Tag Archives: Ann Pappert

Former CAO Ann Pappert received $489,818 for 17 months work when she resigned

By Gerry Barker

March 16, 2017

I woke up the other day to read a city press release about the City of Guelph’s Sunshine list of employees earning more than $100,000 a year. I was not aware the city had its own Sunshine list.

There were some astonishing inclusions and exclusions.

According to the just released 2016 Provincial Sunshine list, former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, was paid $263,757.32 in 2016. Now you would assume that was for the year but Ms. Pappert left the city May 26, 2016, Seems like a lot of money for less than five months work.

So I checked the 2015 Provincial Sunshine list and it showed Ms. Pappert was paid $226,060.96.

The only possible conclusion was that Ann Pappert was paid $489,818.26 for 17 months work as CAO, from January 1, 2015 to May 26, 2016.

This was reported by the city to the Province for inclusion in the 2015/2016 official Sunshine lists of those public employees earning more than $100,000 a year

First, let’s do a little math. We’ll divide the money the Province says she received in 2016 by 5 = $52,757 per month. Now multiply that by 12 to determine what her annual salary would be, $633,084. That can’t be possible.

But, the 2015 salary reported last March showed that CAO, Ann Pappert, received a $37,591 increase for 2015. This increase was 17.11 per cent more than her previous base salary of $219,657 earned in 2014. Apparently, it has been assumed, Ms. Pappert was paid $257,248 in 2015. That was not the case. According to the 2015 Sunshine List, she received $226,060.

Hmmm, there remains a serious difference of Ms. Pappert’s employment payments.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) Mark Amorosi explained that the payment to Ms. Pappert was discussed in closed session prior to the approval of the 2015 budget, March 25, 2015.

For the past year, guelphspeaks has been trying to get at the truth because Mr. Amorosi said the increases decision was made by council in closed session, December 10, 2015. It included a retroactive payment of some $28,000.

Why does the Sunshine List show Ms. Pappert received $263,757 for five months work in 2016?

Does the city report what it pays its employees each year in the audited Financial Information Report (FIR) as required annually?

Or does it play games shoving expenses to the next year to avoid a negative variance that the city is not allowed to do and is required to balance its books when presenting the FIR at year end.

For the past five years of Ms. Pappert’s tenure as CAO, there has been a negative variance each year. That means the budget, of which Ms. Pappert oversaw, was overspent and money was taken from the reserves to balance the books as required by law.

Trouble is the reserves became seriously depleted dropping from a reported $70 million in 2009 to around $11 million in 2015. The BMA consultant group warned the city in 2014 that the reserves were in a “red flag” condition and required action to replenish.

Why was this allowed to occur?

But there is more:

Former Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman, left the city in August 2015. Today his name shows up receiving $188,999 in 2016, the equivalent of a full year on the job. Not bad for eight months work … in 2015. The question is why did Horsman leave? He was deposed as CFO in the November 2014 reorganization of the senior management and switched to the Waste Management, Environmental Services and Engineering portfolio.

Horsman took over to discover the debacle of the deal made with the Rizzo brothers of Detroit to recycle material shipped from the motor city. The deal fell apart and was reported to have cost Guelph some $2.5 million. In December 2015, Solid Waste Manager Dean Wyman, who was involved in the Detroit deal, left for a similar job in Edmonton.

With Horsman gone, it left just three Senior managers, CAO Ann Pappert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAO) Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson.

The revelation of the large increase awarded by council to the remaining three top managers in March 2016, triggered the resignation of Mr. Thomson who said he was taking a job with the Town of Caledon. In April, Ms. Pappert announced she was resigning.

Along with her duties as CAO, Ms. Pappert was also Chief Executive Officer of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc (GMHI), for four years. As CAO she signed off, along with her successor at GMHI, Pankaj Sardana the jointly presented the report to council, acting as shareholders, May 16, 2016. It revealed that the city-owned GMHI was broke and had lost $26.6 million. Ten days later she left her job.

In June, the city persuaded Mr. Thomson to return and take over as CAO.

The 2016 Provincial Sunshine List states Mr. Thomson received $214,026. Due to turbulence in the executive offices, Mr. Thomson revealed in October his new CAO salary is $230,000, plus a taxable benefit of $9,664. Sigh! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last week, the 2016 city’s “Sunshine List” release said that in 2016 Mr. Thomson earned $245,302 plus the taxable benefit for a total of $254,966. Mr.Thomson should be commended for giving the citizens his salary details despite the fact that they do not jibe with the official provincial data.

Here’s another strange development. DCAO Scott Stewart was hired in November 2015 to replace Mr. Horsman. There is no record in the provincial Sunshine Lists of his hiring including pay details, in either the 2015 or 2016. He obviously performed his duties in 2015 and 2016 but the record shows he doesn’t exist. Well he does and he is doing a fine job.

Yet another example of Voodoo accounting

In the case of DCAO Colleen Clack who was promoted in June to replace Mr. Thomson as chief of operations and public transit, there is no evidence that reflects her new responsibilities. She is listed at $145,316, the rate of her former job in 2015.

I believe that when someone holds a job in the calendar year, his or her remuneration should be reported in that year. How can the administration budget accurately when it conducts its business this way? We’re not talking about a few dollars here but thousands. It represents a deliberate distortion of the staff costs in the reporting year.

In 2015 the city listed the payments made to police staff earning more than $100,000. This year according to the city release, the police are not included because they file their own Sunshine List to the Province. But are the police numbers included in the total staff count?

Finally here is my favourite example of Voodoo management practices.

In 2014, Guelph Police Chief Bryan Larkin is pushing the Police Services Board to spend $33 million for a major renovation of police headquarters.

The city representatives on the Police Board, Mayor Karen Farbridge and Coun Leanne Piper support him.

Remember in June 2014 he announced that he is leaving August 31 to take over as Chief of the Region of Waterloo Police Department.

That did not stop Larkin from promoting that the city coughs up the money for the renovation. So his final payout of $183,553.80 was reported in the 2015 provincial Sunshine list. He only worked eight months in 2014, but received a full year of pay,

But citizens in 2015, were also paying his replacement, Jeff Deruyter $188,283.56. According to the Provincial Sunshine List in 2015, the cost of two police chiefs was $371,836.

When the 2015 budget was prepared after Mayor Guthrie took over, the finance department had ample time to adjust the 2014 Larkin figure to reflect the exact time he was on the job. It is now clear that our city, despite the fact that he resigned in August 2014, paid him for the whole year.

And you wonder why our taxes and user fees outpace the Consumer Price Indexes promised to be reduced by Mayor Guthrie in his election campaign.

The 64 firemen plus those paramedics in the $100K bracket are included in the 2016 list.

These folks are public employees and the public has the right to know who they are and what they earn if it’s more than $100,000. It appears the same rules do not apply to the non-union managerial staff.

When comparing the two Sunshine lists, 2015 and 2016, the number of employees who have left the city also struck me.

The city release states there are 2,235 full-time and part-time employees. But what is the composition of staff and where do they work? How many full-time and part-time contract workers are employed and are they counted in the staff total?

This mismanagement of senior staff salaries, bonuses and taxable benefits has to stop. It is not transparent or accountable.

The people have to act to hold their elected representatives accountable. That means the council must stop conducting the city’s business in closed sessions thwarting the public’s right to know. Finally they must stop making stupid decisions that end up costing citizens its treasure.

The reserves are depleted, the debt is up and too many deals have been made based on potential future revenues such as the Police Headquarters project that is dependent on future development fees.

I hate to use the word “purge” but it applies here based on the evidence of financial mismanagement.

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GuelphSpeaks annual Top losers and winners for 2016

By Gerry Barker

March 12, 2017

It’s time to review 2016 when we look back and pick those events and people who won some and lost some. It was not a great year for our city as political reform is still a bridge too far. No matter what good things happen and there are a number, they are offset by the frequent absence of transparency, accountability and common sense governance at City Hall. Feel free to add or pooh-pooh the picks.

Coming up is the 2016 Sunshine list in a couple of weeks that will reveal all the names of public employees earning more than $100,000 a year. In June the 2016 audited Financial Information Report should be made available to the public on the city website.

