Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mayor Bratina on the New King Bus Lane Pilot

Pic is an excerpt from M. Butani's submissions
We asked the Mayor the following question about the new bus lane pilot. His response follows:

With the mixed reaction over the bus lane designation on King Street, we are wondering what your early thoughts on on this measure? Is it your sense that it will add value to the downtown area, or do you see it as potentially causing more issues than it solves? In the broader context, is there a fit for this type of measure, whether or not it has been optimally deployed in this instance?

Thanks for your question. My preference would be to wait for a while before making any speculative comments. High-functioning transit is generally associated with dedicated rights of way. Whether this application will create a net benefit remains to be seen.

Bob Bratina, Mayor.

In addition, Clr. Farr sent an apologetic email for missing our deadline to receive his comments, due to being swamped. We advised him that we still invite his comments. and that  if he provides comments, we will publish them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mayor Bratina- on U.S. Steel Announcement

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina statement regarding U.S. Steel permanently shutting down blast furnace.

This announcement by U. S. Steel though unfortunate was not completely unexpected based on the reduced operations at Hilton Works. At this time, the city has incomplete information and the absence of hard facts on which to base a comprehensive response to this decision. It is for this reason, that I am requesting a face-to-face meeting with senior officials of US Steel as soon as possible at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

My first concern as Mayor is for the job security of local US Steel workers and the sustainability of pensions for our residents. Hamilton continues to remain the steel-making capitol of Canada with U. S. Steel’s continuing operations, and the Arcelor-Mittal Dofasco complex. There are only 30 blast furnaces still operating in North America and until today’s announcement 4 of them were located in Hamilton. Our city continues to be responsible for the production of one-third of Canadian steel along with millions of dollars of related products such as sheet steel for the automotive industry.

Hamilton’s economic development efforts over the past decade has resulted in our current ranking as having the most diversified economy in the country. The City of Hamilton deliberately chose this strategy to be able to sustain our growth and absorb the shocks of economic downturns and plant downsizing and closures.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hamilton Bus Lane: Trials or Tribulations? - by Mahesh Butani

Update:  The Hamiltonian has asked the question below, of Clr. Jason Farr. We have yet to receive a reply. Should we receive one, we will publish it. 

Q. While some are celebrating the installation of a bus only lane on King East, some others, particularly those experiencing the impact east of James through to reportedly, Sherman, may not be as receptive. According to some photos and commentary (see it by going here  http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2013/10/hamilton-bus-lane-trials-or.html ) there are some who see this as a poorly executed pilot.

Now that you have seen the early results of this deployment, what are your thoughts in terms of its impacts

Friday, October 25, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Bagged! Reflections on Indian Food

Bagged! Reflections on Indian Food

Sometimes we simply don’t feel like cooking yet still crave something fast and tasty: something more complex than frozen pizza and on the table in half the time it would take to order and get delivery from a local ethnic restaurant. You get the mission: flavour, minimal prep/cooking, fast.

That situation arose this week after a long day in Toronto. I was glad I had a couple of fresh Sobeys “Blue Goose” (Certified Humane®) chicken breasts in the fridge, and usually have a variety of jarred or packaged sauces on hand for just such an eventuality.

I had recently picked up an Olivieri Butter Chicken “Fresh Sauce,” which, according to the packaging is “made with a blend of authentic Indian spices, tomatoes and cream… with no artificial preservatives, colours or flavours.” I also had two packages of vegetable curry in the freezer.

The latter were from superstar chef and cookbook author Vikram Vij and obtained from Goodness Me, one

Thursday, October 24, 2013

City of Burlington- On Community Engagement/Consultation

To learn what our friends at the City of Burlington are doing about online public consultation and citizen engagement, click here.

The Hamilton Civic League's Survey

The Hamilton Civic League is conducting a survey that we encourage you to complete. It can be found here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Failing Inadvertently

You may recall that Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse told The Hamiltonian (read it here) , that Hamiltonians and Council deserve an explanation as to the delays in his investigations. According to a Spec report (see it here or purchase today's print copy) , in a letter of apology,  Basse characterized the missed deadlines as an "inadvertent failure".  

He further advised that he misunderstood the sixty day deadline set by council, and has now asked for an extension until December 11 for three of four outstanding investigations. He also asked for an extension until November 13th for the fourth investigation report. Basse cited the number of witnesses he had to interview and the analysis he had to do, as reasons for the tardiness.

