Light Rail

Mayor Bratina Visits Bill Kelly - Again

By Graham Crawford
Published July 26, 2011

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina made a second appearance in the same week for a full hour on the Bill Kelly Show on Friday, July 22 to talk about light rail transit (LRT).

I have to admit that transcribing for a third time in a week is a little much for this typist. But as someone suggested to me, I listen to the Bill Kelly Show so you don't have to.

I have to say that for a guy who earned his living for about 40 years talking, Bob doesn't exactly impress with his ability to develop a cogent argument. It's not as if he isn't used to public speaking. That was his job.

If you think I'm just being nasty, read on. And once you've done that, go back and compare this edition of Bob's meanderings with his meanderings on last Monday's Kelly Show. Oh, and then read Lloyd Ferguson's comments one more time. What kind of clarity rating would you give them respectively?

Bob's response to Bill's welcome.

It's a pleasure to have the possibility to get the facts straight.

Kelly: You must be getting tired of talking about this.

Bratina: I am.

Bob on comments made by MPP Ted McMeekin about LRT and GO.

Well, the current wrinkle belongs to Ted McMeekin unfortunately, and I don't know why he felt the need to address Mayor and Council about something we all know: that we'll have to make a case to Metrolinx. Yeah, we know that. There's nothing to this story.

This started with the so-called business leaders meeting with the Spectator's Editorial Board and they drew out their laundry list of complaints and nobody's championing LRT.

The LRT process is going on exactly as it was meant to. And even the recent furor about shutting down the LRT group is completely misunderstood because what the City Manager said was to stop all non-essential work. In other words, do the job that was mandated by Council, Council direction 2008, or it's a long time ago, 2008.

Bob on what staff are trying to do at the moment.

What Chris Murray wants to do is to get this back in the hands of Council as soon as possible so we can make the next decision, which is how much more funding just for the study, there's so much more on the study to do, and so we need to have a full understanding of where, Council does.

So Chris's direction is to do the work that was assigned but don't do anything else because I guess other work was being done that didn't, non-essential is the key word, OK.

So, and Jill Stephen who is the engineer in charge of the LRT project actually told us this morning that she initiated this directive back in May where they're reviewing the work and making sure we're right on track because Metrolinx doesn't want to hear about a case what would happen if you didn't build it or all kinds of other extraneous matters.

So, Council will get a report on the work that has been done so far and be asked the question where do you want to go from here?

Bob on Metrolinx funding for LRT.

And so Metrolinx, some people think that Metrolinx is sitting there with $800 million dollars saying, "Come on Hamilton, let us know." And that's not how it works. What Metrolinx wants to know is there a plan that will make it worthwhile for the Province to invest significant dollars in the plan,

So, show us, Hamilton. Show us what the potential ridership is. Show us what the potential development is, the revenues that would come to the City and the Province.

We don't know, for instance, if all of the revenues of the B-Line which are now shared to make all of the other lesser used HSR routes possible. Whether all that money would have to be retained within the LRT envelope to pay for it.

Bob on Lloyd Ferguson's comments on Bill Kelly on Tuesday, July 19.

Then, how do we pay for all the other stuff? So there are so many questions. Council needs to be apprised of it and I'm sorry to say, we heard from Councillor Ferguson on your show that there's something about autocratic behaviour.

Council, politicians have no business sticking their nose in once we've given the direction to staff and say, Here's the thing we want you to do. You come back and bring us the report. You can't step in and say, "Oh no, you shouldn't move one guy over here or there." You can't interfere politically... You can't demand that it happen publicly.

I mean you can go sneak around and pound on somebody's door, OK I didn't know about that.

Bob on where the idea about LRT is running off the rails is coming from.

From the Spectator Editorial Board and whoever's driving it. I think the 2014 election campaign is underway with hopefully a comeback because it seems that there's an alignment of old allies, and that's fine. But, give the public a break. You're wasting the public's time, emotion and energy. The LRT file is fine.

Bob on LRT as a priority.

You know, when my son was five years old, guess what our priority was? To have him graduate from university. But, he wasn't going in to university when he was six years old, he was going in when he 18 years old. So it's a priority, but what do I do when, and it's the same with this.

