Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Working on......

......our views on Bob Bratina as Mayor (thus far). Stay tuned. (first draft has been written. Now up for team review.)

Update: In the interim, click here to listen to The Mayor on his CHML Town Hall, speaking about topics such as his two new hires, the Waterfront Trust, his assessment of the last year and how the city is doing and the CD Howe Institute report. The Mayor ends by fielding a few calls.

Musical Notes - Radio Free Universe

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Radio Free Universe (RFU)

I was impressed with every musical nuance this band presented. Great guitar riffs, driving rythms produced by the bass & drums , giving the illusion of a rolling freight train. All this is highlighted by a seasoned front man reminissant of rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple & Black Sabbath. Some of the tracks I heard inspire the audience to sing along while others relate specific stories.

Radio Free Universe(RFU) has been together for about 2 years, they did not form by conventional methods. George Panagopoulos, creator of the band states "I've gotten really good at using my intuition. I based my choice in finding people that fit into not necessarily I think this is a good idea, but I feel this guy would be a good idea. I was drawn to work with these individuals, I never would have chosen these guys logically". The band consists of Marc Mcnamee on guitar, Adrew Clewer(Drew) on drums, David Hale Miller(Sake) on bass and George Panagopoulos on vocals. I recently spoke with George:

Q. What role has the city of Hamilton played in your musical career?

I found my band here. I was living in Toronto and moved to L.A. and then came back to T.O. in 2005. I was there for two months and found no mojo, no music and no life, there was nothing to turn into music. Hamilton is a real place with real things going on, "Real Life". People work & thrive here, whatever the state of economy is getting to, Hamilton gets there first, that's "Real Life". It's a hard city, for whatever it is, it makes great music, that's why there's so many great musicians here. I had a choice of many real musicians to record and work with, people who put their music first and do it always not just part time. There is a dynamic(musically) here that I have not seen anywhere.

Q. What is it that makes your band stand out? 

The intuitive way we got together for one. We've got over 70 songs written and write a new one almost every time we get together. You can't just have a sound today, you have to represent people's tastes which are great and vast, we've all been exposed to so much music. This particular time of music isn't so much about how important you are to millions of people, it's how important you are to your community and your immediate surroundings. Muddy waters sang to a community, blues was created for a culture.

Q. What are your goals for the band, gigging/recording? 

We are finishing up a record to be released in January or February. We want to take it to radio and send it out every where. This band has given me the tenacity to wanna do this for a living.

If you would like to contact Radio Free Universe and listen to some of their music follow the links below:



Careful What You Ask For

The old adage, "careful what you ask for' may be applicable to the story described beelow in a CATCH release. It involves the airport lands, the desire of the city to acquire a portion of lands that are currently owned by others, and what we may have walked in to. Have a read. Comments welcome:

(From the good people at CATCH):

The most recent CATCH article has left some of our readers confused, so we’ve provided a brief chronology below in hopes of increasing understanding of a complex situation.

City officials initially envisioned an Airport Employment Growth District of 2800 net developable acres, but after extensive back and forth with provincial government officials, the AEGD was reduced to 1636 acres (2700 gross acres).

However, the urban boundary expansion brought to council in September 2010 also included a 530 acre “airport reserve” slated for future expansion of the airport.

The Wasserman family owns 53 acres in this “airport reserve” and at the September 30, 2010, their lawyers argued that the designation means their land can only have one purpose (airport expansion) and could be sold to only one buyer (the city), because the airport reserve designation makes it illegal for the landowner to do anything with the land except sell it to the city. Therefore, they contended, according to the Nepean Principle, the city should be requi red to purchase their land.

On October 5, 2010, city planners and legal staff said they agreed with the Wasserman argument and recommended council direct staff to purchase the land – and council did just that.

In November 2010, the Wassermans filed an Ontario Municipal Board appeal to the city bylaw that established the AEGD and the “airport reserve”.

A second landowner in the “airport reserve” – Freeland Developments Limited – also appealed and made the same argument as the Wassermans – ‘the city must buy our land’.

If all landowners in the “airport reserve” successfully make the same argument, the city would have to purchase 530 acres. Since the most recent city purchase of airport area land cost in excess of $67,000 an acre, the potential total bill is over $35 million.

This month, after an in camera discussion, council voted to reverse the October 5 position, refuse to buy the Wasserman and Freeland lands, and defend the city’s new position at the OMB hearings that are expected to begin in March of next year.

Multiple outcomes are possible. The city could win. The landowners’ argument could prevail. There could be a compromise, or even a city abandonment of the airport reserve designation. Of course, there will be litigation costs to both the city and the appellants at the OMB.

Celebrating Local Businesses- Serenity Now, the Spa

Please join us as we celebrate local businesses in Hamilton. Enjoy our chat with Melissa Drury and Pamela Armour, owners of Serenity Now. 

Tell us about Serenity Now The Spa. How long have you been in business, what type of services do you offer, where are you located and what is it about Serenity Now The Spa that makes you special?

Serenity has been in business since 1999. We have carefully created our series of treatments for you by applying the principals of healing for the mind, body and soul. Serenity Now the Spa has been designed to exceed the expectations of the most discriminating spa-goer. Our professional and friendly staff provides treatments adhering to the highest hygienic and ethical standards, focusing on personal care and attention, using exclusive holistic products. Our spa provides a full line of services including registered massage therapy, specialty body treatments, skin care, hand and foot care and specialized retreat days.

