Thursday, December 22, 2011

...the way I see it, anyway.

Over the past 18 months or so, since I began paying attention to local politics (no apologies for that), there have been myriad reasons to feel not only the standard cynicism, naysaying nihilism to augment the area's decades-old psychic burden, but also disheartedness, disillusionment...and utter resignation.

However, unlike many in Hamilton, my focus isn't the natural one, that of 'the politicians'. It's not that I hold them blameless (hardly), it's not that I expect less than most and therefore aren't offended by what's presented as 'good governance' (ha!), and it's not that I'm eternally hopeful that somewhere in the mix, we're going to see a shining star reveal itself and guide us to a better place. (puhlease.)

I don't focus on 'them' simply because I believe fervently that-

Well, allow me to step back a bit and provide some context.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, good Lord...there's more...

I think I might have to once again wade into the murky waters (for some, anyway) of 'How The Retail Landscape Has Changed, And Why Parking Meters Aren't The Villain'.

In the meantime, another one of Mr. Robertson's letters.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I love the smell of conflation in the afternoon. It reminds me of...


The situation in Hamilton regarding the 'Peggy Chapman's Getting a Raise' kerfuffle is getting a little ripe.

Witness this commentary over at Raise the Hammer by Michael Borrelli, co-hort of mine on the inaugural Town Halls Hamilton effort.

So, given the title of this post, I'd like to pose a few questions.

Yeah, it always comes back to Stoney Creek, doesn't it...?

This letter made it into the Stoney Creek News this week:

Olde Town needs merchants with vision
Re; Fresh ideas needed for Stoney Creek, not user fees, Letters, Dec. 8
Few things make me sadder than when someone gets it right… while getting it so wrong.
W. Robertson’s letter of Dec. 8 is a great example. Yes, ‘fresh ideas are needed for Stoney Creek,’ specifically for ‘Olde Town Stoney Creek.’ But the villain isn’t “user fees.” I agree wholeheartedly with much of what the letter writer says, especially when they focus on the loss of community spirit. But I disagree with his verdict.
I have explored this topic ad nauseam on my community blog My Stoney Creek, examined the issues from every angle, looked at the history of the street, the market trends over 40-plus years, the whole paid-parking brouhaha, amalgamation with Hamilton, virtually the entire gamut of variables and contributing factors.
To answer the primary question as to why, on a Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. there are virtually no cars parked on King Street (aside from the simple answer that they’re parking for free in Municipal Lot 3), this: “There’s no ‘there,’ there.”
There’s very little reason for anyone to make the trip downtown. There’s insufficient incentive for people to venture into Olde Town Stoney Creek.  Not because of parking fees...Dundas has a thriving downtown and they have weekday fees as well...but because what’s presented simply doesn’t compel people to travel there to shop.
This has little to do with politicians, no matter how great the urge is to look at parking fees as the great battle issue. This has to do with market trends and a lack of vision on the parts of property owners, with the emphasis on the latter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Of hubris, of fomenting...and of silliness.

Ted Brellisford/The Hamilton Spectator

The recent mishandling by Mayor Bratina of Peggy Chapman's 'pay raise' is proving to be surpassed by those in the city who are now-

Well, how about I just post the quote?

All of us have talents as people, and Mr. Bratina does as well, particularly as a public figure OUTSIDE of politics. However, given recent events and the seemingly endless conflicts that have been a feature of his administration, I am left worndering if I am the only person who thinks he is not suited to the position of Mayor of Hamilton. Therefore, I would post an 11th wish: that Mr. Bratina do the right thing and resign.

(From this comment over at Raise the Hammer)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


In the Dec 1 Spec, there was a column by Gwyn Morgan.

I responded to it there, but because we live in the Twitter age of brevity, I really only addressed one aspect of the gentleman's article. 

"There is an adage that goes: “If you’re young and you’re not a socialist, you have no heart. If you’re older and you’re still a socialist, you have no brains.” So there’s some reason to hope that some of those young, ideologically misguided protesters may grow up to become productive, contributing members of society. There might even be a young Steve Jobs carrying one of those placards."

What a fabulous testimony to how clued-out someone can be. Never mind being egregiously dismissive and mired in arrogance. 

I've Googled Mr. Morgan, and it's clear that he's been a mover-and-a-shaker with a social conscience...which just makes this column seem even more hilarious...and saddening. But to paraphrase, there's some reason to hope that this older, ideological captain-of-industry may evolve into a far more insightful and empathetic citizen. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

What do you get with less-than-great governance...?

