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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LOCAL MEDIA ACCESS AT CITY HALL: A JOINT STATEMENT

More coverage on For the Record . Click here
UPDATE:  Please click here to see Spectator Article


LOCAL MEDIA ACCESS AT CITY HALL: A JOINT STATEMENT - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

We, the undersigned, call on the City of Hamilton and the Mayor's Office to adopt a policy of openness and transparency that recognizes the right of ordinary Hamiltonians to access information and speak to local officials, in the spirit of democracy and civic engagement that is one of the hallmarks of this city.

We, the undersigned, represent a number of local independent media entities, whether as media professionals, citizen journalists, independent bloggers or as engaged citizens.

Recently, statements were made in local press regarding the relationship between City Hall and media, and how the current policies may change in terms of how people in media access City Hall. These statements were made largely by Peggy Chapman (a member of the Mayor's political staff), who states she is working closely with the City Manager's office to revise and develop these policies.

While we recognize the city's interest in developing a comprehensive media policy, we have concerns about its purpose and objectives. A media policy should be geared toward ensuring citizens and the media have access to information that ought to be public and transparent.

It should be seen as a concern that political staff would have influence on the development of that framework- it is not hard to imagine how policies could be developed that would result in influencing how information is gathered by media, and how that information is accessed.

"What I'm trying to bring in is a press gallery. What that means, and it's going to bother a few people... is I will recognize you and give you as much access to the mayor, as need be, or information that I have - and especially at council, if you have a boss. If you're a journalist that has a boss that I can complain to, if I think that information is incorrect. If you don't have that, it's, you know- how do we control, um, the information? I don't mean control like I want to control what's being said, but my first priority is the public. I would hope in media your first priority is the information to the public too. But that's not my responsibility. My responsibility is information coming from City Hall, tothe public. And how do we get that?"

- Peggy Chapman on The Bill Kelly Show, CHML, Wednesday May 25th 2011

The statements above by Ms. Chapman seem to suggest that at Hamilton's City Hall, private media companies will be given preference over citizens who are engaged as independent media, perhaps simply because there is a perception that one group is more responsible than the other.

In making these statements, Ms. Chapman is making an implied accusation that independent media are less accountable than media owned by private companies. In fact, many citizen journalists are far less legally
protected than media professionals who can access legal services at no cost to themselves, but rather the private companies they work for.

We believe firmly that any attempt to restrict access of the media to City Hall, whether professional or independent, would result in restricting the flow of open and transparent information to the general public, and
inappropriately give political staff the unilateral ability to pick and choose who has access to information.

In the absence of a formal procedural framework, access to media seats in City Council chambers has been a confusing issue- some media outlets have gained access to the resource of a media desk when others have not, or have been dissuaded by the City clerks department to access those seats.

We are asking that Council and Staff develop a formal policy on media relations which is fair, clear, and does not allow political staff to unduly influence the free flow of information at City Hall. We would also ask council to make this dialogue public, by council and by civil servants who can be held accountable by the public. We believe that this issue should not be handled by political staff, who may be motivated to develop these policies in a way that is favourable to their employer rather than in the interest of informing the public.

We would like to request that the City Manager's office, and/or the Mayor's office publicly respond to these concerns promptly, offer clarity on what our rights are as engaged citizens and independent media and how
those rights will be protected going forward, should any new policy be enacted at City Hall.

Sincerely,

Joey Coleman
Journalist www.joeycoleman.ca

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian www.thehamiltonian.net

Adrian Duyzer
Associate Editor, Raise the Hammer www.raisethehammer.org

Martinus Geleynse
Editor and Publisher, Urbanicity www.urbanicity.ca

Matt Jelly
Blogger, www.mattjelly.com

Dave Kuruc
Publisher, H Magazine www.hmag.ca

Don McLean
Citizens at City Hall

Ryan McGreal
Editor, Raise the Hammer www.raisethehammer.org

James Tennant
Program Director, CFMU 93.3 FM http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca/

Matt Thompson
Community Organizer



If you would like to add your name or your organization's name to this statement, please email us: hamont.mediapolicy@gmail.com.

