Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Clr. Whitehead Chats About Term Limits

In the latest release of Chats from the Lair, with our friend Laura Babcock,  Laura interviews Clr. Terry Whitehead.  As described in the media release "Terry takes a question from the audience at the end of the chat on Term Limits which turns into a heated debate." 

With Laura's kind permission, we are featuring an excerpt (click here), that talks about term limits.  Clr. Whitehead's reference to the piece he did for The Hamiltonian on term limits, can be found here

The full Chats from the Lair broadcast can be found here

Ti-Cat President Scott Mitchell Chats with The Hamiltonian

Ti-Cat President Scott Mitchell
Please enjoy our chat with Tiger Cat President Scott Mitchell

Q1. From a Hamilton taxpayer's perspective, an ongoing issue is the subsidization provided to enable the Cats to play here. We are certain that taxpayers were encouraged by your recent comments about the team's trajectory and anticipated fiscal strength. What are some of the pivotal factors that would enable the franchise to reach this goal of fiscal autonomy? How will you be approaching these goals?

The Tiger-Cats do not receive one red cent of a "subsidy" from the City of Hamilton, nor have they ever throughout the duration of Bob Young's ownership of the team. Ivor Wynne Stadium is a city owned and operated facility that has a lease arrangement with the Tiger-Cats, similar to other groups who have used the stadium over the last decade for games and events.

We are simply a tenant who pays rent. A majority of the stadium's use comes from community groups and

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laura Peddle- On Crestwood Decision

In light of the recent decision (see Spec coverage here, or purchase the print version), of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to reject a proposal to renovate a Beasley building in favour of building new headquarters on the Mountain, we asked school board Trustee Laura Peddle the following:

Q. Understanding that you are speaking from your personal perspective and not as the voice of the board, how did you feel about the decision to prematurely sun set the joint task force that was to assess the possibility of a downtown location for the board’s new headquarters? Was it a difficult decision and do you believe the right decision was made. Please explain.

 I feel disappointment as its always been my preference fo the new Headquarters to remain in the downtown core. I would therefore have preferred that we honour the board motion that extended the timeline to Jun 18th thus allowing for full exploration of costs and schedule for comparison to the business case approved by the Ministry of Education

The decision was difficult as evidenced by a 6-5 vote on a motion put forward to withdraw from the Task Force.

Laura Peddle

Monday, May 28, 2012


Given the recent expression of optimism by Tiger Cat President Scott Mitchell (see it here or purchase The Spec's print copy), we thought we'd ask Clr. Merulla the following:

Q. In a recent article found in the Hamilton Spectator, Ti-Cat President Scott Mitchell is sounding very optimistic about the future of the team, up to and including a projected transition into sustainable profitability. While he was reportedly less enthusiastic on the period in which the Cats will have to play at a temporary location pending the build of the new stadium, overall he was sounding quite positive. Does this optimism surprise you and upon reflection, do you believe the taxpayers of Hamilton will be served well by the final outcome related to the stadium?

A. Ivor Wynne rebuild is being done without losing assessment growth with city building characteristics, an anchor tenant and doing so without a 35 to 120 million dollar deficit.

Also the total city commitment is approximately 25 million dollars more on capital than the 2007 renovation plan however this plan has no general levy impact ie taxes as a result of using the Future Fund and we are committed to incrementally eliminating the 1.3 million dollar annual subsidy provided to the Cats thereby mitigating the tax impact significantly and obtaining a newly refurbished stadium with a sustainable tenant. I said this then and I'm glad it is coming to fruition.

Dear Hamiltonian....

The following interview was based on an email we were copied on by Danya Scime concerning  issues she has been dealing with for some time. Here is our Q/A with Danya.

1. The Hamiltonian was copied on an email you had sent to, amongst others, Clr. Judi Patridge and Mayor Bob Bratina. In that email, there was a clear expression of frustration and anger over an issue that you have been trying to get resolved, related to your property. Can you describe what the issue is?

I have several ongoing issues with the City and will try my best to break them down separately.

A) My late father purchased an Antique and Flea Market in December 2001 ~ the property size is 64 acres Mixed usage ~residential, agricultural, *CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT-wetlands* and 15 acres of Highway Commercial (site specific for a Flea Market). In 2002 we approached the City to ensure that we could move my father's other business and his Tenants from Clappison's Corners (3+acres at that location are being expropriated). We were told that it would require a simple VARIANCE to include these companies. We had all of the City Departments here in 2002 ~ and received ok's for a business license. Our

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Here is the report. Click here. 

In the following email exchange, kindly shared with The Hamiltonian  by Gary Santucci and Ms. Joe-Anne Priel, Santucci  reminds folks as to the genesis of the Prostitution Round Table. Ms. Priel in turn, adds her own clarification. The emails are provided verbatim. Thanks to Gary and Joe-Anne for sharing them. 

Mr. Mayor & City Councillors

Near the end of last night's Council Meeting while Councillors were debating the motion to support the Government of Canada's appeal to the recent changes in the laws of prostitution, Councillor Morelli referred to a Staff initiative named the Prostitution Roundtable headed up by Ms. Jo-Ann Priel and Mr Paul Johnson. He also stated that they were working discreetly on the matters surrounding prostitution in our community as this was the way such things had to be handled "in a discreet manner". I have attached a copy of a Report entitled "Prostitution Roundtable Report 2010." You will see that it was a resident led initiative headed up by

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"In the Hands of Council.” - Opinion

"In the hands of council"; that's the way Mayor Bratina described his position, as council debated the need and possible format of taking a number of grievances to the Premier. Among those grievances is the impact on Hamilton of cuts to social assistance programs. The details and the various arguments can be found here in Andrew Drescel's column, or in the print version.

