Friday, September 24, 2010

Regarding 'de-amalgamation', Part One

It's a curious thing.

No, not the concept of de-amalgamation as it pertains to Hamilton.

I'm referring to the article 'Hamilton break-up', published in the Stoney Creek News as written 'By Hamilton Community News Editorial'. (Which in itself is a curiosity; shouldn't there be a 'Staff' on the end of this appellation...?) Unless I'm mistaken, it's featured in all of Metroland's local publications this week.

'Hamilton break-up'.

It's kinda straightforward, right? Doesn't that lead you to infer that the article is going to be heading towards that- Well, 'ending'? You know; 'The Brad and Angelina break-up', dealing with the couple ending their relationship. 'The Beatles break-up', dealing with the group's demise. 'Hamilton City Council break-up', dealing with the fractious, self-harming situation regarding governance where it concerns-

Oh, never mind.

The article is fascinating to read. Not just for the lack of connectedness between its title and its bottom-line...but also because of some of the 'facts' it purports, the stance it makes them from...and yet, God bless their tiny souls, they manage to portray precisely what's wrong with the concept of the amalgamation we're currently labouring within...while being so...well, imprecise in the face of so-called wisdom.

"The original goal of amalgamating six municipalities into one city was a last ditch effort by the former PC provincial government to keep Hamilton from going bankrupt. By pooling financial resources from suburban municipalities, it was hoped Hamilton could finally move beyond being a perpetual money pit. It hasn’t happened."

The first problem I have with the editorial's second paragraph is the connotation that this 'effort' was a standalone. That Hamilton was the only amalgamation put into effect by the Harris government. (Clearly, it wasn't; my cursory search revealed a total of six resultant new formations.) The second is ' keep Hamilton from going bankrupt.'

Um...guys; your bias is showing almost from the start.

-On we go to the third paragraph, which lays out some pretty simple fiscal and situational truths about what kind of state this amalgamated Hamilton is in.

-Mayoral candidate Bob Bratina is up next; he's said to be the one 'to fan the flames of discontent.' Which, when you think about it, considering the rather a skewed presentation, don't you think? I mean, it takes a rather accusatory tone when I read it. As if he's up to no good, he's being mischievous, he's taking political advantage of people's frustrations and anger... Which means he really shouldn't be doing it, if I've taken what they're saying the right way.

-From here we're told about how Hamilton politicians have ignored problems over the past decade, we're reminded of some of the other transgressions of Council...and then it's opined as to " the city is going to great lengths to suck money from the suburbs to refill its own dwindling financial resources."

Um, gang? Your bias is showing again.

-Then we're onto area tax the debate has been delayed, and yet the suspicion that when it is dealt with, "...suburban residents will be stuck with higher property taxes."

-But that's nothing, nothing compared to this paragraph:

"The Pan Am stadium debate also widened the gulf between suburban and urban needs within this community. The West Harbour was all about “city-building,” trying to use a mammoth infrastructure project to rejuvenate a tired, old downtown area. When the East Mountain site entered the picture, the city’s urbanites denigrated the location as too expensive, contributing to urban sprawl and not worthy of consideration."

Wow. Whinge much? And from that awkward bias of yours, too.

-But then it gets really interesting: Considering the article has been telling us how badly things have been within this amalgamation, specifically from the point-of-view of the 'suburbs' (i.e. 'the other five entities that were forced to amalgamate'), we're now told that "Voters need to be aware that any process to de-amalgamate will be lengthy and painful."

I think I'm getting a headache.

-In our penultimate portion, it's essentially suggested that Councillors need to work harder, work smarter at making

-Finally, to sum up, we're offered this, reminiscent of hackneyed election rhetoric:

"For far too long the city has worked against its own community, dividing residents into tribes, and watching as they fight over scraps. A new council should work for the betterment of the community, providing solutions to problems, and uniting each area. Those accomplishments would finally create a “new” city of Hamilton."

Leaving me...totally confused.

Because I'd have guessed that with a title like 'Hamilton break-up', we'd have a nicely-fueled polemic about how not only is Council dysfunctional...but that we all need to concede that amalgamation be reconsidered, accepted as a flawed design...and scrapped.

Now, while I'm tempted to re-write the column...given the actual thrust the committee seems to have wanted to deliver...I won't. (Believe it or not, I'm sincerely making an effort to 'play nice'.) Instead, I'd like to address some of the elements of subtext within the article, the multi-mentioned 'bias' of the editorial...mostly because I happen to believe that this dialogue about de-amalgamation needs to not only be continued, but ramped-up. (So yes, I'm grateful the Stoney Creek News has held-forth on this.)

Part Two: De-amalgamation: Why so sad?

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.