Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Chief of Police, Glenn De Caire

When I approached our new Police Chief , Glenn De Caire to gauge his interest in being a guest on 10 Tough Questions, he was immediately receptive to the idea. I thought it would be a very good follow up to my interview with previous Chief Mullan , found here.

From what people have told me, and from my brief interactions with Chief De Caire, including a review of his answers  to the questions I posed, he presents as an upfront and "no nonsense" professional. I was also impressed with the fact that  that he did not shy away from some questions that may have been a little "edgy", or perhaps not in keeping with what usually consititutes an entry interview. But the new Chief stepped up!

This is an opportunity for Hamiltonians to get to know Chief Glenn De Caire a little better and to show him our support. His leadership will be critical. I think he's up to it! Welcome to 10 Tough Questions with Chief Glenn De Caire.

Happy New Year Hamiltonians - 2010 - Your Hamiltonian Predictions

I thought it might be interesting to ask you for your predictions as to what 2010 will bring for Hamilton. Will we have a new Mayor? Which councillors will be re-elected?  What will voter turn out be like? Will James North and the arts movement continue to explode? Will we see more scandals? Will the Integrity Commissioner make a difference? How will the Abdul Khan allegations be handled? Will we make any headway on light rail? What progress will we make or what challenges might we face en route to the Pan Am games? Will The Hamiltonian.net garner 500,000 hits (shoot high ;-)). 

Share your predictions here in free form. Make your predictions on any topic affecting Hamilton. Might be fun to archive these posts and then reflect back on them at the conclusion of 2010.

Fire away.....

New Integrity Commissioner Set to Start

Earl Basse, former RCMP Inspector, small town mayor and hockey referee- in-chief, will soon commence his role as Hamilton's Integrity Commissioner. Welcome Earl!

At present, he runs his own business and acts as Windsor's Integrity Commissioner. According to a Spec story (see it here) , Mr. Bassee intends to keep his job as Windsor's Integrity Commissioner, while being Hamilton's as well.

The Spec reports that Mr. Basse's performance as Windsor's integrity commissioner has received mixed reviews. His first report, released in November, outlined his inability to find the source of a leak during Windsor's bitter municipal strike this summer. Some blame that leak for prolonging the strike for another month.

Friday, December 25, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Herman Turkstra

Herman Turkstra is a lawyer, businessman and a founding member of Turkstra, Mazza law firm. Herman is currently on sabattical from his law practise and serving as President of ZIYP Inc. ZIYP is active in the use and development of business directories on the Internet and in print. Herman founded 701.COM and 701 Media Group which were purchased by the Toronto Star and now publishes directories to over 2,500,000 households in Ontario communities. You can read more about Herman here .

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Infrastructure Report Card

It seems that the city’s infrastructure is getting worse. From a soon to be released consultant’s report, the city’s average grade fell from a C plus (issued in 2005) to a C. Apparently, the city needs to spend $153 million more each year if it hopes to keep its infrastructure up to date.

The worst mark -- a D (minus) -- was awarded to Hamilton's roads and traffic systems, which includes bridges, sidewalks, traffic lights and street signs. This category is the city's most expensive group of assets with the biggest projected shortfall -- $96 million a year.

Councillor Bratina called the city's performance "fair or worse" and called the road and traffic rating "shocking." "What it tells me is that we're building infrastructure that we can't afford to maintain," Bratina said, citing the Red Hill Valley Parkway and the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway."It's great to have it, but we can't afford it."

Are you as shocked as Clr. Bratina is? Are we focusing on the right things? Have we leveraged the Red Hill Parkway build?

See the full Spec Story here including the individual scores assigned to the categories reviewed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

May you and yours have a joyful holiday season.

Let's be thankful for what we have and be generous with what we can give. And let's remember those who have gone before us that are with us in spirit.

Peace to all.

Margaret, Daniella, Cari, Adri, Kyle, Mathew, Erin, Carm and Cal

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Popping the Bubble with Adam Kuhn

Pop the Bubble at McMaster focusses on reacquainting McMaster University  students with their surroundings. With the majority of students' time spent on the McMaster campus, it is easy for the average student to remain isolated from the rest of Hamilton. This trend is exacerbated, as students often do not veer off the path between their residence and the university, which becomes their " bubble".

Adam Kuhn, the manager of the Office of Community Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in Student affairs at McMasterThe Office of Community Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at McMaster has come up with a new initiative named Pop the Bubble, an awareness campaign oriented towards getting students off the campus and engaging them within the social fabric of the city. The work of Adam and his team sounded interesting and I am pleased to feature him on The Hamiltonian.

1. Tell us about "Pop the Bubble". What was the genesis of the idea, what do you hope to achieve and are you seeing any results?

Friday, December 18, 2009

What Does a Hamilton Hero Look Like?

While the jury continues to be out, pending the commissioning of a full and impartial investigation into Abdul Khan's allegations against the City of Hamilton, Hamiltonians who responded to the Hamiltonian online poll, which asked whether people thought Abdul Khan is a Hamilton hero or a scorned employee, think that Mr. Khan is a Hamilton hero. The poll is unscientific.

Of those who responded to the poll, 77% indicated that they think he is a Hamilton hero.