Please include your name, title and/or contact information.

This statement will be submitted for official correspondence to council at the next regular meeting of Hamilton City Council on Wednesday June 15th, 2011.

Other reading, click here

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Swimming in the Right Bowl?

Over the period of the last week or two, where someone looking from the outside in, may have concluded that some people in Hamilton have gone off the rails in terms of signalling a disconnect with social media, as well as a disconnect between what kind of behavior is permissible from a councillor in the course of his or her duties, we find the following quotes and account from Ward 10 Councillor Maria Pearson, as reported in the Stoney Creek News' , City councillors must accept ‘fishbowl’ lives


We live in a fishbowl, "We have to accept that. But we do have families and there are some people who take it too far.”

And with the social media landscape – including in Hamilton – providing people with unlimited space and opportunities to vent their criticisms and opinions in blogs and Web sites, politicians have to do their best to ignore it. She said after Whitehead’s guilty decision was handed down, the blog and Twitter universe quickly filled with critical and profane comments.“They were unfair, not fair at all (toward Whitehead), she said.


While The Hamiltonian has never supported nor allowed profanity on this site, we have and do allow for spirited discussion. Do you agree with Pearson's observation that blogs and Web sites providing people with unlimited space and opportunities to vent their criticisms and opinions, that politicians have to do their best to ignore these? Or do you think this is an example of a disconnect between some Hamilton politicians and the world of social media, freedom of speech and public engagement?  

$43,188.75 and counting....

$43,188.75; that's the minimum amount taxpayers will be paying to cover the costs/judgment against Clr. Terry Whitehead, for the defamation suit brought against him from a deamalgamation advocate. 


$28,188.75 is what the city has to pay to cover the other party's legal costs, and $15,000.00 is the general damages award.


The  "...and counting" part , is due to the fact that taxpayers will also be paying the cost of Clr. Whitehead's lawyer. Those costs have not yet been made public.


The Clr. stated that he would do everything his power to help mitigate the costs of the suit, including holding a fundraiser.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Those Pesky Media Types

Update:  Email to City Manager Chris Murray, and to   Peggy Chapman:



Dear Chris and Peggy:

I have been advised that in the past, a commitment was made to include The Hamiltonian in the development of media protocols. At that time, Chris had indicated that he would invite our input and notify us when it was appropriate to include us. In light of the comments made today on CHML by Peggy, can you confirm whether or not The Hamiltonian will be included in such consultations? To be clear, I am asking for your response for publication on The Hamiltonian.

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher
The Hamiltonian

Reply received from Chris Murray:

Sorry Teresa for the delay.

We will be updating our media protocol including the our interaction with social media this year. We'll look for your comments at that time.

Take care. 

Bringing a sense of normalcy (if that can even be defined in this context) to the way the media interacts with city hall, can be tricky, if not, aspirational, at best. 

One of the things that makes it tricky, is balancing an interest in ensuring that media types are efficiently connected with the people who can best provide an answer to a question, against the very determination as to who gets to decide who is best to contact.

Under the premise of efficiency, regulating the "path to answers", runs the risk of confining Hamiltonians to a cleansed, sanitized and vetted answer by the "right person". In the ideal world, one can ask for nothing more than the straight goods from the right person.

In the real world however, where competing agendas are often at play, further disturbed by politics, gamesmanship, financial interests and high stakes, it would be na├»ve to believe that we can arrive at a happy state of affairs where straight answers are served up transparently, provided they are asked according to a defined protocol which channels the question to the "right person". 


In our view, the media should not stand to be nuetralized or disempowered under the guise of normalization. The media's role to objectively investigate, prod, ask difficult questions and tap into various sources in different ways to get at the story, is an aspect of democracy that should not be undermined by definining the sandbox to be played in. And as history has shown, sometimes the media must push to get honest answers, or expose the truth.

Hamiltonians deserve better. The recent comments on CHML in which Peggy Chapman, assistant to Mayor Bratina spoke about media protocols being developed at city hall, to regulate who and how media get responses to their queries, runs the risk of epic failure.