First, Here are the losers:

  1. Mayor Cam Guthrie abandoned his promises to reduce property taxes to the equivalent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In three budgets over which he has presided, the property taxes approved by council were increased by 10.08 per cent. He, along with eight councillors, voted to approve the 2017 budget.
  1. Waste management and the struggle to unwind costly business practices and losses by the former management of waste control, collection and environmental services. The leadership is gone but citizens remain stuck with the financial fallout. The former internal auditor said the waste management operation was losing $270,000 a year. That flies in the prediction that controlling waste and diverting it from the landfill would be self-liquidating. Help is on the way, (see number 5 in winners).
  1. The hundreds of Canada geese who make their year-round home in Guelph paddling in the rivers and munching on parkland grass. Well, you know the rest of the story when they leave their calling cards. What ever happened to that $50,000 approved by council a couple of years ago to study the goose problem?
  1. Those two councillors, June Hofland and Karl Wettstein, who were members of the GMHI Board of Directors for four years and paid for their service, never said a word about the collapse of GMHI. During a GMHI discussion by council, Wettstein recused himself because he had a “pecuniary interest.” That’s not all he had.
  1. The privately owned Guelph Storm Junior Hockey club successfully extracted $5 million over ten years in a new rental agreement with the city. It effectively ties up the Sleeman Centre for 12 months each year. Under the old agreement, taxpayers were subsidizing the arena by $249,000 a year. Release the details of that contract including revenues, expenses, cost sharing and insurance. Go figure!
  1. To the eight councillors who usually vote as a bloc. They believe in the agenda of the former mayor and perpetuate her theories of a new Guelph. A city with a vibrant downtown, self-liquidating waste management, reduction of carbon emissions and approving high-density development but few single-family homes. Is this what you voted for?
  1. To Coun. Mark MacKinnon goes the annual Chutzpah Award for his assertion that paying taxes is not only an obligation but also a privilege. His rationale was because house prices have increased then people should be prepared to meet their ever-increasing tax bill. Even if it means taking out a second mortgage to pay their taxes. This sounds a little self-serving, isn’t Mark in the mortgage business?

Tah Dah! The Winners:

  1. Those three city councillors, Christine Billings, Dan Gibson and Bob Bell, who had the courage and understood their responsibility to protect the public trust in city government. When the mayor called the vote to approve the 2017 budget, these three Councillors voted no. They deserve your support no matter where you live in the city.
  1. While GS is not a big fan of Coun. Phil Allt, he performed a courageous act donating a kidney to his brother.
  1. The approval of a rationalization of the waste management and environmental services is the right step cleaning up a system that is out of control. Citizens spent $33 million building a compost plant but we cannot even buy the finished composted mulch. It’s sold privately.
  1. The resignation of Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert who left May 26 only after she had secured a job as an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Culture Tourism and Sports Ministry. Goodbye, hold the luck.
  1. The unfolding details of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. story of mismanagement, deception and a loss of $26.6 million. There are still many questions about this abortive project that conducted its business in closed sessions led by the former mayor. This is what happens when you operate in an opaque vacuum shutting out public participation.
  1. To former Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole, who was fired without cause and sued the city for $1 million for wrongful dismissal. The case broke wide open when, in the process of examination for discovery, Mr. Poole’s lawyer received an external drive from the city Information Technology department that contained 53,000 files, most confidential and unrelated to the case. The city demanded a return of the drive after the story broke in Guelph Today. The result was a rapid mediation of the Poole case that produced a settlement. The outcome remains confidential. Well, I guess this is another case where the city loses another lawsuit. City Solicitor, Donna Jaques, has left for greener pastures joining the exodus of more than 14 senior and upper management employees who have left the city administration in the past 17 months..

 

 

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Expose! A trilogy of events by a city administration out of control

By Gerry Barker

February 6, 2017

Note from the Editor: This column is in two parts that covers and comments on recent events that reveal the toxic culture existing in our city administration. What you will learn in Part One, titled Triology, is how three events learned last week, have exposed the underlying weakneses of a management that is out of control.

In Part Two, titled Expose, are the details of some 53,000 emails sent chiefly by former Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman, revealing the secretive and personal misuse of the city servers by senior staff.

We encourage everyone to pass this column along to let as many people as possible learn the truth about secrecy, closed meetings and communications on the Internet city staff and council. And it has been going on for years behind the public’s back and is our right to know.

There were three events this past week that revealed how our city is being mismanaged by not only senior staff but by an element of city council.

Part One – Trilogy

BREAKING NEWS

CAO Derrick Thomson said Friday, February 3, that the 53,000 emails obtained by Bruce Poole’s counsel were sent in error. Apparently an external drive containing the emails was handed over to Poole’s counsel. When the story broke about the contents Friday morning, the city administration went into panic drill and requested the drive be returned. So far that has not happened. The CAO said if it is not returned the city will ask for a judge’s order to return it.

Sorry sir, that fox is out of the hen house.

The larger question is who handed the drive containing the 53,000 emails over to the Poole Counsel knowing what was in it? More on this in Part Two – Expose.

Here is the list of the three devastating revelations of how our city is being so poorly representative of the people’s rights, interests and concerns.

* We start with the announcement that city Solicitor, Donna Jaques, was leaving this week. She had been with the city since 2011 in charge of all legal matters including contracts, bylaws and litigation.

This development was followed after with 53,000 emails produced mostly by former Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman. Former Chief Building Inspector Bruce Poole’s lawyer obtained the emails as part of his examination for discovery. You will recall Mr. Poole, a 30-year veteran in the building department, was fired in mid-2015 and sued the city for $1 million for wrongful dismissal. That lawsuit has still to be tried or settled in court.

As a public service, here is the list of witnesses if this case goes to trial: Former CAO Ann Pappert; former City Solicitor, Donna Jaques; former General Manager of Finances and Treasurer, Janice Sheehy; former CFO Al Horsman; current CAO Derrick Thomson; former Executive Director, Derek McCaughan; City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien; and General Manager of Human Resources, David Godwaldt.

Perhaps this is a good time to tell you about a city Bylaw known as the Indemnification Bylaw. This protects any staffer or elected official from being sued by any citizen. If they are, the staff’s legal costs will be paid by the taxpayers. It was signed by former CAO Ann Pappert and Mayor Cam Guthrie in 2015 following the Susan Watson case against Glen Tolhurst regarding receiving a $400 donation from GrassRoots Guelph (GRG). Both Mr. Tolhurst and GRG were cleared of any wrong doing by an independent auditor.

* Then came the report of a committee charged with examining the future of Guelph Hydro. Their findings were essentially flawed and biased. They commenced deliberations last fall and despite overwhelming public comments to not sell or merge the utility, they are seeking permission to sell or merge with another municipally owned Local Distribution Company (LDC).

The report states: “At this stage in the process, a large segment of those who commented want to maintain local control and public ownership, and there is low-level support for a sale, especially with a privately-owned utility.”

“The public engagement done so far also shows “no support for Guelph Hydro to buy other utilities,” the report says. And “if a merger is considered, participants prefer other utilities in the region and those who are ‘like-minded’ with Guelph Hydro.”

This is Important: So why is the committee, after five months of deliberations, recommending that the city dispose of Guelph Hydro? Their recommendation will be voted on at the February15 council meeting. If you want to address council on this matter, your have until February 10 to register, four days from now.

Let’s stop and think about these three developments and how they are linked and not necessarily in favour of the citizens. In my opinion, these developments are part of a conspiracy to misdirect, suppress, and deny the public their right to access this information.

* Ms. Jaques’s departure was not sudden despite appearances. It would take at least three to four months to search and get another job. But she had to know of the existence of those 53,000 emails and most likely was directly involved in the turnover during the examination for discovery in the Poole lawsuit case. She had to know how damaging those emails are when the reputation of her colleague’s ethics and credibility are at stake.

The remaining question is how many thousands of emails were exchanged between senior staff and still out there? Discovering the emails sent by the former CAO, Ann Pappert, would be useful to investigators by an independent audit of city operations

Chalk it up to the way the staff runs the city. They used what they believed were private confidential emails to chatter, gossip and express opinions about fellow staffers. Heck, even look for a job, with our employer in the dark. Manage your personal finances and discuss marital and health matters with other staffers. The sheer volume of those emails, averaging 125 emails sent every day Mr. Horsman was on the job. (He wrote 53,000 emails over a two-year period divided by 422 actual working days over two years).

I don’t know about you, but that’s a ton of emails, most of which concerned the fundamental operation of the city. This info was coming from the CFO, the person who handled the money.

As an aside, Mr. Horsman was the last CFO employed by the city in the past two years and two months. He lost his position in November 2014 and left the city in August 2015 to take over as CAO of Sault Ste Marie.

The evidence now persists that nothing has changed. The city administration operates chiefly in secret. They do it to prevent exposure of self-serving issues reaching the public domain. The proliferation of emails is an indicator of the manipulative strategies employed by both senior management and members of council.

It may explain why so many senior managers have left the city since the October 2014 civic election. Most of those leaving have left a legacy of mismanagement and problems caused by the policies adopted by three administrations. The situation was aided and abetted by inaccurate forecasting of budgets, lawsuits, and off the books major funding of the failed Community Energy Initiative that was controlled by the former mayor.

Here’re some of the former senior managers who have left the city since November 2014: Executive Director Janet Laird; Executive Director, Derek McCaughan; CFO Al Horsman; GM of solid waste management, Dean Wyman; Lawyer Scott Worsfold; GM of Finance and Treasurer, Janice Sheehy; CAO Ann Pappert; City Solicitor Donna Jaques; Acting GM of Finance, Susan Arum; Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole.

