A few weeks ago on the Laircast hosted by Laura Babcock I was asked if the mayor’s office played any role in my articles regarding the Waterfront Trust. The answer then and now is a flat no. Neither the mayor nor anyone in his office has provided me with the information that has been published in the Bay Observer. The fact is I deliberately avoided asking them for information, even though I was entitled to ask, because of the very fact that Peggy Chapman had worked for me in the past. I saw how vicious and bullying this council can be in the wake of the mayors questioning of HWT finances last fall. First they orchestrated a humiliating standing recorded vote even though most of council didn’t have a clue what they were voting on, but knew it was better not to anger the HWT supporters on council. I also believe the censuring this spring of the mayor had more to do with HWT politics than it did about a raise given to his assistant.  But the point is, I didn’t ask for their assistance, for the reasons above, because frankly, I didn’t need it; and they didn’t offer any.

Notwithstanding the Laircast interview, Larry Di Ianni writing in the Hamiltonian said, “it has been speculated that because Peggy Chapman of the Mayor’s office worked in the Bay Observer and wrote about this issue prior to her current position, these HWT criticisms are just a continuation of earlier involvement. True or not? Maybe the media and/or the office of the mayor can clarify this. That’s all!

She did write about it—under my editorial direction—not because she had any axe to grind with the HWT.

So to the other point raised by my friend– what is the Bay Observer’s agenda? Quite simply it is to tell the truth about an organization that is but a symptom of a much bigger problem at City Hall, one that previous mayors have not tackled publicly but are fully aware of;–the control of council and staff by a handful of councillors. Trying to put a stop to this erosion of democracy and good governance is what cost former city manager Doug Lychak his job. He tried to weed out staffers who he felt were “too political.” He made enemies by doing so. We didn’t vote to have our council and civil service run by a small cabal of councillors (one of whom recently pronounced the word as if it were CABLE as in CABLE 14, but I digress). All you have to do is look at who the staunchest supporters of the HWT are and I rest my case. Taken to the worst extreme, certain staff of the city risk becoming part of a taxpayer –supported  re-election mechanism  for incumbents. That’s what the Bay Observer articles are about. Given the personalities that we the voters have placed on our council we need fewer agencies, boards and commissions with no accountability—not more.

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.

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