Monday, May 31, 2010

Shark Season

With the municipal election 20 weeks away, you might say we are into "shark season". This is the time where criticisms of candidates or councillors are posted on blogs, web sites and  other forms of internet based media. Sometimes real names are used, and many times we see  the "anonymous" poster syndrome. Ordinarily I don't have an issue with anonymous posting, particularily where legitimate views are being shared on relevant issues.

However, I have a hard time respecting people who choose to criticize or attack candidates and/or councillors, without attaching their names to their posts. To me, it's cowardly. If these types of posts appear under "anonymous", be aware that you may be experiencing this. If that's the case, I would recommend you use your best judgment in terms of assessing the validity of the comments.

The Honest Lawyer Removes Controversial Urinal

The Honest Lawyer has removed the controversial urinal. See Spec story here . 

It's never too late to do the right thing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Will The Real Larry Stand Up Please ? by Mayoral Candidate Mahesh Butani

Will the real Larry stand up, please? by Mahesh Butani

It is being reported by the friendly local urban printing press that the new immigrants needed to grow the population and the economy - are leaving Hamilton, and a disproportionate number of refugees are replacing them. This reports ends with a timid call for: “a need to move it up some notches and be a more welcome community”

Stoney Creek Flag Day Parade

It was a glorious day for a parade. Special recognition to Ward 11's Ken Chartrand who was busy volunteering and serving up fries at the french fry station. For more pictures, click here. Double click on the pictures for greater clarity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Meet Hamilton Artist Sylvia Nickerson

Sylvia Nickerson is a gifted artist who I had the pleasure to meet during one of the Art Crawls.

Sylvia has worked as a freelance illustrator since 2005. Prior to that, she worked as a book designer and project manager in the book publishing industry .She trained in visual arts at  Mount Allison University and Etobicoke School of the Arts.

She has an impressive cadre of clients including: The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Utne Reader, University of Toronto, and others.

She talents are far reaching and presently she is working on an illustrated book for children. Her studio is located at 126 James North and you can visit her on the web by clicking here. Alternatively, or in addition to, you can always visit her at her studio during the art crawls.

I had an opportunity to ask Sylvia a few questions.

Yes, There is an Integrity Commissioner

Yes, there is evidence that Hamilton, in fact, does have an Integrity Commissioner. Mr. Basse envisions his report on allegations concerning Clr. Whitehead's conduct, to be released within a month.

Basse admits it has been a slow process and attributes it to the wealth of information and the time it has taken to cull through it. Clr Whitehead also seems surprised that it has taken this long.

Basse said the investigation will be wrapped up by the end of next week and his report will be finished by mid to late June. "It's very sensitive, so it's important that I make sure I get this right," he added.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eisenberger in Action

Mayor Eisenberger has indicated that provincial intervention may be necessary if talks with the Ti-Cats, via a facilitator, don’t yield an agreeable result by the July 8 deadline.See full Spec article here

The Mayor was also clear that he is not asking for an intervention now, but will allow for the talks to continue in hopes of them bearing fruit. The Mayor’s assumption is that if provincial intervention is necessary, the direction will come in the form of validating the city’s desire to have the site at the West Harbour.

When asked if the province offers cash to increase the size of the stadium -- a projected additional $30 million to $50 million is needed to bring it up to 25,000 seats -- could be a "deal clincher" with the money-losing CFL team, Eisenberger nodded and quietly said: "Yes."

Do you think the Mayor should call the province in and are you as certain that such an intervention would serve to enforce the city’s position?

The Spectator reports that Mayor Fred Eisenberger flew to New York City for a private "relationship-building meeting" with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman late last year.It was a relationship building excersize, as the Mayor characterizes it.

The Spectator learned about the hour-long meeting after filing a Freedom of Information request for details of the mayor's 2009 expenses. Eisenberger spent $1025.78 of city money on the trip, including $209.20 on airfare and $656.43 for accommodations for one night at the Hilton hotel.

