By Gerry Barker
February 3, 2020
Note: The salary figures used in this report are rounded down for ease of reading. Actual figures are available from the Province of Ontario Sunshine List website or the City of Guelph Finance department.
Today is the first of two parts about how our city council was complicit in attacking a resident for criticizing the administration for concealing, in closed-sessions the payments made to the three top executives. There is no argument that the data was concealed according to the city’s own published “Sunshine List, published in December each reporting year on its,website
We now know that the City’s Sunshine List since 2015 has never revealed the salary data of its top senior managers
They did it because they calculated that most citizens would never access their provincial Sunshine List published annually and containing the three management salary data.
That’s why, until a week ago, that guelphspeaks.ca revealed the $1,392,333 paid to two of those Dec.10, 2026 recipients. One was CAO AnnePappert who resigned May 26, 2016. The other was Derrick Thomson, who left the city in January 2016 and was rehired as CAO in June 2016 to replace Ms. Pappert.
Why Mr.Thomson who had left the city? Were there no candidates in Ontario who were qualified to apply fore a $259,000 job?
Why was Ms. Pappert in such a rush to get out of her job that paid her $263,000 for months work in 2016?
Thomson and the city agreed to “part ways” in February 2019. He was given a one-year contract extention of his $335,000, 2018 income, from the city as CAO.
So, why did he give that up? A year later, he was appointed CAO of a tiny municipality (pop. 9,000).
Now here’s the back-story
From 2015 to February 2017, the third recipient was Mark Amorosi. He sued Barker in November 2016 and was dismissed in February 9, 2017. At the time, his colleague, CAO Derrick Thomson told the public that Amorosi’s dismissal had nothing to do with the lawsuit charging Barker with defamation for telling the truth. In fact, it had a lot to do with the performance of those three senior managers.
This placed the city in an awkward situation. There was no place to hide for Thomson after making that undertaking on behalf of Amorosi who left the city without recourse. Later in a submission to Superior Court Justice, Cynthia Peterson, he stated that he “agreed to leave.”
Even the motion judge stated that three major media outlets described his departure as being “fired.”
This lawsuit has now entered its fourth year. The estimated cost of Amorosi’s lawsuit to the citizen’s is $100,000.
Barker’s legal cost are $88,000 to date. In four years his property taxes cost $30,000. It is impossible to guess what every taxpayer is contributing to this scandal. Until this dispute is cleared, we’re all in it together.
Oh! my there’s more
The city’s dilemma is that this has become a major political problem. It involves using a surrogate, a former employee, who, for four years made Barker pay for his criticism of the administration.
But here’s the rub. Not only is Barker paying to defend himself but also so are the taxpayers including Barker. This is all about political ego, deep pockets using public money and denying the rights of the public trust.
And it’s not going away.
I don’t know who supported this in 2015. However, in sworn testimony, Amorosi stated that CAO Ann Pappert, not city council, vetted and approved all city employee salaries including the senior managers. This claim was made under the special CAO Bylaw covering responsibilities. It appears to be a conflict of interest. Absent are the checks and balances,
It was an overt way to get rid of Barker, except nobody on council figured out the political fallout, and possible intervention in the form of a provincial inquiry.
There is a solution. The City of Guelph, the authors of this misguided support of a lawsuit by a former employee, refund Barker’s legal fees. Barker will take down the alleged offending 2016 posts that initiated this lawsuit.
Each day that goes by only makes a bad decision four years ago, worsen.
This is the story about a citizen. It is a David versus a corporate Goliath episode about the abuse of power by a city administration against a citizen who blew the whistle on a secret council meeting.
It was no ordinary meeting December 10, 2015. It secretly awarded $98,202 salary increases, bonuses and benefits to the three top managers of the City of Guelph’s administration. The final settlement will be confidential.
It gets better. Follow the record of how municipal financial power is used for four years, attempting to muzzle a citizen who was critical of a number of closed-session meetings by the city administration. A former employee launched defamation lawsuit alleging critical postings published in the blog gurslphspesks.ca. Amorosi announced the city was paying his legal bills.
Here’s a quick summary of what happened. On November 15, 2016, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Amorosi, sued Gerry Barker for $500,s000 in damages. He claimed defamation resulting from 10 critical blog posts and stated the city was paying his legal expenses. Barker had reported in March 2016, the three top managers received increases totaling $98,202. February 9, 2017, Mark Amoroso was fired.
That was three years ago. The case has never been settled. It has cost Barker YTD $88,000 to defend himself and his postings are fair comment. The city refuses to reveal the cost of supporting Amorosi that is estimated to be more than $100,000 of public money.
It is interesting the Judge Peterson stated that Barkers language was “measured” and did not vilify Amorosi personally.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, the second report on this major breach of the public trust will be revealed.
Since November 15, 2016, Gerry Barker has never been found guilty of defaming Mark Amorosi.