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.