Maureen Wilson, John-Paul Danko Nrindr Nann

It was refreshing to hear three of our new councillors talking about their aspirations for the term of Hamilton City Council that lies ahead. When is the last time you heard Hamilton councillors talking about good governance, as Maureen Wilson, Nrindr Nann and John-Paul Danko did on Bill Kelly Friday? Click on 9am in the pull-down menu.
Cynics will take bets on how long it will take for these idealists to fall into the familiar pattern of ward-heeling and vote-trading; but there is nothing wrong with trying to inject a fresh set of values into a culture that desperately needs change; even if the dark side has you outnumbered. As we saw in the Niagara municipal election, the public eventually gets the picture; thanks to a minority of principled voices on council and an engaged media. In the case of Niagara the electorate were almost surgical in defeating 7 of 8 members of an old boys’ club that had controlled every aspect of municipal politics in the region for years. The cabal was accused of hiring of unqualified cronies for key leadership positions, dubious golden parachutes, and fostering a sleazy sense of governance that permeated the organization.
Wilson and Nann both replace articulate, socially progressive members of council, who despite their intelligence and strong ideals, were nonetheless unable to make substantial change in the culture that continues to turn a blind eye to governance eyesores like the Hamilton Waterfront Trust (which in the first meeting of the Audit, Finance and Administration Committee of the new council was the reported recipient of an untendered $130,000 contract).
Hopefully better days are ahead and that these smart, idealistic voices will begin to have some influence on council peers. Based on their comments to Kelly and elsewhere in the media, it looks like the first test will be the selection of the new city manager. In the waning days of the previous council a selection committee was struck that consisted of the mayor and the chairs of the city standing committees, meaning all new councillors were excluded. Given that the current council has five members who were not on the previous council, the committee composition excludes a third of council. It is the first potential challenge to the status quo

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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