Shekar Chandrashekar has been a thorn in the side of city finance staff and the financial staff of the Hamilton Police Services for years. He has repeatedly peppered staff with requests for information and with complaints about the way police finances are accounted for. Several times he has appeared as a delegation at both Police Board meetings and at the city’s Audit and Finance committee. Hamilton city finances are familiar territory for Shekar who worked in the city finance department until he retired in 1999.
A few years ago he became concerned that the Hamilton Police Service were submitting inflated budgets to the city that were not getting adequate scrutiny by either the Police Services Board or by council. He noted that the police had been able to accumulate cash reserves of over $24 Million under the noses of council and the PSB that were supposedly earmarked for things like retirement or sick leave, but which never seemed to get tapped. Instead it appeared there was enough slack in the police budgets to meet these obligations out of the police operating budget for the last ten years at least.
Frustrated in his attempts to get answers from police finance staff, Shekar went to the city finance staff who actually do the banking for the Police Service. “They shuttled me back and forth between police services and city finance,” Shekar told the Bay Observer. “They gave me a hard time.” When he appeared as a delegation to raise his concerns at the City Audit Finance and Administration committee, his detailed presentations were received but no action was taken.
After a flurry of correspondence from Shekar last year and earlier this year, city staff met in camera with council and complained that they were spending too much time on Shekar’s requests for information. Things came to a head in recent weeks when Shekar suddenly discovered that his emails to the city had been blocked. It is not clear who authorized the move, but Shekar has engaged Hamilton lawyer Wade Poziomka to act for him. In a letter to council the human rights specialist wrote regarding the blocked emails, “ I find this extremely concerning; however instead of taking immediate legal action, we wish to reach out to the city to determine the reason for said blockage in communications. My hope is that this is simply an oversight.”
Said Shekar, “My only goal is to save the taxpayers money and leave more in the police budget to actually fight crime. Instead they try to impugn my integrity.”