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,

Monday, October 12, 2009

10 Tough Questions with Jeremy Freiburger

For ten years Jeremy has been one of the leading forces in the arts and culture scene in Hamilton. His experiences have taken him to stage as an actor, coast to coast in Canada and the USA as a musician, and into most every artistic discipline ranging from graffiti exhibitions and film production, to professional classical theatre and modern dance.

Jeremy is the Founder and Creative Director of the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts. Welcome Jeremy to 10 Tough Questions.

1. You've commented that Hamilton has great opportunity and yet, we seem stuck in the same space. In your view, what do we need to do to break out of this?

Harry, Harry, the visionary?

Harry Stinson thinks "out of the box" and big. His propensity to breathe a fresh vision into an otherwise stale topic, is always thought provoking and interesting. In a recent piece that he wrote for the Spec. entitled "Connaught could be 'urban cool'", he effectively puts forth a vision for the Connaught which would see it filled with students and artists. See the full story here

From my perspective, I'm a fan of "out of the box", big thinking and imaginative bold moves. I think there is a way of getting there while not being reckless about it. So I applaud Harry for pushing with such ideas.

Follow the Music

If it keeps on raining, the levee's gonna break
Led Zeppelin

Related issue(s): Redhill Parkway flooding. failing infrastructure, city wide flooding... others?

Follow the music and vote October 25th

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hamiltonian Hits

Happy Thanksgiving

Shot by Ray Fullerton, fellow Hamiltonian, reminding us of how thankful we should be for living in a city blessed with such spectacular geography. Happy thanksgiving from all of us at The Hamiltonian! (Thanks Ray for the pics)

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Happy Talk" ?

Having read The Spectator’s coverage of a recent breakfast panel discussion in which Mayor Eisenberger and others discussed the challenges facing Hamilton, I am beginning to wonder about the value added, from such discussions. You may recall that in a recent interview in The Hamiltonian, Harry Stinson said:

It is far easier to sit on a Committee or Task Force or go to “Summits” (featuring speakers from out of town) or organize more bloody golf tournaments…. then give each other pretentious awards for all they have done for the community. (Of course, a big banquet is required for this process, attended by the usual suspects giving the same self-righteous speeches).

I wasn’t at the breakfast panel meeting but from what has been reported in The Spec (see story here), it seems like it may have been more “happy talk”, if it weren’t for a pointed question posed by Doug Barber.

"I came here to find out if Hamilton is winning or losing," said the co-founder and former CEO of Gennum Corporation, who's also an engineering professor at McMaster University."I heard a lot of cheerleading and that people are playing well together as a team but I'm disappointed that I don't know how we're doing. We're either winning, losing or treading water, but I don't know."

This appears to have led to a downward spiral to the conversation. Perhaps Mr. Barber’s question may have been too simplistic but it did appear to bring things into perspective. When I question the value added of these discussions, I think that walking away feeling deflated is as much destructive as the “happy talk” syndrome that Harry seems to have described .

I think it would be better for the Mayor to select a topic(s) and then charge an individual(s) to lead a solution to it. For example: Come back and present a plan as to how we can solve graffiti in our city ( I picked this because it is fairly tangible- there are many things to pick from). The person would then have to formulate a plan, engage support, come back and present it, validate it and then, most importantly, execute it with attached outcome measures and in a declared timeline.

What do people think?

Art/Music Crawl Tonight

A  reminder that tonight will be an exciting night in dowtown Hamilton. Visit  Supercrawl - an explosion of art and music on James North. (more info here) You might want to also pop into the Art Gallery, where Larry Strung's 365 Project is on display.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Poll Results and Polls

A couple of online polls recently featured in The Hamiltonian, have now closed. The results suggest the following:

There seems to be mixed reaction around whether we should continue our lawsuit against the Federal government with respect to the Redhill.