What benefits from a health perspective, or otherwise , do your customers get through receiving spa services?

Our customers receive the highest hygienic and ethical standards, focusing on personal care and attention, using exclusively Dr. Renaud’s non-surgical medical skin care line. Our spa provides services that heal the mind, body and soul of our customers.

What is it about Hamilton and Hamiltonians that encouraged you to have a business here? What makes your business successful?

Hamilton has been a hot bed of entrepreneurial activity since its earliest days. It has played host to many ventures such as; health, cosmetics, restaurants, and special events that have made Hamilton into the powerhouse it is today. Serenity Now is committed is to deliver excellent customer service with highly educated health care practitioners performing therapeutic treatments.

4. What clients groups do you serve and can you comment on any trends you are seeing? Some may assume that Spa services are primarily geared toward women. Is that true or is your client group broader than that?

Serenity Now the Spa services a wide range of clientele. We are dedicated in treating men and women in both therapeutic and cosmetic modalities

5. Is there anything else you'd like Hamiltonians to know about Serenity Now The Spa?

Our friendly and professional staff assures each client receives six star service at the spa. Serenity Now the Spa provides a full line of services to accommodate every need and want of our clients. Our focus is on you! 

T’is the Season for Serenity! Treat your loved one with a Serenity Now gift card, which allows your loved one to choose their favourite spa service. Serenity Now offers for the month a December Dazzle Deal that includes Deluxe Manicure and Pedicure $60.00, Spa Body Treatment $75.00 and “Pure” Botox Facial $85.00. Check out our website, www.serenitynowthespa.com for much more services.

“Giving the Gift of Health Since 1999”

“Happy Holidays from Serenity Now the Spa”

Thanks Melissa and Pamela and Happy Holidays to you as well. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mayor Hires Help


Audio of the Moment

Angelo Mosca on the Bill Kelly show, talks about the Joe Kapp incident. Click here

Monday, November 28, 2011

Down on the Mat

As many of you will know, The Hamiltonian has made many efforts to have the city tell Hamiltonians how much we have spent on the legal expenses and overall expenses related to the Red Hill Expressway lawsuit.

In response, we have been mired with legal language which basically asserts client/solicitor privilege as a reason for withholding this information until such time that the matter is resolved. We are not alone in seeing this as unjustifiably skirting the issue. Further, the City suggests that we seek recourse through a Freedom of Information/Privacy Commissioner complaint.

We would do so, if we did not believe that the city's position on this is telling of its resistance to a legitimate question posed on behalf of Hamiltonians and that, that alone, says enough. We recognize that the city's position is that it is constrained by a council direction. That, in of itself, does not make it right.

We are prepared to lose this battle, with the realization that our intentions were in the best interests of Hamiltonians. We continue to believe that Hamiltonians have the right to know how our tax money is being spent and in what quantum, unless there is a compelling reason why this should not be the case. Citing client/solicitor privilege, in our view, does not contain the necessary definition to assure the concerns of Hamiltonians. We proverbially "rest our case" and leave it to Hamiltonians to render a judgment as to the appropriateness of the city's reply.

Clr. Ferguson recently lamented having to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to learn of the plans for the Pan Am stadium designs. He was quoted as saying "“This is public money. We should have the right to have oversight — we’re the ones being held accountable,”  There is an underlying premise that extends to our queries on the Red Hill matter and to the pocketbooks of everyday Hamiltonians. We wonder if that is recognized. 

We may be on the mat on this one, but with no regrets.

The Hamiltonian

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Disturbing Video of the Moment

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.1

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On Pointe with The Nutcracker Ballet of Hamilton

Hollie Jordan, Olivia Patiakas, Matthew Benso
 Marris Castonguay and Christine Benson
 of Hamilton
On Pointe with The Nutcracker Ballet of Hamilton

When Ballet Master Isabel Cortina claps her hands to signal the end of class, twenty-three exuberantly smiling girls and boys dressed variously in pink and black leotards, curtsy and bow as one. For six hours every Sunday from September through to opening night of The Nutcracker Ballet on December 9th anywhere from twenty to sixty children coming from fifteen dance studios across Southern Ontario gather for rehearsal at The Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble's studio in

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finance Head Rob Rossini - On City Accounting Practices

Here's a Q/A with Finance Head Roberto Rossini:

Q.   Respecting the fact that you will need an opportunity to thoroughly read the Howe Institute report, can you say whether as part of its review, the city will be considering moving to accrual accounting, or whether that is already in the plans?

A. For the Financial Statements, the City of Hamilton, as do all Ontario municipalities, use accrual accounting. Since 2009 and the implementation of Tangible Capital Asset reporting, even the capital expenditures within the Financial Statements are based on accrual accounting.

With respect to our Budgets, we use a cash basis of accounting for operating and commitment based accounting for capital. To my knowledge all major Ontario municipalities, except Markham, also take this approach.

The CD Howe report makes some good suggestions on budget presentation.

Hamilton is actually making changes to its budget materials and will implement some of the suggested

Hot this Month on The Hamiltonian

This graph shows what topics got the most hits over the past month. It is a point in time, and the data may be somewhat skewed, as topics that have been up earlier in the month, will have been available longer for hits to occur, while other topics may have been up recently and have soared. For example, the topic "Fred's Fed Up", came online over this past weekend, but has already taken 2nd spot.  But it gives you a sense. Click on the graph for a better view.