Back in October, over at Town Halls Hamilton, I posted an editorial about 'The Great Governance Formula'. 

I saw the accompanying photo online, and I was reminded of how much a part 'vision' plays in great governance. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hamilton's new motto (in light of transparency issues)

Hamilton: Not the Best Place to Raise a Question.

(Thanks to The Hamiltonian commenter, 'Anonymous')

Just a question, is all.

"I know that, you see, because I was poor. But I rose like a rocket, and I know how the whole thing works. The ones who are on your side, or so they think, are the ones who keep you down. Everything they do keeps you down. They'll forgive you for anything. Rob, rape, pillage and kill, and they'll defend you to yourself. They understand all your outrages, and all you failings and faults, too. Perfect! You can go on that way forever. What do they care? Excuse me, they do care. They want it that way. How would they make a living, these servants of the poor, if there were no poor?"

Mark Helprin, 'Winter's Tale'

I'm not an expert of much. 

And those areas where I'm not confident in, I tend to ask more questions than proffer opinions. 

Poverty is one of these areas. 

Specifically the notion of how deeply entrenched this 'culture' is in Hamilton. 

I've not been particularly aware of the situation. Some of this is due to having not been in Hamilton when things began to change in the 90s, and as they proceeded to change moving through the middle of the last decade. But more has to do with indifference on my part. Apathy. Ignorance. 

Again, this is an area where I've known it's best to keep my unqualified opinions to myself and be content with taking in more information over time. Casual osmosis, if you will. 

So this is not an informed editorial. I'm simply not equipped to offer up much in that regard. Save for the need to be asking questions about 'the situation in Hamilton' in light of what's been happening with Mission Services and Mohawk College of late. 

And as much as getting answers to 'How did it come to this?' are vital, my first enquiry would be: 

'Is there a 'poverty industry' in Hamilton?'

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something elsewhere...

A topical editorial by Mahesh Butani can be found at Metropolitan Hamilton. Take a look and consider what it proposes. The implications for better communities and a better city are substantial. Especially considering the 'Good Neighbour Community Contract'. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Press Release

Contact: Larry Pomerantz
Organization: Hamilton Civic League
Telephone Number: (905) 545-5577
Web site:

Hamilton, ON, October 13th, 2011 —The Hamilton Civic League (HCL) is pleased to announce a working partnership with Town Halls Hamilton (THH) to organize and facilitate a series of citizen-led Town Halls. Beginning with an inaugural Town Hall on November 10th in Council Chambers at Hamilton City Hall, HCL and THH are planning to hold similar events around the city over 2011 and 2012 to forge stronger links between citizens and their elected representatives. With an agenda driven by local neighbourhood associations, the Town Halls Hamilton initiative aims to bring together civically-minded residents in a friendly, positive and constructive environment.

The Hamilton Civic League is a broad-based, non-partisan association formed in 2009 to encourage citizen engagement and involvement in the political process. Town Halls Hamilton is a nascent, grassroots endeavour to create concerted, city-wide opportunities for increased engagement between residents and their Councillors. Both organizations believe in the importance of residents being in a position of greater ownership of their local governance, and this alignment is seen as one way of building energy and momentum towards this goal.

HCL Chair, Larry Pomerantz states “We have recently seen an increase in the number of new organizations that share our goal to heighten civic engagement. We encourage individuals to join and organizations to partner with HCL to forge collaborative community building opportunities such as with Town Halls Hamilton.”

The Hamilton Civic League will be actively involved in making the Town Halls Hamilton events successes, and the organization invites all Hamiltonians to become involved in the initiative over the following year.

For additional information, contact Larry Pomerantz at

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ye Olde Humpe-Daye Jocque

A politician is talking with one of his constituents. 

Suddenly, the latter holds his hand up to the former. "Stop right there! You're lying! I know you're lying!"

The politician, not put off in the least, says "You're right! But hear me out!"

(A special thanks must go out to 'The West Wing' and Leo for this chuckle.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Once again, I'm scratching my head...

I came across an article on 2010 Ward 10 candidate Bernard Josipovic's 'Hamilton/Stoney Creek Community Blog', 'Residents still fuming over speeding on Fruitland Road'. (As it was written by Laura Lennie, I'm assuming that it was originally published in the Metroland family of community newspapers.)

I'm not going to wax either poetical, lyrical or accusational about the issue, but as I said, once again, I'm scratching my head. 

