Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Media Release from Chief of Police, Glenn DeCaire

Media Release 

For Immediate release:   October 31, 2012
Hamilton, ON

Statement from the Chief of Police on Military Training Exercise 

The Hamilton Police Service was advised of the military exercise taking place in the City of Hamilton on October 30 and 31, 2012.  These details were provided in the October 29, 2012 news release, issued by the Department of National Defense.

The Hamilton Police Service does not have authority or responsibility to approve, authorize, request or cancel military training.  Any inquiries regarding the exercise should be made to Major Doug MacNair at 613-240-8072.

Chief Glenn De Caire
Hamilton Police Service

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Core Copters

The following media release, is from Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr. Note: The title of this thread and the graphic were not part of the Clrs's release.

The lack of public consultation and absence of communication on the helicopter training exercise tonight in the downtown has caused great consternation with businesses, residents and visitors to our City.

Tonight's activity has generated dozens of calls and emails from the core, where residents called to inquire about the exercise and complain about the excessive noise pollution.

Until 3pm today, no consultation took place with the Ward 2 Councillor, downtown residents and/or businesses of the central business district. This flawed process has created great angst for seniors and young

families, all of which could have been avoided with public consultation.In light of what has clearly established itself as an unacceptable noise issue I have made a request to our Chief of Police that this operation be aborted immediately.

Jason Farr, Ward 2 Councillor

Sign Redirection

The following comment is authored by Graham Crawford:

In addition to trying to sell naming rights to everything that stands, may I suggest that Councillor Merulla and the rest of his elected colleagues spend at least as much time on things such as determining why we're going to replace all of the nearly 650 City employees who will be eligible for retirement over the next 3 years? A 5% cut in those numbers (which although challenging, is not an unreasonable target given our fiscal challenges and personally, I would double that to 10%) would be a reduction in staff of 32. If they each were paid, on average, $50,000 (a conservative estimate if one also factors in benefits, etc.) that's $1.6 million. If we also try to get to the bottom of why our absenteeism rates are so high, and getting higher, we would trim at least another $1 million. If we focused on how we can improve the extent to which staff are engaged in a common vision, we would see improvements in productivity, retention, and a decrease in absenteeism. 

If we actually got on with the task of immediately implementing a performance management system (rather than inching it along) so we could set goals, focus efforts, reward accomplishments, and promote the best from within, we would see improvements in all of the above. On the other hand, rather than holding Mr. Murray's feet, and the feet of his senior management team, to the fire, I suppose we could just try and get Tim Horton's to pay for a few floral displays. 

Come on Sam. Get focused on the high impact stuff, not just the high visibility stuff. Better management is what we need and we need it now. If you think you can produce the same results (reduction in costs and increases in productivity) by spending your time focusing on naming rights versus doing the tough work of ensuring we have a well-managed, motivated, focused, and productive workforce, then show me the numbers and we'll talk. Now, if you're prepared to do both at the same time and with the same level of intensity, be my guest. If you do both, may I suggest that fore very dollar you raise through sponsorships  that a dollar be reduced from staff budgets. That's a two-for-one saving. The more you bring in, the LESS managers have to spend and the MORE we're able to keep taxes down. Just a concept you might want to consider.

Please note: there are two links inserted in Mr. Crawford's comments. These links have been inserted by The Hamiltonian staff and were not in Mr. Crawford's text. We inserted these links as Mr. Crawford's comments align with previous material written here. 

Comments to Mr. Crawford's perspective are welcome. As per our policy, only respectful comments will be published. 

Signing on or Selling Out?

"Sign, sign everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind...."  That's an excerpt from the 5 Man Electrical Band's classic, Signs Signs , but it could also be a warning sign for what appears to be the commercialization of Hamilton owned property. 

According to Andrew Drescel's column in today's Spec (see it here or buy the print version), Clr. Merulla is planning to bring a motion to the General Issues Committee that will propose that all city owned properties offer advertising opportunities, in the form of signage. Clr. Merulla was quoted as saying " The Jolley Cut could be the Pepsi Cola Way.."

Merulla's idea, which would include everything from parks roadways and libraries, is geared toward combating growing financial pressures and relieving the burden on the residential tax base.

But upon further probing, and information gathering with the City of Mississauga, the Spectator learned that Mississauga's approach was done in a more considered way, ensuring that any such advertising opportunities allowed the city to further its culture and recreational programming for children, and not to offset the cost of base services. The emphasis was on a mutual fit between the city and the advertisers rather than putting  a mass of city owned properties up for advertising. 

Do you agree with Clr. Merulla's approach or do you believe that this would create "sign pollution" and an over saturation of signage, giving our city a cheapened look?  Would you support the idea if it were tempered, using Mississauga's approach as a model. Or do you believe that the idea is simply selling out Hamilton? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

City prepares for Storm Event

City prepares for storm event 

HAMILTON, ON - October 29, 2012 - With the remnants of Hurricane Sandy expected to sweep through southern Ontario starting this evening, City crews are preparing to deal with any emergencies.

Environment Canada is reporting that rainfall amounts of 20 to 40 millimetres are possible with locally higher amounts in excess of 50 millimetres. Rainfall amounts could vary greatly with location depending on the movement of some of the smaller, heavier rainbands with this system.

