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Monday, July 30, 2012

Link of the Moment

Have They Voted in June- from our good friends at C.A.T.C.H.  Click here to go there...

Cooking on the Coleman- Open Data

Some time ago, The Hamiltonian approached our friend Joey Coleman to ask him a few questions about Open Data. Enjoy our chat with Joey:

1. In non technical terms, can you explain what Open Data is, and why you believe it to be important?

Explained in non-technical terms, Open Data is the concept the information is available without restriction in the most usable format.

2. Can you provide an example or two where open data has had a positive impact?

During the approach of Hurricane Irene towards New York City, local NPR station quickly created an evacuation zones map with existing open data posted by the City. (http://project.wnyc.org/news-maps/hurricane-zones/hurricane-zones.html)

In Toronto, there are many examples of applications made using real-time transit data. Rocket Radar (http://www.rocketradar.net/) is one of the first apps launched. Built by a university student, the application uses GPS to inform you when the next streetcar or bus is schedule to arrive. The student is now employed as a developer in good part because of open data apps. In the Boston area, there is a bakery that uses transit open data to take bake goods out of the oven just in time for commuters arriving on the train.

If Hamilton had open data, we could map our city and create applications for such things as nearest water fountain, cooling centre, available parking spot, routes to avoid traffic congestion, or nearby restaurants without recent inspection violations.


Friday, July 27, 2012

P.J. Mercanti - On HECFI Attractions

PJ Mercanti
We asked PJ Mercanti, President of of Carmen's, the following with respect to Carmen's bid relative to HECFI:

Q. Being able to bring quality entertainment and other attractions to HECFI facilities, in a sustained way and in a way that will invigorate the city of Hamilton in that regard, will surely be a critical component to the future success of the HECFI facilities. 

We note that Carmen’s has been able to attract personalities such as Al Pacino, Sylvester Stalone and a host of other popular celebrities at its facility. We assume however (and correct us if we are wrong), that the upfront work and negotiations to bring such big names to Hamilton, may have taken months and likely, years to accomplish. 

This question relates to scale. How would Carmens go about ensuring there is a regular stream of quality acts coming to Hamilton, on a scale that perhaps is different and more demanding that what it might otherwise be at Carmens (the facility).? What adaptations, if any, might you recognize as needing to be made to support a larger scale operation?

P.J. responded as follows:

As it relates to The Carmen’s Group bid for the Hamilton Convention Centre, a small component of our business plan will be centered around entertainment events as it is more of a priority for Copps Coliseum and Hamilton Place to host live entertainment events, not the Convention Centre. Our priority for the Convention Centre will first and foremost be centered around two items: 

Food For thought with Alex Bielak - High Flying Food

  High Flying Food

An aerial theme this week, as well as a couple of more earthly delights for you to consider.

It turns out Food for Thought has a fan in Los Angeles. Deborah Bryan made the link between the Hamiltonian having a political bent, as well as a food and wine column.

She sent a link to a video titled “Flying Kitchens over parliament - Happy Beefgiving.” Produced for Meat & Livestock Australia, it pokes fun at two Australian politicians, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Deborah wrote they “rarely get along,” but my Australian contacts (thanks Andrew and Fin) were basically a lot less polite about the two and the havoc they are wreaking down under.

I got the sense from them that even the rock bottom of the Chretien/Bouchard or Harper/Duceppe relationships would not be a match: So watch the video’s punch line and imagine our PM and the retired Bloc leader soaring over our Parliament, or perhaps, given the recent news, the Premiers of Alberta and B.C. spiraling over the oil sands.)

In more prosaic and culinary vein, the video features several chefs grilling over an amazing, and soon to be airborne grill. I want one!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When it Rains, it Pours

Days after a subsidy expired, that would provide Hamilton homeowners with $2000.00 to install equipment to prevent sewage backups, the recent heavy downpour left affected residents who experienced a sewage back up, to fend for themselves. However, the matter will be discussed by council at an August 13th meeting. See Spec story here, or purchase the print version.

Ward 11 Clr. Brenda Johnson will be calling for the reactivation of a compassionate grant payment of $1000.00 for victims of the July 22 downpour. Citizens can call 905-667-3157 to find out about the grant that, if reactivated, would provide some financial support to those who have water damaged basements as a result.

The majority of flooding complaints appear to revolve around surface water rather than sewer backups. Insurance companies don't cover flooding from surface water and many have ceased covering sewer backups in select areas. Still some companies may  provide coverage which may include some restrictions. 