Opinion was almost split down the middle 47% saying we should continue and the balance saying we should drop it. I suspect that those opposed with proceeding are likely considering the potential ballooning costs to taxpayers and the length of time it may take to get this resolved, without any assurance of success.

The question of whether Councillors should interact with citizens via blogs, such as this one, was not as divided. Over 80% of those who took the poll said that blogs are legitimate vehicles for Councillors to engage with citizens.

A word or two about polls featured in The Hamiltonian

1. Poll voting is available to anyone who frequents this site. The results are not scientific and cannot be proclaimed as a representative sample of any sort, and I have never made that claim anywhere.

At the same time, the polls represent the views of  Hamiltonians and I believe that every Hamiltonian’s opinion is worthy of consideration. It is interesting to collate the degree of resonance in different ways. These ways may include: feedback from talk radio, sentiments expressed by citizens in print media, other blogs, television, other internet sources etc. Those correlations do not amount to statistical reliability, but can be helpful indicators, if not, interesting. Here is a new example, as heard on 820 Talk click here to listen  (kudos to the good people at 820 Talk and CHML for their interest)

2. To those members of council who have challenged me by way of emails, with respect to the assessment of The Mayor and Council , and the corresponding results, I offer the following:

a) to those who suggested the results are not reliable, see #1 above

b) To those who have inferred that I somehow “hid” the amount of votes tallied, please know that each poll on this blog reports, in real time, the results and number of votes tallied, along with how much time remains in the poll (right down to the minute and second), all the while, displaying the tally of votes.  The information was readily available in real time over the entire duration of the poll being up and until such time afterwards, that  I removed it to make room for other polls or text. Respectfully, your allegation is a function of you or your staff not paying attention to the poll.



Snow Angels Wanted

The Snow Angels program is an important one. Essentially, it provides assistance to the elderly and persons living with a disability, by deploying volunteers to clear snow off their sidewalks.

The problem is that there does not appear to be enough volunteer capacity to justify the $100,000.00 expenditure. The Spec reports that last year, only 172 households were able to receive this service which translates to $581.40 per household. See full story here

Despite that,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ten Tough Questions with Mayor Fred Eisenberger

When I approached Mayor Eisenberger to appear as a featured guest on 10 Tough Questions, he readily accepted. The Mayor elected to answer all 11 questions I put to him. So here is 10 + Tough Questions with Mayor Eisenberger.

1. Looking back on the history of Hamilton, what community or political leader do you most admire? What is it about him or her that has captured your admiration?

Victor Copps was seen as a man of the people. He was a leader with an aspiration and a vision for this city and understood that opportunity and prosperity should include all people and not just a few! If there is one thing that is clear from my time as Mayor is that we need to stand up for our city internally and externally, nothing good will come from running our city down and nothing but good will come from building it up.

2. What is the most useful piece of criticism you received as Mayor of Hamilton and how has that changed you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kudos to Mayor Eisenberger and Chris Murray

I think the Mayor and City Manager Chris Murray got this right. Kudos to them for getting out there. This story ran in the Spec September 30, 2009. I thought it was worth mentioning, See it here

10 Tough Questions with Yves Dubeau

Yves Dubeau is a retired business owner (1990) from a national distributor of scientific instrumentation. Also retired (2003) from Scientific Strategic Marketing (President), consulting firm helping Canadian manufacturers setting up distribution networks world wide. He is an engaged Hamiltonian with, in my view, balanced and useful feedback on Hamilton issues. Here is 10 Tough Questions with Yves.

1. It can be rather easy to lay the blame for all of Hamilton’s problems at the feet of city council and the Mayor. How much responsibility ought to be attributed to council and the Mayor. Please explain.

I agree with you that it would be simplistic to dump all of Hamilton’s problems on the existing council and the Mayor. However council has to take responsibility, period.

As the existing management team elected , only they are in a position of power and authority to institute, enact or reverse past financial decisions that were made by council that could prove to be detrimental to the city. I find that any organization which is unable to re-visit those decisions (because of present changes) is a serious management flaw by any management team.