In today's Spec, the city maintains that the lifting yesterday  of the Lynden drinking water advisory, is unrelated to the allegations of Mr. Khan.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Gregory Hough

Gregory Hough has been an avid blogger on several of our local blogs (known as WRCU2) , and a regular here on The Hamiltonian. Greg has always intrigued me, based on his unique style of getting his points across. I readily accepted the opportunity to meet Greg face to face to get to know the man behind the posts. We met at a Hamilton standard- the Tim Hortons at Ottawa street. Behind the mystery, I found a quintessential Hamiltonian- engaged, interesting with a genuine concern for our city. I was also impressed with Greg's quest to volunteer in the community. Additionally, he hails from Buffalo, NY, and it was thus very interesting to hear his perspective on Hamilton. I am pleased to have him on 10 Tough Questions. Greg has elected to answer all 11 questions I put to him. Welcome to 10+ Tough Questions with Greg Hough. Comments welcomed.

1. You originated from the United States and are now living in Hamilton. What brought you to Hamilton and what are your impressions of our city?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Informed Opinion on Abdul Khan's Allegations

Some of the allegations made by Abdul Khan, former Hamilton Director of Water and Wastewater Treatment from May 2005 to June 2009, are fairly technical and difficult to understand by everyday Hamiltonians who would not have expertise in wastewater management. Given the magnitude of the allegations, it is important to decipher what is being alleged and what the allegations mean. To that end, The Hamiltonian has interviewed Roger Lambert, now retired, who has some expertise in the field. To further inform Mr. Lambert's opinion, it is our understanding that he contacted Mr. Khan directly, after having a thorough read of the allegations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Tough Questions with 820 Talk's Dave Shuttleworth

Throughout the past decade, Dave Shuttleworth has worked at many stations, and in several formats, including Country, Oldies, Adult Contemporary and Talk. In 2006, Dave took a chance at local politics when he ran for Hamilton city council. Although he didn't win, he had an impressive showing.When he's not on the air, Dave can be found all over town at various events; hosting functions, jamming with local musicians, or taking in a lecture at McMaster University, where he is completing his Political Science degree.  Dave and his wife, Jennifer Sanders, live in downtown Hamilton with their daughters, Laurel and Julia . Dave answered all 11 questions I put to him. Welcome to 10 + Tough Questions with Dave Shuttleworth of 820 Talk radio.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Special to “The Hamiltonian” by Tom Cooper, Director Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

The term “welfare fraud” is flying fast and furious –and inaccurately - this week thanks in part to report released by Jim McCarter, Ontario’s Auditor-General. The debate has provided political and media fodder and turned attention away from the reality that individuals in receipt of social assistance receive are often living in dire poverty.

Abdul Khan - In His Own Words

Who's telling the truth?

The allegations made by Abdul Khan against the City of Hamilton (see document here) , alleging serious wrongdoings has thrown Mr. Khan into the spotlight. Is he a hero who simply did his duty as a responsible public servant b Mr. Khan was kind enough to agree to an interview in The Hamiltonian. His answers to my questions are posted verbatim. In the interests of fairness, any representative from the City of Hamilton, is also invited to an interview in The Hamiltonian to discuss these issues. They need only contact us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Welcome Chief Glenn De Caire

Just a note to welcome our new Police Chief, Glenn De Caire. Some of the highlights of his speech featured today on video on the Spec web page include:
- Wants to position the police service in Hamilton to contribute to policing strategies in the province
- Wants to share and transfer the skills that he has acquired through his years in policing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Mark Cripps

Mark Cripps is managing editor for Hamilton Community News (serving the communities of Ancaster, Dundas, Hamilton Mountain, Stoney Creek).He has been with HCN for over seven years, starting as editor of the Stoney Creek News. Mark is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Journalism, and has worked at numerous community newspapers across the province, including Seaforth, Goderich, Kitchener and Prescott.

Kangaroo Court

Surprisingly., Hamilton city council  allowed the discussion of this allegation openly ( click here) , in absence of an investigation. 

McCarthy, Clark, Bratina and Pasuta were the only ones opposed to discussing the matter in open council.

Jobs? Where?

It will be a tough new year for those who are job hunting in Hamilton. Manpower has found that 13% of local companies are planning cut backs in the first quarter of 2010. This nets out to a negative 10 ( -10) employment outlook for Hamilton, the worst it has been in 3 years. Only 3% of local companies are looking to hire new employees. ON CHML this morning, a Manpower representative also noted that many companies are opting for temporary workers, where hiring is being contemplated. Certainly, the dire economic times and recession has impacted Hamilton. I wish it were better news.

Drowning in Taxes

Updating Hamilton’s aging infrastructure is not a problem that is going away anytime soon. In fact, it will only get worse if it is left unchecked. In response, the city is primed to introduce a new surcharge on our tax bills, to target the problem. And now this - click here

The average household is expected to pay an additional $14 that will be used to offset costs related to upgrading roads, transit and city buildings. In the best scenario, taxes would increase to 3.6% At worse, if the city doesn’t secure 16.5 million that it has requested from the province, the tax increase will be more in the range of 6.4 %.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Indebted to Aerotropolis

It seems that new money is required to supply water and sewer services to the proposed aerotropolis. It's money we don't have and will likely incur more debt. Hamilton councillors are contemplating a  freeze on development if the provincial and federal governments don’t provide more cash.

The water and sewer budget calls for $2 billion in capital spending over the next ten years for pipes, pumps and other infrastructure including a new sewage treatment plant. Half that amount – over $1 billion – is scheduled to be used in the next three years, with most of it being borrowed.
Finance head Rob Rossini, said "“If our growth projections don’t materialize, or if they materialize slowly, there is significant risk to the existing ratepayer, and the impacts of funding that debt. Because once the project’s constructed, once the debt is issued, the bank wants its money.”

Friday, December 4, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Chris Farias

Imaginitarian and Partner, Chris Farias is a Hamiltonian entrepreneur and owner of kitestring creative marketing + design.

