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. 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 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 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.

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

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

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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.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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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'?!?


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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.


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'.)


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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