Tag Archives: Bloc of Seven

Why voters are saying: Gee! I didn’t vote for that

By Gerry Barker

August 25, 2016

While many Guelphites are on vacation and catching the rays, it dawns on me that many people are still wondering what has happened to our city in the past nine years? Traffic congestion is greater than ever due to the shrinkage of lanes on some major route; Taxes are at their highest level since 2006; Garbage collection and processing covers only 87 per cent of the households and businesses; the infrastructure repairs and maintenance in Guelph will cost more than $250 million in the next ten years, according the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO).

We have been governed by a number of aggressive progressives, aka the “Progs” who have had their way with the public purse employing tactics to achieve their goals that would make Donald Trump blush.

They had power and used it. They set records for closed meetings doing the public’s business. So let’s look at some of the progressive achievements that a minority of citizens supported. If you did not vote in 2006 or 2010 don’t get mad, get even and make sure you vote in 2018.

But let’s look at how the progressives changed your city.

* Coun. Mike Salisbury moves a motion to spend $600,000 on bicycle lanes on Woodlawn Avenue in the 2015 budget and was supported by his majority of colleagues. They became known as the Bloc of Seven. A perfectly good four-lane road in one section of Woodlawn Road East was re-marked to a lane each way, a centre left turn lane and bicycle lane.

Gee, I didn’t vote for that!

* The city rebuilt Wyndham Street under the CNR mainline that does not provide enough height for large trucks with trailers to pass under. Depending on your point of view, during the Santa Claus parade the big guy nearly had his head taken off as his float passed under the bridge. It still hasn’t been repaired and the engineer in charge is no longer with the city.

Gee, willikers, I didn’t vote for that!

* DCAO Mark Amorosi of Corporate Services and Human Resoures, first advertisied for a Chief Financial Officer, then hired a headhunter to locate a suitable candidiate. He ended up appointing a junior financial analyst in the finance department as CFO, General Manager of Finance and Treasurer. Now that’s a giant leap up the ladder! Problem is the lady is on maternity leave and will not report for work until next year.

Is it possible he made a mistake? I didn’t vote for that!

* Guelph Hydro has hiked electricity rates by 42.5 per cent since June 2013 to July 2016. And a Hydro executive said that Guelph Hydro had one of its best years ever in 2015. Really!. Combining the electricity increase, water and sewage rates for the same period, in June 2013 – water $130/sewage $141; in July 2016, water $159 sewage $173 makes Guelph one of the highest energy and water cost city’s households and businesses in the province.

Holy bananas! I didn’t vote for that!

* Mayor Cam Guthrie campaigned in 2014 promising a Better Guelph and property taxes contained to the Consumer Price Index. The index was 2.1 per cent in January 2015 but the property taxes including increases in assessment were 3.96 per cent under his watch.

Leapin’ Alligators, I didn’t vote for that!

* The operating costs of two culture centres in the city show a city subsidy of $780,000 just to keep the the doors open. In case you’re wondering, the cost for the RiverRun Theatres – $531,000 and the Sleeman Centre – $249,000. But hold the phone, The city negotiated a new 10-year deal with the Guelph Storm Hockey Club to reduce the city share from the receipts. It has been reported that the cost to the city is $5 million over the term of the contract. The Storm are the only lessees for the Sleeman that goes dark for three months each year.

Blazing hockey pucks! I didn’t vote for that!

* Coun. James Gordon describes his role on council is to deal with housing, poverty, environmental sustainability, a living wage, food security and climate change. He is serving on a municipal council not an NDP member of the Ontario Legislature, he tried once but he lost. Every vote in which he participates is a function of his personal beliefs and not those of the people who elected him.

Beliefs, Schmuliefs. I didn’t vote for that!

* Coun. June Hofland brings 25 years of banking to her job as chair of the council finance committee. She has held the job for four years, but who is counting? Ms. Hofland takes her orders from DCAO Amorosi. She won by just five votes in 2014. That’s not a towering approval rating for the eight-year councillor. The question remains: Are we in good hands with Hofland at the financial tiller?