The city says the flooding appears to be mostly due to a sewer system overwhelmed by massive amounts of rain, but they have not made a final conclusion yet.



Who do you think should pay for these types of damages? Insurance companies, the city, the homeowner- a blend?

Monday, July 23, 2012

At the Fringe- That the Multitude May Live

Steve O'Brien, Brenna Rae MacNaughton and Matt Szirglas
There wasn't a seat left in the house, as I attended John Bandler's "That the Multitude May Live", at The Fringe. 


Bandler picks up on last year's successful production of 59 Minutes in the Maxwell Suite, and does not dissapoint as he continues to blend science fiction, futuristic technologies and their intersection with human emotion and allegiances. 

The rich story line is blissfully complimented by the flawless execution by its actors and actresses (see picture), who transfixed the audience from the get go. This is another stellar production that is well worth seeing.

The production team includes Valerie VanLandschoot and Beth Bandler. Congratulation to all involved! For information on performances, click here.


Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Link of the Moment

The Spec's coverage of new restaurant opening on the waterfront. See it here or purchase the print version. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

John Best on Chats from the Lair

As released by Laura Babcock on Chats from the Lair

John Best loves investigative journalism – the former news director for CHCH and current Editor of The Bay Observer likes the “old school” methodical hunt for the truth. And that is exactly what he is doing with the Waterfront Trust – patiently trying to uncover what exactly is behind their large operating deficits. Is there a scandal here? I asked him some very direct questions and he answered me carefully. Listen and be the judge.

Click here to go there

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Hamilton Waterfront Trust Lifeline?

Can I use a Lifeline? It almost sounds like the infamous call of desperation on the once popular TV show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire". According to an expansive piece found in today's Hamilton Spectator (see it here) or purchase the print copy, HWT Chair Bob Charters points to the opening of a new restaurant complex, set to open Monday, to help save HWT from insolvency. Werner Plessel, Executive Director, adds that an expansion at Williams, should also help. Perhaps our analogy to the TV show may be imperfect,  however given the fourth consecutive year of significant financial losses being recorded, it may not be too far off.

Charters asserts that the Trust has received no city subsidies, seemingly dismissing the gravity of contigious losses over the last four years, that present at the feet of Hamilton taxpayers.

Clr. Farr stated that "we all want scrutiny",  which strikes us with a degree of irony, given that the 10 questions we asked of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, and asked Clrs Farr and Jackson to help facilitate answers to, remain largely unanswered. (see them here)

The Spectator's coverage did not name The Hamiltonian although it refers to two web sites that are " tracking the trust". Presumably one being The Hamiltonian. The fact remains that key questions we are asking on behalf of Hamiltonians related to The Hamilton Waterfront Trust remain unanswered. To the extent that anyone from the HWT or council have found these questions plaguing, the simple remedy is to provide honest and straight forward answers to them.

We remain non judgmental as to the operations of The Hamilton Waterfront Trust, however the refusal to provide answers to questions Hamiltonians are entitled answers to leaves us to wonder about the reasons for  doing so, and leaves us to conclude that Mayor Bratina was right to ask questions of the Trust on behalf of Hamilton taxpayers.


Perhaps the key question that remains is whether we should continue to entrust the Trust to turn things around to achieve at least a break even point, or look at a different stewardship configuration. 

Thoughts welcome. Please note that only respectful comments will be posted. 

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- Fringe Food

Fringe Food


This week we are talking about Food in Theatre. (Or perhaps it is Food as Theatre, you be the judge.) The Hamilton Fringe Festival features two shows related to food and another that teases with a culinary expectation. (The three shows run Friday 20th to Sunday 29th July. See the Fringe website for all showtimes.) 

The one I am heading to first is “The Cooking Show” (at the Hamilton Theatre) directed by Hamilton’s own Ray Rivers. “It’s a spoof of sorts on the Food Network,” says Rivers who is Playwright, Producer, and Director for the show, as well as appearing in it as the Maitre d’ and Musician. It’s a real multi-tasking family affair as his wife, Jean, is Stage Manager, and deals with props and costumes as well.

The show promises “humour, romance and intrigue (in a) comedy with a surprising ending.” It includes “extra-curricular activities,” real recipes, and thoughts about lamb and wine. It also features a trip to the first restaurant in France that Julia Child ate at, one that inspired her culinary career. (It was 1948 at “la Couronne” in Rouen, and she loved the sole meunière.) 