Tech Fret

Update: Apparently staff will be examining "thin client" computers as a way of curbing costs and reducing energy consumption. Thin clients are ordinarily computers that load much of the software they require, from a server. Thus the software does not reside on the local computer hard-drive, but is called from a server, on demand. 

In terms of replacement cycle, Clr. Clark is still questioning the status quo, arguing that moving from a 3 to a 4 year cycle, is only a slight change. He argues that computers can be replaced on an as needed basis. In theory, that may be true. In practice, it may increase support costs of maintaining various models. Let's see where this goes......

It seems like many people love gadgets. Ipads, Tablets, BlackBerries, IPhones and the list goes on. But Clr. Brad Clark , in his capacity as chairman of the city’s audit and finance and administration committee, is questioning wants vs. needs. 

12 Angry Men

Last night The Hamiltonian attended a dress rehearsal for 12 Angry Men. Based on the television screenplay by Reginald Rose, and written by Sherman L. Sergel, Director Willard Boudreau does a masterful job of assembling a potent blend of actors, 50's style props and ambiance, that makes the play instantly real. 

The story centres around jury deliberations of a murder that is alleged to a young man who is said to have killed his father. As the jury carefully decomposes and peels back each shred of evidence, as much is revealed as to their individual prejudices, as the crime itself. A must see. For more details, click here. (special thanks to Michele and Martin Futrell (Producers), for the invite. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Audio of the Moment

Mayor Bratina on CHML talks about the C.D. Howe Institute report. Click here

Clear as Mud

Hamilton has earned a failing grade when it comes to its transparency related to the city budget. In a report released by think-tank the C.D. Howe Institute, the institute studied how the largest cities in Canada explain their budgets to citizens. Of the 23, we were the only city to receive a failing grade.

We were placed at the bottom because we have not adopted any of the clear and transparent budget practices of the provincial and federal governments. The Institute observed that it is extremely difficult for the average taxpayer to find out exactly how much the city is making and spending because the budget is divided into three categories: the rate budget (which covers water and utilities); the capital budget (which covers hard infrastructure costs and construction) and the operating budget (which covers the day-to-day operations of the city).

One official from the C.D. Howe Institute said. “The current system makes it easy for the city to hide potentially large increases in water rates, for example.”

Mr. Robert Rossini, head of fiannce for the city would not comment specifically until he has a chance to read the report, but, as reported in The Spec, he says that the city invites comment on its budget and strives to make it as clear as possible.

Mayor Bratina took a tougher stance stating "Residents have a right to accountability and transparency of all public transactions, and it’s our responsibility as a council to review the material and determine what is needed to correct any problems,” 

Apparently the city is still using cash accounting, which has been shelved in many, if not most significant organizations, in favour of accrual accounting, which presents a more accurate accounting of how and when money is expected to be spent and received. 

The C.D. Howe Institute also observed : Hamilton’s budget information is also not clearly accessible on its website.“The cities that get an ‘A’ have these on the front pages on their website. And Hamilton just doesn’t do that,” “The City of Hamilton needs to have a budget and financial reporting process that is best in class.”

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Link of the Moment

Mayor Bratina as interviewed by Laura Babcock. Click here.

Comments that include name-calling or are otherwise unprofessional, will not appear.

Mayor's Office Media Policy - TBD

In Andrew Dreschel's article in today's Spec, Andrew laments the confusing messages he has been receiving from some city staff,  in response to  inquiries he made that ordinarily would have been responded to at first point of contact. For the details, click here

In the article, Andrew writes "Others, however, suspect that the organization (the city) is confused over how they should handle interview requests thanks to the crumbling relationship Mayor Bob Bratina and Peggy Chapman, his chief of staff, have with the media.

They worry that the mayor’s office is directly and indirectly exerting more political influence on staff than is appropriate, which in turn is creating a more closed if not outright paranoid atmosphere.

Tellingly, the very day Rossini declined to talk to The Spec, Chapman sent an email to select councillors and Rossini and Murray advising them to withhold comment on another matter until they’d been briefed by Murray.

That kind of meddling can only lead to muddled messaging."

In response to our queries to the Mayor's office, The Hamiltonian has been told that a media policy will be constructed by the Mayor's office, including input from media and social media. However, Chief of Staff Chapman is waiting on city staff's communication report first. The input sought will include the needs of media and new media, and how the Mayor's office can attempt to meet those expectations.

In principle, The Hamiltonian is supportive of such efforts if they are timely and result in efficient access to the Mayor and city staff, in a way that is not unduly fettered. In terms of meeting our expectations, as mentioned previously, we operate under the auspices of the social contract and thus, our primary test of reasonableness of response, is triggered by a reasonable request on behalf of Hamiltonians. In other words, if Hamiltonians have a question that they are reasonably entitled to receive an answer to, that will serve as our primary barometer. And with that trigger, we invite the city, council and the mayor to fulfill their end of the social contract. 

In terms of the media policy itself and its development, the process seems multi layered and is taking a long time. One day, arguably one hour, is a dog's age in the fast moving world of news.

In the interim, The Hamiltonian will continue to ask questions on behalf of our readership and will continue to be professional. 

Comments that include name-calling or are otherwise unprofessional, will not appear.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Link of the Moment

Have a look as Michael Marini and guests discuss the clean technology sector in a Hamilton context.  Click here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word - Opinion

Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

That's an excerpt from an Elton John song entitled Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, and it could be food for thought for Mayor Bratina this week, as he reflects upon the comments made by former Mayor Fred Eisenberger to The Hamilton Spectator.