Our LRT, in fact Mr. McMeekin sort of suggested that while the monies, we all know we're going to get the GO money. So Dwight Duncan has a great big envelope with $100 million dollars on his desk, "Oh yea, let's send that.."

That's not how it works. They want to hear from us on where are you with your GO preparations, is there a potential for development. Let us know. So, that's the important file. It's not that it's so high priority that we're just blowing everything out, but its time is now.

Bob on why we're not asking for the money from Metrolinx at this time.

Well the Downtown BIA under Gerry Murphy who's a great guy, and I love him, and I've ridden in his truck in the Santa Claus Parade, he sent us a letter on behalf of his organization saying we should be pushing for LRT funding. Well, you're not gonna push the Province. You're gonna convince the Province with a business case that it's a worthwhile investment.

It's not we all wear T-shirts and walk around Queen's Park and say we want our LRT money. We need to show the Province that it's a worthwhile investment because that money is coming out of everybody's pocket.

And so, if they're going to announce in the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail and everywhere else that Hamilton's getting $800 million dollars, a good question will be, "For what?" And we need to know the answer to that question and we don't have it yet.

Council is going to deal with that question ourselves. We'll get a state of the project report, probably in September, and we'll be asked, "Where do we go from here?" And Jill Stephen is already working out the coordinates of what needs to be done, timelines, and so on.

And there's no ask for any money that's going to take place this year or next year. Maybe late next year. I wouldn't be able to say that, but in terms of the overall project and getting on board, there's so much work that needs to be done, but it's embarrassing that this file has been so misunderstood because of inaccurate or biased reporting.

It's a simple matter. We have to do our work. We have to make a case. When we make the case, Metrolinx will decide whether it's worth investing or not.

Bob on Mark Chamberlain's op-ed piece in Saturday's Spectator.

I would say to Mark Chamberlain, if you're an advocate, an anti-poverty advocate, wouldn't you want to know what the tax impact is on every resident including those marginal people who are trying to hang on to a small cottage in the North End or the East End and a $200 dollar increase in their taxes might put them out of their home? You have to factor that in. We can't just say, "Oh, I love those cute little trains, let's get em." It's a very complicated process.

Bob on the role of developers in helping to garner Metrolinx funding.

We're not going to get the money unless we back it up. Metrolinx is not gonna take it on faith. "I'm SURE the building will come." We have to show data, numbers. I mean the BIAs and the house builders and everybody, line up your developers and get them on board and show, you know, what is possible on what parcels of land because that's the missing piece.

Bob on feeling he was misquoted by the Spectator.

Another thing is the B-Line itself which goes from Eastgate to McMaster, and I was misquoted in the Spectator in the article because it said that I suggested that you could build a line from McMaster to Mohawk Road, what I meant was and I think I said it because there were people sitting there listening to me say it, just to be clear you could make a hybrid of the A-Line and the B-Line.

You could maybe take the Mac to downtown piece and then you could do the downtown or the Bayfront to say Mohawk Road, I'm not sure that the airport, it may be a little far away right now and you can always extend the line, but Hamilton's chief transit or people moving problem is up the mountain to down the mountain.

Of course, that we have a large student population and if McMaster continues on the path which they've started now which is great interest in downtown, then you have a similar situation which you have in Waterloo, all those universities, you know, 60,000 students moving around. Their advantage is that RIM and the universities have developable space around them.

So, my comment McMaster to Mohawk was meant to be a hybrid, part of the A-Line and part of the B-Line, because the work plan that Jill Stephen has to provide, and the business case that they have to provide, includes alternatives. They have to say, "This is our B-Line case da-da-da-da, and this is the alternative to that."

And so it has to beat the alternative on a fair fight in terms of development and so on. That's all of the work, that's why we're two and three years away from being able to present to Metrolinx saying here's what we want.

Bob on next steps related to LRT.

Now the City Manager wants to come back to Council and say, "OK, here's where we are. Now how much do we need to invest, should we invest to flesh the whole thing out to get to the point where we go to Metrolinx and say here's our case?" And Council is going to have a tough decision to make. But it's completely appropriate that the work be evaluated to this point, brought forward to Council and then our next steps.