Over Southern Ontario, gusts to 90 km/hr or higher are likely especially along Western Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment. These wind gusts have the potential to cause broken tree limbs or in some cases uprooted trees which may result in downed utility lines.

Waste collection will continue as usual this week. Residents are encouraged to set waste items out the morning of their collection day rather than the night before to minimize the potential for blowing debris. Please take extra care to secure your waste items at the curb. Residents may choose to hold waste materials until next week’s collection day. The one-bag limit will be waived next week.

All City of Hamilton sports fields and diamonds have been closed due to impending weather conditions and the damage that may be caused by heavy rains. Conditions will be reviewed on Wednesday October 31, 2012 to identify a re-opening time frame. 

The City of Hamilton offers the following reminders for residents:

In the event of high winds, take extra precautions. To avoid flying and falling objects please remain inside and away from windows.

Please stay away from downed power lines, secure outdoor items like patio furniture and avoid any roads covered over in water.

If you rely on power for various medical devices (i.e. dialysis) or require a supply of medications or like support (i.e. home oxygen) please ensure you have an adequate supply for a few days and that any devices that have batteries are fully charged. Any questions, please contact your service provider.

If you see larger debris on the roadway please call 905-546-CITY (2489) to have City workers remove and dispose of it in a safe manner.

As a precaution, identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before a flood may occur. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate.

If you experience basement flooding call 905-546-CITY so the incident can be recorded. Take note whether the flooding is a result of a sewer surcharge or surface flooding.

Please ensure you have a working flashlight and a stocked emergency kit.

In the event of an emergency, please call 911.

Further updates will be provided throughout the day and into the evening.

For more information on emergency preparedness, please visit: www.getprepared.ca

For more City of Hamilton information, please visit www.hamilton.ca

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cash Crisis- Flood Prevention

If it keeps on raining , the levee's gonna break, if it keeps on raining,, the levee's gonna break

Those are the haunting lyrics from a Led Zeppelin classic, When the Levees Breaks, but their foreboding sentiment can also apply to the city's woes when it comes to  funding for residents who have been victims of floods.

As reported in The Spec (see story here or purchase today's print copy), flood prevention grant money has been depleted for the second time in four months. Despite having added an additional 2 million to the fund after the July 22nd storm, the demand for assistance has exceeded the supply of funds.  The city admits that the magnitude of the demand was unanticipated. The budget which was initially set for this year at 1.8 million, ballooned to about 4 million. 

Some homeowners have paid for permits, with the expectation that the grant subsidy was assured. It appears as though no additional monies will be assigned this year, unless council initiates such a direction.

Do you believe that the city should sustain  funding for this program and potentially increase it if need be? Or do you think other remedies are required?

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good......

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Night at the Opera- Rigoletto

Magnificently performed and brilliantly orchestrated, Opera Hamilton's Rigoletto, held its audience spellbound as Verdi's  tale of love, romance and treachery unfolded. 

For The Hamiltonian's past interview with General Director of Opera Hamilton, David Speers, click here.   For more about Rigoletto, click here.  And to discover the world of opera in Hamilton, click here. 

2013 Tattoo Dedicated to Memory of Honourary Patron, Lincoln Alexander

HAMILTON (October 26, 2012)…Continuing in the tradition of Connecting Canadians to Their Military, the Canadian International Military Tattoo announced today that it will dedicate the 2013 Tattoo to memory of Colonel The Honourable Lincoln Alexander, PC, CC, CD, QC who has served as Honourary Patron of the Tattoo since its inception in 1992. The 2013 Canadian International Military Tattoo, which celebrates the music and pageantry of Canada’s military tradition with the marching bands, pipes and drums, featuring over 450 of the world's finest military and civilian performers will take place Saturday, June 8th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 9th at 2:30 p.m. at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. 

“On behalf of the Canadian International Military Tattoo, I wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and announce that the 2013 Tattoo will be dedicated to the memory of our Honourary Patron, Lincoln Alexander,” said Joy Shikaze, APR, Chairman of the Board. “A true supporter of both the Tattoo and veterans, Lincoln Alexander always brought his grandchildren to this family event and proudly wore his uniform whenever possible. By veterans, we mean not only those like Lincoln Alexander who served during our 20th century wars and later in our peacekeeping operations, but also the magnificent generation of young men and women in uniform today who, like their forebears, risk their life for a noble cause – duty and service in the name of Canada.”

The Canadian International Military Tattoo is considered a Signature Event in the City of Hamilton. With the theme "IT HAPPENED HERE - IT'S HAPPENING HERE" the 2013 Tattoo will also feature a commemoration of the Battle of Stoney Creek which happened two hundred years ago in 1813. Tickets will go on sale December 1, 2012.

“The Canadian International Military Tattoo is the most exciting show west of Halifax. No other community in Ontario mounts such a spectacle. It provides a unique opportunity for our local military units to showcase their talents and history. It enhances the connection between the units and the broader community; it honours the virtues and pride of military service in general and the sacrifice of Canadians who have fallen in Canada’s wars,” added Shikaze. “The Canadian International Military Tattoo would be impossible to mount without the generosity of our sponsors and supporters such as Lincoln Alexander. We applaud and thank them for their commitment to the importance of education, history and tradition and would also like to invite new friends to come out and learn more about the astounding military history of our nation.”

