Here is our email, which was directed to Mr. Plessl and copied to city council and the city manager, followed by Mr. Plessel and Mr. Charters' reply:
Dear Mr. Plessl:
On June 20th, Mr. Charters agreed to answer questions concerning the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, for The Hamiltonian. On June 21st, we sent the questions to him and copied you as well. On June 22, Mr. Charters advised that he is referring this matter to you to respond to. We had asked for an estimated time of arrival for the return of the responses to the questions. To date, we have not received any communication from you directly on this matter. The Hamiltonian takes no pleasure in escalating this matter and our default position is always to invite respectful dialogue and exchange of information, allowing each side of an issue to express their views.
To our city councillors and Mr. Murray: We are sure that you will recognize that parceling work to a third party, be it an arm’s length party, an Agency, Board or Commission, or any other entity, does not absolve that entity from being open, transparent and accountable to the taxpayers of Hamilton. The questions we are posing to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust are pasted below this email. We trust you will find them to be fair and in the best interests of Hamiltonians. We would appreciate any efforts that can be made in conjunction with Mr. Plessl, for the answers to these questions, as well as an ETA as to when we may receive a response.
1. The Bay Observer published an article recently (which can be found here http://bayobserver.ca/2012/06/15/waterfront-trust-bookkeeping-raises-eyebrows/, which presents some disturbing assertions with respect to the manner in which the Hamilton Waterfront Trust is being run financially and otherwise. Our first question to you is a general one, which allows you room to say whatever you believe is pertinent, Upon review of this article, what are your observations/response to it? (please note- this general question is understood not to take the place of replies requested to the balance of the questions below)
2. Have all construction contracts been awarded through a tendering process? If not, can you identify the contracts and the value of those contracts?
3. Are staff positions on the Trust posted for recruitment? Can you describe the process by which staff positions are recruited? Have there been any exceptions and , if so, why?
4. Are members of the Trust provided with company vehicles that are subsidized in any way, in whole or in part, including the cost of gasoline or fuel, through taxpayer dollars? If so, how many vehicles and what is the value of the subsidy?
5. Are expense accounts allowed to anyone on the Trust, If so, what is the yearly allotment of those accounts and are they audited?
6. What, if any, spot audits are done by your accountants on transactions which generate cash?
7. A washroom that's price has been allegedly inflated by $400,000.00 to allegedly offset a cost overrun. True or untrue? Please explain.
8. Do you believe the Trust’s finances would withstand a forensic audit and given the Bay Observer’s article , will you call for one to, at the very minimum, clear the air and assure taxpayers that their dollars are well spent?
9. Would you be willing to provide copies of the minutes of all board meetings for publication on The Hamiltonian?
10. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about the Hamilton Waterfront Trust?
Reply from Mr. Charters and Mr. Plessel:
We are satisfied with the responses of Councillor Chad Collins our former Chairman and Roberto Rossini General Manager Finance City of Hamilton.
On behalf of the Board,
Bob Charters, Werner Plessel
Are you satisfied that the issues we have posed have been adequately addressed and do you accept the response from Mr. Plessel and Mr. Charters? Or do you think a further account is required? In our view, the questions posed have not been substantively addressed while some have not been addressed at all.