Bryan Lambert – Delegation to Council

Many citizens of Cobourg criticize Councillors but few actually make a delegation to Council and let them know what – in their opinion – they are doing wrong. At Monday’s regular Council meeting, Bryan Lambert made a delegation to Council saying that for multiple reasons, hiring yet another consultant was the wrong thing to do.  The consultant in this case would review all the user fees paid to the Town to see if they could be increased and to provide a formula for an annual review.  Bryan also pointed to the unusual adjustment of the contract price to keep it below the limit imposed by the fact that the Council was now in a Lame Duck period.  This award was the subject of a previous Post but I thought that Bryan’s effort at a last ditch attempt to point to the Council’s wrong decision was notable.

Bryan Lambert - File Photo
Bryan Lambert – File Photo

Summary of Bryan’s Delegation

  • No guarantee that the study will produce additional revenue
  • No estimate of what the revenue potential is.
  • The $85K can be better spent on other projects:
    • East Pier
    • Harbour break- wall
    • Monks Cove
    • Campground
    • New Fire Truck
    • To name a few
  • Town Staff is capable of doing this project. There are three new executive staff eager to show their prowess. Give them the opportunity.
  • Adhere to the Town’s Public Engagement Policy ADM21 [Link below]

He expanded on each of these points but he didn’t want to kill the idea of a fee review but instead move it to the new year and a new council.  There is no real hurry since any changes in fees would be implemented in the 2023 budget which would be set by the new Council.

Bryan said that Staff were quite capable of doing the work without a consultant; this would mean saving the consultant’s fee of $85K.

Also, contrary to Town Policy, there was no public engagement – see links in resources below.

As Bryan said, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin, supported by Emily Chorley had moved to move discussion to 2023, but Adam Bureau, supported by the Mayor and other Councillors, wanted the award made now.  After Bryan’s delegation, no councillors changed their mind.

I can only recall very few changes of vote after someone has made a delegation – so you can see why people don’t bother.

Resources

Previous relevant articles

Download Presentation

Cobourg Internet Information

  • Cobourg Municipal Elections – frequently updated – now 2 “Meet the Candidate” Meetings – additions to contact info and platforms.

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Keith Oliver
15 September 2022 9:58 am

Bryan Lamberts’ contention that moving the study from a paid consultant to town staff will save $85,000 is, I believe, not accurate.

The time that staff will spend on this study is also a cost, both in terms of salary, benefits and time lost in completing other projects on their agenda. On top of this I understand that there are presently a number of Staff vacancies.

Interesting to see a statement of the net cost to the Town when not employing a paid consultant.

Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 September 2022 11:10 am

Keith,
I suggest that you read the Aug 15 motion. The staff had already done or were in the process of reviewing and revising the Town’s user fees. All that is going to happen now is that staff will still do the work, give it to the consultant, who will pretty it up, add some charts and tables and send it back to the Town with a bill for $85K.

I worked for KPMG when I got my CA and worked on projects like this. I’ve seen how echosulting is done.

An old consulting story:
A man asks a passerby if he can tell him the time, The passerby borrows the guy’s watch, tells him the time, gives the guy a bill for $1,000 and keeps the watch.

Last edited 15 days ago by Bryan
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Bryan
17 September 2022 10:16 am

Bryan Lambert

Regarding the relationship between staff and consultants and the malfeasance your posting implies.

Your anecdote about the theft of the watch is inpproriare and feeds the well established bias against almost anything local government does held by a number of regular contributors to this blog.

Your charge that consultants practice “echosulting” on a regular basis is close to slanderous.

I’ve seen incompetence on the part of consultants on a number of occasions in London, Ontario. Both had to do with advice given to participants at the beginning of a public charette on the urban design of two new growth areas annexed by London from Middlesex County. The consultants were clearly out of their depth and didn’t know what they were talking about.

But incompetence is different from what you imply which is an absence of professional ethics which I find shocking.

Last edited 13 days ago by Keith Oliver
Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 September 2022 12:37 pm

Keith,

The watch story is about a consultant, not the client or what the client does. The story has no bias against local government. Your comment shows your biased interpretation.

Malfeasance? Really!
How have I suggested that staff and consultants are engaged in anything illegal?

Echosulting could be described as “sharp business practice”, or “pandering to the client”, perhaps objectionable, but not illegal. Much depends on the relationship between the parties and the expectations of each.

You wrote “Your charge that consultants practice “echosulting” on a regular basis is close to slanderous.” Nowhere do I claim that it occurs on a regular basis. Your words not mine, and your biased interpretation.