The Canadian International Military Tattoo (www.canadianmilitarytattoo.ca) is an annual event celebrating Canada's rich cultural heritage of Connecting Canadians to Their Military through music. The Tattoo performances, based on an ancient military tradition are each 2-1/2 hours long featuring a vast array of international military and civilian acts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Updated Media Statement- Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

Media Statement: Thursday October 24, 2012

Provincial Cabinet must move immediately to implement $100 ‘healthy food’ benefit: 75% of those using food banks in Hamilton on social assistance and need immediate relief

The Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario released its final report Wednesday outlining proposals to reform social assistance in Ontario. “We’re pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the report. It doesn’t go far enough in some cases, but is bold in many areas, and moves toward a more equitable and dignified approach to social assistance. We look forward to the government acting on the proposed reforms and helping Ontario become a more prosperous province.” Said Howard Elliott, Chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

Included in the Commission’s recommendations

Strat Plan Approved

Hamilton City Council has approved the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan, confirming the City's Vision, Mission, Values and Priorities for the remainder of this term of Council. To view the Strategic Plan go to: http://www.hamilton.ca/ProjectsInitiatives/StrategicPlan/

Perspectives Virtual Panel- on "Aerotropolis"

We asked our Perspectives Virtual Panel, the following:

"There’s been lots of media attention on $5 million velodromes and $50 million stadiums, but a strange silence about the $500 million plus aerotropolis. The first two affect the re-use of a few acres of already urbanized Hamilton; the latter covers 4576 acres that are still rural, relatively clean and a significant food source"

That's a quote from one of our readers, Don McLean on the topic of "Aerotropolis" and the lands surrounding the airport. It is perhaps true that the amount of attention so far on "Aerotropolis" is incongruent to the significant impact of this initiative and the potential investment that is required.

Some argue that the investment is not necessarily in the public interest and will only serve to benefit land owners who wish to exploit its use for profit making ventures such as commercial development and/or residential development.

The city has submitted that there is a dire shortage of lands that will sufficiently support anticipated industrial employment growth through to the year 2031.

The Hamilton Civic League concluded a questionnaire which determined that 82% of 349 households around the Aerotropolis boundaries, do not support the city’s plan to rezone thousands of acres of farmland for industrial purposes. 85% of those surveyed do not accept the city’s claim that there is a shortage of industrial lands to support industrial employment growth to the year 2031.

Are you satisfied that we need to move in the direction of "Aerotropolis" or are you of the view that the concept is unproven and/or unneeded? Please explain your answer as concisely as possible.

Here are the answers from our panel members. Note:  The answers vary in length, but each is worthwhile reading:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bruce Springsteen in Hamilton

By the third song, Bruce Springsteen had already lept into the audience, singing while on his back, being supported by a wave of fans as he was transported through the audience and back to the stage. It took a remarkably short period of time for "the boss" to whip the audience into a fevered pitch as he plunged into "Out in the Street". His performance only got more interesting, intense and fascinating from there.

During one period in the show, it was as though you were in a baptist church in the south , listening to a charismatic preacher delivering a sermon from the pulpit. Springsteen talked about ghosts and spirits of loved ones, how he was convinced they were in the room, and how he knew because he could "hear it in your (the audience's)  voices" - who had been singing along with the songs at every turn. Complete with "sermon gestures" and other forms of symbolism , Springsteen seized the "congregation" and took them  to an almost hypnotic state.

Moving from what seemed to almost be a spiritual experience, he played his new songs and classics, proving that the new stuff belonged right alongside the classics. The intensity of the delivery was unmistakably "Bruce".  Wrecking Ball, Jack of all Trades and others songs were delivered with such intensity that the transference of emotion to the audience was seamless. 

Dancing with audience members, having children from the audience sing with him on stage, then hoisting them up on his shoulders,  were all a spontaneous and natural part of the show. Taking hand made signs from audience members and propping them on stage throughout the show, allowed Bruce an audience driven intro to songs he performed. Even toward the end of the show,  when he fell up the stairs en route to the stage, Bruce laughed at himself sat down and kept blasting out the music.

And blasting out he did. Playing primarily his infamous Fender Telecaster guitar, often times hoisting it behind him while he interacted with the audience, Springsteen and band pulled no punches. His vocals were blistering, packed with emotion and completely unreserved. Unlike many other artists who will often times take a lower octave note or the harmony note, in a difficult part of a song, Springsteen took no such exits and hit the notes as originally written.  And certainly he didn't need the autotune crutch.

The band raged with, as Springsteen put it  "new, old and very old faces" in it. Jake Clemons, nephew of the late great "Big Man" Clarence Clemons, did a respectable job in filling in his uncle's shoes and playing sax.

As is customary for Bruce, he played a long encore, including songs such as Dancing in the Dark, Born to Run, Rosalita and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out with the house lights on. The audience embraced it all, often times in a trance or in a frenzy, doing the wave, jumping up and down, dancing or otherwise finding themselves unable to keep still from the sheer energy of the performance. 

