Monday, October 31, 2011

Media Release -Hamilton Best Start

Hamilton Best Start Magazine Profiles Local Early Learning & Child Care Supports, Resources & Family Activities    Full-Day Kindergarten, Neighbourhood Strategy, First-Ever Parent Charter Featured

Hamilton, ON – November 25, 2011 – Hamilton Best Start today announced the release of its 2011/2012 magazine. This annual publication showcases the accomplishments of the Best Start Network and serves as a local, up-to-date guide for parents looking for information on early learning and care in the community.

“The magazine’s launch is timely, as it falls in line with the Week of the Child & Youth celebrations, and the latest Early Years Study 3 authored by the late Dr. Fraser Mustard,” says Paul Johnson, Hamilton Best Start Network Chair and the City’s Director of Neighbourhood Development Strategies. “Dr. Mustard was a visionary whose early child development research will continue to influence the evidence-based programs Best Start builds across this city.”

Features in this year’s magazine include: 

Hamilton Parent Charter – Hamilton introduces Canada’s first-ever statement on the important role and rights of parents
Update on Full-Day Kindergarten – Hamilton parents express their thoughts on the provincial initiative after year one and plans for future schools are revealed
City of Hamilton Neighbourhood Strategy – Paul Johnson explains how our city is changing for the better, one neighbourhood at a time
Enhanced 18-Month Well Baby Visit – Hamilton parents can ask for a free, confidential assessment of their baby’s development
Look Who’s Cooking! Children’s programs take off in Hamilton’s newest community kitchen
And much more – view online version of the magazine

The Hamilton Best Start Network is a collaborative of nearly 60 local experts in areas such as education, child care, health care, and community services who care deeply about the early years. The Network’s primary goal is to build supports that help give children the “best start” in life – from early intervention programs to drop-in clinics.

Within the last five years, the Network decreased waiting time for speech and language services for children 0-6 years by 81%; opened seven additional Ontario Early Years Centres, including both French and Aboriginal centres; and created 1,143 extra early learning and child care spaces in Hamilton.

The Hamilton Best Start magazine is inserted in today’s Hamilton Spectator, and is available for free in various locations across the city, including Ontario Early Years Centres, libraries, and child care centres. For more information about Hamilton Best Start, please visit www.hamilton.ca/beststart or call 905-524-4884.

How They Voted in October 2011

From the good people at CATCH. 