Ray – who dabbled for a couple of years as a vegan, but is now a devoted meatie – is also politically active


Friday, July 20, 2012

Carmen's - All in the Family

P.J. Mercanti
In response to one of our readers who asked about the make up of Carmen's in terms of who its board of directors and shareholders are, and in response to an email we sent PJ,  PJ Mercanti, responded as follows:

Hi There,

Would be happy to share with you that information. 


The sole owner of Carmen’s is my father, Peter Mercanti. The Best Western Premier C Hotel is equally split between myself, my brother Joe Mercanti and my father Peter.

The directors on Carmen’s are my father Peter, myself, and my brother Joe.

It’s all in the family.

Hope that helps,

PJ

Thanks PJ for clarifying. PJ has also responded on this thread (click here

Thursday, July 19, 2012

HECFI Update

As you may recall, In June 2011, the HECFI board was dissolved and replaced with an interim board made up of Mayor Bratina. Clrs. Merulla, Partridge, Collins, and Farr. 


On the heels of that, proposals were invited from firms or consortiums interested in taking over the Hamilton Entertainments and Convention facilities, in whole or in part. The move to request proposals was largely driven by the losses recorded by HECFI.

The objective, it would seem, is to encourage different approaches and competition in a bid to run/take over the facilities. The strategy seems to be working. Despite some bidders dropping off along the way, the enduring bids seem to present different options and approaches; some of which aggressively target the bottom line- eliminating public subsidy.

The Hamilton Spectator has an informative piece in today's paper, summarizing the bids. It can be found here, or by purchasing the print version.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

En Trust? or End Trust?

Councillors Tom Jackson and Jason Farr, Directors of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust appeared to put a face on it, suggesting that there is no reason for concern with the release of The Hamilton Waterfront Trust's 2011 financials. Jackson continued his mantra, suggesting that people ought to ignore "“the small cabal of naysayers in town” and focus on the social, economic and recreational advantages the trust has created." Farr suggested that the Trust is heading in the right direction.

But with the release of the financials (click here to see them), a different picture emerges. A deficit of close to $500,000.00 has been recorded for 2011. Williams Fresh Cafe Coffee House, for example, recorded a loss of $33,010.00 in 2011, after recording a profit the year prior of $37,969.00. Chairman Bob Charters said to the 
Spec,  "There is no real, solid explanation for this, other than it just didn’t perform,”

In 2010, the Trust lost $893,000.00. You may recall that Mayor Bratina expressed concern over the Hamilton Waterfront Trusts' financials, in the past. At that time, he was assured by Charters that the Trust's financials would approach or be at a break even point for 2011. The Mayor was also chastised by his peers for having raised what has proven to be be a legitimate question on behalf of Hamilton taxpayers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vehicle Allowance?

On July 14th, 2012, we emailed Werner Plessel, Executive Director of The Hamilton Waterfront Trust, the following question:

Q. Can you advise as to whether the Hamilton Waterfront Trust provides you with a vehicle for use. If so, what was the purchase price of that vehicle and what was and the rationale for having use of it.

Having not received a reply or acknowledgment of this email, on July 16, 2012, we emailed Mr. Plessel, Clrs Farr and Jackson and City Manager Chris Murray, asking them for their assistance in receiving an answer to our question.

Later in the day, Clr. Farr acknowledged our email, however, the question remains unanswered.  Should we receive an answer to this question, we will post the response verbatim.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Are We Measuring Up?

When I sat down with City Manager Chris Murray to talk about the city's strategic plan, I advised Chris that I may have some questions for him after I received the plan and after I had a chance to review it. 

My questions are further contextualized by this article (click here)

 My first question dealt with how the objectives found in the strategic plan, will find their way into the performance contracts/agreements of staff.

1. You mentioned that the objectives of the strategic plan will be represented in performance agreements/contracts of senior staff, so that there is accountability. Will these objectives to be found in the performance contracts/agreements of senior staff, be cascaded downwards throughout the organization and will they find their way, to an appropriate degree, in the performance agreements/contracts of the remaining staff?


Yes. As we discussed Teresa, We are now linking performance with our strategic plan. Furthermore, this fall we are introducing a new performance appraisal system in order to better facilitate a clear line of sight between our work and our vision. This new document will provide all employees with clear and consistent performance expectations. This applies to all our employees - union and non-union.