Strike 1?

What presents as a battle of high stakes poker, the potential strike of the city's largest union, is following the play book of how these types of negotiations unfold. The looming feeling of being too far apart to avert a strike, is sometimes part of the essential psychological positioning in such negotiations. The embedded delicacy, hinging upon the realization that things can fall apart at the last minute, adds to the drama that negotiations operate within. It's all good, until your garbage is taking on a life of its own in the dog days of summer. Of course, such imagery is a useful tool of tension to unnerve those who may be sitting on the fence.


The mixing of "apples and oranges" approach, is another element that provides smoke on the battlefield. The reference to unionized employees negotiating what has been described in The Spectator today as a "whopping 16 % " increase during the last four years, is betrayed by the fact that part of that equation included a salary adjusting job evaluation program that apparently, is provided for.


Of course, it's all a matter of perspective. One can argue that other hard working people who are non uninionized or otherwise working at other jobs that do not provide such elaborate reviews and provisions, are justified if unsympathetic. Add to that, those provisions taking effect during hard economic times. 


Your thoughts? Do you think a Hail Mary play will prevail last minute? Any other thoughts?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Spectator's Font Page, Show n Tell

Click on pic for a better look
The front page of print copy of The Hamilton Spectator, looked a little different today. Using something of a narrative approach, with pictures to represent certain words, the Hamilton Spectator summarized the top stories in a sprawl like paragraph, taking up about 80% of the front page's print real estate.

Regardless of whether this change in front page format is being well received or not, it is no doubt different that what we are used to seeing.

Comments?

How They Voted in April

From the good people at CATCH.
This is a regular CATCH summary of votes at committee and council meetings. This report covers the month of April 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.

Public works department operating budget

The March 7 meeting of the Public Works Committee approved the 2011 operating budget for the department along with items referred for funding, and enhancements proposed by the department, and forwarded these decisions to the General Issues Committee which voted to table the budget and defer a decision on the other two items.

At General Issues Committee, April 1 Minutes p4-5 (10-1)

For: Bratina, Collins, Duvall, Farr, Ferguson, Johnson, McHattie, Merulla, Pasuta, Pearson
Against: Clark
Absent: Jackson, Morelli, Partridge, Powers, Whitehead

 Transit improvements



Thursday, May 19, 2011

3rd Party Carraige of Complaints to the Integrity Commissioner

It almost seems like "lawsuit week" here in Hamilton with the Whitehead, Johnson/City and City/Federal government lawsuits all under discussion. Add to that the playful  mock arrest of Larry Di Ianni,  for a Crimestoppers fundraising benefit, and it would seem like Hamilton was under a cloud of legal issues- serious and otherwise.


But, it got us thinking about asking a tough question. The question is: 


Should Mayor Bratina consider filing a 3rd party complaint to the Integrity Commissioner, on behalf of Hamiltonians, where he believes that a Councillor has crossed the line? Such a move would have the Mayor take carriage of a complaint, on behalf of who he represents at large- Hamiltonians.


It has some obvious benefits. It would enable the Mayor to send a clear message that he will not stand by and allow Hamiltonians to be taken advantage of.  It would relieve Hamiltonians from having to bear the cost of filing such a complaint. It would be "leadership-like". It would serve as a deterring factor to anyone who might wander off.


Of course, there are cons. A Clr. may argue that the Mayor is bringing  forward a complaint for political reasons. To guard against that, perhaps such a complaint could include a call for the Integrity Commissioner to examine that possibility, as a routine part of handling these types of complaints. That would create the necessary tension to ensure that the Mayor submits to such a test as part of the lodging of the complaint.


It may also conjure bad will between the Mayor and individual councillors. Perhaps that could be seen as the cost of doing business on behalf of Hamiltonians. 


It also occurred to us that the Integrity Commissioner himself may be able to start a 3rd party complaint on behalf of Hamiltonians. 


