Thursday, December 2, 2010

Council's Back, Parade Scam and Police Overtime

Back to Council

It was a hard fought election, now it’s time to enjoy the spoils of victory: hard work, countless committee hours and hundreds of thankless decisions. The new Guelph City Coucil officially takes their seats this Monday, December 6th at 7 pm. And unlike the fancy River Run Centre induction of City Council that took place in 2006, this term begins with a much more frugal inaugural meeting in the council chambers at 1 Carden Street. To get the full agenda for the meeting go to the City of Guelph website, or tap in this address:

As for the last meeting of the last council, it was teary eyed affair as Councillors Kathleen Farrelly, Christine Billings, Vicki Beard, and Mike Salisbury waved goodbye. As well, there were reasons to celebrate. Mayor Karen Farbridge gave Gloria Kovach her 20-year pin, while Billings and Maggie Laidlaw were presented with 10-year pins. As well, each outgoing councillor was given a framed sketch of Carden Street depicting a view of both the old and the new City Hall, as this council oversaw the transfer of Guelph’s flag from one to the other.

So what wonders await the City of Guelph and all the assorted Guelphites there in? Stay tuned to Guelph Politico at

Spend Like Santa, Scam Like Scrooge

Usually the Santa Claus Parade is a time of jubilation and excitement in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season, but this year it seems like some Grinches saw dollar signs – instead of sugar plums – dancing in their heads. The Guelph Mercury reported last week that a group identifying themselves as “Kare for Kids” was collecting donations along the parade route for “sick kids.” (That’s lower case sick kids, meaning a general reference to unhealthy children, and not the capitalized “Sick Kids” inferring the Toronto children’s hospital of the same name.)

A Mercury reporter called George Marton, who runs Kare for Kids from his North York condominium, and asked him about his group’s “activities” in Guelph and he said that there weren’t any. In other words, the Kare for Kids people at the Guelph parade had no affiliation with the lawfully recognized charity. “Definitely, 100 per cent, we don’t condone this and in fact we specifically prohibit it,” Marton told the Mercury. “They are not allowed to go near any parade. It is not sanctioned by the charity.”

So how did this not-charity manage to get on to the parade and make off with possibly thousands of dollars that have ended up God knows where? Good question. Let’s go to Dave Thompson, the organizer of the Guelph parade, who says that people participating in the parade have to check-in to a marshalling area before the parade’s start, which “Kare for Kids” did not do. “People just carrying buckets … would not have been allowed on the parade route,” Thompson told the Mercury. “I think they’ve likely just come in from the crowd.”

So I guess the lesson here is that some things once thought sacred aren’t sacred anymore. I know it’s a season of giving, but usually we weed out the con artists.

Guelph Police Saves on Overtime

The Guelph Police have spent less on overtime for 2010 to date then they had in 2009. This according to the Guelph Police Service who said last week that despite having their services farmed out to huge-scale events like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the G20 Meeting in Toronto, Guelph Police have spent about $20,000 less in overtime this year over last. “We haven’t had as many major cases this year, which tends to drive a lot of overtime,” Guelph Police finance manager Kirsten Hand told the Guelph Mercury. Guelph Police Service spent $805,549 on overtime as of October 23rd, where as by that same time in 2009, they had spent $827,303. This even though City police spent 1,584 hours of overtime for the G20, and 1,945 hours of overtime at the Olympics.

Still, when budget deliberations start in January, look for the Police to be asking for the $2 million budget increase they were floating before the election. What does $2 million more on top of a $32.3 million budget buy you? Aside from the typical increases in salaries and employee benefits, it will also mean getting three officers to form a community response unit that would patrol three main neighbourhoods, intelligence surveillance equipment, expenses toward the construction of a south end facility and an officer dedicated to high-risk domestic violence cases.

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