Politics

Merulla to Mayor: Negotiate Amendment to Chief of Staff Pay

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 16, 2011

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla has issued a public statement expressing disappointment in Mayor Bob Bratina's "failure to adhere to the City's salary administration policy" in setting the policy for his Chief of Staff, Peggy Chapman, and requesting that the mayor "negotiate a voluntary amendment" to the employment contract.

If the Mayor is not successful in renegotiating the contract, Merulla's statement calls on him to "seek to reconcile any and all offending salaries" in consultation with the City's Human Resources and Legal departments, and to report back to Council.

As at this writing, Council is still in camera and has not publicly made a decision. However, tweets coming from some councillors suggest Council will not take action on Chapman's raise.

Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins wrote at 1:31 PM today:

Unfortunately Council has received several versions of what has transpired; it is clear that we cannot come to an agreed statement of facts.

Similarly, according to Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead at 1:45 PM today:

The Mayor, his Chief of Staff have the power to respond to the outcry from the community to resolve this, Unfortunately our hands are tied.

Here is Merulla's full statement:

That council is disappointed in and disagrees of [sic] the Mayor's failure to adhere to the City's salary administration policy in setting salary rates for staff in his office.

That the Mayor use his best efforts to negotiate a voluntary amendment to any administration policy and report back to council on the results of his efforts.

That if the mayor is unable to negotiate voluntary amendments to employment contracts to bring them in compliance with the City's salary administration policy that the mayor is requested in consultation with H.R. and legal to seek to reconcile any and all offending salaries for the balance of the term of council and report back to council.

with files from Joey Coleman

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Ryan also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2011 at 14:57:53

"Council is still in camera and has not publicly made a decision. However, tweets coming from some councillors suggest..."

This is quite hilarious... does tweeting from an "in-camera" meeting about the meeting itself amount to an "in-camera tweet lapse"... which defeats the very purpose of an in-camera meeting? Although it does bode well for the "Open data" movement in our city :)

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By Larry (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 15:00:04

Hmmm, let's see, Bob lies about the process behind Peggy's raise. The result is yet another conflict with council as a result of his lack of judgement, lack of tact, lack of respect for the rules of council, lack of respect for public resources, and lack of respect for council and city policy.

The result is yet more conflict that delays yet more council action on policy because they are foced to have to try and garner a measure of accountability from a Mayor who claims to focus on being judicial with taxpayers money and claims to have respect for the rules and responsibilities of office.

The laughter you hear is from other municipal jurisdictions who have elected mayors who are qualified for the role, who have the intelligence and emotional savy for the job.



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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2011 at 09:04:23 in reply to Comment 72341

The laughter you hear is from other municipal jurisdictions who have elected mayors who are qualified for the role, who have the intelligence and emotional savy (sic) for the job.

Meaning that our voters are ultimately at fault.

How do we correct this?

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 17, 2011 at 09:43:38 in reply to Comment 72354

Simple, everyone in the media, anyone managing a debate, any rival candidates and any and all MPPs catching wind of it calls out any potential municipal official that campaigns on the premise of deamalgamation (disingenuously so or otherwise) to be a liar as deamalgamating municipalities is wholly a matter for the province and MPPs, not mayors and Councillors.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2011-12-17 09:46:14

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By Conrad (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2011 at 08:23:46 in reply to Comment 72355

Its all the subburbes wards at falte for this Mayor ... all the watds in the subbubrs whanted deamalgamtion and this is what they got !... i for one voted for Mayor Fred , I HAVE FALLOWED bb FOR A WHILE AND I NEVER TJHOUGHT THAT THIS DAY WHOULD COME SEEING HIM AS mAYOUR OF THIS cITY ... JUSTE GOSES TO SHOW WHAT hAMILTION KNOWS ABOUT POLITICS

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2011 at 17:38:11 in reply to Comment 72355

...deamalgamating municipalities is wholly a matter for the province and MPPs, not mayors and Councillors.

