Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Predictions for 2016- the Results Are In

While The Hamiltonian has taken a break this year from asking for predictions for 2017, the following is a reprint of the predictions our Perspectives Virtual Panel made for 2016. Check out what they said against what transpired.

The instructions we provided were as follows:

Each year The Hamiltonian asks our Perspectives Virtual Panel do do a little crystal ball gazing and make their predictions as to what might happen in Hamilton in this new year.

Due to the popularity of the format we used last year, we once again asked them to capture their predictions in the form of a headline that might appear in a newspaper. We also invited them to create an optional one paragraph description under the headline to further explain it.

We suggested that headlines can be based on predictions that may come to be, and/or may be formed in a light hearted comedic way. The only thing we asked is that the submissions not be mean spirited or otherwise violate our site policy.

Enjoy these predictive headlines submitted by our Perspectives Virtual Panel:

Presented in alphabetical order by surname:

Predictions For the year 2016

Headlines by Graham Crawford

City of Hamilton Pushes Ahead With Flawed Plan for Piers 7 & 8
Despite concerns expressed by a number of residents, the City of Hamilton is moving ahead with a plan to sell most of the land we own at Piers 7 & 8 to the private sector. Some members of the community voiced concerns about there being too little land allocated for public use other than a perimeter path along the edge of Pier 8. The City was criticized for putting money (sale price and new residential/commercial taxes) over bold designs for public space in the last remaining piece of publicly owned waterfront land next to widely admired and used Bayfront Park and Pier 4.

Council Votes to Support Innovative Plans to Address CityHousing Issues
The Board of CityHousing has announced an innovative approach to making a big difference to the lives of many people currently in, and currently waiting for, affordable housing. Through a combination of repurposing of assets, multi-level government partnerships, and innovative agreements with local developers, existing housing units will be repaired and new ones added in an ambitious 5-year plan. The plan required some true out-of-the-box thinking by Board members and Council. Although not a full solution to the complex challenges related to affordable housing, the plan has been hailed as being the most progressive and ambitious in decades.

City Manager Releases Results of Dennison Benchmark Culture Survey
City Manager, Chris Murray, has agreed to Council’s request to the public release of results of an employee survey being used as a benchmark against which progress toward changing the damaged working culture at City Hall will be measured. Some Councillors were hesitant to push for the release of the information, but the majority said that openness and transparency outweighed the original decision to keep the data confidential. One Councillor said, “We bought ads in local media announcing we had been selected as one of the top 15 employers in Hamilton-Niagara, which I support. But, I also support sharing not only good news, but all of the news. We need to know where we stand, where we’re trying to go, as well as the kind of progress we’re making to close this very important gap. I want all residents to be part of this, not just a few select bureaucrats.”

Council Votes to Revisit Flawed Basse ‘Shovegate' Report and Apologizes For Their Silence in 2015

In a move that has caught many City hall watchers by surprise, Council has voted to revisit the report submitted by then-Integrity Commissioner, Earl Basse, regarding his much criticized investigation into ‘Shovegate”, the incident that saw Councillor and Police Service Board Chair, Lloyd Ferguson, physically grab and shove journalist Joey Coleman in the lobby of City Hall. After an oddly edited surveillance video was released that raised even more questions, Council agreed to revisit its nearly unanimous decision to receive Mr. Basse’s report even though he interviewed neither witnesses nor the victim. Council said, in a joint statement, they had erred in not questioning Mr. Basse’s decision to only interview Mr. Ferguson and including comments seemingly designed to provide a rationale, or worse an excuse, for Ferguson’s behaviours as well as comments that seemed to question Mr. Coleman’s journalistic integrity.

Council Agrees to Use New Our Future Hamilton Vision As Basis For All Council Discussions and Votes
Despite a discussion that at times bordered on the vitriolic, the majority of Councillors agreed finally to adopt the Our Future Hamilton Vision as its touchstone for the rest of this term of Council. The decision means the Vision, developed by an extensive consultation with tens of thousands of Hamiltonians, will be used formally in strategic planning, resource allocation, priority setting, and well as during Council debates on key, city-wide issues. One Councillor commented, “It’s about time we actually used the vision we created to help guide our discussions and decisions. Too often in the past, the vision was an exercise and not a strategic tool. I think adopting the vision in the way we have will keep us focused and transparent. It’s important for all Hamiltonians to see how what we decide contributes to helping to realize the vision we’re all chasing.”

