxes just to tread water.

“Using ratios we’ve experienced from other communities, it is likely that the total infrastructure revenue gap for that median home is closer to $8,000 per year.”

That does not include underground utilities – sewer and water – or major facilities such as treatment plants, water towers and public buildings. Using ratios we’ve experienced from other communities, it is likely that the total infrastructure revenue gap for that median home is closer to $8,000 per year.

Make the situation worse, jack up taxes

After ten years of neglect of needed infrastructure repair and replacement, Guelph’s current city administration recently recommended a special, five-year tax levy of 1 per cent added to property taxes.

Unfortunately, city council decided otherwise and doubled the levy with half going toward “City Buildings.” It was never explained how that money would be used.

All they accomplished was to build another slush fund for use in the 2018 election year. That’s an estimated revenue stream of $5,600,000 over the two budget years, by the October 2018 civic election.

It’s still light years away from addressing the problem that has resulted in neglect of the most important element that makes the city work.

Instead, the previous administration wasted more than $50 millions on mismanagement, (Urbacon $23 million, GMHI $26 million and counting), it is a personal agenda of extreme social engineering that has left a legacy that will take years to over come.

But the council‘s decision to continue spending reminds us of ”One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest.” We are the nest and getting the bird. The administration cannot continue to ask citizens, owners, renters, businesses, and the poor, seniors on fixed incomes, to support an agenda that has problems in which there are solutions. What is required is recognition of the situation and the political will to ameliorate the problems.

Predicaments have solvable outcomes; make no mistake that or the past ten years we have been faced with dire outcomes.

It has to start somewhere and most people have lost confidence in this council and administration.

The long road back to rebuilding a city in an organized fashion that serves all the people and not just the minority who presently control the agenda. It requires a new council that is prepared to repair the multi-million losses of taxpayer money sensibly with a strong rebuke of the policies that are still financially choking our city.

How do you wipe out misguided spending of more than $1 million? Oh! The majority of council will deny this as if it has never happened. For the past ten years the millions in city reserves have been used to cover-up operating and capital spending. The city’s own audited statement as expressed by Coun. Leanne Piper six years ago, stated there was $77 million in reserves. Today, that figure has dropped to around $11 million.

Guelph’s problems of financing the growing infrastructure deficit are not unique across our continent.

Guelph, however has built itself into a huge financial dilemma.

It is one that will not go away and only increases in both costs and a dwindling ability to serve the citizens.

The empirical financial management of the past ten years only pursues an agenda that was bungled. Those millions of misspent funds will never return.

Our city administration, council and senior staff has just laid a financial responsibility on future generations.

The sad part is not even they are capable or courageous enough to take the necessary steps to solve this growing problem

When you have a growing deficit in the 200-year old infrastructure and use a tax levy as a band-aid, you know we have a serious problem.

But council went ahead and hired 13 new employees and tucked in $5,000 in the budget to promote a visiting band.

These are just some of the real reasons why our city has no money to build a Wilson Street Parking garage, a new downtown Library or a South End recreation Centre.

The tale of two cities in different countries that share the same problems points to similarities and the lack of political will. Now, there will be criticism of the comparison. Our infrastructure does not compared to Lafayette. We are in a four seasons climate area while Louisiana in the sub tropics. It makes no difference because the infrastructure needs in the South are more vulnerable to climate stresses such as tornados, hurricanes, flooding and excessive rainfall.

So let’s not use that comparison. They still have to fix the roads, storm water drainage, potable water supply and wastewater treatment, waste, including recycling and solid water processing, first responder financing, schools, and security.

Scale has little to do with it. Our problem is our costs, for ten years, are way too high compared to similar sized communities in our jurisdictional area.

Nothing will change as long as we have a majority bloc on council who fails to understand the real problems and persist in defending the mistakes of the past.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves.

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The potential Trump effect on Guelph and the Canadian auto industry

Bt Gerry Barker

January 23, 2017

The new U.S. President Donald Trump, promised his supporters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin that he would bring back the jobs that have left the country.

