Sunday, August 28, 2016

Santo Barbieri- On LRT & The Little Engine That Must: The Case for LRT in Hamilton

I recently read Ryan McGreal's article "The Little Engine That Must: The Case for LRT in Hamilton" in Urbanicity magazine and there were a few ideas I wish McGreal would develop. He writes, "Despite attempts to address service deficiencies, the current system is still over capacity with crammed buses and frequent "pass-bys". This sounds like an opinion instead of a fact. If he provided real numbers to support this statement from a reliable source I might consider believing him. I rarely see crammed buses in Hamilton. Maybe he needs a lot more personal space than I do. I have been on subways in New York, Paris, Toronto, Buenos Aires and other large cities at rush hour and crammed is an accurate description. I have never been on a crammed bus in Hamilton.

He also writes, "According to a calculation by Chris Higgins, ….. Hamilton's LRT route would have the sixth highest transit ridership in North America on a passenger-per-kilometre basis on opening day!" What about all the other days once the novelty goes away? Will opening day be free? How many LRT systems are there in North America? If the answer is seven, sixth place isn't great. If the answer is thirty, sixth place is good. I tried to find the answer to that question on the internet and the list I found included street cars like those in Toronto and San Francisco. The list had about thirty cities and most of them much larger than Hamilton. I am curious to know how calculations and comparisons of a proposed LRT to be completed seven years from now and those existing in seven years can be made with any accuracy. What is the margin of error in those calculations?

According to Ryan, the corridor along the LRT route, "has a very high proportion of unused and under-used properties along the corridor that can be redeveloped" I ask myself what is a "very high proportion"? Is that 10%, 50% or 80%. An accurate number would help me decide what is a very high proportion. What defines an under-used property? Would having a 2% vacancy rate in an apartment building put it in the under-used category? In the absence of accurate reliable information the article's use of words like legacy, vision, ambition etc. come across as cheerleading.

Ryan then goes out on a limb by claiming those against the LRT in Hamilton are "not afraid LRT will be a failure, they're afraid it will be a success." This statement says more about the author than his opponents, the excessive enthusiasm about LRT no matter what, might be a way of hiding all the things that may be wrong with the current LRT project. It is unusual to see a critical thinker like Ryan McGreal completely in-line with the status quo and demonstrating a blind faith for the current project. Terry Whitehead raises some valid concerns, it is difficult to have an objective perspective when it's your baby and obviously this is Ryan's baby. More evidence-based arguments will be a better way to assure success for Hamilton and the project.

A few months ago, I attended a public meeting at Adas Isreal synagogue in Ward 1 where Andrew Hope from Metro-link and Paul Johnson from the city, gave a presentation on the LRT.

I learned:

1. According to Paul Johnson, the current B-line bus works well and is not operating with an over capacity of passengers. (not crammed)
2. The LRT may decrease the travel time of the current B-line bus route that will be replaced by 5 to 10 minutes.
3. The LRT is intended to stimulate development along its route.
4. That city staff and Metro-link staff speculate that Hamilton will experience an increase of 200,000 to 300,000 in the next 20 years.
5. It is estimated that the project will take approx. 5 years to complete and cost 1 billion tax dollars to complete.
6. The LRT will more than likely be operated by a private company but remain a public asset.
7. The provincial Liberals have decided the LRT will run for two kilometres north from King St. along James St. N. to the Go station
8. It was decided to run the LRT along King St. instead of Main street because King St. is the "Heart of the City".
9. Many small business owners along the route are against the LRT believing it will put them out of business and/or reduce their sales substantially.
10. The LRT will run totally on electricity, much of it generated from nuclear power plants and by private companies (Ontario's Liberals sold Hydro One)
11. Sewers will have to be moved as well as any other underground infra-structure.

