Council Votes to Reveal Red Hill Legal Fees

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 15, 2011

Ah, the power of framing.

At last night's Council meeting, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla executed his notice of motion to make public the city's costs related to its lawsuit against the Federal Government over the Red Hill Valley Parkway. According to the Spectator:

Council supported Merulla, arguing that the city should voluntarily reveal the whole cost of the lawsuit in the interest of openness and transparency.

And so we learned the city has spent $1.3 million so far, since the suit was launched in 2004 with a projected budget of $450,000. As of November 2007, the last update before Council decided to make the legal costs secret, the city had spent a little over $243,000.

Council voted in early 2008 to continue with the lawsuit and also to stop publishing the ongoing legal costs, on the basis of "solicitor-client privilege". They also voted to lift the $450,000 spending limit.

They reconsidered that decision in November 2009, but decided again to carry on the lawsuit and to keep the legal costs secret.

Yet last night, though the faces around the Council table were almost all the same as they were in 2008 and 2009, Council decided that openness and transparency around public money were more important than protecting the privilege of the party receiving that money.

One can't help but wonder if any other matters at hand last night provided Council with a different perspective on the issue.

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. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By morons (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 09:59:33

Too busy fighting about the past to spend time (and money) building toward the future.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2011 at 13:54:23 in reply to Comment 72297

Well, imho this kind of information should be public, but I'd rather that a motion was put forth for a bylaw of a policy of openness about these sort of expenditures instead of being a specific one-shot thing.

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By RHVP Fan (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 13:11:35

That project was rock solid, why would it ever need any kind of environmental assessment? How could an 8km long, concrete duck pond be bad for the environment?

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By lawsuitsupportersin Hamilton? (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2011 at 14:56:38

Not Spec (nor RTH so far)points out that Lloyd Ferguson and Rob Pasuta voted against disclosing or releasing this info. Vote was 13-2, we think. Spec could've made the nice page 3 picture of the kingfisher a little smaller to tell us what CHML !! did in their A.M. news. We still don't have media telling us WHY the two councillors opposed this. Did anyone ask? Not guess, but ask. The Chapman money--lots less money involved--gets more play. Yeah, yeah, integrity of Bob. But the lawsuit??

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