The City Integrity Commissioner  has found that  in providing erroneous information to the Spectator Editorial Board On December 7, Mayor Bob Bratina breached  a section of the Council Code of Conduct. In that interview the mayor left the impression that the Human Resources Department of the City had initiated the process that resulted in the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Peggy Chapman receiving a $30,000 raise. Later the mayor acknowledged that it was his office that initiated the process by asking the Human Resources department to provide comparative salary figures used in making the decision. Accordingly Earl Basse  found the mayor had contravened a section of the code dealing with injuring the reputation of a staff member.  Basse added, however that he found the breach not to be a “malicious or deliberate act.” Basse found no evidence to support 3 other allegations.

By way of background, the Basse report noted that when Chapman was hired there was a discussion with HR to determine an appropriate salary. HR recommended that Chapman receive salary at a grade nine level but also noted that  a previous holders of the position had been paid grade 10.  Ultimately, since it was not known exactly what her duties would entail Chapman agreed to start out at Grade 8 level with the understanding that there would be a salary review in 2011. When Chapman’s annual review came up last fall, they decided on pay grade 10 (resulting in the $30,000 raise) because it had been paid in the past and because Chapman was performing the combined duties of Chief of Staff, senior advisor and communications chief.

Although Bratina has acknowledged he was wrong to suggest HR initiated the raise; the episode raises some questions. In March, as the first wave of controversy over the raise was dying down somewhat, Spectator Columnist Andrew Dreschel broke the surprising news that Chapman was going to appear on the upcoming 2011 sunshine list of employees who earned more than $100,000. It’s impossible to find any explanation for that leak other than that somebody in Human Resources had spilled the beans. The only other conclusion is that the payroll records had somehow been hacked. Was the information leaked directly to the reporter, or was it leaked to members of council who then told Dreschel? Either way it represents  a serious breakdown in confidentiality and professionalism in the same department that was reportedly “devastated” over Bratina’s remarks. It’s interesting that Article 13.2 of the Code of conduct which the Mayor was found to have violated also contains the following language:..”City employees serve council as a WHOLE”…(and later)…” members of council shall be respectful of the role of City employees  to advise based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any INDIVIDUAL MEMBER or FACTION of the Council”

In our view it would be easier to count the councillors that wouldn’t be vulnerable to complaints under this clause of the Code of Conduct.

McMaster  wrong on Ticat accommodation

Anybody familiar with the McMaster campus will know that Ron Joyce stadium is about half a mile from the McMaster Children’s Hospital. The idea that traffic created by holding Ticat games at the Mac Campus would interfere with ambulances trying to get to the hospital doesn’t make sense. Every morning and evening Main Street West is choked with rush hour traffic. Ambulances get through nonetheless. There also is no difference in terms of impact on the neighbourhood, between holding a game in Westdale and in the present Ivor Wynne location. Both are residential neighbourhoods. In the case of the Ivor Wynne precinct, there is about an hour of localized traffic congestion prior to the game as people cruise around looking for parking spots; but after the game the area is usually cleared out in a matter of 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile McMaster has lost a golden opportunity to be showcased on national TV several times a year. Hamilton Ticat games generally average 750,000 viewers across Canada, making the Cats one of the best draws in the CFL. Based on media reports it almost seems as if McMaster went shopping for groups to oppose using Ron Joyce stadium for its home games. Perhaps Mr. Joyce and Senator David Braley can bring their respective influence to bear to get the University to reconsider this unfortunate decision

John Best has had a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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