Now in kitestring`s third year of business, Chris acts as Creative Director on all campaigns with his knack for creating unique identities and on-target brand awareness. He has a stellar background in print design, illustration and art direction. Chris also brings over 9 years experience in brand development to kitestring.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Breaking the Dam of Resistance"

Heres a story in today's Toronto Metronews

City Councillors Limit Political Donations

Toronto city councillors have decided they will no longer accept campaign donations from corporations or unions.

"This is kind of a revolutionary day, " Councillor Michael Walker, who pushed for the reform, said after the 29-12 vote. "We've broken the dam of resistance". The issue has been before Toronto council off and on for several years, but the politicians haave resisted reform until now.

This means that future candidates will have to rely on individuals to fund their campaigns. Toronto city council also voted to study the feasbility of providing some city funding for campaigns.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Secrets or Procedural Paralysis?

The city's legal department once again submitted a  report  to council that refused to release any portion of the annual audits of the company managing the airport. Councillor Clark has been diligently after this for some time now and had asked for portions of the report to be released some 18 months ago.
The resolution to accept the staff report was subsequently defeated by a vote of six to one, with only committee chair, Maria Pearson supporting the motion.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elect More Women- Hamiltonian profile

Organizations such as The Hamilton Civic League (HCL) and Elect More Women (EMW), are important change agents on the Hamilton Municipal scene. Maximizing voter turn out and providing more choices in candidates running for office, are, in my view, pivotal components of transforming our city.

I was thus extremly pleased when Kelly Hayes of Elect More Women  agreed to appear on The Hamiltonian. I strongly encourage Hamiltonians to lend their support to EMW the HCL and like causes.

Picture -Denise Doyle, Caitlin Maclennan, and Kelly Hayes

1. Can you tell me about your organization "Elect More Women". Who is involved, what are your goals and what inspired you to start this venture?

Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Javid Mirza

Javid Mirza was the past President of the Muslim Association of Hamilton (serving for over 8 years), a current member of the Hamilton Media Advisory Council on Anti-Racism, and a successful businessperson who founded Seven Star Sports in 1989. He was born in Pakistan and came to Canada in 1974. He also was a candidate for Hamilton Center with the Liberal party, a few years ago. By all accounts, Javid serves as an example of community minded citizen who is engaged in the best interests of Hamilton. Javid has elected to answer all 11 questions I have put to him. Welcome to 10+ Tough Questions with Javid  Mirza. Comments welcomed.

1. Let's start with a really tough question. To what extent does racism still exist in Hamilton? Please explain from a personal lens and from a systemic one.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Pat Matozzo

Pat Matozzo and I spent many mornings traveling to Toronto on the early morning Go Train. Pat and I had many talks about Hamilton politics and Hamilton, during those trips . Pat is a very talented Project Manager, PMP certified, and one of 35,000 plus people who we lose each day to jobs outside of our city. Thanks Pat for being a guest. Comments are welcome.

1. How do you feel about Hamilton being part of the winning bid for the Pan Am games? Are you confident that Hamilton will  use this opportunity to help turn it around, or do you believe that it will be badly handled or otherwise end up badly? Please explain.

Right now, I’m ambivalent. Am I happy for Hamilton, yes? Will it have a long lasting economic/social impact? The Pan Am games will create some initial construction work, not sure how a pool, veladrome and a stadium will lead to long lasting economic and social sustainability that will benefit Hamilton. Moreover who’s paying for it? Can Hamilton, turn its self around leveraging the Pan Am Games, let me think, Vision is what’s required, and I don’t see it. Who will be the leader within Hamilton who’s going to lead the Vision to turn around this City? .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who's the Looney Tune?

A) Which city councillor recently called a group of citizens who came out to a public meeting "Looney tunes"? 

B) Where is that Integrity Commissioner when you need one?

Music to My Ears

"2009 HMA "Careers in Music" Conference      Friday, December 4, 2009 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM     Mohawk College, Fennell Campus.  The sixth annual "Careers in Music" Conference is a component of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Hamilton Music Awards. It's designed to introduce local area students to the wide spectrum of career opportunities in today's music industry from business, to creative, to technical occupations. This year's conference theme is "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally," and the industry panels consisting of music sector leaders and stakeholders will brainstorm ways to intensify Hamilton's music scene, to help ensure local, regional and international success. Free admission for students and accompanying teachers. Student i.d. required for post-secondary students.

Otherwise, $20 at the door (cash only). To learn more and/or register, visit http://www.hamiltonmusicawards.com/ ."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Women in Local Politics?

As reported in The Spec today, a new women's coalition has been formed to bring a voice to women's issues. The coalition hopes to increase the number of women in politics. see story here

Project Scratch the Surface Women's Coalition was launched yesterday at the MacNab Street YWCA, with founders Catherine Pead, CEO of the YWCA, and Ines Rios, executive director of St. Joseph's Immigrant Women's Centre, taking centre stage.

Some facts:  12.5 per cent -- number of Hamilton city councillors who are women.
                    62 cents -- amount a Hamilton woman earns for every dollar a man makes.

What are your thoughts.  Would you like to see more women in local politics?

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

It's been a week of surprises. First, Glenn De Caire is announced as the new designated Chief of Police. De Caire is a staff superintendent from Toronto,  which drew controvery and speculation as to why two internal candidates,  who were seen to be the most likely to assume the role, were passed by. 

Today, we learn that Councillor Bernie Morelli decided to step down as Chair of the Police Services Board. This after 12 years of service. He intends to remain a board member, but will relinquish the Chair's position in January. The Spectator article, found here, is an interesting read.