Beyond the details, the mayor's words are very telling and symbolic. Let's first clear the air. There are a lot of things at play.  There is the censure and its intended impacts on the mayor. There is a looming investigation result from Earl Basse on the complaint against the Mayor, and there is the notion, real or perceived that the mayor was too cozy with the governing party during the last provincial election. Put that all in the mix, and the mayor's reaction can be seen as the only prudent thing to say.

But being egged on by his council, by encouraging Bratina to fight on against the cuts and possibly a hand bag

Saturday, May 26, 2012

That The Multitude May Live - Media Release


Where Were You During 9/11?

Hamilton, Ontario, May 10, 2012 — Perhaps you too watched, horrified, as 9/11 unfolded on television. Conspiracy theories still abound. The “usual suspects” include the US Government and Israel. How about a demolition theory for 9/11? A controlled demolition.

John Bandler’s new sci-fi drama That The Multitude May Live is set in an era of altered realities, mind-augmentation and institutional terrorism; it’s action takes place in the aftermath of the dirty bombing of the Luton Maxwell Tower that leaves Manhattan uninhabitable.

“The Coalition of God” claims responsibility. So why was billionaire-inventor Luton Maxwell charged with

Friday, May 25, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Rolly Rockets BBQ

I’m sure there is a saying somewhere that on matters of food it is often worth listening to a man who looks well fed. Such a recommendation, from a largish chap I met in the course of my work, saved my butt the other day. I had kept my family waiting at the end of a long work week finishing up “just one more thing”. They were justifiably grumpy, and we all wanted something to eat. Fast.

So it was we found ourselves at Rolly Rockets BBQ located at 470 King St West, corner of King and Locke St. Don’t be fooled by the Google Street view which shows an uninviting view of a walled-up, for-lease GP Grumpy’s Sport’s Pub and Grill. There is now a patio, seating about 30, and the inside “décor” is a mix of high definition TVs and picnic tables covered with bright red and white plastic, seating about 100.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Article of the Moment

In this article (click here) found in today's Hamilton Spectator, M Adrian Brassington , also known as My Stoney Creek here on The Hamiltonian, and author of the My Stoney Creek and Towns Halls Hamilton blogs, writes about the lack of participation on the part of the majority of council, on The Hamiltonian's Virtual Panel. You will recall that in the most recent edition of the Perspectives Virtual Panel, the panel and councilors and the Mayor, were asked to comment on how we can accelerate the achievement of Hamilton's aspirations as reflected in its vision statement. To date, only Mayor Bratina and Clrs. Merulla and McHattie made a submission. 

Mr. Brassington speculates as to why this may be, and while being against term limits, entertains a version of term limits, in light of the above and in light of another incident that has shaped his thinking on this matter.

Ontario’s 18-Month-Olds Have Access to Enhanced Well-Baby Visit

Ontario’s 18-Month-Olds Have Access to Enhanced Well-Baby Visit

Visit Key to Supporting Healthy Child Development

Hamilton, ON – May 24, 2012 – Today, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina joined representatives from the

Compugen partners with City to provide bikes and computers in local neighbourhoods

Media Advisory

Compugen partners with City to provide bikes and computers in local neighbourhoods

Hamilton, ON – May 25, 2012 – Compugen, the community investment event sponsor for the 2012 Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Conference and Tradeshow, being held here in Hamilton, has partnered with the City’s Neighbourhood Office to donate bicycles and computers to local families.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why Exactly was Mayor Bratina Censured? by Brian Hatch

The following article has been submitted to The Hamiltonian, by Brian Hatch. Your comments are welcome. 

Why Exactly was Mayor Bratina Censured?                                              

I was very discouraged and disappointed when I watched the interview of Mayor Bob Bratina by CBC Executive Producer Roger Gillespie posted on cbc.ca/hamilton on May18, 2012.

During the interview called, “17 Minutes with Mayor Bob Bratina”, Mayor Bratina makes the following disturbing comments about being the first mayor in the history of Hamilton to be censured by council:

At 6:48 into the interview the mayor is asked: “How do you explain that you were censured by city council?” His answer: “I can’t. If you asked me what the censure was, I’m not sure I could tell you.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Link of the Moment

How they voted in April, from our good  friends at C.A.T.C.H.  Click here to go there....

Working Hard for the Money- Part 2

Thanks to our friends at CBC Hamilton for linking to this article. 

You may recall that The Hamilltonian did a story on performance plans/contracts for city staff. Specifically, we set out to find out if city employees who appeared on the 2011 Sunshine List (which shows employees who make $100,000.00 per year or greater), had an evaluated performance plan/contract in place. You can review the details of this story by clicking here.

What we discovered is that there is no way, at present, for the city to assure itself and Hamiltonians, at a summary statistical level, as to how many people receiving $100,000.00 or greater per year, are performing to standard and/or have a finalized performance appraisal/contract in place. Further we discovered that when looking at all city employees for the years 2008 to 2010, the stats for each year fell below a 50% completion rate.  While the completion rate trajectory was moving  year over year in the right direction, even the best of the three years, had only a 42% completion rate for performance appraisals/contracts.

We thus decided to follow up with City Manager Chris Murray.  Here is our Q/A with Chris:

Q. Can you advise what plans, if any, exist to increase the number of performance plans that are in place for city staff? If there are such plans, what is the target, the timeframe to achieve the target and how will Hamiltonians be assured that these plans are meaningful and provide for good performance monitoring/measurement?

A. From my perspective, one of the biggest differences I have noticed over the last 4 years is recognition that the following are critical to the City's overall Success: 

  • Managing talent 
  • Strategic workforce planning 
  • Enhancing employee engagement 
  • Improving leadership development 
Performance Management is a key component/driver of all of the above. Corporately my focus and that of SMT is on:

Update on Basse Investigation on Hatch/Bratina Matter

Earl Basse, our Integrity Commissioner, advised our Publisher this morning that his report on the Brian Hatch complaint against Mayor Bratina, is complete. It is with Mr. Basse's legal council for review this week, and Mr. Basse expects to get it to council the week of  June 4th, 2012.  Thanks to Mr. Basse for the update. 