How they voted in October
This is a regular CATCH summary of votes at committee and council meetings. This report covers the month of October 2011. The first line of each entry identifies the issue, followed by a brief description. This is followed by the location of the vote in the third line. Multiple votes on the same issue are reported together. Absentees are only listed where reported in the minutes and where the missing councillors are members of that committee or decision-making body. Links ar e provided to source documents. Note that the vast majority of council decisions are unanimous and the votes are not officially recorded.
Overhanging trees
Councillor Whitehead presented a motion directing staff to review city by-laws governing encroachment of trees and hedges on private and/or city properties. It was defeated.
At Planning Committee, October 4 Minutes p12 (2-5)
For: Farr, Whitehead
Against: Clark, Ferguson, Johnson, Partridge, Pearson,
Absent: Collins, Pasuta
Councillors debated again the amount and conditions of city funding of the proposed Velodrome for the Pan Am Games in 2015, and heard from several delegations. A motion tabled in September was re-introduced and then amended to reduce the funding commitment to $5 million from the Future Fund and $2 million from Mohawk College. The amendment was approved along with the amended motion by the same 11-5 vote.
At General Issues Committee, October 11 Minutes p17-18, 12 (11-5)
For: Bratina, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, McHattie, Morelli, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Collins, Johnson, Merulla, Partridge, Powers
At City Council, October 11 Minutes p3 (11-5)
For: Bratina, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, McHattie, Morelli, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Collins, Johnson, Merulla, Partridge, Powers
Velodrome fundraising
After hearing from several delegations about private fundraising efforts for the velodrome, a motion by Brian McHattie to support these efforts was approved.
At General Issues Committee, October 11 Minutes p18-19, 12 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Merulla
At City Council, October 11 Minutes p3 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Merulla
Government relations contact team
Councillor Whitehead introduced a notice of motion and the rules were waived to allow it to be debated and voted on. It required that “all meetings, discussions or teleconferences with senior levels of government regarding items on the approved list of municipal priorities shall be conducted by a Government Relations Contact Team which shall be restricted to the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, members of the Fairness to Hamilton Campaign committee and the City Manager”. And it required that all communications from senior levels of government go to this Team within 48 hours of receipt. It was approved 10-3, but at the city council meeting the next day, it was unanimously decided to delete these sections and replace them with a decision to establish a government relations team to “assist the Mayor in advocating formal city council approved positions to senior levels of government.”
At General Issues Committee, October 11 Minutes p9-10, 26-27 (10-3)
For: Collins, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Jackson, Johnson, Merulla, Partridge, Pasuta, Whitehead
Against: Bratina, Pearson, Powers
Absent: Ferguson, McHattie, Morelli
Prayer at council meetings
Correspondence from citizen Matt Jelly questioned the appropriateness of including religious prayer at council meetings, noting that most cities don’t do this, and that the selection of presenters of the prayer in “was not reflective of Hamilton’s diversity.” Council agreed with Jelly&rs quo;s recommendation to refer the issue to the governance committee.
At City Council, October 12 Minutes p3 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Ferguson
Waiving the 48-hour rule
Council approved waiving the rule that requires at least 48 hours between the receipt of a committee report and its consideration/ratification by council. The decision was with respect to the General Issues Committee report from October 11.
At City Council, October 12 Minutes p4 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Clark, Duvall, Farr, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Ferguson
Light Rail Transit
A special meeting of the General Issues Committee received an update and report from staff on light rail transit that recommended seeking additional provincial funding for HSR buses and to complete studies related to building LRT in Hamilton. The recommendations were approved unanimously, but there was division on one amend ment that seeks reimbursement of $5.1 million from the province for monies spent.
At General Issues Committee, October 13 Minutes p6 (12-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Powers
Absent: Clark, Duvall, Morelli
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p4 (16-0)
For: Bratina, Clark, Collins, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: none
Water leak adjustment policy
Staff recommended a modified policy for notification and relief to water users whose bills are excessive because of a water leak. Changes include excluding commercial and industrial users, and only allowing only one adjustment claim per customer.
At Audit, Finance and Administration Committee, October 19 Minutes p3
Recorded opposed: Johnson
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p7 (13-3)
For: Bratina, Collins, Duvall, Farr, Jackson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Clark, Ferguson, Johnson
Telecommunication towers protocol
Staff recommended allowing installation of telecommunication antenna on city-owned water towers, reversing a previously approved ban on such installations. The change was approved with an exemption for a pump station on Stone Church Road at Turnbridge Road.
At Public Works Committee, October 17 Minutes p5-6 (7-1)
For: Collins, Ferguson, Jackson, McHattie, Merulla, Pasuta, Powers
Against: Duvall
Absent: Whitehead
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p5 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Clark, Collins, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Duvall
Lot grading, drainage and site alteration policy
Staff recommended a number of changes in the policy including a pilot public education program and increased enforcement, and more stringent rules on developers in order to reduce the incidence of post-development drainage and flooding problems. Councillors approved the changes.
At Planning Committee, October 18 Minutes p13-14 (7-1)
For: Collins, Farr, Johnson, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Ferguson
Absent: Clark
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p6 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Clark, Collins, Duval, Farr, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Ferguson
Church sign
Councillor Whitehead introduced a motion to allow a variance from the sign by-law for the Church of the Ascension to allow it to be erected in the visibility triangle because other sight-line blockages. Councillors approved waiving the rules to allow the motion to be debated (6-1) but the motion was subsequently withdrawn.
At Planning Committee, October 18 Minutes p14-15 (7-1)
For: Collins, Farr, Johnson, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Ferguson
Absent: Clark
Land acquisition and servicing (Maple Leaf)
Council met in closed session and approved land purchases and installation of various services including a $3 million stormwater pond to complete the deal that is bringing the Maple Leaf wiener plant to the North Glanbrook Business Park.
At City Council, October 19 Minutes p1-3 (13-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Whitehead
Against: Johnson,
Absent: Clark, Powers
Mediation services
Staff recommended investigating the financial viability of establishing a mediation service for dispute resolution related to neighbourhood conflicts. This was approved unanimously by the planning committee but subject to division at council
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p6 (15-1)
For: Bratina, Collins, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Jackson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers, Whitehead
Against: Clark
Timing of council meetings
The governance sub-committee recommended a four-month pilot program beginning in January to start council meetings at 5 pm instead of the current 7 pm. This was approved unanimously by the audit, finance and administration committee but subject to division at council.
At City Council, October 26 Minutes p7 (8-7)
For: Bratina, Clark, Ferguson, Johnson, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson, Powers
Against: Collins, Duvall, Farr, Jackson, McHattie, Merulla, Whitehead
Absent: Morelli

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Killer Stats

Seriousness of, and number of crimes have been on the decline in Hamilton over the past decade, but it isn't apparent. Overshadowing and skewing this trend is the increase in homicides in Hamilton. In 2010, there were 12 homicides, 4 more than 2009. The 12 homicides contributed to a rise of 4.24% in violent crimes. 

Property crimes were at their lowest level in 10 years. Break ins and vehicle thefts were down by half.  Violent and non violent crimes reached their lowest severity rating in the past decade, although both remained above the provincial average, while violent crimes were also above the Canadian average. 

Clr. Terry Whitehead cautions about reading too much into these stats, arguing that it is a skewed comparison when comparing a city as large as ours, with smaller cities or cities that are radically different in size (presumably).

Chief DeCaire, referring to crime severity statistics kept by police that track the big 12 jurisdictions,  provided some perspective. The Chief advised that based on those stats, Hamilton is the third highest, behind Toronto and Windsor. While the Chief recognized his front line officers and the good work they have done, he adds that there is still a lot of work to be done. 

