Bob Bratina, Candidate for Mayor in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010
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Candidate Details (top)
|Election||Hamilton Municipal Election 2010|
|Bio||I recently resigned from CHML radio after 45 years of broadcasting and announced my candidacy for the position of Mayor of the City of Hamilton.
It is a decision I did not take lightly, because I knew that I would also have to make a decision regarding my career as a broadcaster, covering the past 45 years of my life. Our City slogan is "Best Place to Raise a Child", a goal we are working hard to achieve. However, when I was young Hamilton to me was a magical place. Most of us who grew up in Hamilton prior to the 1980's have fond memories of the City, its surrounding areas, and the downtown. My neighbourhood, the East End, had a broad cross section of families and homes, some elegant, some humble. But we all felt, no matter our circumstances, very positively about our lives and our future. Pools and rinks were being built, parks were being improved, new roads like the Kenilworth Access were making it easier to get around the City, and the Tiger Cats were almost always in the Grey Cup!
Something happened to take the magic away, and Hamilton grew a new reputation as a place you might want to avoid, especially the Downtown. The forced amalgamation of surrounding communities to the City has done little if anything to improve the situation, and ten years after, the most obvious result is higher taxes, with little to show for it.
The politics of the past have not worked to the benefit of the greatest number, although certain groups and individuals have done very well for themselves. A symbol of our inability to make good choices over the past decade is the new bridge going across the Queen Elizabeth Highway near the waterworks. The cost of the bridge is about $8 million dollars. We could have installed a bridge for $1 million, or an accessible one for $3 million. At the same time the project was approved, Public Works had recommended against cleaning up our inner city Beasley Park, where children played on land containing above acceptable levels of things like arsenic, because it was too expensive. The interests of a couple of Councillors were favoured over the health of marginalized children.
Hamilton needs the leader in Council to be the Mayor, who will build consensus among the newly elected councillors with the goal of making the best decisions for the greatest number of residents. A strong Mayor will also demand fiscal accountability and put an end to wasteful spending.
In a few days I will put forward in more detail the things I plan to do if elected Mayor to put our City in a better position to deal with our current problems, decrease the burden of unnecessary taxes, and bring back the pride in our City that too many of our own residents have lost. Pride will come with prosperity, with jobs for our children in their home town, with cleanliness and safety, and with celebration. We have so much to be proud of and thankful for, and our festivals can help tell our story to visitors. The next ten years are critical to achieving our destiny, and can't be squandered in the manner of the past decade.
I hope you will help me work to achieve a better and more affordable future for Hamilton.
Responses to Questions (top)
|Question||Brief Response||Full Response|
|Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not?||Yes||I believe Council has shown reasonable support for the Shifting Gears program. Ward Councillors have to respond to special circumstances that may occur in the routings through their neighbourhoods, so adjustments may be made from time to time. No Councillor should be able to arbitrarily "block" or otherwise defeat sections of the project. Yes to the acceleration of the continuous bicycle network, bike-sharing, and escarpment access. In fact I believe re-establishment of an incline railway should be considered as part of the cycling strategy. There are many who find an escarpment climb daunting.|
|Do you support Hamilton's LRT proposal? If so, what will you do to ensure Hamilton's success in building LRT? If not, why do you oppose it?||Yes||I have supported the concept of LRT from the beginning. We will have to fine tune a number of details before a final plan is implemented. What has not been done the the securing of commitment from Council to provide financial support for the plan in partnership with Provincial and Federal funders.|
|Will your term change people's first impression of Hamilton, and make that first impression more attractive to visitors, students, commuters and newcomers? If so, how?||Yes||During my first term Canadians will be hearing different things about Hamilton than what they have heard, especially from the Mayor's office during the previous two terms. The Mayor is or should be the number one salesperson for Hamilton.
The thing that will be significantly changed is the Hamilton "brand". At one time "made in Japan" implied cheapness and low quality. That was changed diametrically in a generation after the 2nd World War. We can do that for Hamilton.
|Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not?||No||A moot point. The CP site has unfunded extra costs of between $40 and $70 million, including things like business relocation. A stadium here does not meet the test of best and highest use in view of its potential relationship to Innovation Park.|
|Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not?||No||There has not been sufficient justification for this plan, nor have the risks been clearly identified. My record is clear on how our industrial growth strategy should be prioritized in terms of land use.|
|For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not?||No||As in the past our campaign will only accept personal donations. This is becoming the accepted practice among constituencies that wish to ensure minimal corporate and union influence on Councillors' decisions.|
|The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it?||Yes||We need to re-examine the fare structure. Another City slogan might have been "best place to raise a Fare.". Transportation planning needs to incorporate things like cost of parking vs cost of a bus ticket.
I had asked for and received a report from staff on jurisdictions who had reduced or eliminated fares altogether. There are arguments in favour of this approach. Fares are just one component of ridership levels, but critical.
|Some cities have committed recently to publishing their public data in an open format that citizens can directly access. Should Hamilton pledge to become an "open source city"? Why or why not?||Yes||Yes, absolutely. The first priority in this is the live streaming of all committee meetings, which I will bring forward immediately upon election of the new Council.|
|Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing?||No||We have failed miserably in providing support and encouragement of investment in older neighbourhoods. There are many specific examples of how Public Works budget decisions have added to the problem, not helped. Public Works spending has to be reviewed in this context Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects.|
|Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?||Yes||Decorum is maintained by strict application of procedural by-law and Rules of Order. For instance, when a point of order is called for, the response of the Chair should be "what is your point of order?" Instead on many occasions the response was a Kreskin-like "that's not a point of order".
The mayor under the Rules of Order keeps track of and adds names as requested to the Speakers' List. At one meeting, my request to be added to the speakers' list to raise an important issue was ignored by the Mayor. When asked later about this the reply was, "I won't be Councillor Bratina's lackey".
Another mayor, chairing a public meeting regarding the Lister Block, told a member of the public, "Well, some of what you said was intelligent." This caused an uproar in the gallery with the Mayor being shouted down, and demands issued for an apolgy.
The meetings I conducted as chair of many standing committees were said by media, staff and the public to be models of decorum, carried out in an efficient, productive and timely manner. This was achieved by simply following the rules of order and disallowing lengthy time-wasting statements irrelevant to the business at hand.
The meetings of the Board of a billion dollar corporation should be conducted at the highest level of efficiency and respect. Personal attacks, impugning motives of other speakers and insulting the points of views of others does not belong in Council business and is not allowed by procedural rule.
|Do you believe that poverty is the most critical issue facing Hamilton today? If so, please outline your solutions. If not, please explain your reasons.||Yes||Poverty is a sympton of disfunctional governance and should not be isolated from decision making throughout the municipal framework. It also exists in distinct categories requiring different approaches. A senior living alone on fixed income, perhaps in City Housing will have different needs than a homeless high school student, so a number of remedies have to be devised, most of them requiring more investment than what is currently in place.