Will that be $20’s or $50’s? I didn’t vote for her

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Is Salary-Gate the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

By Gerry Barker

May 12, 2016

Despite attempts to block public access by doing the citizen’s business behind closed doors, the leaks keep coming. The Guelph city council’s majority Orange Crush continues to obstruct and bring a once great city to its financial knees.

Here’s a word from the plumber: Want to stop the leaks of your private, close-session meetings? Put an end to those meetings and conduct your business in open council.

First, who is part of the Orange Crush? Councillor Phil Allt appears to be the defacto leader, along with Coun. James Gordon and Coun. Leanne Piper, this is the heart of the Orange Crush. Their fellow traveling councillors include: June Hofland, Cathy Downer, Mike Salisbury, and Karl Wettstein.

Collectively, they are dedicated supporters of the previous Mayor who was defeated in the last election. The trouble arises when these seven do everything in their power to stop reform. Reform that the majority of voters in the October 27 civic election chose by electing Mayor Cam Guthrie.

It is now painfully apparent that Mayor Guthrie is not up to the job of leading the city because when important issues arise, he abandons ship.

Here are some examples.

The Mayor failed to stop the reorganization of the senior staff before he took office even though he was a member of the Farbridge council that approved the reorganization. It happened before he took office December 1, 2014.

He stood by when Farbridge loyalist Susan Watson attempted to prevent GrassRoots Guelph from donating to civic candidates. An audit based on her attack that used the election finance statement by Glen Tolhurst, was thrown out by the independent auditor. Mayor Guthrie did nothing to support the candidate. Mr. Tolhurst did nothing wrong, being victimized by a frivolous complaint. The result was the estimated $11,400 cost of the audit was absorbed by the city, not charged to Ms. Watson.

Mayor Guthrie did nothing to stop the firing of the Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole who complained to the CAO that the city was breaking its own and provincial bylaws. The Ontario Building code mandates building permits be issued for all construction projects. Poole said the city failed to obtain building permits for some 70 city projects.

He is now suing the city for $1 million for wrongful dismissal. The city’s track record defending wrongful dismissal cases has been dismal and expensive. The Urbacon case comes to mind. Or, remember the $500,000 it cost the city when firing the Chief Administrative Officer(CAO) and Chief Financial Officer(CFO) in 2007?

But Mayor Guthrie supported CAO Ann Pappert, who received a $37,581 salary increase, despite those same councillors giving her a failing rating on her performance. Now apparently he has ordered an investigation in Guelph’s “Salary-Gate,” involving three senior managers receiving excessive pay increases.

This is the same mayor who recently told some 200 persons at a “State of the City” address, that his council, most of the time, was not divided. This comment was made before the news broke that the bloc of seven councillors voted on December 9, in closed-session to give CAO Ann Pappert a $37,581 salary increase for 2015. It occurred October 13, in another closed-session, despite this same bloc rating her performance unworthy of any increase.

It only took 57 days to experience an Epiphany awarding her with 17.11 per cent increase. One of the choice comments made was “maybe we were too tough on her,” at the October meeting.

Is this not a great way to run a $500 million corporation?

And where was Mayor Guthrie when this 57 days of infamy took place? Stone silent. Not only after the fact, he never said a word until the Sunshine List revealed the huge senior management increases awarded December 9, were reported three months later.

Not a whisper until Mayor Guthrie threatened legal action on a citizen, Rena Akerman, for emailing a detailed negative summary of the CAO’s performance over five years.

Instead, Mayor Guthrie gushes about what a great job he’s doing to grow the city. He did mention the aging infrastructure and the cost of servicing crumbling pipes, sewers, streets and city assets needing replacement.

The staff’s solution to handle the infrastructure deficit is to charge businesses and households a 2 per cent annual fee for ten years on top of regular property taxes. The estimated total take on this scheme is $280 million in the ten years.

This staff proposal was brought up in the closed session before the open 2016 budget debate December 9. It was leaked out after the 2016 budget was completed December 10. The proposal was pushed ahead to next November when the 2017 budget is discussed. Where was the Mayor, who chairs the meetings, public or in closed-session?

Is this part of his grand design for the future of the city? Push big decisions down the rabbit hole and avoid conflict at any cost?

You can turn the insurance salesman into a mayor, but you can’t take the insurance salesman out of the mayor.

 

 

 

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