To be accurate, it's a matter for the people first.

The exigencies and 'difficulties' getting it sorted out via the provincial government aren't insurmountable. If there's conviction and serious enough intent.

But what I take for from your response is that it's not on a discerning public's shoulders to determine who and what needs to be 'called out'. So to me, once again, the blame is being apportioned the wrong way.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 18, 2011 at 15:25:52 in reply to Comment 72359

Certainly, it is a matter for the people first, in so far as ANY government official is a matter of the people first. However, we have a government bound by laws and constitutions that limit just what officials can do what and where because we don't want all political power to rest with a single entity. In that government census divisions and the amalgamation or deamalgamation of municipalities is under the jurisdiction, of the province, not the municipality itself.

The problem which my post was aimed at, is there is a public misconception that municipal government has some form of authority to assist in deamalgamation or has some form of channel which it can voice or force this issue beyond a simple request. This however, is blatantly not the case as they have no more say in the issue then their electorate. However, our mayor had no problem using this misconception to get himself elected.

If Bratina campaigned on "Lowering taxes for amalgamated municipalities" or "Adding services to amalgamated municipalities", sure I have no problem with that. However, the second he said "I will look into deamalgamation" he lost my vote because the mayor has no authority to deal with that issue, and frankly is wasting taxpayer money by devoting time to it.

If the people want to deamalgamate, that's a matter of which MPP to elect, not which mayor or city councillor to elect. Mayors and councillors hold no jurisdiction to make a decision regarding the structure of various census divisions. So electing a mayor or councillor on that basis is like buying a train with the expectation of running it on a highway, and sadly I do feel that's how Bratina sneaked his way in.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2011-12-18 15:53:11

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:28:56 in reply to Comment 72359

Just to clarify: Mayor Bratina got 52, 684 votes out of a total of 353,317 registered voters.

That means that roughly 15% of eligible voters put Mayor Bratina in office.

Regardless of how 'original City of Hamilton' residents feel amalgamation played a part in the process of voting for people from the 'amalgamated' entities (I can tell you as someone who called one of those communities 'home' at the time of the election and another one currently, that it didn't), the fact is that a very, very small portion of people enfranchised with determining this city's future put the man in office.

So really, who's to blame here?

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 18, 2011 at 16:18:29 in reply to Comment 72365

True, but it's the that 15% that holds the blame, not the other 85% who either opposed him or opted to do nothing. Who is to say those who didn't come out would have supported an candidate who opposed Bratina?

That being said, I am in support of compulsory voting, and minor fines being applied directly to your income tax return for failing to vote as an excellent way for a government to generate revenue.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2011 at 17:42:05 in reply to Comment 72372

That being said, I am in support of compulsory voting...

And I oppose it most vehemently.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2011 at 18:11:01 in reply to Comment 72373

I'm interested in learning whether and how it works in practice before deciding whether to support or oppose it. Who knows: maybe it turns out that people decide, "Well, if I've got to vote anyway, I might as well figure out who to vote for," in which it satisfies mystoneycreek's desire for people to get more engaged.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 19, 2011 at 16:15:46 in reply to Comment 72374

It seems to work fine in Turkey and Australia.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 08:39:37 in reply to Comment 72374

Who knows: maybe it turns out that people decide, "Well, if I've got to vote anyway, I might as well figure out who to vote for,"...

I somehow doubt it.

And to really crank my cynicism up another notch, most people who vote in Hamilton consider that the fait accompli in terms of their 'obligations'. That's not anything I'm interested in reinforcing.

I should probably just post about this on one of my own sites, but in the meantime, this:

-Mandating voting is like mandating intimacy in a marriage. If it is 'compulsory' for a husband to tell his wife he loves her three times a day, where do you suppose this gets him/her/them? Isn't a better goal to inspire intimacy so that it can be more authentic? Doesn't any partner want 'the good stuff' to result from the right motivations? Maybe I'm being an idealist in framing things this way, but then I'm the guy who believes the answer to littering isn't garbage crawls, or tougher by-laws...it's addressing the dearth of 'pride-of-place' and 'respect of environs' that allows for littering. (Oh, and the unconscious, spiteful anger attached, too.)

