Council came back from their month long vacation, and if you were expecting them to resolve to improve their actions in 2017, you were sorely disappointed. Before we get to that, let’s summarize the business of the week.
Three high profile items this week:
- Update on the Claremont Access (Monday’s Council Public Works Cmte)
- Demolition of the Gore Buildings (Tuesday’s Council Planning Cmte)
- Approval of a 30-year $106-million private-public-partnership contract for a new wastewater sludge plant (Wednesday’s Council GIC Cmte)
You might have missed, only covered on The Public Record:
- Heritage Committee Votes to Save Shaver House in Ancaster from Demo, Will Council Agree?
- Heritage Committee Commits to Working with Developer of Former Kresge Site, Declines to Designate
Joey’s Recommended Reads of the Week
The Camera May Be Pointed at The Politicians, But it is Really Pointed at Me – from my personal blog, a post explaining how my full recordings of public meetings makes more accountable as a journalist, because everyone can fake check me.
Hamilton Coun. Donna Skelly questions ‘relevancy’ of libraries during budget discussion – Kevin Werner’s coverage of Skelly’s questioning of the relevancy of the library during budget deliberations on Friday, she was trying to be a populist, somehow thinking people don’t support libraries.
Stories on The Public Record this week
- The Ainslie Wood Community Association: Some Impressions;
- Hamilton City Council: Development Industry Liaison Group for January 2017;
- Hamilton City Council Public Works Committee for January 16, 2017 (Video replay);
- Update on Claremont Closure and Escarpment Stabilization Emergency Work (Video replay); and
- BLOG: The Battle of Language, Doublespeak, Post-Truth at City Hall.
- Hamilton City Council Planning Committee for January 17, 2017 (Video replay); and
- Council Backs Jason Farr, Overrules Heritage Committee, Approves Demolition of Gore Buildings for New Development (Video replay).
- BLOG: Council Diligence on Biosolids Management Plant; and
- Hamilton City Council General Issues Committee for January 18, 2017 (Video Replay).
- Statement on Covering City Hall in Light of Recent Allegations by City Council;
- BLOG: Rough Notes from Municipal Heritage Committee on January 19, 2017;
- BLOG: Hamilton Committee of Adjustment for January 19, 2017; and
- BLOG: How to Be Adult About Corrections.
It was a mixed week for Council. In Committee, they made major decisions this week, and for the most part handled themselves well. While they still are not showing up on time at meetings, and waste time, they did approve two major items on Wednesday: a new private-public-partnership for a $106-million sledge treatment 30-year contract and new taxi regulations that legalize Uber.
On the behaviour front, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead started the Council year off by launching an eight-hour Twitter tirade in retaliation for The Public Record taking note of votes and attendance at Monday’s Public Works Committee and Board of Health. The attack is well summed up on this Reddit thread. On Thursday, the City Manager’s Office tried to enforce new rules preventing the public from using electrical outlets in public meeting rooms, during a 3-hour marathon Heritage Committee meeting, I plugged my laptop in, the CMO ordered me to unplug, I didn’t, the public supported my work, and the City is reviewing the new rule.
We’re 21 months from the 2018 municipal election date, and the City Council is in full election mode.
On the election front, Friday, Councillor Donna Skelly decided to try and seize a populist narrative, questioning if public libraries are still relevant. It didn’t take long for Hamiltonians from all walks of life – easily parents of young children – to take to social media to defend the library and tell Skelly that yes, libraries are important.
On Sunday, in what may be looked back as being the first tweet of the 2018 election campaign, Mayor Fred Eisenberger sub-tweeted Skelly’s position by responding to a tweet about visiting a library stating “Did it feel obsolete and irrelevant”.
Wednesday saw some loss of decorum after 4 p.m., nothing out of the usual for this Council.
The Advisory Committees meet and functioned well this week: Development Industry Liaison, Business Improvement Area, and Disability all meet this week. I was in-and-out of the first two, and the Disability Advisory meeting was focused on organizing their plans for the coming year. Due to the overlap of Heritage and Committee of Adjustment, I was only able to observe the tail end of one disputed variance, the CoA gave good reasons for their decisions.
On Saturday, hundreds showed up at City Hall for the women’s march. I wasn’t there (sorry, with budget season, I’m hard pressed to keep up with my readings, and just can’t be everywhere), but took in the photos on social media. Great to see so many people out to express support for women, their rights, and basic decency.
The week ahead (Jan 23 to 29) is jam-packed with meetings each day. I hope you’ll still informed and engaged in the week ahead.