By Gerry Barker
October 7, 2019
What is corruption? Is it good people behaving badly? Is it a matter of convenience to hide operations by using closed-session council meetings?
Looking back in the coverage of the city administration in the past 13 years, my bulging files are full of data including dates of publishing either in the Guelph Mercury or guelphspeaks.ca.
Well, the records shows that closed-session meetings were the product of the Farbridge administration with Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert, as head of the city staff and Chief Executive Officer of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI) for four years.
The Mayor also served as chair of GMHI that eventually scooped up Guelph Hydro and its subsidiaries.
In my opinion, these top executive controled the epicemtre of administrative corruption.
First, it gave awat control of all the City of Guelph Corporation assets and operations. It artfully eliminated public participation.
Second, the Board of Directors of GMHI was made up of the mayor’s loyalists on city council, including Todd Dennis, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland and Lise Burcher. Not one has disclosed details of those GMHI closed-session meetings. And I am not on their Christmas List.
Conducting closed-sessions enhanced control by the GMHI Board of Directors. The only occasional press release stated in principle that GMHI had sent $1,500 to the city as a dividend each year.
The problem was that GMHI was losing bags of money so what was the source of that dividend?
Actually, the only GMHI asset making money was Guelph Hydro.
The wheels starting coming off this comingled collection of the public corporation with the defeat of Mayor Farbridge and a number of her supporters.
Cam Guthrie was elected Mayor but was stuck with a majority in council of the former mayor. They managed to be in control with seven members. What few people realized was that the progressive supporter had built a formidable political firebase throughout the city.
The Mayor oversaw some 84 closed-session meetings in his first two years in office. In 2015, CAO Ann Pappert requested that she wanted reimbursement for her unused sick days and vacation allowances. She also knew about her new salary would include a $27,000 retroactive performance bonus.
Did you know about this? Neither did I or anyone else except the staff and council insiders who kept their mouths shut.
Then in March 2016, the provincial Sunshine List was published. I was the only media outlet that compared the salaries of staff in the 2014 List with the 2015 List. The annual List reports the salaries and taxable benefits of every provincial public service employee earning more than $100,000 in the previous year.
The three senior managers, Ann Papper, Mark Amorosi and Derrick Thomson share increases totaling $98,202. That figure was never confirmed or denied.
As the lone wolf in this, I wrote a number of blogs that were critical of Mr. Amorosi who was the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer in charge and responsible for Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Special Projects and Court Services.
If anyone should know about the salary increases it should be him, right?
On Novembers 16, 2016, I was served with a charge of defamation of Mark Amorosi. On February 9, 2017, Amorosi was fired for cause by his colleague Derrick Thomson who replaced Ann Pappert as CAO. Thomson went out of his was to say the dismissal had no affect on the city-financed legal fees of the departed Amorosi.
So far it has cost me more than $71,000 to defend myself. As we file an appeal of the dismissal of our motion to dismiss the case, a couple of developments have occurred
First, we were advised that Mr. Amorosi wanted to negotiate a settlement. My Counsel requested what they were looking for and was told Amorosi wanted me to pay him $20,000 in damages and apologize. I refused.
Second, Why was he doing this? If we win our appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeals, he, read that the City of Guelph, would be liable for my legal’s costs.
As this case has proceeded, the obligation of the city could be more than $150,000.
Just thought you ought to know. The city realizes the outcome may cost mega bucks and probably would like to get off the hook that has been created.
Mr. Amorosi’s lawyer, in his submission to dismiss our motion to dismiss the case, said in part that because of what I had written about his performance resulted in his inability to get another job.
To be clear, I had nothing to do with his firing. His evidence presented to the court was that he agreed to leave his job. His counsel said that in two years he applied for four jobs and never obtained an interview. He was listed on LinkedIn as a retired civic manager listing his experience in Guelph.
In my opinion, no matter how you slice it, the city by agreeing to pay his legal bills is complicit in this vigorous personal attack on my wife and me just because I wrote the truth in words they didn’t like.
The senior manager receiving a share of that $98,202 remununeration boost for 2015, are all gone.
So much for checks and balances of the public’s interest.