Of his dark threats to a number of established issues, not the least of which was trade, border tariffs, make America first and great again, ad nauseum.

He made promises he will not be able to keep because he insulted the very people he will need to carry out his agenda, the members of the U.S. Congress. They, for the most parti sat in stoney silence as he threatened to get rid of the politicians that looked after themselves but turned their backs on the people.

“Friday,”  he roared, “mark this the first day of returning the power back to the people.”

He went on out to say that America will come first, including renegotiating free trade deals with countries around the world including Canada. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 30 years, has resulted in the world’s largest trading partnership. America is our biggest customer and we are their biggest customer.

So why is Trump threatening NAFTA? It’s because he is placating the voters who elected him in the so-called rustbelt states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. These four states delivered his presidency, sufficient votes in the peculiar and antiquated Electoral College system used to elect the president. Even though his opponent, Hillary Clinton, won more that 2.8 million more popular votes across the nation than Trump.

While it’s interesting that Trump continues to rail against the Mexican border, still promising to build a wall that claims Mexico will pay for.

I can not recall in 18 months of his divisive broadsides of a very personal nature against not only his opponent but to members of his own party and more particularly minority groups and women.

It will be only a matter of time before Canada and more particularly Guelph, could be seriously affected if the Trump administration follows through and erects trade barriers.

In Ontario, there are more that 32,000 workers employed in the automotive sector of the province’s economy. In recent years the number of workers has declined as major automakers restructured due to major changes in technology.

The largest private employer in Guelph is Linamar that operates internationally but has 19 plants in Guelph, turning out transmissions, drive trains and a variety of parts most on which are shipped to U.S. assembly plans.

In 2008, Canada, both Federal and Provincial governments, supported President Obama’s plans to save the U.S/Canada auto industry. Ontario, for its part, invested $10 billion along with Canada and the U.S. This tripartite action resulted in General Motors and Chrysler, entering chapter 11 of the bankruptcy act, and the three governments funded the restructuring of both companies. Ford declined any financial aid.

Today, the NAFTA North American auto industry is healthy and profitable as are the Canadian auto parts manufacturers.

It may come of some surprise that Trump keeps talking about the jobs going to Mexico at the expense of U.S. workers, but doesn’t mention Canada. Ontario has a larger piece of the assembled-car business sold in the U.S. than NAFTA member Mexico, 27 per cent compared to 18 per cent,

I think this portends a threat to our Ontario auto manufacturing. Granted, it’s early in the game but Trump is determined to return jobs to his country by fair means or foul.

Many of those manufacturing jobs in the auto industry plants in the rustbelt are gone forever, not because of the free trade agreement but due to automation and the use of robots replacing people.

If Trump succeeds in placing tariffs on our borders, it will price our automotive industry out of business and add fodder to a full-blown trade war if he scraps NAFTA.

His judgment illustrates his glaring lack of understanding how his country and the role it plays in the global economy. Having never been elected to any level of government or served his country in any way, including military service, impairs his judgment. He was eligible for the draft during the Viet Nam war but received deferments.

So if Trump initiates his plan to install a 35 per cent tariff on all cars assembled outside the United States and landed at its borders, there will be a major trade war that could lead to a depression.

The last time that was tried was 1931 when President Herbert Hoover attempted to stop imports into the U.S. using excessive tariffs. The result was the Great Depression from which America did not recover until World War II.

Here is just one example how a 35 per cent tariff at the border for assembled vehicles could affect our Guelph economy.

The new Chrysler Pacifica SUV is manufactured in Windsor; this is the only plant to make these cars, most of which are shipped, tariff-free, across the border to supply U.S. dealers.

The Trump “America First” agenda would cripple Chrysler, make the Pacifica too expensive to sell in the U.S. and destroy the U.S./Canada Auto Pact that is part of NAFTA.

This isn’t going to happen right away but the threat of renegotiating NAFTA, (to which our Prime Minister has already agreed to) could have a devestating impact on our economy.