Time to Get on With the Job of Managing Performance at City Hall by Graham Crawford

When is comes to business best practices,  Graham Crawford is no stranger to that arena. Having owned an executive consulting company for nearly 25 years that provided services in 14 countries, Graham has provided strategic and operational advice to corporations of all sizes. In this piece, and in reference to this article (click here) Graham offers his opinion on managing performance at city hall. Thank-you Graham for the submission.

Time to Get on With the Job of Managing Performance at City Hall
by Graham Crawford

I appreciate Mr. Murray’s candid response to the Hamiltonian. Also, I’m pleased to see that the City of Hamilton’s Performance Management System is under review and redesign.

What I’m less pleased about is the length of time it has taken to get the process under review, as well as the
length of time it will take to ensure all employees are participating in the process appropriately both for their sakes and for the sake of the city and its citizens. It’s taking too long on both counts, but at least there is some acknowledgement we have a problem.

The fact that Mr. Murray’s first order of business is to “raise awareness of the purpose for managing performance at the city” raises concerns for me not just because it’s an essential thing to do (awareness is always the first step), but because it’s 2012 and we’re still listing awareness as our first priority. Just what has the HR department been doing for the past 15-20 years? This is old news to any corporation in the world. Not to mention a $1 billion+ corporation we know also as the City of Hamilton.

The bulk of the text in Mr. Murray’s response is HR 101 from 25 years ago. The fact it is being offered up

Sunday, May 20, 2012

David Speers- on Opera Hamilton

David Speers
The opera in Hamilton has a very rich history. We caught up with General Director of Opera Hamilton, David Speers to ask him about the status of Opera Hamilton and its future. Enjoy our chat with David.

1. Can you tell us where Opera Hamilton receives its funding, what type of financial shape Opera Hamilton is in and what is needed (if anything), to keep it viable?

Opera Hamilton is non-profit, charitable organization – producer of professional opera - 33 years serving the Hamilton and surrounding area from GTA down to Buffalo, NY - funding 40% box office and other earned revenue – 35% private contributions --- 25% Government funding – three levels – Municipal, Ontario Arts Council, and The Canada Council. 

Company has, over the past 8 years, re-invented itself – reducing a $1.6 milllion deficit to a current $400,000.00 accumulated shortfall – but with operational changes made over that period – the most recent the decision to move to a new performing venue – we have just completed our first season in The Dofasco Centre for the Arts (Theatre Aquarius) and as a direct result of that move, and the increased donations fueled by the company’s recovery – we will post of surplus of almost $200,000.00 for the year just ending – therefore entire deficit should be retired with two seasons.

2. What particular challenges, if any, will Opera Hamilton be facing going forward and are you optimistic that those challenges will be met?

Mayor Bratina - On Council Engagement re: The Best Place to Raise a Child

In light of the ongoing discussion on the topic of how the city can best achieve its vision of being The Best Place to Raise a Child, and The Hamiltonian's belief that our council is facing a crucible in this matter, we asked Mayor Bratina the question below. His answer is posted verbatim. 

Mr. Mayor: as Head of Council, can you offer any explanation as to why most councillors seem to have opted not to provide their thoughts and insights into the question we posed to The Virtual Panel and to them (which we recognize that you answered) on The Best Place to Raise a child. What advice might you have for the councillors who have not engaged?

Members of Council are free to choose whether they want to participate in such exercises and are not required to provide justification. We are all I believe trying to make good decisions that support this goal however we may feel about the efficacy of or even the need for such a slogan.
Bob Bratina, Mayor.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak

Chef Dan Megna


In my last piece, I wrote that I’d had the chance to spend some time thinking about potential topics for this column. My “research” included a couple of outings to the 7th Annual “Food and Drink Fest” at the Careport Centre in Hamilton in late March. (see additional pictures by clicking here) 

The visits were facilitated by Shannon Tew, Event Manager for the Festival. She informed me that about 10,000 visitors were expected to attend what has become “the region’s largest food and beverage show of its kind.”

Pictures of Celebration of Rev. Walter Tucker's life

Click here to see pictures of today's celebration in honour of Rev. Walter Tucker's life. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best Place to Raise a Child- Submission Update

New: Read our Publisher's Opinion (click here) 

Note: We have removed the Friday deadline and will accept submissions  beyond that date.

Earlier this week, we checked in with all of the councillors and the Mayor, through their assistants to ask if we could expect a submission from them, on our Perspectives Virtual Panel topic, The Best Place to Raise a Child. 

So far, we received a submission from Mayor Bratina, Clr. Merulla and Clr. McHattie. We were advised today that Clr. Ferguson will not be making a submission, due to a busy week he is having this week. We have yet to receive a response from the remaining  Clrs from Wards 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 ,14,  and 15.

We have provided first notice of this question, May 9th 2012,  and thus believe we have provided ample time for submissions. As our city vision statement goes to the very identity we are trying to establish, we respectfully submit that it is in bad form not to receive submissions from the missing councilors and that some priority should have been afforded to this. We continue to invite their submissions and will publish them verbatim. 

The Hamiltonian

Thanks to our friends....

A special thanks to our friends at The Hamilton Spectator, CBC Hamilton and Raise the Hammer, for their links to The Hamiltonian's ongoing coverage of The Best Place to Raise a Child. 

Danya Scime- on The Best Place to Raise a Child

This submission is from Danya Scime: 

Time~ just like our Children~~ are very precious so I can understand why some councillors have not yet responded. This is a subject that deserves full attention. I have been busy working on something gravely important for our community and frankly, (missing the question at first) community involvement left no time for me to respond prior to the original request date...My apologies to Teresa and everyone for my tardiness...

Of Babies and Economic Development - by Mahesh Butani

There is certainly no paucity of citizen engagement when it comes to the topic examined by our Perspectives Virtual Panel; Hamilton's claim. amongst other things, to be The Best Place to Raise a Child. The following article has been submitted by Mahesh Butani.