We thus asked Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse the following question:

Can you comment on whether The Mayor or The Integrity Commissioner can opt to bring forward a 3rd party complaint on behalf of Hamiltonians? In other words, if you detected that a councillor's conduct appeared to be problematic, or if The Mayor detected it, is there any reason why either of you could not take carriage of such a matter and launch the complaint on behalf of Hamiltonians?

He was kind enough to provide The Hamiltonian with the following reply:

Teresa:

The Integrity Commissioner By-Law does not allow for “self-starting” investigations. Investigations of alleged misconduct by a member of Council must originate with a complaint. 


Council may refer a complaint directly to the Integrity Commissioner or an individual (including the Mayor or a member of Council) may complain about alleged misconduct by a member of Council by filing a complaint with the City Clerk and submitting a refundable fee of $100.

I trust that is the information you require.



The Hamiltonian is floating this idea as part of the dialogue. What do you think of the idea? Pros/Cons?


P.S. It is unfortunate that we are seeing some troubling issues unfold, that is costing taxpayers money. We continue to hope that people will self-govern their behaviour and that measures, such as the one being discussed in this topic, are unneeded. Having said that, perhaps they may be and we believe it is worthwhile to discuss this.


Special thanks to Earl Basse, Integrity Commissioner, for his reply. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mayor Bratina Gives us the "poop on the poop"

City councillors will vote on whether to build a city-run sludge incinerator, partner with a private energy company to build a much larger one, or continue to spread sludge on farmers’ fields as fertilizer.

On CHML this morning, Mayor Bratina spoke about the merits of the private public partnership with a company such as Liberty Energy. Amongst other things, he made the following observations:

The sludge, under Liberty's proposal, would be gassed and not incinerated. The Mayor indicated it was important to understand this, as the gassing process is like baking rather than incinerating. The baked product could be used in the production of other things such as decorative tiles. The gasses generated from the process, could be used to drive turbines that produce electricity. The Mayor stated that his information is that the net result is that over 90% of the sludge would be processed into other things.

He spoke to the need for Hamilton to live up to its newly found focus as an city where innovation thrives. He thus saw a Liberty Energy-like solution as fitting into that scheme, where sludge is managed through an innovative process and not by trucking it into fields. In passing, he made reference to putting a cap over Randel Reef is not innovative (a topic that has raised some controversy for him in the past). He didn't go there in any further detail though.

He also observed that the availability of such lands to house this type of waste, will decline and with that decline, prices for this type of disposal will rise. He thus suggested we need to be proactive and avoid such as scenario. 


The Mayor spoke about getting on with decisions and "getting on with our lives", as a reference to confronting problems and solving them. And in Bratina style, consistent with his style when he was a Councillor, he seemed to know his facts.

Overall, the Mayor appeared to make a good pitch for his views on this matter.

The offer from Liberty Energy was characterized as being unsolicited. One of the remaining questions may be whether to ensure that this opportunity for a public-private partnership, is a competitive one.



More here- Spec article

Your thoughts?
Teresa

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Huh?

Consider the following excerpts from this Spec article, in relation to the judgment against Clr. Whitehead. 


"City solicitor Peter Barkwell says Whitehead’s costs are being covered because his case comes within the terms of the city’s indemnification bylaw. That means the city’s legal department and insurers feel Whitehead was acting within the scope of his duties as a councillor and acting in good faith when he sent the email. 

But in his judgment, Turnbull says Whitehead’s words did not meet either of those criteria."

"Whitehead says he regrets using such strong language, but said he doesn’t intend to tame his “voracity” when dealing with issues that affect the city.

and this from the Clr. himself

“I will not apologize for my passions in fighting for the interests of the community,” he said. “But it’s clear I used a sledgehammer when I should have used a finer tool.”

Do you believe these are appropriate responses?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning a Le$$on - Found Guilty of Defamation


Update: Clr. found guilty of defamation. Spec article here.  Written judgment here.

It could have been due to Clr. Whitehead's assertion that he and his family were the subject of death threats in the days leading up to an incendiary email that he sent to a community advocate. It was suggested that it could have been the sense of anger the Clr. was feeling upon receiving these threats (although it was conceded that he believed the community advocate had nothing to do with the threats) . Clr. Whitehead's counsel also suggested that sleep deprivation or alcohol consumption may have been factors in Whitehead's decision to send the email at 2.a.m.