Upon review of Mr. Eisenberger's comments, and while focusing on the comments that Mayor Bratina made that are the most indefensible, it is clear that the Mayor ought to issue a sincere apology to Mr. Eisenberger.  Belittling the former Mayor's employment position and mocking the organization that the former Mayor heads, was in bad form.

This is not a Bratina vs. Eisenberger thing for us. We'd have made the identical comments if it were Eisenberger who made the comments. This is also not a slam against Mayor Bratina. People make mistakes; it's what happens next that counts. 

Sorry is a difficult word to say and mean, but it is also a powerful word and when said sincerely, demonstrates that we can rise beyond our mistakes and be humbled by them.

The Hamiltonian

Remembering Jake Rayner

The Hamiltonian is saddened by the loss of Jake Rayner. You may recall our write up here concerning Jake, a then 15 year old child who was diagnosed with Ewings cancer, a rare bone cancer. Sadly, Jake succumbed to this terrible disease and passed away this morning.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fred's Fed Up

After holding his tongue for quite some time, former Mayor Eisenberger seems to have had enough, and calls Mayor Bratina out on his comments.

See opinion article written by former Mayor Eisenberger here. 

Comments welcome.

Comments that include name-calling or are otherwise unprofessional, will not appear.

Ward 9 Roundtable with Clr. Clark

Tues, Nov 22nd from 6:30 - 8:30pm at the Stoney Creek United Church at 1 King Street West

Friday, November 18, 2011

Link of the Moment

Clr. Morelli on Cable 14's For the Record talks about green energy, management salaries, Clr. tax free portion, tow truck driver licencing, animal by-law, Pan Am debate, Mission Services (at 13:17), Scott Park and other topics. Click here.

Pic of the Moment

Click on pic for better view
This picture of the moment comes from the lens of Angelo Noto Campanella. The picture is believed to have been taken in the 80's and laments the loss of the tree that once stood there. 

With special thanks to Mr. Campanella

Paul Tetley- On a Mission

The following article has been submitted by Paul Tetley with respect to the issues surrounding 196 Wentworth North.  The Hamiltonian, in the recent past,  has also featured the perspective of Mohawk College (click here), and Mission Services (click here). At that time, we also invited Clr. Morelli to comment, but received no reply. We have once again reached out to Clr. Morelli to invite him to contribute his views. If we receive a reply, we will post it verbatim. 

In the interim, please have a look at Paul's article below. 

Will the establishment of Mission Services at 196 Wentworth have a positive or negative impact on the surrounding neighbourhood? I don’t know and that’s not the primary basis for my concern with Mission Services locating in the neighbourhood. 

My primary concern centres on three major issues. The over-intensification of social service properties in Ward 3, the lack of direct and official communication to the neighbourhood and the heavy handed tactics used by Mission Services.

Like many, I’ve made a choice to live in an urban neighbourhood and fully expect social services to be part

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bratina Feeling Flush on Access The Mayor

Mayor Bratina seemed to have a good session on this edition of Cable 14's Access the Mayor.  Catch the show here.  For one, there were a lot more questions both via email and call ins. The Hamiltonian was even able to get a question in. 

The Waterfront Trust issue, cats and animals, TransCab service, and a variety of other topics were discussed, , which the Mayor seemed to handle with ease.

One caller expressed a desire to leverage our abundance of waterfalls in Hamilton, and convert that into some sort of electrical power. The Mayor took it a step further, saying that with our two tier city, we could potentially use water that travels downhill from the mountain ( sinks, toilets flushing), to generate electricity by way of a penstock. He added that it would be channeled through a tube, so you wouldn't even see it. He said that a discussion he had with engineers found that it was an issue of not having enough capacity (flow), to justify the idea. Bratina said that may change with population growth. 

The show itself did not go the same route ;-).  It seemed to be a more successful broadcast, as compared to previous editions,  as per the increased participation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Raise or Rise?

It seems as though whenever public sector employees get a raise, it is met with a certain degree of what ranges from upset to fury from some. Further polarizing is when the upper echelon is earmarked for a raise. 

It is no surprise then that this type of response is already in play, with respect to top management in the city poised to receive a 1.5% increase in pay, effective January 1, 2012. More specifically, roughly 760 of the highest paid employees are positioned to receive the raise.With a cost factor attached of 1.2 million dollars, it is easy to react with a sense of concern and, in some cases, outrage.

Clr. Duvall, for example, was the only councillor who opposed the raise, citing concerns around trying to achieve no increase in taxes, in tandem. 

What is interesting is that the staff recommendation for these increases to mirror the same rate/pace for unionized staff; that being, no increase in 2011, 1.9% in each year of 2012, 2013, and 2014, was rejected, in favour of the aforementioned 1.5% increase.

Some argue, and there is likely some legitimacy to this 1.5% raise in that we have to remain comparable to and competitive with other municipalities. These comparisons often inform the rate of increase. The underlying premise is that if we don't remain competitive, we risk losing our best minds to other municipalities or sectors. There is likely some truth in that. What is often missing is an assessment of that risk. One way of gauging that would be to publish an analysis of this type of trend. How prevalent is it and is it mitigated by raises? The other factor is just how much remuneration is a pivotal factor is deciding to stay or leave? One might say there are other considerations such as working environment,  collegues etc.

Councillors also voted to maintain the tax free portion of a councillor's salary (1/3 of councillors' take home is not taxable).

