Special Report: Integrity Commissioner

Why I Filed an Integrity Complaint

Brian Hatch explains why he launched an integrity complaint against Mayor Bratina for giving his chief of staff a 33 percent raise and what he hopes the outcome will be.

By Brian Hatch
Published March 13, 2012

Since I filed my affidavit regarding the raise Mayor Bratina gave his Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman, the two most commonly asked questions are:

The Why

Let me first state for the record that this complaint is solely based on the incident. I have never had a previous conflict with the mayor. As with all politicians, some of the things he does I agree with and some I don't, but never a previous conflict.

In fact I strongly believe the mayor is a big city booster and sincerely does what he thinks is best for the city. I have no hidden political or personal agendas. There were/are no historical factors.

My decision to file a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner was the result of four factors:

Magnitude of the Raise

The first factor was the magnitude of the raise in this time of restraint, balanced budgets and all governments aiming for a zero percent tax increase. Nobody paid from the public purse, at any level of government, is entitled to a 33 percent increase.

I think it is outrageous that the mayor initiated this 33 percent increase and at the same time he agreed with council to impose a 3 percent cap on annual increases for non-union city staff.

Mayor's Media Response

The second was the mayor's response to the media when the raise was first reported. When dealing with the initial public outrage, the mayor claimed that the raise and the amount came from city staff.

In an interview on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, he stated, "I didn't give a raise, she didn't ask for a raise". During a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, Mayor Bratina stated, "It would have been public knowledge. You get it all leaked anyway." and "So there are a whole range of issues that have to be looked at in terms of why this city can't maintain confidentiality." and "So it was obviously leaked by somebody".

Both of these statements turned out to be blatantly false.

The truth is Mayor Bratina requested the salary review, Mayor Bratina decided on the amount and Mayor Bratina later acknowledged that it was his office that released the details of his Chief of Staff's raise on Cable 14 via The O Show.

The mayor later claimed his comments were "an unintentional misunderstanding". Not only did the mayor's comments confuse the citizens of Hamilton, the media and Council but even more troubling is that his comments were an attempt to shift the blame and criticism from himself to city staff.

Councillor Merula said in council that the mayor "threw the human resource department under the bus".

Comments during Council Meeting

The third was the mayor's comments during the City of Hamilton Council Meeting on Dec. 14, 2011. The discussion on the raise given to Peggy Chapman by Mayor Bratina starts at 2:05 and continues until 2:41 (36 minutes). Mayor Bratina speaks from 2:21 until 2:33.

I urge everyone interested to go to the city of Hamilton website and watch the video because the mayor's comments were both bizarre and of concern.

He mentions several things such as the accomplishments of council and the 2007 council pay raises that have absolutely nothing to do with the raise he gave Peggy Chapman. These statements were yet another attempt by Mayor Bratina to muddy the water to deflect criticism.

Some of his statements of concern are: At 2:24 he states the raise will have "no impact on the taxpayer" and then at 2:25 he states "the public has a right to know because they are paying for it". These two statements are exact opposites.

Of greater concern is his belief that he can spend his $977,000 budget anyway he wants with impunity. At 2:26 he states "I have the right to spend my budget as long as I can justify it".

Who did he justify it to? Himself? Peggy? He did not justify it to council, or the media, or the citizens who elected him.

At 2:20 he states, "it is a grey area in terms of whether mayors, say with budgets of $900,000 I'm going to give $500,000 away to three people".

This is simply absurd. It is his budget to be sure, but it is not his money! It is the taxpayer's money and it is the taxpayers who will be paying this additional $30,000 for the next three years.

Every taxpayer should be very concerned if our mayor truly believes anyone with an approved budget can spend it any way they want with immunity.

Someone Had to Do It

The fourth was that on the 6:00 pm news on Thursday the 15th, it was reported that the city had not received a single integrity complaint. I, like many people I spoke to, thought the mayor's actions warranted a formal investigation - but they, like me, were waiting for someone else to do it.

I can assure that had someone else filed a complaint and initiated this process, I would not have filed my affidavit.

The big issue is that the mayor's statements were an attempt to deflect the outrage of the citizens of Hamilton from himself for political benefit.

His comments shifted the blame onto innocent city staff. He is their leader and the city's staff has the legitimate right to expect that he will both defend and support them, not throw them "under the bus".

Given it is likely that Peggy Chapman be with him for the balance of his term, this is a $100,000 issue. If that is not reason enough, as far as I know, Mayor Bratina still thinks he can spend his office's $977,000 approved budget anyway he chooses with impunity.

