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Susan, Im sure you see the value in voting Green, but realistically, that vote generally serves no purpose in deciding the winner of an election. A lot of people would argue that voting Green, certainly a decade ago and even today in most places across Canada, is just as much "throwing a vote away" as is voting for this philosopher candidate. Throwing away a vote is a metaphor for deciding specifically not to vote for and support the conventional, status quo options ... in other words, a protest vote. I would think you would see some value in that. Resigning oneself to vote only for election frontrunners (i.e., "winnable" candidates) will likely never lead to genuine social change because it will never lead to important overall changes in the political landscape. In June of this year, over 10,000 voters in Guelph threw away their vote by supporting the Green candidate. Another 9,000 similarly threw their votes away by casting theirs for the NDP. Neither Mike Schreiner nor James Gordon had any realistic chance of winning that election, so were all of those votes also an "ultimate expression of first-world decadence"? ps, "first-world" is now viewed by many as a comparatively pejorative term.
City Hall will now cost in excess of $66M, including the costs associated not only with this ENTIRELY AVOIDABLE wrongful dismissal lawsuit but also with additional construction and general contractor replacement costs. That's a whopping $24M over the initial $42M budget ... more than 50% over budget. And some people here consider such outrageous mismanagement some sort of victory?! As Mayor, Karen Farbridge is responsible for this crisis. Not Hans Loewig, not Murray McCrae, not Lois Payne. Karen Farbridge can scapegoat as many people as she wants but ultimately, it is Karen Farbridge who dropped the ball on this and cost us all $24M. She allowed this project to spiral out of control and then actually had the gaul to praise her CAO when he wrongfully fired Urbacon. I hope she finds it in her heart to admit that one day.
From the report ... "It looks like the controversies of her administration have caught up with her, and Karen Farbridge may have to surrender her chain of office. Cam Guthrie has obviously tapped into a vein of conservative-leaning support that sees big money city-building projects as unnecessary," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff. Indeed, the Mayor's legacy of secrecy, unaccountability, broken promises and wasteful over-spending has caught up with her. This has now become Cam Guthrie's race to lose. I eagerly await the desperate spin from the Mayor's supporters. I suggest they begin attacking Cam, and not continue to attack anyone and everyone else who has criticized the Mayor.
My gosh, Susan, the internet can be a dangerous thing ... I offer some information that may help you to better understand what you are actually referencing. 1) Guelph's AA+ rating is good, but not great. It is better for example than Windsor and Wellington County's AA rating; the same as Brantford and Ottawa, but; not as good as Brampton's AAA. Yes, S&P says Brampton has a better credit rating than Guelph (gasp!). 2) S&P reports are dry to read and generally contain boiler plate passages. For example, the report for Brampton indicates, "In our view, the city demonstrates good financial management, which has a positive impact on its credit profile. It has a robust set of financial policies and annual financial statements are audited and unqualified. It provides transparent, easy-to-access disclosure to pertinent information and prepares detailed operating and capital budgets." Hmmm, did that actually say Brampton has good financial management practices and that it provides transparent reporting? Really? Brampton? Isn't that the same city currently undergoing a criminal investigation over financing as the result of its recent investigative audit? Gasp! Makes one wonder how much faith one should place in the passage you quoted about Guelph, Susan. It's literally the same text. 3) Many people blame the big three credit rating agencies for the financial collapse in 2007. I won't bore folks with the details, but the point is that S&P is not universally respected. 4) Most importantly, S&P is not an evaluation of fiscal responsibility or planning, it is a credit rating. It simply indicates if the City can cover it's debts. Usually used to reflect market confidence in bond investment, it's basically just an indicator that the City will or will not go bankrupt in the future. I will give you that, Susan, we are in pretty good shape and thankfully not even Mayor Farbridge could easily bankrupt the City of Guelph. Wasting $20M or more through a series of mismanagement and legal blunders over City Hall or paying $32M to help subsidize Waterloo Region's waste costs won't immediately cause us to default on our other financial obligations. I hope this helps people to better understand what that report is actually saying. And given what is happening in Brampton now and how wrong S&P seems to have been there, I would further suggest that this Guelph S&P report is not necessarily at odds with the criticisms raised by Grassroots Guelph.
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2014 on Too long an election campaign? at 59 Carden St.
Susan, I cannot speak to what Grassroots Guelph does or does not know. What I can say is that their petition is clearly a request for an investigation into various financial decisions made within the City. Let's be clear, a forensic examination need not be called that, it need only investigate allegations of mismanagement or wrong-doing ... and that is exactly what this petition asked for. You are free to call it a potato, but it is still a request for an investigative audit. That the group's representative was unprepared for her interview does not change anything. But rather than critiquing the efficiency of the Mayor's critics and levelling silly charges of revisionism, perhaps her supporters should explain why tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on the new City Hall and justify its devastating impact on local merchants; provide actual costs for the Museum renovation project; explain why Guelph is subsidizing waste costs for Waterloo Region; explain why the Southend Community Centre keeps getting shelved; tell us why staff costs have skyrocketed (including specific reference to the shocking turnover on so many senior administrative positions), and; most importantly, explain why so many decisions at City Hall are so cloaked in secrecy that a group like Grassroots Guelph would even feel a need to request an investigative audit. But this isn't about any local group, you know that, this is about the Mayor. Mayor Farbridge promised transparency and accountability. She has delivered neither.
