Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2nd HECFI Report To Be Negotiated

Assuming all goes according to plan, KPMG will be asked for another report that would provide the interim HECFI Board, and presumably council, the information it needs to facilitate an informed decision on options for purchase, lease or management of Copps, Hamilton Place and the Convention Centre.

Here are some excerpts and quotes made to The Spec (full article here)

(Clr.) Whitehead, who was a member of the existing board for seven years before being ousted Monday, welcomed the change.“I think it’s good to have a fresh set of eyes on it,” he said.

There will be a lot of gratitude for the work (the board members) have done to get us to where we are and there’s nothing but respect for their efforts,” Chris Murray said.

Lloyd Ferguson, the lone councillor to oppose the dissolution, says leaving the existing board in place is a smarter option.

“I fully support going out to the marketplace to see if there’s a private operator who can do it bigger and better,” he said. “I just thought we should continue with the current structure. Councillors are very busy people and they don’t have all the background the citizen members have to continue to move the facilities forward until council reaches a decision whether to privatize or not.”

HECFI chair Marcel Mongeon said his concerns are about council transparency. He said he wasn’t consulted about the dissolution and thinks the public is owed a more complete explanation as to what the implications are.“Do people who have booked an event at the Convention Centre this fall worry that it will be boarded up?” he asked.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Const. Garrett Styles

In remembrance and honour of Const. Garrett Styles, who gave his life in the line of duty.

Setting Sail(s)

You might have thought that this topic is about the West Harbour and the Setting Sail plan. It's not, albeit that's a topic we plan to revisit soon.

In the interim, enjoy this press release:

For Immediate Release

Mayor Bob versus Mayor Rick in a sailing challenge on Hamilton Harbour

You’re invited to support your mayor on Saturday July 9, 2011 when Mayor Bob Bratina will take on Mayor Rick Goldring in ONE‐ON‐ONE sail boat races on the harbour.

This exciting afternoon will highlight the sailing skills of the two mayors in support of sailing programs for the disabled in Hamilton and Burlington. Mayor Bob has an edge on account of his sailing experience but rumour has it that Mayor Rick has been taking lessons this spring. But it’s wind and water that will decide the winner!

The location is the front lawn of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club with the races taking place off pier 8 and the Discovery Centre.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Marcel Mongeon and The HECFI Decision

In the interests of balance, The Hamiltonian reached out to former HECFI Chair Marcel Mongeon, to get his views on the recent dissolve of HECFI's board. 

Here are some questions we put to him. 

1. Do you believe the KPMG report was balanced and fair? Please explain.

There were apparently two parts to the KPMG report: a public part which I reviewed and a confidential part which neither myself nor any other citizen member of the board was provided a copy of.

The public part of the report that I reviewed contained facts that were available in the public record and other material from interviews. Both myself and the CEO had been provided advance copies of some parts to verify its factual accuracy. I had no concerns about the facts and felt that the conclusions drawn were the obvious ones that anyone would draw from the same facts.

2. You appeared to be surprised that the board was not given the opportunity to present its case to council, or provide additional information to council, prior to it rendering its decision. If given the opportunity, what would you have said/presented?

Since neither myself nor any member of the board knew what information was being considered in closed session of council, I really can't answer the question.

City council was certainly within their authority to have the board stand down as it did and I respect their right to take that action on the information they had even if it did not include representations from the board.

3. Certainly in a business as complex as the entertainment business, there are many variables that are outside of a governing board's control. Putting those variables aside for a moment, what part of the problem does the
previous board own (if any), and what would have changed to address any of those challenges?

In 2010 as the magnitude of the revenue shortfalls became apparent the board did not act as quickly or as decisively on issues as we likely should have. However, it is difficult to guess what the end results would have been.

4. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know, concerning HECFI and the recent developments? Feel free expand as you see fit.

I wish the new operating committee well in their challenge of considering the future of and operating these three gems of downtown Hamilton.