 

 

 

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Another Farbridge hangover: Tell the truth about the Guelph Municipal Holdings fiasco

By Gerry Barker

January 12, 2017

Mayor Guthrie made a statement last week reporting the city had avoided spending some $60 million to complete the two District Energy Nodes in the Hanlon Creek Business Park and the Sleeman centre.

This was part of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI) plan to supply energy to the city instead of receiving electricity from the Provincial power grid, as is the case today.

The underlying plans that the previous mayor made as chairperson of GMHI was supported by four members of council serving on her board. This board conducted all its meetings, in closed sessions, thereby eliminating any public participation in the process.

The plans were based on the Community Energy Initiative (CEI) that was planned and executed by the Farbridge administration starting in 2007 when she was elected mayor.

The only thing that stopped the plans was the defeat of Ms. Farbridge in the 2014 civic election. But terrible planning, combined with absorbing the city-owned Guelph Hydro into GMHI over a four-year period, set the stage for a financial melt down.

But some of the credit goes to Mayor Cam Guthrie for taking over GMHI and commencing a post mortem on the multi-million dollar mistake, fostered by the previous mayor and her administration. Here’s his latest announcement:

  1. The original contractual obligations to spend $60 million dollars on furthering these two district energy nodes have now been avoided.
  1. The security deposits for both nodes totaling $612k has been returned with no penalties.
  1. The land in which Envida was to build a district energy plant has also been re-negotiated allowing the city to sell most of it to a private developer. This resulted in no losses on the sale of this parcel of land and revenue to the city of approximately $1.3 million dollars.

Let’s clarify a couple of important details.

GMHI CEO and CFO Pankaj Sardana told council that $60 million back in May 2016 was needed to make the installed District Energy Nodes viable. That was not money spent and will not be spent.

In point two, the Mayor has persuaded the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), a Crown Corporation, to return contract security deposits of $619,000 that would guarantee 10 megawatts of power from each Node per year. Neither Node delivered any power.

The question is, what was the source of those deposits, the City? GMHI? Guelph Hydro? More important where is the refund going?

In Point Three, it is revealed that the former mayor had even bigger plans. GMHI secured two parcels of land in order to build two Natural Gas-fired generation plants, one in the Hanlon Park and the other downtown. Part of the proposed Hanlon gas plant site has been sold to a developer for $1.3 million. Was this property offered by tender as required under the Ontario Municipal Act?

How does this square with the admission, May 16, 2016 by former CAO Ann Pappert and GMHI CEO and CFO Pankaj Sardana that GMHI had lost $26,637,244? That’s tne number they both signed off on May 16 at a meeting of Council representing the shareholders of GMHI. Ms. Pappert resigned 10 days later.

The big picture of a deal gone bad, really bad

First, for the average person this is very difficult to unravel and digest what happened, how much has it cost and who was responsible?

Let’s start with the write-offs. The capital cost of the Hanlon District Energy Node of $5.1 million will be written off. With only two customers, it loses a reported $55,000 every year. The Sleeman Centre Node cost was $6.1 million with $3.6 million being written down.

Mr. Sardana told the May 16 meeting of council that GMHI had some $18 million in tax losses. Those losses are never going to be realized because the money-losing GMHI is financially defunct. Translation, they are losses, period.

That totals losses of capital of $8.7 million. So far, that closely equals the amount it took to settle with Urbacon Buildings Group in 2014. Former Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert told the public that the settlement would not affect property taxes. Her administration raided three unrelated reserve funds for $5.7 million to pay the settlement of which little has been paid back.

The Guelph Tribune fails to report the cost of the underground thermal energy system connected to two Tricar condominium buildings, the RiverRun Theatres and the Sleeman Centre. Instead, we are told that the thermal system, powered by the Sleeman Centre District Energy Node will continue to supply hot and cold water for heating and cooling.

