Comment 109642

By LeeEdwardMcIlmoyle (registered) - website | Posted February 24, 2015 at 08:36:50

As a late-coming participant in the Redhill protests at City Hall back in the 90s, I was deeply disappointed that the City of Hamilton had pushed for the expressway, which to my mind still has not given us value for dollar, and cost us immeasurably, both environmentally and historically. About the only reason I can think that the East End isn't currently a sooty grey smudge would be because the steel factories have been shutting down concurrent to the erection of the expressway. I won't go into the environmental assessments or the property damage caused by flooding as a result of the expressway on the surrounding properties. Let's just say, I disagree with your assessment of the Red Hill debacle.

I think it's interesting that a councillor who has shown a clear inability to grasp reality is quoting pretty much verbatim the same tired old explanations for the lack of engagement and the refusal to consider the concept that big money and Robert Moses-style city building initiatives (ie Big Roads everywhere) does NOT in fact solve a growing city's problems. Whether the Red Hill Expressway has benefitted the outer wards is up for some debate, but it clearly hasn't done much to benefit the lower city, because not enough people use it to avoid driving through the Downtown Core, which is clearly evidenced by the traffic levels, the potential gridlock, and the entire bus lane/LRT/BRT debate cycle.

Terry, you want big roads and no obstructions to your constituents' commute. We get that. You and your allies on Council could not be clearer on that point. But what you want and what we as lower city residents need are wildly divergent. We need our small shops and businesses to be revitalized, and just about everything we're trying to do to aid that is being shot down by your Council allies, seemingly because it would enable us to get up off of our knees and get things done around here again. I could be grossly out of order here, but it feels like naked power-mongering and class warfare. You accuse us of being narrow-minded, and yet you refuse to consider our needs, even though we have time and again left you and your constituents largely unsullied.

We debate issues that affect us adversely. That is by definition our right as citizens of a modern Democracy. We aren't imbalancing anything. You're just ignoring us with impunity. And you get away with it because you have seen that your electorate will vote you back into office because no one with enough political currency wants your job. You feel safe and smug in your Council seat, treating us like we're the whole problem, rather than a symptom of the bigger problem, which you yourself are an even bigger symptom of.

It's systemic, Terry. When politicians stop listening to citizens because they're committed to an unpopular or even detrimental course of action, engagement breaks off and bad political decisions, like your beloved expressway, get ramrodded through. Politicians ask why voter turnout is down, because they acknowledge that low turnout belies their claims to a clear mandate. The answer is simple: decades of ignoring the residents when they tell you what they want, because you have the arrogance to believe you know better than they do.

No one knows better than anyone else here, Terry. We're not saying you know nothing, although you often demonstrate far less clarity or fact-based knowledge than is becoming of a City Councillor. What we're saying is, we're closer to the problem, which allows us a certain perspective on the issues at hand that you don't currently possess. If you refuse to consider our views and suggestions, even going so far as to dismiss them out of hand, then of course we're going to get loud. No one likes to be ignored, particularly when so much is on the line.

We want you to concede that you aren't necessarily the best judge of the situation in the Downtown Core. We are perhaps be a little too close to the problem, but you aren't merely a remote, cooler head; you're completely out of touch with our needs. You've proven it with alarming regularity. You don't live in the core. Your power base isn't in the core. Your interests aren't really in the core. So your determination to undermine our efforts to revive the core are a mystery to most of us.

If I were to be uncharitable, I'd go so far as to suggest you barely even work in the core, considering most of what you do when you are in City hall is undermine every vaguely progressive measure, approving only those fewer proposals that either benefit your constituency directly, or that effectively slaps a PR band-aid on problems that could better be addressed with a greater, more proactive show of intent and commitment than approving plans that are years or even decades away, and that you will merely flip-flop and debate the merits of, if and when they ever come to fruition (see Traffic Master Plan/Two-Way Conversion Schedule; see also Staff's Transit Report).

You want a vote in our process. Well, news flash: You've got it already. You have one of sixteen votes, where we have effectively none, save when we're in agreement with our own councillors. We want things done a certain way, and since we are taxpayers just like your constituents (and don't tell me yours pay more, Terry; the numbers are in, and you are wrong), we have a right to demand certain services and measures. We have a right to expect better from your colleagues, and by extension, you.

That's what your function in all of this is. You are supposed to be a barometer for the will of the people of the City of Hamilton, to effectively tell City Staff what we believe needs to be the course of action. Consensus building isn't merely some modern buzzword catchphrase for politicians to bandy about in public while they make fiat decisions without approval or consensus. It's how modern Democracies function. It's an acknowledgement that we hired you to do a job, and expect you to perform to a certain level, which we as citizens are entitled to evaluate by any means we choose. If you think that's unfair, then you are probably right, but it doesn't change the fact that it's true. You chose this job, Terry. It carries with it great responsibility. That's not just a word; that is a burden of great weight, and one that you repeatedly fail to carry with any grace or character.

So before you malign the citizens of Hamilton further with your baseless assumptions, perhaps it's time you considered the naked truth; that you are part of a growing problem with engagement and commitment in this City, and that you need to reprioritize your efforts to do the greatest amount of good for the city as a whole, and not just your chunk of it. Your method of politics is the very definition of short-sighted and myopic, Terry. That is what narrow-minded means. Please think on that.

Thank you.

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