Toggle Commented Aug 25, 2014 on Too long an election campaign? at 59 Carden St.
This is very unfortunate. Routledge would have gotten my vote.
Toggle Commented Aug 25, 2014 on Change on the Ward 5 ballot at 59 Carden St.
Susan, come on now. By any standard, that IS a petition for a forensic audit. Note that not only is the word "forensic" in the title of the petition document you linked, but the contents of the petition clearly request a directed, investigative audit well beyond a standard financial statements audit ... ie., a forensic audit. It contains allegations of mismanagement and wrongdoing and requests a much more thorough investigation of the City's finances than a simple statement audit. It also clearly references existing, standard financial statement audits and questions their validity. Perhaps it bothers supporters of the Mayor that anyone would request such an investigation, but given the lack of transparency at City Hall under her leadership in addition to well established, large scale, capital project budget overruns and various financial and legal blunders, it is hardly surprising. What are the Mayor's supporters afraid of? That the truth will come out?
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Too long an election campaign? at 59 Carden St.
Susan, if everything is available at the link you provided, can you please tell the rest of us how much the new City Hall construction project cost? Perhaps you can further enlighten those of us fooled by this "campaign of misinformation" as to what the total cost of the Museum renovations was as well. And while you are at it, try to dig around in those public documents to let us know who on council voted to lock out the transit workers and shut down the public transit system in town. Ooops, that also wasn't made public ... intentionally so ... hmmmm. I will agree with you that "intentional misinformation does not enhance community discussion of civic issues, it diminishes the integrity of our democratic process." As to who is intentionally misinforming whom, well, that seems open to interpretation. PS, you do realize that a financial audit is different from a forensic audit, right?
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2014 on Too long an election campaign? at 59 Carden St.
Susan, do you have a reference that the City invited the union to make a counter offer at the time it presented its final offer in late June? I do not think it did. My understanding is similar to Steve's ... that the City did indeed present its final offer and requested that the Ministry force a vote. Note that the City can only force such a vote once. It seems perfectly reasonable to interpret the events as Steve has done. The City was hoping the union membership would accept the offer but positioning itself to lockout transit workers if it was rejected. The City's own statements at that time immediately suggested service disruption if the offer was rejected. Since the union had not even held a strike vote, that would necessarily mean a lockout. I do agree with you that there is no evidence to suggest that the City knew its final offer would be rejected. But it sure does seem the City was prepared to lockout transit worker if the offer was rejected.
Sarah, the cost of the mandatory UG undergraduate bus pass is actually $93.15/term, and with over 18,000 students required to pay that, that's a revenue source for the City of almost $1.7M per Fall and Winter term or around $3.4M in total. (Summer term is not mandatory and few students buy the pass at that same rate.) Whether you have sympathy for students or not isn't the point. That a majority pay for it but don't even use it isn't the point either. The point is that the City receives a tremendous revenue stream from the University for a service that it may not provide. I would assume the University would withhold that payment in September, placing even greater financial pressure on the City to resolve the issue quickly.
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2014 on Spotted in #Guelph: hitchhikers at 59 Carden St.
I wonder what sort of compensation the University would ask for if this lockout extends into the school year. It's a service that it has already paid for, and would be expected to pay for again in September, no?
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2014 on Spotted in #Guelph: hitchhikers at 59 Carden St.
Fred, I can assure you, my thoughts on this matter are not talking points fed to me by Cam Guthrie. Indeed, I find him and his character lacking in integrity and honesty. That my opinion on this specific issue may align with his does not mean solidarity in whole, and it's ridiculous for you to suggest that. Steve, with all due respect, there is no misunderstanding of the role of the Mayor here. There has been ample evidence presented that the Mayor did know, or ought to have known, about Loewig's intention to fire Urbacon. For her to now scapegoat the man she personally lauded back then for his leadership is disingenuous and hypocritical. Politically, the Mayor is indeed 100% responsible for this. While someone else may have signed this or that sheet of paper, the buck stops at the Mayor's desk and thus far, she seems wholly incapable of accepting responsibility for allowing this to happen. The Mayor had the power to stop Loewig from firing Urbacon but she chose not to do so. And if she claims he went renegade and fired the contractor without her full consent, then she should have fired him immediately. Im sorry, but she cannot have it both ways. This is now about character, and the Mayor's lack thereof.