Headlines by Larry DiIanni

Police Services Board Selects New Chief
After what was perceived to be a too authoritative choice the last time, the Police Services Board with Council's approval, selected Marineland's Barky the Trained Seal as the city's new chief cop.

Said, one Councillor on the Board, "We saved the taxpayers lots of money. Sardines are pretty cheap". And another boasted that 'carding' would not be allowed by Chief Barky. In fact, when it was suggested that it be outlawed, the Seal clapped vigorously. Another observer noted that Chief Barky pretty well likes and claps for everything he hears, making this one of the most peaceful tenures any chief will ever enjoy.

Police Services Board Selects New Chief...Again!
After a successful challenge by PETA, Hamilton's PSB has regretfully reversed its latest nominee, Barky the Trained Seal, in favour of a more experienced, albeit equally daring choice, for police Chief. The new nominee has much experience in the political scene at the national level which he has just involuntarily retired from. Although not coming from the police ranks, he has loads of expertise in law and order matters and consensus-of-one building. He has often taken the law into his own hands when the situation suited and has used force majeur to stifle opposition and silence those against his ways. Carding is not in the game plan for the new Chief, but outlawing 'barbaric multicultural practices like Oktoberfest and Festitalia are in his sights.

New Hamilton Chief Stephen Harper will move from Calgary to Westdale where he proudly says, "The West of the City is finally in!"

LRT off the Table for Hamilton

In a surprise announcment made by Charles Sousa, the Province is withdrawing its offer of $1.3B to construct a cross town LRT system. The Finance Minister cited delays in construction as the reason for taking the allotment away from the city. "Listen! Use it or Lose It! The Premier officially announced the money in the summer but I pre-announced last April 1 (see Di Ianni's 2015 headlines) nearly 10 months ago. That is ample time to at least put the first spike, if not the last, on the road. I see nothing and therefore you get nothing. Period." Mayor Fred Eisenberger, although dismayed, said that he understood the Finance Minister's Point, but vowed that with or without the Province LRT would find its way onto the 2018 re-election platform. "And that is a promise," he vowed.

Casino Sarcoa Opens to Great Fanfare
After the city's legal fight with the owners of Sarcoa over the noisy night club scene, a compromise has been found in a brand spanking new gaming casino. The loud thump of rock bands will be replaced by the mellifluous slot machine ringing of winning bells and chimes, which apparently only happen rarely anyway, satisfying local neighbours and pesky Burlingtonians.
Chief Croupier Graham Crawford was quoted as saying, "it's not as if I objected to all Casinos, it's just that the James Street location was a problem. And anyway, the job is fun!"

Ward Boundary Status Quo Rejected

Council rejected the citizen's panel recommendation for a status quo configuration on Hamilton City Council in favour of keeping all the same 15 wards, but forcing any mayoralty candidate to face off against 15 different candidates in each ward. "That is real change", cited one of the Councillors who scoffed at the prediction that Councillors would opt for the same-old, same-old. What if 15 different people win the mayoralty in each ward? , he was asked. "Well 15 heads are better than one, right?" was the terse reply.
It does make some sense if you don't think about it!

Headlines by Adrian Duyzer

Whitehead Proposes Moratorium On Downtown
Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has proposed a sweeping moratorium on downtown. The motion begins with “Whereas, downtown. Need I say more?” does indeed go on to say more, including among its clauses the “immediate cessation of downtown” and the "renaming of the area formerly known as the 'lower city'" as the “Mountain Resident Highway Access/Parking Zone”.

Hamilton Adopts New Motto
City Council has voted in favour of adopting a new vision statement for Hamilton. The new statement, “To be the best place in Canada to adopt vision statements,” replaces the previous vision, which was "To be the best place in Canada to raise a child, promote innovation, engage citizens and provide diverse economic opportunities.” Although the decision was not without controversy, City Manager Chris Murray strongly defended the new statement, stating, “It was important to us that our vision be something actionable and achievable that builds on our strengths and proven capabilities.”