My next question dealt with the level of precision whereby objectives and progress toward those objectives will be measured. 

The Spectator's View- on The Hamilton Waterfront Trust

On the heels of The Hamiltonian's article, asking the question of whether The Hamilton Waterfront Trust ought to continue in its current form, be dissolved or otherwise reconfigured to a new form of stewardship (see it here), Howard Elliott, Managing Editor Web/Opinions of The Hamilton Spectator, ponders the same question (see his piece here, or buy the print version). 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mayor Bratina on HWT 2011 Financials

In light of the Waterfront Trust's 2011 financials, we asked Mayor Bratina the following question:

Q. Mr. Mayor: Can you describe the process that council will follow to consider the 2011 financials of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust and, will there be room for council to consider the year over year losses and ultimately the future delivery of the HWT?

A. I'll speak with the clerks this week to provide a precise answer, since there are a couple of possible scenarios for the review of HWT financials. It also lies within Council's hands to determine what to do with the information on a go-forward basis. I wouldn't want to predict that right now.

Respectfully,
Bob Bratina, Mayor.



Note: Council will be officially receiving the Statements from the Trust at its GIC meeting on September 6th.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pic of the Moment

"Found Child Under Railway Tracks"


Photo by Cyndi Ingle. Click here to visit her on Facebook.

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- A Dining Divide: The Alex and Rapscallion (Part 2)

Matthew Kershaw at the pass. 
A Dining Divide: The Alex and Rapscallion (Part 2)

During our interview (for Part 1 see last week’s column), Chef Matthew Kershaw, co-owner of “The Alex” and “Rapscallion” in Burlington and Hamilton respectively, told me some of his own favourite dining had been at places like Black Hoof in Toronto and au Pied du Cochon in Montreal. (Both are known for their relatively informal, snout-to-tail approach to cuisine.)

“I love fat, I love flavor and I love meat, so that’s what we wanted to do for Rapscallion”. The best meal he’s had in the last two years was at Chasse et Pêche in Montreal, with its hunting and fishing lodge theme, and renowned for its use of local meats.

He makes around half the charcuterie for his restaurants, including duck prosciutto, bresaola, and pancetta. Things that take longer (e.g. lonza, prosciutto) he sources from Woodbridge and Niagara. There’s a charcuterie board at the Alex which is at a very reasonable price point ($16), but Kershaw says it’s really a teaser for the one at Rapscallion which has a “much broader array…seven items (of ten) on any given day” ranging from “spicy soft salami you can actually spread on bread, foie gras, terrines, chicken liver brulé parfait and other smoked meats.”


Thursday, July 12, 2012

HWT 2011 Financial Audit

Today The Hamiltonian contacted Deloitte and Touche to inquire as to when the Hamilton Waterfront Trust audit of the 2011 financials will be released to their client. We advised that we respected that they could not release the report to us (nor were we asking), but we simply wanted to get a sense for the estimated time of arrival.


We were advised that it is their firm policy and their professional obligation not to communicate any information about their clients to third parties. Thus, they would not comment on our inquiry.


Of course, we did not ask "What's the hold up?" Our query and the response we received were respectful. 

Shout Out to CBC Hamilton

A shout out to our friends at CBC Hamilton who are featuring Shawn Selway's article, on their site. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tipping the Scales at the OMB- By Shawn Selway

Tipping The Scales  at the OMB by Shawn Selway

The fundamental imbalance and inequity of Ontario Municipal Board processes were on display in downtown Hamilton Wednesday morning. Albion Rooms A and B at the Convention Centre hosted a board pre-hearing attended by a flock of lawyers in dark suits, and a slightly larger number of Concerned Citizens in civilian dress. The matter at hand was a draft procedural order meant to lay out the schedule for hearings on the City’s Airport Employment Growth District plan – an initiative which promises renewed prosperity or accelerated decline, depending on who you believe.

To understand what occurred on Wednesday, it is necessary to know that the Board distinguishes between parties and participants in a hearing. Parties have greater responsibilities and accordingly greater privileges. Parties can bring expert witnesses to a hearing, and cross-examine the witnesses of other parties, as well as all participants. They are also entitled to participate in closed door mediation sessions, should they occur. In return for these opportunities to make their case parties are required to adhere strictly to a schedule that sets out what they must produce by when eg when they must deliver written witness statements for their experts, which they must also provide to the other parties, etc.