I personally believe the key in dealing with the HECFI facilities is to consider what would downtown Hamilton look like without them?

In large part Hamilton owes its status as one of Canada’s ‘big cities’ to the fact that we are able to host indoor sporting events of 18,000 people, theatre events of over 2,000 people and meetings and dinners for thousands requiring the facilities of the convention centre. I remember a time as a kid when our city wasn’t able to do any of this and it would be unfortunate to lose any part of that.

Thanks Marcel for your interest in Hamilton, and for your participation in this interview! 

You're fired- HECFI Board Dissolved

The writing seemed to have been on the wall. The HECFI Board has been dissolved,  replaced by a new interim board made up of Mayor Bratina. Clrs. Merulla, Partridge, Collins, and Farr.

But is this the right answer; even on an interim basis? Too often governing bodies are replaced with governing bodies who , while well intentioned,  may not have the business acunem to turn a business around, for different reasons. 

Or are you of the view that the Mayor and the four other councillors can manage this, in the interim or otherwise?

Larry DiIanni- For the Record, On the Record

Having concluded his first season as host of Cable 14's "For the Record", we thought we'd check in with Larry DiIanni and chat with him about the first season.

Enjoy the chat.

1. The transition to your role as host of For The Record, may not have been a move that many would have expected, particularly in light of having been a Mayor of Hamilton and on the heels of having run for mayor in the last election. What motivated you to consider the job, how did it come about and why did it make sense for Larry DiIanni?

Media Release- One of a Kind Table Tells YMCA's History


A unique boardroom table made entirely from historical artifacts donated by YMCAs across Canada -- including the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford-- was recently completed and has a permanent home at YMCA Canada’s head office in Toronto.

Media Release: Community Legal Clinic Opens New Office, Closes Old Ones


Community Legal Clinic Opens New Office, Closes Old Ones

For release June 27, 2011

The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic/Clinique juridique communautaire de Hamilton (HCLC) moves into new quarters tomorrow.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mayor Shouts "You're My Prisoner!"

As far as we know, no recent Mayor has arrested a city councillor. 

We were quite surprised when we received this gem of a story from local historian, Brian Henley. Special thanks to Brian who shares information about historical Hamilton, on his web site .  Enjoy this story that dates back to 1855.  A word of caution to Mayor Bratina; don't try this at work! ;-)

The reminiscences appeared in this article printed in the Hamilton Spectator of October 21, 1887. The article was written about the impending demolition of then current city hall.

There used to be more fun in municipal affairs in the old days than there is in these cold-blooded, degenerate times. A characteristic incident which illustrates the methods of 30 years ago occurred in the fall of 1855. Mr. Magill was mayor in that year. Sebastopol had fallen and the loyal citizens of Hamilton felt bound to celebrate the great event. About the same time, the Governor-General was "billed' to visit Hamilton, with a prominent member of the government Hon. John A. Macdonald. Mayor Magill thought it would be a good idea to have the celebration of the fall of Sebastopol take place on the day of the Governor-General's visit, and he issued a proclamation to that effect, and made the day a public holiday. But there were some political extremists who thought that a public demonstration on that day might be construed as a demonstration in honour of Hon. John A. Macdonald (for Canada's Grand Old Man had as many bitter enemies in those days as he has now) and they determined to burk the mayor's action. 

An Instrument for Every Child

Click on picture, to enlarge
left to right: Rita Knapp (Former King George Principal), Pat Rocco (HWDSB Superintendent), Astrid Hepner (AIFEC Program Director), Carol Bratina, Mayor Bob Bratina, Bob Savage ( Vice President, Manufacturing ArcelorMittal Dofasco), Brian Melo, Karen Wilkins (HWDSB Arts Consultant), Lynn Barr (King George Teacher)
2nd row: Peter Joshua (HWDSB Superintendent of Leadership and Learning), Rachael Finnerty (AIFEC Instructor)

An Instrument for Every Child End of Year Celebration

Fascinating Hamilton-Related Website of the Moment

Well worth book marking. Click here    Henley's Hamilton.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Chat with Clr. Judi Partridge

With much controversy swirling about concerning some current and former councilors, it is particularily nice to take a break from that and engage in a chat with councillors to learn little bit more about them. We are very pleased to feature Clr. Judi Partridge who has provided a fresh presence and perspective as a council member. 