The tab, so far, is estimated to be more than $96 million misspent by the former Mayor’s Community Energy Initiatives.

This bring us to the proposed recommendation by a five member committee chaired by CAO Derrick Thomson, to dispose of the jewel of the city of Guelph, our hydro electric distribution system.

It is a desperate move to conduct an asset fire sale to cover up the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. losses of $96 million and counting.

The book value of Guelph Hydro is estimated to be $150 million. Its value is increasing because there is a great demand to get control of these LDC’s. Hydro One gobbled up more than 89 between 1996 and 2001. You will recall that Hydro One is being gradually sold off to private enterprise. Today there are only 70 remaining LDC’s in the province. You can appreciate the primal urge by the administration to liquidate this asset because they need the money.

I urge everyone to make their feelings heard with their councillors by telephone, emails, snail mail or personal contact to stop this recommendation February 15. Just showing up will help prevent this ill-advised effort to sell off Guelph Hydro.

Personally, I believe the motion, if made, to dispose of the utility should be amended to table the recommendation to allow more measured public input, not just seven business days.

In 2008, former mayor Farbridge attempted to convince council to sell Guelph Hydro because the city did not have sufficient capital to pay its $23 million share of the Federal-Provincial infrastructure grant plan. She was soundly rebuffed by an 8-5 vote. Then she called a $30 million note that Guelph Hydro owed the city to pay the infrastructure bill that grew to $27 million, due to add-ons including bike lanes and a time clock in the Sleeman Centre.

It now appears nothing has changed.

On or before February 15, please exercise your right to object and inform civic leaders of your opinion. We only get one chance to stop this and now is that time.

So, if council does approve selling or merging of Guelph Hydro, what are the alternatives?

Assuming the city receives an estimated $150 million for Guelph Hydro, citizens lose control of the operation, including what they pay for service as set by the new owners.

The proceeds will pay for the GMHI losses. The new owner could claim the $65 million stranded Guelph Hydro loan to GMHI. It currently is on the city books as an impaired asset, is due and payable. That could reduce the net proceeds. Do not be surprised if that loan is not on Guelph Hydro’s books.

The proceeds, I predict, will disappear before the civic election rolls around next year. Suddenly there are funds to build the South End recreation centre, the Wilson Street parking garage and perhaps the Downtown Library.

This will be a bonanza of political good will that could guarantee the re-election of the same council majority we have now.

It’s our choice and it happens next week.

Next: The Bruce Poole story and how it will change Guelph forever.

The day the administration was exposed as running a ship of fools

By Gerry Barker

February 6, 2017

Part Two – Expose

Let’s start by praising Bruce Poole for having the guts to go after the city he served so well and loved for 30 years. They did him dirt by firing him for challenging the administration for failing to follow its own bylaws regarding obtaining building permits for ALL such projects in the city.

The revelation that there were 50 such projects, all conducted by the city administration in which no building permits were requested for approval. It became the genesis of the former Chief Building Inspector’s $1 million lawsuit for wrongful dismissal.

Then, last Friday a report in Guelph Today, written by Tony Saxon, detailed how that, during the examination for discovery, some 53,000 confidential emails, authored by former Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman, were turned over to Mr. Poole’s lawyer.

A cursory examination of the email-gate reveals a fascinating collection of critical personal opinions, paranoia. petulance and what senior staff thought about their colleagues.

These include performance reviews of city employees; details of legal matters discussed in camera; criticism of city staff members; details of acute city operations; and even discussions about personal marital and health issues.

It’s a sorry cultural soup reflecting how messed up and irresponsible the members of the senior staff and others, including certain members of council.

The bottom line is, these emails, many marked confidential, were sent through City of Guelph servers. This makes those 53,000 documents that the users believed would never be made public, now part of the public record.

Kudo’s go to Bruce Poole’s legal counsel for obtaining these emails from the city ensuring the public’s right to know.

Across Ontario can you hear the shredders humming and emails being deleted?

(Suggest it would be better to use an expert for that process).

The source of these emails came from the former Chief Financial Officer of Guelph, Al Horsman. He left the city in August 2015 to become Chief Administrative Officer of Sault Ste Marie.

Email-Gate shows he used the city’s Internet servers to apply for another job. It even included preparing a power point presentation to the Sault’s selection committee. Using Guelph’s resources, Horsman landed his new job.

It makes one wonder how senior employees across the province are properly vetted when seeking new jobs. Is the process flawed? Are questions not asked? Why is the person leaving? Are references requested?

This applies to our former Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert who left the city to be appointed an Assistant Deputy Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport for the province.

Let’s review her leaving May 26, 2016. She was awarded an increase of $37,501 in a closed meeting December 10, 2015. So the question is, why did she leave a $257,501 job for one that probably pays much less?

She should be Bruce Poole’s most important witness as his case proceeds. The evidence is pointing to her as the fox among the chickens. In case you are wondering who are the chickens? They are us! These bureaucrats have suborned their responsibilities to the people by communicating by emails and conducting the public business in closed sessions.

I am astonished about the volume of Al Horseman’s emails for the two years he was a senior member of the administration totaled 53,000. The man is on the job 211 days a year reduced by weekends, vacation, statutory holidays and city shutdown periods

Just doing the math, Mr. Horsman wrote 125 emails a day. Further, that’s an average of 15.6 every hour for his eight-hour workday.

But it should come as no surprise because this is the way our city managers have operated, far from the public view or access for the past ten years.

Here are some examples of the email content delivered to Mr. Poole and his lawyer:

  • 30 individual staff performance reviews
  • Who were these employees and who conducted the reviews?
  • A calendar entry titled “Linamar – foregoing and/or deferring property taxes or development charges on future Linamar properties.

            It would appear that Linamar is getting a tax break on its property taxes. What are the details?

  • Confidential and private information in regard to the Urbacon action and settlement details” “Confidential and private information in regard to the Dolime legal action and settlement details.
  • What did Mr. Horsman know about the Urbacon situation and what was his role in the settlement?
  • Confidential emails between Horsman and his bank regarding personal investments.
  • Not a good idea to use your business computer for such private information or to seek another job.
  •  
  • Confidential email exchange between Horsman and CAO Anne Pappert regarding concerns about the performance of a senior city manager still with the city.

Well now, we are getting to the meat of the email exchange. Who is this senior manager and his/her job responsibilities? Did that person receive an increase in remuneration in 2015?

  • Confidential email exchange between senior management staff members in regard to “Terraview complaint re: Development charges @ 72 York Road.

Isn’t this public information? Where are the details? We have 13 employees in the  city engaged in communications. Why weren’t the details reported?

  • Several “corporate communications watch list” reports, including one item listed as “investigation of bacteria incident at City Well (Membro) – information protected under client-solicitor privilege.
  • And the people were never told?”

Nothing today in a public corporation is confidential. The exceptions are in the provisions as outlined in the Ontario Municipal Act to conduct closed sessions. With this revelation, it is apparent that cyber communication between senior staff often bypasses the OMA closed session regulations.

  • “Numerous occurrences where Al Horsman was using the City of Guelph’s computer system to seek and respond to several new and alternative job opportunities.”

Earning $182,000 a year does not include using your city computer to get another  job.

  • Negative comments (via email) about Mayor Cam Guthrie from a current member of council that was shared with others

No! Say it isn’t true. The Mayor thought all you senior staffers and council were  his friends.

  • Several emails detailing confidential terms of settlements in several legal matters.

This is not good but as CFO he was within his right. Legal cases are touchy and  the former mayor became known for her litigious bent. Now the city solicitor has left for greener opportunities in North Bay. Her leaving coincides with the  revelation of the 53,000 emails.

  • Confidential email exchanges between senior staff members in regard to concerns about a senior city manager who is still with the city.

            Yikes, if the senior staff had reservations, why is this person still with the city?

  • Private and personal emails between Horsman and other executive staff members in regard to personal matters such as marriage and health. 

Was this on city time?

  • Copies of confidential information shared by Horsman with former city staff.

This smacks of the existence of an elitis city staff club. Why would Horsman seek  conversation with former staffers?

  • “Confidential email exchange between Corporate Finance staff and senior management staff in regard to DGBA (financial concerns with the Downtown Guelph Board Association).”

It must be noted again that emails on the city servers are not confidential, as many have been titled. They are in the public domain.

There is indication that people are enquiring about obtaining the details of all those emails through the Freedom of Information Act (FIA).

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Running a city is easy, just don’t tell the citizens what’s going on

By Gerry Barker

January 30, 2017

We live in a liquid society in which change is constant, unsuspected and starkly inconsistent.

In the past ten years, our city has experienced this. A minority of citizens and their elected representatives has dominated our lives with their visions imposing change in which the vast majority of citizens do not agree.

People are always on the move; they sell and leave, people move here to obtain cheaper housing only to discover their costs are too high. People die, babies are born and businesses come and go. It’s a fluid condition that is constant.

