Tag Archives: Dennis Galon

Is the City Clerk right absolving Susan Watson of repaying her election complaint costs to the city?

Posted September 4, 2015

This case concerns a complaint made by Susan Watson, friend and supporter of former mayor Karen Farbridge, that GrassRoots Guelph illegally donated $400 to Glen Tolhurst, a candidate in the ward six 2014 election. Mr. Tolhurst lost his bid for council.

The people of Guelph have already passed judgment on this case. The vast majority believes that the complaint did not warrant spending public money to satisfy the whim of a disgruntled individual.

The more interesting part of this costly charade is the role of the senior city staff. From the CAO, Ann Pappert, to the three members of the Compliance Audit Committee (CAC) to city clerk, Stephen O’Brien, were all appointed by the Farbridge administration.

Collectively, it is now crystal clear of their involvement expediting the audit and that now the city clerk says Susan Watson won’t have to pay the public funds spent for her vexatious and frivolous complaint. William Molson CA, who conducted the audit, thoroughly dispelled the attempt to discredit Mr. Tolhurst and GrassRoots Guelph.

It was city clerk O’Brien who stated in Wednesday’s Mercury, that Susan Watson having to repay the city for its costs “was not going to happen.”

It now appears that the CAC on September 10, can recommend that Susan Watson doesn’t have to repay the citizen’s money for her ill-founded excursion to seek revenge over her friend’s defeat.

With respect, such a decision would be at its own peril.

O’Brien has painted himself and the Watson faction into a corner that even has the left members of council very nervous.

Follow the money

Here’s why. The following councillors all received campaign donations from Susan Watson: Leanne Piper ($500), Cathy Downer ($500), James Gordon ($250), June Hofland ($500), and Mike Salisbury ($250). Curious question: Why did the women candidates receive twice as much from Ms. Watson as the men?

But here’s the problem. All of those councillors must recuse themselves from voting if the Watson repayment matter comes to council. It would be a breach of conflict of interest regulations, because they have a pecuniary interest due to receiving money from Susan Watson.

Guelphspeaks urges citizens to attend the CAC meeting September 10 starting at 5:30 p.m. This dreadful example of the misuse of power still exists today, ten months after the people voted to end such practices. Make your presence felt to let them know this kind of chicanery of using other people’s money to achieve vengeance, must stop. GB

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The GRG submission delivered in person to city clerk Stephen O’Brien September 3, 2015

TO:  The members of the Compliance Audit Committee (CAC), Lyndsay Monk, Glen Greer and George Gorringe

FROM: Gerry Barker on behalf of GrassRoots Guelph Voters Association Inc. (GRG)

SUBJECT: Written submission concerning the application of an audit of Glen Tolhurst, a former council candidate in 2014.

The following points* represent the views of GRG. These are in regard to the complaint of Susan Watson about a $400 donation made by GRG to former city council candidate, Glen TolhurstTO: The members of the Guelph Compliance Audit Committee (CAC), Lyndsay Monk, Glen Greer and George Gorring

* GRG fully supports the findings in the nine-page report by the CAC appointed auditor, William Molson, CA, CPA. We would further thank him for his open and thorough analysis.

* Although named in the Watson application for an audit, GRG was never given the opportunity to state its case before the CAC meetings April 23, 2015 or May 6, 2015.

* The CAC appointed auditor has stated that the committee has no authority or mandate to change the rules embodied in the Ontario Municipal Elections Act or the Corporations Act.

* Citizens have the right to organize on the municipal level and collectively express their points of view by working to create change in the city’s administration.

* The following is an excerpt from an article written by Dennis Galon a spokesperson for Susan Watson.

On September 23, 2014, Dennis Galon wrote in the Mercury newspaper: “Judge in Urbacon case asserted who should be blamed.

“At trial, McCrae provided sworn testimony that contradicted his earlier testimony in discovery, causing (Justice) MacKenzie to dismiss McCrae’s testimony and accept Urbacon’s evidence. In other words, McCrae gave the judge no choice but to effectively disregard Guelph’s version of the facts.

“In short, McKenzie has clearly answered the blame question.

“Despite a detailed legal decision to the contrary, Mayor Karen Farbridge’s political opponents are inviting us to ignore the finger MacKenzie has pointed at McCrae and lust instead for blood higher up the scale.

“We all know that Guelph is wiser than that. Let’s prove it by re-electing our equally wise mayor on Oct. 27. (For the purpose of disclosure, I’m among those who have made a donation to support the mayor’s re-election campaign.)

“Whatever, since none of it (of the blame) is to be borne by Ms Farbridge, then why not show the books?”

* This excerpt of Galon’s published comments clearly illustrates the partisan attempt by supporters of the defeated mayor Karen Farbridge, to discredit and trample the rights of all citizens. Public funds have been used to intimidate citizens not to assemble and organize in municipal elections for fear of retaliation and litigation. This includes the right to reject an administration that recklessly mismanaged public funds.

