Hamilton mayor wants to stay on as police board chair, will step aside for diversity’s sake later

News Jan 17, 2020 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Despite facing a recent storm of controversy, Mayor Fred Eisenberger is seeking to hold onto his leadership position on the Hamilton Police Services Board.

And chances are his election will be a slam dunk.

The seven members of the board elect a chair for a one-year term at their first meeting of the new year Monday, Jan. 20.

Now that Eisenberger has flagged he wants to remain head of the police oversight body — the position he held last year — it's highly unlikely any other member will challenge him.

What may surprise some, however, is he's even returning to the high-profile group at all.

As mayor, Eisenberger is legislatively guaranteed a position on the board.

But last year he said at some point he would voluntarily step down from the predominantly white-male panel so another member of council with diversity credentials could take his place.

Eisenberger says he still intends to honour that commitment — but not just yet.

"I still maintain at some point I will step back from the role and let someone else take a spot on the police services board," Eisenberger said in an interview.

"I stay with that notion and I'm not moving away from it."

The mayor says he wants to remain chair in order to see some big policing issues to their conclusion, including the independent review of how police responded to violence at Hamilton Pride celebrations last June.

Eisenberger raised the prospect of yielding his seat to another member of council in the name of diversity early last year.

Criticisms that the board is too white and male grew wings last March after the province appointed Geordie Elms, a former commanding officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, to the board.

The criticisms achieved orbit a few weeks later when city council appointed retired Zip Signs president Fred Bennink, another white male, to replace the previous municipal appointee, Walt Juchniewicz.

Diversity advocates argue the makeup of the police board is not living up to the principles of inclusion and equity, and does not properly reflect the racial composition of the community.

The board consists of three members of council, three provincial appointees and one municipal appointee.

The council reps are Eisenberger, Chad Collins and Tom Jackson. The provincial reps are Pat Mandy, Don MacVicar and Elms. The municipal appointee is Bennink.

Mandy is a respected health-care leader and member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The only other non-Caucasian on the board is Jackson, an Armenian Canadian.

Mandy's term expires in March of this year. But there's a good chance the province will reappoint her, assuming she wants to stay on. The only other opening this year is in September when MacVicar's term comes to an end. Again, the province may choose to reappoint him.

Against that backdrop, Eisenberger's willingness to step aside to help achieve greater diversity is no small thing.

On the other hand, Eisenberger isn't sure when he'll actually take the step. Right now, he assumes he'll stick with the board through 2020.

Then there's the question of which member of council will eventually replace him. Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, a Canadian Punjabi Sikh, obviously springs to mind.

But as Eisenberger points out, diversity includes gender balance. With seven female members of council to choose from, Nann is no sure thing.

Eisenberger also points out that in the final analysis that it's not his call. When he does finally hit the road, his replacement will be chosen by a council

That, of course, means group politics will surely come into play.

Andrew Dreschel's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel

Hamilton mayor wants to stay on as police board chair, will step aside for diversity’s sake later

Will step aside in the name of diversity sometime down the road

News Jan 17, 2020 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Despite facing a recent storm of controversy, Mayor Fred Eisenberger is seeking to hold onto his leadership position on the Hamilton Police Services Board.

And chances are his election will be a slam dunk.

The seven members of the board elect a chair for a one-year term at their first meeting of the new year Monday, Jan. 20.

Now that Eisenberger has flagged he wants to remain head of the police oversight body — the position he held last year — it's highly unlikely any other member will challenge him.

What may surprise some, however, is he's even returning to the high-profile group at all.

As mayor, Eisenberger is legislatively guaranteed a position on the board.

But last year he said at some point he would voluntarily step down from the predominantly white-male panel so another member of council with diversity credentials could take his place.

Eisenberger says he still intends to honour that commitment — but not just yet.

"I still maintain at some point I will step back from the role and let someone else take a spot on the police services board," Eisenberger said in an interview.

"I stay with that notion and I'm not moving away from it."

The mayor says he wants to remain chair in order to see some big policing issues to their conclusion, including the independent review of how police responded to violence at Hamilton Pride celebrations last June.

Eisenberger raised the prospect of yielding his seat to another member of council in the name of diversity early last year.

Criticisms that the board is too white and male grew wings last March after the province appointed Geordie Elms, a former commanding officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, to the board.

The criticisms achieved orbit a few weeks later when city council appointed retired Zip Signs president Fred Bennink, another white male, to replace the previous municipal appointee, Walt Juchniewicz.

