Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Media Release: Statement from Mayor Eisenberger on Recent Committee of Adjustment Member Actions

HAMILTON, ON – November 22, 2016 Yesterday Mayor Eisenberger met with the chair of the Committee of Adjustment, Mark Dudzic and committee Member Dave Serwatuk.

Concern over the inappropriateness of displaying a hat with political connotations at a quasi-judicial committee which he has the pleasure of serving on, on behalf of the City of Hamilton, and speaking publically about the matter afterwards was reiterated to Mr. Serwatuk.

‎Below is his fulsome apology that Mayor Eisenberger committed to share.

Subject to a motion at council to have our staff prepare for approval a code of conduct and training for this committee and others, Mayor Eisenberger has accepted Mr. Serwatuk's apology and considers this matter closed‎.

Apology from David Serwatuk, Committee Member:

“To the Great City of Hamilton

Regardless of my or anyone’s personal, political, religious or social belief. I fully acknowledge and understand that any display of such belief should never be shown or displayed at a Judicial or Quasi-Judicial public meeting. I truly apologize for what transpired at the Committee of Adjustments meeting last week, November 17 2016. it will never happen again. I intend to discuss this with committee at the next hearing both to apologize and suggest ways to make it not happen in the future.”


  1. Thank you. Done. Let's move on.

  2. Shocked! Has nobody learned anything after Judge Benard Zabel pulled the same foolish stunt in his court room. David Serwatak should be removed from the City of Hamilton's Committee of Adjustment. I don't make this statement without having first looked into the experience level this citizen has sitting on a municipal committee. HE HAS OVER 21 YEARS PEOPLE!!! He knows better, and how the heck has he been allowed to sit on this committee for 21 1/2 years??? May I request the that The Hamiltonian ask Mayor Eisenberger this question on behalf of your readers and the citizens of Hamilton. Perhaps this information should have been included in the public statement, as I believe people would look at the slap on the wrist a lot differently if they know that that David has been sitting on this committee for over 21 years. Are there not term limits for committee appointments so that other citizens are given opportunity? Could you please include this question to the Mayor, as I am and imagine other readers are most interested.

  3. Fred sit's on his hands while a Councilor refer's to the Premier as "stupid" and a "liar" and a constituent as a "moron" He fiddles while another publicly undermines the Police Department,the Police Service Board, and a local Justice.

    But ball caps are forbidden.

    Credibility should be considered, try leading by example.

  4. Much as I would be all for a council whose members are foresworn from partisan political activity of any kind, we tend to hold the judiciary (and quasi-judiciary) to a higher standard than elected officials.

    It is, of course, not merely a ball cap. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous — especially as this is now the third local judicial figure (after Skarica and Zabel) to have stepped in the same ethical dungheap.


    1. we have one sitting Justice who served as a Conservative MPP, and at least one other who ran as a Provincial Liberal.Is it possible to be more partisan?
      Yet not a peep from you or Matthew. Why is that?

    2. You'll have to give me more than whispers and shadows if you want informed comment. How are the Justices you allude to alleged to have violated their code of conduct? Were they wearing campaign hats, waving party pennants or distributing door-hangers?


    3. I was wondering if you would you be able to explain your hypocrisy. Apparently not.

  5. Canada’s Criminal Lawyers’ Association has filed a formal complaint against a judge who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat in a courtroom.

    Condemning the action, the CLA has called for an investigation into the circumstances of Judge Bernd Zabel wearing a hat, in a Hamilton court, associated with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.

    “Our association’s position is that judges are supposed to follow the rules and the rules are that you can’t show political affiliation or interest at all because you’re supposed to be neutral,” said association president Anthony Moustacalis. “And so, you’re not supposed to be displaying that in court so whether it’s Obama or it’s Trump or whether it’s Trudeau whether it’s anybody else, the public doesn’t pay you to do that. They pay you to adjudicate neutrally . . . resign and let someone else do the work if he can’t handle it.” …

    Moustacalis said the judge lacks judgment about what’s appropriate.

    “He’s used to people laughing at silly comments that he makes because he’s the judge . . . Trump has made very public statements that are clearly racist, sexist, homophobic and hurtful. To try to joke about that when you’re in a position that requires good judgment shows very poor judgment.”

    Zabel’s actions are of concern because he’s making decisions about people who Trump has criticized, Moustacalis said.

    “We deal with a lot of marginalized people who have mental illness, drug addiction, alcohol, poverty, stress, domestic violence, sexual violence, allegations and so forth. Trump’s made fun of people who have disabilities… ”

    The judge’s actions raise concerns about his impartiality, said Daniel Brown of the CLA.

    Moustacalis said there are clear ethical rules in place, which say that a judge is not supposed to display any political interest or affiliation in court.

    It’s not just about the red hat, he added. Even if Zabel came into court with religious paraphernalia, it would’ve raised similar concerns.

    “He’s supposed to keep his personal opinions on politics and so forth out of the court,” Moustacalis said. “Doesn’t matter who he supports.”

    Even if it is an isolated incident, CLA is calling for an investigation because it gives rise to concerns about a particular jurist’s conduct, a media release said last week. Even if there is an apology, a transparent investigation should be conducted, it added.

    “…Everyone makes mistakes but there are mistakes and there are mistakes,” Moustacalis said.

    To prevent such incidents from happening again, Moustacalis is advocating a peer-review mechanism every three to five years, reviewing both the knowledge and the conduct of judges.

    “To be blunt, all this judge has to do is sit there, listen to people and decide disputes,” Moustacalis said. “For that privilege he gets close to $300,000 a year, gets eight weeks holiday, gets 44 non-sitting days — so I don’t think it’s too difficult to work from 10 to 4:30 p.m. with two hours of break so just shut up and do your job.

    “But apparently that’s too onerous for this guy. He thinks he has a sense of humour. It’s appalling.”


    That's Zabel, who should know better by dint of his profession.

    Serwatuk can more reasonably lay claim to ignorance (though if he has indeed served on the CoA for 21 years, one would hope otherwise) but as a quasi-judicial figure the underlying principles are the same.

    Apparent bias is what gets court cases overturned or appealed (or, in the CoA's case, punted to the OMB).

    As the meme says, "You had one job."


  6. no surprise this is not about the hat, because that would be petty and insignificant, a complete waste of time and energy for all concerned


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