The Guelph File
By Gerry Barker
Posted October 2, 2015
The abortive attempt by Susan Watson to agree with her premise that Glen Tolhurst was guilty of accepting $400 from GrassRoots Guelph for his campaign has left the public holding the bag for $11,400.
The Compliance Audit Committee (CAC) threw its principles out the window when it said it would not recommend making Susan Watson pay for her frivolous ascertions that led to the public expense.
It’s reasoning was that Tolhurst did contravene the Municipal Elections Act (MEA) by failing to report an expense of $5.60 for a city map, accepting a cheque of $198 from an individual that was intended to be for himself and his wife and making a mathematical error of $1.
All that was worth $11,400?
The auditor hired to investigate Mr. Tolhurst’s official returns, stated the Tolhurst incidental contraventions did not mean he contravened the MEA because they were of a minor nature and did not affect his decision or the outcome of the election.
The three CAC members, Lyndsay Monk, George Gorringe and Glen Greer, made a gutless and irresponsible decision in the face of the auditor’s complete exoneration of both Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph (GRG). But they’re not concerned because they received $1,700 for their service.
The CAC members lacked morality, a clear understanding of justice and accepted advice, in private, by Farbridge appointed city staffers, including the City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien. A week before the CAC decision, Mr. O’Brien told the media that Susan Watson would not be responsible for the costs of the audit. On the day of decision, in the closed-door meeting, the CAC was instructed by a city lawyer to not order Susan Watson to pay the costs of this trial.
In a nutshell, that’s what this was all about. The CAC members, all appointed by former Mayor Karen Farbridge, abused Mr. Tolhurst’s honesty in reporting the GRG donation and attempting to neuter GRG, the citizen’s organization that played an effective role in the defeat of Karen Farbridge, Susan Watson’s friend and supporter.
Citizens should be aware that this was a planned and concerted attempt to discredit GRG and seven months after the 2014 civic election, citizens will end up paying for it.
Here is the breakdown of the Watson complaint costs
Auditor William Molson -$8,249
Aird and Berlis (consultant Jody Johnson) – $1,440
CAC members – $1,700
The city clerk stated the costs are approximate because the staff time used in relation to the audit was not tracked or costed. There were no charges included for facilities used in relation to the audit such as meeting rooms or the council chambers.
Hmm. Do you think that this exercise in abuse of the public purse and staff is worth what the outcome has cost?
It is now crystal clear that Susan Watson has many friends in key positions on city staff. How else could she have pulled this off without overt support from key staff members?
No more proof is needed to understand why this complaint ever got started. There was ongoing complicit support by the staff and the appointed members of the CAC to discredit citizens and their opposition to the previous administration.
The auditor figured it out. But why was Susan Watson so protected by certain members of the city staff? Why was the city council silent when it became apparent what was occurring right under their noses?
The capper came when the Guelph Mercury headline over the story about the CAC decision, said Tolhurst would not be charged. With what?
Really! Was that headline accurate in describing what happened the night of September 10? The Mercury jumped the gun as the CAC never considered charging Tolhurst but accepted the auditor’s report that he did not contravene the MEA. Nor did GRG.
This remains a black mark against the city senior staff leadership all of whom were appointed by the previous administration.
Using the people’s money to attack citizens is right out of the fascist playbook.
It will not be forgotten.