By Gerry Barker
December 16, 2019
The following facts support how the abuse of political power that is far too prevalent in terms of fair comment and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights.
FACT – For the record, my wife and I are residents of the City of Guelph.
FACT – In 2016, I wrote 10 blog posts as outlining Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) Mark Amorosi’s statement of claim in which he sued me for defamation. The posts were critical of his role in secretly concealing a total of $98,202 salary increases shared by three senior executives including Amorosi.
FACT – These increases were awarded December 10, 2015 in a closed-session of city council.
FACT – It has never been revealed whether these increases were paid retroactively for 2015 or were received throughout the year before the approval.
FACT -I was served in August 2016 with a demand to apologize to Mark Amorosi for publishing posts on guelphspeaks.ca, critical of the city administration for concealing senior staff salary increases for 2015.
FACT – The lawyer representing Mr. Amorosi, wrote the demand for an apology. The terms included that he would write it. He demanded that it had to be posted at the top of the guelphspeaks blog for 30 days. This demand was rejected.
FACT – Amorosi’s counsel stated to my counsel that if I refused, he would recommend legal action.
FACT – On November 15 2016, Amorosi announced on the front page of the Guelph Mercury Tribune newspaper that he was suing Barker for $500,000 damages. It was based on defamation as a result of the alleged critical posts. He stated in the article that the City of Guelph was paying his legal expenses.
FACT – In January 2017, Mr. Barker requested a copy of the minutes of the Dec. 10 closed-session meeting of council, and it was denied in April with no explanation.
FACT – On February 9, 2017, Amorosi was fired for cause published in the Mercury Tribune newspaper. He left the city February 20.
FACT – In a sworn statement Amorosi testified that “he agreed to leave” when confronted with an an inadvertent release from the Information Technology department. It forwarded some 50,000 confidential emails to a third party representing a fired employee, Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole. Mr. Poole sued the city for $1 million for wrongful dismissal. Amorosi was in charge of that department and it formed the basis of his dismissal.
FACT – Three major news outlets, described Amorosi’s dismissal as being fired. The word ‘fired’ was also published in the Mercury Tribune article about the firing
FACT – On March 31, 2016, the 2015 provincial Sunshine List was published. The public learned of the three senior managers shared salary increases of $98,202. The province publishes the List composed of all public employees in the province earning more than $100,000 a year, not including taxable benefits.
FACT – The three recipients of these increase included the Chef Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, who received an increase of $37,000 taking her 2015 salary to $257,000. The majority of that increase included a retroactive performance bonus of $27,000.
FACT – DCAO’s Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson shared the balance with Amorosi’s 2015 salary jumping 14 per cent by $209,000
FACT – Derrick Thomson received an increase of 19 per cent taking his 2015 salary to more than $207,000.
FACT – The three senior managers cost the city in 2015, $673,000 plus some $20,000 in taxable benefits.
FACT – CAO Ann Pappert resigned in April 2016. DCAO Thomson resigned in January 2016 but was rehired in May to replace Ms. Pappert who left her job May 26, 2016.
FACT – When the 2016 Sunshine List was published in March 2017, former employee Ms. Pappert was paid $263,000 for five months work in 2016.
FACT – The new CAO Derrick Thomsob, announced details of his three-year contract which included a salary of $230,000 plus $11,000 taxable benefit for using his personal car for city business.
FACT – In March 2019, Derrick Thomson “parted ways with the city” for reasons unknown today. When the 2018 Sunshine list was published, Mr. Thomson’s salary was $335,000. In just two and a half years on the job, Mr. Thomson earned $100,000 more than his stated 2016 three-year salary of $230,000.
FACT – Mayor Cam Guthrie explained that Mr. Thomson was given a $67,000 performance bonus for his work on giving away Guelph Hydro to Alectra Utilities. Guelph Hydro stated in its 2016 financial report that the city-owned power distribution utility had a total value of $228 million.