In terms of a visual, the Chief said that the number of crime victims last year can fill Ivor Wynne stadium.  Sexual assaults against women and children, a rise of assaults against police officers and child pornography remain the most troubling crimes.

Clr. Whitehead expressed a desire to map the money flowed to policing, against the categories that are most troubling, wondering if we are getting a return on investment in those categories. (source- Stoney Creek News)

Are you surprised by these stats and can it be as simple as Clr. Whitehead suggests- mapping money to categories to achieve outcomes. Or do you believe that there are other factors involved that make achieving outcomes more complex?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pic of the Moment

Special thanks to Clr. Collins for use of photo.
Clr. Collins having fun with friends in support of the Football Hall of Fame.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad Timing?

Effective January- 4 month pilot 
Amongst other things, the issue of what time council meetings will commence, was discussed at council last night. Under discussion was the notion of moving council meetings to start at 5pm rather than the traditional 7pm.

Clr. Merulla argued that moving the meetings earlier to 5pm was akin to denying folks their democratic rights, in recognition that many people would be unavailable to attend meetings at that time due to other commitments (returning home from work, picking up children from school etc.)

Clr. Duvall reminded council that not everyone works day shift and thus, suggested that we have to be cognizant of other schedules as well. Clr. Whitehead took an elevated approach and wondered what was wrong with the current 7pm start time, arguing that if "it's isn't broken, don't fix it." Clr Clark argued that if people are vested in a particular issue or set of issues, they will make it a point to come to the meetings, regardless of the time they are held. Mayor Bratina seemed flexible, but, at the same time, stated his preference for a day time meeting, adding that most of the decisions are made at committee during daily meetings anyway. Clr. Ferguson pointed out that the longer meetings that sometimes go beyond midnight, impairs one's ability to make the best decisions.

Clr. Farr eloquently made the case for meetings to remain at 7pm, but seemed to have lost his way when he suggested the meetings were a form of entertainment to some, adding that some tune in to see "what Sam (Merulla we assume), will say next".  Mayor Bratina respectfully pointed out that the meetings were not intended as a form of entertainment, but as a forum for the city to conduct business.

Other highlights of the meeting included a standing vote on LRT , the mayor being encouraged to meet personally with other politicians on key issues such as LRT, and a fiery exchange from Clr. Merulla (see right hand banner for quote).  Clr. Clark seemed to have the most presence at yesterday's meeting, being very verbal on a number of issues and, for the most part, landing his points. 

In the end, a four month pilot was agreed to whereby the meetings would happen live at 5pm, but broadcast on Cable 14 at 7pm. The pilot would commence in January 2012. Do you agree with this change or are you of the view that the 5pm start time would be detrimental to citizen engagement?

Pic of the Moment

As the cold weather begins to creep up on us, this pic of CKOC 1150's oldies car, with snow banks in the background, remind us that the white stuff is coming. Fortunately, CKOC is still on air, making those cold winter nights easier, listening to the oldies.

Picture credit - Angelo Noto Campanella

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Up, Up , Up?

Mayor Bratina may have been described as "feisty" in his delivery of his first state of the union address, adding that,  in his estimation  the city is on its way up, but a corresponding question may be- will the Mayor's approval rating be on its way up?

According to a Forum Research poll, as reported in The Hamilton Spectator, 57% of Hamiltonians approve of the job Mayor Bratina is doing. Only 35% of the 408 people who responded, said they would vote for him again. 

The poll included Canada's fifteen largest cities, and only two other mayors in the poll ranked lower than our Mayor.

"Hurricane"  Hazel McCallion received the highest approval rating. The poll is considered accurate within a 1.5 per cent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.

Are you surprised by the results?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Clr. Clark on the Mayor's State of the Union Address

“It was not what I expected – the typical, standard, state-of-the-city address, which usually deals with the future and what’s before us and how we’re going to get there. He seemed to be defending himself a little bit in terms of actions that he’s taken. I kept thinking of William Shakespeare – “methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Source- The Hamilton Spectator

Another Muzzle?

Did another attempt at "muzzling" occur in Hamilton? Clr. Terry Whitehead is accusing CHML, and more specifically the Bill Kelly show of not giving him fair time to discuss the motion that sought to restrict Mayor Bratina when dealing with other levels of government.

The complaint, which Whitehead is making to The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, deals with an October 12th call-in program, in which the Mayor was on air for about 15-20 minutes, while Whitehead was put in a queue and ultimately received only two-three minutes of air time.

CHML appears to be the Mayor's channel of choice, to get his message out to Hamiltonians,as demonstrated by the relative frequency by which Bratina is found on air there. The fact that Bratina was formerly a long time on-air personalty at CHML and thus has an employment history with the station, makes the matter more interesting.

CHML Program Director  Jeff Storey maintains that CHML acted fairly and Kelly is paid to formulate an opinion.  He also added that you get placed in a queue no matter who you are.

