Thursday, March 26, 2015

With Chief Glenn DeCaire- At the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce

Chief Glenn DeCaire Provides an Overview
Hamilton Police Chief Glenn DeCaire was warmly received as he took members of the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce through an informative slide deck (click here to see it), summarizing the accomplishments, challenges and other aspects of providing police services in Hamilton.

The Chief began by recognizing front line officers and the community, and the importance of working together toward crime prevention. The Chief emphasized that "we police our community".

The Chief also spoke about how the police budget has remained at 19% of the city's budget, bringing a sense of historical relativity. Other highlights included:

  • from 2009 - 3013 crime rates in Hamilton have decreased consistently.
  • from 2004 - 2007 crime was on a steady incline in Hamilton
  • the Chief said the steady decline is a result of gun controls and prevention strategies that have been put into place
  • a key component is visibility of police presence in the community. The stats have shown this as being an effective means of decreasing and preventing crime. 
  • The goal is to have a ratio of 60/40 with 60% reactive (police responding to calls), and 40% proactive (police being visible in the community and interacting).
  •  In 2012, Hamilton's Violent Crime dropped by 19%, which was the largest Violent Crime decline across Canada.
  • the Chief emphasized that police relentlessly pursue cases- he referred to one case that was thirty years old. 
  • he stressed the importance of the need to keep the dialogue open with young people and to train his officers in crisis prevention, which he hopes to have completed within the next two years.
  • the police investigate an average of 700 deaths a year. The Chief explained that not all of these end up being crime related, but the police give every situation the same attention and  in order to make that determination.
  • the connection between addictions and crime is very high and this is something the service is working on addressing.
  • another area of increased concern is fraud against seniors and abuse in relation to power of attorneys.
  • the Hamilton Police service has recently embarked on a mental health partnership when responding to calls regarding people suffering with mental illnesses. An officer and a trained mental health worker responds to the call together, making the response responsible, helpful and successful. The response ensures the person receives the services needed. 
The Chief also provided a very informative visual which depicted the decrease in crime, according to different types of crime, specific to the geographical layout of our city.

Among the attendees was The Hamiltonian Publisher Teresa DiFalco and Ward 9 Councillor Doug Conley. The Hamiltonian encourages our readers to read the slide deck that the Chief presented.

Media Release: 2015 Hamilton Music Award Nominees Announced!!

2015 Hamilton Music Award
Nominees Announced!!
2015 Hamilton Music Awards,
Festival & Conference

May 21-24, 2015

Dofasco Centre for the Arts ∙ Various Venues

HAMILTON, CANADA(March 26, 2015): September Seventh Entertainment Limited announced today the nominees for the 2015 Hamilton Music Awards which take place at 6PM on Sunday May 24th at the Dofasco Centre for the Arts. Leading the nominations are Laura Cole(5), Jeremy Fisher(4) Arkells(3), Blackie and the Rodeo Kings(3), Elliott Brood(3), Ash & Bloom(2), Bianca Bernardi(2), Diana Panton(2), Dirty Jeans(2), Ginger St. James(2), Hachey the MouthPEACE(2), Harrison Kennedy(2), Jacob Moon(2), Katie Bulley(2), Mimi Shaw(2), Mississippi Bends(2), Steve Strongman(2), The Dinner Belles(2) and Tongue Fu(2). A complete list of nominees is included below.

The Industry Award nominees, Rising Star Search, Festival & Conference schedules as well as ticket information will be announced in early April.

Fans, artists and industry are reminded to cast their votes in seven People’s Choice categories at www.hamiltonmusicawards.com. The deadline has been extended to midnight on Friday April 24th.

2015 marks a 20-year journey for the Hamilton Music Awards, Festival and Conference which began as Hamilton Music Scene, an unofficial pre-JUNO Festival, when the JUNO’S hit the road and landed in Hamilton, in March 1995.

The Hamilton Music Awards and Industry Awards were established in 2004 to promote and recognize Hamilton’s vibrant music community. The Music Awards are broadcast nationally each year and have featured appearances by Monster Truck, Daniel Lanois, Arkells, The Reason, Ian Thomas, Lighthouse, Eugene Levy, Crowbar, Jackie Washington, Garth Hudson, Teenage Head, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Whitehorse and many more. To date, over 600 awards have been given to local artists and industry. The conference is attended by over 700 students and artists annually and features guest speakers from all walks of the Canadian music industry. The festival takes place over two nights in venues

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Art of Funding

Click here to see a copy of the funding commitment of the Hamilton Community Foundation to help the city fund the Arts in Hamilton. Congrats to all who have supported arts funding in Hamilton.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Media Release: Hamilton Kids Walk for Kids in Haiti

HAMILTON, ON – March 23, 2015 – More than 100 Hamilton children will don their mittens, grab their pails and walk five kilometres to raise money so children in Haiti can have clean water and sanitation. They walk to bring awareness to the plight of children in Haiti who walk hours a day for drinking water that’s actually contaminated.

It’s been five years since a massive earthquake ripped through Haiti, one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Haiti is widely considered to have the poorest water quality in the world. And the children in Hamilton are doing something about this.

Hamilton’s Public Works Department invites all media and the community to the 11th Annual World Water Day Walkathon which raises funds for the Haiti Water for Life project. Back in 2005, the

Friday, March 20, 2015

Media Release: Poets invited to submit original poems for the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge

Hamilton, ON March 19, 2015 – As part of the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge, Mayor Eisenberger invites Hamilton residents to submit works of unpublished, original poetry with the winning poem to be read at the municipal Council meeting on April 22 at City Hall.