FACT –Amorosi testified that city council did not approve staff salaries. Under the CAO bylaw, it was CAO Thomson who must have approved his 2018 salary and performance bonus.
FACT – I requested a statement from the city in 2018 of the amount of public money that had been spent on Amorosi’s lawsuit and it was denied because the case was before the courts.
FACT – From a reliable source, I learned there was another closed-session meeting of council in May 2018 to discuss the status of the Amorosi lawsuit and the legal costs to May 2018. It was reported the city paid Amorosi’s legal costs of $30,000. Without reservation, knowing what my legal costs are to date, it will be much more than that figure and counting.
FACT– This is another example of the city denying and obfuscating the details that aren’t serving the public interest.
FACT – The city has never explained why it is continuing this attack on one of its citizens. One who dared to criticize an issue that according to the city’s own code of conduct, that excludes open government policies, allowing accountability and transparency of the peaple’s business?
FACT – It has cost Amorosi nothing in three years to perpetuate the city’s complicity in contnuing to finance his lawsuit that is without merit.
FACT – To date it has cost me $86,000 to defend myself. It’s not over yet.
FACT – The city administration has never cooperated or acknowledged details of that December 10, 2015 closed-session meeting of council. It approved the three senior staff increases’ increases. In that same month, in another closed-session, council approved a bylaw indemnifying any employee or elected officials by paying their legal costs if facing a legal proceeding against them.
FACT – I did not sue Mr. Amorosi, he sued me, or I didn’t fire him or, in his submission made to the judge in 2019 that he was unable to get a job because of what I had written about him in 2016.
FACT – Two independent individuals searched Amorosi’s name on the Internet. There was only one of my posts on the site but references to his dismissal from the city dominated the site.
FACT – Since August 2016, the same lawyer has represented Mr. Amotosi.
DACT – CAO Ann Pappert who left the city in May 2016 recommended the indemnification bylaw in December 2015.
These are facts. They represent a major attack by a city council on a private citizen for unfounded reasons.
The cost to the citizens of Guelph including me, the defendant, is being covered-up by the administration.
If you believe the proceeding facts are not true and agree with the administration that are worth very penny, you are signaling denial the right of a citizen to protest the abuse of power by controlling city council, then good luck.
Our taxes, fees and services are way out of line with comparable communities. It has been like that for the past 13 years. That’s the main reason that our costs of living in Guelph keep increasing every year. Just remember the promise made by Cam Guthrie in 2014 that he would keep the property tax annual increase equal to the rate of inflation.
That promise went out the window with his first budget for 2015 when the final rate was 3.96 per cent. The Consumer Price Index for 2014 stated the inflation rate for Canada was 1.1 per cent.
So if you are not satisfied with the way your city is being managed, with respect, you should start researching how this city has arbitrarily increased its operating cost and sourceded capital to build needed projects, such as a new central library, the South End Community Centre to name just two.
Two projects leap out that are now approved under way, The new Maintenance capus for Guelph Transit and the Parkade on Wilson Street next door to City Hall. Both these projects on the surface seem important but strikingly inclusive for staff needs.
There has been too much waste of resources, mismanagement, not to mention the millions lost including Urbacon, GMHI, environmental services, downtown, dodgy deferred taxes and development breaks to developers, to name a few emptying the city till.
If you believe that we and the city can do better then let your councillors know and demand a clean up of the administration’s policies. Press staff and council to lower operating costs. Get rid of the deals and stop the shallow spinning of action. When the city says, that within ten years it will have spent $1,7 billion on capital funded projects, lets have some specifics including estimated costs, dates to completion and the sources of revenue to pay the bills..
This administration is overdue for a diet. Waiting three years to change the cast of characters can’t come soon enough.
Please note that like most of us we are about to enjoy the holidays, guelphspeaks.ca will be on hiatus until Monday, January 7, 2020. That gives us time to say goodby to the leftovers and start the new year with good health and optimism for 2020. Enjoy!