Finally, there is that $65 million borrowed from Guelph Hydro by GMHI. In his May report, Mr. Sardana said neither GMHI nor Envida Community Energy having any financial resources to even pay the interest on the loan.

In the 2015 Financial Information Report, the city reported that there was an impaired asset outstanding of $69 million. The reason the amount had increased was because there was no money in GMHI to pay the interest. Presumably, there are no hard assets underlying this $69 million because GMHI is essentially bankrupt.

So the city takes on this debt, lists it on its book as an asset. As the city has folded Guelph Hydro into its financial orbit, it’s only a matter of time before the “impaired” asset becomes a liability and will have to be written off,

Because of the operational secrecy employed by GMHI over the four years, there are still many questions that need answers. The ultimate hypocrisy employed by GMHI was sending a so-called dividend to the city each year to justify its existence. It was just a return of our money while GMHI in its entire history never made a dime.

I don’t know how you feel about this, but the prospect of writing off some $99 million is one of the main reasons that the administration has no money for needed capital projects such as a new Downtown Library, Wilson Street Parking garage, and the South End Recreation Centre.

Yet this council approved converting $700,000 slated for new parking meters to paying some $650,000 toward initial planning of the South End Recreation Centre. Council was told that initial planning would ultimately cost $3.5 million. It didn’t matter, the majority voted for it anyway.

This was a decision to delay installing new downtown meters for another two years thereby failing to start creating revenue.

Finally, this council passed a motion to hire 13 new employees at an annual cost of more than $1 million. That friends, is increasing overhead when there is no courage among most councillors to reduce the high cost of staff.

Since Mayor Guthrie took office there have been more than 45 additional employees added to the staff.

Those are some of the reasons why our city is in a financial mess and cannot afford to even come close to its nine-year capital-spending plan.

The irony is that Guelph resident, Pat Fung, CA, CPA wrote an excellent analysis of the city’s financial management based on four years of the city’s own audited financial reports plus two year’s of reports by external consultants BMA.

Yet in September, Mayor Guthrie outlines what needs to be done to create the 2017 budget. His remarks were right out of the Fung recommendations. He also told a town hall meeting that the greatest cost to the city was the staff

But that’s not what the 2017 budget was all about.

 

 

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When the administration uses gullibility to thwart culpability

By Gerry Barker

January 9, 2017

I still wonder why and how those three senior managers got away with $98,202 in increases for 2015.

It was done in secret, that’s closed session, with council members attending December 10, 2015.

The three were then Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAO’s), Derrick Thomson and Mark Amorosi.

What followed was something out of a cheap pulp fiction novel.

Allow me to recap because the pieces are starting to fit together.

Prior to that Dec. 10 meeting, the Mayor had steadfastly supported Ms. Pappert. He sent out an email to an unknown number of citizens saying that I did not know what I was talking about and to ignore me. That was in January 2015.

In early spring 2015, the Mayor said that Ms. Pappert could not defend herself.

Then he threatened a citizen, Rena Akerman, with legal action because she emailed the record of Ms. Pappert’s performance as CAO over five years to “concerned citizens.” That legal threat disappeared quickly.

The Mayor continued supporting the CAO who, in five years, failed to balance the city books because she overspent her own budget. She authorized using money from reserve funds to ensure the City books were balanced when the Financial Information Report was filed with the province, as required by law.

She also served as Chief Executive Officer of the failed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc for four years.

In 2010, the City reported reserves of $77 million. In 2015 that total was just $10 million.

The attitude at the top of the staff was they could use the reserves for any purpose they chose. The greatest was the $5.7 million they took from three unrelated reserve funds to settle the Lawsuit won by Urbacon Buildings Group Inc in August 2014.

Because there have been no details of that Dec. 10 meeting revealed, City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien, says closed session meetings of council are “not part of the public record.”

But, don’t you believe that awarding such huge increases, of our money is part of the public record and the right of the people to know?

An educated guess is that Ms. Pappert was already on a job search and planned to leave the city. She resigned May 26, 2016. In September, she revealed she had been appointed an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Culture, Tourism and Sport Ministry.

