By Gerry Barker
June 21, 2018
In a closed corporation, that masquerades as being open, transparent and accountable as the City of Guelph, is there the potential of corruption?
Municipal corruptions is usually the result of closed meetings, manipulation of the system for personal gain or just stealing public funds.
In the last 11 years the creep of covering up the public’s business through a system of closed-session meetings that are justified by certain bylaws of which 99 per cent of the citizens have no clue.
Well, why not?
It’s because the system allows bureaucratic jargon, simplistic explanations of complex problems, lying, lying by omission, holding closed-session meeting and manipulation of the message.
Successive Guelph’s governments have gradually choked off any sensitive or political public discussion by debating behind closed doors.
The professional staff is complicit in dumbing down the message.
Four senior staff members grabbed huge increases in 2015 with the approval of the mayor and city council. They approved this $98,202 bundle in closed session. And never told anyone.
The cover-up was blown when almost four months later the 2015 Provincial Sunshine List revealed the truth.
But you didn’t hear or read about it in the media.
Is it possible these increases passed without public knowledge should be investigate by police or a judicial inquiry?
Only guelphspeaks.ca took the trouble to compare the 2014 Sunshine figures with the 2015 report for these four senior staff recipients of public funds.
But it gets better.
Five months following the December 10 meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, gave her notice after some five years as Guelph’s CAO.
She stayed on the job until Derrick Thomson one of the four staff who received the secret increases, was repatriated following his earlier resignation and named CAO. Ms. Pappert left May 26, 2016
According to the 2016 Sunshine List, she received $263,000 for five months work. By comparison in 2014, she earned $219,000. These figures do not include taxable benefits
As editor and author of some of the blog posts critical of this cover-up I was sued by a DCAO. Expect more on this later.
Again, This information was only obtained from the 2016 Sunshine List. It has never been acknowledged by the city.
The Great Hydro giveaway
This is probably the greatest heist in the history of Guelph. Here’s where it we t wrong.
It was a dark and stormy night when the Strategies and Options committee appointed by council, in closed -session pulled the sale of Guelph Hydro off the table and commenced negotiations with Alectra Utilities to merge operations.
Early in October 2016, Mayor Guthrie announced an agreement in principle to merge Guelph Hydro with Alectra. The Mayor said the merger would make Guelph more adaptable to the many technical changes in delivering power to the 55,000 Hydro customers served by Guelph Hydro.
Here we go again. 90 per cent of all negotiations leading up to the agreement were held in closed-sessions. In fact we civilians didn’t even know when the meetings were held or where.
When was the last time you received a financial statement from the city?
December 13 2016, the city council approved the merger by a 10 to 3 vote.
The classic railroad job
What did citizens get out of this deal? First, they are to receive $18.5 million composed of Guelph Hydro’s cash stash. It’s our own money. Second, the city will receive an unknown annual dividend of 4.36 per cent of only 60 per cent of Alectra Utilities profits.
The brand Guelph Hydro will be gone once approved by the Ontario Energy Board and the title will be transferred to Alectra Utilities.
What’s the Guelph Hydro Corporate title worth in today’s market? First, there is $228 million in poles, wires, substations, equipment and Hydro headquarters. Throw in the goodwill, no debt, established profitability and the real value is estimated to be $300 million.
Our Mayor denies that this deal — if it can be described as that – is not a giveaway.
Is this another case of corruption when 10 councillors fail to understand their fiduciary responsibility and what they voted for?
The good news is that the OEB will probably not hear the merger details for between six and 12 months. My wife and I have been granted intervener status when the hearing will be held along other citizens.
Guess this means that the issue will be a topic of discussion during the upcoming civic election. Ya think!
Or the Ford government will throw out the Wynne plan to amalgamate the small to medium sized municipally owned electricity distribution systems.
Is there any doubt about who really could benefit from this merger?