Of Babies and Economic Development. 

To be the best place in Canada to:
a) raise a child,
b) promote innovation,
c) engage citizens, and to
d) provide diverse economic opportunities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mayor Bob Bratina - On The Best Place to Raise a Child

The following is Mayor Bob Bratina's submission to The Hamiltonian, in response to our Virtual Panel discussion on "The Best Place to Raise a Child

Bloomberg Business Week published an article last year which selected the best City in each American State in which to raise children. The selections were limited to towns that have at least 45,000 residents and a median income of between $40,000 and $125,000. The data used included school performance, number of schools, household expenditures, crime rates, air quality, job growth, family income, museums, parks, theaters, other amenities, and diversity. Affordability, safety*, and school test scores were given the greatest weight. As you can see most of the Cities were well under 100,000 in population, and most were reasonably close to big cities such as Chicago, Denver, Buffalo and so on.

It would seem based on this that the "best place to raise a child" objective requires some or all of the following: adequate family income, suburban style single family homes, emphasis on white collar jobs, proximity to large cities, and stand-alone municipal governments...not amalgamated. The vision statement

Professor Marvin Ryder- on Ward Boundaries

A common FALSE memory from the Amalgamation of 2000 is that the Transition Board established the ward boundaries for the new City of Hamilton - perhaps to appease the suburban and rural communities by providing them with representation based on historical boundaries.

The "truth" is slightly different. The ward boundaries were established in Toronto by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing during the early summer of 2000. The Board needed them so that it could hold the first election for the amalgamated City in November of 2000. I suspect the decision in Toronto was some kind of compromise. Feathers were ruffled enough with amalgamation and the possibility that Flamborough might not be part of the new City. I suspect Toronto bureaucrats felt it was safest to stick with "old" boundaries.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Clr. Brian McHattie - On The Best Place to Raise a Child

Clr. McHattie submitted the following comments on the topic of "The Best Place to Raise a Child" 

I would like to add one thing please. 

We need to step us a community to fund a city-wide school nutrition program ensuring all children start each school day with a good breakfast and have a snack mid-day to keep them healthy and able to do their very best in school. It is important that this program be universal; that is, all school children receive this program. As you know many children, notwithstanding their family income situation, do not receive nutritious meals which affects their functioning on a daily basis - this program ensures all children have the nutrition they need to be successful.

A school nutrition program is one of the key items in City Council's Strategic Plan, and a priority for the

Monday, May 14, 2012

Clr. Sam Merulla - On The Best Place to Raise a Child

As part of our Perspectives Virtual Panel discussion on "The Best Place to Raise a Child", we invited the Mayor and each city Councillor to provide their views on the topic. We also alerted to them to the comments shared by our Virtual Panel.

The following is Clr. Merulla's response, which is posted verbatim:

I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance governing based on our needs rather than wants. I would like to see our City of Hamilton attract and retain business in a sustainable manner.

We need to continue to find a balance between greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity through employment lands.

The most significant motivation in my seeking office has always been my desire to help anyone who needs it. I have been in public service for twenty years from working with people with disabilities to substance

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Perspectives Virtual Panel- On The Best Place to Raise a Child

A special thank-you to our friends at The Hamilton Spectator for recognizing the importance of this topic. Click here for their reference. 

In this edition of the Perspectives Virtual Panel, we asked our panel members for their views on " The Best Place to Raise a Child". Our question invited ideas on how we can best accelerate our progress toward this goal.  We have also invited each councillor and the Mayor to add their comments. If we receive any, we will post them verbatim.  We also invite our readership to add their comments as well.

Additionally, if you would like a version of these submissions that you can easily print from a computer, please click here for a PDF version. 

Q. The Best Place to Raise a Child in Canada, is the City of Hamilton's motto/vision.We welcome constructive criticism but also encourage you to provide ideas on how we might make additional progress in meeting this goal.Please structure your answer as follows:

To meet the goal of being recognized as The Best Place to Raise a Child in Canada, what do we need to:

  • Continue doing
  • Start doing
  • Stop doing

Continue doing
 We need to continue doing great infrastructure projects throughout the City. Infrastructure means continue to work on Light Rail; continue to work on expansion of GO service; continue working on downtown employment attractions like a medical school, Mohawk College, McMaster; continue working on bike lanes

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Musical Notes- Blacken'd Red

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Blacken’d Red

I first met Iggy Pasalic during the session of July’s Art Crawl. Shortly after this meeting I attended a jam night in a remote location that lasted till dawn. I even got to sing some blues. There were three points ingrained in my mind during this interview;

“It’s all about the music”

“We’re not trying to reinvent anything”

“Ain’t nothing we won’t do for our kids”

Let me explain that last point. The members of Blacken’d Red along with their manager Valerie Savoy (of Killer Image) are organizing a fundraiser for the kids of Parkview School at Gage Park on August 25th. There are numerous local musicians that have signed on for this worthy cause. To get more info on this event follow this link http://killerimage.ca/parkview-school .

This 70’s guitar driven hard rock band has been influenced by Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Guns and Roses and Early Van Halen. They are definitely the consummate stadium band and give this kind of performance at venues across Ontario. All four members of Blacken’D Red are seasoned musicians which can be heard in every song they play. They’ve been nominated for a Hamilton Music Award and for Best New Hard Rock band in Ontario. Their song “Dimestore” off of a recent 6 song EP is #1 on CFMU radio. The members of the band are Jack Rogers on drums, Brian Pincombe on guitar, “Angry” Dave Green on bass and Iggy Pasalic on Vocals.