Briefly, here are some of those policies that have failed not only operationally, but with multi-million dollar losses of public funding. The Community Energy Initiative (CEI) is currently holding the record for wasted time and resources. So far, losses by Guelph Municipal Holding Inc. (GMHI), total more than $26 million and is still increasing daily. It was founded and chaired by former mayor Karen Farbridge who created GMHI under the guise of managing city-owned properties including Guelph Hydro.

Keep in mind the taxpayers of Guelph are still responsible for GMHI’s finances.

Let’s just stop there for a moment. Guelph Hydro has an estimated book value of $170 million. Its monthly cash flow from more than 55,000 customers is estimated to be more that $13 million. Of that, Hydro must pay for the power it distributes, staff and overhead.

A few years ago, the former mayor, a member of the Guelph Hydro board of directors, attempted to convince council to merge with Hamilton and St. Catharnies distribution systems. It was one decision her council did not support.

Now Hydro is asking citizens to indicate preferences for selling or keeping the utility. It could be a prelude to selling the utility and using the money to bolster city finances. Wonder if GMHI is transferring that $1.5 million annual dividend to the city’s coffers?

The GMHI effect on city finances looks like, and smells like a gigantic Ponzi scheme in which the shareholders, that’s you and me, are repaid with our own money.

As chair of GMHI and a member of the Hydro board, Ms. Farbridge, with the support of four members of her council serving on the board, transferred the assets of Guelph Hydro to GMHI. Over four years it paid the city $9 million in “dividends.”

It is important to note that the Guelph Hydro Board does not hold public meetings. So the details of transferring Guelph Hydro are not known.

Then Guelph Hydro loaned $65 million to GMHI. When asked, CEO Pankaj Sardana said the money came from investors and did not identify Guelph Hydro or Guelph Hydro Electric Services subsidiary as the contributor. In 2015, that loan appeared on the city’s Financial Information Report as an “impaired asset” valued at $69 million.

Mr. Sardana and former CAO Ann Pappert reported to council May16, 2016 that GMHI

had no financial ability to even pay the interest on the loan. This is a liability, not an asset. It will never be repaid to Guelph Hydro because of the GMHI financial collapse in 2015.

With both Ms. Farbridge and her CAO Ann Pappert gone, there are only two members remaining of the GMHI board who served for four years. Neither Coun. June Hofland or Coun. Karl Wettstein is talking about their participation.

Mr. Sardana said the business plan was flawed and stated that the CEI project, the two district energy nodes (pumps) built in the Sleeman Centre and the Hanlon Business Park, have failed to meet contracted targets and performance. Most of the $8.7 million cost of these pumps has been written off or down.

But no one on Council or the staff is talking about the $65 million loan to GMHI.

All this happened behind closed doors with no public participation or information.

Ms. Farbridge set up a system of conducting council business in closed session. She did the same thing chairing the GMHI board.

Today, little has changed. Mayor Cam Guthrie has a dilemma. He is trying to maintain his base that includes former Farbridge supporters. He talks about reducing overhead but turns around and votes to hire 13 additional employees and level a two per cent property tax levy described as replacing the infrastrcuture. Except half isgoing to “City Buildings.”

He could have said: No.

The evidence shows that her eight years in office was a disaster of the former mayor’s own making as she attempted to change the city regardless of what the people favoured or cared about. Millions were spent and misspent on her agenda.

But her councils were unable to build a new city hall without going over budget by $23 million; could not install public washrooms downtown to meet the needs of visitors and folks out for the evening. In 19 years, her council did not build a new downtown library but spent $5 million for three lots facing on Wyndham Street that are now used for parking cars.

Along comes the planned Wilson Street Parking garage in which there is a pedestrian bridge between the Garage and City Hall. Question? Is this for the use of the public or to serve the staff working in City Hall? And whatever happened to that Canada Revenue charge when the city was offering free parking to its employees but not charging it as a taxable benefit?

It’s time for a new deal

We must work to encourage independent candidates to run in every ward seat. People with common sense who can establish a fresh responsible direction for our city, have business experience and who understand a balance sheet.

They should run on cutting the operational overhead, shutting down those closed session meetings, emphasizing accountability and open government. Past management practices have contributed to the drain of our reserves to balance the books and pay for ten years of mistakes.

We need new ideas, new direction and appeal to the younger demographic who will inherit the future by dealing upfront with the mistakes of the past.

These closed session meetings have to stop. Only those authorized session meetings concerning employee relations (not salary negotiation), public contracts and labour union negotiations.

From personal experience, I asked the city clerk, November 7, to request that the city appointed closed session investigator to open council’s closed session meeting Dec. 10 2015. This was the meeting that approved the $98,202 increases to three top staff executives.

I’m still waiting.

 

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Another Farbridge hangover: Tell the truth about the Guelph Municipal Holdings fiasco

By Gerry Barker

January 12, 2017

Mayor Guthrie made a statement last week reporting the city had avoided spending some $60 million to complete the two District Energy Nodes in the Hanlon Creek Business Park and the Sleeman centre.

This was part of the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI) plan to supply energy to the city instead of receiving electricity from the Provincial power grid, as is the case today.

The underlying plans that the previous mayor made as chairperson of GMHI was supported by four members of council serving on her board. This board conducted all its meetings, in closed sessions, thereby eliminating any public participation in the process.

The plans were based on the Community Energy Initiative (CEI) that was planned and executed by the Farbridge administration starting in 2007 when she was elected mayor.

The only thing that stopped the plans was the defeat of Ms. Farbridge in the 2014 civic election. But terrible planning, combined with absorbing the city-owned Guelph Hydro into GMHI over a four-year period, set the stage for a financial melt down.

But some of the credit goes to Mayor Cam Guthrie for taking over GMHI and commencing a post mortem on the multi-million dollar mistake, fostered by the previous mayor and her administration. Here’s his latest announcement:

  1. The original contractual obligations to spend $60 million dollars on furthering these two district energy nodes have now been avoided.
  1. The security deposits for both nodes totaling $612k has been returned with no penalties.
  1. The land in which Envida was to build a district energy plant has also been re-negotiated allowing the city to sell most of it to a private developer. This resulted in no losses on the sale of this parcel of land and revenue to the city of approximately $1.3 million dollars.

Let’s clarify a couple of important details.

GMHI CEO and CFO Pankaj Sardana told council that $60 million back in May 2016 was needed to make the installed District Energy Nodes viable. That was not money spent and will not be spent.

In point two, the Mayor has persuaded the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), a Crown Corporation, to return contract security deposits of $619,000 that would guarantee 10 megawatts of power from each Node per year. Neither Node delivered any power.

The question is, what was the source of those deposits, the City? GMHI? Guelph Hydro? More important where is the refund going?

In Point Three, it is revealed that the former mayor had even bigger plans. GMHI secured two parcels of land in order to build two Natural Gas-fired generation plants, one in the Hanlon Park and the other downtown. Part of the proposed Hanlon gas plant site has been sold to a developer for $1.3 million. Was this property offered by tender as required under the Ontario Municipal Act?

How does this square with the admission, May 16, 2016 by former CAO Ann Pappert and GMHI CEO and CFO Pankaj Sardana that GMHI had lost $26,637,244? That’s tne number they both signed off on May 16 at a meeting of Council representing the shareholders of GMHI. Ms. Pappert resigned 10 days later.

The big picture of a deal gone bad, really bad

First, for the average person this is very difficult to unravel and digest what happened, how much has it cost and who was responsible?

Let’s start with the write-offs. The capital cost of the Hanlon District Energy Node of $5.1 million will be written off. With only two customers, it loses a reported $55,000 every year. The Sleeman Centre Node cost was $6.1 million with $3.6 million being written down.

Mr. Sardana told the May 16 meeting of council that GMHI had some $18 million in tax losses. Those losses are never going to be realized because the money-losing GMHI is financially defunct. Translation, they are losses, period.

That totals losses of capital of $8.7 million. So far, that closely equals the amount it took to settle with Urbacon Buildings Group in 2014. Former Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert told the public that the settlement would not affect property taxes. Her administration raided three unrelated reserve funds for $5.7 million to pay the settlement of which little has been paid back.

The Guelph Tribune fails to report the cost of the underground thermal energy system connected to two Tricar condominium buildings, the RiverRun Theatres and the Sleeman Centre. Instead, we are told that the thermal system, powered by the Sleeman Centre District Energy Node will continue to supply hot and cold water for heating and cooling.

Finally, there is that $65 million borrowed from Guelph Hydro by GMHI. In his May report, Mr. Sardana said neither GMHI nor Envida Community Energy having any financial resources to even pay the interest on the loan.

In the 2015 Financial Information Report, the city reported that there was an impaired asset outstanding of $69 million. The reason the amount had increased was because there was no money in GMHI to pay the interest. Presumably, there are no hard assets underlying this $69 million because GMHI is essentially bankrupt.

