By RTH Staff
Published September 20, 2010
this blog entry has been updated
Mahesh P. Butani has issued a
press release to fellow mayoral candidates Fred Eisenberger and Larry Di Ianni, asking them to "put a lid on the press releases".
In his letter, Butani argues that the press release is supposed to be used "to announce something new and substantial or meaningful to the public via the media ... not a weapon to launch political attacks [or] authenticate lackluster or dubious political performances of the past decade."
Butani then goes on to claim that "the people of the City of Hamilton have suffered enormously" under both Di Ianni and Eisenberger, who, he argues, have "brought us to the current state of financial and infrastructural crisis we are facing as a city."
Responding to the recent press releases by both the Eisenberger and Di Ianni campaign in regards to their plans to promote light rail transit (LRT), Butani writes:
Your most recent LRT media releases - which imitate [Hamilton Spectator editor] Howard Elliot's latest missive on the same topic in the Spectator – are clear examples of your abject lack of knowledge of the kind of projects this city needs to recover financially; and displays your lack of sensitivity towards the families and countless small and mid size businesses in our city that are struggling daily to just survive the harsh realities of your policies.
Butani accuses them of "poor judgment" for "jumping onto the LRT bandwagon," which he notes is still in the design phase under development by City planners. He also levels criticism at "an uncritical media that's quite hapy to change the focus of the fatigued minds from the absurd Pan Am issue they helped create".
Instead of more "posturing", Butani calls on political leaders to "focus on creating real jobs from the ground up" by "writing policies that open up the gates for small businesses to flourish and increase wages for workers who are already present in our communities".
He also disputes the argument, supported by both Di Ianni and Eisenberger, that the McMaster Innovation Park will drive future economic growth, citing a 2009 working paper by Marc Levine of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee titled, The False Promise of the Entrepreneurial University: Selling Academic Commercialism as an 'Engine' of Economic Development in Milwaukee [PDF link].
Here is the full text of Butani's letter:
A sincere request to both the incumbents mayor Fred Eisenberger and the past mayor Larry DiIanni, to put a lid on the press releases:
The press/media release is an instrument that is used to announce something new and substantial or meaningful to the public via the media. It is not a weapon to launch political attacks nor is it a means to authenticate lackluster or dubious political performances of the past decade.
It is an understatement to say that the people of the City of Hamilton have suffered enormously under both your administration
Your policies over the last two terms have seen an increase in poverty, loss of industries and jobs, spiraling taxes and user fees, cut in essential services, and the degradation of our environment and physical infrastructure. Both of you have shown a total disregard for the financial and physical realities of our city, and instead have chosen to create and support projects that have brought no immediate or short term reliefs to the residents who have been suffering the serious consequences of your media driven leadership style.
Your continuing indulgence in projecting major economic gains from highly contentious 'publicly funded' mega projects, has brought us to the current state of financial and infrastructural crisis we are facing as a city.
With an election in a few weeks, instead of bringing forth policies and plans that at least have the pretense of leading us out of the colossal mess that our city has been in since amalgamation, you'll no doubt continue to challenge the intelligence of the people by indulging in public mudslinging with your so-called 'media releases'.
Your most recent LRT media releases - which imitate Howard Elliot's latest missive on the same topic in the Spectator - are clear examples of your abject lack of knowledge of the kind of projects this city needs to recover financially; and displays your lack of sensitivity towards the families and countless small and mid size businesses in our city that are struggling daily to just survive the harsh realities of your policies.
Your assumptions that a few public announcements of unsubstantiated mega projects will bring back the lost jobs and prosperity ends up making a mockery of the fundamental tenets of economic development and community rebuilding.
Supported by an uncritical media - that's quite happy to change the focus of the fatigued minds from the absurd PanAM issue they helped create - both of you have shown poor judgment in quickly jumping onto the LRT bandwagon, something still in the design/review phase in our Planning Department.
Attempts to make this into an yet another hollow key election issue will no longer distract people's attention from your very public record of lack of leadership over the last seven years.
While the one candidate who decimated an entire ecosystem in just one mayoral term has proudly managed to reintroduce himself to the people as a sensitive green man and is now pushing the limits of credulity by suggesting that he wants to reroute the LRT lines to whichever neighborhoods that promises him the most votes, the other, the incumbent who has made a political career out of selling the virtues of LRT - while being fully aware of the enormous funding gaps - now just weeks before an election wants to establish a SWAT team to twist the arms of the federal/provincial governments to hand over the entire funding for a LRT system, while he is still at their very mercy to yet deliver to the people his promise of the PanAM stadium and the Randall Reef capping.
It is this kind of pathetic posturing supported by an equally pathetic and uncritical media, that turns cities in a developed nation into a third world, banana republic; where just about anything goes, as long as you are in power, and you have a band of misguided merry men to cheer you along.
Both of you could have done better than this. Our city surely deserves better.
If you're both running out of ideas to win another term in office, I can suggest a few which are guaranteed to capture votes. How about focusing on creating real jobs from ground up? How about attracting new private sector investments? Or writing policies that open up the gates for small businesses to flourish, and increase wages for workers who are already present in our communities? Or even offering solutions to address the devastating impact that your continuing inactions have had on mental health issues at the street level in our lower city?
Putting a gun to the head of higher levels of government to get them to invest in Hamilton, or rerouting the LRT through various neighborhoods to win brownie points is not the best way to raise investments for a sustainable transit system, nor is it an appropriate way to win votes, least of all run a city.
It is my sincere hope that both of you begin to focus on issues that critically matter to the very survival of this city. I challenge you to read this report titled: "The False Promise of the Entrepreneurial University", by Marc V. Levine, and tell the people how wrong your past policies have been in suggesting to the people of Hamilton that our publicly funded Innovation Park is going to be the much celebrated driver of our economic engine!
I also challenge you to show up for this meeting tomorrow, and explain to the thousands of families of the lower city, as to how your policies over the last two terms have impacted their health and wellbeing.
Update: the text of Mr. Butani's letter has been updated to include the hyperlinks in the original. RTH regrets the oversight.
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