The onus placed on participants is much lighter, and accordingly so may be the weight given by the board to what they say.

But parties pay for their rights. Generally they engage a lawyer and pay witness fees to experts, and of course they have the costs of managing their participation: keeping abreast of paperwork and so on. Combined costs can be large, and this factor discourages many groups and individuals with an interest in the outcome from seeking full party status. Instead, they opt for the cheaper participant route.

It is not clear that this is always in the broad public interest, and it is sometimes suggested that the provision of intervener funding in some cases would ensure that, for example, provincially significant issues are adequately examined in the public forum.

Wednesday’s pre-hearing was an unusual illustration of the problem.


Monday, July 9, 2012

HWT- 2011 Financials

We asked Clrs. Farr and Jackson as to when our readers may have access to the 2011 financials for the operations of the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. Both Clrs. responded to our question. We have included Clr. Jackson's response below, as it was a bit more specific:


DEAR THE HAMILTONIAN.....Absolutely no delay on the part of the HWT. Since June 25/12 HWT Board meeting, we are waiting for printed/electronic copies for distribution from the Auditor Deloitte Touche. I have left several messages with their rep in Burlington to accelerate the release. Hope this helps and bye for now, Councillor Jackson....

Time to Smile

It's the start of a new work week and we thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the staff who work for the city, who strive to provide excellent customer service and satisfaction. For those of you who give it your all, thank-you! Here is a video produced by the city, in tribute to its staff. Click here to see it. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Link of the Moment

Our duties as elected officials - On Bratina's blog. Click here

Media Release

COLTON’S JULY FAMILY DAY FUNDRAISER

4 Year Old volunteer raises money for Ewing Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada


Pic of the Moment

Click on pic to make bigger
Picture courtesy of Alex Zafer photography. For more from this talented photographer, click here. 

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak- A Dining Divide: The Alex and Rapscallion (Part 1)

Chef Matthew Kershaw
A Dining Divide: The Alex and Rapscallion (Part 1)

I first met Chef Matthew Kershaw during the Hamilton Food and Drink Fest earlier this year. If you’ve been following this column, you may remember I mentioned Kershaw - who together with his girlfriend and partner, Erin Dunham, owns Burlington’s “The Alex” and Hamilton’s “Rapscallion” - was part of a “culinary nexus that bears watching.”

I finally had the opportunity to eat at the Alex recently. It was during the Burlington Sound of Music Festival. My wife and I joined another couple (let’s do it again soon, Chris and Anne) for dinner at the “small plates” restaurant on Brant Street before going to enjoy Matt Anderson. (The great Maritime blues man was singing in soaring counterpoint to the Hamilton Symphony.) More on the interesting food we enjoyed will await a future column, once we have a chance to get to Rapscallion too.

After dinner we were able to sit and chat at length with the Chef about how he had come to be running the two establishments and what distinguished them. Bespectacled and with a ginger beard, he’s a big guy who at first take appears a bit diffident. Once he gets going, however, the words tumble out and his passion becomes evident. Good thing I recorded the interview so I could catch the plethora of rapid-fire thoughts and opinions, one atop of another.

Though he grew up in Ancaster, his formative time was in Hamilton where he was Chef at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. He always wanted to open up his own place, and once he had the time and money and felt comfortable doing it, he looked “for the longest time” for a place in Hamilton.


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Chat with Tourism Hamilton's Susan Monarch


Susan Monarch
We spoke to Susan Monarch (Coverdale), Acting Manager of Tourism Hamilton, about some of the exciting things she is working on. Enjoy our chat with Susan.

1. Can you tell us about Tourism Hamilton’s efforts to leverage Hamilton’s abundance of waterfalls. Specifically, how will the work that Tourism Hamilton has been doing with Chris Ecklund’s group (The City of Waterfalls) continue and what opportunities might Tourism Hamilton pursue in concert with Chris’s team? 