So the city takes on this debt, lists it on its book as an asset. As the city has folded Guelph Hydro into its financial orbit, it’s only a matter of time before the “impaired” asset becomes a liability and will have to be written off,

Because of the operational secrecy employed by GMHI over the four years, there are still many questions that need answers. The ultimate hypocrisy employed by GMHI was sending a so-called dividend to the city each year to justify its existence. It was just a return of our money while GMHI in its entire history never made a dime.

I don’t know how you feel about this, but the prospect of writing off some $99 million is one of the main reasons that the administration has no money for needed capital projects such as a new Downtown Library, Wilson Street Parking garage, and the South End Recreation Centre.

Yet this council approved converting $700,000 slated for new parking meters to paying some $650,000 toward initial planning of the South End Recreation Centre. Council was told that initial planning would ultimately cost $3.5 million. It didn’t matter, the majority voted for it anyway.

This was a decision to delay installing new downtown meters for another two years thereby failing to start creating revenue.

Finally, this council passed a motion to hire 13 new employees at an annual cost of more than $1 million. That friends, is increasing overhead when there is no courage among most councillors to reduce the high cost of staff.

Since Mayor Guthrie took office there have been more than 45 additional employees added to the staff.

Those are some of the reasons why our city is in a financial mess and cannot afford to even come close to its nine-year capital-spending plan.

The irony is that Guelph resident, Pat Fung, CA, CPA wrote an excellent analysis of the city’s financial management based on four years of the city’s own audited financial reports plus two year’s of reports by external consultants BMA.

Yet in September, Mayor Guthrie outlines what needs to be done to create the 2017 budget. His remarks were right out of the Fung recommendations. He also told a town hall meeting that the greatest cost to the city was the staff

But that’s not what the 2017 budget was all about.

 

 

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When the administration uses gullibility to thwart culpability

By Gerry Barker

January 9, 2017

I still wonder why and how those three senior managers got away with $98,202 in increases for 2015.

It was done in secret, that’s closed session, with council members attending December 10, 2015.

The three were then Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAO’s), Derrick Thomson and Mark Amorosi.

What followed was something out of a cheap pulp fiction novel.

Allow me to recap because the pieces are starting to fit together.

Prior to that Dec. 10 meeting, the Mayor had steadfastly supported Ms. Pappert. He sent out an email to an unknown number of citizens saying that I did not know what I was talking about and to ignore me. That was in January 2015.

In early spring 2015, the Mayor said that Ms. Pappert could not defend herself.

Then he threatened a citizen, Rena Akerman, with legal action because she emailed the record of Ms. Pappert’s performance as CAO over five years to “concerned citizens.” That legal threat disappeared quickly.

The Mayor continued supporting the CAO who, in five years, failed to balance the city books because she overspent her own budget. She authorized using money from reserve funds to ensure the City books were balanced when the Financial Information Report was filed with the province, as required by law.

She also served as Chief Executive Officer of the failed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc for four years.

In 2010, the City reported reserves of $77 million. In 2015 that total was just $10 million.

The attitude at the top of the staff was they could use the reserves for any purpose they chose. The greatest was the $5.7 million they took from three unrelated reserve funds to settle the Lawsuit won by Urbacon Buildings Group Inc in August 2014.

Because there have been no details of that Dec. 10 meeting revealed, City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien, says closed session meetings of council are “not part of the public record.”

But, don’t you believe that awarding such huge increases, of our money is part of the public record and the right of the people to know?

An educated guess is that Ms. Pappert was already on a job search and planned to leave the city. She resigned May 26, 2016. In September, she revealed she had been appointed an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Culture, Tourism and Sport Ministry.

But this is only the beginning of the “Goodbye Ann” caper

According to the official agenda of the October 13. 2015, a closed-session meeting reviewed the performance of the CAO. The process went like this: Each member of council rated the performance of the CAO. The outside consultant received the councillor’s ratings and prepared a consolidated report.

The consultant reported that the aggregate score did not qualify the CAO for an annual salary raise because it was less than required.

Apparently, there was additional discussion by councilors that ranged from the boring to the ridiculous. These included that the CAO should be treated to an increase “out of respect” and “fairness” and “perhaps we were too tough on her.”

Disregarding the consultant’s advice, the majority of council voted to give her the $37,591 increase making her the highest paid CAO in the group of similar sized Ontario cities.

It is troubling that the identity of those councillors voting for the CAO salary increase was never revealed because of the ridiculous closed-session rules.

The CAO was not present at the October 13 meeting. How about this for irony? On December 9, 2015, the meeting to determine the 2016 budget, during another closed-session before the regular meeting, the CAO was informed of her failing score but agreed to take the increase any way!

The truth about that $37,591 Pappert increase for 2015

Last August, Councillor Cathy Downer asked the Human Resources Department to break down the $37,591 received by Ms. Pappert for 2015 and approved in closed session by council Dec. 10.

Why would Ms. Downer bring this up months after Pappert left?

The reason was the amount of negative public reaction to Mr. Pappert’s generous increase when the Provincial Sunshine List revealed her total remuneration of $263,748 for 2015; four months after the increases were awarded in closed session Dec. 10.

Ms. Pappert resigned shortly following the release of her 2015 increase.

The HR staffer told Ms. Downer that Pappert only received a two percent base salary increase for 2015. But then went on to say she received a retroactive performance bonus going back to 2013 of some $18,000. Plus she received more than $18,000 of unused accumulated vacation pay.

A payout of unused vacation time was a clue the CAO was leaving

Now that vacation payout is the clue that council knew she was leaving Dec. 10. One little problem is the managerial agreement states that managers can only withdraw one week a year in unused vacation. Receiving three weeks in one year accommodated her.

This is exemplified by CAO Derrick Thomson’s new contract in which he is entitled to six weeks paid vacation plus another week in lieu of overtime. Overtime? Since when does the CAO of a $500 million corporation charge overtime? Particularly when the CAO is being paid $239,600 a year.

That wrinkle is the CAO’s workdays for the year total 260 days. Now deduct 49 days for paid vacation and another 12 days for statutory holidays and the extra days off when the city hall is closed, estimate 10 days (Christmas and New Years are recent examples). Accordingly, Mr. Thomson is on the job as CAO for 201 days a year being paid $1,192 per day. (239,600/201).

It’s difficult to blame Mr. Thomson because most members of council were complicit in the whole Pappert-leaving episode and also approving large amounts to the two remaining DCAO’s.

I believe Mr. Thomson should be given a chance to sanitize the administration he inherited and return the city to affordable financial stability and accountability.

On November 9th, 2016, I requested City Clerk Stephen O’Brien to ask the Closed Session Investigator (CSI) to unseal the minutes of that Dec. 10th meeting, if they even exist seeing they are not part of the public record. As of today’s date, that request has not been fulfilled in two months. I have never heard from the city’s hired consultant, CSI, Amberlea Gravel of London, Ontario. Mr. O’Brien acknowledged forwarding the pertinent documents to the CSI.

This has mushroomed into a serious abuse of the public trust. We the public have the right to know what we are paying our staff. That’s why CAO Thomson said he would publish details of his contract, and he has.

It’s obvious there is sensitivity in the Guthrie administration about this blatant cover-up by his council and senior staff. This is why it’s important for citizens to know the details of that closed session meeting of council December 10, 2015.

The ludicrous claim that Ms. Pappert only received a two per cent base salary increase almost nine months after the Dec. 10th meeting, has only fuelled the public’s demand for an explanation, one to which they are entitled.

The announcement by CAO Thomson that he would reveal his contract details was another step to shut down the demand for the minutes of that Dec. 10 meeting. The public wanted details of the rationale for those increases and who voted to support it.

I believe Mayor Guthrie should order the details of the meeting be available to the public. This is a black eye on Guelph that needs clarity.

It also discourages trust in the administration and future development of the city.

The council majority preys on the gullibity of the people who pay the bills. It is driven by political practices that allowed the core of council to continue the social engineering policies of the previous administration and its multi-million dollar failures.

The overt denial to reveal the circumstances surrounding the $98,202 increases paid to the top three senior managers borders on corruption. It is a miscarriage of fiduciary responsibility each councillor has sworn to uphold.

Soon their culpability will be tested and their arrogance exposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s half time for Mayor Cam Guthrie and his administration and it’s not looking good

By Gerry Barker

November 28, 2016

Whether he knows it or not, Mayor Cam Guthrie is in an almost identical political pickle as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The Premier charges donors to pay for access to her ministers at classy soirees.

Cam Guthrie allows the Guelph Chamber of Commerce to charge citizens $50 to attend a breakfast meeting in which he will deliver his “State of the City” address next January. You can save $5 if you buy your ticket now. Talk about a captive audience.

Sounds like it’s a twist on the Wynne pay for access fund-raising tactic that has forced her to change the rules of corporate donations to political parties.

Last week, a misty-eyed premier admitted to some 850 Liberals, gathered in Ottawa, that she had made mistakes about hydroelectric power and its high cost to citizens.

