Editorial: Openness at Hamilton City Hall? It's just the same old song

Opinion Nov 26, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

One of the predominate themes Hamilton voters told their prospective politicians during the recent election was to be open and transparent on difficult and important decisions.

Over the years the public has made it clear they’re fed up with meetings where politicians seem to be manipulating issues for their own benefit leaving residents out in the cold.

So it was with some consternation that it seemed Hamilton politicians turned a deaf ear to those public cries.

Last week what was described as a “nomination committee” composed of 10 sitting councillors and three new councillors-elect and mayor-elect Fred Eisenberger met to divvy up the appointments to various council committees, boards, and agencies.

Similar meetings have been held in the past according to the city clerk, but this particular meeting raised an issue that should provoke consternation among the public: a contested selection process for the Hamilton Police Services Board.

Councillors Terry Whitehead, Chad Collins and Lloyd Ferguson were vying for two seats, with the committee appointing Whitehead and Ferguson.

So why were the four politicians-elected voting? The Municipal Act says politicians-elect have no authority until Dec. 1 when their term begins, and after they are sworn in Dec. 3? The other 10 councillors technically have the authority to make policy decisions. With only their votes Whitehead would have been picked for the board, but both Ferguson and Collins would have been tied in votes.

What should have happened is to allow the vote to be held at the Dec. 3 council meeting, in full public view, rather than in a ground-floor committee room.

The city clerk’s office instead described the get-together as a nomination committee, but what standing does it have? The clerk also stated the politicians were not “voting” but merely making their preferences known. Yet during the meeting it was abundantly clear the councillors knew they were voting in what was a power play among a select group of politicians to prevent Ferguson from returning to the board.

The clerk and some councillors stated the meeting was authorized, since it was public and attended by the media. Yet there was no announcement of the meeting to the public.

After a mayoral campaign where the public adamantly demanded their politicians eliminate their back-room deals and open up their decision-making process, this questionable meeting serves to remind residents that Hamilton politicians and its administration are set to continue their time-honoured tradition of insider politics and building walls to the public.

[poll id="188"]

Editorial: Openness at Hamilton City Hall? It's just the same old song

Opinion Nov 26, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

One of the predominate themes Hamilton voters told their prospective politicians during the recent election was to be open and transparent on difficult and important decisions.

Over the years the public has made it clear they’re fed up with meetings where politicians seem to be manipulating issues for their own benefit leaving residents out in the cold.

So it was with some consternation that it seemed Hamilton politicians turned a deaf ear to those public cries.

Last week what was described as a “nomination committee” composed of 10 sitting councillors and three new councillors-elect and mayor-elect Fred Eisenberger met to divvy up the appointments to various council committees, boards, and agencies.

Similar meetings have been held in the past according to the city clerk, but this particular meeting raised an issue that should provoke consternation among the public: a contested selection process for the Hamilton Police Services Board.

Councillors Terry Whitehead, Chad Collins and Lloyd Ferguson were vying for two seats, with the committee appointing Whitehead and Ferguson.

So why were the four politicians-elected voting? The Municipal Act says politicians-elect have no authority until Dec. 1 when their term begins, and after they are sworn in Dec. 3? The other 10 councillors technically have the authority to make policy decisions. With only their votes Whitehead would have been picked for the board, but both Ferguson and Collins would have been tied in votes.

What should have happened is to allow the vote to be held at the Dec. 3 council meeting, in full public view, rather than in a ground-floor committee room.

The city clerk’s office instead described the get-together as a nomination committee, but what standing does it have? The clerk also stated the politicians were not “voting” but merely making their preferences known. Yet during the meeting it was abundantly clear the councillors knew they were voting in what was a power play among a select group of politicians to prevent Ferguson from returning to the board.

The clerk and some councillors stated the meeting was authorized, since it was public and attended by the media. Yet there was no announcement of the meeting to the public.

After a mayoral campaign where the public adamantly demanded their politicians eliminate their back-room deals and open up their decision-making process, this questionable meeting serves to remind residents that Hamilton politicians and its administration are set to continue their time-honoured tradition of insider politics and building walls to the public.

[poll id="188"]

Editorial: Openness at Hamilton City Hall? It's just the same old song

Opinion Nov 26, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

One of the predominate themes Hamilton voters told their prospective politicians during the recent election was to be open and transparent on difficult and important decisions.

Over the years the public has made it clear they’re fed up with meetings where politicians seem to be manipulating issues for their own benefit leaving residents out in the cold.

So it was with some consternation that it seemed Hamilton politicians turned a deaf ear to those public cries.

Last week what was described as a “nomination committee” composed of 10 sitting councillors and three new councillors-elect and mayor-elect Fred Eisenberger met to divvy up the appointments to various council committees, boards, and agencies.

Similar meetings have been held in the past according to the city clerk, but this particular meeting raised an issue that should provoke consternation among the public: a contested selection process for the Hamilton Police Services Board.

Councillors Terry Whitehead, Chad Collins and Lloyd Ferguson were vying for two seats, with the committee appointing Whitehead and Ferguson.

So why were the four politicians-elected voting? The Municipal Act says politicians-elect have no authority until Dec. 1 when their term begins, and after they are sworn in Dec. 3? The other 10 councillors technically have the authority to make policy decisions. With only their votes Whitehead would have been picked for the board, but both Ferguson and Collins would have been tied in votes.

What should have happened is to allow the vote to be held at the Dec. 3 council meeting, in full public view, rather than in a ground-floor committee room.

The city clerk’s office instead described the get-together as a nomination committee, but what standing does it have? The clerk also stated the politicians were not “voting” but merely making their preferences known. Yet during the meeting it was abundantly clear the councillors knew they were voting in what was a power play among a select group of politicians to prevent Ferguson from returning to the board.

The clerk and some councillors stated the meeting was authorized, since it was public and attended by the media. Yet there was no announcement of the meeting to the public.

After a mayoral campaign where the public adamantly demanded their politicians eliminate their back-room deals and open up their decision-making process, this questionable meeting serves to remind residents that Hamilton politicians and its administration are set to continue their time-honoured tradition of insider politics and building walls to the public.

[poll id="188"]