Monday, May 24, 2010

BackStage Sept 17th-24th

Click on graph for closer view

This is a view of what was hot this past week. It is simply a snapshot in time, as the data is somewhat skewed by  virtue of the fact that topics go up at different times during the week. Thus, a topic that went up Friday will have less time to gather "hits" as a topic that went up early in the week. Also, number of comments posted are not necessarily indicative of level of interest- as most viewers do not post comments. 

ACTION Getting Traction

In its first two weeks the Hamilton police ACTION team has made 38 arrests and seized $13,643 worth of drugs. ACTION stands for The Addressing Crime Trends in our Neighbourhoods. The  team is intended to be a highly visible group of Hamilton police officers walking or cycling through neighbourhoods with a focus on driving out violence and disorder. See full Spec article here.

The 43 member team has been split into groups of eight, plus two supervisors. They have split the downtown core into six to eight block quadrants. By patrolling on foot or by bike , officers are said to be noticing things that may not be obvious to officers in a cruiser, or that officers can’t stop for.

10 Tough Questions with Tom Robertson

Whether you agree with everything he says , I think we all can agree that Tom Robertson is always clear as to where he stands on an issue. His observations are insightful and sometimes pointed, serving to not only make his views very clear, but to prompt further discussion and perspectives. He describes himself as follows: "Life long resident of the City. Have lived over the last 50 years on the East Mountain. Retired and enjoy getting around the various interesting spots in the City. I get more disturbed every day as I see the once great City falling into ruins and a becoming a centre of unemployment."

We are pleased to have Tom as a regular here on The Hamiltonian, and equally as pleased to have him as a guest on 10 Tough Questions. Not surprisingly, Tom elected to answers all 11 questions I put to him, so enjoy 10+ questions with Tom Robertson. Comments welcome.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Poll Results

To the left is a picture of Larry DiIanni during his tenure as Mayor of Hamilton. In an unscientific poll conducted on The Hamiltonian,  of those who responded to the poll, 74% said that he should not run for Mayor in this election. Will this be a factor in Mr. DiIanni's considerations?  Will he run? Well, that's a question only Larry can answer.

In another unscientific poll conducted on The Hamiltonian, of those who responded to the poll, 69% said that regardless of the recent developments, the city should stick to the West Harbour site for the Pan Am stadium.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Right from the Artist's Lips

In response to a query made by The Hamiltonian, the artist Meike van Schijndel ,who designed the urininal, had this to say:

Thank you for your email. Here's my answer to your question.

Please be so kind to read this and check the other designs on our website. See it here.

The 'Kisses' urinal was the last design of the Bathroom Mania! series. These designs were initially made as a final project for my illustration major at an Art School here in Holland.

First I'd like to explain the philosophy behind the Bathroom Mania! designs. These designs are based on stories and possible experiences that have to do with the bathroom. They create a fantasy-world in the bathroom by working on images and impressions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Day the Music Died

What is the worst thing that can happen to you when you get a ticket for busking in Hamilton? You get another one, under a different law.

Ken Steffler, a Hamilton musician,  was charged in January, under the provincial Safe Streets Act for panhandling. The charge was withdrawn by the city's prosecutor last week. Now, Mr. Steffler has been charged under a different law, the Trespass to Property Act.

Steffler was playing his guitar and singing out front of Jackson Square at King and James streets at 8.45 a.m. yesterday when an officer wrote the ticket that carries a $50 fine. See full Spec story here

Steffler says he is being targeted. What do you think?  Is be being targeted. Should Hamilton be welcoming of buskers?
(with special thanks to MB)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Urinal Controversy Continues

This urinal, located in the men's washroom at The Honest Lawyer restaurant in downtown Hamilton continues to be the subject of much controversy. At the heart of it is the suggestion that it represents a set of female lips.