2. Having a history in business, in the private sector, what can the city learn from the private sector, in terms of how it is run?

Within the present electoral system it is difficult to mimic the private sector and adopt what works well for the private sector into the public sector. In the private sector the management team works hand in hand to the common goal of the corporation. These common goals are set in a mission statement which is derived by the management team, owners and stakeholders. Once the mission statement is formulated, the next step would be to create a business plan which would consist of measurable goals.

From the above example of a business model, our present electoral system does not permit easy adoption of common goals amongst elected councillors. There are some cities in Canada who have political parties at the municipal levels and at election time a slate of candidates present themselves under a political party banner. In the Toronto Star on the weekend there was an article regarding the city of Toronto council. A professor of political science attributes the disfunctionality of city councils due to the lack of discipline and command structure which is part of political parties. There is nobody holding individuals to a higher standard of behaviour ( good rationale for Integrity commissioner!). Instead of having a management team working in unison we have 16 councillors and 1 mayor, a collection of individuals or single-member parties , each with their own agendas. In the private sector a major part of performance is accountability. Currently our present system favours incumbents and that conveys huge electoral advantages. At election time the electorate forgets where our councillors stood on municipal issues. Now if we had party representation we, the electorate, could bestow accountability of failure or success to a party and as such vote accordingly. That is why there is more turnover of candidates at the provincial and federal elections. I think the city of Toronto is partly there with David Miller as an NDP mayor and his inner circle ruling the city.

3. Who do you think the most effective city councillor is, and why have you chosen that person?

This is somewhat of an unfair question for all other councillors than my own councillor. I live in Ward 2 which is represented by Bob Bratina and as such I pay more attention to Bob’s successes and antics. Bob is hard working in representing his electorate as much as his fellow councilpersons. Bob being my councillor means that I am frequently in touch having an email relationship. I found Bob to be shy or very humble in enumerating his successes for the city’s downtown, his projects have a long life cycle and as such not so obvious to most of us. In the last 5-7 years about 124 million in new or renovated real estate was added in Ward 2. The Downtown Core had a net increase of 1.2 million dollars in taxes as a result.

4. What advice do you have for Mayor Eisenberger, for the remaining portion of the present term?

That he stays out of trouble! Mayor Fred had a rosy goal of managing council with consensus, this will not happen with the group of people involve. They have tried group building sessions at a great cost to the city without any positive results.

5. What is the best decision made by council, this term and why?

Difficult to answer because most hard decisions appear to be often deferred to consultants or staff. I have to acknowledge the most recently made decision to help the people flooded without bankrupting the city is one of the good ones. The city of Ottawa also had a very similar flooding event and they were paying attention at what Hamilton council was doing.

6. Recently, there was an online poll on The Hamiltonian, gauging the effectiveness of the Mayor and Council, as well as their effectiveness in issues of stewardship, value for tax dollars and political climate. The results appear to be rather dire. While unscientific in nature, do you think these poll results resonate?

They might be unscientific in not providing a large sample base but they truly show how people feel. How will this translate on election day? Probably no major swing in our elected officials due to the lack of options, we will have a very low voter turnout. Our elected officials will not be personally affected by the lack of support or not having a mandate, this is an $80,000 plus job for them. Again I will state the need for an electoral system change.

7. What does Hamilton have to do to improve its image? If you had a 2 million dollar budget, how would you approach this task?