You should also learn the difference between slander and libel. Slander is verbal.

“…an absence of professional ethics which I find shocking…”.
Professional ethics are not absolute. In practice, they are situational and have some flexibility depending on the stature of the parties, their expectations, culture and the degree of “art” involved vs hard science.

I strongly suggest that you take off your rose coloured glasses and view things in the harsh light of reality.

Last edited 13 days ago by Bryan
Kevin
15 September 2022 8:14 am

One time a change happened after a delegation was the first recent time (2017) a sidewalk was proposed on Abbott Blvd (years earlier the sidewalk idea was rejected). At the CoW there was a delegation against the sidewalk but council voted in favour. The following week there was another delegation and the sidewalk was defeated. John Henderson was DM at the time and one of the people who changed his vote. As a result of this process a Sidewalk Priority Plan was created. In the plan are standards for a new sidewalk. In the end Abbott got a sidewalk but if not for this process the Abbott sidewalk may have curved around trees and fire hydrants. (perhaps even more fun for skateboarders, a reference to Wally’s comment in a different post). The process also showed how out of touch the town staff and some council members are with tax payers. Claiming safety as a reason for the sidewalk without any evidence to suggest there was a danger to begin with. The town even had a summer student count cars for an hour during the ‘morning rush’ to collect data in support of a sidewalk. It really shows a complete lack of understanding of statistics or contempt for residents. The sidewalk plan states the next step is to develop an official policy but this was not done. Why?

The town staff and some council members seem to do what they want without regard for citizens. Without delegations they might try to get away with more than they do now. Even if there is no change delegations are need. Thanks Bryan.

Gerinator
14 September 2022 4:43 pm

Sorry for hogging this space but just for giggles I read Johns Blog Re Consultant for User Fee Study dated Sep 7. Wondered whether any of Adams arguments pro Consultant, pro spending $ within this lame-duck period. I found none but I did find the following: “Mayor Henderson objected (to the delay) saying that the issue had been around for his 12 years on Council and need to be done this year. Suzanne then asked him why had it not been done earlier? John initially avoided an answer but when pressed said that Staff set priorities.” Hmmm pretty much indicates how this Town will be managed in the future – Staff will set priorities and Staff will decide what work is to go to Consultants. As stated below “The government you elect is the government you deserve” Thomas Jefferson

Gerinator
14 September 2022 4:32 pm

Thanks Brian for the very rational attempt to get through to other 5 members of this Council. I’m sorry that Chorley is gone; leaves Sequin lonely on the Island of Budget Management. Maybe this also speaks to: A-lack of confidence in Staff and CAO competencies &/or B-concern that Staff cannot be managed to meet certain taskings. Either way with Henderson, Darling, Burchat, Bureau as incumbents we can be assured that we will be blessed with further consultants and attendant costs.

Sandpiper
14 September 2022 10:42 am

I think we better find out why this town is so far in debt and has such an insatiable need for more income . Burden the Tax Payers more and more user fees and tax increase .
I still can’t get over the idea that we are supposed to believe Ms. Beaty and just fall inline with the fact that the new Boulder apartments are Affordable . They are subsidized by you know
who !
The Builder Land lord still receives full market rents .

Just a thought
Reply to  Sandpiper
14 September 2022 11:20 am

What we’re forgetting is that only 14 of the 70 (?) units are “affordable”. Cobourg will try to hold them accountable for 20% under ‘market rent’ but that’s still more than what the County defines as ‘affordable’ Oh, and we granted fees waived for all the units, not just the 14. Couldn’t someone use some common sense and some basic math? The grants and breaks on fees should have only applied to 14 units, not all 70. I guess it’s easy when it’s not their money and no one seems to flex any business acumen in the lot of them.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Just a thought
14 September 2022 2:19 pm

Ms. Beatty voted for and is proud of her “success” with the Balder project. Reducing the town’s fees on all 70 units rather than only on the 14 affordable units is a great example of her financial acumen. Certainly not a great choice to be responsible for Cobourg’s budget as our Deputy Mayor!

Last edited 16 days ago by Ken Strauss
Scottie
14 September 2022 8:42 am

Many thanks to Bryan for taking the time and making the effort to give this excellent presentation. In pointing out the absolute waste of $$’s to be spent on this consultant, Bryan has highlighted just another example of how frivolous this current council has been in spending “OUR” money, with the exception of Emily Chorley and Suzanne Seguin, who voted against hiring the consultant. Since Suzanne is our budget chief, obviously she knows “what” we can afford and what we can’t — and this consultant expense is ridiculous. Suzanne needs to remain our Deputy Mayor (and therefore budget chief) for the next four years. PLEASE everyone, vote with your pocketbooks in mind and return Suzanne to her post as Deputy Mayor.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
14 September 2022 8:40 am

“All government operation is wasteful, inefficient, and serves the bureaucrat rather than the consumer” – Rothbard

Again I pose the question, why do we continue to put up with incompetent governments?