Do you think Clr. Whitehead has a point? Should he have received more time, based on being a key player in the motion attempt? Should a talk show place you in a queue like everyone else, even though you are uniquely positioned to represent the opposing side of the issue? Or are you of the view that CHML acted fairly?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dancing with the City Manager

As of late, The Hamiltonian and City Manager Chris Murray have been dancing. The dance revolves around  The Hamiltonian's question as to how much money we have spent thus far on legal fees pertaining to the Red Hill Expressway lawsuit. See previous coverage here ,  here , here here and here

The dance goes something like this:

Mr. Murray sends us a response, chock full of lawerly talk, telling us essentially that the city is claiming client/solicitor privilege as a basis for withholding this information from Hamiltonians; adding that the details will be released to Hamiltonians once the matter is concluded. This, pursuant to a direction from council.

Neighbours On a Mission

Residents' vision for existing parking lot .
Click for better view
Note: The Hamiltonian has notified Clr. Morelli of this topic, and invited him to comment. 

From Ward 3 / Bristol Street Neighbourhood Residents


It is critical that before any further confusion is created in the wake of the Mission Services purchase of the former Mohawk College property at 196 Wentworth Street North -- that both Mohawk College and Mission Services, are clearly aware that this community is no longer going to tolerate the unilateral decision making of Mohawk College's adminstration with regards to property they own in an around Wentworth Street North.

We the residents of Bristol Street and surrounding areas in Ward 3 are hereby informing the City Council, the Ward 3 Councillor, the President and Governing Council of Mohawk College, the Board of Mission Services along with the Minister of Education - Province of Ontario - that the remaining surplus property owned by Mohawk College on Bristol street - is not to be disposed unilaterally by Mohawk College without full consultation with the residents and property owners of this neighbourhood.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Access Mayor Bratina

Update: The second episode of Access the Mayor wasn't very busy. There were only a few calls and an email. The Mayor spent time with Neil Everson talking about the value of the Maple Leaf announcement. He also spoke about the "muzzle matter". 

Tweets of the Moment

Red Hill Valley Parkway: the gift that keeps on giving. Friends, what say ye now?  Larry DiIanni, former Mayor, host of Hamilton Talks

Can we move on past the Red Hill battle? It's time to move on. It's built, now let's bridge the divides in our city. Response from Joey Coleman , journalist, blogger, pinball wizard. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Stinky Question

With the emergence of a new restructured Maple Leaf Plant coming to Hamilton (see Spec article here), we thought we'd ask Tim McCabe, Director of Planning and Economic Development, the following:

Q: Congrats on the announcement of the Maple Leaf plant. Already, we have noticed people raising alarm bells about the potential smell (stink?), that can be emitted from the plant. We note that you stated that there is no slaughtering. Are you able to comment on whether there will be , for lack of a better phrase “smell pollution” in the plants envisioned form, notwithstanding that there will be no slaughtering?

Tim McCabe: My understanding is that there will be minimal to no odour from this new facility. Press conference planned for 9:30 am tomorrow, Council Chambers. MLF officials will be in attendance to also assist in responding to any more questions.

Special thanks to Tim for his reply.

Meet you at the Park?

The following is an email exchange between Paul Tetley (who ran in the last municipal election in Ward 3) and Clr. Morelli, with respect to the $5 million that was initially earmarked for the Velodrome initiative:

Clr. Morelli's reply:

Thank you for your e-mail this morning. Sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner as I had to be in Committee. As always and as you are well aware, we try to respond to calls and e-mails promptly. You're welcome to infer anything and I'll leave the rest to your speculative imagination and I will relegate the harbouring of any of your excitements and/or commitments wherever, to you.

No Comment

Unfortunately, The Hamiltonian continues to receive notices from some of our readers, that they are unable to post comments to The Hamiltonian. Apparently, when they press the "post comments" button, the comment disappears.  The Hamiltonian can confirm that these comments are not received at our end. We do not know what is causing this but it appears that it has nothing to do with the site itself. 

We are aware that some other users had experienced the same problem, and somehow managed to solve it. If you are one of those people, can you post the solution you arrived at, so that others may be able to use it. If we have someone technical out there who would like to give advice, we'd appreciate it. Our Tech support person is currently away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If I Had 5 Million Dollars...

If I had 5 millions dollars (if I had five million dollars), I'd buy me a....?

You can't blame veteran councillor Bernie Morelli for trying. Clr. Morelli was quick to pitch a re-purposing of the 5 million dollars we would have spent on the Velodrome, and spend it on a seniors' recreation centre in his ward. Morelli, argues that this is not driven by ward self interests, noting that we are the only inner city that he is aware of that does not have a rec centre for seniors. He also suggested the rec centre would help build up a sports precinct near Ivor Wynne. 

Putting aside Clr. Morelli's obvious savvy at seizing an opportunity when he sees one, do you support Morelli's thinking in this regard, or do you believe that there should be a more orderly way to re-purpose this money?