Council will be discussing his letter next Wednesday. Are you satisfied with Mr. Basse's explanation? What do you think the response from council and Hamiltonians should be? 

To see Mr. Basse's contract with the City, click here. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Picture of the Moment

Mayor Bob Bratina receives a warm greeting from Premier Kathleen Wynne, Saturday at Mac.

Friday, October 18, 2013

City Solicitor Previously Dismissed by City of Vaughan

Janice Atwood-Petkovski
Recently, The Hamiltonian was made aware of a story published in York Region.com (see the story here), which announced that several senior executives were dismissed by the City of Vaughan. That story ran June 29, 2012. The story has found its way on facebook recently and thus has been garnering some attention locally. 

One of the senior executives cited as being dismissed was Janice Atwood-Petkovski, the city of Hamilton's solicitor. 

We contacted Ms. Atwood-Petkovski, to afford her an opportunity to respond to some questions we posed to her, and also to allow her to add any information she would want to. Here are the questions we posed:

Through some information we received directly, and by way of social media, we have been made to understand that you had been dismissed, along with several other executives, from the City of Vaughan in 2012.

Given that this information seems to be making the rounds on social media, we are wanting to provide you with an opportunity to respond to the following questions:

1. Can you tell Hamiltonians whether you were dismissed for cause?
2. Is your current employer aware of this situation and was that information disclosed to your current employer prior to any job offer being made to you?
3. Is there anything else you would like to add?

We did not receive a reply from Ms. Atwood Petkovski directly, but we did receive a reply from the City of Hamilton's communications department which stated the following:

In terms of the inquiry below, I thought it would be more appropriate I share with you Chris’ response so far to other media outlets in terms of the matter concerning Janice.

Chris's reply:

Our due diligence was thoroughly carried out. I personally spoke with Janice's former City Manager as part of the reference process prior to making my final selection of a City Solicitor. I was very satisfied with what I heard and the references received.

As well, let me emphasize, I am more than satisfied with my decision to hire Janice and her performance for the City over the last nine months.

Chris Murray
City Manager

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Councillors Refuse Request to Poll Hamiltonians on Need for Tasers

According to a Spectator report (See it in today's print version), the city will only support the use of taser technology if the province funds the entire initiative. Marrying the request to the province's recent appetite to encourage the deployment of taser technology, may be a crafty political move- if it works.

It may be a head scratcher for some Hamiltonians to hear that part of the reasoning is that , as per Clr. Ferguson's quote in the Spec " It's important we don't kid ourselves. We don't have an extra million dollars". It wasn't too long ago that some councilors wanted to commit 17 million dollars to the Pan Am precinct while admitting that there was no certainty as to where the money might be found.

For the moment, the police will be looking at commencing some training with existing resources, although it appears as though the training will be nowhere near the scale required for a substantive implementation.

Clr. Clark was puzzled at how the city can be asked to poll Hamiltonians about a technology that "we know nothing about". 

Deputy Police Chief Ken Leendertse, in reference to life threatening situations, said "if you only have one option, which is a firearm, you have to use it. "

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Conducted Energy Weapons for Hamilton? - Report/Opinion

The deadline won't fly. Those are the words, or words to that effect, from Clr. Lloyd Ferguson, as to Police Chief Glenn DeCaire's request that, through council support, community consultation commence to determine if there is support for the deployment of tasers (Conducted Energy Weapons).  

A December 1st deadline has been identified by the Chief in order to ensure that training and other preparatory work that needs to be done, can be in place in time- if it is ultimately determined that the technology will be deployed. See the Chief's letter to council, by clicking here.

Ferguson, who has been fairly recently appointed to the Police Services Board, seems to be drawing a line in terms of the deadline. Cited is the fact that council is not accustomed to making significant budgetary decisions outside of the normal budget cycle.

But is that a good enough reason to jeopardize the implementation of Conducted Energy weapons technology which, if used appropriately, can save lives in tense situations?

The Hamiltonian hopes that politics and "power play" tactics are put aside, in the interests of having Hamiltonians consider a technology, in a timely manner, that has the potential to curb the use of lethal force and potentially preserve lives.  It also recognizes that sometimes matters must be considered outside of an understood cycle, if opportunities are to be seized. In the end, the views of Hamiltonians must be duly harassed and afforded primacy. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Link of the Moment

The Toronto Star reports : Toronto and Hamilton switch prince-and-pauper roles.Click here to read it.

