Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 Tough Questions with City Manager, Chris Murray

I contacted Chris some time ago about being a guest on 10 Tough Questions. His answer?- "Cal, I'd do it in a heartbeat". Well, we didn't get around to it right away. Chris, understandibly has been busy and it has taken him some time to reply to the questions. I only mention this because some of the questions may appear a little "stale" and they might have had more profound value at the time I asked them. But Chris's answers are "straight up", and, based on that, the questions and answers still present as very interesting.

Note: In fairness to Chris, I intentionally did not ask Chris any questions about his political masters.

Welcome to 10 Tough Questions with Chris Murray. Comments welcomed.

1. What is it about your job, that surprised you the most after assuming the role of City Manager? Why did it come as a surprise?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Getting Screwed" ?

Councillor Sam Merulla pulled no punches when he expressed his support for the notion of selling Hamilton's airport, suggesting that its sale would save Hamiltonians a lot of money.

"We know that the taxpayers are getting screwed," he said, as reported in The Spec. "(Tradeport) is rolling in millions and they're giving us crumbs."

Some are arguing for its outright sale, while others are suggesting re purposing the revenue the city receives, to offset infrastructure. The Mayor maintains that it's the wrong economic climate to be considering a sale.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Brian Melo and The Hamiltonian

In addition to being a Hamiltonian and the winner of Canadian Idol, Brian is a compassionate and caring person who has a great connection with his fans and to his roots.  It gives me great pleasure to have Brian on the Hamiltonian . Not only is he a very gifted singer/songwriter/musician, but he's truly a Hamilton Hero.

I suspect that, to an extent, most people may be able to imagine or dream of what it might feel like, winning Canadian Idol. Can you tell us what the journey has been like post winning. What types of things occur after someone wins Canadian Idol?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 Tough Questions with Mike Hulleman

Mike was born and raised in Burlington/Hamilton. Mike's has a varied work background including Graphic / Web design + Flash Animation for studios, promotional media/marketing, business to business account management for firms in Montreal and was also a loan officer for a refinancing corporation in the USA (Montreal-based).

After taking web courses at Concordia University,he came into his current career with LinxSmart Inc through sponsoring the Burlington Jazz 'n Blues Festival under his own company - Fluke Media Labs . He is with Moveable Online, a mature well established company..

De Caire Leads

Seems like Police Chief Glenn De Caire isn't dragging his heels when it comes to leading change. De Caire said there will be more uniformed police officers walking, cycling and patrolling the downtown core starting this summer. De Caire says that battling crime is the obvious goal, but addressing people's perception of crime, is also part of it.

"Crime and crime statistics only tell part of the story," he added. He also said  that people need to feel safe bringing their families downtown.

This focus is based on more than $500,000 in government funding through the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (PAVIS), earmarked for communities dealing with gun and gang violence.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Terry Cooke's Speech

Last night Terry Cooke, President & CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation was the keynote speaker at the Hamilton Distinguished Citizen of the Year dinner. Click here to read the speech he delivered  entitled 

Hamilton Demands our Collective Best. Comments are welcome.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Issues or Tissues? Hunter Park Survey

Issues or Tissues is a new feature on The Hamiltonian, that allows Hamiltonians to describe an issue they have been facing, that they maintain, has not been addressed to their satisfaction. In essence, it is an opportunity for issues to become known and examined.

 Respecting the fact that it is not always possible for other forms of media to provide sustained or unabridged coverage, The Hamilton hopes to provide some additional illumination to issues that Hamiltonians experience.

In the spirit of fairness, oppossing views are welcome . This extends to city staff or Councillors who, I suspect, many times will have a role in the issue.

Welcome Rick Breznik on behalf of Residents of Hunter Park Survey, as our charter guests on Issues or Tissues.

Note: While the issues presented may not be of immediate interest to Hamiltonians who may not live near the vicinity in question, I would encourage you to examine the issues described and provide helpful commentary. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Six Nations has inked a deal with Korean corporate giant Samsung to develop a $40-million solar power farm on reserve lands (see full Spec article here).  Including construction, operations and maintenance, they expect to employ about 100 people.

