Friday, June 8, 2012

The Apples/Oranges Thing

In today's Hamilton Spectator, Andrew Dreschel essentially makes the argument that Mayor Bratina should put his surplus savings ( by virtue of under spending his office budget), to good use by using that money to help fund the  student nutrition program. (see it here or buy the print version) Dreschel acknowledges that the mayor's surplus funds had been re-purposed into other pockets of reserve funds, and that the nutrition program is one of many that could potentially benefit from re-purposing of the mayor's office surplus. He also allows that this tactic may be unsustainable if a new mayor were in place with different ideas on how to spend his/her budget.

At the same time, Mayor Bratina has been on the receiving end of terse criticism for not hiring up and rather,  running his office with what some believe are too little staff and support. Clr. Clark, for example, was recently very critical of the mayor  in that regard. 

What would be interesting is a comparative analysis of how Hamilton's staffing levels in the Mayor's office compare to the staffing levels of other Mayor's offices in other municipalities, relative to population served. Such a comparison would give us a sense of how we are faring, understanding that there will always be a degree of variation between issues facing particular municipalities and the relative staff strength required to manage. Moreover, it would give us a comparator, not as a substitution for what people's experiences have been on the ground, but as a useful reference point by which to inform judgments.

The situation is worse than the proverbial "apples and oranges" syndrome, as there is no reference point to latch  to. 


  1. To be honest, it's hard to know if the problems the mayor is having are the result of too few staff, too little professional advice from the staff he does have, or a desire to do it his way regardless of the advice he's being given.

    If he has no intention of expanding his staff during his term, then I suggest he do what any other department/office would do and lower the amount of his annual budget for the rest of this term. That way we don't have to keep talking about this. If this was a Sales Division, or an Operations Division budget, it would have been re-calibrated at the end of the first year.

    Of course, he won't do that because he doesn't get to remind us how much less he's spending than predecessors like Fred or Larry. It is a fact he's spending less. It's also a fact that there isn't any integrated, cogent strategy coming out of his office.

    He seems to stagger from one blunder to the next, whether that's a blog that is designed not to accept comments which now does, or a task force on juvenile nutrition that's already being handled by many charities and volunteers.

    Admittedly, some of his difficulties come from having no, or almost no, goodwill left in his civic bank account. After his insulting comments about Councillors and their lack of clarity and understanding as to the rationale of their vote to censure him, how can he expect them to play nice? That's just the most recent example.

    Added to this, I'm getting concerned about so many references to him not being at committee meetings. Certainly, I'm not keeping track of his attendance, but when it keeps getting referenced, I get concerned. Not sure if I should be.

    1. Graham:

      I don't see any ability to post comments to the mayor's blog. Am I missing something?

    2. Sorce:
      Honestly, I checked yesterday and you could leave comments. In fact, I emailed a few interested parties to let them know of the change. I just checked again after reading your comment. Now the Comments window is gone.

      Trust me, I'm not making this up. Perhaps The Hamiltonian can ask for clarification?

      Were they testing it? Did they receive comments that were inappropriate? Were they kidding? What gives?

    3. Hamiltonian AdminJune 08, 2012

      This is my guess. Blogs usually have a default setting to allow all new topics to either have comments or not. It could be that the default was set to allow for comments, and someone forgot to change the post to Not allow comments.

      It's just a guess based on experience.

      Hamiltonian Admin (Diane)

    4. Thanks Diane. I was starting to worry that I might have discovered time travel :)

  2. The comparison would be interesting. In the end, it comes down to what comes out. If what comes out is not cutting it, then you have to take a closer look at the people, the skills, the number etc. If what comes out is good and you're saving money too, all the better.

  3. AnonymousJune 08, 2012

    I like reading Andrew but it is an opinion article. The comparison you mention should be a first step in this discussion.

  4. I didn't think of it that way, but point taken. Personally, I think Bratina's office and his staff have taken a beating. Some ofd this may be personal, but if there is anything else about it that is more related to the ability to do the job, ore enough people to do the job, the Mayor should really consider hiring up or his choices.


    P.S. Teresa- I like the clarification you posted about the moderation policy. I know I am off topic, but I firmly believe that you as long as you say your view respectfully, it makes no difference if you are posting anonymously or not. No excuse not to be on The Hamiltonian for our councillors. Good job!

  5. AnonymousJune 08, 2012

    The Mayor needs an advisor with integrity, good character,and with his best interest at heart.He doesn't need someone who is "on a mission", and in total control.
    He needs to truly understand that with that set-up, he is in a no win situation. He needs to spend his budget to provide a more balanced staff.

  6. AnonymousJune 08, 2012

    The point has been made by others that the Mayor's office is dysfunctional. If we are to ascribe to that principle, then the responsibility can only lie with the Chief of Staff.

    If the Mayor's office is to become functional a more capable Chief of Staff is required.


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