The entrances to the city offers different views, the most common one shown is a view of the city from the Skyway bridge showing our industrial landscape in the fore ground, with smoke stalks bellowing their effluent and showing nothing else. Now if you enter the city from York Boulevard (eastbound) what you see in the fore plan is beautiful unspoiled nature on both sides of the bridge and in the background the steel mills. To me this scenery is as good and enchanting as any other cities that I have visited worldwide. Also, I might add that the view offered from York blvd. is more representative of what Hamilton is today, an equal balance of industrial to non industrial economy. The point that I want to make is that the main subject is the city of Hamilton, but what do you want to accentuate? I am a new comer to Hamilton, originating from Ottawa and residing in Oakville and Burlington before coming to Hamilton, and I am totally enamoured by what Hamilton has to offer. My marketing campaign would have the main theme of Hamilton being a” destination for a family to live and thrive” especially with the affordable housing that we currently have. Any company that would want to locate in Hamilton will look at what the city has to offer to their employees and their families.

8. Do you think Hamilton can turn itself around over the course of the next 5 years? Why, or why not?

Absolutely, but not in the old style economy. Hamilton depended too long on the steel mills and nothing else. The analogy for me is akin to sitting on a one legged stool and doing all types of acrobatics to stay seated. Many cities have transformed itself most notably a city in the news lately that hosted the G20 meeting, Pittsburgh, the host city.

Pittsburgh endured the same economic fluctuations as Hamilton did over and above the layoffs from the mills. Our local media drew parallels to our city, we have the same to offer in terms of waterfront and proximity to highways and the south west Ontario transport corridor. When the latest layoffs occurred in Hamilton, it was like the end of the world, as we know nothing like that happened. We have to get out of this mindset regarding our steel industry and start looking for our second and third stool leg to sit on. During my travels in Europe and visiting potential suppliers for high technology scientific instrumentation often if not all the time these companies were located in major cities where important universities were established ( not unlike University of Waterloo). The new industrial park from McMaster is a great start and we should see a major input of university off shoots providing that all other conditions are there for a company to flourish. The city should look for base hits versus grand slams in terms of having companies locate to Hamilton. City council should stay out of the picture in order not to introduce political interferences in the processes.

9. What do you make of the length of time it is taking to hire an Integrity Commissioner?

The length of time that is taken to fill this position to me indicates the lack of seriousness in wanting the job to be staffed. The Integrity Commissioner’s job would be to have council accountable to the commissioner. Look at the make-up of our city council and you can judge for yourself and see who would want to be accountable. You can barely see a degree of civility towards Mayor Fred. They set the bar so high for candidates as if council’s issues to be solved required Godlike qualities, a dose of reality made them change candidate’s background to widen the search. I still wonder if the resources dedicated (budget) is realistic, if I remember correctly the budget was $100,000 and the last two issues addressed by our interim Integrity Commissioner already surpassed that budget. I believe that they will drag the staffing as long as they can.

10. Do we have the right leadership in our city, for the period we find ourselves in? Why, Why not?

I think that we will survive until the next election without having serious harm done. Our existing leader is not a risk taker nor does he have the support of council which makes him harmless.

Thanks to Yves for his insights and his interest in Hamilton.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Special thanks to CY for submitting a crossword puzzle featuring Hamilton City Council. Have fun with it.

Guide- Insert last names of city councillors or the Mayor. No first names. Scroll down page to see the questions.

Here it is

If anyone has an innovative idea for The Hamiltonian, please email us.

Edit: I just noticed that the puzzle isn't perfect because two councillors are repeated. But it's still fun!

To Litigate or Not to Litigate

As you may be aware, the city is litigating against the Federal Government over the RedHill Expressway project. A report on the status of this matter has been overdue for several months now. C.A.T.C.H. reports that thus far, the cost of the legal action has cost the taxpayer $243,224.00.

In essence, the suit alleges that four former Federal Cabinet Ministers and 65 federal employees conspired to block or delay the construction of the Redhill, via an environmental assessment, which was subsequently stopped by a April 2001 court decision.

In early 2008, council voted to lift the cap of this legal expenditure, which was previously set at $450,000.00, therby presumably, leaving an open ended potential expenditure.

Clr Clark, for one, has expressed concern over the amount of time the status report has remained overdue.