What do you make of these changes?  What do you think is up? Do you support these changes?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hamiltonian Poll Results

Two polls have recently concluded on The Hamiltonian. While these polls are not scientific, the results are as follows.

On the question of whether Hamiltonians believe that we can still have a meaningful deployment of an Integrity Commissioner, 68% said No. There are a number of people who still have hope (32%), but the majority have lost confidence in the Integrity Commissioner's deployment.

On the question of whether Hamiltonians believe that this city council has what it takes to lead us into the Pan Am Games, 89% said that they do not believe that this city council has what it takes.
Thank-you for participating in this poll. Each Hamiltonian counts!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Dave Kuruc

It is hard to envision a revitalized downtown core, without factoring in the enthusiam and insight that people like Dave Kuruc bring. Dave is one of those people who is "walking the walk", in terms of demonstrating how personal committment and ability to work collegially with others, can make a powerful  impact and lead to positive change. Dave has elected to answer all 11 questions put to him. Enjoy 10+ Tough Questions with Dave Kuruc. Comments and input encouraged.

1.You've referred to the arts movement downtown as a movement that will evolve organically You have also suggested that there are already significant signs that it is taking hold (eg: the success of Supercrawl). Allowing for the strength and creativity that a natural evolution of sorts offers, do you see any embedded risks to the city in that journey and, to the extent you might, what ought the city be doing to help shape this movement?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Posting Comments to The Hamiltonian

Posting comments to this blog is a two step process. You must first preview your post. The system will then present you with a code,  that it will ask you to key in (this code is simply a random set of alpha characters). Once you succesfully do that, hit submit. Due to a quirk, sometimes you have to do this more than once. Your post is only submitted, when you get a message saying words to the effect "your comment has been submitted for review". Unless you see that statement, your comment will not reach this blog. Please follow these instructions, as we would really like to hear from you. Thank-you.   The Hamiltonian team

The Hamiltonian and The Hamilton Spectator

The Hamiltonian and the Hamilton Spectator have agreed to the following: The Hamiltonian will be a featured link on The Spectator's web site. You can find a link to The Hamiltonian under the Community links tab of The Spectator's front page. It will also briefly be featured on "What's Hot".

The Spectator will use excerpts of commentary found in The Hamiltonian, for their opinion pages, when they choose. As identities on blogs cannot be assured, excerpts only will be used. The blog policy has been changed to refelct this.

What does this mean? The Hamiltonian gets greater exposure by virtue of being on The Spec's web page. The Spec benefits from the views of Hamiltonians through commentary found on this blog. Bloggers who frequent the Hamiltonian may someday see their views being broadcast through The Spec opinion pages (albeit without being named). I see this as a win/win situation and am grateful to The Spectator for their interest. Keep blogging. Your voice is being heard! A special thank-you to Daniella, Cari, Adri, Margaret, Matthew, Aaron and Kyle for all the work they do to keep this site running!

Taxing by Jury?

Nothing is quite as controversial as the attribution of how taxes are levied. It’s a complicated issue which weighs several factors including the access and use of services, relative to the contribution you make for these uses. Add in the dimension of urban verses rural living, and the deviations that occur along the way, and solving the problem in a fair an equitable way, becomes almost art and science.

Rob Rossini, Manager of Finance, observes that our current system was based on a snapshot, which needs refreshing. The message is, things have changed and thus, the way we tax needs to correspondingly be recalibrated. Somewhere in that mix, in the Mayor’s notion that a citizen jury made up of randomly selected citizens, can be useful to provide advice to council. Some have characterized this as a “cope out” of sorts, which essentially lays the problem at the feet of a jury, who can then serve, in part, as a justification for proceeding down a selected path.

On the table are proposals to change transit and fire area rating to reflect service areas rather than ward boundaries, stop area rating culture and recreation programs, and adding sidewalks and street lighting to the area rating pool.

The report also recommends phasing in the plan in two stages -- 2011 and 2015 -- so residents in rural areas won't face an immediate large tax hike.

City staff say their top priorities are to keep the process revenue neutral -- meaning the city won't use the process to bump up its tax income -- and that no one will face service cuts. Although staff has included the option of eliminating area rating, Eisenberger said he doesn't want to abolish it entirely.

"No one's talking about the elimination of area rating. This is not about elimination," he said.

"It's about making adjustments that have built up in the last nine years. The question is, how much more has been urbanized?" See full Spec story here   

What are your thoughts? Is this achievable? In the implementation of a citizen’s jury, the the way it is currently being contemplated, helpful? Do you think we will emerge with a fairer way of taxing?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Order in the Council?

Mayor Eisenberger is suggesting the formation of a "citizen's jury" that would essentially provide advice to council on issues such as how to tax Hamiltonians. This "jury" of sorts would be made up of randomly selected citizens who presumably would deliberate and render advice to council.

I am trying to bite my tongue on this one, and won't say much other than that I think the Mayor's intentions are good but I don't get the sense that the implementation of this idea has been well thought out.  "Judge" for yourself.  See full Spec article here.


The age old "mob mentality" that suggests that welfare recipients are all 'bums ripping off the system", has been in play for a very long time. I'm not suggesting that the majority of people subscribe to this line of thinking, but there are many who do.  Having had the opportunity to work as an Income Maintenance Supervisor, and earlier as a caseworker in the previous Family Benefits Allowance program (bridged into ODSP) early in my career and in Hamilton, I met thousands of social assistance recipients in their homes and in the office.  I know better to make such generalizations because I have seen their circumstances, seen their struggles and heard their stories first hand. Today's Hamilton Spectator revealed the dire stats with respect to poverty in Hamilton. See Spec story here The welfare caseload rose by almost 3,000 cases in one year, to its highest level since 2000. Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, seems to have attributed this, in large part, to the effects of the recession.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hamilton Heroes - An Interview with Larry Strung

Larry Strung is a Hamilton hero of sorts. For those of you who may not be aware, Larry took it upon himself to start and deliver on a project entitled Hamilton 365. You can see the Hamilton 365 website here.