Screen Shot of the Moment

The Hamilton Spectator has changed the look of their website for the moment, opting for a different background. Have a look:

Click for a better view

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Happens Next?

In today's Spectator, Andrew Dreschel further discusses the issue of Hamilton City Council calling Mayor Bob Bratina on the carpet for his actions, which were seen to be "lone wolfish". Derschel talks about the presence of Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman, and her perceived (by some), sense of control over the mayor, and also suggests that some councilors are still harbouring concerns about Bratina, but are reluctant to go on record. See Andrew's article here

As much as this may be worth discussing,  The Hamiltonian believes that what is most important is not an elongated analysis of what propelled the activity of the last several weeks, but what happens next. 

When confronted by the mayor at last week's city council, the rest of council recoiled somewhat and sought to find  refuge in praising the good work that they have done as a council. While The Hamiltonian's impression of this response, was that it made council look sheepish and in damage control, while making the mayor appear as though he had been wronged (agnostic to how he found himself on the wrong end of that barrel), there is a lot of residual truth in council's clothed-in-damage-control, response.

The fact is that this council has worked well together, as compared to the previous iteration. The influx of the new faces, Partridge, Johnson and Farr, the shifting dynamic with Bratina as mayor, and the rest of council adapting, somehow has translated in an ability of this council to see their way through difficult issues. Area Rating, being well positioned as a topic that could have shredded any good will and sent this council off the rails, was handled professionally and with resolve. Many rightfully took pride in being able to work through the issue. A variety of other issues have been handled with greater efficiency and professionally. One might even suggest that the refusal of this council to give U.S. Steel another pass at fixing the waste water problem in the face of a lock-out, could have served up some degree of pressure that may have informed and weakened U.S. Steel's position,  ultimately, resulting in a back to work outcome. Maybe that's a stretch, but it is indicative of a principled stance taken by council. 

Surely there will continue to be challenging issues that will prove difficult (LRT anyone?) , and sure there have been some recent happenings that ought to be looked at with a jaundiced eye, but there is value in focusing on the positive and abandoning the drama that can quickly set back the incremental but steady progress made by this council. Truly the test will be in what's next. 

What do you think? Have we sliced and diced the issues that occurred in the last several weeks enough, and is it time to refocus on the positive, re calibrate and move forward. Or do you think there is still unfinished business that needs to be addressed and to the extent there is, is it worth it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clr. Partridge E News

The Hamiltonian is pleased to publish a copy of Clr. Partridge's October 17th newsletter. The newsletter and her website, www.judipartridge.ca, serve as contemporary examples of reaching out to citizens. 

Flamborough E-NEWS
Councillor Judi Partridge Ward 15
Newsletter #16 – Oct. 17, 2011
Councillor Partridge Update
For the next few weeks it is my pleasure to represent you as Deputy Mayor for Hamilton. It is an opportunity that I look forward to. This past week your City Council dealt with both the Pan Am Velodrome and LRT (Light Rail

Saturday, October 15, 2011

HECFI Net Job Cuts - 3 (recently)

John Hertel, HECFI Interim agency head, confirmed that several mid-level positions at HECFI. have been cut. Hertel allowed that the cuts were part of the restructuring of HECFI, but, at the same time, did not see the cuts as unusual, adding that they see staff come and go all the time.

Hertel added that with new hires, the net loss of jobs will be three.
Clr. Merulla remains seized with relieving the subsidy burden of HECFI from the backs of taxpayers, and is interested in that net figure. Merulla beleives that we are moving in the right direction. Council began overhauling HECFI this summer after it posted an $11.6-million shortfall in 2010. 

Your thoughts? Do you agree that we are moving in the right direction?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Whose Ward is it Anyway?

Maria Pearson, Clr, Ward ?
In what presents as an encroachment into another Councillor's Ward, Ward 10 Clr. Maria Pearson is making significant and some would say, unsound, declarations into Ward 11 territory (which is the purview of Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson).

In a front page article in the Stoney Creek News dated October 13, 2011, Pearson is found to be declaring that a Gateway feature that she envisions on the corner of Fruitland Road and Barton and the corner of Fruitland Road and Hwy #8, is ready to go and that there are developers who are ready to move forward with the gateway and other things that have  morphed into the Fruitland Winona secondary plan. Her exact quote "We are moving ahead with the project. We already have developers ready to go".

There are problems with Pearson's assertions on many levels. First, the secondary plan for Winona-Fruitland begins east from Fruitland Road and runs east to Fifty Road. This is squarely Clr. Brenda Johnson's territory. Second, the Community Advisory Committee, rejected the secondary plan based on last minute significant changes that were made to it, outside of a consultative process, and in spite of plans that were developed by the Community Advisory Committee jointly with city planners, over a number of years. Those plans were mysteriously disregarded at the last minute. The community was told that the proposed gateway features for Fruitland Rd. were to address the long outstanding issue of inappropriate traffic, dangerous speeding, air and noise pollution, and other safety concerns. Most of all, it would divert/calm traffic off of this residential street. This gateway feature proposal was married to the secondary plan via a second Environmental Assessment (EA) to address the Fruitland Road realignment and cul-de-sac issue. The cul de sac and by-pass were approved long ago as the road was never intended to remain open to traffic.

