|Clr. Tom Jackson|
In response to the Councillor's inference that perhaps The Hamiltonian is not interested in a balanced picture of the HWT and has not been working on its own, please note:
The Hamiltonian asked a series of questions that we believe Hamiltonians are entitled answers to. Clear answers to these questions affords a sense of the balance that the Clr. refers to. As is our practice, we publish responses verbatim, thus allowing for all sides to provide necessary clarity and context, unfettered. Thus The Hamiltonian has already shown an interest in a balanced picture of the HWT.
We suggest that the act of asking questions, and allowing for unfettered responses, is, in fact achieving fairness and balance. What is required , is responses to the questions- which to date has not been forthcoming. We continue to invite Clr. Jackson to give direction to the HWT to answer the questions.
In terms of The Bay Observer article, it was referenced in the same way that we do other articles from other media sources such as The Spectator etc. Clr Jackson's inference that perhaps we are not operating "on our own", is invalid. To date, The Hamiltonian has not had a direct discussion/exchange in any form whatsoever with Mr. Best or anyone from The Bay Observer on how we will cover their article. To suggest that we are not operating on our own, save for our normal practice of often times referencing articles from other sources, is a misconception.
It is very simple. We asked 10 questions. Here they are, followed by the most recent response we received. We'll let our readership decide whether the Clrs. response is appropriate:
Questions we asked
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?
Clr. Jackson's reply:
DEAR THE HAMILTONIAN....Because your questions are based on the B.O.'s unfortunate, in some circumstances, regurgitated allegations and that the B.O's story seems to be sourced from the same, small cabal of HWT critiques, who possibly, for whatever reason(s), loath the work of the HWT, I will stand by the earlier responses to you that were conveyed by myself, Werner Plessl, GM Rob Rossini of the City's finance department and HWT Chairman Bob Charters. All the dollars are being well spent in my opinion. They are adding social, recreational and economic value to those areas of our City and it's renewed image overall. The 2011 Auditor's report by Deloitte should be made public this week, as the HWT Board approved them this past Monday. You will soon see two new restaurants at the HWT Centre this year, providing more opportunites for our citizens and visitors alike to enjoy Hamilton's Waterfront, both at the West Harbour and along the Beach Trail. We are a "not-for-profit" organization. Did you know, except for the "Quad Pad Arena" in my Ward, all other City-owned facilities like ice pads, libraries, recreation centres, parks, playgrounds require taxpayer money for operating expenses every year?? By the way, there were 300 people recently out to the outdoor rink at the HWT last Friday roller skating. I am and will continue to be a strong booster of the transformative work being done at the HWT with the UNANIMOUS support by this term of City Council. If the Hamiltonian itself on its own is interested in a "balanced" picture of the HWT, that is something I may consider further. Hope you understand. Thanks and bye for now, Councillor Jackson....
Are you satisfied with the Clrs's reply?