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Monday, May 30, 2016

Reply to City Solicitor's Reply

The following is Mr. McNie's reply to the City Solicitor's reply to his open letter:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Episode 6 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" - the Billion Dollars

It's been some time since we've released an episode of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns" but with the inspiration of LRT, we thought it was time.

In this episode "the one with the billion dollars" we find Mayor Eisenberger shooting himself in the foot with his Clint Eastwood style edict "Put up or shut up", intended to call his council to commit to LRT or else put a cork in it. It turns out the Mayor had to turn the cork around and recall his words, adding his regret for the phrasing.

Meanwhile Light Rail advocates sense turbulence and reignite a call to action, reminding others of the decision points and debates already exhausted. It's groundhog day all over again according to them, while far from the glare of an election, some politicians  engage in what appears to be a rethink.

LRT champion Ryan McGreal appears on The Hamiltonian, re-explaining the evolution of this issue and the anticipated benefits of proceeding. He'd later call the questions posed, "pointed". 

With one billion dollars on the line (pardon the pun),  some appear miffed that the issue is even being debated while others appear to be making room for what they perceive to be a giant white elephant coming our way.

So what to do, in light of all this? Call a referendum? Wait, no. Not a referendum.  Let's kick the can  and delay the vote for a few months, sending troubling messages to the Premier in terms of a solidified and final commitment to LRT.

Current Transit Director, Dave Dixon, soon to be flying the coop in favour of a new position elsewhere, in an interview with The Hamiltonian, says the following  "Operational economies of scale are directly proportional to ridership – ie. rail has much higher operational costs per hour than bus, but also has the potential to carry a far greater number of customers (through train-lining) – so cost per customer will vary depending on what ridership ultimately materializes." likely creating worry lines on several foreheads (cue Botox ad).

And in an op ed in The Hamiltonian, we find this statement "And with that comes the political problem with this particular transformation effort. If we accept the premise that LRT is not a response to a universal feeling of disharmony with a present condition, it will be understood as a choice made by politicians to move toward a heavier investment in public transit at the expense of available road space to drivers of vehicles."

Will Hamilton City Council move forward with LRT? Will the vote be deferred again? Do we have the necessary ridership for ROI purposes? Will the Mayor prevail? Can the 1 Billion be repurposed or it is strapped to LRT? When will it all appear on Netflix?

Stay tuned and find out as this episode of As Hamilton Twists and turns concludes. 

Cue the tape (preview of next episode appears) Fade to black as Clr. Whitehead is seen standing and making a point......

City's Solicitor's Response to Open letter

The following is city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski's response to the open letter from D. Scott McNie, found by clicking here. Ms. Atwood-Petkovski's response is posted verbatim:

Following the incident of February 26, 2014 referred to by Mr. McNie, in addition to reviews and investigations of the incident itself by the Integrity Commissioner and the Police, the following actions have undertaken:

· The Councillor rose publicly the next morning at General Issues Committee to address the meeting and publicly apologize to Mr. Joey Coleman for the incident the previous evening. The apology is archived on the City’s website in the audio/visual recording of the meeting and publicly available.

· A review of relevant Workplace policies and procedures was undertaken by City administration which resulted in revisions to the City’s Workplace Violence Prevention policy to include conduct exhibited by elected officials. Amendments were adopted by Council November 2015.

· A Council-directed comprehensive review is currently underway which includes a review of security video monitoring equipment as well as related policies and procedures, which will report back to General Issues Committee prior to the 2017 Budget cycle this fall. This review will look at current practices relating to security personnel as well as practices related to video surveillance systems.

Janice Atwood-Petkovski
City Solicitor
City of Hamilton

Open Letter to City Solicitor

OPEN LETTER TO CITY SOLICITOR
May 27, 2016

Dear Ms. Atwood-Petkovski,

On Wednesday evening I was escorted from the city council chambers by security. My two signs, 'Justice for Joey Coleman' and 'Joey Coleman deserves a public apology from council' were not allowed according to the City Clerk's office. I left my signs as directed in the lobby and returned to the public gallery where three or four other residents were sitting.