Are you okay with the 1.5% raise, or does it give you a rise? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Neighbours

Here is an October progress report from our friends in Burlington, and more specifically Mayor Goldring. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Bee in His Bonnet?

Mayor Bratina's criticisms of the Waterfront Trust, has garnered significant backlash from his council colleagues. Clr. Whitehead went as far as suggesting that the Mayor has a "bee in his bonnet" with respect to the Waterfront Trust. Clr. Merulla called Bratina's comments offensive, and apologized to Bob Charters, Chair of the Trust, for the Mayor's comments.

Bratina fired back, characterizing his colleagues' comments as a "love in". He added that his criticisms about the trust were rooted in his concern for taxpayers and the trusts' business operations. Bratina added that the Trust should continue on as long as it is sustainable, and that "we" (council presumably) are going to help sustain it.

City Councilors/Mayor on De-Amalgamation

We posed the following question to members of  City Council:

1. Do you beleive that this council should re-look at the notion of de-amalgamation and to the extent you do, do you beleive we should look at actually de-amalgamating, or would you be satisfied with tweaking our current model to make it as fair and effective as possible? Or, do you believe that we ought not to go there, period?

Responses will be posted on The Hamiltonian as they are received. Here is what we have so far:

My position was stated at the beginning of the 2010 election Campaign and hasn't changed. The Municipal structure that was created in 2001 should be reviewed. 10 years of amalgamation gives us a good opportunity to see what was achieved, what was not, whether the amalgamated communities have benefitted, and if so to what extent. Once we've determined what the issues are we can look at solutions which range from doing nothing up to and including de-amalgamation.  Mayor Bob Bratina

The City of Hamilton focus must be on representation by population thereby creating an environment conducive to representative democracy. Also we need to thrive to work toward issues that unite the City of Hamilton and not divide us such as de- amalgamation. Clr. Sam Merulla

Please note: The Hamiltonian will not  post comments that are deemed to be disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Toothpaste and the Tube

Mayoral candidate Bob Bratina says he'd consider de-amalgamation if he's elected mayor. "It's not working. Everyone agrees with that," he said yesterday of the merger of Hamilton with its suburbs 10 years ago. "(De-amalgamation) is a possibility, and I'm going to confront it."

That's an excerpt from a Spectator article dated September 10, 2010. At the time, uttering the words de-amalgamation was bold, if not, by some assessments, within the range of risky to foolish. But it served as one of the factors that differentiated then mayoral candidate Bratina, from the other candidates, and contributed to his victory.

It can be said that Mayor Bratina has considered the issue and we suppose it can also be said that he, to some degree has confronted it. But it may appear to some that he has not confronted it with the brevity that one might have expected.

Others may say that the Mayor has taken a sensible approach, using levers such as council's decision on area rating, to begin to repair fractures that occurred as a fall-out of amalgamation. Symbolically, the Mayor recently chose to give his state of the union address in Carlisle, rather than at the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. Overall, the mayor can assert that a range of interventions may achieve the intent of his desire to confront the problem. De-amalgamation being but one of those alternatives, but not the only one- while other alternatives being more feasible.

Are you satisfied with the Mayor's approach to this issue? Would you rather see adjustments to the current model, rather than to de-amalgamate? Are you satisfied that the Mayor has and is following through with his campaign assertions in this regard?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Celebrating Hamilton Businesses - Triple R's Inc.

Please join us as we celebrate local businesses in Hamilton. Enjoy our chat with Bobby Assadourian of Triple R's Inc.

1. Tell us about Triple R’s Inc. How long have you been in business, where are you located and what services do you offer?

Triple R Inc. is a Hamilton based General Contracting Home Improvement Business, our most important and initial service is Listening…………… We actually listen very carefully to what our customers tell us, offer our advice, explain all alternatives and options and then finish by “putting everything in writing”!

Home Improvements are not like going to the corner store and buying a chocolate bar……… at times it can be a very complicated process that involves multiple choices in building materials, I like to call it…. Poor, medium and right to the best in quality of building materials then there is contractor license requirements, liability insurance, WSIB (work place safety Insurance Board) coverage, city building permits, who is responsible for them, homeowner or contractor?

I have spent nearly fifteen years working as a laborer and tradesman in this industry before starting my

Link of the Moment

Clr. Judi Partridge on For the Record. Click here.

Link of the Moment

Clr. Brian McHattie on For the Record. Click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taking It To Farr

Clr Farr engages with constituents
The Ward 2 Town Hall meeting, featuring Clr. Jason Farr as a guest was well attended, with approximately 100 people filling the room. The first part of the session was focused on getting to know Jason. He fielded questions about his childhood, favourite teacher growing up etc.

The meeting then moved to pre-formed questions that were city/ward related. Jason declared outright that about half of the questions, he had received help on from city staff and that the questions were shared with him in advance; so he thought. Along the way, he called out several questions that he said he was not aware of, but commented that he was just as comfortable responding. Clr. Farr took it in stride and it added interest to the evening. 

Along the way, Jason may at times have appeared a little on the chatty side (which, to his credit, he called out himself), but he always remembered to go back and answer the original question, even though he may have veered off the question somewhat during his delivery. His honesty shone through and at one point, he said he supported term limits, but conceded that he could understand why people would want to hang on to the job.

The audience was respectful and listened intently during Jason's responses. Unfortunately, The Hamiltonian was unable to stay for the second half of the meeting, due to a prior commitment. In that latter half, questions were to be taken from the floor.