Mistakes? Really, Madame Premier, get a grip on reality and skip the crocodile tears.

But let’s get back to our own reality show

This is budget season. The city administration has been bending over backwards to inform the citizens of the details of what I call “budget prep.” The city website is loaded with information that leaves out all the hoary details of the cost of running the city. Depending on the average citizen’s ability on a computer to wade through the labyrinth of detail that, in most cases, artfully only tells part of the story. Only the part that they want you to see, that is.

It’s a carefully designed plan for the administration to claim that it is running an open and transparent government.

The operation, that falls under the management of DCAO Mark Amorosi, who wears so many hats as head of Corporate Services that gives him complete control of the message.

Here’s how: Mr. Amorosi is chief of Finance, Human Recourses, the City Clerk’s Office, Corporate Communications and Services, Information Technology, Project Management and Court Services.

It’s safe to say that Mr. Amorosi has a lot to say about the 2017 budget, his third since taking over the city Finance department in November 2014. That’s a lot of power vested in one senior manager.

Tomorrow night, November 29, at the West End Community Centre just off the Elmira Road, Mayor Cam Guthrie will hold a Town Hall meeting to answer questions about the 2017 city budget: It starts at 7 p.m.

Getting the handle on the truth and facts

If anyone should know what’s going on in the run-up of approving the 2017 budget on December 7, it’s Mr. Guthrie.

As a public service, guelphspeaks.ca offers the following questions for the Mayor’s response.

*  You promised in the 2014 election campaign to keep property tax increases to the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In your first budget, your council approved an increase of 3.96 per cent while the CPI for 2014 was 1.99 per cent. What happened?

*  On the final day of approving the 2016 budget, December 10, 2015, you convened a closed-session of council to approve 2015 pay increases to three top managers of more than $98,000. Do you believe this decision failed the test of open and transparent government?

*  Why did you believe it was necessary to convene a closed session to approve the 2015 top management increases when the fiscal year was almost over?

*  Were these increases included in the 2015 budget, approved by council March 25, 2015?

*  Did you vote to pay those increases?

*  Whose interests do you serve? That of the people, whom you represent, or the public staff that received those large increases?

*  When did you know that Chief Administrative Officer, (CAO) Ann Pappert, was leaving the city?

*  When did you know what the three senior managers were proposing in that December 10 closed-session meeting?

*  Do you believe that the public has the right to know details of staff compensation?

*  The Provincial government policy is to reveal the names, compensation and job title for every public servant in Ontario earning more than $100,000, why do you not believe it applies to Guelph?

*  Why did you agree to not reveal the council closed-session decision, knowing full well that details would be published in the March 2016 Sunshine List?

*  Were any of the three senior managers receiving those increases involved in conducting performance and market reviews to determine who gets how much and why?

*  Why did you threaten legal action against citizen Rena Akerman who distributed a documented list of the failed performance of CAO Pappert over four years?

Why did you comment that you were disturbed that that staff was being questioned in ”this way?”

Why do you consistently ignore the public and defend the senior staff?

This would not happen in a private corporation

In a private corporation, if top managers tried to line their pockets such as this, without supporting their action with facts and figures, they would be out of a job. The problem in Guelph is that oversight of top management is almost non-existent.

Typically, the council should be responsible for protecting the public interests because they are the elected representatives of the people.

That December 10, 2015 closed-session meeting of council revealed the weakness of our elected officials to stand up to such blatant misuse of power by the paid senior managers.

Today, the stark reality of a paucity use of power by our Mayor only perpetuates as long as he holds office. He is not alone as the council majority continues to control the city’s public business with obstructive interference or no remorse.

Consider this: If the three top administration managers can persuade a gutless council to approve $98,000 worth of pay increases in secret session, why can we expect anything to change?

The cities of Brampton and Ottawa have figured it out by gutting paid management staff to improve efficiencies that will work for the electorate and not the hired help.

One final fact: The Guelph staff is proposing a staff increase of 13 for 2017. Of that number, seven are earning more than $100,000 a year. The total 2017 cost for the 13 is $1,304,850.

Since the 2014 election there have been some 45 new employees added to the staff.

These hires contribute to the excessive operating overhead that has been created in the past ten years without any serious staff rationalization.

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Former CAO Ann Pappert’s generous goodbye party

By Gerry Barker

November 10, 2016

It is now evident that Guelph citizens are starting to catch on to why and how those huge salary increases were awarded to Ann Pappert, Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson last December 10, 2015 in closed session.

Coun. Cathy Downer asked Human Resources for an explanation of the former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ann Pappert’s 17.11 per cent increase in 2015.

The explanation is a study in obfuscation and corruptive practice. Most interesting, did Ms. Downer break council’s Code of Conduct by asking HR for details of Ms. Pappert’s 2015 increase? The Code of Conduct binds councillors not to reveal details of closed-session meetings or face investigation by the Integrity Commissioner.

First, here is how the City of Guelph power structure works:

Under the present bylaws, the CAO has absolute control over all members of the staff. Council can question the CAO but is prevented from questioning the performance of the staff reporting to the CAO without his or her consent. This would include the Deputy Chief Administrative Officers Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson.

Council does have the power to select the CAO and it is essential there exist a cozy relationship between the CAO and council. Otherwise why would council appoint someone with whom they could not get along? In this case,council chose Derrick Thomson to be CAO.

During the eight-year twin terms of the Farbridge administration, the former mayor selected just two CAO’s, Hans Loewig and Ann Pappert. This gave the former mayor absolute control over her two hand picked CAO’s.

This ended October 2014 when Cam Guthrie defeated the mayor.

Starting December 1, 2014, Mayor Guthrie inherited most of the senior staffers who had been appointed during the Farbridge years. These included CAO Ann Pappert, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) Mark Amorosi, DCAO Derrick Thomson and former Chief Financial Officer Al Horsman who was demoted to DCAO of Waste Management and Environmental Services. He resigned and left the city in August 2015.

The job of overseeing Finances was handed to DCAO Mark Amorosi who already was in charge of Human Resources (HR).

The stage was now set for council to complete the 2015 budget. It pulled the blind down on public participation until the 2016 budget meetings held in November and December of last year. But it did not include details of the December 10, 2015 closed-session meeting when council awarded that hefty remuneration increases to three top staffers.

Fast forward to October 2016

Two budgets later, the bloom was coming off the rose of Ms. Pappert’s five-year career as the city’s CAO. Last March, when a citizen publically questioned the performance of Ms. Pappert for those five years, Mayor Guthrie threatened legal action against the citizen. Cooler heads prevailed and the threat disappeared.

Now this occurrence was key to what really happened during the Dec 10 closed session

Coun. Cathy Downer asked HR for an explanation of the 17.11 per cent raise for Ms. Pappert. She was told the CAO’s increase was only two per cent for 2015 or $229,639. That was an increase of $9,982.

But then HR reported they were advised that in 2015, the date not identified, council approved a two-year retroactive performance-based increase for Ms. Pappert with an effective date of October 17, 2013. That retro pay increase of $18,624 was included in the 2015 pay package for Ms. Pappert.

Now common sense would say that the performance payment would increase her 2015 base salary to $248,263 or an increase of $28,606. At this stage, that is a 13.20 one-year increase. But there is more, follow the bouncing ball for clarity.

According to HR, council also approved a vacation pay top-up of $18,589. But there is a need for explanation here including why the numbers do not add up, (248,263 + 18,589 = $266,852).

The city reported to the Province that Ms. Pappert’s 2015 salary as $257,248, that is $9,604 less than the $266,852.

How is it possible for citizens to follow this when it is covered up?

Let’s look at that vacation payout to Ms. Pappert. According to HR, the Non-Union and Management Compensation policy to that staff only permits a carry over of one week of vacation a year. At her rate of compensation for 2015, Ms. Pappert carried over the equivalent of 3.757 weeks in the 2015 pay period.

Ms Pappert’s base salary including that two-year retro increase adjustment became $248,263. But in 2014 she received an increase of $5,055.

Why did the present council decide to give Ms. Pappert such a generous performance increase backdated for two years on top of the 2014 increase of $5,055? Especially when the former CAO was under fire for performance issues related to her job?

Mr. Amorosi is on record stating the Ms. Pappert did not receive an increase in 2014 because she did not request one from the HR department. But that’s not what the Sunshine List says. Her 2014 salary was $219,657.

The Sunshine List can only report the salary information provided by the city. In this case, the city HR department is trying to justify exorbitant senior staff salary increases by claiming that retroactive payments and a vacation roll over charge of $18,589 are one-time events.

Sorry HR but performance payments once awarded are permanent and not one-time events. Performance recognizes the employee’s contribution to the job and increases the base pay. In this case it is academic because we now know Ms. Pappert was leaving.

What about the two other big salaries increases to Mr. Amorosi and Mr. Thomson?