My impression is that this is a make work project that will temporarily stimulate the construction industry and increase an already massive Ontario government debt. To off set that debt, governments usually start selling off assets, decrease services in health and education, increase taxes and/or go into private/public partnerships. The Ontario government has already put forward massive cuts in health care that will have a greater effect on the average Hamiltonian's life than an LRT and selling off more of Ontario Hydro. I would rather see that money go towards Health care. Let's look at the forest rather than the tree (LRT is that tree)

Paul Johnson from the city indicated that there is no "Need" to replace the current B-line bus and statistics show that there hasn't been an increase in ridership to justify an LRT. Therefore, to justify the project the government speculates that Hamilton will see a population increase of 200,000 to 300,000 people in the next 20 years. In the last 25 years the city of Hamilton has seen a minimal increase in population, while the suburbs that have become part of Hamilton have seen large increases. The LRT won't even come close to the suburbs and only covers a small portion of the city. I believe that urban sprawl has to end and infill has to happen but that has started to happen without an LRT. Putting a moratorium on urban sprawl is a cheaper and more effective way of stopping urban sprawl than an LRT. The justification for the LRT is to promote economic development along its route. That's like needing a haircut and deciding to buy a $10,000 Armani suit that makes your hair look shorter. What if the real estate bubble pops?

Another thing that's been happening is an influx of people moving to Hamilton from the GTA because of cheap housing which is no longer cheap. Hamilton has seen the sharpest price increases in Canada in the last few years. The influx will stop when housing prices combined with commuting costs and time lost won't make it an attractive option anymore. In the last 10 years Hamilton has become more of a bedroom community and the all day GO train service is long overdue. Currently approx. 35% of Hamilton's workforce commutes outside of Hamilton. The jobs aren't here and that's where the 1 billion should be invested. The creation of permanent local jobs instead of temporary construction jobs. A high speed train around the golden horseshoe would make more sense than an LRT covering a distance of 11 kilometres.

The suggestion that its "free" money handed out from the provincial government and one must seize the opportunity and the conditions that go with it, is ridiculous. We didn't "Need" a new stadium but since money from the provincial government was offered, let's take it and spend our Future Fund money from the sale of Hamilton Hydro to make it happen. Now the city, the province, the Ti-Cats and the contractor are in a web of litigation against each other and the stadium safety has recently became a major concern. Its time the city started dictating its own future by asking for what it needs not simply accepting the handouts and the conditions attached to them from the province. History shows that these monster projects often run over budget, take much more time than predicted and are rife with corruption. The Pan Am Games is a good example.

Paul Berton and Matt Jelly have suggested in recent articles that because voters elected politicians who support LRT that the last municipal and provincial elections were somehow referendums on the LRT. Jelly writes, " Brad Clark ran opposing LRT and lost to a candidate that supported it." using that logic why didn't Brian McHattie become mayor since he was the most vocal supporter of the LRT? He was a distant third place. Suggesting LRT was front and centre to a majority of voters and that being against the LRT is "obstructing a democratically approved project" as Matt Jelly wrote is a convenient way of trying to shut down opposition or criticism by suggesting people had their chance during the election. In the ward 7 election the councillor was elected with less than 25% voter turn out and won with less than 5% of eligible votes. Our political system is full of flaws. The only way LRT would become a "democratically approved project" as Matt Jelly writes, is to have a city wide referendum on it where you vote for an issue not a person (with all their complexities, political party and business affiliations). A referendum is a truer form of democracy. Part of a referendum question could be to decide on a route. The LRT issue should be decided by the citizens of the city, those who use the city. I suggested a referendum at the public meeting and someone started yelling about the idea and stomped out of the meeting. I guess his screaming and stomping, was his way of obstructing a democratic idea.

In the 2014 election minimal details about the LRT were known to the general public, there continues to be many details that haven't been decided. Some people are opposed to the LRT because putting it on King St. instead of Main St. is much more disruptive to small businesses and involves expropriating more property. Besides government organizations, who owns the most property on the King St. route? LRT is presented as an economic boost. Who will be the winners and who will be the losers? That's something that deserves some research. The idea that an LRT spurs economic development is never developed/explained by those who propose it. Wasn't the Tim Horton's stadium and Copps Arena going to transform the area's around them. It never happened but councillors seems to spin that forecast with every major project.

What I forecast is that many small businesses will go under, which has happened in Kitchener-Waterloo. Many people who live above those businesses will want to move due to noise and inconvenience. The value of those empty or near empty properties will actually drop. Someone with deep pockets will want to scoop them up for bargain prices (speculator) and sit on them for years (probably 8 years) when the LRT is done or the real estate market supports a tear down to build a condo. If the real estate market takes a nose dive then owners will look for gov't subsidies to do it. On the other hand it might spur development on Main street, putting a stake in "the heart of the city" and turning King St. into a lifeless transportation thru-way like York Blvd.