What ever the case may be, or regardless of who prevails in this matter, Clr. Whitehead should be learning a lesson out of this. Regardless of his position as Clr., and at the same time, because of it, people would expect someone in his shoes to model good behavior and practice restraint. The emails and the contents, as cited in this Spec article, speak for themselves in terms of what was written and sent.

It is unfortunate that this lesson is being learned at the expense of Hamilton taxpayers who are footing the cost for the Clr.'s legal defense, and presumably any judgments that may be levied. 

Your thoughts?  Do you believe the Clr. acted reasonably in this instance and do you think  that determination should play a role in whether costs are covered by the city?


Note: This topic was recreated and re-posted. Original comments to this article have unfortunately been lost. Please feel free to repost your comments. 
ref: 3782.1 ev tag28

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Secret Suit

On the heels of the Whitehead lawsuit, and now the Johnson/City lawsuit, CATCH is reporting that in response to receiving an update on a seven year old lawsuit that Hamilton has against the federal government,  city council voted 9-5 to keep the action and its costs from the public.


Voting in favour of  keeping it confidential were councillors Clark, Collins, Ferguson, Jackson, Morelli, Partridge, Pasuta, Pearson and Whitehead. They were opposed by Mayor Bratina and councillors Johnson, McHattie, Merulla and Powers.


We asked Clr. Merulla for further insight as to why this matter is being handled the way it is. 


The Clr. replied "My understanding is that the information is considered private and confidential due to the matter still being in the courts. I look forward to the matter coming to an end thereby ending the make work project for lawyers and having the information become public."


Special thanks to Clr. Merulla for the reply.

 Your thoughts?
Teresa

A New Suit

A new suit, but not the kind you'd go shopping for. Brenda Johnson, newly elected Councillor for Ward 11, is facing a challenge, in the form of a lawsuit issued against her and the city. The suit, which was launched by Penady, a joint initiative between Mady Development and PenEquity that is behind a 85 million dollar project that would see, amongst other things, a Walmart in Winona, alleges that Johnson interfered with the development. 

They allege that Johnson headed up an opposition movement toward the project prior to becoming the Ward Clr. and carried on this opposition in her role as Clr. They claim that she misused her position to do so and had a 'fixed intent' to prevent the project from coming to fruition. They also allege that city council did not allow for public consultation.

For further details, please see Spec article here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting the Word Out

Did you know that there is an email icon beside the comments link on every article that appears on The Hamiltonian? (as seen on the diagram to the left),  This icon enables you to forward an article you have seen on The Hamiltonian to your friends and networks. We encourage you to use this feature and help The Hamiltonian get out further.
Thank-you
Teresa

4th Annual Economic Summit - A Hamiltonian Perspective

In an unscientific poll, currently active on The Hamiltonian, 72% of those who took the poll believe that Hamilton's Economic Summits are not worthwhile. The upcoming Economic Summit, which is the 4th annual, will focus on walkable cities and the relation to future growth. The summit will feature keynote speaker Christopher Leinberger, who teaches at the University of Michigan. (see full Spec article here)

The theme of this year’s summit is focused on bringing people and profits to the lower city, defined as stretching from McMaster Innovation Park, through the downtown and the waterfront and into the industrial North End. The summit brings leaders from business, politics, city bureaucracy, civic, cultural and nonprofit organizations together for a daylong discussion about the city’s present and future.

So why do some Hamiltonians lack confidence in these Economic Summits? Certainly the prospect of bringing people together to consider issues and problems holistically, has intrinsic value (assuming all sectors of our city are duly represented). However, in absence of set goals and measurable targets that fall out of these summits, and in absence of specific time driven assignments of certain challenges and problems, to specific people and groups with report-back expectations, these summits have the potential to garner a greater understanding of problems without corresponding acceleration of interventions to solve these very  problems that are better understood.

