By Gerry Barker
February 10 2017
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Today marked the end of the Farbridge administrative regime existing for the last ten years. Chief Administration officer (CAO), Derrick Thomson announced that Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO), Mark Amorosi, was no longer employed by the city.
Reaction was swift as the Internet lit up with comments from citizens supporting the departure.
As the editor of guelphspeaks.ca, involved in a lawsuit commenced by Mr. Amorosi, at this time, I will have no comment until the details of the dismissal become more relevant to the case.
While the CAO applauded the “valuable contributions that Mr. Amorosi contributed to the City of Guelph, there were many underlying concerns about the operations of the city by a DCAO who oversaw, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Special Project Management and Court Services.
That responsibility was the largest senior management responsibility of any of the three DCAO’s. They reported to CAO Derrick Thomson who announced the departure of Amorosi.
Enter the $1 million lawsuit by former Chief Building Inspector Bruce Poole, against the city for wrongful dismissal. His lawyer, during the examination for discovery, asked the city for emails concerning Mr. Poole’s firing. Instead the city downloaded the files from the server and hundreds of alleged confidential, unrelated emails were included. Most initiated by former Chief Administrative Officer, Al Horsman.
But here’s the problem. While Amorosi was responsible for the Information Technology department, headed by former city clerk, Blair Labelle, the drive sent to Bruce Poole’s lawyer contained a ton of alleged confidential information. It was an external thumbnail drive reported to contain 53,000 emails included in the information that was requested by Mr. Poole’s lawyer.
Tony Saxon, reporting in the online Guelph Today, published some details of the thumnail drive in a report last Friday morning. The public reaction was instant. By the afternoon CAO Thomson, apologized and requested the return of the offending drive.
But here is where the plot thickens. Five days later, the city fired Mr. Amorosi.
This is a veteran senior manager who had enormous responsibility for eight years.
In my opinion, this firing statement published by the city, did not trigger the dismissal. It was something else that created the immediate firing of a senior manager making $216,000 a year.
It may never be revealed what the real reason was because of the secretive manner in which the public is denied specifics of the how our city is managed. Or why voters rejected in 2008 the sale of Guelph Hydro. Yet the administration is now seriously considering selling or merging Guelph Hydro…the same thing.
Digging into it, the committee charged with examining the options of the future of Guelph Hydro, has heard from a consultant that today’s Hydro Electric Distribution (LDC) systems are outdated and losing value.
Why? Because more and more local power distribution systems are being overtaken by technology. He cited that people would have batteries in their basement to store unused power generated by rooftop power generated solar panels.
To interpret, he is saying that a homeowner will have to invest thousands to install the solar panels, then the storage batteries and the necessary control equipment.
When Tesla, the electric car company operated by Elon Musk, builds the world’s largest battery manufacturing facility, and along with dozens of other companies, they have been working to develop high-capacity batteries for cars.
To suggest that there is technology today that is reasonably priced is misguided and a disservice to citizens. Think about it. We have a perfectly working electric distribution system that derives power from a well-established source.
Why would citizens in Guelph agree to sell a perfectly well operating electric supply system, based on this specious information promising something that is non existent today? Why would they agree to lose control of their Hydro distribution system to be exposed to new charges from a new owner for a service they need?
I contend, that our Guelph Hydro system is doing the job intended since it has going back to Adam Beck and the Niagara Hydro generating systems.
Haven’t the citizens being exposed enough by the errant Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc? It has been an adventure imposing a District Community Energy system to almost bankrupt the city, losing some $96 million?
The case is clear. Our administrative overhead costs are way out of line. We can survive if the council realizes what is the only course of action to save the city financial problems.
Selling Guelph Hydro is a band aid. Managing our overhead, as outlined by Pat Fung, CA, CPA in his detailed analysis of city financial management, is the responsible way to reduce our costs and dependence on ever-increasing property taxes.
Today may be the first day to begin the recovery of common sense and reform of an administration that is ill. Is it ready to correct the mistakes of the past without selling a premier asset?
As a final note, I have disagreed with some of the decisions of Mayor Cam Guthrie in the past two years. But I must say, that he is on the brink of cleaning up the financial mess he inherited.