Just as we have other community partners for other tourist attractions; we would continue to work with Chris and his team to promote our City's waterfalls through a number of avenues such as:

Social Media - twitter, website, facebook, video footage on youtube etc.
Waterfall/Hiking GeoTrail Site on www.tourismhamilton.com,
Waterfalls Brochures (This is one of our most popular brochures so we make sure all of our partners have access - for example, we support the Hamilton Conservation Authority by providing them with copies of the Cascades and Waterfalls brochures)
You've probably noticed a large number of waterfall images and stories, which is a major part of our marketing materials and plans
Waterfalls are also featured on a daily basis in our videos played at our new Visitor Centre and they figure prominently in our tradeshow booths
Staff continue to promote waterfalls to Travel Writers ( We recently had five writers a couple of Saturdays ago who visited Tews Falls with Adam Stewart our Marketing Coordinator)

This, of course, is just a few examples of some promotional efforts. We continue to search for new ways to promote all of our attractions. In terms of waterfalls, we recently reached out to Chris and his group to look into ways that we can work together on the development of a mobile app where residents and visitors can more easily locate waterfalls. Staff are always look for ways to incorporate Chris' Waterfall bus at key events such as ArtCrawl. Large events are a great way to let visitors know of what else our City has to offer


Thursday, July 5, 2012

2012 – 2015 Strategic Plan, including Vision, Mission, Values, Strategic Priorities

Further to my meeting with City Manager Chris Murray, click here to see the City of Hamilton's Strategic plan, which sets out the city's priorities. 


Your thoughts? Does the city have the right focus? What do you like about the plan? What suggestions might you have?

On the Bill Kelly Show.......

Listen to Gary Santucci talk to Bill about the Hamilton Waterfront Trust delegation he will be leading, and his views on why it is necessary. Click here to listen.  With thanks to our friends at 900CHML 


On another note, Clr. Lloyd Ferguson has advised The Hamiltonian that he has had a further meeting with Clr. Jackson and Werrner Plessel a few weeks ago on the Hamilton Waterfront Trust,  and he (Clr. Ferguson), is awaiting further information. We hope the Clr. will loop back with us once he received the information he has requested. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Face to Face with the City Manager

As a follow up to our Virtual Panel's perspectives on the City's vision statement, I met with City Manager Chris Murray, Mike Kirkopoulos Strategic Communications Program Manager and Paul Johnson, Director, Neighbourhood Development Strategies.


The purpose of the meeting was for Chris to talk about the strategic plan and how it supports the city's vision to be, amongst other things, The Best Place to Raise a Child in Canada.

Chris described a very thorough and thoughtful process whereby the strategic plan was validated and sought input from his Senior Management Team through to the Manager/Supervisor level. Chris described the importance of consultation and invitation to contribute to the plan, rather than the imposition of one. The effort was described as well received and productive. 

Chris explained that there are three thrusts to the strategic plan. The first centers on Prosperity and Healthy Neighbourhoods and he specifically referenced challenges in neighbourhoods in the lower city. He cited Paul Johnson's role as coordinating all the various programs and services and to work with neighbourhoods and the work he is doing with some of these neighbourhoods.  

Delegation Formed on The Hamilton Waterfront Trust

Gary Santucci has issued the following notice to the media:


In response to the advice of Councillors Merulla and Partridge as posted on the Hamiltonian.net, I will be filing a GIC Delegation Request Form by Friday noon of this week on behalf of a number of concerned citizens with regards to questions raised by the Bay Observer and subsequently the Hamiltonian pertaining to alleged operational and financial issues of The Waterfront Trust as outlined by both sources. You will find the process outlined in a email exchange with the City Clerk's Office as well as the potential dates for our presentation (5 minutes). Any citizen wishing to participate is urged to contact us at the following email gicdelegation@gmail.com. Media enquiries may also be directed to this email. See details below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HWT Q/As Fact Check

 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.  

That's a quote from Clr. Jackson, in response to The Hamiltonian's 10 questions that we posed with respect to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust.

We did a fact check to determine how many questions were answered by Clr. Jackson, Mr. Plessel, Mr. Rossini and Mr. Charters. To conduct the fact check, we reviewed the answers we received against the questions we asked. While Clr. Jackson did not refer to Clr. Collins' or Clr. Farr's answers in the quote above, we have also included Clr. Collins' and Clr. Farr's responses in our fact check:

Q.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?

Responses


Unfortunately, the story is filled with a number of inaccuracies and generalizations. Clr. Collins

 The trust has a small administrative organization, with ongoing construction projects that require

When People Get Involved.....