In terms of The Hamiltonian, we support efforts to build consensus and teams to solve problems and thus, in that spirit, see the value of these summits. However, we believe that there has to be a demonstrable relationship between the talk and the walk. We would challenge all participants and the media to trace results to resolves conning out of these summits.

Your thoughts?
Teresa

P.S. Don't forget to take the poll to the right. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coming soon........

You may recall that Paul Tetley, President of The Ward 3 Resident’s Association, had submitted a formal complaint to Hamilton’s City Clerk regarding the NHL Subcommittee members meeting with Edmonton Oiler President & CEO, Pat LaForge. See previous Hamiltonian coverage here


The Hamiltonian has been advised by a  reliable source, that Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse's report on this matter, is expected this week. 

Listed- Again. Needed- Attitude Adjustment

Hamilton seems to have acquired a knack for being cited on all sorts of lists. This time, we have been listed as the best Ontario city to invest in. A Toronto Based Real Estate Network has put Hamilton in the number 1 spot. We also came in 3rd behind Edmonton and Calgary for the third best city in Canada to invest in. 


Our ranking is said to be a testament to our potential to attract jobs and businesses over the next five years.  


Neil Everson, the city's Director of Economic Development suggests that being recognized in this way is a great way to promote the city. 


REIN President Don Campbell, said that Hamilton needs an attitude adjustment and that " Everyone in the city is going to have to get behind this attitude shift and become a proud Hamiltonian".  He also observed that "Hamilton made a mess of the Pan Am debate" He added that Hamilton has momentum, but that momentum can be lost if the city makes another "mess", like it did of the Pan Am issue. See full article here.


Your thoughts. Do you think being on these lists will help us? Do we need an attitude adjustment?
Teresa


Monday, May 9, 2011

Media Release - Chamber of Commerce


Hamilton Chamber wins big at Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Annual General Meeting
HAMILTON, ON (May 9, 2011) ― The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce submitted five public policies for ratification at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) annual general meeting this weekend. Out of the five policies submitted, four were passed immediately with only one minor amendment, and the fifth was sent to the OCC Board for ratification as a late resolution. (As this fifth resolution is simply an update of a Hamilton Chamber policy that was approved by the OCC in 2008, it is anticipated this policy will be approved as well.)
The policies the Ontario Chamber will help advocate for include:
Ontario Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor―ISSUE: The Ontario Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor process is a long-term, strategic planning exercise involving Ontario, Quebec and the Federal government. It is essential to ensure that Eastern Canada, including Ontario, maximizes its access to the increased cargo volumes that are expected to develop with the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, and the increased emphasis on trade with transatlantic partners.
Niagara-to-GTA Corridor―ISSUE: The need to move ahead with the Niagara-to-GTA Corridor (also known as the Mid Penn Corridor), which includes an essential highway component, is critical and urgent in order to meet the evolving needs of residents, industry, tourism, transportation and governments in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and surrounding communities.
Long-Range Planning for Urban Communities―ISSUE: As urban areas continue to grow, it is imperative for municipalities to develop long-term strategies to ensure the development of their communities.
Promoting Healthy Workplaces in Ontario―ISSUE: To encourage healthy workplaces in Ontario, the availability of consistent messaging at the provincial level regarding recommended policies, practices, and tangible support is needed.
Goods and People Movement Study and Long-Range Transportation Plan―ISSUE: Ontario’s transportation system is crucial to the economic well-being of Ontario and the country as a whole. The efficient movement of goods and people within Ontario and into the US directly affects Ontario businesses and impacts the province’s ability to better compete with other jurisdictions. A comprehensive multi-modal study of goods and people movement for the entire province and border crossings is required to determine what is needed for present and future transportation growth.
For full details, including background and recommendations on these resolutions, please visit, http://www.hamiltonchamber.on.ca/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=50&Itemid=60

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pic of the Moment

Click to enlargen
The carnival at the Centre Mall reminds us that better days full of sunshine are ahead.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spending By Accident

Last year, the city spent 5.6 million dollars settling accident claims. These claims included slip and falls, city vehicles crashing,  and other mishaps. The total number of claims handled were 2,706. This, according to a Spec report found here.