-I have already spoken with Larry Pomerantz of The Hamilton Civic League about aiming for a 10% increase in voter turnout for 2014, to 50%. How? My feeling is attached to something I had intended to share at the conclusion of the Town Halls Hamilton inaugural event:

“You don’t play sports to get in shape. You get in shape to play sports."

That piece of sage advice was provided by a family doctor and family friend ages ago. And its wisdom is just as solid now as it was then, four decades in the past.

I believe the same can be said for effecting change within your neighbourhood, your community, your city: you don’t dive into substantive, contentious issues in the hope that you can generate civic engagement. You generate civic engagement so that you’re better equipped to address substantive, contentious issues when they begin to unfold."

So to me, getting more people out to vote means little if they're paying lip-service to the process, or, as the nearly two-thirds of voters did in the 2006 election, voted according to 'name recognition'.

I want the expression of a resident's contribution to great local governance to be far more than just a ballot cast.

And I want it to be far more than showing up for a rally or a protest, or clicking 'Like' on a Facebook page.

I want, as is the case in good parenting, for there to be an investment, a mindful awareness of what's going on, and for that person to participate in the process well beyond exercising their franchise every four years.

Call me a dreamer, but I'm no more of one than those choosing to spend time kvetching and complaining and otherwise mucking up the big picture.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-12-19 08:50:41

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:59:59 in reply to Comment 72378

This post is why I so strongly believe in your vision, Adrian.

Perhaps though, the answer may end up being a mix of what you, Ryan, and Hammer are discussing within this comment thread. Maybe we can't 'reach' everyone the same way.

We can make people feel good/teach people how to be involved through Catch, RTH, The Spec, local media, community events, etc., but what about those that don't read the papers or hangout on online forums, aren't on Facebook or Twitter, and who don't listen to the news on the radio or watch it on television.

How do you reach them/find out who'they'? Is the only way via a postcard ad in their mailbox and what could that postcard possibly look like to change the mind of someone who has never or has not voted in years for any number of reasons - The sinisist to top all sinisists.

It should be 100% for reasons outlined in Adrian's piece because everyone should whole-heartedly believe in the system whether it's the existing system or a modified one.

Maybe it also takes say someone like the Civic League, to ensure 100% that there is a candidate running in each district that can capture the interests of every man, woman and vote-eligible child because you can believe in the system or voting all you want but if there are 10 people you feel are has-bins running, you might rather pay the fine than make a huge mistake.

Perhaps maybe what becomes 'mandatory' instead then, is that everyone must do so many hours of community service. Maybe there is no city council. No MP's or what not. Maybe it's just a Mayor, Provincial Premiers, and a Prime Minister and the rest of city and provincial planning is done amongst the community. Certainly there is enough knowledge from lawyers down to factory workers and food services, to work together to run our cities. Then we vote for leaders and those that can inspire over their knowledge per say of the judicial system or legal systems or public planning. You have that knowledge in the community already. Just one person to bring the needs of their 'communities' up to the higher powers so they understand the needs of the communities - truly determined by the 'communities'.

But then, perhaps you can call me a dreamer too.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:42:26 in reply to Comment 72378

I somehow doubt it.

The thing about reasoning from a set of assumptions rather than observing and testing is that reality doesn't care a whit how carefully you have selected your assumptions or constructed your arguments. The only way to know if your assumptions and reasoning are sound is to test them empirically.

I'm no expert on compulsory voting and I've only done some cursory reading on it, but there seems to be some evidence from jurisdictions that have imposed it supporting the idea that, for example, compulsory voting serves to reduce income inequality by engaging the participation of the most disadvantaged voters - those people who, without compulsory voting, are most likely to take the self-fulfilling conclusion that politics does not represent their interests and voting is pointless.

