Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Basse Dilemma

No reasonable person would take issue with Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse citing ongoing serious health issues as the reason why he has been late with outstanding investigations. 

However, given that timeliness is a key factor in investigations and that Mr. Basse is not only paid hourly for his investigations, but also a monthly retainer, one begins to wonder about the appropriateness of Mr. Basse continuing to receive a monthly payment and his failure to step down, given that he seemingly cannot fulfill the requirements of his position due to his health challenges.

Hamiltonians would emphasize with Mr. Basse's health challenges, but at what point would the onus be on him, or city council to end this relationship. given that it does not seem to be working? 

Your thoughts? 

The Hamiltonian wishes Mr. Basse all the best on the health front. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Police Services' Budget Ask

The Hamiltonian asked Chief DeCaire to provide our readers with information pertaining to the police budget ask. The following document was provided (click here to see it). It is the report provided to the Police Services Board requesting approval for the operating budget. 

The ask represents a 2.95% increase over the 2014 budget and is said to be the lowest budget request in the last 16 years.

The Hamiltonian welcomes comments but asks that comments be geared toward whether you support the budget request and your reasons for or against. 

The Hamiltonian will not publish any comments that seek to demonize the Chief or any of the politicians or board members involved. 

A Chat with New Councillor for Ward 3- Matthew Green

1. What will your top three priorities be for the ward in this first year of your term? Why are these most important?

Safety concerns are a top priority moving forward. What I heard from Ward 3 residents again and again at the door were concerns with neighbourhood safety. There are a broad number of safety concerns in our community from addictions and mental health, to violence, petty theft and vandalism to unsafe traffic and street level sex trade work. All residents deserve to feel safe in their own neighbourhoods.

The Pan Am games in Ward 3 present a unique opportunity to see investment in infrastructure, security, and community programming. My second priority as a councillor is to ensure that the legacy of the games go beyond the two weeks of events and remain as ongoing improvements to enrich Ward 3.

My third priority is the continued support of neighbourhood level resident engagement and asset

Monday, December 15, 2014

Four years of......?

In a political system where 16 Councillors (including the Mayor), each have an equal vote, the  Bus Lane debate may serve as a metaphor as to how council will get issues through, as much as how traffic will get through on King Street. 

On the one hand, Clr. Chad Collins, proposed to preempt the staff report on this issue altogether, and end the bus lane as, as he described it, an early Christmas gift to those who find the lane objectionable.

On the other hand, Mayor Eisenberger countered with the need to engage in evidence-based decision making, deeming the staff report an essential component of that. The Mayor also proposed some operational revisions in advance of the staff report, which would see the bus lane optimized rather than canceled.

There are likely compelling arguments for each of these perspectives, and assuming the staff report is objective and balanced, it could be a useful tool to add clarity that would aid in the decision-making process.

But it seems that both Mayor Eisenberger and Clr, Collins have seemingly missed an important step; the need to be collegial and consult. On The Bill Kelly show the Mayor conceded that he did not really consult with the other Councillors on his ideas for operational improvements. Equally as troubling is Collins' recent positioning of this matter in the public realm (obviously counter to what the Mayor has in mind) , and his willingness to forgo the staff report.

The Hamiltonian is hopeful that the maneuvering around this issue is not indicative of what's to come over the next four years.  

Note: The Hamiltonian posed the  following questions to Clr. Collins prior to the Mayor releasing his press release on the Bus Lane issue.  We have not received an answer from Clr. Collins.  

In today’s Spectator there is a suggestion that perhaps you are acting prematurely to ask council to end the transit lane on King Street, prior to receiving the staff report.  Is this purely a calculated risk and if so, what prompted you to see this as a prudent move at this juncture, or did you have some idea of what the staff report may conclude, and thus decided to move forward sooner than later?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak-We three Cookbooks for Christmas are…

We three Cookbooks for Christmas are… 

Before we get to three books you might want to put, or find, under the Christmas tree this year, a word or two of appreciation.

This is the last column till 2015, so, many happy returns to readers. I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on how blessed we are, and to remember those who might need a bit of a boost at this time of year. I also want to give a huge shout-out to The Hamiltonian’s publisher, Teresa DiFalco, for providing such a great platform for Food for Thought, not to mention far more weighty content.

We’re at more than seventy columns to date and I also want to offer a truly sincere thank you to Diane, my principal contact, who has done wonders in getting up copy and photos, sometimes in record time. It is a pleasure to work with such great folk.