Larry profiled one Hamiltonian per day, without fail, by posting  a picture per day for each day in 2008. This resulted in 365 Hamiltonians being showcased.

Larry captured people from all walks of life. He saw something very special in Hamilton and in Hamiltonians. His innovative and celebratory project culminated in each of  the 365 photos being displayed in the Hamilton Art Gallery. I am indebted to Larry for the photograph he took of me, which I proudly use on this blog.Larry is a true pro with a big heart. I would strongly encourage all Hamiltonians to think of Larry when they are requiring the services of a gifted photographer. You can reach him at his web site here  Also, please consider Larry's answer to question 8.

Hamilton Mountain News Features The Hamiltonian

Thank-you to our good friends at the Hamilton Mountain News. See it here

Special thanks to Abigail Cukier from the Stoney Creek news for writing the article and to Mark Cripps.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Raise the Hammer's Ryan McGreal

Ryan McGreal has been a pioneer of sorts in promoting the use of social media in Hamilton. His successful blog, Raise the Hammer has become a staple for helpful discourse in moving our city forward. When I first started The Hamiltonian, Ryan was one of the first to provide words of encouragement and support as well as tips on blog do's and don'ts.  He's a class act! It is with great pleasure that I introduce him as a guest on 10 Tough Questions. Ryan has elected to answer all 11 questions posed to him. Enjoy! Comments encouraged.

EDIT- Ryan adds "RTH is a collaborative exercise among a large group of volunteers, from the core writers to a larger group of occasional contributors to the many readers and commenters who make the site worth visiting. I'm proud of RTH but I can't by any means take full credit for it."

1. Raise the Hammer has certainly earned respect from bloggers and citizens. Have you achieved what you set out to do with the blog? What are the future directions of the blog?

Our original mandate was to encourage more public discussion around what we regarded as distinctly urban issues of downtown revitalization, sustainable development, land use and transportation, and so on in a city that has suffered several decades of suburban sprawl and a corresponding hollowing-out of the core.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Legal Advice?

In terms of the revealing the costs to date of the Redhill Expressway lawsuit, city solicitor Peter Barkwell said the amount constitutes solicitor advice and was privileged information. 

With all due to respect to Mr. Barkwell, the cost of a publicly funded lawsuit, ought not to be camouflaged by a seemingly weak solicitor/client privilege argument. I am no lawyer, but in my view, this sounds inappropriate. Moreover, there is a correlation with the public being the client. See full story here. I am open to being corrected but this seems to be in very bad form.

Animal Magnetism or Pet Peeves?

A controversial harmonized animal control by-law will be discussed at a public meeting tomorrow. Amongst other things, the by-law proposes to:

-abandon a controversial proposal to licence cats,  previously brought forward in September 2008

-endorse a  proposal to stop the picking up of feral cats -- most of which are destroyed within three days of entering the shelter 

- limit the number of pets allowed in a household based on size of the home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fair Hike?

While the cost of a seniors pass will not increase, Hamiltonians will pay 15 cents more for bus fares beginning Jan. 1. (see Spec coverage here)

An increase that will see fares climb from $2.40 to $2.55 passed with a narrow 9-7 vote at last night's city council meeting. Tickets will also go up 15 cents to $2 and monthly passes will climb to $86 from $79.

The 15-cent hike was a "compromise," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
Mayor Eisenberger said "In a perfect world, I would have liked to see 20 cents," he said. "Twenty cents is what's necessary, and 15 cents is a reasonable compromise."

How they voted:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Tough Questions with John Dolbec

It's my pleasure to welcome John Dolbec, Chief Executive Officer of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, to 10 Tough Questions. To read more about John, click here. Comments welcomed.

1. In the context of the Chamber’s mission statement, which signals a commitment to making our city and its communities a great place to live, work, play, visit and invest, and given that this trend is not new and has been trending this way for a long time, how do you respond to over 35,000 Hamiltonians traveling each day to Toronto or other cities to work? This elongated trend suggests a failure of sorts. Would you agree and what needs to be done to provide Hamiltonians with opportunities in their own city?

I would fully agree that we, as a community, had indeed been materially "failing"; i.e. we had indeed

Monday, November 9, 2009

Read My Lips. No New Taxes

While the Mayor has not made the same mistake that former President George Bush Sr. made when he declared “Read my lips. No new taxes”, he did say this, in relation to the Pan Am games: "I see a reasonable equation for not having any tax increases, certainly not at this point." See Spec story here

While I admire the Mayor’s sense for optimism, do you think the statement he made is credible? Or do you agree with Councillor Merulla’s notion that this will leave a legacy of tax burden for the future?

In my view, this can be hugely successful. It will come down however to execution, delivery and acuity in terms of how to position ourselves in partnership with Toronto. Given our history of decisions re: Lister Block, City Hall and Winona Wallmart which, in my view have been poor decisions or, at minimum, sub optimal, do you believe we have the caliber of leadership required to get us there?

Friday, November 6, 2009

On Top of Our Game?

Congratulations Hamilton!!!!!  The HAMILTON toronto, Pan Am bid was successful.

 Are you shocked? Surprised? Expecting it?

