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Under the Brim

Web posted on November 11, 2006

Have you yet received the funny papers? No, not the ones in the weekend newspapers, but the eight-page supplement . . . to nothing . . . that arrived at my doorstep last week from the campaign to re-elect Kate Quarrie as mayor. That one. The one that can boil your blood and have you rolling on the floor with laughter in quick successive sentences. The one that, though printed on expensive paper, bears no authority endorsement or printer's claim. I am curious about who produced this.

But back to the chuckles. On the front page, emblazoned over a red background, is the statement: "Being Mayor isn't all about fixing roads, paying down debt, encouraging job growth and solving our water problems . . . ". And there we are left, gripped with suspense. What else does a mayor do? Oh, the agony of the cliff-hanger!

Fumbling, I turn to page 2 for an answer. And what do I see? Do I see a long list of supposed accomplishments by this mayor? Do I read about a long term vision for this city? Do I get to know how she intends to control her council as a productive, visionary, caring group of legislators? No! I get to see a photo. A photo of Kate Quarrie. A photo of Kate Quarrie preparing to toss . . . a football. Yes, a football! Opposite, she brags about getting to throw a touch-down pass for the Guelph Gryphons and some other wind noises. The score so far: three pages and no substance.

By now we are turning the page and are already at the centre spread. And here is where it is spread thick!

Statement 1: Reserved funds have been increased from $57 million to $73 million, while continuing to pay down debt. That is news to me, that is news to the city treasurer and that is news to anyone at city hall. When did this happen? My sources close to City Hall tell me that the reserve funds are dry. There is not $73 million, not $57 million, but close to ZERO in our reserves. And wait a minute! If there was so much money around to pay down our debt, increase our reserves by almost $20 million, then why did our residential taxes skyrocket to record increases during this mayor's term? It's all simple math, and it doesn't add up!

Then she throws out the welcome mat to our new companies that she, seemingly single-handedly, brought to Guelph. She welcomes Home Depot, but neglects to mention the closure of the family-run Roots Hardware. She welcomes Galaxy Cinema, with nary a whisper about the downfall of the locally owned 3-Star Cinema that Galaxy drove out of business. She welcomes a bar, but conveniently forgets the hundreds of job losses from Imperial Tobacco's shut down. She welcomes Home Outfitters, but does not mention the closure of a Woods Refrigeration plant, throwing many more out of work. She even welcomes a hamburger shop! We have gained an A & W, but along with the alphabet soup of companies, we have lost ABB.

Did you notice? Each of the stores mentioned are non-Canadian in ownership, so their profits will go south of the border. Each of the stores that closed are locally owned, and involve loss of income to hundreds of fellow taxpayers. Not the stuff of an 8-page brag sheet.

The flyer continues on the next two pages with half-truths: There is no new parkade in the downtown; The Urban Forestry Plan is not complete it was only awarded on October 6. She does not run a caring and vibrant city. She runs a city where environmentally conscious middle managers are ripped from their jobs, a city where no thought is given to heritage, a city where citizens' voices are drowned out by the roar of speculators' bulldozers a city that cannot even honour its own dead as a Palace of Plastic Potsherds has been dumped, with the mayor's beaming blessing, between two of our cemeteries.

The flyer is a waste of trees. It is a waste of the time and effort that was used to put it together. Quarrie has not performed well at all as mayor. She has done little for this city's taxpayers over the three years in office while pandering to the development community.

Kate gets IT done????? I'd change that ever so slightly: word 3 I would tinker with the `it'. And it would still rhyme.

Brian Holstein is a resident of Guelph who hosts a show featuring municipal affairs on CFRU community radio. Brian is a keen observer of human nature and the political scene and is unsparing in his opinions.

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.