Enjoy our chat with Clr. Partridge.

1. Being a first term councillor and thus new to this council, what surprised you most about the job? Please explain.

Part of my experience over the past several years has been working in government affairs and business development with all levels of government. For me this meant an easy fit into the role of City Councillor. It isn't a job to me, it is a commitment to serve. I love the work and the intellectual challenge that comes with it. Coming from the corporate world, there wasn't much that surprised me. The number of, and sheer volume of daily/weekly reports, plus the depth of detail included is very impressive and sometimes a challenge to get through for each meeting. Every week is a full binder of reports for multiple meetings. Personally I sit on 14 city committees. Being a policy person, my bent is to focus on the content of reports, research and financial analysis, plus outcomes along with impact on specific/broader people and yes, I read every single page of the report. It is pleasant to see how committed staff and other councillors are to helping new councillors.

2. What was the most difficult decision you have had to make thus far. Why was it difficult and how did you arrive at your position on the matter?

Can Mitchell run in 2014?

The following comment was posted on The Hamiltonian, by one of our readers, with respect to defeated former Councillor David Mitchell's quest for reimbursement for unfiled mileage claims and forgiveness of an amount he spent over his budget:

"This has nothing to do with money. It is all about being allowed to run in the next election. Without this decision made in his favour he does not qualify for the next election."

We asked the City Clerk for clarification. This was the Question asked and the answer we received:

Q: Hamiltonians are wondering:    If David Mitchell succeeds in having his request for reimbursement for his mileage, and forgiveness for his budget overspend, granted either wholly or, as currently proposed (partially), does it follow that he would then become eligible to run in the next election? Or will he still be disallowed from running. based on not filing his financials on time?

Reply from Rose Caterini- City Clerk

Hello Teresa,
David Mitchell is not eligible to run in the next municipal election because he did not file a Financial Statement and auditor's report for the 2010 Municipal Elections.
For legislative reference, please refer to sections 78 and 80 of the Municipal Elections Act.

Rose Caterini, B. Comm., AMCT
City Clerk
City of Hamilton

Thanks Rose for the answer!

Pics of the Moment

Proud Canadian Steel Workers continue to take their stand against U.S. Steel in Hamilton. Click on pics to enlarge. 

The KPMG HECFI Report....

..can be viewed here.

Thanks to the City Manager's office for providing the link. 

$1,645.00 - Should Mitchell Get it?

The Audit , Finance and Administration committee narrowly voted to partially reimburse defeated former ward 11 Councillor David Mitchell, for overspending his budget and for failing to claim some mileage expenses. See Spec story here entitled Mitchell Overspends- Gets Paid. 

Mitchell exceeded his budget by $1,674.00, according to a CATCH report. City policy holds that councillors are required to reimburse the city, if they spend over their approved budgets. The mileage claims that he previously failed to file amount to $3,319.00. This makes the total amount requested, in the form or reimbursement/forgiveness of debt, $4,993.00.

Clrs. Russ Powers, Maria Pearson and Bernie Morelli voted to deduct the budget over expenditures from the outstanding mileage claims and pay Mitchell the difference. That would give Mitchell $1,645.00 drawn from taxpayer money.

But not all councillors are on board with it. Clrs. Clark and Johnson voted against the payment. Other councillors who don't sit on the committee may also be unconvinced to support the payment. Clr. Clark named it as a problem in fiscal management.

On the Bill Kelly show this morning, Bill lamented that despite whether the expenses were legitimate or not,  the point is accountability.

Council is to ratify the decision Wednesday. Do you think the payout should be supported, or do you think that council should vote down the resolution?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Go For It or Get Over It?