In the meantime while speculative statements are being made in the press by a local developer and endorsed by Councillor Pearson, who unilaterally declare that the intersection of Fruitland and Barton will become like Toronto's Yonge and Eglinton, or Yonge and Dundas, or Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, or Portage and Main in Winnipeg, what is being ignored are the concerns and views of the very community and its residents.

The proposed gateway will sandwich a 100% residential street. As President of the Fruitland Road Association for Safe Neighbourhoods and a resident of Fruitland Road, my phone has been ringing off the hook, in response to Pearson's unilateral declarations. The entire process has been extremely misleading and it baffles the residents as to why Councillor Pearson would want to use our residential street where families live, as an attraction for the world to see, as captured in the title of the Stoney Creek News article "Fruitland and Barton to Welcome the World."

Ms. Pearson's overt support for the development perspective, coupled with her willingness to make sweeping comments absent of Clr. Johnson, and the community perspective, raises the issue of Pearson's allegiances. Clr. Pearson has not met with the Fruitland Rd. Community Association for Safe and Healthy Neighbourhoods, to consider the concerns and perspectives of the residents who live in the community. Do you think Councillor Pearson has overstepped her boundary in her efforts to impose upon Ward 11 territory, with what appears to be a misguided effort that flies in the face of community engagement. 

Teresa DiFalco, Publisher The Hamiltonian
President of the Fruitland Rd. Association for Healthy Neighbourhoods.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tragedy in Stoney Creek

Update: Police find van believed to be involved. See Spec story here. 

An elderly gentleman with a walker was crossing the street last night on Highway 8 in Stoney Creek near Dewitt Rd, and was struck by a hit and run car. The gentleman  died at the scene.  Photo by Hamiltonian Staff.

Spec Coverage:

Police looking for white van in fatal hit and run

An elderly man is dead after a hit and run in Stoney Creek. Police are searching for a white van suspected of hitting the man while he attempted to cross Highway 8 near Dewitt Road.

Media Release - HCL and THH


Hamilton, ON, October 13th, 2011 —The Hamilton Civic League (HCL) is pleased to announce a working partnership with Town Halls Hamilton (THH) to organize and  facilitate a series of citizen-led Town Halls. Beginning with an inaugural Town Hall on November 10th in Council Chambers at Hamilton City Hall, HCL and THH are planning to hold similar events around the city over 2011 and 2012 to forge stronger links between citizens and their elected representatives. With an agenda driven by local neighbourhood associations, the Town Halls Hamilton initiative aims to bring together civically-minded residents in a friendly, positive and constructive environment.

Wisdom from Former Mayors of Hamilton

We thought we'd reach out to our past two Mayors and ask them about the recent attempt by council to restrict Mayor Bratina's actions. We received a reply from former Mayor DiIanni and are uncertain as to whether we will hear from former Mayor Eisenberger. Here's the Q/A so far:

Q. Do you think the motion served up by Clr. Whitehead, to  essentially put restrictions on how the Mayor lobbies other levels of  government, was necessary? We are not asking so much about the  mechanism used (ie: the motion itself), but the action and its  intent.

Larry DiIanni  "I don't think Council can restrict who the Mayor sees or lobbies on behalf of the city. It just can't be done."

Bratina Prevails

What started out as a call for the Mayor to be more collaborative with his council, particularly where other levels of government are concerned, quickly dwindled down to a bit of a wash, with an element of a contrived (it seemed) "lovefest". 

The Mayor came out swinging asking some tough questions that noone, with the exception of Clr. Merulla and Clr Whitehead (who's obvious involvement implicated him), seemed willing to answer. Even Clr. Clark's procedural savvy wasn't enough to hold the fort.

The Mayor's questions included:

What is the time sensitivity of this motion?
Who wrote this motion?
Are there any other Clrs. besides Clr. Merulla and Whitehead who assisted in this motion?
Is the public not entitled to know who collaborated on the motion?
His final question- why can't we take this to Governance?

What happened from there was rather odd. The discussion morphed into a love fest of sorts, with members of council describing how good it feels to have achieved so much in this present council, and ackowledging that it was a team effort, with the Mayor included.

Mayor Bratina commented, at the end, that the spirit and tone of the discussion had changed and was more positive.

The overall impression is that council's inability to withstand the Mayor's tough questions at the onset, coupled with the coarse way that the motion was served, left council looking sheepish, wrong-headed and in damage control mode.

Despite Mayor Bratina having brought some of this on himself, he clearly prevailed and was masterful around letting his colleagues trip themselves. Let's hope they all learned a lesson and that the Mayor, even though having prevailed, also learned a lesson.

How this all plays out going forward is hard to say.