I've referenced this situation previously. Here...and here

I'm going to get right to the point: is the world we live in local governance-wise typified by the fact that even considering the notion of trying out a speed reduction on a road...something I point out would only add about twenty seconds to the average trucker's arbitrary, so fixed, so recalcitrant that something as benign, something so simple as reducing speed from 50Km to 40Km (as on Lake Avenue in Stoney Creek)? Because if it is, then we're nowhere near the kind of city that should be boasting about much. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011


"Politics is to governance as porn is to making love."

Here's a little non-fableish fable.

The Story of Town Halls and 
The Do-Nuthin' Bunch That Decided to Finally Do Something

Once upon a time, a Stranger strolled into a city. He could tell from the moment he arrived that something wasn't quite right; the mood of everyone he met That they were each having a bad day. But soon enough he realized that it was more than just a 'bad day'.

"What gives?" he asked his Server in the diner he had a late dinner in after spending his first day wandering around the city, dipping into this neighbourhood and that community, venturing far and wide...for that is what a strolling stranger does. Even if he may be sticking around for a while. (Or not.)

A sigh and a shrug...and a faraway stare was her response.

Later, when she brought the bill, she didn't let go of it right away, played tug-o-war with him for a few seconds...then sat down opposite him in the booth. "You have to understand," The Server began, wiping the table with her utility cloth. Back and forth and back and forth, shining it mindlessly... "We're a city with no hope."

"Cities don't have hope," The Stranger winked. "People do."

Rolling her eyes, she began to get up.

"Why no hope?" he asked in a kind, conciliatory way.
And she explained.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Comments on The Spec article...and my responses...

There's not been much that's surprised me in the comments. And maybe that in itself is disheartening. 

Stephen22By: Stephen22 
Sep 7, 2011 5:42 PM

So many things.. are being done with little or no input from area residents. I feel major issues should be put to a vote. The fact that many one way streets are being put back to two way is a major issue. Also, putting medians in and widening sidewalks that make main arteries 2 lanes only is insane. This has been done in many areas of the city. Its causing traffic congestion and increased accidents. What are these councillors thinking? It seems common sense has been thrown out the door. I am in the group that has no respect for city council. Their actions and errors make them look like the Keystone cops. A collective bunch of people who seem more interested in getting their names in the news rather than achieving some real progress for the city. Nice job on the Lister Block at least but why all the waste of money on King William St. and York St. etc. ?

-Well, yes; no input, no consultation. 
-I don't think it's necessary for us to be having plebiscites on so-called contentious issues. Why not just have uniform, widespread town hall meetings so the the Councillors fully understand their constituents' stances?
-If you have no respect for your Council...then there needs to be more contact, more engagement. Getting a new Council is not an answer. (You didn't say that...but I'm extrapolating it.)

Said before and say it again. Elected politicians are a reflection of the people who elects them,so shut up and wait for the next round.

-Uh... No. If you read the piece, a) only 40% of eligible voters vote...and the majority of these vote according to 'name recognition'. 'Waiting for the next round' accomplishes nothing if there's no contact, no engagement. Just the actors playing the parts change. 

By: joeysmith 
Sep 7, 2011 3:04 PM
As I see it The ballot box is the only realistic opportunity to have our say. The whole idea of civic engagement just boggs down the process of moving forward. We should never elect people who have no pervious experience running an organization. Case in point would be most of our municipal politician. Running a household doesn't count. We should never re-elect a municipal politician. Especially now that they have the job for four years. A city cannot be run by 500,000 citizens, that's why we elect people to run the city. We just need to do a far better job electing the right folks.

-No, the ballot most definitely ISN'T the only realistic opportunity to have our say. All that accomplishes is MAYBE putting into office someone who MIGHT satisfy your needs. 
-As for the qualifications would be nice, but even if you could get 'the best candidates' elected (Not sure how, if 60% are voting according to 'name recognition'), that is no guarantee as to how things are going to be executed. 
-We do need to have more qualified opinions in play when ballots are cast...but in the end, that's just the beginning. 

This could work if only men over 50 were allowed to attend.
-No comment. 

happydayzBy: happydayz 
Sep 7, 2011 10:35 AM
Town Hall Meetings A well written article however until "in camera" meetings and back room deals are a thing of the past any town hall meetings are a waste of time. What is really needed is transparency & accountability. Look no futher than the Pan Am stadium or the peir in Burlington

I can't understand why you would think that having more transparency and accountability beginning at the town hall level isn't far better than (presumably) more administration rules and regulations. 