Councillor Terry Whitehead is contemplating appealing the ruling in the suit that found him guilty of defamation after his now infamous early morning email that referred to a citizen activist as "destructive, mean-spirited, irrational liar that does not deserve the time of day". That email was sent to the activist and copied to other city politicians.

On CHML, Whitehead indicated he was getting independant advice, had not made a final decision as to whether to appeal, but filed a notice to reserve his right to do so, should he so choose. 
He added that a risk assessment was done that determined that there was a fair probability of success on appeal, in relation to the cost side.  He noted that the cost of an appeal would be at his expense.

Whitehead spoke about it in the context of his commitment to Hamiltonians to do whatever it takes to mitigate the costs of the judgment on taxpayers.

Do you think Clr. Whitehead should go for it, or get over it?  If the latter, what do you think his immediate next move(s) should be, to address the issue of costs to the taxpayer. 
Does an appeal at all appeal to you?

What the HEC FI?

Update: On the heels of our commentary, suggesting that the goals of profitability and positive spin offs for the core, ought not to be thought of as mutually exclusive, we find this in today's Spec 

"Other councillors said they don’t see the two goals as exclusive.

“I see them as one and the same. With profitability, you get a whole bunch of good things,” said Councillor Chad Collins.

You may recall that The Hamiltonian raised the question of whether it is time that the city looked at privatizing the role currently served by HECFI; a position that seems to be espoused by Clr. Merulla as well.

In today's Spec, the following appeared:

An independent review of Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. (HECFI) says the lack of clear mandate has led to widespread confusion and tensions between city officials and HECFI’s board and management.

Some think HECFI, which oversees Hamilton Place, the Hamilton Convention Centre and Copps Coliseum, should be generating economic activity and helping the city’s downtown, the newly released study by KPMG says. Others believe it should be run like a business with a goal of turning a profit or breaking even.

“The lack of clarity of mandate and direction results in ongoing friction between two diametrically opposed views,” the report says.

“The tension between the two viewpoints on the Board has resulted in the senior leadership team of HECFI receiving conflicting direction as to the operations mandate of the organization,” the report says, adding the confusion over mandate led to a two-day session last July that failed to come up with a three-year strategic plan for the organization.

What strikes us as peculiar is this notion that  generating economic activity and helping the city's downtown, is somehow mutually exclusive from running HECFI as a business. Running HECFI as a business, or having the private sector run it, (assuming it is well run) would naturally result in economic spin offs.  The locations of the facilities within the downtown core, would also naturally result in those spin offs being realized in the core.

Presenting it as "two diametrically opposed views"  denoting a choice to be made that , in the interim,  is driving out tensions, seems odd. There is value in clarifying a mandate, but failing to recognize the linkages between a profitable enterprise run with business sense and rigor,  and the resulting economic spin offs and where they land, seems to result in an artificial embedded fracture in the thinking.

Did we miss something here? 

Shiny Coins and Rude Behaviour

“In spite of what other councillors seem to reflect in their behaviour, citizens do notice a lack of respect demonstrated by a few committee members. These observations aren’t forgotten, especially during election time.”

That's a quote from an email that was sent by a citizen to Clr. Pasuta. The email was critical of some councillor's behavior during citizen delegations. While Pasuta withheld the name of the author of the email and any specific councillors he or she may have been writing about, the reading out of the email at yesterday's Public Works committee meeting, was an unusual step.

The email further stated "“During citizen presentations during the first part of the meeting were very disappointed to see the amount of members randomly leaving, exchanging private conversations, walking to other members chairs, and exchanging – quote – funny comments, judging from the facial expressions. All the while concerned citizens at the microphone were trying to get their concerns expressed and be heard.”

Clr. Pasuta added a comment of his own "I can tell you I came to committee once upon a time years ago to make a presentation,” he told his colleagues. “That’s one of the reasons why I ran because I watched as councillors spun around the chairs and laughed.”

