Wednesday, August 26, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Mark Alan Whittle

This edition of 10 Tough Questions features Mark Alan Whittle, a registered lobbyist and an engaged Hamiltonian. 10 Tough Questions actually involves 11 questions, 1 of which the featured guest can elect to pass on. In Mark's case, he elected to answer all 11 questions. Here are his answers verbatim.

1. You have stated that you are the only registered lobbyist in the City of
Hamilton. Do you think lobbyist should be required to register themselves? If so, what benefit would this bring to Hamilton?

I think all lobbyist plying their trade in Hamilton should be required to register, voluntary or otherwise. When I first started out there was no lobbyist registry at all and it was at my suggestion that the volunteer registry be started by city staff in the clerk's office. The perception out there that Councillors are being influenced is real, if someone hires you to represent them to council, by definition you are a lobbyist for that person or business. The public should know who is bending who's ear, just like the residents of Toronto are afforded through their Lobbyist Registry.

2. What is the nature of your lobbying activities?

My last clients family owns land near Flamborough Downs and Casino who wanted to open a driving range facility using an existing building on the property. Unfortunately the Green Belt legislation and Hamilton's rural land use policy is very restrictive in this area and I was unsuccessful after numerous meetings with city hall staff to find a way.

3. Do you believe Hamiltonians are getting value for their tax dollars.Why or why not?

No, since they have never went down as long as I've been living here, and the accumulated debt is past half a million dollars, the interest payments are obscene.

4. Do you believe that Hamilton is "business friendly" enough?

That depends on the business and how many jobs they create. Wal-Mart seems to be a favourite of late. At least they pay their property taxes and they pay their employees well above minimum wage and have some benefits included.

5. What is the best decision that you believe that city council has made over the course of this term, and what do you think was the worst decision made?

The best decision this term was the creation of the Integrity Commissioners office and the worst decision was appointing George Rust-D'Eye to the position. A gifted defence Lawyer like George is good at getting clients off, not holding them to account. My pick would be soon to be retired Hamilton Police Chief Brian J. Mullan.

6. If you were in charge of creating a marketing plan for our city, howwould you approach this? What would be your focus?

If I was in charge of Marketing this city I would be working closely with Hamilton Philanthropist Chris Ecklund who has been promoting Hamilton as the city of waterfalls, something we have more of than any other community in the world. Not a penny of taxpayers' money was used.

7. What would you say is Hamilton's greatest strength and what would be our greatest weakness?

Our greatest strength is the residents and how we help each other get along and our weakness is a dysfunctional council, which I feel is due for a shake-up at the ballot box. Too much dead wood.

8. Who would you say is the most effective councillor and why?

I would say ward seven councillor Scott Duvall who personally delivered a new blue bin to my house after municipal garbage collection staff broke it by flinging it onto my cement driveway during the winter. He also responds to constituents in a timely fashion. He reminds me of past ward seven alderman Henry Merling, a real constituency man.

9. If you could provide one piece of advice to council and/or the Mayor, what would that be?

Spend more time challenging the assertions of staff and cut through the bafflegab by doing the spade work on research and past decisions. I've read so many reports that run for pages, yet have little to say.

10. Do you believe Hamilton has its financial house in order. If not, how would you suggest we proceed?

To get our house in order staff should be directed to adopt zero-based budgeting and have to account for every cent they spend, just like the rest of us trying to survive have to do. Having department start off with an automatic 2 or 3 percent increase will only encourage staff to waste more than they save.

11. Do you support the need for a full time Integrity Commissioner?

I fully support an Integrity Commissioner that is on call for whenever his services are needed. Hopefully council will appoint someone soon, now that they have about 50 applicants on file.

Thanks for allowing me to have a say.

Special thanks to Mark Alan for his contribution to "The Hamiltonian" and for his interest in our city.

Blog Policy Note: Bad language, name calling or other inappropriate posts will not be tolerated. Posts of this nature will not be edited. Rather, they will not be posted. Please keep your comments respectful


  1. a quest for the truthAugust 27, 2009

    In response to queston four: Why is it that the average walmart worker makes only $14,147 per annum, this amount is far below the low income cutoff. Seems to me that you are pushing the agenda of Walmart, and have no concern for the people that work there.

  2. My hat's off to MAW for his response to #8.
    Here he has demonstrated the virtue of integrity
    and his strength of character by praising his former
    rival in the seventh. I would do much the same here in
    the fourth, although Sam didn't personally dump the green
    cart that garbage collection neglected for two weeks, he saw
    to IT that the bin was emptied within twelve hours of my complaint.

    I like TTQ, keep them coming Cal.

  3. Sure sound's like you work there quest, I shop there from time to time and actually ask employees how they are getting along, customers who care tend to do that, last time I checked.

    As far as LICO, that would mean over half the residents of Hamilton are below LICO. A scary thought indeed.

    There are many other examples like Home Depot or other large retailers who create jobs with benefits.

    Bottom line, having a job is better than collecting social assistance to get a hand up.

    Truth is good, and the quest of it.

  4. quest for the truthAugust 27, 2009

    MAW: You were and are part of the common sense revolution which threw many into poverty, you took away their rights as a worker. Typical right winger!

  5. Give me a break quest, i've spent my whole adult life advocating for and helping others. I raised a disable child until he died at 10, and I continue to help and advocate for disabled children and families, who take care of them, through respite care work. What have you done for someone lately quest, if you don't mind me asking?

  6. Quest for the truthAugust 28, 2009

    I have been active in the community on workers rights and poverty. I am still working on something that will hopefully in the future help workers in this city. I know a dream but well one does have to keep pushing forward.

    I even went to Queens Park to present in front of the Standing Committee on Bill 139, temp workers. I know, only one voice but all the voices combined did affect a little change but more work needs to be done.

    I find it sort of appalling that for workers that are not covered by collective bargaining there is very little protection.

  7. While I agree with most of what Mark has said, I am not in agreement with his support for an integrity commissioner.
    The only integrity commissioner we need we already have and that is the electorate. I do not want my councillor second guessing themself when it comes to my interests. If a councillor feels that he or she needs to release information in the public interest then they should be free to do so without fear of reprisal from the rest of council.
    By the way Mark, I appreciate the respite work you do, my nephew Patrick enjoys spending time with you and your wife and my sister appreciates the occasional break. Thank You.

  8. There you go quest, we all try to do our part with compassion, I've made many presentations to standing committees too, some more sucessful than others. I aaplaud you efforts respecting temp workers, a lot of work needs to be done there, that's for sure. When the middlemen make more than the workers, there's a problem.

  9. Quest for the truthAugust 29, 2009

    Thanks MAW: Yes we do try to do our part, about what we are paasioniate about.

    Currently labour law is failing workers on many levels: Occupational Health and Safety, WSIB, the LMR programs for injuried workers. Occupational disease is a hard battle, even with union protection. The vision statement of WSIB, does not always practice its mandates.

    Legislation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is not enforced until something goes wrong or if workers file complaints. But in many cases intimidation is used, so workers do not file for fear of losing employment.

    It is taking up to a year for a worker just to get pay in lieu of notice.

    They got lots of money to throw at consultants(ehealth, LMR's) but no money to ensure worker safety or their rights.

  10. Instead of wasting your time on dribble comments on blogs and the spec try getting a life. Mr. MAW, you state the obvious that is wrong with Hamilton, but never offer a solution. You are a talker.not a doer. Run for council, mayor. the president if a school council, I don't care. But please stop passing your self off as a visionary. You are a person with nothing to do, and little to say.


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