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Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted November 22, 2015

Here’s this week’s line-up:

* The city of Guelph according to Chairman Piper

*   Some Adult truths to tickle your fancy

* The city reserve funds are on life support

* Life aboard Liz Sandals’ submarine

 

Leanne Piper bares herself as a Farbridge loyalist

Coun. Leanne Piper has a bagful of opinions and has become the defacto leader of the elected Farbridge Gang 0f Seven (FGOS) who currently dominate city council. It is a group dedicated to carry on the Farbridge agenda that more than 48 per cent of electors rejected last October.

Here we are a year later, and the bloc voting of FGOS is paralyzing the people’s business. They include: Leanne Piper, Cathy Downer, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland, Mike Salisbury, Phil Allt and James Gordon, the godfather of the Farbridge agenda.

The remaining councillors include Mayor Cam Guthrie, Dan Gibson, Bob Bell, Andy Van Hellemond, Christine Billings and Mark MacKinnon.

Leanne Piper posted a message June 3, 2014 with the heading, “Mayor Karen Farbridge Recognized for Leadership.”

Piper went on to say that “we don’t recognize how well regarded our city and our Mayor are until we leave the city limits. The Canadian Urban Institute knows that great cities are no accident. Leadership at all levels – politicians, staff and community – work together to develop and achieve great things. Congratulations, Karen!”

Now it’s appropriate for a councillor to support the mayor. But the date of this pronouncement from Chairman Piper suggests adoration and responsibility do not mix. Especially when the city has been found guilty of wrongful dismissal of Urbacon Buildings Group Corp., the general contractor of the new City Hall. The cost of this decision made in September 2008 is currently $23 million. That’s above the original project cost of $44 million totaling $67 million plus HST.

The city set aside no funds in the event it lost the lawsuit initiated by Urbacon. There was no admission of responsibility by neither Mayor Farbridge nor any of her majority of supporters including Leanne Piper, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland, and Mike Salisbury. These councillors are part of the FGOS dominating city council today.

The Farbridge legacy is a hangover of mismanagement of personal environmental projects, ego, and lack of financial control of public funds. It has left the city with a multi-million dollar shortfall in reserve funds, critical condition of our aging infrastructure and a dysfunctional staff.

Yes Leanne, you are to be congratulated for being a key player in creating the irresponsible actions of a Farbridge-led council gone wild.

It will take years to return Guelph into a fiscal condition to repair the handiwork of your leader.

Time for a rethink, Leanne.

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Some adult truths to tickle your fancy

            * Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

* Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

* There is great need for a sarcasm font.

* Was learning cursive really necessary?

* Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

* Bad decisions make good stories.

* I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when    they call.

* I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more     kisses begin with Molson Export than Kay.

* I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

* How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front.

* The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in hockey in 1874 and the first helmet in hockey was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

By Anonymous

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Whatever happened to all those reserve funds?

The city hired a consultant group from Hamilton to conduct an operations review. BMA reported that the city’s reserve funds, except the water reserve, were in a “red flag cautionary” mode.

What does this mean to the average citizen? Not much really except that it will drive taxes and fees up to replenish the under-funded reserves.

There are three reserves that were raided by the former administration to pay the $8.96 million settlement costs to Urbacon Buildings Group Corp as a result of losing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

There was a recent report that the reserves’ shortfall was due in part because of the Urbacon settlement. However in the past eight years of the Far bridge administration, the reserves were often used to provide internal capital to cover mistakes, cost overruns, pet projects, and a number of other issues.

In short, the administration used the reserves as an ATM to conduct the city business; spending money outside the budget.

They did it because staff had the backing of the leadership, both elected and senior staff. In eight years, the city staff has been stocked with Friends of Farbridge (FOFS) and senior staff. Many of these employees do not live in Guelph. Yet they are making decisions that affect not only the tax and user fees rates but have done it with immunity.

One of the problems that got us into this mess was the lack of a Chief Financial Officer who could provide the necessary checks and balances required in a $500 million corporation.

The Farbridge Gang of Seven is still blocking necessary reforms to restore fiscal responsibility to the city.

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Liz Sandals is in her submarine as the system crumbles

It’s hard to imagine why Liz Sandals is still Minister of Education. While the Ontario education system is in tatters, Liz submerges beneath the ocean of discontent.

Her public comments reveal a Minister without common sense, respect for the students, the parents and the taxpayers.

Some classics:

When questioned by reporters following the Globe and Mail revealing the secret $2.5 million pay off to three teacher unions to cover extra negotiating costs, she said it was “nothing about anything.”