Clr. Merulla told The Hamiltonian  "I congratulate the City of Toronto for alleviating budget pressures through the Athlete village being developed and the hard infrastructure and I'm mourning for the residents of Hamilton for the legacy of subsidies the Toronto Pan Am games will create as a result of the veledrome and stadium not being affordable nor sustainable. If the Hamilton Ti Cats need to be subsidized 150 thousand dollars per game to play in the old Ivor Wynn it begs the question how the Ti Cats can afford a new stadium? Toronto's wins and Hamilton loses tens of million of taxpayers dollars."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Councillor Lloyd Ferguson

Amongst many things, Clr. Lloyd Ferguson has been known for bringing  a business mind to city hall as well as championing the City Hall rennovation project. Enjoy 10 Tough Questions with Clr, Ferguson as we explore these and other topics. Your comments are welcomed.

1. It has often been said that you bring a business lens to the City. If the city was, in fact, a business and you were the C.E.O., what would you do in your first 90 days?

No culture shift can be put in place in 90 days. Two significant observations I’ve made between the private and public sector, in the public sector the way to solve problems is to throw money at it – it is exactly the opposite in the private sector. You would put a team together, come up with a solution that generally meant spending less money.

Blowing the Whistle

Hamilton is considering a new whistleblowing bylaw that's the first of its kind in the province.
The proposed bylaw would protect all city staff who come forward with allegations about misconduct by other staff or council. It would apply to staffers who report incidences of "serious wrongdoing," such as lawbreaking, misuse of city money or endangering someone's health or safety.
It would also require staff and council members to co-operate with any investigations that arise

The mayor and city council will be exempt from the bylaw because any allegations of their wrongdoing will be dealt with by the integrity commissioner. See full Spectator story here

Do you support this by-law. Do you think people will feel safe enough to utilize it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fare Hike? Or Not Fair?

The proposed twenty cent HSR fare hike would raise the adult pass by $9 a month or $108 a year. Cash fares would rise to $2.60 a ride from the current $2.40

The following table, as compiled by CATCH, demonstrates how each area would be affected.

What do you think? Should we absorb a modest increase in order to avert a fare hike? Before voicing your opinion, please read the entire CATCH article posted below, as there are more facts to consider.

Double Double, or Trouble?

As per a C.A.T.C.H report (see story here)., it appears that our efforts to curb and decrease city pollutants, is heading in the wrong direction. An analysis of our greenhouse gas emissions suggests that our numbers are going up for both the city’s own operations and the community as a whole.

While recognizing that this is only one of many contributing factors to this trend ( and that the lion’s share of contribution is from big industry (Steel industry contributed 61% in 2008)) , the issue of drive throughs has been previously raised in the context of the contribution that idling vehicles make while waiting in drive throughs. If I recall correctly, while there was some will to look at this issue, some were skeptical that closing or restricting drive throughs, would ever come to be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How They Voted - A Great C.A.T.C.H.

Amongst the many valued added features that Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) provide to Hamiltonians, is a monthly record of how each councillor and the Mayor voted on the issues before them.

Please find below, an example of this service that C.A.T.C.H. provides. It is a great way to evaluate and assess how your councillor and the Mayor are voting.  Voting patterns, vote choices and trends can be very telling.

Here is a cut and paste from CATCH 's email. Thanks to CATCH for the great job they are doing!!!!

CATCH News - October 28, 2009

How they voted in September

Saturday, October 31, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Rick Cordeiro - A Halloween Edition

When I first met Rick Cordeiro, it was the result of his posts on the Hallmark blog. We met for some chicken wings and spoke about Hamilton, politics etc. In the process of chatting with Rick, we talked about his aspirations of making it as an actor. When I first heard that, I will admit to receiving it with a bit of skepticism. As I heard him continue to enunciate his plans however, his goals and what he had accomplished to date, my skepticism gave way. When I reflect on where he is now, his continued pursuit of his dreams and the tangible progress he has made toward them (click here to visit his website), I think we should all keep our eye on Mr. Cordeiro. He may be the next Hamiltonian to make it big in the film industry.

You’ll also know that Rick remains an engaged Hamiltonian and thus, the invite to 10 Tough Questions, is a natural fit. In the spirit of Halloween, this edition of 10 Tough Questions has a Halloween spin. I’ve kept the questions in that spirit, but I think the format allowed Rick to be as serious as he cared to be. Welcome to 10 Tough Questions with Rick Cordeiro. Comments welcomed.

1. I can’t help but notice that your blog identity on The Hamiltonian, is  "Mr. Hamilton”, yet, you’ve moved to Toronto. Did something “spook you” about living in Hamilton?

Hi Cal, First of all, I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to answer 10 Tough questions on your blog. Secondly, I want to say to everyone that I've had the pleasure of meeting up up with Cal twice and talking everything Hamilton and found him to be one of the most intelligent persons I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with. He really knows his stuff, has a very good handle on what's going on around town, well-connected and very passionate about Hamilton.

Friday, October 30, 2009


As reported in the Spec., Hamilton has not been invited to to the final Pan Am push next week in Mexico, despite the fact that we are a major stakeholder. Hamilton would put up the most money, $60 million, while the city of Toronto is committed to $50 million, which is much less per capita.

Mayor Fred isn't fussed about it and argues that it makes sense to keep consistency by sticking with the same people who have been meeting with the Pan Am delegates.