The Wynne gov't has committed 1 billion dollars. What if the project cost more, (which it will) who is expected to pay the difference? Are there any bonuses planned for those over-seeing the project? On the surface LRT sounds like a great idea but once the details of the project and the justification of the project are aired, the wisdom behind the decision becomes questionable.

Having an LRT is promoted as a city builder project but it can also be a city divider, not just in the political sense but more importantly in the geo-political sense. There might be LRT Hamilton (the small area it services) and the Rest of Hamilton. Will the Rest of Hamilton stop driving their cars? I don't think so. Will the Rest of Hamilton avoid LRT Hamilton, due to congestion? Probably. Will LRT Hamiltonians avoid the Rest of Hamilton due to inconvenience? Possibly. Will Hamilton's population increase by 200,000 to 300,000 in the next 20 years? Unlikely. given that the population growth rate in Ontario is 1%. If Hamilton's population growth rate is higher than the provinces which currently it isn't; then in 20 years Hamilton's population will be around 610,000 (100,000 more) not all of that increase in the LRT area.

According to an article in Catch News, renowned city planner Pamela Blais claims that in the decade 2001-11, there was a population loss of 6000-7000 people in the already urbanized area of Hamilton. During the same period 10,000 units were added to the greenfields along with a population gain of about 35,000. In the last four years, the city has only averaged 30 percent infill, less than the 40% required by the province, with the remainder of the nearly 8000 new units located on greenfields and nearly all of those were lower density townhouses or single-family dwellings. The highest growth rates have been in Binbrook, Ancaster and Waterdown where apartment construction has been minimal. Similarly, Blais noted that most major employment growth is taking place in the suburban areas with a continuing decline in the lower city. In her view, both trends increase congestion and are the opposite of what is needed to support the LRT. The same "visionary" politicians that vote for the LRT are voting for urban sprawl. Let's look at the forest not the tree.

There appears to be no room for real public input or consultation at city hall, its full steam ahead like it or lump it. A north to south LRT route would incorporate the whole city. There could be stops at the harbour, both Go stations, downtown, St. Joseph's hospital, and the major east-west streets on the mountain to the airport. All the mountain buses could stay on the mountain connecting to the LRT. An express bus using the Linc can take people from Stoney Creek mountain and Ancaster to a terminal on the mountain. A north-south LRT could be the spine of the city's transit system like the Younge St. subway line in Toronto. The currently planned route alienates the majority of the city, dividing the city rather than uniting it. McMaster University could continue with the B-line. Anyone who works in post secondary education knows that on-line education is growing rapidly which means fewer and fewer people need to be on campus. Obviously this hasn't been taken into consideration. I hope that council will get over the hype around LRT and becomes more pragmatic. If the province wasn't putting forward the "full cost", how many councillors would vote for it? If city council truly believed in the project they would be willing to put money on the table. Most councillors were against the project when it required city money. Hamilton is only one of two large cities in Canada that does not use federal gas tax monies for transit. Now that 1 billion is being thrown in Council's lap, they are rushing to become public transit advocates. It is difficult to expect peaches from an apple tree.

I recently spoke to someone from Kitchener and he told me that their LRT has no termination date. The trains were order from Bombardier and Bombardier said they are waiting for the Federal Liberal's to give them the bailout money that was promised. Since the provincial liberals are paying for it, will Bombardier be the supplier? I am not convinced that the LRT is good for Hamilton at this time and with the current route, the hollow rhetoric of legacies and vision make it a difficult pill to swallow.

Santo Barbieri

Do you have an opinion about LRT or other topics facing Hamilton? Send it to admin@thehamiltonian.info and we will consider it for publication. The Hamiltonian remains committed to allowing equal access to all sides of a topic. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Media Release: City Buys Eastmount Park School

City Buys Eastmount Park School

Ward 7 Hamilton Councillor Donna Skelly is pleased to announce that the City has completed its acquisition of Eastmount Park Elementary School from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The $1,025,000.00 sale was made possible by a contribution from the Ward 7 area rating fund.

Future plans for the property will now enter the consultation phase. “Ideally, I’d like to see the building preserved for community use” says Councillor Skelly, “But the goal would be to make it self-sustaining, without relying entirely on taxpayers’ dollars for its operation.”

Councillor Skelly would also like to extend her sincere thanks to Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson, who spearheaded the effort to purchase the school prior to her by-election win in March.