Our title for this piece "Taking It To Farr" is a play on words, but signals the fact that the Clr. attended as a guest of the various citizens who engaged. It's a nuance but an important one that speaks to the value of the evening and the willingness of Clr. Farr to engage. 

The Clr. described the evening as an experiment. Congrats to all. The experiment seemed to have worked!

We caught up with Clr., Farr afterwards and asked him the following:

Q. How did you feel at the end of the session? Do you believe it was successful and worthwhile and will you be doing this again? 

Clr Farr replied: I think the organizers should be commended for pulling off what was their first, but I am sure not their last Town Hall.

At the end of the session I felt proud to have been part of this inaugural TH event. Though I must admit (an hour later) my head is spinning with a a few regrets about some things I wanted to say, but didn't. As well, there was one thing I did say, but in retrospect, might of held back on.

In all, thanks to Adrian, Mike, their volunteers and everyone who attended tonight... including the Hamiltonian.


Pricey Games?

The cost of preparing for the Pan Am games can exceed 3 million dollars. That figure is making some councillors nervous, particularly in light of the fact that our role in the games has been toned down. Clr. Clark expressed concern over whether it is still necessary to hire a new director and planning staff. Clr. Johnson also expressed concern over the cost trajectory, and noted some still unknown costs. The money set aside in the 2012 budget is not expected to cover the costs of providing a practice field and meeting facilities for the Tiger Cats during the stadium renos/rebuild.

Public works Manager Gerry Davis did not put a face on it, and was straight up in acknowledging that the city is dealing with many intangible factors. Davis also attempted to ground the conversation by asking what Hamilton wants to look like for the Pan Am games.

Mayor Bratina emphasized that we are in the games and we need to make the best possible showing. Clr. Whitehead agreed, mentioning that the last thing the community wanted to see was this venture to be "screwed up". He also emphasized  the need to ensure that our spending was in line with what we would be getting. 

In response to The Hamiltonian, Clr. Merulla stood fast and said "My concern has been and will remain that we as a city are faced with serious challenges that will not be mitigated or eliminated with unfocused pie in the sky endeavors such as the obscure Pan Am Games. We need to focus on the over two billion dollar infrastructure crisis, deficit,attracting manufacturing jobs and mitigating our debt."

Are you comfortable with the spending trajectory, or do you agree with Clr. Merulla that our commitment is misguided in light of the issues he reminds us of?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ward 11 - Clr. Johnson's Town Hall

Clr. Johnson addresses a question- click on pic for better view
Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson held a town hall meeting focused on recreational needs in Winona and more specifically, options for the location of a rec centre. The Clr. brought along several staff members to briefly present where things were at, and to answer some of the more detailed questions. Another hot topic raised by one of the participants was with respect to the three plans developed by the community, for the Winona/Fruitland secondary plan. The participant asked why the community's plans were suddenly dismissed and changed unilaterally; a key issue in the ward that will likely not go away. 

Overall the meeting went well, and served as a good example of  councillor/citizen engagement. The Hamiltonian applauds Clr. Johnson for her efforts. 


Picture by Angelo Noto Campanella
Clr. Jason Farr will be a guest at a town hall meeting , tomorrow (Thursday) . Doors open 6:30pm. Council chambers- city hall. Kudos to Jay, the HCL and THH for making this happen!

We thought this picture, captured by Angelo Noto Campanella  with city hall immersed in fog, was particularly fitting as the town hall effort, in large part will help to further bring clarity of the issues and engagement between citizens and their elected councillors. To the extent there is fog in some areas, we should see it begin to lift, with these efforts. It will be a good day for citizen and councillor engagement! Congrats to all involved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mission on a Mission

Barry Coe, Director of Community Relations & Resource Development, has shared the following statement on the matter relating to the purchase of 196 Wentworth Street North:

Mission Services is perhaps best known for its Men’s Shelter, Jamesville 2 at the corner of James ,North and Barton Street. We provide safe shelter and hot , nutritious food as a the first step in providing Hope to the needy and discouraged. We serve nearly 100,000 hot meals a year in our cafeteria. Inasmuch House, for women fleeing domestic violence and their children, houses 37 women nightly. It is one of the first such shelters in Canada, founded in 1967.

Because of our historic affiliation with providing safe shelter, we are best known for these meaningful services. But as we have stated since we became the legal owners of 196 Wentworth Street there will be no shelter services at the Opportunity Centre.

Since 1982 we have broadened our services to include personal development, job training programs, social

Mohawk College Replies to Questions re: Sale of 196 Wentworth North.

Further to our coverage of the sale of 196 Wentworth Street North from Mohawk College, to Mission Services, we asked Mohawk to answer a few questions. Special thanks to Jay Robb, Director of Communications for Mohawk College, for responding on behalf of Mohawk. (as an aside, we are also expecting a reply from Barry Coe of Mission Services, for questions we have put to him)

1. The sale of 196 Wentworth St. North to Mission Services has been the subject of controversy. Can you explain the nature of this transaction, why Mohawk elected it to sell it at this time, and how it came to be that Mission Services was the recipient of the sale.

Back in 2009, Mohawk moved the last of our continuing education programs out of the Wentworth Campus and the building was declared surplus. Mission Services then approached Mohawk with an unsolicited offer to buy the property. Following negotiations with Mission Services and a consultation with the City of Hamilton, an agreement of purchase and sale was finalized this past October on mutually acceptable terms. Mission Services now owns the property.