I suspect this case is somewhat unprecedented, given that it is one level of government suing another.

I realize that this "horse is out of the barn" but, do you think it's too risky? Is it still worth pursuing? Take the poll on the right of this blog, and provide additional comments here.

Special thanks to the good people at C.A.T.C.H. for their stellar reports.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More than meets the eye, or eyesore?

Each day, on my bus ride back into Hamilton from Toronto, I pass by city hall and Hamilton Place.  As I look to my left while traveling eastbound on Main St., I am always struck by how unattractive the area depicted in the picture to the left is. It's obviously very much exposed to those coming into our city, and thus it contributes towards the impression of our city. Not only is the area primarily concrete, which comes across as rather cold, but it features this rusted out scuplture of sorts. (see right above the Hamilton Muncipal Parking System, sign) .

I don't know what the history of this art piece is, and far be it from me to offend anything it might represent, but I can't help but observe that it has become something of an eye sore. Its rusted veneer and different coloured rust spots, doesn't really present well.

Does anyone know the history of this? Does anyone think it still looks good? Should it be removed? Does anyone else think it does not bode well?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Should've Known Better or Financial Gaming?

As reported in the Hamilton Spectator, "Hamilton is portraying itself as a naive country youth lost in the big city in a new lawsuit against a German bank and Canada's largest bond rating service over a $10-million investment gone bad.

In a statement of claim, the city alleges its unsophisticated investment advisers were misled about the worth and nature of a fund into which they poured taxpayer money.

Instead of a safe, secure investment with a bit better interest rate than a government bond, they became "victims of (a) ... well-choreographed scheme to deceive it out of its investment funds."

The defendants, the city claims, "are sophisticated financial institutions that perpetuated a scheme through careful structuring and planning to create, promote and distribute an unstable and volatile product" consisting of a "complex, insecure investment with no real capital structure" supporting it."

See full story here

So, were we victimized or should we have known better?

Thanks toWRCU2 for the idea for this topic.

Friday, October 2, 2009

5 for Fighting

On the heals on the State of the City's address, in which Mayor Eisenberger made it a point to talk about how councillors are working together, it seems like the Mayor and Councillor Whitehead were unable to contain themselves as to who should be the front man (spokesperson) for the city's NHL pursuits.

Andrew Dreschel wrote an opinion piece on this in today's Spec entitled Feuds and Cross-Checking at City Hall. When it came time for councillors to talk about events in their wards, the Mayor took the unusual step of speaking first, choosing to address the Balsillie bid and how Hamilton is now better off in terms of its chances of landing a NHL team in the future, because of it. This, apparently set Clr. Whitehead off, drawing objections to the Mayor, seemingly stealing his thunder.

Andrew described the back and forth as "like a bickering old married couple".

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's the Big Deal?

Citizens at City Hall (C.A.T.C.H.) reported that Councillor Brad Clark is turning to the freedom of information process to provide the public with audits of the city’s lease with the private company running the airport. When councillors received a copy of the 2007 review, Clark persuaded his colleagues on the economic development and planning committee that releasing it would help respond to public criticism that the rental payments were too low.

Councillors agreed to direct city legal staff to meet with Tradeport “and advise them that we are willing to sever out any portions that would be third party or proprietary interest and therefore would be exempted from the release to the public.”

In March of this year, the head of economic development, Neil Everson, reported that “Tradeport’s legal counsel is still in deliberations on this” and that a resolution could be expected by July. A new deadline for the staff report was set for September 22, but last week that was pushed off until December 1.
“I’m growing almost despondent on this particular file,” responded Clark to the extension. “I need to understand why it’s taking so long to get something that’s really in my mind not that difficult an issue.”

The general manager of economic development and planning said he didn’t have an answer.

See the full story here

It sounds to me as though Clr Clark is making a reasonable request, that is in the public's interest, but is having to unduly go to extremes to have that request met. What do you think?