Councillor Brad Clark begs to differ, adding that he believes that we've been snubbed by a Toronto centric group. See story here

What do you think? Should the Mayor be fussed? Do you agree with Councillor Clark?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Taxing Discussion

A 31.5 million dollar expected budget shortfall for next year,  is going to be a tough one for the city to manage. The city may not receive the $16.5 million it was hoping to receive from the province to assist with the costs of social assistance.

While city council voted to keep property tax increases to 2% or less, Rob Rossini (Finance Manager, and may I add, an old high school friend of mine), warns that that goal is almost impossible without provincial aid. See story here 

If the city receives provincial funding, property taxes will have to climb by 4.4 per cent to balance the budget and maintain current service levels. Without the province's $16.5 million, homeowners would face a 8.4 per cent increase. Service cuts are also on the table. What are your thoughts? Where and how can we find efficiencies and savings? What services can you live without or can you agree to reduce? How much of this can we really fend off? Or should we brace ourselves for a "tax attack"?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Gary Santucci

The Pearl Company is an arts and performance facility in the heart of the Landsdale neighbourhood of downtown Hamilton. In 2006, Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci saw huge potential for both the Landsdale Neighbourhood and the Arts Community, and decided to use all that space for arts, culture and neighbourhood needs. Through 2007 and 2008 Milne and Santucci set a number of projects in motion, ranging from concerts to community activism, and the renowned Art Bus.

Welcome to 10+ Tough Questions with Gary Santucci.

1. The Pearl Company is a great example of new and innovative approaches to developing the arts in Hamilton. What attracted you to Hamilton and specifically, the Landsdale area?

Hamilton is my home. My family emigrated to Canada and specifically to Hamilton in 1919. My grandparents lived in ward 3 and worked in the steel industry and my father was a firefighter for the City of Hamilton for over 30 years. As

A Transit Commission Omission?

The reliability and affordability of public transit is important to many of us. This reliance is experienced disproportionately by persons living with a disability, sole supporting parents, and those who are otherwise disadvantaged financially or otherwise. Transit becomes a crucial part of the ability to socialize, attend critical appointments, contribute to the community etc. Those living with a disability or that are otherwise disadvantaged simply do not have many options. (That's not to say the transit is not important to the rest of us; only that it is acutely so for persons living with a disability and those who are otherwise disadvantaged financially or otherwise).

In tough economic times, transit is often looked at as a means by which to generate increased revenues by virtue of fair hikes, or cost avoidance by virtue of cutbacks in the frequency or quality of service. Do you believe that our transit system should be protected from the budgetary ups and downs that it is now prone to? Is there any value in forming a Transit Commission that would serve to provide an essential buffer and protect the public interest; especially for those most vulnerable? Is there a councillor out there that would champion the notion and is there favour to be won?  See related story here

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Marvin Ryder

Marvin Ryder's achievements and bio, would take up far too much room on this blog, so please click here to learn more about Marvin.

Marvin readily accepted my invite to 10 Tough Questions and, as you can see, he answered 11 questions, putting him in the 10+ club. It is clear Marvin gave these questions a lot of thought. He would "dribble them" as he put it, to me, by way of a series of emails covering off different questions. As you can see, his answers are far from dribble. Thanks Marvin for taking the time and the thoughful answers. Enjoy 10+ Tough Questions with Professor Marvin Ryder. Your comments are welcome

1.You recently cited that there are 40,000 more people leaving Hamilton every day for jobs than actually work in Hamilton, thus making us something of a bedroom community. How do we arrest this  trend and reverse it?

In simplistic terms, opportunities for all kinds of employment need to be developed in Hamilton. That is easy to say but difficult to do. The oddest word in your question is "we" because I'm not sure there is much that "we" can do.

Municipal government cannot create employment. As it stands, the City of Hamilton is one of the ten largest employers with nearly 8,000 people on the payroll. The City cannot force businesses to locate and operate here. The City cannot force existing businesses to grow. The City cannot stop companies from leaving.

Impressed October 25th Muncipal Election Press Releases

ImPressed ?

Due to the flurry of press releases issued on almost a daily basis, the Hamiltonian will house a "laundry list" of recent releases. You can see them on this page and comment accordingly. We will not provide a separate post for each release due to the volumes of releases.

Pardon the odd formatting and amounts of white space between releases. Each release is sent in a  different format and it is near impossible to keep the formatting looking uniform. So be prepared to scroll downwards to see all of the releases. 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Are You Doing About It?

The number of positive H1N1 tests spiked to 21 per cent last week, up from 6 per cent the prior week, said Dr. Chris Mackie, Hamilton's associate medical officer of health.

Flu activity in Hamilton is "normally at zero" at this time of year, he said. A typical flu season runs from Christmas to March, with the number of positive tests usually at about 20 per cent.

Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, confirmed yesterday that a second wave of H1N1 has arrived in the province.

See full story here

So......are you going to get the vaccine? Is your family going to? Is the H1N1 starting to scare you?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Accountability and Transparency sub-committee - Upcoming agenda for Lobbyist Registry

Thanks to Mark Alan Whittle for providing a copy of the following draft agenda for the next Accountability and Transparency sub-committee meeting to discuss the lobbyist Registry. Continue on to see the agenda. Comments?

The Essential 10 Tough Questions

One of our most popular features is 10 Tough Questions. Here are some quick links to guests we have had so far. You could still post your comments under each interview. Thanks to all these guests. You have all enriched this site in one way or another and, like the graphic to right, you are all leaders in your own way. 