Mayor Disassociates Himself from Merulla's Calling of the Premier a Liar - Says Training Needed

Mayor Bob Bratina
Name calling and particularly calling someone a liar is ordinarily considered to be unparliamentary language or otherwise a 'faux pas'.  Yesterday, according to a CBC Hamilton report (see it here), Clr. Sam Merulla called the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne a liar, relative to his allegation that the Premier implied that provincial uploading left cities with extra cash.

Here is the Mayor's reaction, relative to a question we posed to him:

Mr. Mayor. Do you care to make a statement about Clr. Merulla’s calling of the Premier of Ontario a “liar”; particularly as we approach “Hamilton Day” at Queen’s Park?

A hallmark of the current term of council has been the excellent relationships between the Mayor's office and senior levels of government which has benefited the City by hundreds of millions of dollars. Obviously, I will disassociate myself from the remarks made in council Wednesday night. It points to, in my opinion, the need for board training to reacquaint ourselves with proper parliamentary procedure. I look forward to meeting with Premier Wynne to clarify the matter of Provincial investments and other transfers to the City of Hamilton.

Musical Notes- Dave Rave on Tour

Enjoy this installment of Musical Notes, with Angelo Noto Campanella as he reviews Dave Rave on Tour

I've known the name "Dave Rave" since the late 70's, I probably saw him playing at Gage Park with "The Shakers" or at a highs chool dance with Teenage Head. The thing I remember most is the electrifying energy filled performances of songs like "Out The Door" by The Shakers and the ever so punk anthem of Teenage Head's "Picture My Face". It wasn't till about 3 or 4 years ago that I finally met him through another uber talented Hamilton musician Bill Majoros. I was happy to see that Dave was still making music, I just

Friday, October 11, 2013

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak Local Thanksgiving Sips and Bites

FlourPower owner, Veronica Bridge
Local Thanksgiving Sips and Bites 

Sometimes timing is everything. Having tried to phone several times, I should have known better than to just drop in to one of my favorite farm markets and ask for an interview for a profile, just a couple of days before Thanksgiving weekend!

Dyments Market and Bakery is located on the escarpment on the corner of Sydenham & Fallsview roads above Dundas. It has been family owned since 1887, and I usually pick up one of their wonderful pies when I’m getting corn during the summer.

The smell in the parking lot was delicious as I approached the attractive store which is open year around. It

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Clr. Powers- On Term Limits

Clr. Russ Powers
We asked Clr. Russ Powers a few questions on the concept of term limits. Here is what he had to say:

Can you tell us your views on the concept of Term Limits in general, and more specifically, at the municipal level? Are you in favour or against them?  Can you explain why? 

Section 6 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 prescribes that "the term of all offices...is four years". There is no limitation on the number of terms that an individual can hold office as long as they are eligible "electors" as outlined in Section 17 of the same Act.  

I, personally, support the current, existing policy knowing that every four years the electorate has the ability to make a change, if they feel that it is warranted.

Notwithstanding your answer, and in the context of your role at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and in relation to its mandate to make municipal governments stronger and more effective, would you be prepared to bring the matter forward to that forum for discussion, to get a read from that forum as to whether the idea should be examined or piloted?  

In your question, it appears that you are suggesting that Term Limits would "make municipal governments stronger and more effective" which might pre-suppose that your publication is supportive of such a change. When AMO next discusses the Municipal Elections Act in advance of the 2018 elections (the province has already advised that there is no opportunity for changes that would impact the 2014 municipal elections), I can raise it as part of a full and comprehensive discussion.  

In my opinion, for such change to come, it needs to be mirrored by, at least, the provincial government, if not all levels of government.     

Note: The Hamiltonian shared the following observation with Clr. Powers after reading his answer to the second question:  In terms of any assumptions around The Hamiltonian, we would not equate asking a question as any indication of support or non support of an option such as term limits. To strengthen municipalities, we would think that there are a number of instruments that would fall within the purview of consideration. As Term Limits seems to be garnering some attention, we asked.
Thank you again Clr. Powers.
Respectfully, The Hamiltonian

Further, during the course of our questions to the Clr., a Media Relations officer from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), emailed us to seek clarification on the questions we had posed to the Clr. We can only assume the matter was referred to AMO through the Clr. or his office, as we did not reach out to AMO directly on this matter. During the course of our communication with AMO, they advised as follows:

With respect to term limits, AMO’s Board has not reviewed this particular idea. Although AMO does tend to advocate that in general terms, all three orders of government (Federal, Provincial and Municipal) should have similar governing features.