There also seems to be some evidence that mandatory voting reduces the effect of myopic partisanship by 'diluting' reflexive partisan votes among a larger pool of overall votes. Again, the evidence seems to suggest that election results are different when everyone votes than they are when only motivated partisans vote.

This, in turn, suggests that election results based on voluntary voting alone are not actually representative of what citizens want and that compulsory voting would produce more representative electoral results.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-12-19 10:43:12

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 11:30:51 in reply to Comment 72381

This, in turn, suggests that election results based on voluntary voting alone are not actually representative of what citizens want and that compulsory voting would produce more representative electoral results.

God, you're such a programmer, Ryan.

LOL

(My apologies up-front if what I'm going to say smacks of an ad hominem attack in any way, shape or form.)

I wonder how you'd have done during the 60s, Ryan. And I'm not being glib, I'm wondering aloud how your 'systems-based, problem-solving' mechanisms would have transferred to that era, especially were you living in the States, what with civil rights unrest, what with anti-war protests, what with an entire culture at odds with itself. My bet is 'Not well.'

Now, you and I have had these discussions about civic engagement in the past. (Once again, for those unfamiliar with the story, Ryan was a seminal influence in me forming Town Halls Hamilton.) And I think that we can, at the very least, sum up my approach as 'a lifestyle' proposition. A 'mindset paradigm shift'. Whereas you seem to apply your energies to projects and specific situations. (I'm actually quite loath to describe your approach, because I'm not so interested in exploring what you're attached to as I am in trying to further do so with mine. Self-referential via Virgo-rising? Moi...?) Was it not you who declared that the best conditions within which to try to get people 'mobilized' was those where you had an issue to 'push against'? In other words, a specific problem to fight the fight over?

For the sake of argument, let's take a look at both strategies of increasing voter turnout. Mine involves finding ways to get people to naturally and organically care more about their streets, their neighbourhoods, their communities, their city...in the process seeing them more engaged, participating in their governance process...and eventually, because they're more invested in things, voting with a more informed set of referenced, having developed a 'qualified opinion' about the candidates. This doesn't require any further input by 'anyone in power', by any bureaucracy, by any City Staff. Nor does it require any further 'funding' or costs by government.

Yours involves an initiative for the provincial government to pass a bill requiring mandatory voting at the municipal level. Which would require some substantive discussion, some protracted research, and whatever's attached to changing the status quo in a legislative way. Including the not-inconsequential cost.

So; which approach do you think that people would be more willing to consider?

Do you want more government messing around in how each of us should and shouldn't be living our lives? Do you want to be paying for this increased 'involvement'?

I know I don't.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-12-19 11:31:52

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:01:37 in reply to Comment 72382

I'm not a radical and I don't pretend to be one. As much as possible, given a) the vagaries of temperament and b) the limits of information, I try to form opinions based on evidence and reasonable analysis. If that smacks of an engineering methodological bias, I apologize and duly refer you to a) above.

That said, I would respectfully suggest that you have posited a false alternative between what we might call your "bottom-up" approach to civic engagement and the "top-down" approach of compulsory voting (and I will pause here to point out that I'm merely open to studying the idea further, not a committed advocate).

There's no reason for a community not to explore and pursue any and all avenues severally in pursuit of a desirable outcome. If compulsory voting is successful at increasing the level of meaningful civic engagement, then anyone who wants to increase the level of meaningful civil engagement should be at least prepared to consider it on its merits.

If it doesn't work or the cost is prohibitive, then a careful examination will eliminate it as a viable option.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-12-19 13:02:35

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:50:05 in reply to Comment 72384

If compulsory voting is successful at increasing the level of meaningful civic engagement, then anyone who wants to increase the level of meaningful civil engagement should be at least prepared to consider it on its merits.