Mayor Fred Eisenberger      Councillor Terry Whitehead     

Mahesh P. Butani   Yves Dubeau  Marvin Ryder  Rick Cordeiro  Abdul Kahn  Javid Mirza

Councillor Brian McHattie     Harry Stinson     Jeff Bonner     Adam Kuhn  Chris Farias

Jeremy Freiburger     Michelle Hruschka  John Dolbec  Gregory Hough  Roger Lambert

Former Mayor and Charter Guest on 10 Tough Questions, Larry Di Ianni   Mark Cripps

Councillor Sam Merulla     Mark Alan Whittle      Brian Henley    Dave Shuttleworth  Pat Matozzo

Michael Desnoyers    Gary Santucci      Glen Norton  Clr. Lloyd Ferguson  Herman Turkstra

Dave Kurac   Larry Strung   Ryan McGreal  Michael Marini  John Dolbec    

Terry Cooke - New Hamilton Foundation Head

Terry Cooke is taking over the helm of the Hamilton Foundation with a promise to not dissapoint. "This is an unimaginable opportunity in my hometown and for that I'm eternally grateful. I promise I will not disappoint you," he said. See full story here.

His appointment came as a surprise to many. Apparantly, he beat out 100 others from all over North America. Yves Dubeau, regular blogger on The Hamiltonian (learn more about Yves here), wrote: Cooke's appointment, how can this bring any innovation to the city? It's always the same people who get recycled in different jobs and appointed by long term political friends.

Yves adds that it is time for new blood. What do you think? Is Mr. Cooke a good choice? Is this an example of nepotism of sorts?

Technical Tips and Talk

Kidding of course!

Tech Tip

To post a link to a web site in your comments, and to make it appear as a link, simply type the following code into your post

one you'd like to point to. Replace the words Visit Cal DiFalco!, with whatever it is that you want the link label to read (example: you can replace it with "Click Here")
Replace the url reference, to the

On another note, my stats analysis package tells me that the average time spent on this site, by each user when they visit, is  4 minutes and 28 seconds. According to Google, this is 70.1% higher than a benchmarked site with similar traffic. Let's keep talking !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Troubled Waters

The city is engaging the Ombudsman's office, asking for a review of the province's disaster relief program after it was turned away empty-handed. See article here

Does the city have a valid case, or this a case of trying to shift a problem?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hamilton Civic League Meeting Tonight

EDIT:  I attended the Hamilton Civic's League's (HCL) meeting this evening but, unfortunately, could only stay for the first 45 minutes or so. I was very encouraged by the group's focus, their ideas and their enthusiam. They are looking for members and volunteers, and I would urge people to consider enlisting themselves as members. Their link is below. Keep up the great work HCL!!!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blast from the Past and Thrust into the Future

When I met Glen Norton for coffee and a tour of the old Hamilton Hotel on Saturday at noon, it was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining and it was just cool enough for a sweater and jacket. It was easy to be in the moment. 

But upon entering the old Hotel Hamilton at 193 James North, I was instantly transfixed into the past. From the initial entry into the building, to each and every room on each floor, a sense of character and history permeated the tour. As Glen spoke about

Monday, October 19, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Michael Desnoyers

In addition to being one of the founding entrepreneurs of Etratech, Michael is an engaged Hamiltonian and a leader for Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD) . HPD's mission is to articulate and support the implementation of a progressive approach to city planning and development. 

 I am pleased to have Michael as a guest on 10TQ, and note that he answered all 11 questions put to him.  So, welcome to 10 Tough Questions + with Michael Desnoyers. Comments are welcomed.

1. I have been clear that I do not support the building of a Wallmart in Winona. Despite the rhetoric and couching the decision as “responsible”, doing the wrong thing always ends up in a wrong place. But some might think that big box stores are a good thing. So, it begs the question, given that your organization is entitled Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD), how do you define “progressive development”. What are the characteristics of a progressive development, as opposed to a regressive one?
Economic development is vitally important to our community, but true prosperity can only be achieved when social and environmental objectives are also taken into account in major planning

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What's In Your Wallet?

For some time, our very own Mark-Alan Whittle has been advocating for the advent of a lobbyist registry in Hamilton. The city currently has a voluntary lobbyist registry, and, at last count, its only lobbyist is listed as Mark Alan Whittle.

The registry, in its present form, is a volunteer one that relies on the

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Michelle Hruschka

I have always been impressed with Michelle and her passion for being a voice for the disadvantaged. She is making a difference and I find her approach and attitude inspirational. Welcome Michelle to 10 Tough Questions.

1. There are many well intentioned people and agencies in Hamilton, who are trying to assist those less fortunate. Yet, in a recent post in the Hamiltonian, donated food included some expired products, products that were not very appealing or nutritious, and notably, a lack of staples such as fruits and vegetables. Not to suggest that all offerings are like this, but to the extent that this is an example of something gone wrong, what do you think can be done to make improvements so that the right people, are receiving the right type of help at the right time?

Yes, there are many groups that do try and help others who struggle, their hearts are in the right place so as a community we should not chastice them for their efforts because the system has failed to ensure people have enough money to live on because of the erosion of our social safety net and the lack of living wages.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Councillor Sam Merulla

Councillor Sam Merulla is not one to shy away from tough issues and discourse. I've found him accessible, respectful and engaging through emails, on a variety of topics. I am pleased to have him as a guest on 10 Tough Questions.

1. Understanding that you are concerned with all issues facing our city, what are the top three issues that are nearest and dearest to you at this point in time? Why did you choose these?

I believe the following issues are dearest to me:

Fred said what????

I was reading Andrew Dreschel's opinion article today about the extension of council's term from 3 years to 4. Essentially Andrew was examining the net effect of that change and also speculating as to what our current political climate would be like right now if we were still employing 3 year terms. He also reminded us of the arguments against term extensions.

In the course of the article,