Diversity advocates argue the makeup of the police board is not living up to the principles of inclusion and equity, and does not properly reflect the racial composition of the community.

The board consists of three members of council, three provincial appointees and one municipal appointee.

The council reps are Eisenberger, Chad Collins and Tom Jackson. The provincial reps are Pat Mandy, Don MacVicar and Elms. The municipal appointee is Bennink.

Mandy is a respected health-care leader and member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The only other non-Caucasian on the board is Jackson, an Armenian Canadian.

Mandy's term expires in March of this year. But there's a good chance the province will reappoint her, assuming she wants to stay on. The only other opening this year is in September when MacVicar's term comes to an end. Again, the province may choose to reappoint him.

Against that backdrop, Eisenberger's willingness to step aside to help achieve greater diversity is no small thing.

On the other hand, Eisenberger isn't sure when he'll actually take the step. Right now, he assumes he'll stick with the board through 2020.

Then there's the question of which member of council will eventually replace him. Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, a Canadian Punjabi Sikh, obviously springs to mind.

But as Eisenberger points out, diversity includes gender balance. With seven female members of council to choose from, Nann is no sure thing.

Eisenberger also points out that in the final analysis that it's not his call. When he does finally hit the road, his replacement will be chosen by a council

That, of course, means group politics will surely come into play.

Andrew Dreschel's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel

Hamilton mayor wants to stay on as police board chair, will step aside for diversity’s sake later

Will step aside in the name of diversity sometime down the road

News Jan 17, 2020 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Despite facing a recent storm of controversy, Mayor Fred Eisenberger is seeking to hold onto his leadership position on the Hamilton Police Services Board.

And chances are his election will be a slam dunk.

The seven members of the board elect a chair for a one-year term at their first meeting of the new year Monday, Jan. 20.

Now that Eisenberger has flagged he wants to remain head of the police oversight body — the position he held last year — it's highly unlikely any other member will challenge him.

What may surprise some, however, is he's even returning to the high-profile group at all.

As mayor, Eisenberger is legislatively guaranteed a position on the board.

But last year he said at some point he would voluntarily step down from the predominantly white-male panel so another member of council with diversity credentials could take his place.

Eisenberger says he still intends to honour that commitment — but not just yet.

"I still maintain at some point I will step back from the role and let someone else take a spot on the police services board," Eisenberger said in an interview.

"I stay with that notion and I'm not moving away from it."

The mayor says he wants to remain chair in order to see some big policing issues to their conclusion, including the independent review of how police responded to violence at Hamilton Pride celebrations last June.

Eisenberger raised the prospect of yielding his seat to another member of council in the name of diversity early last year.

Criticisms that the board is too white and male grew wings last March after the province appointed Geordie Elms, a former commanding officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, to the board.

The criticisms achieved orbit a few weeks later when city council appointed retired Zip Signs president Fred Bennink, another white male, to replace the previous municipal appointee, Walt Juchniewicz.

Diversity advocates argue the makeup of the police board is not living up to the principles of inclusion and equity, and does not properly reflect the racial composition of the community.

The board consists of three members of council, three provincial appointees and one municipal appointee.

The council reps are Eisenberger, Chad Collins and Tom Jackson. The provincial reps are Pat Mandy, Don MacVicar and Elms. The municipal appointee is Bennink.

Mandy is a respected health-care leader and member of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The only other non-Caucasian on the board is Jackson, an Armenian Canadian.

Mandy's term expires in March of this year. But there's a good chance the province will reappoint her, assuming she wants to stay on. The only other opening this year is in September when MacVicar's term comes to an end. Again, the province may choose to reappoint him.

Against that backdrop, Eisenberger's willingness to step aside to help achieve greater diversity is no small thing.

On the other hand, Eisenberger isn't sure when he'll actually take the step. Right now, he assumes he'll stick with the board through 2020.

Then there's the question of which member of council will eventually replace him. Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann, a Canadian Punjabi Sikh, obviously springs to mind.

But as Eisenberger points out, diversity includes gender balance. With seven female members of council to choose from, Nann is no sure thing.

Eisenberger also points out that in the final analysis that it's not his call. When he does finally hit the road, his replacement will be chosen by a council

That, of course, means group politics will surely come into play.

Andrew Dreschel's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. adreschel@thespec.com @AndrewDreschel