Ms. Downer did not ask for an HR rationalization of why Amorosi and Thomson were also awarded large increases. Remember, CAO Pappert would have recommended those increases to council as Amorosi and Thomson reported to her.

The question remains: Who decided what Ann Pappert’s retroactive bonus would be? Was it Mark Amorosi’s responsibility to measure the performance of staff? If he played any role in setting the Pappert retro payments, he was in a conflict of interest because he reported to her.

Here’s what I think really happened December 10

It’s plain that Ann Pappert was planning her exit from Guelph. The clues are her acceptance of a vacation allowance totaling 3.75 weeks, not one week each year, as allowed under the Non-Union and Managerial compensation policy.

Confidentiality was vital to concealing the details of this monetary transfer of power. Pappert was on the hunt for a new job and she landed with the Ontario government as an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Tourism, Culture and Sport Ministry In October. At the start of 2016, she needed that four months, employed by the city, to keep the lid on her personal action plan until the Sunshine List hit the news in March.

Did Guelph MPP and Liberal Cabinet Minister, Liz Sandals, play a role helping Pappert land her new job?

Ms. Pappert resigned 56 days after publication of the Sunshine List in March. Derrick Thomson was appointed to replace her shortly afterwards. Mark Amorosi was still in charge of Finances and HR plus City Clerk’s office, corporate communications and customer service, court services, information technology, and the project management office.

Why on earth was there any reason to award Ms. Pappert that retroactive pay increase dated back to October 2013 when it was clear she was leaving? Easy, it was needed for her resume’.

If the previous council failed to award a performance increase to Ms. Pappert for more than a year prior to 2015, why did this council feel it was necessary?

Wasn’t it obvious why Ms. Pappert was allowed to roll over all that unused vacation time of $18,589 in direct conflict with the None-Union Management protocol? It is one that only allows one week per year? It appears she received part of it for the budget years 2013, 2014 and 2015 plus the four months and 26 days for 2016. How did HR document that in it submission to the Province?

Were these council decisions regarding the three senior staffers made December 10, 2015 in closed session?

Why was it imperative for council to approve backdated performance increases that were never reported in the 2014 or 2015 Sunshine Lists?

Did Ms. Pappert tell council she was leaving during that Dec. 10 closed meeting?

This whole Pappert bundling exercise is nothing but HR window dressing. It remains a cover up by city council with the assistance of the HR staff led by Mark Amorosi. Regardless of the HR staff explanation and outcome, Ms. Pappert’s salary for 2015 was $257,248 or $37, 591 over her 2014 Sunshine salary of $219,657. It is not two per cent but 17.11 per cent.

HR can slice and dice it whichever way they choose but Ms. Pappert’s 2015 pay package increase was 17.11 per cent. The same people who were in on it reported that total to the Provincial government December 31, 2015.

This is further proof that the former mayor’s controlling bylaws and secrecy continues to allow elected officials to conceal the public’s business.

It’s time for it to stop

Having said that, it is refreshing to see that CAO Derrick Thomson is opening up details of his compensation package and identifying three city operations to be examined this year in rationalization studies.

It’s one small step for clarity and one small step for Guelph. (Attribution: Astronaut Neil Armstrong landing on the moon).

The good news is that finally the truth of this closed session meeting is being revealed.

Other good news is that I have issued a complaint to the city’s hired Closed Session Investigator, requesting the minutes and voting of that Dec. 10 meeting of council that gave out these increases to three top managers. The detailed complaint, (it will be published later in guelphspeaks.ca) was delivered to City Clerk Stephen O’Brien on Monday, November 7. Stay turned, the outcome of this investigation will be reported in www.guelphspeaks.ca.

 

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Salary Gate; The plot sickens

By Gerry Barker

October 21, 2016

When former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, left the top city staff job last May, she walked away, after more than five years employed by the city with a gold plated pension. Her final months gave her 70 per cent of her estimated last five years at a salary rate exceeding $200,000 per year.

When she was promoted to the CAO’s job in 2011, she was making the same as retiring CAO Hans Loewig, $199,000 a year. By 2014, she was making $219,000. Then came the big bump up in pay that gave her a new salary of $257,591 for 2015 and part of 2016.

She wasn’t alone. Two of her three subordinates also received hefty increases ranging from 14 to 19 per cent.

The trouble was that the public was not aware or informed of council’s approval that December 10th in closed session.

Why would Mayor Guthrie and council go along with this? Why would the Mayor not inform the residents of Guelph of this major decision? Will we ever know the rationale of this approval or why these increases were warranted?

These three top managers of the city staff, numbering more than 2,000 employees, were awarded these increases totaling $98,000 in a closed meeting held either before or after the second day of the open public meeting to create the 2016 budget.

These increases were not made public until March 2016 when the provincial Sunshine List let the cat out of the bag.

When this occurred, Pappert was leaving; Thomson had turned in his resignation to work elsewhere and Al Horsman left for a better job in August 2015 to become CAO for Sault Ste Marie. Only Mark Amorosi, head of HR, Legal Services and Finance remained.

In fairness, Mr. Horsman was not a party to this as he was removed as Chief Financial Officer in November 2014 to take over Waste Management and Environmental Services. He was not a city employee when the council approved the 2015 senior management increases in camera last December 10.

Was there fear of recrimination or loss of reputation among this group who hid their substantial salary increases behind an ill-advised code of silence?

When I asked city Clerk Stephen O’Brien for the minutes of the closed session held December 10, I was informed closed session meetings are “not part of the public record” and are not available.

The hidden benefit

While you may think those increases were out of line without substantial performance evaluations to back them up, there was another hidden benefit that no one, especially the recipients, want to talk about.

In my opinion, Ann Pappert walked away from this city as a millionaire . For more than five years her base gross salary exceeded more than $1,073,979. That did not include annual taxable benefits or the $20,000 “moving allowance” she received as incentive to move to Guelph or the taxable benefits she received over those 56.5 months as CAO.

The real benefits story lies in her pension. Following more than five years employed by the City of Guelph, her pension is 70 per cent of the average of her previous five years plus 4.5 months in 2016. Upon retirment, that gives her a lifetime pension of $150,300 a year, indexed, plus paid health and dental coverage, any accumulated unused sick leave or vacation time and a severance allowance that was part of her employment contract. Details of these management contracts are not made public. Often called the golden handshake, these termination costs can range from a few months to multiple years of the employee’s former salaries. Throw in unused sick leave credits and or vacation and it adds up.

If Ms. Pappert had resigned in 2015 before her five-year anniversary of being CAO, and without that huge 2015 increase, her pension would have dropped to an estimated $144,120 per year. Ms. Pappert is a relatively young woman and has years to live on a very comfortable income for the rest of her life when she starts drawing it.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Excluding Mr. Horsman who did not avail himself of the Salary-Gate exercise, the two remaining participants will also see their pension benefits take a giant leap forward. While Mr. Thomson was employed by the city for a very short time, he is now CAO. He joined the staff in 2013 with a salary of $172,000 and is now making north of $220,000 as CAO. That’s an estimated $48,000 salary increase in not quite three years. Of course his job responsibilities increased substantially. Mr. Amorosi is still chugging along with a salary of $209,000 as the man in charge of Human Resources. City Finances and Legal Services.

The bottom line is Ms. Pappert is not the only winner in Salary-Gate. Both Mr. Thomson and Mr. Amorosi will also benefit, not only receiving 2015’s large salary increases but also growing enhanced pensions while still employed.

But here’s the underlying problem that citizens face regarding these awards to senior managers.

The growing retirement liabilities facing Guelph

The city’s annual audited financial report states that there are two staff retirement liabilities on its books: One is $14,519,000 connected to 1,944 city employees who are members of the Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS). This liability grew by $2,087,000 between 2014 and 2015. The total city reserve fund to cover this liability is $1,799,000. OMERS is currently underfunded by $7 billion. This means that the citizens of Guelph must guarantee payment of those defined pensions for the life of the retired employees.

Here’s more. There is another staff retirement liability on the city books is $16,850,000 covering other non-OMERS employees. It is backed up by a reserve fund of $1,147,000.

These two liabilities total $31,369,000 for 2015 and aregrowing. Adding younger workers exacerbates the rising costs because people are living longer. Also, awarding excessive remuneration to all levels of city staff pushes the liabiltiies beyond the projected rate of inflation. Last year the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 1.1 per cent.

In the case of the OMERS employees the liability increased by 15.5 per cent from 2014 to 2015. Projecting that growth rate forward for 10 years and the OMERS employee group liability is estimated to exceed $36 million.

This is clearly not sustainable given the current operational Fund and Capital Fund growth pattern of the last 10 years. The present administration appears unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to correct this growing cost problem.

There is a solution on the table

Guelph citizen Pat Fung, CPA, CA, prepared a thorough analysis of the audited city financial statements as published by the corporation that was ridiculed and ignored by senior city staff, Mayor Guthrie and a majority of council. The Guelph Merciry Tribune also refused to us the Fing report and denied placement of a full-page ad onnthe grounds it was not documented, too political and was inflamatory.