2: The Bristol Street Neighbourhood Residents, in a press release to The Hamiltonian and other media

The Terminator

"The Terminator" may be a Farr out name for Clr. Jason Farr, but the good natured councillor took no prisoners when it came to the demolition of an old industrial structure on Catherine Street North, and the removal of vats of hazardous waste. (see Spec story here)  Of course, the Clr. did not do this on his own, but he certainly demonstrated leadership in getting it done. Kudos to the Matt Jellys of the world as well for drawing attention to these matters, and to city staff for working out the details.

The owner of the property, is also plagued by attention on another property of his, 249 Hess Street North in which he apparently ignored a clean up order. The owner is suing to prevent the tax sale of the property and to prevent Ministry of the Environment workers from gaining access to it.  Farr commented that he is confident that the city followed the proper procedures. Comments?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Unsuitable (law-suit wise that is)

Negotiations that have taken place between the City and Penady, the developer partnership behind the Winona Walmart project, has resulted in a 7 million dollar lawsuit launched against Clr. Johnson and the city, being withdrawn. See Spec story here. 

A spokesperson for Penady said "“We were frustrated in our efforts to bring our shopping centre development forward. We felt at that time that it was not possible,...Over the past many months working with the councillor and the community and the city, we’ve come up with a path that now allows us to move forward.”

If the resolution holds, development can occur in mid 2012. Are you pleased that the lawsuit appears to be no longer necessary? 

Neighbours on a Mission - Latest Emails between Clr. Clark and Paul Tetley

Note: The Hamiltonian has been in contact with Mohawk College and we expect answers to several questions we posed to them, target date- tomorrow.

Our attempt to engage Mission Services on this matter, has not been responded to as of yet. We will provide an update as information is received.

We realize this is a contentious matter in which many people feel very passionate about. Comments must be respectful, if they are to be published on The Hamiltonian. Please consider this when you submit comments. 

Here is the latest email exchange between Paul Tetley and Clr.Brad Clark. These emails are presented in chronological order (oldest to newest)

Tetley to Clr. Clark: Nov 4, 2011, 2:11pm

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Budget Blues

Under Mayor Bratina's leadership, city council managed to keep tax increases this year to 0.8%, which according to a Spec report, amounted to a mere $24.00 for a home assessed at $245,000.00. 

This new budget cycle, keeping taxes down, and particularly if the goal is to have no increase, will be challenging. In an excellent summary from Spec reporter Emma Reilly, Emma lays out the facts. See it here.

Do you support a goal of no increases in taxes, and how far would you go? Are you willing to sacrifice some services in exchange for no increase or a very low increase? 

Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman on Media

The Hamiltonian reached out to Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman, to ask her for her latest thoughts on relations with the media, and more specifically new media. Our Q/A is below. Please note that we will only be publishing comments that are respectful and in keeping with our policy.

The Hamiltonian   With reference to this article http://blog.joeycoleman.ca/2011/10/mayor-bratina-likes-mayor-fords-media-policy-says-he-like-to-see-it-in-hamilton/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter , and notwithstanding the results of a media review that is in progress, we are wondering if you would take a moment to clarify your latest thinking on the role of new media sites such as The Hamiltonian and Raise the Hammer, in the context of city hall reporting. Has your position changed at all and can you clarify it. 

Ms. Chapman: I am not able to speak in any depth about the City of Hamilton's ongoing communications report that should come forward this year. I am working with staff standards, and including political and media
advice from national and international governments and media outlets to form a standard for the Mayor's Office. Staff must ensure their own standards, but I can say Mayor Bratina's interests are, and I quote him, "My issue is not about withholding information. It is about ensuring the public is properly informed."

Pic of the Moment

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my granddaughter Vanessa's cheerleading competition in Sandusky, Ohio with my daughter. We made it into a girls weekend and traveled with our friend and her daughter, who also competes on the same team. Vanessa is a competitive cheerleader with PCT and competes in the Large Junior Level 2 Division. The auditorium was wall to wall people and the energy level was through the roof. Vanessa's team did great, they placed and received a bid to the US Nationals, which is a huge accomplishment in the world of cheerleading. The team is coached by two amazing people - Nat and Joe. Nat is also co-owner of the gym.

The competition was held at the beautiful Kalahari Resort. A wonderful place for families. A water-park the size of 3 football fields, as well as an outdoor water-park, a zoo, zip-lining, an arcade, candy store and the list goes on. We stayed in a two bedroom suite called the African Queen Suite. It was lovely with a fireplace and two balconies with a view of the animals. The entire resort was african themed with no expenses spared. There is nothing more precious than spending special moments with family. I'm truly blessed. Go Cobra's!  Teresa DiFalco

Time and the Conways

Brian Morton’s third directorial venture for Dundas Little Theatre, Time and the Conways was an unmitigated hit. Blessed with a cadre of believable actors/actresses, the play instantly carries you into the era. The underlying somber message of time being relentless, coupled with the complexities of life, is presented realistically, sometimes brutally but is tempered with hope. This production bears testament to the wealth of talent here in Hamilton and the gifted people who take the stage to remind us of the purity and elegance of live theatre. Congratulations to the cast and Brian. Keep your eyes out for his next ventures. We are certain they will be well worth the price of admission.
The Hamiltonian

Friday, November 4, 2011

Link of the Moment

Clr. Terry Whitehead on Hamilton Talks. Click here

Perspectives Virtual Panel- On this Edition of City Council

In recognition of this new council's first year, we asked our Perspectives Virtual Panel to weigh in. Our question and responses are below. Please feel free to join the discussion and post your perspective. 