I am.

And the very premise doesn't sit well with me.

(But I'd have to take issue with the idea that more voters at the ballot boxes necessarily means that 'increasing the level of meaningful civic engagement' has been achieved. All it necessarily means is that more people are voting. Whoop-de-do. Seriously.)

I have a visceral reaction to the idea of being told you have to do what should be something you do out of a sense of duty, out of social responsibility.

This gets back to my belief that we should have sufficient values and mores inculcated within us during our 'upbringing' to render unnecessary widespread and well-enforced 'laws'. (That is, if the laws are the only things that make society 'good', then we're in fact good and screwed.)

I guess this is a philosophical disagreement, and we're looking at the difference between someone getting fit and healthy to be able to run a 10K, and someone simply using a 10K run as a goal.

Me? I prefer the holistic and organic route.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 14:02:44 in reply to Comment 72391

And the very premise doesn't sit well with me.

Which suggests you may be predisposed to reject it no matter what the evidence says.

I'd have to take issue with the idea that more voters at the ballot boxes necessarily means that 'increasing the level of meaningful civic engagement' has been achieved.

So would I. It's not enough for more people to vote; more people also have to get engaged enough to make votes that are well-informed and produce a more functional government.

The question is: does mandatory voting play a role in making voters more engaged beyond merely showing up at the voting booth? That's a more interesting question, and I suspect the answer is more complex than either of us would assume.

I have a visceral reaction to the idea of being told you have to do what should be something you do out of a sense of duty

A duty is something you have to do. It comes from the Latin word for debt and literally means, "That which is owing."

If voting is a democratic duty, there's an argument for passing a law enshrining that duty. This is precisely what we do with taxation: we don't just leave it up to individuals to decide whether they want to contribute their fair share, or even to decide independently what a "fair share" should be.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-12-19 14:03:05

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 16:07:28 in reply to Comment 72393

Which suggests you may be predisposed to reject it no matter what the evidence says.

'Evidence'? Huh? This presumes we'd be going through the arbitrary and expensive process of introducing the notion...which, considering we can't even agree to have a discussion about de-amalgamation, seems beyond ludicrous. Ryan, consider my stance on mandatory voting to be a 'belief'. Does that make my recalcitrance any more palatable...? : )

If voting is a democratic duty, there's an argument for passing a law enshrining that duty.

Uh-uh. Nope. Sorry. Can't agree even slightly. (And your taxation analogy is lame. Surely you can do better.)

What's the accomplishment in being mandated to vote? Are you seriously happy with that prospect? Really...?

For the record...seeing as I've 'mystoneycreek'd this thread just about to the max... I've worked with programmers. Tons. They are a unique breed and yes, exhibit their own brand of creativity and imagination. And are capable of coming up with some astonishing solutions. But where I worked with them...plying my trade within the designer/writer groups...they were still a breed apart.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 21, 2011 at 04:22:58 in reply to Comment 72397

I found the taxation analogy to be apt in this case. What's accomplished by mandatory voting is first of greater legitimacy for the government. That the government is being chosen by ALL the people, not just the politically motivated individuals.

It also forces candidates to engage the citizenry as a whole and not unfairly focus on certain special interests in society who are more likely to vote (such as the elderly who historically vote in much higher numbers).

It also encourages blank balloting far more, and to protest and show dissatisfaction with the entire selection of candidates or the electoral system as a whole.

Also, consider larger campaigns designed to attract voters into the political process become less important as a result of compulsory voting, because everyone has to vote. This somewhat reduces the role of money in politics and increases the value of actual substance amongst candidates.

It also serves as a guilt free method of taxation. A small fine on an individual who doesn't have the will to get to a polling station and cast a ballot and has ample recourse in this day and age to vote early on multiple dates is something I can get behind.