Eastmount Park Elementary School was built in the 1960s, and closed in June 2015, because of declining enrollment. The 29,138 square-foot school building sits on just under 0.7 hectares of property fronting onto East 26th street, and is surrounded by Eastmount Park.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shared Services Policing- The Hamiltonian's View

A letter dated July 22, 2016 was sent from Bob Gale, Board Chair of the Regional Municipality of Niagara's Police Services Board to Clr. Ferguson, Hamilton's Chair of the Police Services Board.(click here to read it)

In that letter, citing the continued financial pressures put on police services, Gale suggests that it may be wise to enter into a shared services agreement between the Niagara and Hamilton Police Services.

Shared services arrangements are ordinarily entered into to achieve economies of scale and other efficiencies. Such arrangements have been known to range from being very successful to disappointing. In theory, the notion of capitalizing on economies that can be had by sharing services, is a sound one. In practice, such arrangements vary in their success.

The Hamiltonian believes that Gale's suggestion is worthy of consideration. However, rather than enter into an agreement holus bolus, the Hamilton Police Services Board may be wise to pilot the idea by carving out a sub set of areas to focus on. Based on the success or failure of such a pilot, the decision to expand the arrangement or not, would be best informed by outcomes had in the pilot.

The Hamiltonian

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Portland Perspective- On LRT

The Hamiltonian reached out to our friends at Tri-Met, the agency that runs Portland's LRT lines to seek their insights and observations with respect to implementing LRT. As they have a vast amount of experience in implementing LRT, and as their system has been operational for a long time and continues to mature, we thought we'd check in with them. Enjoy our chat with David Unsworch, Director of Project Development and Permitting and Mary Fetsch, Chief Media Relations Officer.
(please note- the text is a transcript of a phone interview. Thus, please allow for truncated sentences. The transcript is verbatim and is not intended to be grammatically correct throughout, but reflects conversational tone.) 

We've always heard that Portland is far ahead with LRT, in terms of understanding the technology and implementing it, and so what we really want to get at, is, what are the experiences you've had in terms of making it work, and has LRT met your expectations. More specifically, if you folks had any targets that you set, in terms of ridership, or profit, or whatever the indicators you might have set at the onset to determine has been successful; we're interested in understanding whether you met those targets and how did you measure the implementation's outcomes. 

We have over 60 miles or light rail. We have a region that is growing and has grown around light rail, and when we look at success for that, we look from a ridership standpoint. More than 100,000 people- 100,000 trips per day  are being taken on light rail. And it's required us not to build as many freeways. Really about a third of the people coming into the downtown, from a workers standpoint, both on the east and west sides of downtown, are coming via our light rail system- our MAX system. So, it's the cost of not expanding those roadways. 

We had a highway revolt that happened here in the 1970's where great swaths of land, schools, grocery stores , single family homes and businesses were being taken for building roadways, and this community said- stop- there's got to be a different way of getting people from A to B than just building freeways. So, let's fix some bottlenecks but let's invest in transit. By that, we also mean busses and commuter rail and certainly light rail. 

We see our transit system, our light rail,  and we have frequent service routes which are 15 minute or better all day long. Bus routes that carry most of our ridership between, that and light rail, they carry most of our ridership. And so when we look at our keys to success, we look at a vibrant downtown. So, the city of Portland, almost a 24 hour city, is a place where people pay to park on a Sunday. Which is kind of unheard of. 

When we look at the investment that has been made by private industry around communities, you see about 13.2 billion dollars of real estate that has been invested adjacent to our stations since we decided to start building light rail. And that return on investment is going to keep giving and giving and giving. As we are a growing region, we are finding that it is getting more difficult to get people from A to B, in reliable travel times which, when you have a separate right of way, with something that you run on it, you have that reliability, that it's going to take you 30 minutes to get from A to B all the time, as opposed to some of our freeways where it may take you 15 minutes on one day but if you really need to plan to be there, you probably need to plan for 45 to 50 to 60 minutes to be able to get there if you have an appointment because the highways have become less reliant to change. They've been so congested, that a small fender bender will back things up for hours. 