Bob Bratina Hires Military Consultant

In a move that has raised eyebrows in the community, Member of Parliament Bob Bratina has announced he has hired a military consultant. “Hamilton always has been, historically, a military town. It continues to be,” said Bratina, defending the decision. Asked why a military advisor was needed for the generally peaceful riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Bratina said he needed advice on dealing with memorial installations and the growing influence of “renegade urbanists and bloggers”.

Headlines by Marvin Ryder

Canadian Dollar hits 68 cents U.S.
Iran starting selling its crude supply without the shadow of embargo in January. This exacerbated the flood of crude oil in the world and the price per barrel of oil fell below $30 US in February. Alberta Tar Sands oil was being sold for less than $20 US per barrel. A third whammy happened when the Bank of Canada cut its overnight prime rate by another 0.25% followed a week later with the Federal Reserve Board in the US raising its prime rate by 0.25%. Just in time for the March school break, it took $1.47 Cdn to buy $1.00 U.S.

Honeymoon Ends for Trudeau Liberals

After enjoying almost six months of "sunny ways" with the Canadian people, the love affair with the Federal Liberals ended with the first budget tabled mid-March. Although the Liberals had pledged to keep the Federal deficit below $10 billion, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced an anticipated deficit of $15 billion. He cited a number of factors - lower than expected oil royalties, lower government revenues because of the "middle class tax cut", an inherited non-balanced budget from the Conservatives, and the need to spend more money on infrastructure especially in light of the green initiatives approved in Paris in December, 2015. Perhaps the biggest surprise was no discussion of legally distributing marijuana in Canada. Many voters had hoped marijuana would be available starting on 4/20/2016 but the Liberal budget set no timeline other than committing to "broad consultation" in 2016.

U.S. Steel Bankruptcy Imminent
In January, six days of hearings into the debts owed by U.S. Steel Canada to its American parent resulted in a March ruling by the judge that the parent is a preferred creditor owed almost $2.3 billion. By June, U.S. Steel in America had rallied the preferred creditors to bring an end to the court-ordered restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada. The creditors demanded payment of their debt and petitioned the court to put U.S. Steel Canada into bankruptcy while supervising a sale of assets. The situation for pensioners of U.S. Steel Canada remained confused as the unfunded liability in the pension plan was listed as a debt by the American parent company as part of its $2.3 billion total. The confusion only got worse after a provincial $3.0 million fund to pay benefits for retirees expired at the end of March. There was no additional money forthcoming to continue the post-retirement benefits.

Who Owes Tiger-Cats Compensation?
In May, the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club filed a statement of damages against the City of Hamilton for lost revenue and inconvenience due to delays in the construction of Tim Horton's Field. Within weeks, the City filed matching claims against Infrastructure Ontario expecting I.O. to then file a matching suit against Ontario Sports Solutions. In a surprise move, I.O. did not file a suit as it noted O.S.S. had declared bankruptcy and had no money to pay. I.O.'s response was to ask a judge to dismiss the lawsuit saying the City's problems were with the stadium contractor. The City was reluctant to pay the Tiger-Cat damages with no prospects of recovering the money from another party. As the CFL season began, there were concerns about the fiscal health of the Tiger-Cats. The money from the lawsuit could turn out to be critical to the team remaining solvent.

Popular Local Citizens Named as Senators
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was faced with a large number of vacancies in the Senate. Though he pledged to reform the Senate, he had to keep the institution functioning until reforms could be decided. On April 1, Trudeau named forty Canadians to the Senate. These people came from every province and territory and, keeping with his cabinet appointments, were gender-equal. Hamilton saw two of its citizens appointed to the Senate. Ken Welch, the long-time sports journalist who lost his job in December, 2015, was placed into the Senate along with local environmentalist, Lynda Lukasik. Lukasik's appointment coincided with a new standing committee in the Senate on Environmental Issues.

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