Besides, Jury Duty is also a civic duty with harsh penalties and is far more inconvenient and painstaking then voting ever could be.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2011-12-21 04:24:46

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:24:11 in reply to Comment 72384

...I try to form opinions based on evidence and reasonable analysis. If that smacks of an engineering methodological bias, I apologize and duly refer you to a) above.

As a fuzzy-brained, big picture artsy, I take exception to this. ;) I too try to the best of my ability to base my advocacy on empirical evidence, best practices, and on-the-ground experience, and I can guarantee you it's not coming from any 'engineering methodological bias', just a bias toward what has been shown to work in observable reality, while recognizing that perception can often inform one's idea of 'reality'. ;)

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-12-19 13:25:47

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:38:02 in reply to Comment 72387

ust a bias toward what has been shown to work in observable reality

Unfortunately, that is commonly regarded as an engineering bias.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 19, 2011 at 14:02:23 in reply to Comment 72390

Then there is an unrecognized commonality between artists and engineers. Artists who spend their lives searching for solutions on shoe string budgets, be they designers, performers, or visual artists, are engaging reality with every breath. Perhaps the fact that they do so creatively obscures the tangible, concrete nature of the artistic process.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 14:09:25 in reply to Comment 72392

I think there's a big false dichotomy between artists and engineers. Some of the most creative, imaginative people I've ever known have been engineers.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 19, 2011 at 14:11:50 in reply to Comment 72394

Well, some of the funniest certainly. ;)

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:30:36 in reply to Comment 72387

From one fuzzy-brained artsy to another, I wholeheartedly feel the only solutions are ones mixed with charcoal pencils made from the coals of Dofasco, blood and sweat from the cool-minded athlete, to artists oils and the melted down chipsets of techies, painted on a tree-hugger's canvas.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-12-19 13:32:19

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 17:00:32 in reply to Comment 72341

When you elect a DJ as your mayor, what else can you expect?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2011 at 15:07:29 in reply to Comment 72341

Larry (D?): What is it with the "Chapman's" and the Mayors of our city? :)

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By real legal story (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 15:49:15

RTH readers would do well to look at a Citizens at City Hall posting today, Dec.16, 2011. It's a better and far more valuable read than the self-serving sneering above from someone writing as "Larry." Someone with a name like that ran twice for mayor and lost, after being charged with 41 counts of violating the Ont. Municipal Elections Act when he ran the first time (and won--in a 2003 campaign noted for his financial difficulty in raising money BEFORE the election day. Even Dreschel noted the strange money tale in Feb. 2005 in the Spec, though in 2006 the Spec had trouble remembering). That mayor eventually plea-bargained down to being found guilty of six counts. He had to write an essay about how to be a somewhat better public servant that was partially re-printed in the Spec. When RTH-ers new to this look at the new CATCH article, look at the links in the article--they are very instructive to a group now consumed with Bob, Peggy, and an annual extra $30,000. One link will help explain why many Hamiltonians were pleased to see Bob Bratina take part in the Nov.24, 2004 Council meeting --Bob having been just elected in a by-election.
See

CATCH http://hamiltoncatch.org/view_article.php?id=1021

Red Hill legal costs over $8 million, Dec 16, 2011

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By Theo (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2011 at 17:03:16

Greetings Real Legal Story,

Being fairly new to RTH, and per your suggestion, I read the CATCH post you noted. That was then, this is now. Regardless if "Larry" is "sneering" or not, it seems that this is not about the Red Hill legal costs issue, or the moral compass of "value for skill" over the raise that Ms. Chapman got, deserved or otherwise, but rather the way that it was granted, the seeming disclusion of Council from the process, the current policy surrounding non-union staff compensation, and the backtracking that the Mayor performed on the issue. Many questions remain unasked and unanswered - it would be helpful if some further information from the meeting between Council and the Mayor was to be forthcoming...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2011 at 22:43:39 in reply to Comment 72350