So, it's a key tool for getting people around the region. And what the region has done is it's made a plan of saying, here are key regional and town centres, and we're going to try to connect those with our best and highest quality transit we have. So, when we look at our indicators we look at are we doing the right thing with land use. And check, we are- the 13.2 billion dollars. And you can go and look at our stations and think, wow, some of them have done really well. And you can look at our ridership. For a city our size, we are punching way above our weight class. We're probably the 26th largest city in the United States, but our ridership per capita is probably around 9 or 10. So, we've done very well because we've done a good job of connecting the dots, making the stations convenient, safe and thinking about the investment from an urban design standpoint. 

So we spent a lot of time thinking about how a station fits in with the fabric, the sidewalks and making sure that we connect the dots. By that I mean that we're connecting to where our baseball team plays, where our soccer team plays, where our football team plays, where there are civic institutions that we have lots of. And also, park n rides, and our stations are usually where we connect busses into it. So if you can't get that last mile, or the first mile..and so, in addition, we're making sure that- the last project we just opened up this last year, we spent 65 million dollars on bicycle and pedestrian improvements to make sure people can walk safely to the stations.

You've already answered this, but just to be clear. One of the question marks out here is whether the installation of light rail transit actually results in uplift in the communities. From your answer, it sounds like it has in your implementation. One of the questions out here is whether that's going to hold true, or whether there is an exaggeration about the effect that light rail has on surrounding communities and stations.  It sounds as though you have been fairly successful out there.

I think we're seeing that around the United States. People want walkable communities. They want to get out of their cars. They want vital places. And you start making that by urban design and making great places. And you connect those with transit, so, absolutely.

We have a thing called tax increment financing, which basically is value capture. And so our economic partner, has put money into these projects because they see the value. The private industry sees the value of high capacity transit. We're going to bring people to their door. It's going to be there for a long time. And so that return on investment is not only being seen by the transit agency, but more importantly is being seen as a city building, a place building thing, that there's return on investment for the private side. So, we have a street car in town, and the Chair of the streetcar committee has said, to many people that have come hear, the day that we decided to put a streetcar hear, my property values went up three times. He will say that loudly and proudly and say, fine we're paying more taxes on it, it brings more customers here, it brings more value and I'm able to capture that in the future. So, it it's done right, if you pay attention to details, like urban design, how you're connecting the dots, I think it clearly pays off and we're seeing that across the United States where people are investing in better transit. It's not just the highway. People are now focussed on building their cities. And we're seeing a return to cities, in America. Which is really strange; it's been happening here in Portland for a long time. But part of that is based on, can you get around without your car? And part of that is reliable and understandable transit service. 

When you folks first started implementing; one of things that we're obviously going to go through if we proceed, is that there are a lot of vendors on the routes that we are implementing on. Of course, there is concern around the disruption to business and that sort of thing. How did you folks handle this, as we would imagine that the vendors and businesses out there would have probably had similar concerns as you started out. How did you manage that? 

We have probably what I would say is one of the best community involvement groups around. And what they pay attention to, and our contracting methods require a conduct of construction. So we do a CNGC type of contracting which really brings the general contractor in very early on and they understand what our agency is looking for when we are doing construction on the neighbourhood. So, we're not blocking driveways, we are doing things that...we put advertisements out - in some cases on interstate avenue, we actually had lunch busses that we brought people from other places into town and drop people off at those businesses, during the heavy construction periods. And we have our staff on the streets with a cell phone/pager 24 hours a day if there's a problem with the consruction in blocking or impacting their property- they're the go to person. They develop a personal relationship with the property owner or the business person, so they are  the face of the project and they know who to go to the construction side and our side, to make sure that if there's a problem, that we find ways to alleviate that. 

Back in the day, when we first started, we were in downtown Portland and we did not go curb to curb in the street, we went building front to building front. And we also did construction from one end of the heart of downtown to the other end, where the project was. So, we learned that was too hard on businesses. It made sense from a construction perspective, but not from a business and community support. So, as we've done these various expansion,s and we just finished our sixth segment that we've built over these 30 years, we've gotten smarter and better. Now, a bunch of them are curb to curb. We'll only do 3 to 4 block segments. So, we're in and out. And we talk with the vendor and say hey, what's your busy time? If you're a florist and we block your access on Valentine's day, that's not going to work. So, there's a sense of- we understand your business, we understand your high point times and wedding season, don't block the florist. So, we really get to know them. Know their business cycle and then work around, with the construction schedule. And with a CMGC kind of contract, you get that flexibility to say, you know what, we have to move this work to another section because we need to support the business in this environment at this time. So we have that flexibility. So it really is a commitment. We're here to be a good neighbour. So that's a real value. We've learned over the years how to do that. So we do it in small segments, we let people know that we are there to answer and respond if there are any issues. 

