"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
of other items, and throwing the legacy of the great Vic Copps in his face (who the mayor sometimes cites himself), while adding the presence of Clr. Partridge and others to such a meeting with the Premier (which on the surface seems acceptable but in the context of a censured mayor, may serve more than one purpose), are elements that are enabled by a weak mayor system and informed by the performance of the mayor himself. (There are alternatives to a weak mayor system, which we will perhaps discuss in the future.)
By a weak mayor system, we don't mean the relative prowess of the Mayor himself, but rather the fact that his position is reduced to one vote, despite being a "councillor at large" who has a greater span of responsibility. Under that systemic deficiency, he is an equal vote and thus is on par with and often times, at the mercy of other councillors. The ability of any mayor in that context, to garner and nurture support and mutual respect is crucial and the Mayor's performance in that regard has been in question while also working against what some would describe as a premeditated plan by some of his colleagues to make the role difficult for him from the onset.
To lead in such an environment is tricky and perilous. Sprinkle in politics, one up man/womanship, the in fighting, and the small p political wins and loses amongst councillors and the mayor, and the consistent losers are Hamiltonians that fall prey to the surrounding politically driven agendas supported by a systemic deficiency and aggravated by individual performances.
To use a common term " it is what it is" but is it what it could be?
Your comments are welcome.