Bryan
Reply to  Concerned Cobourg Resident
14 September 2022 9:41 am

CCR,

The public doesn’t engage its representatives, doesn’t hold them accountable, doesn’t vote. Citizens have abdicated their civic responsibility.

“The government you elect is the government you deserve” Thomas Jefferson

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Bryan
14 September 2022 9:57 am

Bryan, I couldn’t agree with you more!

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Concerned Cobourg Resident
14 September 2022 10:59 am

Ottawa in mind ?!

marya
14 September 2022 4:42 am

Keeping Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séquin, it is possible to “make a clean sweep” and to soon elect a new Council.

Mr Bigley
Reply to  marya
14 September 2022 10:32 am

l totally agree = and am delighted to note that Suzanne S. is handling the budget – you are correct a “clean sweep” is needed regarding in particular Consultants – this town harbours enough talent – be it retired folks or ambitious in this the town) to step up if asked. l detect insecurities with some mebers of council – Marim Mutton hopefully will be elected – she kept council on their toes, but in doing so – was considered a thorn in their sides – tough

Ken Strauss
13 September 2022 5:25 pm

This consultant’s report will cost Cobourg’s taxpayers almost $20,000 more than what we pay our Mayor + Deputy Mayor combined for a full year’s work. It will cost almost four times what we pay a Councillor. It will cost more than three times the median employment income in 2020 for Cobourg residents. If only we could all get a few day’s of consultant pay!

It is obvious that only Emily Chorley (sadly not running this time) and Deputy Mayor Seguin have any conception of fiscal responsibility or value for money. We can’t afford another term for Beatty, Burchat, Bureau, Darling and Henderson!

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 September 2022 8:43 am

Does this really come as a suprise to you?

“All government operation is wasteful, inefficient, and serves the bureaucrat rather than the consumer” – Rothbard

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned Cobourg Resident
14 September 2022 8:55 am

Certainly not a surprise, CCR. Just disgust!

How can a consultant’s few pages documenting the amounts of user fees in a half-dozen towns similar to Cobourg possibly be worth thousands of dollars more than a year’s work by our fulltime Mayor and Deputy Mayor? Why do the amounts of fees in other towns even matter to Cobourg residents? Other than Ms. Seguin, this Council has absolutely no understanding of how our taxes should be spent to benefit Cobourg’s residents. They have to go!

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 September 2022 10:09 am

Yes! The reason is because those in power are incompetent and incapable to do get things done! Competent candidates matter!

Jones
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 September 2022 3:11 pm

Instead of electing a mayor and council
Why don’t citizens hire consultants

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Jones
14 September 2022 4:10 pm

Jones, if a consultant’s report requiring a few person week’s work costs more than our Mayor plus Deputy Mayor are paid for the whole year, imagine the cost of a full time consultant! But your suggestion made for a good chuckle…

Bryan
Reply to  Jones
14 September 2022 4:17 pm

Jones,

We already are.
Who do you think pays for this endless parade of consultants?

Cobourg Taxpayers

Last edited 16 days ago by Bryan
Liz
Reply to  Bryan
14 September 2022 7:18 pm

Perhaps if Bryan Lambert had run for council, some of these things might have come to pass!!

Bryan
Reply to  Liz
14 September 2022 8:47 pm

Liz,

Thanks for that.

I considered it for about a month prior to the close of nominations. It’s just not me. Far too impatient and expecting instant results. I get pissed off really easily if things don’t go the way i think they should.

It would not have been a good experience for me and others.

Concerned Cobourg Resident
Reply to  Jones
14 September 2022 6:31 pm

Bravo! Jones gets it!

This is the real question.

Why do we need government? We have been conditioned to believe that we do.

As you can see, the government always messes up anything they set out to do. The private sector is more than willing and able to take on these tasks that governments can’t seem to manage – with more efficiency and better able to meet the demands of the marketplace.

CCR

Last edited 16 days ago by Concerned Cobourg Resident
Cobourg taxpayer
13 September 2022 1:17 pm

And that’s a fact “few changes of vote after someone has made a delegation. So you can see why people don’t bother” I used to attend council meetings and have made delegations and I have NEVER seen a change of votes. This should be a question for council candidates. Thanks for trying Bryan.