The Outcome

I would like three separate results from this formal investigation:

First, council needs to change the city's by-laws/rules to ensure that the office of the Mayor and all Councillors adhere to spending policies such as salary caps.

Second, the Mayor should be formally reprimanded. This is important because it sends the message that all elected officials can and will be held accountable for their actions.

I would also like the mayor to admit he was wrong and to apologize, not just to city staff, but also to all of the citizens of Hamilton. After all, his behavior was at the very least unacceptable and unprofessional.

Third, the Integrity Complaint Process needs to be changed. The current by-law needs to be amended by adding time lines to the investigation process

My suggestion is that the Integrity Commissioner be required to issue interim status reports every 30 days to council with a goal of issuing a final report in 90 days. 

If the Integrity Commissioner needs more time, he should be required to ask council for an extension.  There also needs to be time lines for people to respond.

How long should council wait for the final report? 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 3 years? I don't know the answer but I do know council needs to mandate one.

I do know without a timetable the existing Integrity Complaint Process is flawed and needs to be amended to ensure it works in a timely fashion to be effective and meaningful. I strongly believe the city needs an Integrity Complaint Process that works.

If not amended to ensure that the Integrity Complaint Process works, then it should be eliminated.

Stay tuned there will be a report issued sooner or later. I hope!

Brian Hatch was was born at St. Joe's and raised in Hamilton, first in the north end and then on the mountain. He went to Hill Park, then graduated from MacMaster with a B.Eng. (Mechanical). He worked in various management positions at Stelco for 30 years until his retirement in 2002.

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By no merit (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:28:59

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By No (registered) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 15:30:54 in reply to Comment 75199

"All this does is cost the taxpayer money"

No. The Mayor lied, he tried to put blame on staff, and refused to issue an appropriate apology when he was caught doing so ON TAPE. I reject the notion that integrity should only be something to demand as long as it doesn't cost too much. Bratina is the one costing the taxpayer money, not Mr. Hatch.

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By no merit (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 17:50:00 in reply to Comment 75206

I understand your frustration but I'll lay a wager this goes no place

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By Fordy (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 13:05:48 in reply to Comment 75199

Really...Ask Clayton Ruby and Mayor Ford for their opinion...

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By DoctorKahuna (registered) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 13:14:29

Good on you, Brian. The mayor needs to understand that this city isn't his sandbox and going around doing whatever he pleases. He obviously needs to learn a thing or two about humility and I really hope this experience will better him as a person. His narcissism tells me that he probably won't but....there's always hope.

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By Sad day in town (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 14:05:34

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By Wha? (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 15:07:55 in reply to Comment 75204

Peggy makes $120,000 per year now. If she doesn't like the job, she can always quit.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 18, 2012 at 13:54:17 in reply to Comment 75205

I think Peggy is pefectly aware what she makes ; )

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2012 at 17:29:52

I honestly didn't think Peggy's raise was that big of a deal, all things considered. I mean, it's a huge raise, but Bratina could have defended it that it was still a net savings since he had such a small staff.

But bold-faced lies to council and the public are completely unacceptable. I know this is politics, I know there are broken promises. But when somebody asks you a direct question about what you did and you give a direct answer that is not the truth, that's seriously not okay.

I voted for Fred, but I was still hopeful for Bratina's reign.

Yeah, those hopes are long gone.

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By DoctorKahuna (registered) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 18:18:32 in reply to Comment 75207

Agreed. It's not really the raise that bothers me entirely (although it does a bit). It's moreso the lies and dishonesty around it. Especially using an HR person as a scapegoat and potentially hurting her future career (if she didn't have the bravery to speak up on the matter). Blatantly disregarding another human being like that in order to save face is frankly more than just a little bit terrifying.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 13, 2012 at 21:33:26

Stop the presses we've found a politician who lies!!!

While I agree the Mayor shouldn't have lied and handled the situation poorly. I don't think this one will pass the Integrity Commissioner's sniff test.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 00:40:40

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 14:00:55 in reply to Comment 75211

and this has zero to do with mayor Bratina's integrity complaint.

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By Another Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 14:08:16

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2012 at 17:25:04

Thank you for this.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted March 14, 2012 at 19:50:47

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By Okey Dokey (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 14:39:42

Fred lied as well if we want to talk about politicians lying.

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2009/05/eisenberger-in-action.html

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 18:55:09

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 16, 2012 at 14:10:46 in reply to Comment 75237

There were protests all over Canada last weekend over the Robocalls, Toronto was rumoured to have 1500 turn out.