Three books caught my eye recently. I’m sure any one of them would be a welcome addition under the tree for the cook, traveller or tea lover in your life.

The most straight-forward book is perhaps “The Dirty Apron” cookbook, with a short foreword by Vancouver’s ubiquitous Vikram Vij. It’s a quick read, one that made me feel warm inside. I’d love to meet author David Robertson and visit the west coast cooking school where he’s taught about 8,000 students a year since 2009.

The recipes are clear, enticing, and simple to follow. I particularly appreciated a couple of baking and pasta tips that I’ve not seen as well illustrated or described before, and know others will like the well-presented section on brining, an essential technique to ensure moist roast meat. As it should, given the author’s home base, the book shines when it deals with fish. I was hugely taken with the Cinnamon-smoked and ginger-soy poke tuna recipes, as well as the one for pan-roasted halibut. A

Friday, December 12, 2014

Media Release: Mayor Proposes Adjustment to Bus Lane Pilot Project

December 12, 2014 Hamilton, ON –Today, Mayor Eisenberger is proposing some helpful adjustments to the Transit Only Lane (TOL) for staff to report back on along with their report to council on the pluses and minuses of the trial period.

The motion will be formally introduced at the December 17th meeting of council. A report will be available to all members of council, as well released publically on Jan 7th, 2015.

“Before any further discussion around eliminating the bus lane, there is merit in waiting for the release of the report, examining the benefits and making adjustments to improve implementation,” said Mayor Eisenberger. 

Giving consideration to alternatives to the current design and operation, Mayor Eisenberger is proposing:

a) Restricting hours of operation of the Transit Only Lane, to weekday morning and afternoon rush hours only and unrestricted use on weekends;

b) Modification to allow the use of the Transit Only Lane to other High Occupancy Vehicles;

c) Alternative design to relocate the Transit Only Lane to the second lane from the north curb lane and to restore parking back to the north curb land while eliminating parking in the south lane, in the area west of Bay Street.

This is an effort to address and improve upon the challenges during the bus lane trial process.

Further, Mayor Eisenberger noted, "We need to ensure we make evidence based decisions and that council have all necessary options before them in advance of making a decision on the future of transit in the downtown."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Chat with New Councillor for Ward 1 - Aidan Johnson

The Hamiltonian reached out to newly elected Councillor for Ward 1, Aidan Johnson. Enjoy our chat with Aidan.

1. What will your top three priorities be for the ward in this first year of your term? Why are these most important?

In no particular order:
  • Economic development of Hamilton.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Fighting poverty.
These three priorities are my “top three” because each one is an essential pillar of sustainable development, and of the creation of safe, complete streets for Ward 1 and the City.

2. Voter turn out in this past election was low, prompting some to suggest that we have fallen in an oligarchy (please see this article for reference.

Regardless of whether you subscribe to this view or not, what might you do to ensure that the views and perspectives you carry forward, are , in fact, reflective of the people that you are representing? Given the low voter turn out, is there anything in particular you might do to ensure you remain sensitive to the issues of all Hamiltonians.

Constant, regular consultation with the community is key to making sure that my work on Council is democratic. That is, broad consultation is key to making sure that my work is reflective of a broad cross-section of the best, thoughtful views within Ward 1 and Hamilton.

Our ongoing Participatory Budget process is one key means by which I intend to engage, stay

Monday, December 8, 2014

To B.I.A. or not to B.I.A.- Glen Norton's response.

In response to the article  To B.I.A. or not to B.I.A., The Hamiltonian has received the following response from Glen Norton of the City of Hamilton. Glen's reply is posted verbatim:

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify and correct misinformation that has been circulating on the proposed formation of a business improvement area (BIA) in the James St. South area of downtown Hamilton.

We are aware of several individuals objecting to the BIA being formed in the James St. South neighbourhood. In response, allow us to address some of the key areas of concern outlined in the group’s document. It is not unusual that some property owners and merchants are opposed to the formation of a BIA. It should first be noted that efforts to have a BIA in this area have been ongoing for over two years, initially as an extension of the Downtown BIA, then more recently by a group of local businesses who felt the area would be better served by having their own, distinct, BIA.

The numbered statements are extracted and condensed from the document submitted by Mr. Oldfield and Mr. Czarnogoski:

1. “A BIA is exponentially more difficult to dismantle once it has been formed.”

Incorrect. Property owners choose to dissolve the BIA using the same provincially legislated process