I was attending the meeting to show support for my 'Open Letter', a council agenda item.1 I hoped for a public apology to Joey Coleman from council. I was also aware the city clerk's office had sent council and management a 'High Importance' e-mail about my wish to see Councillor Ferguson's public apology included in the public record. The e-mail advised, "The inclusion of the apology in the Feb. 27, 2014 GIC minutes would require an amendment by Council."2

I was very disappointed. My fundamental charter freedoms were denied when I couldn't display my important messages.3 This is wrong. Then council failed to discuss my letter's concerns and no one attempted to correct the 'missing' minutes. Minimizing the seriousness of what happened on Feb. 26, 2014 is not the way to build a healthy, engaged community. The former Integrity Commissioner found current Police Board chair Lloyd Ferguson violated the Code of Conduct, Sections 45 a) & b) involving 'harassment' and 'abuse, bullying or intimidation'.4 Which is NOT serious? And...
  • Why didn't the city immediately call police when staff discovered the video's unauthorized editing and why wasn't the video properly protected in the first place?
  • Why didn't the city release the city hall surveillance video long ago, before it was shortened, if it 'set the record straight'?
  • Why isn't Councillor Ferguson's 'public' apology part of the city's public record since he was 'given the floor' by the chair and his apology included all of us, "the public"? 
  • Why hasn't the city yet responded to Joey Coleman's reasonable 2014 request for "a serious conversation at City Hall about bullying and violence?"

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Sincerely,

D. Scott McNie

c.c.

Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council
Mr. Chris Murray, City Manager
The Integrity Commissioner for the City of Hamilton
Ms. Sandra Walker, CUPE 5167 President
Ontario Ombudsman's Office

Local Media

'Open Letter to Mayor Eisenberger and Members of Council', Scott McNie, May 10, 2016  copy of e-mail by Acting City Clerk, J. Pilon to council concerning Feb. 27, 2014 GIC meeting minutes, May 24, 2016  3 copy of e-mail by journalist Joey Coleman to City Manager, Chris Murray concerning violation of Scott McNie's  rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2(b) "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication", and link to 2014 municipal sign court decision between Gammie v. Town of South Bruce Penninsula, May 25, 2016  4 Council Code of Conduct, Section 17ab - Harassment, (*not 45ab)  5 e-mail by Joey Coleman to city officials requesting protection of security video, Feb. 27, 2014 (part of Basse Report, Feb. 25, 2015) City of Hamilton Press Release, 'Ferguson says public release of security video shows real picture', Nov. 23, 2015  7 Councillor Ferguson's public apology, "I want to apologize to, for last night to Mr. Coleman.  Following a very heated council debate as all of you know I left council and was wanting to speak with staff and a fellow councillor on a confidential matter.  Mr. Coleman was standing behind us.  I asked Mr. Coleman to step back and tried to move Mr. Coleman out of the way.  It was unacceptable and I apologize to Mr. Coleman, members of council and the public for my actions. Thank you.", temporarily stored audio/video, city archives, Feb. 27, 2014  joeycoleman.ca/In Regards to Councillor Lloyd Ferguson's Use of Force Against Myself', Feb. 27, 2014
Note: The Hamiltonian will be asking the city solicitor if she would like to respond via The Hamiltonian. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

With David Dixon, Transit Director- On LRT

Enjoy our chat with David Dixon, Transit Director for the City of Hamilton. 

1. Given that you will be leaving the city soon for a new opportunity, can you provide some parting advice on LRT and its potential implementation in Hamilton. What things do you believe we need to look out for and what traps ought we avoid (if any)? 

Good transit needs to be rapid, reliable and frequent. I believe the semi-segregated design currently under consideration will fulfil all three elements.

2. Recently, there have been some councillors who are questioning whether LRT is right for Hamilton, despite previous support and despite the 1 billion dollar funding commitment from the province. What is your read on this. Is this something you had expected and what do you think it means?

As a transit professional and advocate, I believe all transit improvements are positive. This is a large, complex and transformative project – conversations will occur along the path to fruition.

3. How critical is it to have the right numbers in terms of the amount of people using transit, as we approach an LRT implementation? Do you think those numbers will be there for Hamilton and if they aren’t or if they fall short of what is ideal, what do you think the consequences may be? Can we recover from that? 

Like any transit service, the service loading standard should guide the amount of service provided. With rapid transit, a service frequency standard is sometimes also imposed. Operational economies of scale are directly proportional to ridership – ie. rail has much higher operational costs per hour than bus, but also has the potential to carry a far greater number of customers (through train-lining) – so cost per customer will vary depending on what ridership ultimately materializes. 

4. If it were up to you, where do you think we’d get the best value for the dollar- implementation of LRT as envisioned, or expansion and modification of current systems (busses etc.)? 

Both are important and will be required in Hamilton depending on growth patterns and areas of intensification. We must expand the local transit system as growth occurs, and hopefully, add service frequency to lead ridership growth – I am confident we will find a way to do this, particularly in light of the recently announced Federal transit funding.

5. Given the ongoing question of how much widespread support there is for LRT, do you believe a referendum on the issue may be helpful? 

 This is a policy issue currently being debated in the appropriate forum.

Thanks Mr. Dixon for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Article of the moment

Click here to see it. From our friends at C.A.T.C.H.