Fortunately, many people in the city have read and understand the Fung analysis and his recommendations to halt the bleeding caused by mismanagement. How many Urbacons, GMHI’s and secret meetings have to occur before council wakes up and takes action?

Salary-Gate is the epitome of three member of senior management self-serving their own interests and not that of the public. What kind of message does this send to all employees and the citizens?

The fact remains to this day, there has been no explanation of why the increases were awarded, or why it was withheld from the public for four months? It has already resulted in total destruction of the public trust.

If we allow this betrayal of trust and confidence then it’s a sure thing that in five years that Retirement Liability will grow to more than $5 million.

An unrelated footnote: According to the city Financial Report, the total fines made in the Provincial Offences Court in the old city hall for 2015, was $14,337,000. Of that, $8,022,000 has been considered to be uncollectable. That means that 55.9 per cent got away without paying.

What does this say about our justice system administered by the City of Guelph?

 

 

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The Farbridge Fallout: 10 years of a toxic administration leaves an enduring legacy

By Gerry Barker

August 6, 2016

Like most people in Guelph, we are beginning to understand the underground story of financial failure, secrecy and wasteful spending that is slowly emerging following eight years of a Farbridge administration. It is a litany of abuse of the public trust by the majority of elected officials. We have endured an administration riddled with absurd decisions and too much influence over those elected and entrusted with the people’s interests.

We are now witnessing the denuding of senior staff that shares responsibility for spending millions of public money with compliance of the former mayor’s majority of council.

Gone is Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert; Executive Director of Waste Management and Environmental Services, Janet Laird; Executive Director of Operations Derek McCaughan; Former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Al Horsman; Former General Manager of Finance and Treasurer, Janice Sheehy; former manager of Finance (pre Horsman), Susan Arum; Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole, now suing the city for wrongful dismissal; former Police Chief Bryan Larkin who played a major role in selling the $34.1 million police headquarters renovation along with former Mayor Farbridge and Coun. Leanne Piper.

Rising from the wreckage is CAO Derrick Thomson, former Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, (DCAO), of Operations; General Manager of Culture and Tourism, Colleen Clack who takes over Thomson’s job as DCAO of Operations including Guelph Transit; Finance department analyst, Tara Baker, recently named Chief Financial Officer, General Manager, Finance and Treasurer. She does not assume the job until next year.

This is another example of moving people up whose experience or accreditation may not match their new responsibilities. Ms. Baker was selected even after the city used a headhunter to conduct a search for a CFO.

There is one senior employee who remains post 2014. Mark Amorosi has responsibility for human resources and city finances as DCAO of Corporate Services.

This situation, in which continuity and responsibility that Mr. Amorosi has artfully engineered, is by reaching in-house and ignoring a professional search. We still paid for it. Since his employment in 2008, he has been the architect of building a bloated bureaucracy that has increased in terms of full-time employees to more than 2,100 from 1,500. He is in charge of all personnel and their issues including salaries, wages and benefits. The city staff is now 80 per cent unionized. And, more than 80 per cent of all property taxes are used to pay the staf.

Staff morale is at an all-time low

The staff has reached the depths of low morale but most hang on because of the money and benefits. Working for the city or the University of Guelph provides above average pay, benefits and job security. But many staffers say it’s a lousy place to work because of a senior management that is erratic, lacks empathy and consistently changes the work plan.

Amorosi, in his unique position of power, also looked after himself and fellow senior staff with those unearned 2015 salary increases for the CAO and three fellow DCAO’s. Those increases ranged from 14 to 19 per cent and the people who paid them were never informed. That is not until the provincial Sunshine List of public servants earning more than $100,000 was released last March.

Talk about a sneaky attack on the public purse. It makes the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour almost saintly by comparison. The Yanks at least knew what was happening in that day of infamy. Citizens were not informed about those increases until months after council approved the deal, in closed session.

What does it take to rid our administration of this individual who has been the author and executor of the city’s declining financial capacity? It is now apparent that Amorosi was picked to meet her objectives by Farbridge as her got-to guy to steer her now misguided and failed vision of Guelph.

In order to accomplish those Farbridge goals, and polices, procedural bylaws were passed by her majority of council supporters. She banned any revelation of what was discussed in closed sessions of council known as “in camera” meetings.

A Code of Conduct that would allow the mayor to censure any councillor who spoke out of line following an “in camera” proceeding, backed up the procedural bylaw. In 2010, the Farbridge council appointed an Integrity Commission whose function was to adjudicate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by any member of city council.

There were two such actions sent to the Integrity Commissioner. One was against then Ward Four Councillor, now Mayor Cam Guthrie, who along with a minority of councillors threatened to demand a public document that was refused by the staff. The other was against former Councillor Maggi Laidlaw accused of being belligerent with staff during a committee meeting.

Integrity Commissioner gets another five-year contract

The Integrity Commissioner’s report of both cases did not sanction either party. His bill was more than $10,000. The Integrity Commissioner was awarded another five-year term last March with an annual retainer of $5,000 plus an hourly rate when he was engaged.

That contract was approved in another “in camera” session and details were never revealed. It is another example of the public interest being blocked.

When the former mayor organized the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI), she appointed herself as chairperson and four members of council to hold a majority. The Chief Executive Officer of Guelph Hydro and two Farbridge-appointed independents completed the board of directors. Newly appointed CAO Ann Pappert was named Chief Executive Officer. So there is no doubt about the tight link between the City Corporation and GHMI.

For five years, GMHI conducted its meetings in private session, beyond public access or transparency. In all those years, not one councillor who sat on the GMHI board said anything about what GMHI was doing.

And what they were doing was spending some $37.1 million on developing a District Energy plan that included connecting two Nodes (natural gas fired pumps) to a small number of nearby buildings to supply hot and cold water.

The trouble was that $37.1 million wasn’t enough to make the system function. The Nodes were located in the Sleeman Centre and the Hanlon Creek Business Park. A staff report July 18, 2016, detailed the financing of these projects and stated that it was badly planned and executed and required another $60 million to make it work and meet the original objective.

Spending more money on a failed project

GuelphSpeaks has written extensively about this situation and those posts may be found in the blog archives.

Council, on a staff recommendation, hired Deloitte as consultants to advise them what to do next. Council chose to continue the operation until March 2017. Supporting that motion was the Bloc of Seven Farbridge supporters on council plus Coun. Bob Bell. Deloitte’s bill will range between $130,000 and $160,000.

The only way to stop this growing financial disaster is to complain to the Ombudsman of Ontario regarding all those closed meetings held over six years conducted by GMHI, a wholly owned corporation of the City of Guelph.

If just four residents of Oshawa can complain about its council meeting conducted in camera to discuss the sale of its Hydro, it should not take much to ask for an Ombudsman staff investigation.

Here is an extract of how to complain. I’m sending one in, how about you?

Here are your Ombudsman choices

Have you already tried to resolve your problem with the organization’s complaint procedures? If you aren’t sure what options are available, you can speak to the organization directly or the Ombudsman’s staff can assist you.

Note – Yes, several times to no avail. GuelphSpeaks received one annual report (2014) that showed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. a wholly owned city corporation that included Guelph Hydro losing $2.8 million.

The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016.

Note – Guelph citizens can now make a complaint.

Fill in an online complaint form (for other options, see below).
It is also helpful to:

*  Get the names and titles of the people you have dealt with at the government or public sector body;

  • Keep track of the dates of your contact with them;
  • Keep all written communication relating to your complaint.

Note: Citizens were not informed of what was occurring during the five years the city was operating a separate corporation that was making decisions with no accountability, transparency or public input.

Submit a complaint online

Please note that we do not accept complaints through Twitter, Facebook, or any other third-party platforms.
Telephone  Our complaints staff is available 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may also leave a voice message outside of office hours. Toll-free (inside Ontario only): 1-800-263-1830

Calls with our Office may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes and/or to ensure an accurate and exact record.

Email:  
info@ombudsman.on.ca

Fax:    416-586-3485

Mail:    Print our complaint form (PDF)
Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, ON
M5G 2C9

In person:  An appointment is recommended for in-person (walk-in) complaints. Please call 1-800-263-1830 to schedule an appointment.
The office is located at 483 Bay Street, (Bell Trinity Square, 10th Floor, South Tower), Toronto. Office hours are from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Review our Frequently Asked Questions. Or call 1-800-263-1-830 during office hours to speak to Ombudsman staff.

 

Please note:

If you want to complain about the closed-door operations of both the city and GMHI, try to include names and dates of staff or councillor conversations with whom you questioned plus their replies.

A starting point is requesting copies of the minutes of all those GMHI meetings, dates, names and motions. The source is the city clerk’s office.

If you need advice completing your complaint, please send me an email at gerrybaker76@gmail.com. Identification is a requirement. GB
 

 

 

 

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