July 19th, 2024

Where is accountability in City administration


By Lethbridge Herald on May 5, 2022.

Editor:

Who’s really running Lethbridge City Hall?

Since moving to this fine city in 2008, I’ve witnessed a surprising and, frankly, disturbing, number of incidents of civic negligence, heavy-handed treatment of partners, and a shocking lack of oversight on civic contracts worth hundreds of thousands up to multiple millions of dollars.

Like what, you might ask? 

How about the big bond investment boondoggle? Or the $100,000 fraud perpetrated by a staff member at the old, and notoriously-managed Chinook Country Tourism? A fraud that did not precipitate a change in management! But recently its replacement organization has gone through four CEO’s in about as many years.

And then there’s the burn rate for City Managers -one of whom told a public meeting of businesspeople that he’d never had a position in decades of experience where he received constant phone calls from senior people demanding that nothing change, saying ‘that’s the way we’ve always done things here, and we want it to continue!’ 

So if council can’t directly run the city – which they can’t – and no manager is able to succeed in doing so, what does that say about accountability in city departments?

Examples abound: a recent city decision to pull funding from Volunteer Lethbridge for a senior’s connection program that was so successful it had been copied around the province, and give the money for the program to the LSCO instead. 

A decision so sudden that a CJOC interview airing on April 28 was still talking about Volunteer Lethbridge running and being very proud of the program, when in fact the funding had been pulled. 

Or the granting of a multi-million dollar contract to the YMCA to run the fabulous new city-owned facility on the west side in spite of red flags being raised by city staff about the lack of oversight built in to the deal? 

Red flags that have proven somewhat prescient, as the senior management at the new Y generated a lot of upset among long-time members, and put unqualified paid fitness instructors in place while estranging qualified volunteer instructors, some with decades of service. 

The Fort Whoop-Up society saga is worth another letter on its own, but for those who remember, it was another example of the city seeming to punish those who speak up for accountability at City Hall.

Now, obviously, any city with lots of money to spend, and play with, is going to have issues. 

And accusations are easy to throw around. But everything I’ve noted is documented, not theoretical. And it must be noted many of the organizations mentioned have boards who ostensibly provide oversight and accountability for the millions in city dollars under their care.

But the continuing pattern of, dare I say it, poor contract management, makes one wonder: who’s really running City Hall?

A.R. Gibson

Lethbridge

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gs172

I’ll add a couple. The financing of the new city hall years ago along with the purchasing of the land and construction of the Casa. And if you ever catch them making a mistake(which they do, everyone does) they will move heaven and earth to save face as when the development officer granted a development permit to a developer building in the London road district that was against zoning. 2 years of appeal hearings( which we won) until you finally give up because as the saying goes”you can’t fight city hall”

meisplayfull2

Please tell me more about the YMCA deal. The city borrows money to build it and then turns it over to the YMCA to run. Does the city get anything back from the YMCA to offset the cost or at least the interest portion on the money loaned to build it. What did this mean to ones property tax and for how long? Anyone with answers please

buckwheat

Ask Carlson, he was all gung ho about this project.(the Y). As for Casa land the City paid an outside appraiser (Calgary) to assess the property. Appraisal of empty building and land was based on comparison to two going concerns, Toys R Us and the now vacated IGA in south Lethbridge. The city paid 4.4 million for it. The City then spent to abate asbestos in the building before they could tear it down. Total bill was probably around 5 million before the golden shovels went into the ground and the photo op hit the front page of the Herald. Add in an investigation by RECA on the real estate end.
It gets really interesting when you start to dig into the Asset Backed Commercial Paper and high risk investments losses. Have to be careful with the comments as it would not surprise me that your pen name is leaking out of some crack somewhere. Look at the Supreme Court in the US.

Last edited 2 years ago by buckwheat
Citi Zen

Wow, people are finally starting to notice! There are a few overpaid bureaucrats in City Hall that need to go. It is past due for a witch hunt at City Hall, get rid if the managers with agendas, and put the decision making back into the hands of the elected officials. Its the only way that the voices of the taxpayers can be heard.
Lets pursue this further!

Last edited 2 years ago by Citi Zen
biff

thank you for the insight. wow, do we need an audit. wow, do we need a real council, that understands that accountability resides there.

buckwheat

FYI biff. Ten years ago several citizens were running for council suggesting just that, an audit. None were elected. Bramwell Strain was hired and he was in that process. End result, school bus drivers lost their jobs and he left for somewhere else. Never underestimate the power of the mobs.

biff

kind of sick eh? this is something i was not aware of. the level of rot here must go very deep.