But believe me, folks, anybody who thinks that I just have to phone up the Premier and ask for our $800 million because we all want LRT is, is sad that that's being projected that way. It's completely ridiculous. That's not the mandate. It's not how we're going forward.

And if peoples' feelings are hurt because we have to go through the process, well that's too bad because that's what we have to do. We're not gonna get a nickel based on what we have right now. But we got a whole bunch of bloggers that want LRT. Who's that gonna convince?

Bob on GO versus/and LRT.

Metrolinx is knitting together GO systems, LRTs and all of that, and I'm confident that the sooner we get LR- ah, GO, all-day GO service up and running, the stronger the LRT case will be... Metrolinx is about that fabric of transit opportunities, and so why would get into these silly arguments about what is your priority, something that is going to happen in two months or something that is going to happen in tive years?

Yeah, they're priorities but we have to work through them chronologically and we haven't given up on LRT by any means and I, actually Bill, I'm just tired of it. There was no, Ted McMeekin's comments started all, ball rolling again.

Then they put a thing in about comparing GO with LRT and it says GO $100 million and LRT $800 million, those numbers are useless to compare because for instance the $100 million for the GO all-day service is a Provincial contribution in total. The $800 million, we have no idea what the local tax implications are. It could be $200, 300, 400 million, so to put those two numbers up and say, "What do you think, this against this?" It's meaningless, but it sells newspapers.

And that's what they're here to do, to sell newspapers. And I don't begrudge them that, but please don't misinform the public or create emotions. We've heard so many, "I'm a senior and I'll be happy to pay $125 dollar increase in my taxes."

Well, thanks a lot. So I'm gonna go down to somebody in the Beasley neighbourhood who's just getting by, just barely able to pay their little home with their kids and place and I'm gonna raise your taxes because somebody else is fine with that. No, we're gonna weigh the whole thing and see what the best outcome for the City is.

Bob on what the City of Hamilton needs to do to determine funding levels.

Well, the argument would be that we can show that there will be $200 dollars worth or more of development along the B-Line between Wentworth Street and Eastgate Square. And that will generate $x over forty years, so much tax money that it will be a revenue, really it'll be a wash after 20 years or whatever it is.

We have no idea, we don't have any of that information. We can't even take a wild guess as to what possible revenues, and even the Province would say that to because they will get Provincial revenues. They don't throw money around, there's got to be something coming back, and so those are the steps we have to go through and present to the public, to Ted McMeekin's people, to Judi Partridge's people in Waterdown, to Lloyd Ferguson's people. What's in it for me. That's a fair question.

Bob on the 100% of capital costs phrase.

The phrase that's been going around, and I've been caught up in it too because it becomes part of the vocabulary, a hundred percent of capital costs. So, we've started to dig into that and we find that the closest we can come to 100% of capital costs is "a lion's share". The people who are working on our file say they don't know of any statement by the government that a hundred percent of anything will be paid.

Bob on VIA and GO service to the North End.

In 2004, Paul Shaker and I worked on the return of VIA Rail passenger service to James Street North. And our discussion was whether we should encompass the GO with the VIA because it's obvious that both would use the same service. So, we limited it to keep the messaging simple, but our intent was exactly what's coming about, that passenger service, GO and VIA, and VIA is on it, be returned to James Street North. So it's even better now because the Province has fleshed that out in their work to a station on the east end of the City, Centennial Parkway somewhere there.

So, we will now get two stations and I'm not looking for a glorious Union Station next to LIUNA. A platform and a waiting area is fine, just as long as the train stops there. They've already got the whole thing designed and there's parking in place for about 250 cars.

And you know Mayor, or rather MPP, Minister Bradley is very keen on it for St. Catherines and that's the track that goes past LIUNA, that goes past Centennial, the little stop in Grimsby, you can actually get a VIA train in Grimsby you can't in Hamilton, and then on down the line to St. Catherines and possibly Niagara.