Chief Bill Montour of the elected band council. said "We want to be part of any development on Six Nations lands ... Our people are looking for jobs to feed their families and educate their children."He wants natives involved in all aspects of the project, including manufacturing the solar panels.We're looking at long-term jobs here."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keeping It Real - Womens' Coalition

You may be wondering why these people in the picture to the left are so happy. These women have launched a progressive coaltion  focussed on creating an overaching mechanism  to report regularly and in a comprehensive way,  on the progress of women in all the areas where they remain unequal or at a disadvantge. It is yet another example of Hamiltonians taking positive action to make a positive difference.

I am very pleased to have Catherine Pead, CEO of the YWCA  and Ines Rio, Executive Director of The Immigrant Women Centre as my guests on The Hamiltonian. Comments welcome.

1. As I understand it, you are proposing the formation of a coalition which would focus on capturing areas where women are remain unequal or at a disadvantage. Can you tell us about the genesis of the idea, who is involved and what you hope to accomplish?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

10 Tough Questions with Zach Douglas

Zach Douglas is the President of McMaster Innovation Park, an entity affiliated with McMaster University, which has a mandate to re-develop a 37-acre brownfield industrial site and transform it into an internationally recognized world class research and development park.

Prior to 2006, Mr. Douglas was Senior Vice-President of Investments for Crown Investment Corporation of Saskatchewan. He was in charge of a portfolio of large industrial investments, smaller venture capital investments and several investments in funds having a value of more than $600.0 M.

For more about Zach, click hereIt's my pleasure to feature Zack on 10 Tough questions. Zack answered all 11 questions I put to him, so please enjoy 10+ Tough Questions with Zack Douglas. Comments welcome.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Information Bulletin - By-Law Crawl

The Hamiltonian will be posting information bulletins from time to time. As these bulletins are intended simply to convey information pertaining to upcoming events, they will not be open to comments. This first one is a little different because we have already received feedback from the readers of The Hamiltonian. In an unscientific poll, 93% of those who responded to the poll said that they support the By-Law Crawl.  The press release follows below. Please read, as the time and date has changed so that it can be held during daylight hours, to allow for better detection of infractions.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bending the Spending?

According to a C.A.T.C.H. release, the city is using millions in federal environmental funding to build roads and renovate city hall.

The intent of the funding was to provide some of its gas tax revenue to municipalities for green infrastructure “to improve water and air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Hamilton currently receives $31.9 million a year from this fund. The approved capital budget for 2010 allocates $10 million of this to city hall renovations and the rest to road projects.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sick, Tired? or Sick and Tired?

The average City of Hamilton employee loses about 84.3 hours a year to illness or injury, significantly more than the 70.2 hours lost by the average employee in other municipalities. See full Spec story here

Absenteeism is a common issue in many organizations. In fact, I would guess that there is a body of best practices on the topic.

Despite a hiring freeze on new positions in the city, council members gave the first stamp of approval to the positions at a committee meeting .

The new roles  will cost $206,000.

10 Tough Questions with Daniel Rodrigues

A while back I asked Hamiltonians to let me know if they would like to be interviewed on 10 Tough Questions. The Hamiltonian is welcoming of all Hamiltonians on 10 Tough Questions. Daniel Rodrigues contacted me and said he was up to it.

Daniel is an engaged Hamiltonian who is a volunteer on many fronts. These include: Chair, Property Standards (City of Hamilton), · Chair, Clean City Liaison Committee (City of Hamilton), · Past Chair, Waste Reduction Task Force (City of Hamilton), · Chair, Transportation Committee (Hamilton Chamber of Commerce),· Chair, DARTS Board of Directors,  President, Hamilton Chapter (Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario). Daniel is also a member of the Hamilton Rotary Club, Winona Men’s Club, and the

Friday, January 15, 2010

Will the Selling Off the Airport Idea Fly?

Councillor Chad Collins will be putting forth a motion asking for a staff report on the implications of a possible sale of John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport to private interests. Doing so would be a Canadian aviation first.