What do you think? For those of you who have attended as a delegation or otherwise were before council or committees of council, what was your experience like?

Note: The source of this post is a report from the good people at CATCH.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tentative Agreement Between The City and the Union

Can be found here

Stop and I'll Tweet!

The Hamilton Police Services have moved even further in their recognition of the value of social media and how they can leverage it in their work.  The Hamilton Police Board has awarded Sergeant Jay Turner of the ACTION team, and Constable Stephen Welton  the Chief's Pride award for their work on Twitter and other social media. 

Welton tweets under @HamiltonPolice and Turner under @HPSActionTeam4. They use social media to update the public about arrests and other police related news. 

Turner commented that the use of tools such as Twitter signals a new style of policing. Congrats to The Hamilton Police Services for remaining contemporary and recognizing the value of social media!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do The Math

In what presents as an attempt to request reimbursement for preventable overspending and a bad assumption, defeated former Ward 11 Councillor David Mitchell is requesting that the city forgive a debt that he owes to the city for his over-spending of his office budget. He exceeded his budget by $1,674.00, according to a CATCH report. City policy holds that councillors are required to reimburse the city, if they spend over their approved budgets. 

If that isn't enough, Mitchell is also asking that the city reimburse him for mileage claims that he previously failed to file. Those claims amount to $3,319.00. This makes the total amount requested, in the form or reimbursement/forgiveness of debt,  $4,993.00. 

This despite Mitchell admitting that he was warned in August that he would likely be exceeding his budget, thus, presumably giving him an opportunity to temper his spending. Mitchell cited extra meetings in the ward and that his assuming that his office staff were being paid $12.00 per hour, rather than “a much larger hourly rate than ever before”.

Despite a written request from Mitchell, city staff  intend to not heed to his requests and require the reimbursement, and not entertain the mileage claims.

Note: If city staff continue to stick to their guns and enforce the rules,  Mitchell will be barred from running in the 2014 municipal election for missing the March 25 deadline to file his 2010 campaign expense documents.

Do you think the city should cover Mitchell's requests, or do you think  he should have managed the financial affairs of his office better, and in keeping with city policy? 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Deal or No Deal? DEAL!

Congratulations to the city and Local 5167 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for reaching a tentative deal which, if ratified, will avert a strike. Ratification will commence Monday.

The following statement was made:

 "We are announcing that a tentative agreement has been reached. Our members will continue to deliver public services that Hamiltonians rely on. We will not be discussing any details of the tentative agreement until our members have had a chance to review the content of the tentative agreement. We want to thank the community for their support during our bargaining quest for fairness and respect. Details regarding the ratification process will be announced on Monday, June 20th."

Friday, June 17, 2011


We've all been taught, at some time or another, that sharing is a good thing to do. But should the city be sharing federal and provincial grants to the city, to lower the growth fees charged to developers?

The $763 million reconstruction of the Woodward Avenue sewage treatment plant was delayed in January until later this decade because of worries about how to fund it – even with the grants from senior levels of government. The price tag has jumped $87 million in the last two years because of inflation and some design changes.
The project would increase the city’s sewage treatment capacity by about 20 percent and bring the plant into conformity with current provincial environmental standards – a key requirement of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan. Its operations today are grandfathered under less stringent standards, but the city must meet the current ones if it expands the plant – something city officials believe they must do to handle projected population growth.

At issue is how much of the bill should be paid for by existing users and how much by new growth. The proposed division is 49 percent from development charges and 51 percent from water rates – a formula worked out two years ago by city staff in consultation with the Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association and other development interests, which resulted in a $7400 hike in development fees for each new single-detached house, but still far below levels is some neighbouring communities.