The other thing that's very big in terms of the investment, because it's $100 million dollars is a marshaling area at the east end of Hamilton, so the GO trains wouldn't start in Aldershot they would go all the way back to somewhere east of Centennial and wait there overnight and then begin their trips to Toronto through James Street North, Aldershot, so on from that point.

Bob on what the Province wants Hamilton to do about promoting all-day GO service.

It's a marvelous project and the government really I think were asking us to give them more support, that we're making this commitment and talk about it Hamilton because, tell us what it means to you.

So what we've been doing is we've been going out to developers, and 50 Murray Street is an example, old school now condos, other people coming to the City asking a simple question, when are you starting GO because we would like to exploit these especially brownfields in and around James Street North and the north part of the City.

You had the Chateau Royale, which had a rocky start because the guy was going to build two towers, remember the Alexander Square had two towers and he was going to make two condos and halfway through the project he decided to knit the two together and make the big one. He said people were telling me we were crazy in Hamilton. Well they're all full. There's 200 units. Why? The GO train was right there.

Bob on whether all-day GO service is a done deal.

I never said it (GO) was a done deal. I said we had to convince the government, who I think are well down that road, that they were getting mixed messages because people were phoning from City Hall on the LRT file and they were probably wondering, "Why aren't we getting more calls on the GO file?"

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 07:59:20

Sad. I found his glib comments about bloggers to be remarkably out of touch. What would we do if people of Graham's calibre, and Ryan, et al didn't shine a light on these things. This should become a major call to arms.

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 08:33:15

I think you're being nasty. I don't agree with all of Bob's points and I strongly disagree with his tactics, but I don't see a problem with clarity.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 08:55:08

We can't just say, "Oh, I love those cute little trains, let's get em." It's a very complicated process.

Sweet Jaysus.

What I'm processing more and more about Mayor Bratina isn't so predicated on him and what he's saying and how he's handling so much of this...as it is on the fact that whatever it was that he presented to voters last autumn was seen as sufficient enough to actually cast winning ballots for.

Surely our citizenry can develop more acumen so that the era of the patronizing, glib 'elder statesman' can be put behind us.

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By red24 (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 09:02:51

What bothers me most is how incapable the mayor is of taking the high road. It merely fuels the people who think there is something nefarious going on. If you're sick of talking about LRT, maybe mayor wasn't the job. All he has to say is that "We appreciate the passion that many Hamiltonians have for LRT, and it is helpful to be reminded of this. But we messed up in the way that this has been communicated. Because our external funding for LRT planning is running out, we are re-deploying our planning staff to other priorities for the time being. This will also give Council an opportunity to assess the fine work our planning staff has done on this file. Once we have assessed it and discussed it at Council, the next phase of LRT work will proceed".

It wouldn't take much more than that. Instead, he's defensive and annoyed by the whole thing. Come to think of it, he's defensive and annoyed about almost everything.

At the same time, I think if you can wade through what he has said on Bill Kelly, it is possible that there isn't anything nefarioius going on, and that indeed, it is simply the case where Council will receive reports from staff and catch up on the issue. It might be as simple as the Mayor says (albeit in a defensive, convoluted way).

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By Tax Paying Engaged Citizen (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 09:17:38

> But we got a whole bunch of bloggers that want LRT. Who's that gonna convince?

If you replace "whole bunch of bloggers" with "whole bunch of engaged citizens" or "whole bunch of taxpayers" -- because that's largely what bloggers are -- it's a pretty horrible statement for a Mayor to make.

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By lament (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 09:21:39 in reply to Comment 66889

Did we read the same transcript? Bob is all over the place here, he can't finish a thought without popping sideways into another thought. Also he can't seem to stop from interrupting himself to take cheap shots at anyone along the way who goes against his message. Sooner or later the weight of all the people Bob has turned into enemies is going to drag him down and interviews like this make me think that day is not far off.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 09:46:14

If you replace "whole bunch of bloggers" with "whole bunch of engaged citizens" or "whole bunch of taxpayers"

Never mind business owners, presidents of companies, doctors and university professors, professionals or graduates looking for reasons to stay here. If their letters are also published on the internet I guess they're all reduced to bloggers.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:02:08

"Well, you're not gonna push the Province. You're gonna convince the Province with a business case that it's a worthwhile investment."

