No smoking gun?

It has been interesting to follow the comments on the Hamiltonian regarding my recent appearance on the Laircast— current affairs podcast hosted by Laura Babcock. To backtrack, The Hamiltonian picked up on our June story where we discussed a beach trail washroom constructed by the Hamilton Waterfront Trust at a price of $681,000—at least that was what the City said it paid, but later said it included a bunch of other stuff that  was classified as ‘washroom’ but wasn’’t. The Hamiltonian, unlike some  other local blogs strives to be objective in its tone, and does not appear at this point to be pursuing narrow issues. It has a loyal following of thoughtful respondents, based on the dozens of comments that have appeared in response to the Hamiltonian’s coverage of our story. In the past few weeks, far more has appeared about the HWT on the Hamiltonian, than on or in the paper. We will continue to pursue the matter at our own pace.

Some respondents who heard the Laircast apparently feel that what has been reported by the Bay Observer so far is pretty thin gruel. According to that thinking, apparently; lack of transparency, loss of charitable status with the federal government, bad bookkeeping, a rare adverse report from an auditor, 4 straight years of losses, cronyism, nepotism and apparent conflict of interest are insufficient to warrant the kind of coverage that we have provided so far. We disagree. What is at the bottom of the story,  is the impact this kind of governance has on the entire operation of our city. Long time observers of our city will tell you that Hamilton has one of the most politicized staff working environments anywhere. The Hamilton Waterfront trust is but the poster child for that condition. This leads to the undermining of authority of those councillors who choose not to manipulate the system and undermines senior management as staffers take their orders from a small clique of councillors. Supporters of the Trust—Councillor Tom Jackson, for instance –suggest that the trail system and public amenities could not have happened had the Trust operated through the city’s Parks department. This ignores the fact that Pier 4, Bayfront Parks as well as several kilometers of trail were already in place when the Trust was formed. The argument apparently is that the normal city controlled development  process is too cumbersome to allow anything as creative as the Waterfront facilities to be built; that to be successful the organization must operate outside public scrutiny. This begs the question –if you have so little confidence in the city government why have you continually offered yourself for election to that body  for the past 24 years? Comment below.

John Best had enjoyed 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.

No Comments to: No smoking gun?

  1. July 29th, 2012

    The HWT is just about out of money. Councils tune will change once that happens, and they come begging to council for funding. Then the HWT will have to get in line, like any other charity wanting property tax dollars to survive. Most other charities raise enough money to pay their own way, while doing good public work, but not the Trust.

  2. August 4th, 2012

    It is always great to come to your sites as topics like No smoking gun? | Bay Observer is what keeps me interested and coming back to read more, thanks.

  3. Trey

    August 30th, 2012

    Nepotism, in Hamilton government and these so-called arms-length agencies. No that can’t be.


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