* In our opinion, Mr. Molson has accurately reported the facts. He recognized that this was an attempt to have a municipally appointed lay committee determine the alleged illegality of third party involvement at the municipal level.

* In our opinion, Ms. Watson should bear the costs of this audit in its entirety including the expenses incurred by Mr. Tolhurst who was victimized by Watson’s complaint to the CAC.

* The outcome of this is clear. The electors in October 2014 voted to change the administration of the city by defeating the incumbent mayor and four of her council supporters who were either defeated or quit politics.

* In our opinion, the city clerk, Stephen O’Brien overstepped his authority in a published article in the Guelph Mercury, September 2, stating that Ms. Watson would not be held accountable for the costs of the audit. We believe the September 10th CAC meeting has been unduly influenced by the statements of Mr. O’Brien.

* We now learn that Susan Watson has sought advice from Toronto lawyer, Eric Gillespie. He has stated in the press that despite the findings of Mr. Molson, there is a ”loophole” in the Ontario Municipal Elections Act that will cause this case to be conducted in the courts. He predicted the process would take a long time.

* GRG and a majority of Guelph citizens would expect the CAC to disregard any attempt to stall responsibility for which Ms. Watson should be held accountable for the inappropriate use of public funds.

Thank you allowing GRG to participate in this important meeting.

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The escalating cost of Susan Watson’s election complaint, creates growing doubt about its validity

Posted May 25, 2015

The cracks are appearing in the Susan Watson complaint that former candidate Glen Tolhurst broke the campaign finance rules by accepting a donation from the citizen’s activist group, GrassRoots Guelph.

City Clerk Stephen O’Brien is reported to be dismayed over the turn of events, particularly the Compliance Audit Committee’s (CAC) order to conduct an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election financial return.

On May 6, two members of CAC, Glen Greer and George Gorringe, both appointed by the Farbridge administration in July 2014, voted to order the audit after only ten minutes of deliberation. The third member of the committee, Lyndsay Monk who was elected chairman, April 23, did not appear.

On May 20, the CAC met to approve hiring the auditor. The city procurement department presented four bids and recommended accepting the lowest bid from William Molson, a Toronto Chartered Accountant. His bid of $7,500 plus $500 for each meeting was less than half of each of the three remaining bids.

CAC member Glen Greer objected to accepting the Molson bid on the grounds that he had acted on only one case involving an election complaint in the Town of Pickering in 2011. He said the third highest bid of $16,000 plus $1,000 per meeting would be more suitable as the company has represented municipalities on six different occasions. His argued that this bidder had more experience in handling election financial complaint cases. Mr. Greer apparently had done his homework.

When the vote was held to accept the Molson bid, Mr. Greer voted no.

During the same meeting, fellow member George Gorringe stated: “An electorate may apply for a compliance audit where they believe (and he emphasized believe) a candidate has contravened the provisions of the act relating to election campaign finances, in my mind had the onus been slightly greater, I’m not sure I would have supported the application.” Well, he did, regardless.

Back tracking, the CAC chair was not at the May 6 meeting when Gorringe and Greer voted to conduct an audit. That, in itself, is questionable procedure, Then it was revealed that chairman Monk at the May 20th meeting had advised her fellow CAC members at the May 6 meeting, to order the audit despite being absent.

While this is confusing, it appears that the two CAC members who ordered the audit may now have second thoughts, but are committed to the audit.

Plainly Watson supporter, Dennis Golon’s published statements are not aimed at Mr. Tolhurst but challenge the status of GrassRoots Guelph and its right to donate money to Mr. Tolhurst.

So, it is now crystal clear that Susan Watson and her NDP supporters are using taxpayer money to back door their determination to destroy GRG and its rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedom, guarantees the right of people to assemble and object to political actions.

The problem they have is that GRG did not run for office. Their charges, well documented by Galon, are in the wrong arena. To expect an unelected compliance committee to judge the merits of their arguments and pass it on to an auditor for confirmation is an egregious attempt to manipulate the Ontario Municipal Elections Act and the City of Guelph elections bylaw.

The construct of GRG was carefully crafted to allow people to express their beliefs through information and facts. It was formed under the Ontario Corporations Act and its letters patent laid out the purpose of the corporation. It was no secret of the purpose of GRG despite the attacks by the Watson NDP supporters that it operated in anonymity.

For Watson spokesman, Dennis Galon, to state GRG is not a business is silly. It is legally incorporated as a non-profit, non-partisan organization. During the election campaign, It had an address, volunteer staff, entered contracts with suppliers, a website with public access, and offered citizens a venue to support its stated values. If that’s not a business then I’m Warren Buffet.