His motivation is to use the proceeds toward aging infrastructure in Hamilton. Presently, Tradeport International operates the city-owned facility, under a lease.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Tough Questions with Tony Battaglia

Tony Battaglia has had a presence in the Hamilton business/entrepreneurial community for decades. His efforts and those of his consortium, to find a way to bring the Royal Connaught back to life, have recently thrown him into the media spotlight- which he is no stranger to.  I thought  Tony would make a very interesting guest. My instincts were right. Tony has been working on his answers for many weeks; partly due to the holiday season that came upon us and partly due to the fact that he told me that he had so much to say, that it was challenging culling his answers down. He managed to do so and I think you'll find his answers and the questions I put to him, captivating. I asked Tony some pretty tough questions. To his credit, he didn't back down and answered all 11. Here he is- 10+ Tough Questions with Tony Battaglia. (note: When I asked Tony these questions, the outcome of the funding request for the Connaught, was not yet known).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Taking it to the Streets

It seems that a group of well intentioned Hamiltonians have had enough. Dubbed The By Law Crawl, they have started a Facebook group that is organizing Hamiltonians to tour the city core, with a copy of the Property Standards by-law in hand, and make note of the infractions they find. They then will submit their findings to city hall.

This is an innovative example of how social media can be used to organize and engage Hamiltonians. From The Hamiltonian’s perspective, I’d like to see more of this, provided it is done in a civil and effective manner. Hat's off to the citizens who came up with this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

10 Tough Questions with 820 Talk's Mike Nabuurs

Aside from being an interesting and provocative talk show host on 820 Talk radio, Mike Nabuurs in an engaged Hamiltonian who's not afraid to say what's on his mind. For the past 15 years, Mike has been on the air in Hamilton. He’s co-hosted numerous morning shows , but the one thing that has never changed is his eye on the community. 

 Mike has strong opinions on just about every topic. He was enthusiatic about my inviting him on 10 tough questions. You'll see that in his answers. Welcome as Mike replicates his on-air passion, here on The Hamiltonian. Of course, Mike decided to answer all 11 questions I put to him- no surprise there ;-). Here he is, Mike Nabuurs on 10+ Tough Questions. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Demolition by Failed Leadership

It seems like another Hamilton iconic building is set to be torn down. The apparent next casualty is The Century Theatre, see Spec Stories here and here.

While I appreciate the tough talk by some city councillors in the wake of the revelation that the Century's days are up, it is undeniable that this is a last minute conversation that would have best been had many years ago when there would have been time to address the issue. There are no heroes in this, politically or otherwise.

Demolition by neglect is a concept that seems to prevail in Hamilton. Add to that the notion of allowing property owners to fall into gross arrears on their taxes and one arrives at the concept of demolition by a failure in leadership.

I recall a councillor once telling me that owners who fall into arrears on buildings contribute to a situation where owners will pay harsh penalties which gives way to the city eventually taking over the building. That councilor seemed to think this was a good return, and I wonder how many other councilors are of the same mind set. My response to that is that if you are aspiring to be in the repo business of neglected properties, tax arrears wise or otherwise,  you have demonstrated a failure in leadership.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Interview with Larry Pomerantz of The Hamilton Civic League

I am pleased to have Larry Pomeratz from The Hamilton Civic League (HCL) as a guest on The Hamiltonian. HCL's vision is to have all eligible Hamiltonians vote in the next municipal election as informed, empowered and engaged citizens in order to bring about positive change to our city. HCL is a spirited group of people who are doing positive things for our Hamilton. I look forward to showcasing their progress. Please welcome Larry to The Hamiltonian.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New and not so New Faces

I applaud the efforts of The Hamilton Civic League and like-minded organizations who are trying to increase voter turn out for the upcoming municipal election. I would argue however, that an increase in turn out has to be met with more choices for candidates.

Below, you will find a list of names who have declared their intention to run for office thus far. The Hamiltonian will continue to monitor this list and will be open to most anyone running for office, to be featured on The Hamiltonian.
In the interim, have a look

Keeping It Real - Charter Guest Cathy Wellwood from The Good Shepherd Centres

Keeping it Real is a new interview format in The Hamiltonian that recognizes and celebrates the good work that agencies, groups and people do in our communities. It is my hope that through this new format, those Hamiltonians who are working hard to provide support to those in need are recognized and receive encouragement and support from us.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Cathy Wellwood to be the charter guest on Keeping It Real. Cathy is the Chief Development Officer for the Good Shepherd.

1. Tell us about your work at the Good Shepherd Centre, as well as your work on the fundraising front. What is the nature of the work, and what inspires you to do it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Stinson on Stinson

Triple cream, Triple sweetener – not sugar. That’s Harry Stinson’s preference if you wanted to buy him  coffee over a discussion of Stinson Lofts.

A self described unconventional, Stinson Lofts mirrors Harry’s approach to development- bold, different and imaginative. From the moment you enter the building there is an overwhelming sense of history, character and features that are impossible to come by in today’s “slap em up and sell em” market.