The nationwide poetry challenge was issued by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi offering the challenge to his fellow Canadian mayors. This year’s initiative is a collaboration between the League of Canadian Poets, the City of Calgary, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Loft 112 in celebration of

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Joanna Chapman- On Integrity Commissioner and I.C. Model

Joanna Chapman, engaged Hamiltonian, former Dundas bookseller and former town councillor shares her views on Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse, the process of hiring the I.C. and moving forward. Enjoy our chat with Joanna:

You were on the committee that hired Mr. Basse as Hamilton’s Integrity Commissioner. Can you describe the process the committee went through and how you arrived at the decision to hire Mr. Basse.

A number of members of the A & T Committee were selected to form a subcommittee to review applications, interview applicants, and make a recommendation to Council for the new position of Integrity Commissioner (IC) At least two members of the subcommittee were members of the public.

The City Human Resources (HR) Department received a surprising number of applications for the position of IC. The HR Department reviewed the applications, and reduced them to a manageable number. Several candidates were selected for interviews and some were interviewed twice by the subcommittee A representative of the City HR department participated in the interview process. I felt that the interviews were thorough and fair.

Mr Basse was the the person ultimately selected. He had an excellent resume, with 25 years on the RCMP, experience in investigative techniques, plus municipal experience as mayor of a town in BC. He was sure of himself and interviewed extremely well. He seemed to be the ideal candidate for the new position as IC for the City of Hamilton. However what he claimed to be able to achieve was much more than he actually delivered. I feel the candidate was more at fault than the process.

Do you think the role of Integrity Commissioner has been effective? Why or why not?

 No first incumbent in the role of Integrity Commissioner has not been effective.

One reason was a general lack of oversight and follow-up when deadlines were consistently missed. City staff even covered for Mr. Basse's seeming inadequacies by doing part of the job that he was hired perform; such things as the web site, and likely the annual reports to Council. The A & T committee was unable to take any action because it was outside our jurisdiction.

The issue of Basse's apparent poor health should have been confronted and he should have been asked to resign if unable to do the job; or the monthly stipend withdrawn until his health improved.

The contract to hire Mr. Basse should have made clearer exactly what was expected for the monthly stipend and have set clearer limits on the amount that could be charged for an investigation. In a single year in which there appear to have been 3 investigations, the city seems to have been charged a total of $45,975.00. In my view this was too much for too little.

3. The City of Hamilton will be hiring a replacement for Mr. Basse once his contract expiries in the near future. What changes, if any, would you recommend to the way the city recruits a new I.C. and to the model itself?

There is an inherent problem with the Integrity Commissioner role as it now defined. The main task of the IC is to make sure that Councillors adhere to their codes of conduct and do not overstep any boundaries. However, the final oversight of the person holding the office is Council. If an Integrity Commissioner wants to keep the job, she/he will serve Council with what they want to hear, and tread gently.

What is forgotten is that the IC is there to serve the public. The only way to ensure that an IC performs the job independently, is to have independent oversight. Ideally it would be best if the job were performed by the Ombudsman for Ontario, that way the oversight would be totally removed from Hamilton politics. However, I believe this may be outside the current mandate of the Ombudsman.

If the oversight is to be performed locally, it should be performed by a committee of senior staff from the City. Similarly City staff should be responsible for the hiring of the next IC. There is a built-in conflict if citizen complaints against Councillors are investigated by a person who answers directly to Council.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

4. There have certainly been problems, but the past couple of years has deepened my conviction that Hamilton needs an Integrity Commissioner.

Thanks Joanna for your submission to The Hamiltonian. A note to our readers. Please take our survey and share your ideas regarding our service. You can complete the survey by clicking here. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The "Thin Blue Line" or Lack thereof

The "thin blue line" often refers to the camaraderie of police officers or others who are ordinarily in the line of law enforcement or corrections.

In its unhealthy form, it refers to those who hold these positions, protecting their own by overlooking rules , allowing members of the group to break laws or rules with impunity or otherwise failing to bring colleagues to justice. 

Through the actions of Hamilton City Councillor Sam Merulla, it appears that no such line exists as it pertains to the actions of fellow Councillor Lloyd Ferguson. And to the extent that the unhealthy form of that thin blue line,  does not exist in Hamilton City Council or in other organizations, the Hamiltonian applauds that. 

The efforts of Clr. Merulla calling out the lack of appropriate remedy for the assault by Clr. Ferguson on independent journalist Joey Coleman, has now led to an assault investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police. Given the fact that Clr. Fergsuon sits on the Police Services Board, the matter has been picked up by the O.P.P. to avoid a conflict of interest.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Judging SoupFest – Part 1

Judging SoupFest – Part 1

A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of joining some other distinguished gastronomes in judging Soupfest, the wildly-successful, and exceptionally organized, fundraiser run by Living Rock Ministries in support for youth-at-risk. Julie Conway, Development Director for the Rock told me they raised $70,000 net over the course of the day and had 5,150 in attendance.

That’s remarkable and I’d take a bet Soupfest, this year’s edition having been #13 – has grown into one of the most-heavily attended one-day food-related fundraisers in the Golden Horseshoe. (A tip of the hat obviously to the multi-day Rotary Rib-Fest in Burlington: It’s the biggest in Canada.)

The “Foodie Choice” award was new this year. It was a blind tasting adjudicated by Karen Aquino (GoCooking Co-ordinator at the Spec), Pop-up Hamilton’s Dave Hanley, Food Blogger Chanry Thatch, Amanda Kinnaird of Inspire Hamilton and myself.

The soups came to us in small containers identified only by a descriptor from A-Z. We had no idea