Despite what the auditor’s report may state, it had better be detailed to the extent that it will hold up in a court of law. Because that will be the next step if the auditor rules GRG is not in compliance.

Citizens of Guelph should not have to be exposed to this attempt to make a legitimate citizens’ voice of the people be held accountable for something GRG acted upon, legally, in the 2014 municipal election.

The people’s assets should not be used for the redemption of a Mayor, who failed to financially manage the people’s treasure for eight years. She lost, get over it and move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Farbridge friend, Susan Watson, a bully or just a sore loser?

Posted May 19, 2015

The cost to the public treasure of the Susan Watson charade that attacked an innocent candidate because he accepted money from GrassRoots Guelph is mounting daily.

Ms. Watson denies her target is defeated candidate Glen Tolhurst but is to achieve “clarity” of the role of third parties in civic elections. So she chooses to use public money to assert that belief, using Glen Tolhurst as the conduit. Her complaint was supported by the following players:

* A council appointed Compliance Audit Committee (CAC) consisting of three citizens, two of whom are not lawyers or accountants. The newly elected chair, Lyndsay Monk, is a Chartered Accountant but did not participate in the May 6 meeting when her colleagues voted to order an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election financial report.

* On April 23, City Clerk, Stephen O’Brien retained Toronto lawyer Jody Johnson to inform the CAC of its responsibilities. She is described as a “subject matter expert”. Indeed, she may be having delivered a presentation in November 2014 to the fall meeting of the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario. Was Mr. O’Brien at that meeting?

Her subject was “Dealing with frivolous and vexatious complaints.”

The next question is, what did she advise the CAC on April 23? There is no record in the minutes of that meeting to reveal what this expert said or advised. It is important to note that Watson supporter, Dennis Galon, was at that meeting and was described by O’Brien as a member of the public. So he heard what Ms. Johnson told the CAC.

* Galon was the only “member of the public” at this meeting ostensibly held to elect a chairman of CAC. Lyndsay Monk was elected but didn’t turn up for the May 6 meeting when the audit was ordered. Did the other two members of the CAC know April 23, that the chairman would not attend the May 6 meeting?

Already Watson’s complaint is resonating with citizens who are wondering about her real motives. Meanwhile the bill for this complaint is being run up and the citizens are paying for it.

On May 6, the CAC heard presentations from Watson’s lawyer, Ian Flett, Dennis Galon and a former candidate supporter of defeated mayor Karen Farbridge. Why did one registered delegate, a defeated council candidate, receive a donation from the ETFO union and failed to appear? Representing Mr. Tolhurst was Guelph lawyer, David Starr.

Glen Greer, George Gorringe of the CAC presided over the meeting and it took them just ten minutes  after the arguments to order an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s financial elections report. It was significantly unusual to have one CAC member move a motion to order an audit and the other seconding the motion.

All in favour? Carried.

It was initially reported that the audit could cost between $25,000 and $30,000. That changed May 18 when the city retained William Molson, a chartered accountant from Toronto, to conduct the audit. This is to be ratified at the May 20 meeting of the CAC.

Why Mr. Molson, you may ask. His was the lowest bid of four for the audit that ranged in price from Molson’s bid of $7,500 plus $500 per meeting, to Deloitte LLP bidding $19,750 plus $2,000 a meeting. What were the specifications of that tender? Did mr. O’Brien know Mr. Molson before the the tendering process?

It appears that with lightning speed the city followed the tendering process in less than two weeks. It has to be a world record considering the history of opaque tendering for city work by the previous administration.

Mr. Molson, according to research, has conducted one election campaign audit. It involved the Town of Pickering and was conducted in 2011.

Here we have a rush to judgment, orchestrated by the city clerk. It is based on much hearsay evidence, administered and considered by non-elected officials and experts.

It is a travesty that according to the rules any citizen can complain about election finances to satisfy a personal vendetta toward any group of activist citizens who are opposed to what the target stands for.

Watson’s actions will have the effect, win or lose, of deterring citizens to participate in elections and, more important, discouraging good people to run for office. The fear of reprisal for the most specious of reasons can turn this great city into a municipal conspiratorial quagmire. That is, if it hasn’t already.

This case will be turned over to an accountant who is not empowered to solve Watson’s Don Quixote quest to “clarify” the so-called third party issue as it pertains to the Ontario Municipal Elections Act.

By the time the audit result is announced, this is going to be a very expensive personal vanity exercise and the costs should be borne by the complainant. Only council can order Watson to pay the costs if it is found there is no merit to her complaint. It will be interesting to see how her council friends will vote if that decision must be made.

Perhaps Mr. Tolhurst should consider legal action for intentional infliction of suffering by Watson. There is no doubt he is the victim here. He acted with honesty and regardless, he was defeated.

So the Watson solution is to use public money, estimated to eventually cost more than $10,000, to pay for an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election finances of less than $4,000.

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