Nicodemus Tomkin
By: ntomkin 
Sep 7, 2011 10:34 AM
Do they really bring the best out of us? I question the Townhall concept in practice. In theory, it sounds great - but the people who would engage in these types of meetings, are they well-informed? Does anger and resentment really bring about the best rationality? The picture included in this article pretty much sums up how I view Townhall Meetings - angry. Someone pointing a finger at another. Blaming. Conjuring up opinions based on binary understanding. To quote from Men in Black (I know, campy, but poignant): "A person is smart," Agent K says, "but people are stupid." When individual persons become part of a group of people, they can become irrational. Especially when the subjects are passionate. I really don't think this is the right direction for Hamilton. We need great ideas from knowledgable people - not armchair critics.

-So let me get this straight: we have no real vetting of candidates who run...but you're worried about vetting town hall meetings participants? 
-Who's to say that anger and resentment would run rampant? I'm proposing that these meetings always be well-moderated. 
-For the record, I didn't choose the photo...but at the very least, it illustrates just how angry so many people are at the goings-on in their local governance. (Most everywhere.) 
-No doubt that mob-mentality can ruin situations. But why assume that the worst is going to happen...unless your cynicism is very, very deeply rooted?
-So you don't believe that better communication ever makes things better? In a relationship? Anywhere? Because that's what I'm talking about. 
-'armchair critics'. Oh, you mean as in a democracy?

Bobby1By: Bobby1 
Sep 7, 2011 8:17 AM

Yes, Town Hall Meetings will Allow Tax Payers to Vent! What you will hear at these meeting are issues that a resident or residents dislike in their Ward! Most Councillors already know the big issues in their Wards but also Know vast majority of Ward people are disengaged,so,unless for it's an issue close to their heart,they ignore it! Councillors save their political capital ie: support from other Councillors on an issue for when they can get the biggest bang of personal credit for solving a problem! We have a very secretive Council with behind the door deals & agreements made on many issues before public meetings! Town Hall meetings are not what a politician wants because they can't control the agenda!

-I'm sure that at first, you'd hear a lot of complaining. This is what generally happens when the floodgates are opened. As time goes on, there's far more productivity. 
-Town hall meetings may not be what some Councillors 'want'...but I guarantee you that if they become the norm...there'll be no 'opting-out'. Not even with our Mayor. 

Sep 7, 2011 7:11 AM
If Humpty Dumpty sat in a town hall... Then he may have avoided his fall from the wall. Organized town halls are a noble concept but one that status quo egg heads with their shell games cannot accept. Town halls have the potential to empower citizens, something that politicians and corporate kingpins would most likely regret because ignorance is bliss or so they say and the status quo likes everything scrambled this way. But here is something to consider as we approach the end of an era; At some point in the near future this system of puppet governance, of tax theft and of usury interest on fiat cash is going to collapse at long last, and IT would be better for us to have had hard-boiled town halls well in advance of that.

The main thrust of this endeavour is to get people wanting to have this level of engagement. It would be out of the politicians' hands.

Most definitely people need to be more involved. Being involved in politics is like doing homework or saving money, you are giving up something now (usually time) to achieve a goal later. You need to take out a party membership, be involved as a volunteer, make a contribution (including financial) and stay involved between elections. By being involved you are part of the system that helps develop the platform of future elections and who knows, you may find that you are also an effective community activist.

Um...well, you seem to be talking about non-local politics. I'm not talking about 'party politics'. But if you're talking about empowerment, getting involved, then town halls surely provide that kind of opportunity. 

Residents can get involved now It's called voting. As much as I like the idea of townhall meetings, the reality is the only people who will attend them are the malcontents who oppose everything. Councillors, if they choose to attend would only hear one side of any arguement. People who agree with what councillors are doing will not attend. Basically all the townhalls would be are bitch sessions for the few with an axe to grind. Why would any politician in their right mind attend something where they are going to have abuse heaped upon them from people who probably didn't vote for them to begin with.
-No. Voting is just one part of the democratic process. It STARTS with casting a ballot, it shouldn't end there. 
-You're assuming so many things about town halls. That they'd devolve into mud-slinging. That there'd be anarchy in the streets afterwards, dogs and cats, living together... LOL
-As for what a politician might or might not go for... I think you might be surprised in the long run. Again, you're assuming the worst. (Not surprising, but not at all how I see things. Which is why I'm putting in the time trying to make this concept a reality. 

The long and the short of it This individual should consider entering politics. He goes to great lengths to say what can be summed up in a few words. show an interest in civic government and be aware of what is happening.

Uh, thanks. 
Because if all articles took this tack...
...the paper would be a single page of 8 1/2 x 11.