The Hamiltonian thanks Clr. Powers and AMO for the information. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hamiltonians Deserve an Explanation- Integrity Commissioner tells The Hamiltonian

Integrity Commissioner Earl Basse concedes that Hamiltonians deserve an explanation to why his report to council on the complaint against Mayor Bratina relating to allegations that the Mayor  inappropriately addressed the City manager during the course of a council meeting, is badly overdue. 

Here is our Q/A with Mr. Basse:

On May 9, 2013, you were asked by council to investigate an allegation that Mayor Bratina may have improperly addressed the City Manager during the course of a council meeting. Council directed that you provide a report within 60 days. Thus the report was due July 9, 2013. As of now, it is nearly 3 full months overdue. As your position is geared toward protecting the interests of Hamiltonians, can you explain why this report is badly overdue? What explanation can you provide to Hamiltonians

Hamiltonians, as well as Council, deserve an explanation why this report was overdue and I will be providing that explanation in my upcoming report to Council on that particular issue. I will be submitting my report to Council for their Meeting October 23, 2013.

As a footnote, The Hamiltonian contacted Clr. Ferguson several times to inquire as to what, if anything, the Clr. would be doing about this issue- knowing that Ferguson in the past had expressed concern. Clr. Ferguson failed to reply to our inquiries. If we do receive a reply, we will publish it. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Link of the Moment

Click here to read the media release announcing the Locke Street Farmers Market Fall Harvest Demo. 

Bratina to The Hamiltonian- Wait Until Nominations Open Jan. 2014

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina
We recently asked the mayor about his intentions to seek re-election. Here is our Q/A:

Mr. Mayor: Can you advise as to when you will be in a position to provide a definitive statement as to whether you will be seeking reelection. Some media sources are advising that you had already indicated you would be running. Can you confirm your intentions in this regard?

The quote I believe you are referring to was not correct. I have not made any public statement beyond "I have no reason not to run".
Thanks, Bob Bratina, Mayor

Mr Mayor

Not to be difficult but does that mean that barring a change of heart or other factor, the default assumption should be that you are going to run- short of you announcing it?

When the time comes....opening of nominations...Jan 2014. Until then I function as Mayor and not candidate.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Chat with Scott Thompson of CHML

He's opinionated, articulate, smart, charismatic and reportedly, still wearing shorts as of last week. He's Scott Thompson, talk radio host and on air personality at 900CHML and it's our pleasure to publish our chat with Scott about Hamilton City Council, term limits and a few other topics.

1. You have been very vocal on your show, about your belief that Hamilton has outgrown our city council. Can you tell us why you believe this is so. Perhaps a few examples of why you have come to this conclusion.

Old school Hamilton has always had a chip on its shoulder regarding Toronto (inferiority complex). They often isolate themselves from what is going on there, and in doing so, the rest of the world. Many members of this council reflect that old guard. Times have changed. We have to work with everybody to bring results that grow the city. We have to partner with outsiders to find those who also have a vested interest in Hamilton. We have to envision a plan that creates a new Hamilton rather than prop up the old. Best example, stadium. We were simply not ready or qualified for the opportunity.

We have all seen the growth Hamilton is now experiencing. It's time to elect a council that represents that growth, not hold us in the last decade.

The development downtown, events like Supercrawl have all started to define a new city. There's a new generation of Hamiltonians that are igniting the city. We need that kind of thinking on council. 

2. While this would be a change that would require provincial leadership, Term Limits has been a topic that is

Friday, October 4, 2013

Congrats to Our Very Own Alex Bielak

The Hamiltonian congratulates our Food for Thought columnist, Alex Bielak, on being selected as a one of the judges of the International Battledish event taking place on Locke St. Hamilton, October 27th. In keeping with the combative nature of the event Alex, seen here,  is embracing his Jedi side…

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Statement from Hamilton Police Chief Glenn De Caire

 Released  October 2, 2013  

Today, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) issued the results of its investigation into the police-involved death of Mr. Steve Mesic that occurred on June 7, 2013. The Hamilton Police Service is prohibited in law from speaking about an ongoing SIU investigation.  Media releases to inform the public about the investigation must come from, and can only come from, the lead investigative agency, the SIU.  The SIU investigation is now complete. 