The night was magical. Staff at the event did a great job of delivering such a significant event and Hamiltonians who attended, we are sure, will forever remember- as the crowd referred to him,  "Bruuuuuuceeee"

The Hamiltonian

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Local Bytes

It may surprise you dear readers, but sometimes these columns don’t come easy. There are so many things to write about, but sometimes, like a roast, they just need to marinate a while before they’re ready for the oven. So it was with this piece. The individual elements were there, but they needed to sit together awhile before they melded. And I needed to find that perfect last touch to make it all sing. 

I’ve been reading (an overstatement as I only manage a page or two before I fall asleep) a book called ”The Locavore’s Dilemma – in praise of the 10,000-mile diet” by Toronto-based “globavores” Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu. The book has attracted its fair share of controversy, but I believe it makes a compelling, heavily-footnoted, case for why many hard-core and uncritical locavores (proponents of the SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical) and/or 100-mile or less diet) are misguided.

So, probably because I’m reading about the dilemma, I’m attuned to the topic and I’m noticing it everywhere. There was a good piece called “From Field to Table” by Andrew Vowles in the October 2012 Urbanicity all about seeking out local fare. Meanwhile, in the October 18th, 2012 edition of my local paper, the Flamborough Review, Catherine O’Hara has a column about ethical local eating and supporting area farmers.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to 820....

Perhaps some of you may have noticed that radio station AM820 ( until recently a country music station ) changed its format to all day comedy under the banner "Funny 820". So if you need to lift your spirits, dial in and enjoy the comedy. Click here to visit them on the web. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Clr. Johnson - On "Aerotropolis"

The following is our Q/A with Ward 11 Clr. Brenda Johnson on the topic of Aerotropolis.

Upon review of the media release , in which the Hamilton Civic League released its conclusions following a survey of 349 households surrounding the Aerotropolis area, are you at all surprised by the results of the survey? If so, howso, if not, why not?

No I'm not surprised.

I have found the general public is not as informed as they should about their immediate neighbourhoods.

Too often, the average person is not interested in knowing about zoning changes, by-law revisions. Their interest is usually a result of a sign being posted on a lot next to them that motivates the residents to understand more.

B) In light of the survey findings, what would you see as appropriate next steps?

Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD) was decided by the former council in the Fall of 2010 prior to the municipal election.

Several organizations such as Environment Hamilton (EH) and Hamiltonians for Progressive Development (HPD) as well as various developers appealed that decision.

Currently, the city is at the OMB regarding this issue which means I am limited to the latest information I can relay.

Having said that, I will state that even though the city held several open houses regarding the AEGD at various locations during the summer of 2010, they were poorly attended.

The Civic League performed the survey as well as educated the recipient. As a part of the process, "next steps" were discussed which included options such as registering at the OMB as a party or a participant. Our office directed a great number of residents through the OMB process.

As a result, over 40 people registered at the OMB.

The Hamilton Civic League provided a great exercise to get the public informed and help to enable them to be more involved with the process.

Thanks Clr. Johnson for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian. 

To read what Mayor Bratina had to say about Aerotropolis, click here. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Money Tracking- Light Rail Transit- Part 2

Pursuant to this article (click here), we asked City Manager Chris Murray if he could provide an outline of how the municipal portion of LRT monies were spent. Chris kindly referred us to
Don Hull , Director of Transportation , Public Works Department, who provided the following information:

To The Hamiltonian: 

Thank you for your inquiry. 

Mr. Murray has asked that I respond as the Transportation Director to your inquiry related to Rapid Transit expenditures.

The City of Hamilton expenditures on LRT have accumulated to approximately $5.1million since 2008.
This includes both capital and operating expenditures.

I provide the following breakdown:
City Capital Expenditures - total $1.9 million included:
* Rapid Transit Feasibility studies for A & B-Line
* Preliminary Assessment of LRT Operations, Preliminary Design Drawings at 15%, Functional planning analysis, Economic Potential study

* Identify development opportunities related to City Lands, Preliminary Maintenance Storage Facility, Implementation & staging strategies, model development

* 3D Simulation and Photo Montage, LRT Detailed Design at 70% for specific sections of the B-Line
City Operating Expenditures - total $3.2 million

* Since 2008, operating expenditures have totaled $3.2 million.

Included in the operating expenditures is all the staffing and resources of the rapid transit office - this includes overseeing all the technical experts and works, the planning, urban design, project management, communications and finance staff and functions as well.

Total staff complement at its maximum = 12.

Yearly Rapid Transit budgets have been submitted to Council for approval, since 2008. All approved budgets are provided on the City of Hamilton website.

Thanks again for inquiry.
Don Hull
Director of Transportation
Public Works Department
City of Hamilton

Thanks to Chris and to Don for providing our readers with this information!

Hamilton, Human Rights and Lynwood Charlton

In what may be a cunning legal strategy that appears to run contrary to a societal recognition of protecting human rights, the City of Hamilton is trying to get the Ontario Human Rights Commission removed from being involved in the OMB hearing on the Lynwood/Charlton matter. A decision is expected next week, as to whether the Human Right's Commission's request for status will be approved. See Spec story here, or buy today's print copy. 

With agencies such as the Food and Shelter Advisory committee supporting the idea of having the Human Rights Commission involved, the city may face growing pressure as this matter proceeds. Do you support the city's strategy to get the Ontario Human Rights Commission removed from the proceedings, or do you believe this sends a bad message in terms of Hamilton's interest in the protection of human rights? 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back on The Table- Adverse Auditor's Opinion

Further to this story (click here) related to the GIC Delegation held September 6 2012, Mr. Santucci and Mr. Bonham have submitted their second article. The article, found below, addresses point 1 of their presentation to GIC, that being, the topic of an Adverse Opinion audit with respect to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. 

