By Gerry Barker
October 26, 2016
There are many questions concerning that December 10, 2015 closed-session city council meeting. It was called by the Mayor to approve large 2015 salary increases for three senior staff managers, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, ($37,591) Deputy Chief Administrative Officers Mark Amorosi, ($26.868) and Derrick Thomson, ($33,814).
It’s unlikely any elected official will answer these questions because they were directly involved in that closed meeting and are covering up to protect their standing under the council’s “Code of Conduct.” This was created by the former Farbridge administration when it hired an Integrity Commissioner to adjudicate any breaches of the Code and recommend sanctions if necessary.
Its real purpose was to shut down the closed-door council leaks that were occurring. Ask yourself, why would the Farbridge administration, with a solid majority of council, need to spend your money to stop information that they didn’t want you know or understand? They made it official by hiring an Integrity Commissioner to police and deal with suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct. The Guthrie administration recently renewed this contract.
Funny, the Commissioner must have missed Coun. Mike Salisbury’s confessed leaking to a friendly blogger of confidential information as to why five members of his caucus walked out of another closed-door meeting last January. It appears there is a double standard when it comes to investigating alleged breaking of the code of conduct by city councillors.
Here are some questions citizens should ask their councillors about that Salary-Gate issue and why was it kept a secret for almost four months?
* Why did the Mayor believe it was necessary to convene a closed session to approve the 2015 top management increases when the fiscal year was almost over?
* Did the Mayor receive information about the senior staff increases prior to the meeting?
* Were these increases included in the 2015 budget, approved by council in March 2015?
* Besides the Mayor, who initiated this closed meeting and why on the 12th month of the year, approved the 2016 city budget?
* Is it not Provincial policy to reveal the name, salary, taxable benefits and job title for every public employee earning $100,000 or more in Ontario?
* What were the substantive reasons causing council to award these increases that took each of the three staffers’ salaries to well over $200,000, knowing full well the Provincial Sunshine List would publish the salaries in March 2016?
* When the minutes of that closed meeting were requested, did the city clerk reply that closed-session meetings are “not on the public record and therefore not available?”
* Does this mean that whenever the Mayor convenes a closed session, for any reason, the public is denied access, forever?
* What was the legal reason for calling a closed session under the Ontario Municipal Act rules, governing such meetings?
* Did city council understand that by conducting the public’s business in closed session they were, in effect, concealing these senior staff increases, in direct violation of Provincial policy?
* Which councillors voted for approving the increases in the closed session?
Did Mayor Guthrie vote to approve the increases
* Did councillorrs realize that they shut down any possible public objection because the results wouldn’t be known until three months into 2016?
* Was council informed of the rationale that determined how much each of the senior managers was to receive?
* Were any of the three senior managers involved in conducting performance and market reviews of their peers to determine who gets how much and when?
* Who informed council of the request for the increases?
* Did the three managers hire a consultant to advise how much they should receive? If so, who was the consultant and the cost of his/her involvement?
* Did Mayor Guthrie consult the city solicitor about the legality of conducting the closed-session meeting and was it in accordance with the Ontario Municipal Act guidelines?
* How many, and which staff people were involved in this closed-session and were they sworn to secrecy?
* Is it true that this meeting was held so as not to interfere with the final approval of the 2016 budget?
* Did Corporate Services DCAO Mark Amorosi mislead Coun. Mike Salisbury, who asked for the reason for the $37,581 increase to CAO Ann Pappert? Was it because she did not request an increase in 2014 from the Human Resources department, according to Mr. Amorosi?
* Is it not true that Ms. Pappert received a $5,005 increase according to the 2014 Sunshine List?
Council, including the Mayor, duped the public by concealing these three senior staff increases to avoid public reaction that would have stalled the conclusion of the 2016 budget.
Ms. Pappert resigned in May 2016 following more than five years on the job.
Al Horsman, the last Chief Financial Officer the city employed, resigned in August 2015 before council approved the 2015 salary increases. He is now CAO of the city of Sault Ste Marie.
Derrick Thomson resigned last April to take a job with the Town of Caledon. He was later persuaded to return to Guelph and was named CAO.
Janice Sheehy, former General Manager of Finance and City Treasurer, resigned last March to take a job with the Region of Peel.
Colleen Clack, General Manager of Tourism and Culture, was promoted to DCAO in charge of Operations, formally held by Mr. Thomson.
DCAO Mark Amorosi, following a three-month search using a professional headhunting firm to replace Ms. Sheehy, appointed Tara Baker, an analyst in the Finance Department. She was named Chief Financial Officer, General Manager of Finance and Treasurer. Ms. Baker is currently on maternity leave and will not be available until next year.
What do you think? Was all this a calm transition of power that has lead to a “Better Guelph?”
Or, is it a contrived attempt to retain power by the Bloc of Seven?