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Memory problems plague witnesses in Red hill Inquiry

Memory problems plague witnesses in Red hill Inquiry

The Red Hill Inquiry has turned this week to City staff members who worked closely with Gary Moore who was Director of Engineering in the public Works Department, but who earlier had overseen the Red Hill Parkway during its construction. Both Michael Becke, who testified Tuesday and Richard Andoga , who testified Monday, repeatedly responded that they could not remember when questions were put to them by Inquiry Counsel. Andoga testified that after his boss Gary Moore left the department in 2018, and was replaced by Gord McGuire, he suddenly found his duties reduced. Andoga retired within two years.

Perfect storm of information requests

At this point in 2018, in addition to lawsuits and Hamilton Spectator inquiries about safety on the road, Hamilton’s internal auditor wanted to conduct a value-for-money audit of how the city managed pavement condition of its roads. The auditor was not getting much cooperation. On the day an audit employee submitted a lengthy request for information, Mr. Andoga circulated a memo to staff that read: “Please refrain from dealing with and/or talking to anyone from Audit Services. If you are contacted, please refer them to upper management.” When Gord McGuire took over the department from Moore, he instructed his staff to cooperate with the audit.

Difficulty remembering details

In his testimony Tuesday Michael Becke, who was during this period, a Senior Project Manager in Engineering, had great difficulty remembering meetings in which he was shown to have participated, correspondence that was directed to him or, on which he was copied and even had trouble recalling his own handwritten meeting notes when he was shown them.

Re Paving Red Hill chosen over friction improvements

Testimony this week has centered around the decision to re-pave the Red Hill, earlier than it had originally been designed, at a time when staff were worried about applying measures to improve friction on the highway being interpreted as an admission that there were safety problems with the road. Mr. Andoga told the inquiry that the cost of fast-tracking the re-paving of the RHVP took away budget that had been earmarked for maintenance of other city streets. For his part, one of the things Becke did recall was a heated exchange between Mr. Moore and Ludomir Uzraowki of Golder Associates over the type of pavement to be used in the re-pave. It was an indication of a deteriorating relationship between the two, who years earlier had co-authored industry papers on the Red Hill, and had been jointly celebrated by the industry. Uzarowski had become frustrated that his recommendations for improving friction on the road were being rejected by Moore, prior to his retirement.

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