Really it's a partnership with the contractor that's building it. We don't let them loose on the community. Our relationship is too important. We have to ask for our partner agencies to give us money. So the project that we just got done building, which is a 1.5 billion dollar project, Tri-Met put 4 cents on the dollar, into the capital cost of that, so we had our partners from the state, our partners from the region, our partners from the county and local jurisdictions. We actually even had private industry donating property to the project because they saw the value of it.

Was there a lot of expropriation that was needed?

The project that we just got done with, we had 245 million dollars worth of right of way acquisitions. We did that with what we call eminent domaine here. We're able to pay people for their property and require them to do that. We have that in our back pocket, but we really try to negotiate for a fair, what they see as more than a fair market value. So, we have had lots of disruption and we're very careful about how we do that. There are several rules. It's called the uniform relocation act, we have to follow as we go through that. It really protects the person's property, and if we have to take their property, we're doing it in a way that minimizes disruption to that person. That doesn't say it's not disruptive. It doesn't say it's not hard,but, in comparison, we're about 32 feet of width for our trackway, and you compare that to a roadway, one lane with a breakdown lane on each side, you're already at 24 feet, so we're minor in comparison to what happens to a roadway and we can move a lot of people in a rush hour in comparison to that same freeway lane. 

We imagine you have many stations; some of which did very well, some of which did as expected and some of which may not have done as well as you had hoped. For the ones that did not do as well as you had hoped, is there anything about them  that you can identify as being a flag or something that you would want to watch out for?

The first thing is, these are projects that are successful over generations. This isn't just a project for today or for the net five years. And there are areas in town that are more ready for development, verses others. So, take that into account and our original alignment, there are three stations adjacent to a freeway, and they are not at grade; they're at lower grade. So, when you think about it, if we had our druthers today and had the money, we would want it more connecting to the neighbourhood. So, there are things you learn as you do this over 30 years. Every line we do, we've learned more. As a principle, crime prevention through environmental design is really important. We have some park n rides that are absolutely cram full, and some that aren't very full. Now they may change over time. There are some stations where we are now seeing redevelopment 20 years, 30 years after we put in the line. Probably the biggest lesson I've learned, is as we build extensions to the line, be careful of how many stations you put in. The number of stations and the travel times...so, it's a combination of how often do you stop and how important the stations are. We basically have a very long line and to get from one end to the other takes you a long time. So, be careful about the number of stations you put in. I think you need to find a balance between what's there today, what can you imagine can be there in the future, what are great bus connections, ...but everybody wants a station and you need to be frugal  with those as you look at that extension. Make sure you're smart about when you're putting those in. Because it's really about high capacity transit. It's not a bus. There's a tool for every kind of transit. This is one where you wouldn't want a light rail train stop two blocks away from the other. How do you use the tool for where you are today, but also for future land use development.

Special thanks to David and Mary for their time and expertise! To learn more about Portland's transit system, click here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mapping the Route

Special thanks to David Derybyshire,Corridor Engagement Coordinator Light Rail Transit | Transit Division | Public Works, for providing a copy of a publication that the city is handing out to those closely affected by the LRT route. Click here to have your copy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Phoney War?

In today's Spec, columnist Andrew Dreschel characterizes the varying opinions about LRT, a "phoney war". (click here to see it, or buy today's print copy)   It appears that Dreschel bases this on his observation that the overt critics of the LRT design on council, which are identified as Clrs. Collins, Skelly and Whitehead, have not yet determined what they will do about their concerns. Thus, the lull equates to a "phoney war".

While we have tremendous respect for Mr. Dreschel and our friends at The Spec, and many times find ourselves in agreement, we don't see things the same way on this one.

To his credit, Dreschel summarizes what Clrs. Collins, Skelly and Whitehead are anticipating prior to them making a determination as to what form their concerns will take. And when you read that summary,  the take away seems to be that there are sound reasons why the councillors would elect to hold their next moves at this point. 

Dreschel's article is dead on, except for the phoney war label. With the stakes this high, words and actions have to be measured. Throwing grenades over the wall to see what might happen, is ordinarily not a good idea. 

The Hamiltonian