Just sayin'...

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By okey dokey (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 20:13:50 in reply to Comment 75251

1500 turn out for a national issue protest in a city of 3 million. That sir says it all. Sorry but this is all about sore losers and almost everyone recognizes it

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted March 15, 2012 at 21:55:59

Fredberger voted for aerotropolis and supported Redhill Expressway.

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By DoctorKahuna (registered) | Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:01:10 in reply to Comment 75240

Right. While many may have disagreed with Fred's policies it was comforting to know where he stood on an issue (where Bratina seems to flip-flop on issues a dozen times or so.)

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By jackson (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:31:10 in reply to Comment 75248

I don't think this is true. Eisenberger and Bratina and Di Ianni all change up their stances to suit the times. This is in the nature of municipal politics, where there are no party whips to keep people in line. Outside of those councillors totally secure in their seat, or somewhat ambivalent about even wanting to be in municipal government (aka Brad Clark), most successful councillors combine interpersonal dealmaking with satisfying ward issues with a tablespoon of ideology. Do that right and you have a permanent job. Bob's made some particularly spectacular mis-steps which I think are largely errors of PR and communications, but in terms of larger issues I don't think he's been all that different from the norm.

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By Bobby1 (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2012 at 16:40:34

Mr. Hatch submitted a well thought out rational for why he submitted the complaint & I agree with him on most comments! The 33% increase was certainly out of line in economic times such ours,however, the much bigger issue was the deceit that followed by our most powerful leader in Hamilton being Mayor Bratina. I to didn't vote for him but thought he hopefully would serve Hamilton well! The attempt to transfer the decision to a HR person was deplorable & the comments made at Council by the Mayor (smoke & mirrors)only amplified the obvious mis-steps by the Mayor! Too costly to persue an Integrity Complaint,I think not.If a politician doesn't have integrity they have nothing! Decisions or support of issues by the Mayor can be either supported or not by various taxpayers,that is politics,however,decisions or issues persued by obvious deception by any politician must be called out & a message of non-tolerance issued! The Integrity Manager gets to provide the judgement based on the facts of this incident,we later get to evaluate if his judgement was fair,balanced & provided the necessary protection to citizen's that politicians integrity is paramount for fair protection of taxpayer rights & financial support of City operations including staff compensation that our tax dollars provide!

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By It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's absurd!! (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2012 at 20:52:44

Thank-you Mr. Hatch for your leadership. It's time to apply this same accountability to Hamilton's airport and the related expansion.

The private airport owners pay about $75,000 a year for 3,000 acres of our land (I can't even find the exact surface area online!). Assuming these numbers, that's $25 per acre per year. No wonder that the city's agreement with the airport is secretive. This would be much more valuable to you and I as farmland.

Check out the Hamilton Civic League (CivicLeague.ca) and (AerotropolisCosts.ca) websites, and please sign up to help out. This airport expansion project is tragically comical in how it's robbing the poor to pay the rich. The challenge is that few see the relevance to them, although each man, woman and child will be paying $1,000 to $2,000 each to make the rich richer ($500 million to $1 Billion total).

Once details on this project are understood, it won't proceed. But we need people to understand the scope, get involved and help out. Speak at the upcoming OMB hearing, and tell everyone you know.

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By jcw (registered) | Posted March 19, 2012 at 16:14:55 in reply to Comment 75268

I checked the Ontario Municipal Board's website and accessed their e-Calendar.

The pre-hearing is scheduled for Friday, the 29th of March, at 10:30 a.m. in the McMaster Learning Centre (Old Crt House Hamilton), OMB Hearing Room #6, 50 Main Street E. Hamilton ON, L8N 3V9. It's only to last for one day.

The hearing is scheduled for Monday, the 30th of April, at 10:30 a.m. in the McMaster Learning Centre (Old Crt House Hamilton), OMB Hearing Room #6, 50 Main Street E. Hamilton ON, L8N 3V9. It's scheduled to last for twelve days.

Joshua

Comment edited by jcw on 2012-03-19 16:17:39

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By jcw (registered) | Posted March 19, 2012 at 16:03:36

Brian, Good for you for filing a complaint. I hope the complaint gets resolved rightly.

Joshua

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By Main Street (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2012 at 20:14:41

Many thanks to Brian Hatch.We need more outspoken as well as inteligent Hamiltonians.

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By Main Street (anonymous) | Posted March 20, 2012 at 20:16:27

Spelling..intelligent.

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By Davies (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2012 at 15:13:22

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9ObLGRq33o

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