You don't think that Farbridge's inability to be forthright and effectively lead is worthy of her resignation? This City Hall fiasco is but one example of her lack of integrity and leadership. Indeed, it is the single most costly mistake ... likely in excess of $25,000,000 when all is said and done. Yes, it is the last straw and one most definately worthy of immediate resignation now that the wrongful dismissal of Urbacon ruling has been released. But I can also list the wet-dry plant as another failure to serve the needs and financial interests of the people of Guelph: we paid tens of millions of dollars more than necessary to build a garbage plant for our neighbours, all the while trucking our own waste to a questionable incinerator in Michigan. The new downtown museum was millions of dollars over budget. The Hanlon Creek Business Park is, by any objective standard, a costly and under-performing project that will never achieve the Places to Grow density objectives. The downtown rail bridge is a laughable embarrassment. Continued delay on the southend community / recreation centre is another utter failure of Farbridge as is the fact that there are fewer parking spots downtown now than there were before she took office. And get ready for one you may not have even heard about ... a COMPLETE LACK OF FORESIGHT on wastewater management in Guelph. Idealistic focus on conservation measures, while largely successful in lowering demand and achieving continued supply sources, has resulted in an emerging crisis regarding treatment. We have more than enough water here, but we are over capacity in treating our wastewater and there are NO viable solutions in the offing. This is a dirty little secret that Farbridge doesn't want anyone to know. So much for open and transparent government, eh? Bottom line, Karen Farbridge has been the worst Mayor in the history of this city. And I voted for her in the past. But not this time, that's for sure.
Interesting point, bill. Does anyone know how Farbridge's pension would be affected were she to do the honourable thing and resign?
Let's just hope that common sense and respect for taxpayers outweighs arrogance and hubris tonight when deciding whether to accept responsibility for the costly mistakes involved in this case or to continue to piss away more of our money on an un-winnable appeal. At the very least, I have faith in Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach being able to see right thru whatever lies and deceptions that Mayor Farbridge, her willingly blind cabal of councillors, and senior administrative and legal staff will attempt to bring to the table tonight.
stephen, are you suggesting that in addition to having wrongly fired urbacon someone has actually broken the law and should be prosecuted?
If Farbridge was genuine in her promise of transparent government, she should be the first person to fight for this. Let's see exactly who is bending whose ear at City Hall. I think a lot of people would probably be surprised. But given the Places to Grow mandate, the eagerness of certain local developers to undertake questionable practices, and the City's tendency to either look the other way or negotiate meaningless fines for admitted infractions, I cannot help but think Farbridge won't lift a finger. It's too comfortable in that bamboo office.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2014 on Lobbying for the lobbying lobby at 59 Carden St.
Thanks very much, Joanne.
Does anyone know if new home developers are obliged to kick in something towards the cost of building new schools? How does that work? Are they obliged to provide the land? Does part of their development charge get automatically contributed to a fund for schools? Thanks for any info.
"...given the strength of the City's case" ... what do you mean, Craig? Could you clarify please? As far as the decision goes ... a lot of people called this right out of the gate ... the City (ie., Murray McCrae) dropped the ball and allowed the whole process to spin out of control. Industry insiders spoke of the unprecedented nature of the firing at the time and wondered aloud if the City had mismanaged the project. We now have a ruling that this was indeed the situation. This raises a much greater issue in my mind ... what sort of (mis)management of capital projects should we continue to expect from the City? Will the south-end recreation centre now budgeted for over $50M also spiral out of control and end up costing $80M ... or will it be delayed AGAIN because those in charge irresponsibly waste millions on other projects (just like City Hall) and use up the money intended for the rec centre project? Let's see what response we get from Carden Street. If it's a "we learned our lesson, we need to do things better from now on", then great. If it's a defensive, "we disagree with the judge and will appeal" then we need a wholesale change on Carden Street and it's not just council. Senior staff have shown their incompetence. Indeed, that CAO Ann Pappert felt it appropriate to comment on this case clearly indicates that she lacks any objectivity and should probably be let go immediately.
LOL @ stephen ... YOU are the blowhard, not Steve.
Other than calling out stephen as a blowhard, I haven't called anyone evil, Doug. But please, do feel free to continue to misrepresent what other folks post here. :)
Impressive, stephen. I'm surprised the City hasn't personally consulted you on this issue.
I wonder if you can explain the difference between the recent Liberal platform versus the Conservative, NDP and Green platforms for job creation, stephen. Moreover, can you tell us what Liz Sandals had to offer for education and healthcare as opposed to the other candidates. Quick, without looking, what was the name of the conservative candidate? I would bet you are not as informed as you might think you are, stephen. So, do not pretend that everyone else needs to be. Besides, allowing online voting has NOTHING to do with voters being informed or not. In fact, I would suggest that most of your own information came from online sources not from face-to-face meetings with candidates, neighbours, polling clerks or the kid who put a sign on your lawn. So why not use that same medium to facilitate the actual vote?
Where in earth did you get this silly idea that the electorate must be informed, Fred? Besides, if any voter, online or traditional, isn't informed then that's the fault of the candidate, not the method by which folks can vote. My point is simple. Times have changed. We no longer live in Mayberry as much as many folks here seem to think we should. An intelligent candidate today will create a twitter account and a facebook page (and even that is now considered old). Tweets are the new lawn signs. Do not lament the passing of the old ... embrace the coming of the new. The world is different now. Accept that.