Despite these  numbers, they represent a decline from the 2009 figures. In 2009, 3,202 claims were in effect and 6.6 million was paid out.


The decrease is mainly attributed to a decrease in sewer related back up claims. These types of claims are thought to be on the decline, due to the efforts of the city to assist homeowners in dealing with these problems.


Pedestrian falls on sidewalks continue to be a prevalent part of the claims. 1.2 million was paid for insurance costs for city vehicles (excluding buses), involved in an accident. The bulk of transit claim pay outs are due to personal injury, due to either a crash, the movement of a bus, getting on or off a bus, etc. 


The Spec report is entitled "City pays big bucks on claims". Do you believe that these are big amounts? Or do you think these claims and their value are to be expected, in a city of this size? It would be interesting to see how we compare to other cities of a similar size.
Teresa



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Media Release - Poverty Roundtable

MEDIA ADVISORY – MAY 4, 2011


New group of community champions joins Poverty Roundtable
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction will re-convene on Thursday to move forward with its ambitious Action Plan to reduce and eliminate poverty. The Roundtable announced a restructuring in January and nearly 30 new community champions will join other long-time members of the initiative.


In January, the Roundtable put out an open call for applications to join the collaborative group; the community response was nothing short of astounding. More than one hundred dedicated Hamiltonians –from all walks of life- applied for fifteen volunteer positions. “We were overwhelmed with the passion and dedication of so many people in this community” said Roundtable chair Howard Elliott, noting that it “speaks volumes to the commitment of Hamiltonians to come together to tackle poverty”.


Taxi Fair?

The city is exploring the possibility of requiring 20% of all cabs operating in Hamilton, to be fully accessible by 2012. Further, they are also exploring setting a goal to have all cabs accessible "within a reasonable time frame". 


This is not a cost neutral venture for cab owners. It is estimated that it would cost $4000.00 to $15,000 to upgrade a cab, or $40,000-$60,000 to buy a new one that is compliant.


Presently, there are no licenced taxis in Hamilton that have accessibility. Two unlicensed transportation companies are currently offering this service in the city. Other municipalities are going down a similar path; some requiring that all new cabs be accessible, but existing ones be grandfathered from this requirement. 


Some cab drivers are concerned with the compounded affect of the HST, high fuel prices and the added cost of accessibility compliance. A member of the city's advisory committee for people with disabilities, said that cab drivers sometimes add premiums up to as much as $80.00 to rides for people who are living with a disability. See Spec story here


What do you think? Is it high time that we support accessibility compliance? If so, who should bear the costs and should we consider grandfathering? 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Media release- New Panorama Magazine


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Hamilton Spectator join forces to produce new Panorama magazine
HAMILTON, ON (May 3, 2011) ― The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the partnership with the area’s number one community resource―the Hamilton Spectator―to create a new look and directive for the Chamber’s flagship communications vehicle, Panorama magazine.
“The inaugural issue comes out this June and will not only include more stories about Chamber members, but it will also contain more information about business in the city, public policy initiatives and important information relevant to business owners,” said, Casey A. Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of Panorama magazine. “This will also mean a lot more exposure for Chamber members.”
Distribution will increase from 3000 to 5000 copies per issue. 2000 copies will be sent to Chamber members, 2000 copies will be poly-bagged and sent to high-income homes along-side Hamilton Mens Magazine and MOST magazine, depending on the edition. And, 1000 copies will be strategically distributed to hot spots around the city, including media outlets. The magazine will also see an increase in pages from approximately 28 to 44.
Each month a full-page ad will appear in the Hamilton Spectator with a ‘newspaper’ edition of Panorama. This edition will promote the insert as well as highlight stories and news items contained in the publication. The Hamilton Spectator has a Monday to Saturday readership of 343,600.
Kelly Montague, Vice President of Advertising at the Spectator said, “We are pleased to partner with the Chamber on this project. We are grateful to be able to showcase our design and print services to Chamber members and to produce this important information piece.”
The magazine will also provide regular updates from the city’s Economic Development department.
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