The Hamilton Police Service cooperated fully with the SIU investigators from start to finish. The SIU requested voluntary interviews with the officers. Our subject officers voluntarily waived their Constitutional Rights and provided full statements and voluntarily turned over their notes to
investigators. Each witness officer also fully co-operated. With the full support of this Service, the officers

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Black Eye - Report/Opinion

It appears as though the City of Hamilton has received another black eye , as the public learned that a city employee was fired for allegedly having sex with a prostitute while on city time and in a city vehicle. To add insult to injury, the employee worked in the Public Works Department, the same department that came under attack when an investigation revealed that some employees were receiving  a full day's pay while only performing a few hours work. 

In the initial phase of that investigation, 29 employees were fired without severance, for neglect of duties, time theft and breach of trust. A second phase focused on 16 managers in the roads division. 9 of these faced a 90 day unpaid suspension while the remainder managed to avert the consequences  by either retiring or resigning. 

Recently, the city also was embroiled in controversy after it was learned that an employee (who has since been fired), managed to steal over 1 million dollars from the public purse. 

Still more recently, a HSR Manager was fired for harassing a female employee, which included sending her pornographic emails.  That Manager managed to receive a positive reference from city management, sufficient to cause another municipality to hire him, only to subsequently fire him once they learned of the circumstances, The HSR Manager who was fired in Hamilton is believed to have walked away with a

Mayor Bratina's- Statement re: SIU Mesic Report

The following is Mayor Bratina's comments in response to reading the SIU's report on the death of Steve Mesic: 

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of Steve Mesic, and most especially Sharon Dorr and their newborn child. They lost their loved one under tragic circumstances outlined in the findings released today. The mandated process has provided an explanation of the events that occurred that terrible day. Every effort has to be made on behalf of our residents, our police officers and our other service providers to support public safety and hopefully prevent other tragedies such as this. No one would have wanted to see Mr. Mesic's life end this way."

Mayor Bob Bratina

SIU Investigation Finds Hamilton Police Acted Appropriately in Shooting of Steve Mesic

From SIU Web Site

SIU Concludes Hamilton Firearms Death Investigation

Case Number: 13-OFD-129

The SIU assigned seven investigators and four forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. Two witness officers and 22 civilian witnesses were interviewed. Both subject officers provided the SIU with a copy of their duty notes and both consented to be interviewed by the SIU. Mississauga (2 October, 2013) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Hamilton Police Service officer with a criminal offence in relation to the shooting death of 45-year-old Mladen (Steve) Mesic in June of 2013.

The length of this investigation was necessitated by the important forensic testing conducted by the Centre of Forensic Sciences, including examinations of Mr. Mesic’s DNA and the firearms used in the incident, which was completed in the last few weeks.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Friday, June 7, 2013:

• At approximately 9:15 a.m., one of the subject officers was dispatched to the Lincoln Alexander Parkway

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fred Eisenberger will Run for Mayor

In an email exchange, former Mayor Fred Eisenberger advised The Hamiltonian that he will be running for Mayor. His exact words:

"Barring anything unforeseen, I will be a candidate for Mayor in 2014."

McHattie Intends to Throw in his Hat

Clr. McHattie, on Chats from the Lair (hear it by clicking here), declared publicly his intention to run for Mayor in this coming election. On the Bill Kelly show this morning the Clr. spoke about why he decided to run and, if elected, his intention to work closely with council and with other levels of government.

Kelly reminded folks that Mayor Bratina also advised, via the Bill Kelly show, that he was also going to seek re-election.

Former Mayor Fred Eisenberger advised the Hamiltonian that he is seriously considering running and former Mayor Larry DiIanni advised The Hamiltonian that he is not going to take a run at it this time around.

On the Bill Kelly show, Laura Babcock, host of Chats from the Lair, commented on the fact that Clr. McHattie elected to make his announcement through an alternate form of social media, that being, in this case, Chats from the Lair. Our readers may recall that Chief of Police Glenn DeCaire, chose The Hamiltonian to break his news of his decision not to seek an extension to his contract when it comes due next December. Whether this is a trend is yet to be seen. The Hamiltonian continues to be pleased to be part of a great mix of traditional and alternate media that is helping to get key messages out to Hamiltonians.