Hi Theo. Welcome to RTH and thank you for your contributions. I highly recommend reading CATCH on a regular basis. They do a fantastic job covering the process of council and committee meetings and decisions, publishing fine-grained meeting transcriptions and detailed voting records.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2011 at 13:11:36

Actually, I want to go back to this Peggy Chapman thing for a moment as well. I think it was Joey that already stated this, but I don't like the Peggygate thing either. I wasn't happy with the issue involving her earlier in the year regarding open data either so whether we like her as a chief of staff or not is aside from the point. The Mayor and Peggy are real people. Do I like how that Spec Ed board meeting went and the backtracking? No. We see 100% why he doesn't like speaking with the media in a setting he isn't comfortable in.

Is he the best Mayor? There are some things I don't like but he is a person with a family none the less who if nothing else, is a good historian and shares my love for history so I respect that about him. I also wish I could be so confident speaking in public as he is good at that. He is making some mistakes and causing a lot of stirring but in the end the reason we started Town Halls more specifically was to get away from this way of talking about one another and to focus our energies on how to improve things rather than yammer on about what's broken. We need to discuss our ideas like the Open Data team is chatting about how they can better improve communication at a data level. How do we improve things at a people level?

As for Peggy again, I thought it was very wrong for the Spec Ed Board to ask that question right in front of her. Does she deserve that wage? Who am I to say. A $30,000 pay all at once? Kind of crazy but if it's from the Mayors budget then perhaps we shouldn't have a say. Would two people do a better job than one in this instance perhaps, but this is getting too ugly.

Ya, the Mayor on the surface seems to have flat out lied and has a hard time saying he is sorry at times. I get tired of all the 'he's an idiot' talk though and perhaps I am no better sometimes but we need to break these habits. It's not okay behaviour in Hollywood and it's definitely not the kind of community I want to live in. Think of council members as you will and you have every right to, but act with our votes come the end of their term and when you are running against them or telling others why you feel they should not vote for the current person in office, don't bash your opponents. All we want to hear is what you will do for us - not what they didn't do for us.

When talking about 'people' we need to start remembering that they have families and friends of their own however hard it is for us to fathom people actually like them.

I am tired of politics myself. I understand why people don't vote. I honestly and truly do.

These are the kinds of things that are going to change our city as far as I am concerned. We need more Mahoney-type pieces. Problem is we currently feed off of negative news. We all have some anger issues. Maybe punching bags should come standard issue with green bins?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-12-19 13:26:15

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 09:47:44

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 16:50:25 in reply to Comment 72482

Comment Score: -3 (3 votes)

Just to clarify for all the addle-brained: this was a riff on the idea of mandatory voting.

Hey; maybe we should have mandatory voting on this site?

What's that? We already do? It's called a 'manifestation of the sycophantic effect'?!?

OK.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 10:33:08 in reply to Comment 72506

Personally I've voted some your comments down because they come across as self important and kind of douchy. Sorry I don't know how to put that more delicately, but you've been......snarkier than usual lately.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 09:33:19

I don't understand how you can call the taxation analogy lame, MyStonyCreek: it's the most obvious and apt comparison, and I'm sure it leaps to the minds of many people (myself included) when reading this thread. Let's re-write your...

Government Announcement 1917, somewhere in the Dominion of Canada

In an attempt to address the mounting societal costs of war and everything else and its concomitant ailments, starting forthwith, there will be new, mandatory expectations regarding a person's fiscal contributions to the nation's coffers.

More information will follow, but we trust you will understand and accept that we have your best interests at heart, and the greater good foremost in our minds...as a 'voluntary' tithe in lieu of mandatory income tax has been proven to be an unmitigated disaster.

Yours in robust finances,

Your Government in Action.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 26, 2011 at 07:57:36 in reply to Comment 72517

I don't understand how you can call the taxation analogy lame,

Clearly. But really, is that a surprise?

it's the most obvious and apt comparison, and I'm sure it leaps to the minds of many people (myself included) when reading this thread.