In this year’s capital budget forecast, it is assumed that the federal and provincial monies would be used to reduce the ratepayers’ share of the project. However, staff are now proposing to split the grants with the developers – using the same 49-51 formula to reduce total development fees paid by builders by $78 million over the next 15 years.
Please see this excellent CATCH release here.  So, what do you think about sharing in this instance?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Discounting the Discount -Development Fees

Development fees are supposed to cover the costs of new growth. However,  discounts and exemptions that the city has allowed in consideration of development fees, move the resulting deficits to the taxpayer in the form of property taxes and water rates.The city borrowed $25 million last year to help cover shortfalls in the collection of development charges, and currently has a deficit of $22 million in just one of its development charge accounts.

A few staff recommendations, intended to address this issue, have met with opposition from some developers and at least one councilor. The recommendations would see the amount of subsidy for growth  reduced , while the other would remove the costs of storm-water management ponds from the development fees, and instead, require the developer to pay directly for their required facilities. 

Read through this CATCH release for further details and for an example of some of the issues that are arising.

Are you  supportive of the staff recommendations? 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Auditor General - A Ruff Idea at Present

Many large organizations have an Internal Audit capacity. An internal auditor will often times focus on compliance reviews and controls. Usually an audit plan will be developed which will identify which areas an internal audit will focus on. Sometimes, if a manager or executive believes that there may be a vulnerability in his or her department, or if an external audit is expected. that manager or executive may call upon the services of internal audit, to help uncover and address issues before they escalate or cause additional exposure.

The city is considering expanding the role of internal audit to be more Auditor General- like. The move would give the position more independence, both in terms of finances and investigative powers, but without the cost of creating an additional auditor general’s office. An Auditor General would focus on value for money audits (are we getting our money's worth from a particular investment, strategy, policy etc), and on financial reviews.

Council has asked staff to explore how the current Internal Auditor can accept additional scope and fit into a new Auditor General role. The notion is very exploratory presently, and nothing has been decided. The Auditor General's position is not envisioned to overlap into the Integrity Commissioner's role, which is to ensures councillors are complying with the code of conduct.

Do you support the creation of an Auditor General role? Please read Spec article here for further details.

Pic of the Moment

The Hamiltonian team, known as "Donna's Crohnies" celebrating walking in the 2011 Heel "n" Wheel-a-Thon to raise money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC).

We met and exceeded our goal, and wish to thank all who supported this worthy cause. 

Did you know that....

...the classic song, It's Only Make Believe", is believed to be written in Hamilton?  In 1958, Conway Twitty, singer-songwriter,  and his band were in town and were playing the Flamingo Lounge where Hamilton Place auditorium is located today. Legend has it that the drummer, Jack Nance and Twitty, wrote "It's Only Make Believe" between sets, although another story puts them at the nearby Fischer Hotel. The song was recorded in 1958 and became the first of nine Top 40 hits for Twitty, selling eight million copies.

Have a listen, by clicking here

Friday, June 10, 2011

Contemporary City/Media Interactions

The Hamiltonian would like to take this opportunity to express its views on media interactions in Hamilton, as they pertain to city hall.

There is an array of media outlets in our great city, ranging in size, scope and modes of operation, to name a few variables. Juxtaposed against the workings of city hall and city council, there are shared interests as well as divergent ones.

We would presume that a common interest amongst city council, city hall and the media, is getting accurate and timely information to Hamiltonians. Some may suggest this  assumption is arguable, but we will go with it for the sake of this topic.

It is clear, from reading the city’s Social Media Policy, that the city sees the value of using media (in this case social media) to strategically convey its message, or otherwise further the objectives of the city. Fair enough; it is their policy and written using their lens.

In a perfect world, an information provider  would be disseminating complete information regardless of preferred messaging.  People would be provided, at source, all the pertinent information they would need to make an informed decision. That information would be pure and would present the brutal facts; whether they are good, bad or ugly. Complete information would trump strategic messaging. In practice, that is not the way the world works. Information sources can be selective around the information they draw upon and share. The temptation to not share information that may not favour or support the views of the information source, will be there. The inclination to share information but “spin it” a certain way, is also there. When the spinning factor is combined with selective information sharing, the net result can be a slew of unreliable, or skewed information. 