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

We’re all from Hamilton. We’ve all lived in various places in Canada but we always come back to Hamilton. Hamilton is home “We’re from the Hammer” born and bred from back in the early “Banisters” days to going down to “This ain’t Hollywood” today. As far as I’m concerned it hasn’t changed much. The same vibe we got at Banisters 20 years ago, we’re getting that same vibe at Hollywood, with people that are passionate about music, and Hamiltonians have always loved music. Whether its punk rock, we’ve got “Teenage Head” and “The Forgotten Rebels”. We got hard rock “Blacken’D Red” and “Monster Truck” comin’ outta here. Monster Truck is on tour with “Slash” right now, kudos to them. We do quite a bit down at Hamilton Place, they’re behind us 100%.We got a CD release party happening down there in October, they’ve been absolutely great. The View magazine has been behind us, we had the front page and an article a few weeks back. That’s like Hamilton’s Rolling Stone (magazine) so I bought 5 copies and gave them to my mother … LOL … (http://youtu.be/FVMhZN-9V7c) Also with this benefit we’re doing at Gage Park, usually you gotta give 90 days notice for any permits to do something at the park, we told them what it was all about, that it was for the kids and there’s nothing we won’t do for our kids. If there’s any way we can give back and help out, we’re all about it. And to do it at a venue like that, Gage Park’s Band shell, I’m stoked and think it’s awesome. I’m hoping for a really good turnout for that. We have some great bands in mind that are gonna do it. I can’t really say a lot on it until it’s confirmed, but there’s some surprises in there too, it’s all Hamilton talent. All the Hamilton talent that you would expect to be there are gonna be there. Until we get the confirmation on paper then we’ll start promoting the rest of it. It’s in conjunction with Valerie Savoy, our manager from Killer Image. Thank god for Valerie, she’s really helped tremendously in pushing the band to the next level. She’s been community minded forever with her photographs and management skills and the City of Hamilton is behind us 100% on it. It’ll be a one day Festival for the kids.

What would you say makes your band stand out/ unique?

Quite honestly I don’t think we’re a whole lot different talent wise than a lot of the other great bands that come out of Hamilton. I think the difference comes from the fact that we’re not afraid to approach things a little bit differently, think out of the box a little bit. Don’t play the same bar circuit, create your own gigs. Do your own thing. Use your Imagination. Creativity. Hamilton Ontario is a Rock n’Roll staple. It always has been, it always will be and if there’s any way that Blacken’D Red can help push that forward then that’s why we’re here. You can never be more proud of your city and represent. Get out and support your local talent. I hear a lot of people me tell me that when they go out on tour they wanna stop in Hamilton. I ask why Hamilton and not Toronto? They say “We like Hamilton better, there seems to be more of a vibe, more of a Rock n’Roll thing goin’ on there”. And it’s true. Everybody wants to come and play Hamilton.

What are the goals for the band/ recording/ touring when and where?

We’re going back into Grant (Ave Studio) to do some more recording. We got a long EP recorded and it’s been released but we wanna record a full record. You don’t have to go to New York or L.A. to get world class (recording), we have it right here in Hamilton Ontario at Grant Ave Studio with Bob Doidge producing it.

To find out more about the band, tour dates, and hear some of their music follow the links below.


Friday, May 11, 2012

5pm vs 7pm - Jury's Still Out

In an unscientific poll, it was almost dead even as Hamiltonians voted on whether they would like council meetings to revert back to a 7pm start time or to continue with the new piloted start time of 5pm. The 7pm time frame won out, but only by 2 votes- which doesn't make the result significant. 

Based on this informal poll, we'd have to say that the result is non conclusive. 

Food for Thought - Barbara Caffe

Giulia and Joe DeLuca

I mentioned in my inaugural column I’ve tended to stick close to home in terms of eating out. So when the Hamiltonian’s Publisher, Teresa DiFalco, suggested we have an initial meeting to discuss the idea of a food and wine column at a Stoney Creek location I had to actually consult the GPS!

In 20 minutes or so I found myself down the QEW (or “Highway Q” as the GPS voice insists on calling it) at 387 Barton Street, Barbara Caffé. The meeting with Teresa was delightful, and even more so as we were served an attractive antipasto platter to nibble on.

The platter featured prosciutto, salami and “giardiniera” (pickled cauliflower, peppers and spicy eggplant), 3 cheeses, including a lovely tomato bocconcini, all accompanied by a tasty fresh bruschetta. Oh, there were olives too, although I’m generally not a fan.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dollars and Sense - with Hamilton's Auditor General Ann Pekaruk

With the installation of a trial project, which sees Hamilton have the Services of an Auditor General, we decided to have a chat with our Auditor General, Ann Pekaruk. Enjoy this edition of Dollars and Sense, with our guest Ann.

1. Can you describe what the main difference is between your previous audit role and the Auditor General role?

n my role as Director of Audit Services, I was responsible for the Internal Audit program. This consisted of compliance and internal control audits which assessed whether City operations were adhering to specific laws, regulations, policies, directives or contracts. The purpose was to detect areas of risk and to recommend changes in systems of control and procedures to mitigate those risks. This program will continue.

The passing of the By-law to appoint the Director of Audit Services as an Auditor General conveys additional powers, duties and protections under the Municipal Act, 2001. These include: the powers to access all information and examine persons under Section 33 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009; the duty to preserve secrecy with respect to all matters that come to his/her knowledge in the course of performing his/her functions; and the protection of not being a competent or compellable witness in a civil proceeding. These extra responsibilities provide an added degree of authority to carry out audit activities which now include value for money audits. These audits assess whether the City has obtained benefit or value from goods and services it acquires or provides and the extent to which public funds are expended economically and efficiently and the extent to which the related programs are effective in meeting their objectives.

2. How will you go about determining what you will audit? Specifically, how will you determine the subjects of your value for money audits?

The Price is.....?

The Price is Right was a game show in which contestants tried to guess the price of a particular item. Those who guessed the closest price, without going over, won a prize.

It has been some time now ( close to 5 months), since our Integrity Commissioner, Earl Basse has been investigating the complaint of Brian Hatch, which was levied against Mayor Bratina. Recently, Basse told our Publisher, Teresa DiFalco, that he expects to conclude and submit his report in mid May. We are very close to that target.