Click here to witness first hand the delegation meeting and what was said before and after Mr. Santucci's presentation- which would also include Mr. Plessel's presentation.
Click here for a copy of Mr. Santucci and Mr. Bonham's presentation material used at the delegation.

FAILED AUDIT (ADVERSE OPINION): Point 1 of our GIC Presentation

On May 30, 2007 The Waterfront Trust received an Adverse Opinion issued by their external auditors, on their financial statements for the fiscal year end of December 2005. This audit came a full two years after they were required to submit audited financial statements to the both the Hamilton City Council and the Port Authority.

The Auditor’s Report gave the reasons why they could not sign off on the financials as presented to them by the management of the Waterfront Trust. The crucial paragraph states as follows:

“Due to an absence of adequate internal controls we were unable to satisfy ourselves that all revenues and expenditures of the organization had been recorded nor that the recorded transactions were proper. As a result we were unable to determine whether adjustments were required in respect of recorded or unrecorded assets, recorded or unrecorded liabilities and the components making up the statements of operations, changes in net assets and cash flow.” Published in the Bay Observer

The Board of Director’s responsibilities and the Auditor’s responsibilities in this process are outlined below. We were able to verify the contents in a conversation with the ICAO (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario)

Directors’ Responsibility for the Financial Statements
The directors of the Company are responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with Financial Reporting Standards in Canada. This responsibility includes: designing, implementing and maintaining internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error; selecting and applying appropriate accounting policies; and making accounting estimates that are reasonable in the circumstances.

Auditors’ Responsibility
The Auditor’s responsibility is to express an opinion on the financial statements based on their audit. The Auditors perform an audit in accordance with approved standards on auditing in Canada. Those standards require that they comply with ethical requirements and plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement. An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on their judgment, including the assessment of risks of material misstatement
of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, they consider internal control relevant to the Company’s or Organization’s preparation and fair presentation of the financial
statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control. An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates made by the directors, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements.

Adverse Opinion
An Adverse Opinion is issued when the auditor determines that the financial statements of an auditee are materially misstated and, when considered as a whole, do not conform to GAAP (Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles – the accounting standards at the time when the Adverse Opinion was issued). It is considered the opposite of an unqualified or clean opinion, essentially stating that the information contained is materially incorrect, unreliable, and inaccurate in order to assess the auditee's financial position and results of operations. Investors, lending institutions, and governments very rarely accept an auditee's financial statements if the auditor issued an adverse opinion. In the adverse opinion the auditor clearly states that the financial statements are not in accordance with GAAP which means that they, as a whole, are unreliable,
inaccurate, and do not present a fair view of the auditee's position and operations.

An Adverse Opinion issued in the private sector can have a devastating effect on the enterprise, resulting in loss of confidence by the investors, action by regulatory bodies and drastic changes in management.

In the case of the Waterfront Trust this Adverse Opinion seems to have been regarded as a normal occurrence. During the opening questioning at the GIC of September 6 Councillor Clark, who as far as we know is not a Chartered Accountant, led the questioning and discussion on this point.

Councillor Clark began the discussion and during his remarks stated; " They (The Waterfront Trust) did not fail an audit......an Auditor issued an Adverse Opinion.........Adverse Opinion is common in the industry
Stoney Creek News Thursday, September, 06, 2012 “They should celebrate the success of what is happening (at the waterfront) and stop this nonsense,” said Stoney Creek Councillor Brad Clark. “It’s like
a snowball going down a hill. The inference is we have not done our jobs. I do take offense to that.” Councillor Brad Clark

Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead called the public controversy over the waterfront trust a “tempest in a tea cup.” (Idem)

“This whole experience is much ado about nothing,” said Merulla. (Idem)

In conclusion, recent information concerning the insurance settlement and now the skating rink, zamboni etc.(October 2012 issue The Bay Observer), still call into question whether or not the issues identified in the Adverse Opinion may have be completely dealt with as was put forth by the Councillors present at the GIC of September 6, 2102.

We consider Issue 1 of our GIC Presentation back on the table.

Gary Santucci,  Brian Bonham

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hamilton Has Outgrown Its Council - The Bay Observer

The following opinion article, published by The Bay Observer, appears here with the permission of John Best.  As this article appears on The Bay Observer, we ask that you provide comments on their site, which can be found here. 