Q. It has now been a full year since this newly formed city council has been in office. How would you assess their performance? You may want to consider the following questions in shaping your answer:

Do you think they are leading, managing , struggling or failing?
How is the Mayor performing?
What advice might you have for him and for council?
What are they getting right, and what are they getting wrong (if anything)?

It is really difficult to assess how a municipal council is really doing by looking at the current year. We are benefitting from or suffering from decisions of councils made years ago. So the real proof of how well our current council is doing can only start to be done in five years from now or later. Looking at the current scene we are only assessing surface issues (like the tone of council) or process issues, (like disputes between the Mayor and Council on LRT). These will be forgotten ten years from now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


For those of you who missed hearing the Mayor on CHML, or do not normally listen to CHML, you can find the episode here

The following question was submitted via email to the Billy Kelly show at 10:11am this morning. It was not included in the program:

Mr. Mayor:

What is your view of new media such as The Hamiltonian and Raise the Hammer? We note that you recently have had a presence on The Hamiltonian. The goals of The Hamiltonian are to ensure Hamiltonians receive good information and are engaged in topical discussions.

 Are you willing to work with The Hamiltonian and others and embrace this new form of media?

Staff of The Hamiltonian

Tweets of the Moment

Jason Farr
"An Evening with Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr" town hall meeting in Council Chambers Nov 10th, 7-9pm. All are welcome. See you there."

The Hamiltonian
@Councillor_Farr good on you Jason.

Councilor Partridge
@Councillor_Farr Keep up the good work Councillor !

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating Hamilton Businesses - The Lunch Bags

Please join us as we celebrate local businesses in Hamilton. Enjoy our chat with Deborah Tompkins & Ellen Irving of The Lunch Bags

1. Tell us about The Lunch Bags. How long have you been in business, what goods/services do you offer and what makes your service stand out?

· Offsite lunch caterer operating in downtown Hamilton
· Serving a healthy, appetizing meal option for casual business lunches and meetings

2. Interesting name – The Lunch Bags. How did you arrive at the name and tell us a little bit about your business partnership. How did you end up partnering on this business?

· Lunch Bags is a play on words for the product we deliver and the acknowledgement that the two of us are become ‘old bags’. Though when Deborah suggested the company name, Ellen went along with it for about 2 weeks before realizing the pun meant she might be recognized as exactly that – an old bag.

· Lunch-Bags.ca, the actual name of the business is a planned effort to direct customers to our online menu and ordering. 

· We started as neighbours and friends, organizing a neighbourhood association in St. Clair Neighbourhood in central Hamilton 15 years ago. Over the years we discovered we played well together – the next natural step was to work together. 

· 5 years ago – as an investment in our financial futures, a test of our renovation skills and our confidence in downtown, we bought our first income property, then 3 years later another. This year, to start our business, we purchased a commercial property – all downtown within 3 blocks of one another.

3. What is it about Hamilton and Hamiltonians that encouraged you to have a business here?

· We both have long-time family ties to Hamilton. After 10 years plus in Toronto we both chose this city as an affordable place to raise our families. 

· We have always had a firm belief in the potential of Hamilton as a great place to live and work. The ideal situation being the ability to do both within a 2 km. walk and no congested commute. 

· Researching the market situation for our type of business, we learned there is an underserviced area we could successfully tap into. 

4. How easy or difficult was it to get started with your business, post conception mode to the point that you opened for business?

· We were pleasantly surprised at the support available for small-business start-ups here. The City of Hamilton’s Small Business Enterprise Centre is a wealth of information and holds informative, free seminars for new business owners. The Cossart Exchange was another supportive source for us.

· The stumbling blocks we hit were more to do with Building code issues. A relatively simplistic renovation and ‘change of use’ designation for our premises became much more complicated than we had anticipated. We were prepared to do the majority of the work ourselves but were held up for almost two months trying to find a willing architect to take on our small project. Once underway, the building inspections, licensing and health inspections went rather smoothly.

· Another challenge, unique to our situation, is while conducting all the preparation and the hands-on renovations at Lunch-Bags.ca World Headquarters, the income properties intervened with blown-down fencing, plugged sinks, a leaky roof, a court battle with a former tenant… and more. We had to invest in Lunch-Bags.ca uniforms because after five demanding months we owned no clothes that weren’t stained with paint, roof tar and drywall dust.

5. How can Hamiltonians contact you and/or learn more about your business?

www.lunch-bags.ca and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lunch-Bagsca/153905631351267

6. Is there anything else you'd like Hamiltonians to know about The Lunch Bags?

· We are actively supporting independent downtown businesses. Our bakery of choice is Pane de Sole at John and Barton. Our Hardware Saviours are Arruda’s Hardware and Building Supply at Barton & James N. And we wish the Hamilton Farmer’s Market was open every day of the week. Plus, we should thank the Mulberry CafĂ© for acting as our office space before we had one and… our parents… for giving us a sense of humour. 

Deborah Tompkins & Ellen Irving
owners, Lunch-Bags.ca
73 Ferguson Ave. N., Hamilton

Thank-you Deborah and Ellen!  

Are you a true blue Hamiltonian who would like to showcase your business here? Simply email us at admin@thehamiltonian.info for consideration. The Hamiltonian is not for profit and receives no revenue from these features.