Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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.
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