By Joey Coleman
Published January 23, 2011
this blog entry has been updated
Mayor Bob Bratina may be missing Monday's special General Issues Committee meeting as he's scheduled to be in Regina for the Big City Mayors Caucus organized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
On its own, this is noteworthy but not newsworthy - the Mayor is often unable to attend meetings due to city business.
What will make his absence newsworthy is that the Mayor called the GIC meeting for January 24 and then requested the meeting be moved to the 27th due to the scheduling conflict.
Early this past week, Mayor Bratina emailed City Councillors requesting the rescheduling of the meeting. In order to reschedule, a majority of Councillors were required to agree. While the results of the "vote" are unknown, Monday's meeting is continuing as scheduled.
Mayor Bratina and a majority of Council do not see eye-to-eye; there are strong personality clashes. This is not surprising when you consider the now-Mayor was known for numerous arguments with fellow Councillors last term, including the infamous pencil throwing incident.
These personality clashes are now showing in how Council is being conducted and conducting themselves.
This is a problem for all of us. City Council must function for the next four years. The Mayor and Council need to work out their differences.
The best way for this to happen is for the 16 individuals to work together on a vision for the direction they need to take the City over the next four years.
The plan needs to be more than "the best place to raise a child" or we'll "address poverty in the 'Code Red' neighbourhoods." Only with a set of concrete goals can Council and the Mayor have a shared agenda with which to overcome their personality differences to work towards improving Hamilton.
With the Pan Am debate finally coming to a finish, the City needs a positive vision to revive the public mood after the great disappointment of the stadium debate.
In a nod to nostalgia, we can become the "ambitious city" once again.
January 26, 2011 - Update by RTH Editor Ryan McGreal: This blog entry originally noted that the Mayor "runs a small office" and stated that his office made a "mistake" in scheduling the special GIC meeting on a date when the Mayor would be unavailable.
Mayor Bratina contacted RTH by email today and called this statement "false and defamatory".
According to Peggy Chapman, Mayor Bratina's Chief of Staff, the Mayor had already decided before January 23 that he would attend the GIC instead of the Big City Mayors Caucus.
Chapman stated in a phone conversation with RTH that it was not a "mistake" on anyone's part to schedule the GIC for January 24, and that the Mayor did not need to be in attendance at the meeting. "The Mayor hasn't said much within the GICs. He's letting everyone else deal with it and not demanding to speak - it's not agenda driven in that way."
It was after City staff and some other councillors recommended the Mayor attend the GIC that he changed his plans. Chapman added that the Big City Mayors Caucus would not have enough mayors in attendance to achieve quorum for policy making, so there was less value in Mayor Bratina attending.
Chapman also argued that the staff working in the Mayor's office are non-political and that she, as Chief of Staff, decides where the Mayor goes and what he does. She took strong objection to the suggestion that an office staffer had made a "mistake".
I have edited this blog entry to remove the two paragraphs in question pending further investigation.
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