The fact that the urinal remains, despite the controversy, has drawn fire from community agencies and others concerned. The Mayor and MPP Andrea Horwath  wrote to the owner Greg Sandwell encouraging him to consider removing the urinal, but have received no reply. More than one thousand people have joined a campaign against the Honest Lawyer restaurant, in protest, Counsellors Clark, McHattie, McCarthy and Merulla have all indicated their support of the campaign to have it removed. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Greasing Up?

According to a recent CATCH release, it seems that some candidates for this upcoming municipal election are shying away from accepting donations from unions or corporations. While the practice remains legal, some are expected to distance themselves from, in particular,  the influence of land developers.

You may recall that in a 10 Tough Question interview on the Hamiltonian, Mayor Eisenberger stated

 “I have no doubt that the majority of special interest campaign contributions are intended to influence. At the municipal level, the concentration of campaign contributions from a single set of interests is extraordinary and the imbalance is systemic. In the 2006 Municipal election nearly half of the money raised by Hamilton candidates came from corporations or trade unions. Of that 77% of the corporate donations and 62% of Union contributions, went to incumbents. In addition, individuals who own a business or businesses or an individual who heads a union or is involved with one has multiple opportunities to contribute to election campaigns through both their business and personal contributions. Regular citizens do not have the same opportunity. It is about a level playing field for all Hamiltonians

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weeble Wobble?

“The west harbour site should be the starting point,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, but he added he does not disagree with looking at other sites if they are viable.

That's the latest from Mayor Eisenberger, as quoted in The Spec. See the full article here

Ticat president Scott Mitchell stressed that “any and all” sites should be open for examination.

A "starting point" ? Is the Mayor sounding wobbly? What happened to full steam ahead? Or is he simply being responsible?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"

Well,  not quite yet but according to a recent CATCH report, Tradeport International, who manages the airport, wants permisison to establish a temporary parking lot for 779 vehicles on agricultural land outside the city’s urban boundary. The five acre rural property is proposed to be part of the aerotropolis that the city hopes to approve later this year – a prospect that staff say justifies the unusual rezoning application going to planning committee on Tuesday morning.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

100,000 reasons.....

100,000 reasons that have made it all worthwhile.

The Hamiltonian has reached a milestone, achieving 100,000 hits. That's 100,000 times that pages have been viewed. 100,000 times that a Hamiltonian had cause to become interested in something being discussed on this blog. 100,000 incidences of engagement.

On we go...... let's shoot for 1/4 million.  :-)

Thanks to each of you and to my team here at The Hamitonian.

 Cal DiFalco
 Proud Publisher of The Hamiltonian

Please help spread the word about http://www.thehamiltonian.net/

Photo courtesy of gifted Hamilton photographer, Larry Strung. See him here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In for a Storm ? Or "lend me your watch and I'll tell you the time".

Oh the beauty of a keynote speaker. Excitement, enthusiam and the ability to ooze charisma to a captured audience. The tendency to defer to keynote addresses, consultants and experts, is not unique to Hamilton. We've had our share though; Chris Bart, Richard Florida, Bill Strickland and now, Storm Cunningham.

Cunningham, who will be speaking at Hamilton's Economic Summit, believes that putting a stadium anywhere outside the downtown is "prehistoric" and "neandrethal". See full story here.

Putting aside where he stands on the issue for a moment, what are your thoughts?  Do we need another expert preaching at the podium? Or are you of the mind that it is useful getting outside advice and validation? Do you think Strickland and Florida's speeches in Hamilton have made a difference? Or is it a case of "lend me your watch and I'll tell you the time"?

The results are in

In an unscientific poll conducted on The Hamiltonian, of those who responded to the poll, 59% said that the idea of accepting waste from other municipalities, would be bad for our image. The balance of respondents (41%)  said they would support the idea, if it made economic sense. 

There was no run away winner in this poll (59% vs. 41%).

Do these results surprise you?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time Out

The city and the Tiger Cats have agreed to split the costs of hiring a mediator to work out the Pan Am site.

