Thursday, March 29, 2012

As Peggy Lee sang...


Now that we've had some degree of closure put to 'all this', is it finally over?

Doubt it. 

I think it's been an intriguing interlude, a broad-based litmus test revealing lots about our mayor, certain councillors, Council-at-large, mainstream media, activist/commentators, and the general populace. 

I'm not so sure that most of the above want to look in the mirror, or consider perspectives that go beyond their own, fuelled as they are. 

The sad thing is that it's quite least to me...that we already have so many components required to move forward with innovation and imagination, to leave the kvetching and the sniping behind and resurrect this city of ours...

...and yet we're seemingly engaged in serially-detached and incomplete therapy. Some of it is phoned-in, some of it scribbled out on paper, some of it is delivered in-person, but none of it strikes me as being offered in the right way or resembling a process that's actually going to provide progress. The forum's not there, the cohesion's not there...and mostly, because of private agendas, the motivation's not there. 

There's shame floating around this morning, that 'this is the best we can do?!?', there's anger, there's incredulity that once again, what was promised wasn't delivered (how many times have we seen this unfold at Council in recent memory?), and the result is another sedimentary layer of frustration, of cynicism, of our legacy malaise

So sing on, Peggy. Sing on. 

M Adrian Brassington

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Conduct unbecoming a city...?

As Peggygate 2 has unfolded, as Council's impending censure of Mayor Bratina approaches, as the various tactics of The Spectator, of the mayor himself and everyone associated or simply watching arc their way across the cityscape, it's been fascinating to observe how everything has been been presented, processed and labeled. 

As someone who tends to want to see 'the picture behind the picture' more than get all caught up in the headline-prone specifics of a situation, to me all of this has been especially disheartening. 

Because from my perspective, what's not most important is the mayor's questionable tactics in managing the Peggy Chapman 'pay raise' situation and everything attached to it, even in this second iteration. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moving forward in this city...

Where we start from -and how we proceed- determine how we get to where we're going. So why cart around extra baggage?

What do you know about 'regret'? I know that those who are discontented with their current circumstances tend look back on their lives with more of it, feel the retrospective more negatively. While those who are generally more satisfied than not can view their travails and shrug. Even if we're talking equal Life experiences. So their 'default' state impacts how they reminisce. 

It's not a leap to say that something similar can be said about how people see the future. How they move forward. 

After all, if you begin a project from a positive place, doesn't it make sense that the result will be more likely to be infused with these energies? Especially when compared to those efforts that are infused with energies resulting from, say, 'a chip on the shoulder'?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A man after my own heart.

I sat down over coffee with Greg this afternoon. Great guy, sterling cause, great potential for effecting change...and building community. 

When I lived in Stoney Creek, I had a regular trail-running route that went past the Punchbowl. I never tended to venture over there, but I was always struck by the garbage in the vicinity. (I remember when I'd exit past the railway tracks, how there'd often be a pile of rubbish at the barrier approaching Trevor and Mountain Avenue South.) So I'm very much in support of what Greg (and friends) are doing...for this event, and down the road. 

Good luck to all!

Not to put too fine a point on it...

It's not often that I get jarred by a notion. It happens, but as I'm a pretty free-thinking guy, open to a pretty broad range of possibilities, it's not something that happens all the time.

But over the past week, something was suggested to me that jarred me. And I'm still blinking my way to getting my head around what nudged me askew.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Concerning NAs and the such...

Check out this article, the result of a chat with the newpaper's Publisher, John Best.

(Yes, there are some inconsistencies and inaccuracies in some of the numbers. From now on, I'm going in with tattoos.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Putting one's money where one's mouth is.

Here's an initial proposal for boundary re-drawing. 

Using my own legacy biases as a starting point, I've basically provided 'the Mountain' with another ward...while 'amalgamating' the current 14 & 15. (9.5 might need its southern boundary re-jigging further.) 

This addresses the unacceptable population ratio discrepancies as witnessed by 7, 8 and 14, one in which my arbitrary goal was an average ward population of 40,000. (No, perfection wasn't attained, but we're far closer to parity than we had been.)

I'm not presenting this as a ne plus ultra pitch, nor is it the 'be-all and end-all'. In fact, the most I'm hoping for is that it inspires some discussion. 

Because only through protracted, sustained and authentic discussion of issues such as this will this city develop the skill-set to be able to collectively deal with the issues that challenge us as Hamiltonians. 

M Adrian Brassington

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Of Local Elections, Local Leadership...Local Engagement, Part Three

What would term limits mean?

I believe they'd mean that we'd be swapping experience for new faces...for the sake of having some variety. 

I believe they'd mean that we'd be swapping consistency for 'new blood' the hope that this infusion makes for  different body movements from Council.  

But most of all, I believe they'd mean we'd be providing residents an easy-out, removing any onus of responsibility where it comes to contributing towards their own governance. 

This seems like a piss-poor solution to the conundrum of qualified incumbents and 'career politicians'. 

Of Local Elections, Local Leadership...Local Engagement, Part Two

The question from Part One wasn't 'Do we need term-limits for our councillors?', but it was undeniably connected to that one: 'Why do incumbents almost always get re-elected?'

I think it's important to state here that I'm not talking about mayoral races. Those are an entirely different animal. But with that in mind, this: a) Councillors are not Mayors. What they do is far more nebulous. To my mind, they're not even 'mini-Mayors' of their wards. They're more...'managers'. Contributing to an overall city plan...while putting out fires for constituents, looking after concerns and complaints. This means that for a challenger at election time, there is less to frame a campaign around, short of pointing out an incompetent's poor performance. And unless we're talking some truly egregious follies, it's pretty hard for a councillor to screw things up that badly and lose the voters' confidence. (Unlike with a mayor.)

Of Local Elections, Local Leadership...Local Engagement, Part One

'Term limits'. 

This catch-phrase is usually brought up in any coffee shop conversation about City Hall. 

Just as those who are burdened the heaviest by regret are invariably those who aren't currently content, by-and-large people who believe in the need for term limits view the performance of Council negatively. 

Makes sense. After all, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it', right?

Putting aside my belief that it makes no sense in and of itself to penalize good performance (this assumes that re-election imparts a stamp-of-approval on the incumbent and what they've been bringing to office), it's probably best to examine the real problems associated with trying to unseat a standing Councillor. And in the end, these elements are all parts of the whole, 'The Poor Skill-set of The 'Employer' Doing the 'Hiring', The Resident'. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The complete Spec article.

As the online version this morning had offered up a truncated version of my commentary, here it is in its entirety:

The 'hero' is Us: A Vision for Hamilton

'the commons'
'collaborative consumption'
'network weaving'
‘social media’
'The Internet'

All of these are examples of modern interconnectivity. All are expressions of ‘community’. Perhaps it’s no surprise that in Hamilton, where we’re mired in frustration and cynicism, trapped in a sad loop of indifference and bleating, passivity and caterwauling, where we’ve begun a tradition of producing ‘late to the game’ circuses, we haven’t made good use of their potential.  

Which is why contrary to what Hamilton citizen leader Graham Crawford's posits in his recent Spec commentary 'Hamilton needs a hero' –suggesting that we could use an outside force such as Senator David Braley to help us sort out the current HWDSB/Mac dilemma– I believe that the true, long-term 'answer' to what ails us is...