Bob, Blogs and Business - The Mayor's Statement

Mayor Bob Bratina wrote the following to Larry Pattison in response to a letter from Mr. Pattison expressing concerns about statements by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

The Mayor cc’d the signatories of the open letter expressing concerns about the statements.

Dear Mr. Pattison, 

One of my priorities as Mayor has been to bring more information to the public, not less. I was asked the day after the election what my first priority was, and answered “live streaming of all committee and Council meetings”. That was accomplished within two months of my taking office. This is important because media often picks and chooses what stories to cover and what angle to take. The closer the public can get to the daily business of their Council, whether by streaming, requests for information, broader and more thorough coverage through media, including blogs, etc., the better.

The offices of Mayor and City Manager were the first to publicly support the concept of “Open Data”. We are now reviewing all matters related to communications and public information. The public will have an opportunity to give input, and final decisions will be in the hands of Council.

Bob Bratina,
Mayor, City of Hamilton.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

City Manager Responds to Social Media Policy Concerns

Please see the release here

Note: The Hamiltonian will work cooperatively with the City and with our other media and social media partners, to ensure Hamiltonians receive the information they are entitled to. We hope to reach a solution that is in the best interests of Hamiltonians and that is contemporary. 

Letter Concerning Clr. Whitehead Defamation Matter and Spec Coverage

Update:  The Hamiltonian has confirmed that there was no fee associated with Mr. Puskas' letter, and that he wrote it on his own accord, with no input or suggestion from Clr. Whitehead. The source of this confirmation is Mr. Puskas. 

During the unfolding story of Clr. Whitehead's defamation suit, The Hamiltonian contacted Clr. Whitehead to ask if there is any statement he would like to make via The Hamiltonian. At that point, we assume he declined, as we did not receive a response. His perspective continues to be welcome here.

Today, we received a copy of a letter sent from criminal attoney Michael Puskas, to the Hamilton Spectator, concerning the Whitehead matter.  In that letter, Mr. Puskas expresses concern over the Spec's coverage of the Whitehead issue and offers another perspective. 

Have a look at the letter here. It is published with the permission of Mr. Puskas. The Spectator has been made aware of this post, and have been invited to comment. 

Media Release- Five top economists. Five major banks. One room.


Five top economists. Five major banks. One room.

HAMILTON, ON (June 9, 2011) ― For the first time ever, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an event called, The BIG Bank Theory, that will bring together five of the country’s top economists: Craig Wright, Chief Economist from the RBC Royal Bank; Doug Porter, Deputy Chief Economist from BMO Bank of Montreal; Derek Burleton, VP and Deputy Chief Economist from the Toronto-Dominion Bank; Derek Holt, VP, Scotia Capital Economics from Scotiabank; and, Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist from the CIBC. These economists will all congregate in one room to talk about the world economy and how it will affect not only you but also businesses in Hamilton.

Moderator, Heather Hiscox, host of CBC News: Morning, will help facilitate the event and pose questions from the audience to the economists.

The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at LIUNA Station.

To register for the event, please contact Whitney Simmons at 905 522 1151 x237.

Oh Deer

How can one possibly resist feeding that face to the left? Well despite, their appeal and "cuteness factor" the overpopulation of deer at the Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area, and the tendency of people to feed the deer, is contributing to traffic hazards . 

Councillor Lloyd Ferguson plans to push for a by-law that would impose a ban on feeding deer. He references the fact that deer come closer to the road and properties, when they are fed by people. Clr. McHattie, who is the chair of the conservation authority, supports the move and would like to see it extended to address other wildlife, like coyotes and geese. For further details and cited rationale, please see Spec story here

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Whose Bright Idea?

A plan that outlines how and where the city should be lit at night, which comes with an up to 5 million dollar price tag to implement, is causing councillors to back away from the idea. City staff suggest that good lighting will improve our image, make the area more attractive, decrease crime and increase pedestrian comfort at night. 