The City of Hamilton wasted no time vowing to keep a sharp eye on city money being paid to professional organizations like, Spectrum/Live Nation and Carmen’s who will soon take over operation of HECFI. Yet at the same time this administration has been wilfully negligent in its coddling of a clearly out-of-its-depth Hamilton Waterfront Trust . On top of all the other monies that have been thrown at HWT, the city in the past three years wrote the Waterfront Trust cheques for $4.2 Million to build a skating rink and additions to the Williams Coffee Pub without a detailed budget and apparently without a written agreement setting out the details of the sole-sourced construction project. When asked about this, city staff say it’s the same paper trail process that they use with public works projects—a one line budget number is supplied and then, in theory at least, payments are made based on the submission of progress reports with backup invoices. But in the case of Public Works, particularly the Water and Wastewater Division it was precisely that lack of oversight that resulted in a highly critical internal audit a couple of years ago. The audit revealed significant cost overruns on many projects, a phenomenon called “mission creep” resulting in unexpected costs, and a lack of accountability to keep individual projects on budget. Instead funds were diverted from projects that came in under budget to those that were overspent. “ Keeping it simple, stupid” may be good enough for a council who chronically demonstrate a lack of curiosity about the HWT’s serial financial missteps; but the practice leaves the general public, who are footing the bill out in the cold. In Hamilton there are probably hundreds of professional engineers, construction executives, accountants and the like who wouldn’t actually mind seeing a detailed budget in advance of a project’s commencement, and might even have helpful suggestions to offer. Any councillor who does not find it disgraceful that $4.2 Million of taxpayer funds would be put out with such negligible safeguards, is frankly not fit to serve as guardian of the public trust. When Gary Santucci, a local taxpayer dared to ask for detailed answers about the waterfront trust financial dealings at a General Issues Committee meeting in September, he was mocked and belittled by councillors Jackson, Merulla and Clark. Councillor Partridge, as chair of the meeting, demonstrated a complete lack of professionalism by her grotesque cheerleading of the stage-managed Council response to Santucci’s questions. Imagine how much taxpayer –paid time was spent rehearsing this public farce, rather than simply digging out the answers to a citizen’s questions. We’ve come to a sorry state when a citizen is forced to submit to indignity by asking questions that our elected representatives are too scared to ask.

As we have indicated previously the issue here goes way beyond whether the HWT should continue to operate as a stand alone agency—it should not;– rather, the existence of the HWT and its control by a clique of council is a symptom of a deep culture of secrecy, intimidation and sleaze that has existed at Hamilton City Hall for decades. These are strong words , but when otherwise good people stand by silently and watch their council colleagues habitually violate the code of conduct, they have been corrupted by the system. The same applies when professional staff are tricked or coerced into being accomplices to cover-ups. It is clear the City of Hamilton, on the cusp of greatness, has outgrown this backroom kind of council. Luckily there is time between now and 2014 for some serious citizen engagement and organization; but make no mistake if voters expect to see improvement; they have to upgrade the gene pool from which candidates are drawn. That means business, professional and community leadership have to put themselves forward. It’s time to get serious about how our community is managed.

To watch the video of the GIC meeting referenced in this article, click here. 

Checking in with The Chief (Acting Chief)

Given all the recent talk about a casino in Hamilton, we decided to check in with Police Chief Glenn DeCaire's office and ask him a few questions about what kind of impacts, if any, do casinos have on crime and policing. The Chief is unavailable at this time, and thus Acting Chief Eric Girt was kind enough to reply:

1. With the talk of a casino possibly in Hamilton and potentially in the downtown core area, what types of issues (if any), from a policing perspective would this bring?

Hamilton Police Service is committed to policing the City, to ensure the safety of the community. As you may be aware, we sent correspondence to the City’s Casino Subcommittee, requesting the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and provide input that the committee may wish to consider.

2. Are there any particular types of crime or criminal activity that tends to follow the presence of casinos that otherwise would not have been in play, or be as prevalent? If so, what might be expected?

The Service has set up an internal ad hoc casino committee to look at the impact of casinos in other jurisdictions from a policing perspective. Our research will include reaching out to other law enforcement agencies, which will include Toronto and Niagara Regional Police Services, in order to fully identify all issues. We will share this information with the City’s Subcommittee.

3. How would the advent of a casino affect policing in Hamilton. Are there any pressures it would present either from a capacity or skills required type of perspective, or any other perspective. How would a police service respond to such pressures?

As mentioned in our #2 response, our focus is to fully identify the issues involved from a policing perspective and then provide this to the Subcommittee.

Thanks Acting Chief Girt. We are certain Hamiltonians will be interested in your findings and reports. 

Comments? Do you think a Casino will bring with it new forms of crime, or increased incidents of crime? Or are you of the view that there will be a negligible affect, if any? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Farr Fetched

It seems as though Clr. Farr did a decent job of trying to gather (fetch)  feedback from constituents on whether they favour a casino. The feedback was received during a town hall, and through phone polls.

The results are reported as follows:

From the Town Hall: 

Do you support a casino located in Downtown Hamilton? 38 residents voted Yes, 103 residents voted No.
Do you support a casino locating elsewhere in Hamilton? 34 residents voted Yes, 84 residents voted No.

Results of a ward wide automated telephone survey

Q1: Do you support the opening of a casino in the City of Hamilton?
Yes: 240, 54.18%
No: 154, 34.76%
Undecided 49, 11.06%

Q2: Do you support a Casino locating in the Downtown Core of Hamilton? (Asked if Q1 = Yes/Undecided)
Yes 188, 68.12%
No: 49, 17.75% 
Undecided: 39, 14.13% 

Q3: Do you support a Casino locating elsewhere in the City of Hamilton? (Asked if Q2 = No/Undecided)
Yes: 51, 60.00%
No: 6, 7.06%
Undecided: 28, 32.94%

Thanks to Clr. Farr for sharing these results. 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Picking a Cat Fight?