Bleurgh

I'm aiming for something- Let's just say that I'm aiming for something from the heart, Mr. Borrelli. And what's being proposed is anything but 'from the heart'.

Attach yourself to the tax analogy if you will, it seems to make you happy, but what I'd be willing to put my efforts into isn't some fix-all from a government.

I want better voter turn-out, better voting period to result not from some law or some mandate, but because people know it's what they should be engaged in. I want it to happen out of a sense of 'duty', but not with the connotation of 'paying back a debt'. (Given how the regard for government in general has become so infused with cynicism, so shot-through with fatalistic negativity, I don't believe anyone feels any 'indebtedness' to any level of government, as 'may' have been the case in times passed) I want something far more noble, far more aligned with ethics and mores. You know, the idea that there's sufficient community spirit that this aspect of living isn't even questioned...it's simply executed with a sound conscience and a dedicated diligence.

Is that too capricious a notion here?

I find it hilarious that we're even having this discussion.

I'm finding it more and more bizarre that on a site that purports to want to 'raise up the city', with all the ecologically-conscious writers, readers and commenters present here, with everyone wanting to think organically, holistically, and humanely, that my assertion that we could accomplish something far more 'natural' by simply going down a more community-based path is met with-

Well, is met with a reaction I'd more expect to find from our Council...or City Hall bureaucrats. (You know, the ones who believe that spending a million dollars on creating a GIA (Garbage Intelligence Agency) is representative of 'good governance'.)

Fascinating.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-12-26 08:07:01

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By Plus Ca Change (anonymous) | Posted December 25, 2011 at 16:18:34

Compulsory voting may engage the participation of the most disadvantaged voters, but since those are largely concentrated in certain key geographical areas, and since those populations, while sizeable, are not overwhelming (20% per capita), it's far from clear what outcome would result, however equitable.

Given the distribution of population between urban and suburban settings, it doesn't seem far-fetched to imagine that mandatory voting in Hamilton would favour the viewpoint of populations outside of an urban environment, in the same way that a referendum on rapid transit would have a real likelihood of torpedoing the entire initiative. Rather than pandering to certain voter demographics, politicians might now simply play to the middle of the road in the hopes of capturing the greatest number of votes.

Alternatively, if a ticket had two strong MOR voices, an unlikely outlier might have a better chance of tipping the scales. Imagine a field of 15 mayoral candidates, for example, with two high-profile name candidates, and a third candidate with high visibility, far less political experience, but a canny sense of how to play hot-button issues like a pinball machine could wind up mayor. Stranger things have happened,

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 28, 2011 at 22:52:40

To chime in on the 'mandatory voting' thing:

I disagree 100% in making it mandatory to vote. It's your democratic right to not vote. Doesn't matter why - could be you don't think a candidate is worthy of your vote, you are trying to send a message, you're lazy, you forget, whatever - but it's your right in a free and democratic society to not vote.

I don't think that punishing someone who doesn't vote is appropriate. Would a reward work better? Maybe something like a token $50 reduction on income tax or property tax? I know, a point can be made then that those who wouldn't have voted otherwise may just be doing so to save, but if you're willing to get up, go to the polling station and mark the ballot, maybe you would be engaged and make an effort to learn about the candidates, maybe not. Name recognition trumps platforms and policies.

I think the real point is how to get people engaged again. How to get people to learn about the people running for elected office, how they can help you, if they stand for the same things you do, and so on.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted December 29, 2011 at 07:57:54

Voting shouldn't be mandatory, but judging from the mayor we've ended up with I would suggest that for those who decide they want to vote, a short test should be mandatory, in order to show they know something about the candidates before being ALLOWED to vote.

Comment edited by TB on 2011-12-29 08:04:04

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By that would only guarentee (anonymous) | Posted December 29, 2011 at 09:27:54

the same result. Those that voted knew plenty about Eisenberger and Dianni. Thats the reason Bratina slipped up the middle to win.

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