No details have been released as to who the mediator should be, and how much the Cats and the City are prepared to pay.

Mediation can cost upwards of $500-$600 per hour.

See full Spec article here

Are you supportive of this measure? Should the city pick up half the costs of mediation?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clr. Scott Duvall - On Harbourfront Stadium

Update: The city was already making up a short list of candidates when Ticat owner Bob Young called for a facilitator to help resolve the stadium stalemate. See full story here

As posted by Clr. Duvall on the thread  " Clr. Bob Bratina- on the Harbourfront Stadium"

Clr. Duvall writes:

As I read the comments from this blog, I find it to be a great debate, but most are commenting agressively without knowing the facts or are assuming they know the facts.This all started with Mr. Young making  statements through the media last Thursday without expressing the same to the City when talking in meetings with the City. The City has not had enough time to verify the financial accusations or understand the sudden rejection of the West Harbourfront.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Clr. Bob Bratina- on the Harbourfront Stadium

Clr. Bratina, in his own words:

There is no sound business case for a Harbourfront Stadium. The consultant's report by Deloitte-Touche states that stadium has to be supported by 150 to 200,000 sq ft of new commercial development, whose taxes would help offset the excessive and indeed unknown cost of the Pan Am site. The spending required to support the restaurants, bars, retail shops, hotels, etc. would be in the order of 50 to 60 million dollars. Bob Young did his best to find developers who would consider the "Stadium Precinct". He found none and neither has the City.

 The Mayor publicly stated that a final decision had to be presented to the Host Corporation on May 17th. I asked staff to explain the significance of this date. The response clearly shows that this is not the case.

Mayoral Candidate Mahesh P. Butani and The Hamiltonian

Mahesh Butani was kind enough to answer a series of questions posed to him by The Hamiltonian. This is an opportunity for Hamiltonians to get to know Mahesh better and get a sense of his thinking. Comments welcome.

1. Hamiltonians may be interested in the motivational factor(s), that have caused you to register for the Mayoral race. Can you describe for us what drove you to make your decision to run?

Among the many critical objectives of mankind, one of the most compelling in our times is that of building sustainable eco-cities upon the crumbling premise of post-industrial thinking. Industrialization never really vanished as projected, it simply moved off shore leaving behind a promise of something called a knowledge economy.

Full Steam Ahead?

Who's saying what:

Counsellor Sam Merulla, says the battle with the Ticats proves why the city shouldn't have gotten involved with the 2015 Games

"It's getting to the point now that I'm second-guessing myself whether -- without the Ticats being on board -- it's even worth pursuing the Pan Am Games at all," said Councillor Terry Whitehead. Whitehead says he's now wondering whether the $60 million the city is putting into the stadium would be better spent on roads or sidewalks.

Eisenberger said the city has no intention of slowing down on the west harbour and is moving "full steam ahead."

Tom Jackson says he doesn't "see any absolute rights or wrongs here," and wants more time to hash out a compromise with the Cats.

See full Spec article here

Do you think counsellors are doing the responsible thing by reconsidering this matter, or do you believe they should should line up and support The Mayor's position to stay the course? Is it time to present a united front, or are counsellors who are having second thoughts, now that the Ti-Cat position is known, justified in expressing concerns? What instruction or advice would you give your counsellor?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stadium Standoff

"When the City insists that they are building a stadium, and the Tiger-Cat Football Club is simply a tenant, they are correct. On the other hand, all successful landlords always take the needs of their tenants into consideration when they decide important issues such as location, size, and accessibility."  Bob Young

"This is about more than just a two-week sporting event, and more than a professional football franchise. This is about the community, and community development. This is about what's best for the people of Hamilton - today and into the future." Mayor Eisenberger

"Simply put there has been no collaboration in Hamilton’s stadium project to date. The Tiger-Cats have pointed out many unresolved problems with the West Harbour location." Bob Young

"Bob Young's statement that there has been no collaboration is puzzling. Scott Mitchell has been a member of the Pan Am Advisory Group since the very beginning. As recently as two weeks ago, I met with Scott Mitchell of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and we re-affirmed that we would continue talking and working together. It is hard to reconcile this with the statements made today by Mr. Young." Mayor Eisenberger

It looks like we have some drama unfolding here in Hamilton. The exchanges between the Mayor and Mr. Young are terse. A weekend cooling off period may be helpful. Will this standoff continue? Is there a way out? Will cooler heads prevail? Can a compromise be found between such opposites extremes. Will Eisenberger and council prevail?  Time is running out. What do you think?