Clr. Ferguson's recent comments with respect to the decision not to locate the stadium on the West Harbour, certainly would have been understandable during the period in which the issues were being vigorously debated. But the recent resurgence of the topic by the Clr. and his comments, bordering on scathing  with respect to Ti-Cat President Scott Mitchell's alleged role, have some wondering about the timing of these comments. (see Spec story here or buy today's print version).  Rather than speculating on the "why now" question, we decided to ask Scott Mitchell, President of the Ti-Cats and Clr. Ferguson for their views as to why the topic is being resurfaced. In absence of a reasonable explanation, some may beleive that the Clr.  is unduly picking a "cat fight".

Mr. Mitchell's Q/A is below. If we receive a reply from Clr. Ferguson, we will also post it verbatim.

We note that you responded to some extent to Clr. Ferguson's remarks in The Hamilton Spectator, alleging that you are seemingly solely to blame for the stadium location not being at the West Harbour. We are not asking you to defend yourself against those remarks however, we are interested in your views as to why these remarks may be playing out at this moment in time. Some might see the timing of those remarks as odd, given the turmoil that was sustained and the decisions that finally ensued. Any thoughts as to why the Clr. would be so openly critical of your involvement now, when we are on the cusps of moving forward with the decided design?

Unfortunately I do not. 

I do think he's greatly exaggerating my abilities and influence with all these levels of government, as well as Infrastructure Ontario and Toronto 2015.

I'm sure Councillor Ferguson has his reasons and motivations, however its unfortunate that we are discussing a very positive decision that was made by numerous levels of government, including the city of Hamilton, nearly two years ago.

Its time to look ahead to a brilliant new stadium that will hold thousands of hours of community programming, great cultural and entertainment events and world class professional and amateur sport. Its an exciting time and we are thrilled and proud to have played a small part of bringing this great new facility to our city.


Thanks Scott for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian

A Chat with O.D.E.I.Program Director, Larissa Voytek

The Hamiltonian was approached by the Ontario Dental Education Institute (O.D.E.I.) to write about the plight of students who are affected by the closure of the Canadian Dental Hygiene Institute.  Here is a Q/A with  O.D.E.I.Program Director, Larissa Voytek:

1. Can you tell us about the Canadian Dental Hygiene Institute. Where is/was it located and what significance did it have? 

CIDH was a registered Private career college located on King St in Hamilton. It offered only a dental hygiene program.

2. We understand that the Institute was recently closed. When did it close, why did it close and who closed it? 

It closed July 19, 2012. The owner cited financial issues.

3. What impacts does this have on students who were in the program and on the community at large?

There were 16 students that were 5 weeks from graduation. 28 students who were 2/3 of the way through the program. Many clients had services from CIDH at a very low cost. These clients are now not able to access affordable dental hygiene care in the downtown core. They can travel to ODEI, but many don't have access to travel means.

4. What role has the Ontario Dental Education Institute played and what role, if any, will you continue to play?
ODEI hosted the trainout for the 5 weeks of remaining school for the 16 students. They have now completed their program! Of the 28 students 2/3 of the way through, 25 of them choose ODEI as their trainout provider, and have enrolled at the 50% point of our dental hygiene program.

5. What remedies would ytou be seeking and what agencies/levels of government/bodies, would be in a position to affect those remedies? 

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities oversees a fund, the Training Completion Assurance Fund, that is in place to assist students who are coming from registered programs that have closed with funding to have their education completed.

6. Is there anything else you would like Hamiltonians to know about this issue? 

The students have all been looked after and are satisfied with the outcome and the client charts have been transfered to ODEI.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Stadium, New Experience

It is a great day to be a Hamiltonian and a Tiger-Cat fan!

Earlier this afternoon, the TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games and its partners announced the funding details for Hamilton's brand new, world-class facility that will serve as the home of the Tiger-Cats beginning in 2014.

This new venue will revolutionize our gameday experience at Tiger-Cats games and all the other sports and entertainment events it will make possible. From individual seats for every fan to endzone patios to improved sightlines, this new stadium will provide you with a world-class live entertainment experience featuring unparalleled comfort and intimacy, state-of-the-art technology and premium amenities, including excellent restaurant quality food and beverage options.

When Ivor Wynne was built in 1928 it was state-of-the-art for its day and it contributed to increased support for the Tiger-Cats. That increase in fan support contributed in no small way to the success of the team on the field, and for the brand of the City of Hamilton, in the following decades. I believe the new Pan Am stadium presents a very similar opportunity for our City and our team.

To learn more about Hamilton's new stadium, and to see some photos and a video, click here www.newstadiumnewexperience.com.

Oskee Wee Wee,

Bob Young
Caretaker, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mayor Bratina- on "Aerotropolis"

Hamilton Mayor, Bob Bratina
On the heels of the publication of the results of a survey conducted by The Hamilton Civic League, with respect to "Aerotropolis", we asked Mayor Bratina the following.  Enjoy our Q/A with the Mayor:

The Hamilton Civic League concluded a questionnaire which determined that 82% of 349 households around the Aerotropolis boundaries, do not support the city’s plan to rezone thousands of acres of farmland for industrial purposes. 85% of those surveyed do not accept the city’s claim that there is a shortage of industrial lands to support industrial employment growth to the year 2031. Are you satisfied that there is a shortage of industrial lands to support industrial employment growth to the year 2031? If so, what evidence has been brought to your attention that has satisfied you. If you are not yet satisfied, what next steps might you think are appropriate?