In accordance with a contract Mr. Basse has with the city, he is paid a $1,500.00 monthly retainer and an additional $150.00 per hour for inquiry services, including conducting investigations and preparing any required reports.

As we know, the matter that Basse is investigating has been fairly openly played out in the media. Video footage, emails, written materials and persumably interviews with the complaintant and the Mayor, and perhaps others, are all part of the essential components that Basse has examined to arrive at his conclusion.

The Hamiltonian has asked the city for the final invoiced amount in this matter (once it is known) so that Hamiltonians may know how much this has cost them to investigate. We will publish that figure once we receive it. In the interim, care to play the price is right? Without going over, how much do you think the investigation may end up costing us?

Note: This article should not be interpreted as any commentary with respect to the value of and need for Mr. Basse's work. 

Kickin It

“You have to be elated — because all of the teams will play all of the games here,” Those were the words of Mayor Bob Bratina as he announced to his colleagues, the fact that Hamilton will host all men’s and women’s Pan Am soccer games , including the championship games at the new Ivor Wynne. This is something of a victory for Hamilton, as initial plans called for a sharing of these games between Burlington and Toronto.

More details are to follow, but 48 games are estimated to be played here. For more details, see Spec article here, or purchase the print version.

Are you pleased that Hamilton has landed these games? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shocking Decision?

“The committee was trying to do the right thing. The community had a different interpretation of what we were doing.”

That was Clr. Lloyd Ferguson, as quoted in The Spec regarding the about face done by the Accountability and Transparency sub-committee who recently  voted unanimously to kill a proposed amendment that would require integrity complaints to be kept a secret.

The about face is largely of no suprise to those following the issue. The initial notion to disqualify complaints to the Integrity Commissioner,  if the complainant spoke to the media prior to the complaint being resolved, appeared wrong headed and unsustainable. Further, it went against the advice of the city's lawyer and Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.

Are you satisfied with this result?

Your vote counts, sometimes twice?

In a well articulated piece found in The Hamilton Spectator, see it here, Clay Connor who holds a MA in political science and a Juris Doctor degree and who practiced municipal law for 29 years with the City of Brampton legal department, essentially argues that there is an alternative to re-drawing ward boundaries, that is not as costly or disruptive.

In essence, Conner suggests that votes be assigned a weight, based on population that a Ward councillor represents. So, for example, if you are a ward councillor who has a very high citizen population in your ward, relative to the other wards, you would get 2 votes on council, rather than 1. Following this method,  ward councillors for wards 7 and 8, will get 2 votes on council. To allow for the Mayor serving at the interests of citizens at large, the Mayor would also get 2 votes. The remaining  councillors retain their 1 vote.  (Although it begs the question of whether the math might entail a less than 1 vote for wards that have the least amount of citizens- any mathematicians out there?)

Conner's piece is worth reading as it is well presented and offers an alternative. Do you see the value of this model, or are you of the view that re-drawing ward boundaries is a better avenue? Or, is there another way?

Saving DARTS

The following is a Q/A with Don Hull,  Director of Transportation with the City of Hamilton

Q. Under new provincial accessibility laws, the city will have to expand their D.A.R.T.S. service, to include customers that it presently does not service. This change, alongside with increases in fuel costs and other expenses, will present a challenge to DARTS and notwithstanding its efforts to fund raise through the establishment of a foundation, the cost pressures may be visited upon the taxpayer. Given that the sources of the increased costs are largely out of the control of DARTS and the city, is there an understood mechanism in place at the bureaucratic level for funding to be requested from other levels of government? If so, how will this be pursued. If not, is this more of a political matter that must be addressed in that way?

A.  To maintain compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Transportation Standard) the City will have to undertake a number of changes in the City's Accessible Transit (ATS/DARTS) programs requiring additional capital and operating funding.

There is no Federal or Provincial funding for these expenditures. The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) has pursued funding related to implementation on behalf of its members, over the course of development of the legislation, without success to date.

Achieving compliance within the ATS program will require an expenditure estimated to be in the order of $5.7 million given our current understanding of the legislation. Through the 2012 budget process, Council gave "approval-in-principle" for these program improvements subject to review and approval during the annual budget process. Concurrently, Council approved the first allocation of $750,000 in the 2012 budget to initiate implementation of a new eligibility policy, broader in scope that the current policy, for persons with disabilities requiring the DARTS service. Full implementation is expected to take 4-5 years.

DARTS has an objective within their Operations Plan to pursue alternate forms of revenue beyond what is provided by the City or derived from passenger revenue for the purpose of enhancing their contribution to the community. Their "not-for-profit" status enables them to raise funds through donations which is intended to be accomplished through their recently created DARTS Foundation.

Don Hull
Director of Transportation
Public Works Department
City of Hamilton

Thanks Don for engaging with Hamiltonians in The Hamiltonian. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Food for Thought - The first steps in our journey

Food for Thought – The first steps in our journey…

May 7th 2012.

Welcome to my introductory column. I see it as a first step in a shared culinary journey with you, the readers of the Hamiltonian.

Whatever my bio may say, at the heart of it, I love everything about food. I love shopping for it, prepping ingredients, cooking and of course sharing a meal with family and friends. I love talking about it, and I love a glass of wine, though I still have much to learn in that department. What don’t I love? My wife will tell you I’m not so besotted with everything about food that I embrace tidiness or washing up!

Ultimately I'm very much a foodie with eclectic tastes from Gorilla Cheese to Blacktree! (And if that means something to you then you’ll have an inkling why, as Publisher, Teresa was so enthusiastic about this new venture for the Hamiltonian.)

Though we’ve been in Waterdown for over a decade, and have eaten out our fair share, the truth is we’ve

Notice- Meeting of Hamilton Civic League

Hamilton Civic League meets at Artword Artbar this Tuesday, May 8 (15 Colbourne St. West, off James North).
To learn more about the Hamilton Civic League, click here.  To join. click here. 

