Once the upcoming judicial inquiry into the Red Hill paving issue is unleashed it will take on a life of its own and who knows where that may lead. The terms of reference are broad enough to allow the judge to go down every rabbit hole around established practices at Hamilton City Hall. That could include how staff reports are written including whether anyone on council gets a chance to weigh in on, or even modify staff reports before they go to council as a whole. Does every report by a consultant on any topic automatically go to council or is it a grey area? Another area is agenda review–a process whereby the standing committee chairs meet with staff to determine what goes before a committee. Some former members of council have suggested to the Bay Observer that “agenda review” sometimes results in agenda manipulation with items sometimes disappearing altogether. Not on the list of 24 question that have formed the terms of reference for the inquiry, but worth exploring, is how did $13 Million for repaving the Red Hill suddenly pop up on the 2018 and 2019 capital budget, before we knew anything about suppressed reports, with no apparent discussion by councillors, at least not in any open meeting we could find. Assuming the hearings will be streamed or televised, as council has requested, we might be in for an interesting spectacle.
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