Municipal Election 2010

Most Candidates Say Council Could Be More Respectful

As at this writing, 51 active candidates, or 61.4% of the total, have responded. Of the 51 respondents, 45 or 88.2% agreed, 3 or 5.9% disagreed, and 3 or 5.9% were undecided or ambivalent.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 22, 2010

Raise the Hammer posed the following question to the active candidates for the upcoming Municipal Election:

Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?

As at this writing, 51 active candidates, or 61.4% of the total, have responded. Of the 51 respondents, 45 or 88.2% agreed, 3 or 5.9% disagreed, and 3 or 5.9% were undecided or ambivalent.

You can read the full candidate responses on the RTH Elections site.

Mayoral Candidates

Of the 15 mayoral candidates, nine responded. All agreed that council meetings could be more respectful and professional.

Michael Baldasaro would "seek the agreement of Council to time limit submissions to 1-5 minutes, depending on the subject matter and complexity." He believes councillors should do their "home work" before meetings so they come prepared.

Bob Bratina advocates "strict application of procedural by-law and Rules of Order." He argues that the meetings he has chaired were "models of decorum, carried out in an efficient, productive and timely manner." He concludes, "The meetings of the Board of a billion dollar corporation should be conducted at the highest level of efficiency and respect" leaving no place for "personal attacks, impugning motives ... and insulting the points of view of others".

Mahesh P. Butani raised the "infamous act of 'pencil throwing'" in which Councillor Bratina threw a pencil across the room at another councillor in 2007, and criticizes the local news media for "giv[ing] this councillor the status of a know-it-all patriarch" and front-runner. He argues that the real issue is not the "collective misbehaviour of our councillors" which he calls "exaggerated and unfair" but "the recurring individual outbursts that can easily be identified as a personality trait".

Fred Eisenberger points out that the Municipal Act "forbids council members from meeting as a group except at a formal council meeting," which "means council is working things out literally for the first time in public and in real time". He also suggests that the media focus on "controversies and disagreements" rather than the more common examples of cordiality and professionalism. He concludes, "Council has been working together better than ever before" and pledges to continue the work he started with a strategic planning session and vision exercise.

Edward H.C. Graydon calls "shameful" the "attitude that has been shown by the front running candidates" during all-candidates debates. He argues that their "bickering" and "swearing at debates" will "continue and will be present in council if they are elected back in."

Andrew Haines pledges to do "Everything I can" to improve decorum, and suggests "passing an Eagle Feather between the speakers" as a way of encouraging civility.

Glenn Hamilton would "create financial penalties for crazy behaviour."

Ken Leach says, "The ineffectual council, and its inability to properly articulate an issue is abundantly evident." As mayor, he "would not ask for professional behaviour, I would demand it."

Tone Marrone says Council "is lacking the leadership necessary to properly govern in the best interests of the public." He notes that "govern" comes from the Latin word meaning "to steer or direct" and argues that council has "been drifting without a real captain." He will bring "strength of leadership" and "an online 'report card' system where the public can rate the performance of each Councillor and the mayor."

Different Opinion

Six respondents either disagreed that council lacks decorum or else were undecided or ambivalent.

Ned Janjic, a candidate for Ward 2, argues that "Spirited discussions and emotional debates are what democracy is all about" and has "not found the council meetings to be particularly disrespectful or unprofessional." He does see some discussions turn "petty" and "drawn out" and notes "clashes of character between members of council" which would benefit from "established guidelines for debates."

Sam Merulla, a candidate for Ward 4, writes, "The definition of dysfunction is to be inconsistent and unpredictable and representative democracy can be inconsistent and unpredictable, which leads to discourse and passionate discussions." Eliminating this is "unrepresentative and undemocratic."

Tom Jackson, a candidate for Ward 6, notes that he has "always respected the integrity of the Council Chambers" and will "continue to maintain a high level of decorum and respect the rules of behavior expected of our elected officials." He hopes his personal conduct will "influence my Council colleagues."

Steven Knowles, a candidate for Ward 6, argues, "If my constituents need me to be a little rough to get the point across then I have to be prepared to do that." He believes "professionalism and respect ... shouldn't take a back seat to real issues."

Glenn Robinson, a candidate for Ward 13, believes "Council meetings are generally respectful and professional." At times "passions are fired and heated debate ensues," but he plans to "remain calm and listen to differing opinions even when emotions are high."

Neil Bos, a candidate for Ward 15, has studied "Parliamentary proces, rules, protocols and tradition for more than 30 years" and "always treated my colleagues as the mature, sincere, hard-working and constructive councillors they were" as a member of the Township of Flamborough Council. He warns that "sparks are going to fly" if anyone "behaves in a manner that is hurtful, bullying and ignorant".

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

7 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 22, 2010 at 21:08:21

Am I the only one who really doesn't care about this "council decorum" issue? From what I've seen of the meetings they're more polite than parliamentary sessions despite covering fundamental disagreements on the issues.

Yes, tempers flare, but only because the councillors are trying to do what they think is best of the city and their ward.

As long as they keep the pen-throwing to a minimum, I'm happy with their conduct.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Brat-Ina (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 21:55:39

Regarding the Pencil throwing by the Mayoral candidate:
1. Did it have a point?
2. Did it have lead? Is this how he got rid of lead?
3. Did it hit anybody?

If not, by virtue of that alone, he has poor aim and does not deserve to lead us as Mayor. We do not want a Mayor who is aimless and has no direction.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted October 22, 2010 at 22:21:12

I think the whole issue of decorum or the lack of is a little overblown.

I don't want to see a council where governing by consensus is the norm. I want my councillor and mayor to be passionate in their beliefs. When people believe in what they are doing sometimes the fur will fly. As long as they don't resort to violence I really don't care how they carry on.

In the end the only thing that matters is whether or not they get the job done and make the decisions that need to be made.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2010 at 15:30:44

I, for one, would welcome violence (strictly structured, of course) - perhaps candidates could resort to gladiator-style combat over points of order and whatnot....

Seriously, though, if one of us was apprehended throwing a pencil at Bratina, it'd be assault with a weapon. We're not asking for any kind of decorum from them that they don't expect from us. If Michael Baldadaro needs to remind councillors to "do their homework" and make concise arguments, there is clearly a problem.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By ouch (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2010 at 17:04:04

As somone who has been to many council meetings, let me tel you that the whole pencil throwing thing is just one good reason we need someone with Bratinas roughness to lead for at least a term to put the council chambers back in tune! If you actually go and sit through a few meetings you will more than likely leave feeling as if you just witnessed the Murella and Collins gong show. These jokes have no respect for anyone giving a presentation or their colleges. Oh and dont forget to get out early so you can catch Sam run out to get his camera time before CHCH leaves the building!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted October 24, 2010 at 08:28:17

As somone who has been to many council meetings, let me tel you that the whole pencil throwing thing is just one good reason we need someone with Bratinas roughness to lead for at least a term to put the council chambers back in tune!

Well then it's too bad he's running on a platform of restoring council 'decorum' then, isn't it? It's not the pencil throwing that's the problem, it's the hypocrisy.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-10-24 07:28:41

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By ouch (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2010 at 07:16:02

need I say more, congradulations Mr. Mayor!

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds