Dear Readers, Patrons, and Friends,
Let the rebuilding and relaunch of The Public Record begin.
I hope to see you Friday night, 9pm at Mills Hardware (95 King Street East) for the official restart of The Public Record. It will be a great opportunity to chat with friends and fellow engaged Hamiltonians following the City's sold-out Chris Hatfield event at Hamilton Place. Mills will sell the drinks and Gorilla Cheese will sell the food. I hope to you there.
Thank you for your ongoing support during this difficult time.
I've struggled with how to balance the necessities of legal strategy facing off against City Council and my practice of open journalism. With this post, I'm weighting the scales in favour of my practice of being open.
There are three sections to this update: relaunching The Public Record, details on my fundraising event this Friday, and an update on the quasi-judicial Information and Privacy Commission hearing.
Here's the main points:
- I'm relaunching The Public Record - Hamilton needs strong local independent journalism, which The Public Record provides.
- The Public Record will return to City Hall on January 3, 2016 when the Ontario Ombudsman's oversight of City Council begins. I will resume full coverage of all meetings.
- I'll be asking for your help in forming advisory groups to assist with logistics, technology, business, and strategy of The Public Record.
- The crowdfunding campaign for relaunch will begin in late October, early November - I'm going to meet with supporters to determine what you need and want for local Hamilton journalism.
- The first The Public Record relaunch / fundraiser event is This Friday 9pm at Mills Hardware
- Mills Hardware is at 95 King Street East (intersection of John Street).
- A great opportunity to gather after the Chris Hatfield event at Hamilton Place. We'll have Gorilla Cheese serving up food and great brews inside.
- On stage, we'll have a semi-roast of Joey Coleman with some people who've knew Joey for decades. (You won't want to miss this)
- I'm gauging interest in organizing a non-partisan election night party for October 19 as the second fundraiser event.
- Please share the event on Facebook for those who may not read this post, but will likely attend.
- On the legal front:
- An adjudication hearing is being scheduled in the appeal blocking release of City Hall security video from the February 26, 2014 incident in which City Council says I was engaged in eavesdropping in violation of the Criminal Code.
- The "appellant" is attempting to argue releasing the video will be an "unjustified invasion of personal privacy" against Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.
- My application for Judicial Review of Council's use of Municipal Law is on hold awaiting the release of the security video which is subject to the privacy arguments at the Information and Privacy Commission.
Relaunching The Public Record
The Public Record will return to City Hall on January 3, 2016 when the Ontario Ombudsman gains oversight of City Council.
When I shutdown The Public Record in August, it was because I had exhausted all avenues of continuing my work and could not maintain the site while managing legal litigation.
It was not a publicity stunt, it was a reluctant acceptance that I couldn't do more.
I had to walk away from my dream to be part of the solution of the crisis of local journalism, to be part of the new revival of Hamilton by providing full coverage of civic affairs to enable an informed engaged citizenry, and to continue practicing journalism living in Hamilton.
Shutting down was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made.
The events of the past few weeks make it possible for me to relaunch The Public Record.
Among the development, former City Councillor Brad Clark - a witness to the February 26, 2014 assault by Lloyd Ferguson - blew the whistle and revealed the truth of why City Council targeted The Public Record:
I Want and Need Your Feedback and Advice on the Future of This Outlet
The Public Record is forever changed by the events of the past few months. I'm forever changed.
City Council is removing both the audio feed and internet line that The Public Record used to broadcast all City Hall meetings.
This alone forces a major change - I'll no longer be able to stream meetings. This is an opportunity to make my coverage better.
It takes on average an hour to set up for a livestream of a sub-committee and approximately 2 to 3 hours for a standing committee meeting. This is time I'll be able to use to create highlight clips and write summaries to reach a larger audience who do not have time to watch full meetings.
I have some ideas and will discuss them at Friday's event, I'm actively rewriting the business plan for The Public Record and I'll have cards for how you can get involved in helping make The Public Record sustainable as Hamilton's local public interest news outlet.
I'll be looking to form advisory groups to assist with logistics, technology, business, and strategy of The Public Record.
I have a journalistic responsibility to return to City Hall with professionalism. My role as a journalist is to hold truth to power, and I'm not going to shy away from that responsibility. I also have a duty to be fair and impartial in holding truth to power.
City Council may accuse The Public Record of having a vendetta in an attempt to discredit my reporting. I simply won't engage in a vendetta because it's not why I practice journalism and I have better things to do like cover every meeting.
I plan to get back to work quickly and effectively - there no point in doing anything else and I'm a better person than that.
Crowdfunding Campaign in Late Oct / Early Nov
I'll launch a crowdfunding campaign to fund The Public Record relaunch. The campaign will launch in late October to early November.
As I'm modifying The Public Record's business plan and will be working with those of you who join The Public Record's advisory groups, the campaign can only start after we've completed redefining how The Public Record will operate and what the new TPR looks like.
I hope you'll support the relaunch.
The Fundraising Event This Friday
I hope to see you Friday night, 9pm at Mills Hardware (95 King Street East) for the official restart of The Public Record.
Walk over after the Chris Hatfield event ends and enjoy a few drinks while chatting with other engaged Hamiltonians. Gorilla Cheese will be out front serving up their famed sandwiches and there are many other nearby food options.
I'm going to have some old friends, many of whom you may not know, on stage telling their favourite "Joey stories" for your enjoyment.
There will be a contribution box at the front door, I'm asking people to contribute $10 as an entry fee but it is definitely not mandatory.
I'd like to gauge interest for a non-partisan election night party. Depending on interest, I'll look at various venues for the event.
The Legal Update
On the legal front, I'm winning preliminary victories.
I have all my paperwork complete for a Judicial Review of City Council's use of Municipal Law and the widely criticized Integrity Commissioner's report. I'll be asking the Superior Court of Justice to review Council's actions and the Basse Report on the Ferguson incident.
The Judicial Review Application must await the release of the City Hall security video.
I have a separate post regarding the ongoing Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario hearing into an appeal blocking the release of security camera video of the February 26, 2014 incident.
I want the video released as the video will conclusively prove the Basse Report is false, and will prove that I was not engaged in any wrongful activities alleged by Council.
What's The Public Record Focused On Until January?
I'm spending the next few weeks working on the backend of the website, the business plan, meeting with people who've volunteered to help The Public Record become better, and I'll be covering some community events as time allows.
The unfortunate reality is that I have to spend a great deal of time on the various legal matters and that will limit my coverage.
I've been able to find some time to research a feature I've wish to write for a long time - a brief history of Burlington's La Salle Park and how the City of Hamilton came to own one of Burlington's best parks. The ownership of La Salle Park is an ongoing point of contention between our two cities and an interesting historic quirk. I've found my research into the park to be fascinating and look forward to sharing the story with you in the near future.
Thank you again for your ongoing support,