By Gerry Barker
October 10, 2019
When bad stuff hits the fan, it’s time to pull the plug.
That’s what our Mayor Cam Guthrie did Monday night during a council meeting. He said he was sick and tired of the ‘continuing narrative’ of his administration’s operations and citizens’ concerns of ‘demising democracy’ in Guelph.
One report said the mayor ‘bristled’ over his description of the ‘continuing narrative’ that he sees as criticism of his administration. Now this is a Mayor who is known for easily becoming angry over something he didn’t like. In his case ‘bristling’ is an understatement.
I know from personal experience dealing with the man.
And guelphspeaks has been a constant critic of the mayor and his council so I presume we are included in the bad stuff hitting the fan.
The subject of the meeting concerned public access to the 20 public advisory committees appointed by council. Leading that delegation was civic activist, Susan Watson. I generally haven’t agreed with Ms. Watson over the years but she is right in asking council to allow public access to the public advisory committees.
Guelphspeaks.ca has been complaining since 2013 about the use of closed-session council meetings that deny the right of the public to be informed and able to express opinions in the public’s interest.
I know that when I requested a copy of the closed-session minutes of that December 10, 2015, regarding salary increases for three senior staff managers. The request was denied four months later.
I filed the request in January 2016. I was tipped off what had happened at that December 10 meeting. I was also told that council passed a bylaw, also in closed-session, that indemnified any employee and elected official who were facing a legal procedure brought by a citizen or corporation. The bylaw protected that group from legal action by the city paying their legal expenses.
I bring up the case of former Chief Building Inspector Bruce Poole who was fired because he dared to challenge the administration because some 50 city-owned building projects did not obtain building permits as required by law.
In this case, the city was his employer but did not pay his legal expenses when he sued for $1 million for wrongful dismissal. He won his case when the city Information Technology department bungled a request from Mr. Poole’s lawyer for documents pertaining to his dismissal. Instead, some 50,000 private emails were sent to the lawyer. The city settled the case withholding details of the settlement.
Was this a case of a double standard? I believe today that December meeting information was in the public interest and was co erred up.
When the 2015 Sunshine List was published in March 2016, I compared the 2014 salaries of the senior city staff with the 2015 List and it confirmed my early information that it was accurate. I proceeded to report the information, focusing on the responsibilities of the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Amorosi.
Why him? It was because he was responsible for the Finances of the City and Human Resources. He also oversaw three other departments. If Mr. Amorosi was not involved in the decision, who was?
Instead, as a result of my reporting, he sued me for $500,000 alleging defamation. Slightly more that two months after filing the lawsuit, Mr. Amorosi was fired for cause. The sick joke was that despite his alleged incompetence, his legal expenses are still being paid by the city. That includes my wife and I.
So, when Cam Guthrie says he is sick and tired of the continuing narrative of a diminished democracy, he should consider that he was Mayor when the corporation, with its deep pockets, supported Amorosi’s lawsuit brought November 16, 2016. He was fired February 9, 2017.
This is a mayor who agreed to support Mr. Amorosi when his former Dec. 10 colleague, Chief Administrative Officer, Derrick Thomson, who said the city would continue to pay his legal expenses, fired him. That has been the case for the past two years and seven months and counting.
Sick joke number two: Amorosi testified that he agreed to leave. Even the motion judge punctured that balloon stating that three major media outlets described his dismissal as being fired.
This is a case of corporate corruption by an elected council led by a mayor who did not like what I wrote or me personally. Regardless, the council had to agree to support Amorosi except that the legal reason to do so using the indemnification byway to justify their decision.
They twisted the bylaw’s intent backwards. I did not take legal action against Amorosi, because I was forced to defend myself as the defendant.
I am not giving up because I can’t. This case is before the courts and I must pay my legal bills untold a resolution is reached.
This is not just about me. It is the ability of the City of Guelph to use public money to suppress any criticism by a citizen using the public’s money to enforce its power.
Gerry Barker is a Guelph resident and retired journalist. His 13 years writing and blogging of the City of Guelph administrations frequently exposes reports and commentary of the lack of open government, accountability and transparency.