It's no surprise that a poll of residents most directly affected by the so-called Aerotropolis showed their overwhelming opposition. The matter originally came before the Planning Committee in May of 2005. Because of the obvious interest and importance of this issue I along with some other members of the Committee insisted upon another special meeting to be held at a site within the affected community. A month

Media Release- Aerotropolis Residents Reject City’s Plan

Aerotropolis Residents Reject City’s Plan

For immediate release.

Oct 5th, 2012 – Hamilton ON – Hamilton Civic League volunteers conducted a door to door survey of 349 households within the Aerotropolis boundaries during the last week of August. The short survey was designed to gauge residents’ level of awareness of and support for the City approved plan to rezone thousands of acres of prime farmland surrounding the airport, for industrial purposes. Eighty-two percent (82%) of residents surveyed do not support the City’s plan. Sixty-six percent (66%) claimed to have received notification of the plan from the City but many had clearly confused recent Hamilton Civic League mailings as notice from the City.

The City of Hamilton claims there is a shortage of industrial lands, throughout the city, to support industrial

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Aure Wines - Beamsville

Wineries are a bit like wild mushrooms. They can be quite beautiful and appear to spring up when you’re not looking. Some pop up off the beaten and windswept path where you might not expect them. And each has a story… 

A few months back my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a dinner at Aure Winery in Beamsville. (Readers - not to mention the owners - will be glad that I resisted the obvious – “Auresome!” or “In Aure” - settling for a more prosaic title.) 

Though a bit out of the way at the top of the Escarpment , it is a beautiful and welcoming family-run operation, with some interesting wines as well as a fine young chef in the kitchen of the Silo Bistro. (Kristin Allin is also Niagara-grown, or more accurately Niagara-trained as she was raised in Kilbride.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

$90,000.00 Sliding Away?

From the "Things that will Drive a Taxpayer Nuts" file, a story in the Stoney Creek News advises that patrons of the new Stoney Creek Rec Centre, won't be able to use the pool slide that was built for the pool.

Due to its small deck, there is an issue with the potential for a passerby to stick an arm out and cause an injury. 

A new slide to replace the new slide has cost $90,000.00.  The city is consulting with its legal department to determine whether the contractor who installed the first slide, could be held liable for costs.  

The full story is here. 

Pic of the Moment

Prolific visual artist Robert Carley established a studio, gallery and home at 30 Bristol Street, Hamilton in 2004.
Robert's vision for Barton Street is to bring it back to its former glory.

We are always pleased to feature engaged Hamiltonians concerned about the well being of our city. If you are one, feel free to send us your photo for consideration. Send to admin@thehamiltonian.info 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Told You So! Moment of the Moment

As much as most people hate to say "I Told you So", click here and here to see the "I Told You So" moment of the moment. 

Scott Mitchell- Not Harbouring Any Doubt

With all the recent talk, notably from Clr. Ferguson, expressing doubt about the location of the Pan Am stadium and going as far as to suggest that it be reconsidered in favour of the West Harbour site, we touched based with Ti-Cat President Scott Mitchell to get his take.

Here is our Q/A with Scott:

Q. Clr. Lloyd Ferguson has recently expressed concerns over whether the right decision was made on the Pan Am stadium issue. Having endured a very elongated and often times difficult process that led to the existing site of Ivor Wynne being selected, do you see any value in reconsidering where we landed or how the stadium will be built, or do you think it is time to move on and continue to commit to the current plans?

A. City Council unanimously approved this site almost two years ago and we need to focus on the positive. While we initially saw this as very much a compromise site, our excitement and enthusiasm for the site has grown through that time as we've understood the opportunities that exist within that location. 

This is going to be the only multi-purpose facility of its kind in all of Southern Ontario that has the ability to host world class events, concerts and cultural exhibitions as well as thousands of hours of community programming. For our region and the city of Hamilton, its going to be a treasure for decades to come. We are incredibly excited about the unveiling on October 12th. 

Thanks Scott for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Money Tracking- Light Rail Transit

In the interest of clarity, The Hamiltonian asked City Manager Chris Murray to explain how a yearly municipal commitment of $200,000.00 per year for three years, for LRT funding, grew to 5 million dollars.

Mr. Murray provided the following clarification:

Thanks for your inquiry and for the opportunity to clarify dates and information as it relates to the LRT program and monies spent. Last October through a report and presentation to committee staff advised members of City Council that we had spent approximately $5.1m of city budgeted money on LRT work plus the $3m Metrolinx grant - totaling $8.1 Million.

In that report we also advised Council that we would be spending an additional $965,000 (funded from previous Metrolinx grant money which is now in a reserve) to complete some additional work. This money was again part of the Metrolinx grant.

Most recently, LRT staff provided members of Council a verbal update earlier this month on the status of our work and expenditures.

The new total to date is $9.1 Million ($5.1 Million City/$4 Million metrolinx). I hope this information is sufficient and if you require additional details, I'd be happy to try and track that down for you.

We advised Mr. Murray that the information provided is sufficient and that there was no need to track it down any further. Thank-you to Chris for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.