But this is only the beginning of the “Goodbye Ann” caper

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 was never revealed because of the ridiculous closed-session rules.

The CAO was not present at the October 13 meeting. How about this for irony? On December 9, 2015, 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!

The truth about that $37,591 Pappert increase for 2015

Last August, Councillor Cathy Downer asked the Human Resources Department to break down the $37,591 received by Ms. Pappert for 2015 and approved in closed session by council Dec. 10.

Why would Ms. Downer bring this up months after Pappert left?

The reason was the amount of negative public reaction to Mr. Pappert’s generous increase when the Provincial Sunshine List revealed her total remuneration of $263,748 for 2015; four months after the increases were awarded in closed session Dec. 10.

Ms. Pappert resigned shortly following the release of her 2015 increase.

The HR staffer told Ms. Downer that Pappert only received a two percent base salary increase for 2015. But then went on to say she received a retroactive performance bonus going back to 2013 of some $18,000. Plus she received more than $18,000 of unused accumulated vacation pay.

A payout of unused vacation time was a clue the CAO was leaving

Now that vacation payout is the clue that council knew she was leaving Dec. 10. One little problem is the managerial agreement states that managers can only withdraw one week a year in unused vacation. Receiving three weeks in one year accommodated her.

This is exemplified by CAO Derrick Thomson’s new contract in which he is entitled to six weeks paid vacation plus another week in lieu of overtime. Overtime? Since when does the CAO of a $500 million corporation charge overtime? Particularly when the CAO is being paid $239,600 a year.

That wrinkle is the CAO’s workdays for the year total 260 days. Now deduct 49 days for paid vacation and another 12 days for statutory holidays and the extra days off when the city hall is closed, estimate 10 days (Christmas and New Years are recent examples). Accordingly, Mr. Thomson is on the job as CAO for 201 days a year being paid $1,192 per day. (239,600/201).

It’s difficult to blame Mr. Thomson because most members of council were complicit in the whole Pappert-leaving episode and also approving large amounts to the two remaining DCAO’s.

I believe Mr. Thomson should be given a chance to sanitize the administration he inherited and return the city to affordable financial stability and accountability.

On November 9th, 2016, I requested City Clerk Stephen O’Brien to ask the Closed Session Investigator (CSI) to unseal the minutes of that Dec. 10th meeting, if they even exist seeing they are not part of the public record. As of today’s date, that request has not been fulfilled in two months. I have never heard from the city’s hired consultant, CSI, Amberlea Gravel of London, Ontario. Mr. O’Brien acknowledged forwarding the pertinent documents to the CSI.

This has mushroomed into a serious abuse of the public trust. We the public have the right to know what we are paying our staff. That’s why CAO Thomson said he would publish details of his contract, and he has.

It’s obvious there is sensitivity in the Guthrie administration about this blatant cover-up by his council and senior staff. This is why it’s important for citizens to know the details of that closed session meeting of council December 10, 2015.

The ludicrous claim that Ms. Pappert only received a two per cent base salary increase almost nine months after the Dec. 10th meeting, has only fuelled the public’s demand for an explanation, one to which they are entitled.

The announcement by CAO Thomson that he would reveal his contract details was another step to shut down the demand for the minutes of that Dec. 10 meeting. The public wanted details of the rationale for those increases and who voted to support it.

I believe Mayor Guthrie should order the details of the meeting be available to the public. This is a black eye on Guelph that needs clarity.

It also discourages trust in the administration and future development of the city.

The council majority preys on the gullibity of the people who pay the bills. It is driven by political practices that allowed the core of council to continue the social engineering policies of the previous administration and its multi-million dollar failures.

The overt denial to reveal the circumstances surrounding the $98,202 increases paid to the top three senior managers borders on corruption. It is a miscarriage of fiduciary responsibility each councillor has sworn to uphold.

Soon their culpability will be tested and their arrogance exposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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