Beyond the cost factor of implementing the idea, the recommendations came from a consultant's report which costs the city $200,000.00. Clr. Ferguson, for one, expressed concern and a degree of outrage on spending this kind of money on "something we already know". 

Do you support the need to refresh our lighting strategy? If so, is this something that you think could have done by internal city staff by simply studying best practices and doing some research. Or do you think this is an example of where consulting services are required? Do you share Clr. Ferguson's sentiment on this issue?

Monday, June 6, 2011

David Adames Appointed New CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce


David Adames Appointed New CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

HAMILTON, ON (June 6, 2011) ― The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the appointment of David Adames as the new Chief Executive Officer of the organization.

Mr. Adames will begin his duties effective July 11, 2011 and will become the leading voice of the operation.

In February 2011, a committee was formed by the Chamber’s Board to conduct the search for the organization’s new leader. A search was conducted and in early April the committee began its review of the 40 applications received from individuals seeking the role. After a stringent process of qualification reviews and in-person interviews, the committee presented its recommendation to the Chamber’s Board of Directors for final approval last week. The Board voted unanimously in favour of the committee’s recommendations and Mr. Adames has accepted the appointment to his new role.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Chat with Clr. Brian McHattie

It's always a pleasure having Clr. Brian McHattie on The Hamiltonian. We decided to ask him a few questions of a reflective/observational nature.

1.. Without asking you to render a judgment as to which council is more effective, can you describe for us what is different about working on this council, as opposed to the previous council. Understanding that a change in membership often impacts group dynamics, what affect, have the addition of new councilors and a new Mayor had?

It is important not to under-estimate the positive impact that the three new Councillors have had. Councillors Farr, Johnson and Partridge are all excellent about seeking positive solutions, staying away from personal attacks, all with a good feel for what is best for Hamilton, not just for their wards. Consequently, there has been strong support for initiatives that each have brought forward, perhaps most of all a solution to the area rating debate. Mayor Bratina has been good at allowing the Councillors to debate issues respectfully without overly imposing his perspectives – this has been very positive. What has occurred is a healthy respect amongst Councillors – an absolute must for achieving well-thought out, positive solutions.

2.. Looking at the issues that have already arrived before this council, and looking ahead to issues that are anticipated or known, where would you say we have absolutely gotten things right, or stand to get things right,
and where would you say we've taken a wrong turn, or may be heading toward a wrong turn? Please elaborate as you see fit.

Pic of the Moment

Click pic to enlargen
Traffic calming on Fruitland Rd. Courtesy of Divine Intervention

Merulla Gets It!

We asked Clr. Sam Merulla to comment on social media, in light of the recent storm of activity surrounding this topic. It's clear that the Clr. gets it. Let's hope others follow his lead:

Here is his reply, verbatim:

I treat all inquiries equally and I encourage more citizens to be engaged in the political process. Blogs are more relevant today than ever before and I believe they are here to stay and I welcome them regardless of what some people might be suggesting.

Thanks to Clr. Merulla for his continued respect for The Hamiltonian and his leadership in this matter. 


Right or Wrong?

We won't pretend that we've been following the Tilly Johnson issue in the greatest of detail, but today's story in The Hamilton Spectator seemed remarkable.

As we understand it from the write-up, council decided to give Tilly a written warning, after allegedly slapping the hand of one of her patrons at the farmers' market. Council elected to issue the warning, and reverse the initial decision which would have provided for a 30 day suspension. While the initial decision may have been heavy-handed, and assuming the allegations related to Ms. Tilly's behaviour were true, the revised decision  seems within range of reason. 

Johnson says she still intends to take legal action against the city. “My character is damaged, my mental state is not the same,” she said. “I’m totally destroyed.”

Do you support Johnson's intention to take legal action? In spite of the end result sounding proportional, do you believe that the process she was subjected to, warrants legal action? From the video posted on The Spec. Tilly raises her concerns around the city allegedly  not properly investigating the matter and jumping to judgment.