Tweet of the Moment

".... they love the Mayor and they gave him an advisory group to assist him in his lobbying efforts. The Hamiltonian nailed it."

Joey Coleman-  Journalist, Blogger, Open Data Guru, Pinball Wizard

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Babysitting a Brat ina?

The topic covered on CHML including an appearance by Mayor Bratina who speaks very directly to the issue. Click here

Update: City staff are reviewing the motion to see if it is legitimate while Mayor Bratina characterizes the way this came about as as "being ambushed". If the motion fails the test, it can be halted from going forward. Clr. Whitehead volunteered that he would reconsider the wording of the motion, if the city clerk staff or other councillors were uncomfortable with it.

Original story 

In an unprecedented move, a motion was served up by Clr. Whitehead, that effectively imposed restrictions on how Mayor Bratina can interface with senior levels of government.

The motion bars the mayor from meeting with senior levels of government, making financial commitments and negotiating, unless he is in the company of other councillors and the city manager.

Communications from upper levels of government regarding “potential funding” must also be copied to the mayor, city manager Chris Murray, and all councillors within 48 hours. The motion passed almost unanimously, with Bratina and councillors Russ Powers and Maria Pearson opposed. Not all councillors were present to vote.

Clr. Whitehead argued that the mayor needs to be more collaborative in his approach to government relations. Bratina disagreed with how the motion was introduced, adding that he is open to a more formalized approach to a government affairs policy.  See Spec story here.

While the Mayor put a face on it, claiming that he did not see the motion as a comment on his leadership, most people would make a correlation. The Mayor said "“It’s a comment on someone, but not me."

Do you believe that things had gotten to such a state that Clr. Whitehead's motion was necessary, or do you think the motion was unduly damaging in terms of the impression it leaves?

Clr. Johnson On The Velodrome Outcome

I voted against the project and here is why.

We had a committee of good people led by Mark Chamberlain come forward today to volunteer their services to fundraise for the velodrome. This committee suggested that $5mil would be a reasonable target.

Even with the $5mil donations, $2mil from Mohawk College and the $5mil from the Future Fund, the City of Hamilton would still be on the hook for $7- 12.3mil.  

Even though it was clearly stated that the Velodrome and Mohawk's rec centre will be built and operated as 2 separated facilities, the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between Mohawk and the City of Hamilton stated Mohawk dictated when the velodrome would be used, (for example, daytime availability was 10am to 11:30am only) cycling events would be scheduled around Mohawk's peak times and even though 100 parking spaces were dedicated to the Velodrome, Mohawk would get revenue from all the parking.

It also added that in the event the city would sell the facility, then the city would pay Mohawk (it was unclear at this point what that amount would be)

How can I tell the taxpayers of Ward 11 that we have to put in $5 million plus dollars to build a facility that we can only use when it suits Mohawk, give them all the parking revenues and when we sell it, give Mohawk some cash!

After reading the MOU, I felt that Mohawk College should take the lead on this project.

City of Hamilton cannot fundraise for projects, however Mohawk is in a much better position to fundraise for this venture. So I suggested we pass  the file to Mohawk and we would support them with permits, process etc. 

At the end of the day, wherever the Veledrome is built, I'm confident that it will be situated close enough for those living in Hamilton who wish to use it. We just won't have the headaches!

Brenda Johnson
Councillor Ward 11
the Communities of:
Glanbrook, Rural Upper Stoney Creek and Winona

TO2015 Reacts to Recent Hamilton Council Velodrome Decision

For Immediate release:

The following is a statement from Ian Troop, CEO TO2015 Pan/Parapan American Games:

TORONTO, October 11, 2011:

The Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) acknowledges Hamilton City Council’s decision to cap their contribution at $5 million towards the building of a four-season velodrome at Mohawk College. However, this contribution, while generous, does not represent a sufficient financial commitment to go forward with theplans to build this velodrome in Hamilton.

TO2015 would like to thank the City of Hamilton for their hard work in developing a strong four-season velodrome proposal and the due diligence of their committees to evaluate this proposal. As a result of Council’s decision, TO2015 will pursue discussions with other municipalities who have expressed interest in this significant legacy facility.

This high-calibre facility remains a vital component to the Pan/Parapan Am Games legacy. The velodrome will attract future elite, and amateur national and international competitions, allow Ontario-based athletes to train in their home province and give the surrounding community access to a world-class facility. TO2015 is looking forward to working closely with its community partners to help ensure a velodrome is delivered on time, on budget and on scope.

Taking it in the Gut

Update:  Council decides to cap its contribution to 5 Million. Whether the offer will be accepted, is yet to be seen, but it falls significantly short of the  22 million it was being asked to commit to. 

Hamilton is often known as a no-nonsense city. Perhaps it's part of our steel-making roots, or just because of our down to earth nature, but regardless of why, City Council seems to be walking the talk when it comes to the Veledrome issue.

Faced with another deadline (today), for a decision as to whether to move ahead with a permanent velodrome for the 2015 Pan Am Games, a project that comes with a price tag of between $35 million and $45 million, the city is being asked to pay $10 million and assume the risk of the $8 million to $12.5 million funding gap that looms over the project. (see full Spec story here).