Opinion of The Moment- On Ward Boundary Reform

Click here

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Introducing Food for Thought, with Alex Bielak

Alex Bielak and our Publisher, Teresa DiFalco
I am pleased to announce a new feature on The Hamiltonian entitled "Food for Thought". As you may have guessed, Food for Thought will  be all about the art of wining and dining, related advice and tips, and places to go in and around our great city.

I am very fortunate to have enlisted  Alex Bielak, and true to our motto "Powered by Hamiltonians", Alex has donated his time and expertise. Here is a little bit about Alex.

Alex Bielak comes by his passion for food honestly. From an early age he spent most weekends and holidays working in his father’s wonderful delicatessen in London, England. At home, he grew up with a loving fusion of French and Polish cooking. He learned how to cook the perfect steak from his father and how to make a meal out of a few leftovers from his mother. Widely travelled, he developed a deep appreciation of European cuisine that quickly spread to all food once he came to Canada over thirty years ago.

As a keen amateur chef, who appreciates good wine and spirits, Alex loves to entertain. He is a member of both the International Wine and Food Society and Les Marmitons, a “social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts.” He shares his kick-ass kitchen with his wife, two daughters, and grudgingly, two cats. He loves cooking gadgets and toys of every description.

If you would like to contact Alex, you can reach him at fft@thehamiltonian.info We are very much looking forward to Alex's column.

Welcome Alex!

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Friday, May 4, 2012

Taking it to Farr

Related to this article (click here), we asked Clr. Jason Farr the following question, which is immediately followed by his reply:

Q. With respect to the decision to hire mediators to help resolve by law related disputes between neighbours, can you give our readers a sense of the size of this problem. Are there any metrics that you can share?

A. I feel, as do the majority of my colleagues on Planning Committee, that the problem is significant enough to move in this direction.

I am confident that a mediator will not only greatly reduce the amount of time our by-law officers (and sometimes Councillors) spend on assignments such as these, but also prevent the escalation of disputes between neighbours.

While the Ward 2 office does not have any metrics on the issue, I can tell you there has been enough occasions in the past where a mediator would have been helpful. Whether perceived or valid, I have facilitated on disputes in the areas of property standards, excessive noise, encroachment, shared costs (such as a retaining wall or fence), parking spaces and the obstruction of views. Many other times, we have passed the complaints on to Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) from the Ward office level.

I am hopeful that when it comes time for Council to measure the effectiveness of this initiative, we will find it to be a very productive means to better use MLE staff resources and, more importantly, bring neighbours closer together.

Thanks for the question, Hamiltonian and have a great weekend everyone.

Thanks Clr. Farr for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

Note: Comments that are disrespectful , include name-calling or otherwise are deemed unprofessional, will not be published.

Keeping the Peace

In an effort to better manage complaints between warring neighbours, on a whole host of issues ranging from fencing disputes, to unkept lawns, to everything in between, the city has approved hiring a mediation firm from Kitchener-Waterloo to help manage the problem.

The move is intended to free up the time of city by-law enforcement staff who  otherwise find themselves spending time dealing with such issues. Clr. Farr, for one, supported the move, citing the fact that he has been spending time doing the same and, at times feeling as though he is stepping outside his role of Councillor. 

The city says that hiring an outside mediation firm is more cost effective and brings with it and unbiased view.

Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

Posting to The Hamiltonian

For those who are new visitors to The Hamiltonian, welcome. Please note that comments submitted to The Hamiltonian are moderated. This means that comments are reviewed to ensure they meet our moderation policy, prior to the comments appearing on the site. Thus, your comment may not appear immediately, but we try our best to review comments quickly. Please do not submit the same comments more than once. Thank-you

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Winning Shot

Click on pic to see it larger
Picture courtesy of PJ Mercante.

To see our previous interview with PJ, click here.

Political Potato

In what presents as a political hot potato, council deflected having to make a decision on the matter of disqualifying citizen complaints to the Integrity Commissioner, if the media is spoken to before the complaint is decided, by referring the matter back to a sub committee. The need for this procedural maneuver however is in question and the matter is further weighted by the advice of the city's attorney. That advice warned that the city is unlikely to be able to defend a by-law intended to restrict a citizen's right to speak to the media. He added that it is also doubtful it can withstand a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Clr. Brad Clark refused to put a face on the diversion back to the sub committee, and said that it was ridiculous for the matter to be sent back , that legal advice was already in hand and that the only reason it was being referred back, was to provide political cover for those who originally supported it.

Do you agree with Clr. Clark? Was this simply a wrong headed direction in the first place and should we simply put it to rest?  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What the HECFI is Happening? An update

John Hertel
Update: John Hertel kindly provided the following materials for review of our readership:

5 Year Strategic Plan For the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention
Facilities Inc. Click here

Strategic Plan Summary with Clarifications & Observations Click here

Thank-you John for sharing these materials with Hamiltonians on the Hamiltonian

As the city continues to examine whether private sector interest can be the solution to HECFI run facilities, a fallback option of making it a city run department is being examined. In a 5 year strategic plan put forward to the interim HECFI board, made up of Mayor Bratina, Clrs. Merulla, Collins, Partridge and Farr, by CEO John Hertel, Hertel articulates the potential benefits of such an approach. 

According to an article by Andrew Drescel, the plan takes a different look at the three HECFI run facilities, with a view toward capitalizing on them individually, as well as looking at synergies that can be had by cross promotions, and by bringing HECFI under the city’s direct control through the planning and economic development department , linking it closely with the culture and tourism. For additional details, click here, or purchase today's Spec print copy.

Andrew ends his write up by wondering as to whether HECFI management may be maneuvering with a view to coming up with an option that may save their jobs.