What Harry is offering is an expansive menu of one-of-a-kind suites with the option (in many cases) for the purchaser to influence the design. Taking a tour through the building, Harry becomes completely animated. Hands waving and voice rising, as he enthusiastically describes his vision for each space and unit. This is Stinson in his element.

Just Buy Less?

Buy less.

That's the message the City of Hamilton has placed on its website in a bid to convince citizens to comply with the municipality's one bag garbage limit, which will be enforced in April. See full Spec story here

In the midst of the worst economic downturn in recent history, and in the throws of the economy being stimulated, Hamilton's message appears wrong headed and mis guided. , despite any noble intent.
Hamiltonian, Paul Martini took exception to that message, adding: "I found this interesting at a time when we are trying to stimulate our economy," he said in an e-mail to The Spectator.
Mr. Martini's views are supported by John Dolbec, Executive Director of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Dolbec said : "Why not just have everyone live in a cave and that will really cut down on purchases?" "To encourage people to become almost hermitlike doesn't strike me as being terribly productive," said Dolbec, adding the chamber supports recycling efforts and reducing the output of what ends up in landfills. "But there are other ways of doing it other than asking people to slow the economy down."

Councillor Maria Pearson, despite being the outgoing chairperson of the city's economic development and planning committee, doesn't seem to be connecting the dots or, at minimum doesn't appear to be fully recognizing the adverse trade-off. . "I don't have a problem with them trying to encourage residents to think about what they are doing on a day-to-day basis," said Pearson.

Is this an example of backward thinking in Hamilton? At a time when people are struggling to get or keep jobs, should we be encouraging consumers to buy less? As John Dolbec said, aren't there ways of being responsible with our waste management without hi-jacking our economic recovery? Or as blogger WRCU2 suggests- buy smarter, not less?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I wish it were as easy as clicking on the graphic to the left, but it is far from it.

I am referring to the hate-based attack on the Muslim place of worship on the East Mountain. See Spec coverage here and here

A Molotov cocktail was believed to have been used in the attack. While any  attack against anyone is herrendous, this one could have potentially hurt or perhaps killed 200 school children who attend the Islamic School of Hamilton, which is part of this particular mosque.

Your comments and reaction would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: As you will note, an anonymous blogger stated that this blog topic was mis-framed, in that at the time this attack occured, there were no school children in the mosque/school, and thus it would be inaccurate to say that children could have been killed. I stand corrected on this account.

What troubles me however, is that this partcular facility does house school aged children. I don't have any confidence that anyone troubled enough to do such an act would have done so intentionally to avoid a time where school children were not present, or would not attempt to repeat the act when they are. To believe so, would acribe a certain degree of rationality to that person(s). I'm not sure that's safe.

Notwithstanding, I do stand corrected and appreciate the comment/correction.  Thank-you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

10 Tough Questions with Tim Dobbie

The Hamiltonian is pleased to welcome Tim Dobbie as our first guest of 2010, to 10 Tough Questions. To learn more about Tim's work with the Jobs and Prosperity Collaborative, please see Spec story here.

1. The Jobs Collaborative is over the “honeymoon period”. Can you describe its successes to date?

The success of the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative (JPC) to date, comes from the work being done by the seven interconnected working groups committed in the areas of: Innovation & Learning, Hamilton’s Image, Quality of Life, Immigration, Commercial Land and Infrastructure Strategy, a Predictable Supportive Planning Process that Ensures Sustainable Commercial Development and the Economic Portfolio. Three examples of successes are:

What's Next for The Hamiltonian

The Hamiltonian is now over 4 months old and into a new year. I thought it might be timely to signal what's next on The Hamiltonian for 2010. Here are some initial thoughts:

- 10 Tough Questions will be continued, due to its popularity.
- The poll about the performance of city council and the Mayor, will be repeated, at least once- perhaps twice as we approach the election.
- We will engage in some sort of citizen-driven evaluation of the performance of each councillor.
- We won't forget about Abdul Kahn and continue to follow the follow up.
- We'll continue to interview everyday Hamiltonians - if you're up to it, just send an email to adminhamiltonian@cogeco.ca
- We'll continue to work collegially with our media friends- The Spec, CHML, 820 Talk, the Community papers, Cable 14, CHCH (Channel 0), CATCH, Raise the Hammer, etc.