But it seems that the uncertainty, mixed messaging, ballooning cost related to a permanent velodrome,  and the general way in which the whole matter has been handled, coupled with the off loaded pressure on council, has tested council's patience and will.

Perhaps Clr. McHattie said it best "If I had to call it at this point – his (Ian Troop's) actions, combined with the whole Pan Am fiasco, has left a bad taste in council’s mouth. I’d be very surprised if this was moving ahead.  Council can only be punched in the gut so many times — and I think you’ll see the results of that on Tuesday.”

Do see this this as an "enough is enough" moment and thus support a decision to say No to a permanent veledrome? Or do you think we should keep with it? 

Steel Deal?

As reported by CHML. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the lockout at U-S Steel. Mayor Bob Bratina broke the news on CHML's Bill Kelly Show this morning that Steelworkers Local 1005 and U-S steel have negotiated a tentative labour agreement. The negotiating committee will be recommending settlement to the members.More details are expected to be released later today.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How They Voted in August

With special thanks to the good people at C.A.T.C.H

CATCH News – October 6, 2011 How they voted in August
This is a regular CATCH summary of votes at committee and council meetings. This report covers the month of August 2011. The first line of each entry identifies the issue, followed by a brief description. This is followed by the location of the vote in the third line. Multiple votes on the same issue are reported together. Absentees are only listed where reported in the minutes and where the missing councillors are members of that committee or decision-making body. Links are provided to source documents. Note that the vast majority of council decisions are unanimous and the votes are not officially recorded.

235 Catherine Street demolition permit 

Staff recommended spending up to $135,000 to demolish a derelict building containing toxic materials, and

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Metrolinx's Response

This following information is being shared, with the kind permission of Chris Murray, City Manager. It is an email from Chris to Hamiltonian staff, responding to our request to learn more about the communication between Metrolinx and the city. In his response,  Chris shared with us what he wrote to council, after his dialogue with Mr. McCuaig.

Hi Suzanne

The following was sent by me to Council after dialogue with Mr. McCuaig.

Good afternoon Mayor Bratina and members of Council,

The following captures Bruce McCuaig, CEO of Metrolinx response to the LRT capital funding question you directed me to ask at the end of our last Council.

Metrolinx strongly encourages the City of Hamilton to finish the planning, design and engineering studies it has initiated in support of the decision making process for rapid transit. The timeline for receiving the City's work is 2012.

Bruce confirmed its premature to comment on capital cost responsibility until the aforementioned is complete. Furthermore the timing of this request does not allow for a government response given we are in the midst of a provincial election.

The timeline for decision making is dependent on the completion of the planning, design and engineering work, and its review by City Council, the Metrolinx Board and the Provincial government.

I trust this is helpful.

Email Exchange: Whitehead vs. Bratina

blog.JoeyColeman.ca » Today’s email exchange Bratina vs. Whitehead

Special thanks to Joey Coleman

Tweet of the Moment

Terry Whitehead asking Mayor Bob Bratina to resign from Fairness to Hamilton Committee following #thebrat 's endorsement of Liberals ...

Tweeted by @MountainNews

See Mountain News article here.

As the LRT GOs, Twists and Turns - Episode 2

Episode 2 of As the LRT GOs, Twists and Turns (the egg on your face episode)   finds our city council bowing to a motion led by Clr. Clark which seeks to hold the province's feet to the fire, regarding a commitment to full funding for the capital costs of the two long planned LRT lines. The genius, (according to those who supported the motion perhaps), is in the motion's timing; just before an election.

Our protagonist (for this episode), Mayor Bratina, voted against the motion, and found support from Clrs. Farr and McHattie. Essentially, they didn't think it was a good idea, but went down with that ship.

In an "egg on your face" kind of moment, the cast finds out, through Metrolinx, that funding commitments cannot possibly be confirmed at this time, until the city finishes its design and engineering studies for the light rail lines and due to the election timing. 
The writers of this episode imagine "I told you so faces" on Bratina, McHattie and Farr.

Our antagonist, for this episode, Clr. Clark, says phooey to that and adds " Our request is absolutely fair game,”

Mayor Bratina cooly points out that the funding piece was always subject to a review by Metrolinx , formerly, the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. (Bratina said this before many times). To drive his point accross, Bratina said "If (we) decide to build a subway under the bay to Waterdown, they’re probably not going to fund that.”

Meanwhile,The LRT lobby is busy and continues to build support to keep the pressure on.

What's your take? Feel free to change the story line to match your perspective. 

Note: The Hamiltonian does not subscribe to the belief that the Mayor is a protagonist, or that Clr . Clark  is an antagonist. Descriptions are included to facilitate a light hearted but informative way of describing the developments on a serious set of issues. Roles will randonly switch per episode- just to keep it balanced.  Note- We  doubt we'll be able to broadcast these episodes in High Definition ;-)