Click on the drawing found on the upper left of  this topic to see what we all want to avoid.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Note: The Hamiltonian has locked the Landlocked thread to further comments. The comments thus far will still be displayed. The only reason we are locking this thread is that it is up to 30 comments, and we've just opened the Stadium Standoff thread to allow the discussion to continue. The discussion on this thread has been interesting and fruitful. We're just moving the discussion to the new thread. Click here to go there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

You may recall that Clr.Ferguson recently saved the city from selling a strategic piece of land (on Barton (adjacent to the proposed stadium site), that will be needed for the Pan Am stadium site. If the land was sold, and Ferguson hadn't saved the day, it could have resulted in the city having to consider re-purchasing the land, at an inflated price. (Good job Clr. Ferguson!)

At first glance, one can conclude that the city simply made an error that was caught just in time. Some might suggest that there was incompetence involved (although people are people and make honest mistakes sometimes).

But then, I get this email from a blogger who proposes something quite different. It goes something like this: The property is sold deliberately to a purchaser who is positioned to scoop it up. The intention of the purchase is simply to position the buyer to resell it at an inflated price to the city, once the city realizes that it ought not to have been sold in the first place. In other words, an engineered scam of sorts, under the radar.

Legal Aid?

Should taxpayers pay for legal fees incurred by Hamilton councillors, staff or volunteers, when they are operating outside of their roles?  One gentleman, Roman Sarachman who is suing Clr. Whitehead for an issue Mr. Sarachman maintains falls outside the scope of Clr. Whitehead's duties as a councillor, and that has nothing to do with the City of Hamilton, is posing that question.

Secondly, Sarachman wonders why the city is prepared to cover Whitehead's costs, but have not covered Bratina's or McCarthy's in other law suits. Sarachman suggests that following the last election,  newly elected officials were told that the city will not defend councillors against defamantion suits.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Show Me the Money

The following is a link to the Report of the 2009 Remuneration and Expenses as Required under Section 284 of the Municipal act  (City Wide).

The report provides an itemized statement of the remuneration and expenses paid to each Member of Council and citizen appointees to various local boards in the preceding year. One-third of the Mayor’s and Council Members’ remuneration is received tax free as allowed under current tax legislation

I am providing this link as an information item. Thanks to Mark Alan Whittle for the link.  Click here to see the report.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What are Hamiltonians Saying?

In a series of unscientific polls conducted on The Hamiltonian, those who responded said:

They do not think truck traffic should prevail over the interests of citizens (92% of respondents felt that way)

They do not think buskers should be charged a licensing fee78% of respondents felt that way)

They do not think the Integirity Commissioner position is making a positive difference (87% of respondents felt that way)

Do you think city council is listening?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Steeling Our Hearts?

The sale of two idled U.S. Steel mills to a German company that promises to have new steel flowing through them before the end of September, is expected to contribute the lion's share toward the restoration of 1000 jobs and maybe more. ArcelorMittal Dofasco's plans to add a third blast furnace could create 30 positions this summer. U.S. Steel has also recalled about 800 Hamilton workers of the 1,500 laid off last year.

Thomas Fetzer, president of Max Aicher (North America) Inc., said he expects to hire between 150 and 200 people to staff the Hamilton bar mills his company is buying from U.S. Steel.Fetzer said hiring could start next month after the 100 U.S. Steel workers with recall rights to the plant have been canvassed.