....anything can happen. Click here

Finance Chief Roberto Rossini- Fields Reader Q' s on HWT

Based on questions posed by one of our readers, we asked Finance Chief Roberto Rossini, the following questions:


Are the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton on the hook for the losses incurred by the Waterfront Trust? Is this a contractual obligation between the Trust and the City? Are there any other liabilities that are the responsibility of the taxpayers outlined in the agreement between the City and the Waterfront Trust? What are the financial reporting requirements outlined in this agreement?

Mr. Rossini's replies:


No, the City is not responsible for any losses by the HWT.
No, there are no other liabilities.
There are no contractual obligations other than:
- the agreement with the HWT to operate and maintain the outdoor skating rink (which is a city-owned asset); and
- the City only pays for capital projects that it wishes the HWT to undertake on its behalf.

With respect to paying for capital projects, the HWT undertakes the expenditures and then files for re-imbursement. The HWT provides City Finance with spreadsheets and other details we may require to verify the expenditures.



Thank-you Roberto for your responses. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

While We Wait......

While we wait for answers, here is a look at what could have been on the waterfront: (by  Mahesh P. Butani )

Pier 8 has a special place in my heart. It is a spot in Hamilton, where back in 2005, I experienced the greatest hope for this city, and sadly, also one of the biggest disappointments of my life.

Some of you may recall the failed bid for the "Music Hall of Fame" and its design concept which was hyped around in the local press. Well, I was involved in this bid very deeply to secure private construction financing for this facility and more.

Most of you may have never heard about or seen this design scheme which was actually used to attract and secure a letter of intent for construction financing from $15 million for the media promoted scheme, to $50 million for the broader development as seen in the plan.

See: http://s265.photobucket.com/albums/ii216/hamilton2-0/Pier%208%20Hamilton/

This part of the story was never talked about in the press, nor discussed subsequently after the bid had failed, and even a year later when I had brought it to the attention of a local scribe, and then, once again in 2010.

It was as though these efforts had never occurred!! This was the source of my disappointment and not the loss of the bid, which in my view back then was predictable given the twisted Toronto centric politics of the bid.

Clr. Partridge- On the HWT

Enjoy our Q/A with Clr. Partridge on The Hamilton Waterfront Trust topic:


Q. Are you surprised by the $474,000.00 loss registered by the Hamilton Waterfront Trust (HWT) for the year 2011, particularly in light of the HWT promising a surplus as late as November 2011? Will you be probing this matter?

A. As always, thank you for the email inquiry. Happy Canada Day to everyone. My preference is to have all the facts in front of me, with a report from HWT, it’s auditor and city finance staff at a GIC committee of council . Discussion at a GIC will be the appropriate forum to allow all councillors the opportunity to publicly probe deeper, debate and decide a prudent course of action on behalf of our taxpayers. Our waterfront has improved greatly through HWT projects with the skating rink, coffee shop, trail improvements and new restaurants to come. I do not believe it serves anyones interests to speculate or jump to conclusions without all the facts on the table. We do need to keep a sharp eye on taxpayers money and how it is spent. If further investigation is needed, with Council direction it will be done. If not, the public will have heard the details at a public GIC meeting and we can move on. I have a great deal of confidence in Cr. Jackson, Clr Collins and Clr. Farr, who along with the rest of City Council will address any concerns with-in the HWT operations and project processes.

Kind regards
Councillor Judi Partridge
Hamilton Ward 15 Flamborough

Merulla Fails to Respond to HWT Questions

Clr. Merulla
We asked the following question of Clr. Sam Merulla. The following emails represent his response. Note: The Hamiltonian's emails are in blue font, while the Clr's are in black font



From: The Hamiltonian Administrator [mailto:admin@thehamiltonian.info]
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2012 08:29 PM
To: Merulla, Sam
Subject: Following Up


Hi Clr.  Merulla;
Just following up to ask if you will be answering the questions we posed to you regarding the Waterfront Trust. 
Thank you Clr. Merulla


Diane for
The Hamiltonian
Teresa DiFalco, Publisher
www.thehamiltonian.net

The contents of this email are private, confidential, and intended only for the recipient(s) named above.  This email may not be copied or reproduced, forwarded, published or distributed in any manner whatsoever by any person(s) or entity without the expressed written permission of the sender.  If you have received this email in error, please advise the sender and destroy the original email.  Thank you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Bay Observer- On Media Credentials

See it here

Delegation Request Forms

Mr. Santucci has kindly provided copies of the Delegation Request form both in Word and PDF formats. The next meeting is July 9th.   Thank-you Gary! 

Word version : click here 
PDF version : click here