When asked if the unions supplied receipts to back up the payments, Sandals replied that it wasn’t necessary because she was familiar with the added costs. She said, “ you don’t have to see every bill when you’re doing an estimate of costs.”

Premier Wynne later jumped in and said the unions had to supply receipts for fear that the Sandals statement would cause a wave of expense account manipulations when receipts were not required.

The Minister refused to say how much the government spent on its own negotiating costs.

Under her leadership, Sandals has caused major disruption in the everyday operations of Ontario’s Schools. It has been going on for 18 months and still going on as unions remain engaged in work to rule, obstructing the normal operations of thousands of Ontario Schools.

Even the principals of those schools are powerless to properly operate the institutions that are responsible for educating future generations. Union-ordered cancelled field trips, report cards, extracurricular activities and only allow parent consultations if they feel like it.

The teacher unions have to step back and let the process continue as it should without the cheesy, obstructionism that is out of control. It’s that way because the Wynne government allowed it to happen. The convoluted “new” two-tiered system of negotiating with the union and the school boards has been an unmitigated disaster.

And next year, the negotiating process starts all over again.

This isn’t about politics, it’s about responsibility to keep labour peace and supply our children with a quality and productive education.

Time to say goodbye Liz. With you in charge nothing will change.

 

 

 

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Last August the Wynne Liberals bribed the High School teachers with $1 million to settle a contract

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 21, 2015

The Globe and Mail published details of a 42 page secret document that outlined how after a year of negotiating, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) received this unprecedented payout.

The document revealed the $1 million bribe was given to compensate the union for the costs of negotiating. It stated that a new provincial bargaining system caused the yearlong negotiations to drag on.

I’m not making this up.

This payment, which can only be described as bribe to settle a contract, is unprecedented and morally wrong. It was a desperation move by the provincial negotiators to avoid a continuation of the OSSTF strike actions last spring in Durham, Sudbury and Peel regions.

You will recall this summer the Premier stated there was no money for the teachers who were all without contracts. They included the OSSTF, the Elementary Teachers federation of Ontario, the Catholic High School and Elementary Teachers and the French teachers unions. Collectively, the province was facing a province-wide work stoppage by the teacher’s unions before schools re-opened after Labour Day.

The government’s excuse for the bribe lay in a new system of bargaining that, the report suggests, befuddled and prolonged negotiations with the various unions.

The fact is that the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, reached a settlement and was party to a deal that involved five various teacher’s unions. They received a 2.5 per cent pay increases plus other benefit improvements including a change in withdrawing banked sick leave funds.

She did this despite her leader saying there was no money to pay increases to the teachers.

Instead, Minister Sandals, in announcing the pay increases, used the term “net zero” meaning that the impact of the pay and benefit increases will be recovered from other programs. So far, so good.

But the secret document revealed the “net zero” money would come from a secondary program enhancement fund. It is assumed that this allocated $20 million fund seized from the program is to help students experiencing difficulty in high school and assist them to graduate.

It is also safe to assume that both the government negotiators and the OSSTF bargaining team agreed that it was okay to take the money from a student program in order to pay the teachers’ new contract increases.

This is a classic example of moral turpitude and excessive misappropriation of public funds by the Ontario government.

The cozy relationship between the 60,000 OSSTF members, and the Ontario Liberal party is dependent on the union members carrying out the Liberals political agenda, is appalling.

To add outrage to this powder keg of resentment are the other unions that also settled along the same terms as the OSSTF, except they didn’t receive the $1 million bribe. Except one, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, who almost two months into the school year, have no settlement in sight.

Maybe The Minister should offer them $1 million to offset those pesky negotiating costs like the bribe money the OSSTF received.

The problem now for the government is how do you explain this $1 million OSSTF bribe to the other unions that did settle without receiving that juicy bonus?

It would seem that the government, in this case the Minister of Education, has been painted into a corner. For Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Liz Sandals, paying off the teachers to achieve settlement is nothing new. In 2013, they restored the Dalton McGuinty teacher union contract rollbacks at a cost of $460 million.

Is there no shame in this?

They have destroyed any trust or goodwill of the other teacher unions with this asinine bribe that has oozed out of the secret vaults of the Ontario government.

Between Liz Sandals and Kathleen Wynne, they have now set the course for long-term distrust and disruption of the vital roles that our teachers play in the growth and vitalization of our Province and our children.

Do the right thing, both of you, resign.

 

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