What do you think? Do you believe a city run option should be given consideration as a fallback one? Do you think it should be given consideration alongside the privatize options, or do you think we should stay away from a city run option? Or, are you leery of this being more about job protection than being a good option for Hamilton?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Media Release

For Immediate Release – May 1, 2012
Media Conference on Climate Change in Hamilton

Thursday, May 3 at 9:30 am
Council Chambers – 2nd floor – Hamilton City Hall
71 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

Representatives of the following agencies and groups will participate and provide information on the noteworthy effects of climate change already evident in the Hamilton area.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority, The McMaster Centre for Climate Change, Environment Hamilton,
Green Venture, The City of Hamilton, The Council of Canadians – Hamilton Chapter, The Hamilton 350 Committee

Musical Notes - Kori Pop

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Kori Pop .

I first heard Kori Pop sing 2 years ago at a huge summer party in Grimsby. I even recorded one of her songs but the crowd was so loud that she was drowned out. Then early last year I went to the Casbah to see a band, but they were not going on until 11pm so I decided to have a beverage in the lounge. Just then, Kori Pop came on the stage and began to sing and play. The crowd almost immediately became silent. You could hear a pin drop. We were all held in a trance by Kori's soaring vocals and elegant guitar playing. Her original song compositions are wonderful, making full use of the guitar or keyboards to highlight points in a song. She is not big on covering other artist's songs but the few she does perform are done with a very unique perspective and arrangement.

If asked to compare Kori's voice and/or music, I might say Ricky Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush all rolled into one. She is that versatile. I have heard her play live many times and the atmosphere she creates is intense. Sometimes the notes she hits are so high you think she is going to crack or break a wine glass. Her songs are wonderfully simple but powerful at the same time. Even her studio recorded songs are basic. No elaborate orchestrations or fancy studio tricks. If asked about what kind of music does Kori play, I just say it is a little quirky and mesmorizing. Even Kori states that some major record labels have approached her but don't know what to do with her or where to put her. I caught up with Kori for a chat at the Mulberry Cafe.

Q: I recently saw a video on Facebook showing a baby crying, then someone put on one of your songs from your last project "Songs for Little Bean" and the baby almost immediately stopped crying and fell asleep. Are your songs always inspired by real life events?

A: Yes. Even if it is just the event and then I create a world around the event. It's always from a real place, whether it's a feeling I have and then I'll transform my feelings into a character, then write a character sketch or just write about the specific feeling. I never make up stuff. I can't sing with my soul if it's not coming from an honest place. I think that's what engages people the most.

Q: As you can tell ( I point at my cassette recorder) I'm not a big fan of fancy technology. I've noticed that most of your music consists of your beautiful voice and a guitar, even some of your videos are hand drawn paper cut out characters and backgrounds (which I love). What made you go this route with all the technology available to you?

A: My family. We were never technology people. I was the last kid at school to get a computer and by that point I had spent so much time cultivating skills to entertain myself that I didn't need it. It became more natural for me to get some scissors, paper and pencil crayons and do that rather than figure out how to do that on a computer. I find it really daunting. I can't be bothered. I like the challenge of creating something surprising out of something that anybody could use.

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

A: I love how Hamilton is the underdog. It has a character for that and thats how I feel as a musician. I've always felt like an underdog. People don't really know what to do with me. I've had a label interested say " I just don't know where to put you". It's kinda frustrating. So I kinda feel that with Hamilton The James Street community has grown especially in the last 2 years. It's nice to be able to play at "The Artward" or at "This Ain't Hollywood" There's a familiarity that I like more than I ever thought it would. Hamilton has everything to do with me. It is where my performance roots lie. I remember somebody telling me not too long ago that in the future if things were to happen (career wise) I'm going to have to say I'm from Toronto because people won't know where Hamilton is. Ya know what? I don't think I can do that. Toronto is like the rich brother and Hamilton is like the little brother saying " I'm gonna get there someday"! And when we do we'll enjoy it much more. We'll be more like Montreal....I love Hamilton!

Q: What would you say makes your music so unique/standout?

A: That's really hard. I'm just being myself. Maybe it's my influences. I don't have a favorite artist. I don't have one person that trumps everybody else. I have a handful of things that move me. I love classical music, particularly Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. It blows my mind. Everytime I listen to it I cry. I love Radiohead, thats why I started writing music. Jeff Buckley, Joni (Mitchell), Carol King, so I think maybe thats what it is. The convergence of my influences and not really emulating one of them because I don't like anyone of them more than the other.

Q: What's next for Kori Pop, and where do you see your musical career heading?

A: I have something up my sleeve, but I'm actually not allowed to talk about it. I'm not....it's a secret! I do have this big project that will be getting underway. By the end of this year or early 2013, but other than that...I wanna try to play Toronot a bit more. I probably won't but I'm gonna try. Gonna be honing my craft a bit more. I want to make sure that my craft is the solid thing in my life before I go on the road. I really wanna make a jazz album, in particular, I wanna make a Mancini album. Just Mancini songs. I like the fact that I'm getting older, my voice is lowering a bit. So when it gets to that low point where I can't do the high stuff anymore, then I'll do my jazz album.

Q: When and where are you playing next?

Next Hamilton Gig:

Thursday July 26th at Bishop's Park (as part of the Songs from the Bishop outdoor concert series)

To get in touch with Kori and hear some of her marvelous music:

Email: koripop@gmail.com
Website&Store: www.koripop.com

Story of the Moment

The Spec's award winning writer Susan Clairmont, writes a passionate account of the Lynwood/Charlton Hall matter. Susan's write up comes at the issue from its impact on the girls of Charlton Hall and, amongst other things, refers to the radial separation by-law as "Hamilton’s archaic radial separation bylaws that say residential care facilities must be at least 300 metres apart." Further, Clairmost argues that there is a disconnect between the 12-4 council decision that prevented Charlton Hall from moving to Augusta street, and Hamilton's vision of being The Best Place to Raise a Child. Read the write up here or purchase today's print edition.