And the city's we-know-it's-coming-we-just-want-it-now prioritization of all-day GO Train service is different from this how, exactly?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:19:09 in reply to Comment 66895

"You're gonna convince the Province with a business case that it's a worthwhile investment."

And how are you going to do that when you keep going on Bill Kelly and saying you don't think LRT's a worthwhile investment?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:40:34

I'm going to reveal my ignorance here: when was the last time Mayor Bratina actually spoke with a group of Hamiltonians?

More to the point, when does this regularly happen?

(I'm not, of course, referring to an appearance on a radio show, or answering press questions. I'm referring to actual dialogue.)

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:41:55

"Well the Downtown BIA under Gerry Murphy who's a great guy, and I love him, and I've ridden in his truck in the Santa Claus Parade..."

OMFG!!!

Comment edited by HamiltonBrian on 2011-07-26 11:42:41

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By Optics (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:42:29

I get what the Mayor is trying to say. I get why he feels he has to put all his eggs in the All-Day GO basket now. He's suffering from the same pessimism that dogs many Hamilton residents. Like all of us, he's been burned with false hope and broken deals. He probably feels that he has to get *something* done in an increasingly tight economy with a better than average chance that we'll be living for the next 4 years under Conservative governments at both the Federal and Provincial levels. He probably figures that in an election year, the best we can do in terms of Transit promises is something that is a fairly soft sell and could make it onto any party's campaign platform -- All Day GO.

This is where I stop making excuses for the Mayor.

The way he and Murray have handled this is nothing short of amateur. The messages that are going out to the public about this are awfully damning of the current City Hall and its ability to lead. Bratina's communication style is a wreck. Ted McMeekin chimed in because he was contacted by a bunch of concerned citizens over this. Why? Are you ready for it? Because that's what elected representatives are supposed to do!!

This isn't just about 'a bunch of bloggers' or his ongoing tiff with the Spectator, it's about his inability to acknowledge the concerns of his constituents and deal with them in a respectful manner. Bratina is dismissive, condescending and frankly he's failing at a significant portion of his job: Communication.

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By The Chickens are Coming Home to Roost (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:53:15

Did anyone else get the impression that Bratina is more than just a bit paranoid about political opposition? He must be off his meds. Too bad. We all hoped for better when we voted for him.

I don't know who he meant in terms of a comeback for 2014, but Mark Chamberlain would suit me just fine.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:18:14

Wow. This is our big return to the glory years of the 'Ambitious City' of the 40s?? No thanks. Glad to see everyone from home builders to Mark Chamberlain to normal citizens are on the same side this time.
Yea, Mark Chamberlain should know better than to suggest we improve our economy and generate wealth as a means of improving poverty.
As if getting a job is going to help anyone.....

I also love the line about not pushing the province. Since we're apparently already gearing up for 2014, I can't help but recall hearing DiIanni and BoBra attacking Eisenberger for not pushing harder for LRT money during the last election. I guess it's true what they say - election campaigning is a bunch of crap and empty words.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:31:58

…what I meant was and I think I said it because there were people sitting there listening to me say it…

Bob in a nutshell.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 13:14:22 in reply to Comment 66898

:) I didn't think OMFG, but I did think that this was the clearest statement that Bob made in the entire interview. We know for certain where Bob stands on Gerry Murphy.

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By Downtown Downer (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 13:32:46

I must give props to Graham Crawford for not being beaten down by this constant bull shit. It seems to just make him push back harder and harder. You want to know something? I think Dianni made a better mayor than Bratina. That is hard to swallow. He took alot of heat from VIEW magazine (which at the time was a pretty hard hitting indie paper) opinion pieces, but he was at least engaging.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 14:27:07

"Bratina is dismissive, condescending and frankly he's failing at a significant portion of his job: Communication."

Dead-on, Optics.

Our own Capt. Thin Skin spends a good chunk of time on the radio talking at people, taking pot-shots at citizens and local media for being engaged, interpreting every criticism of his administration as a personal slight, and capitalizing on every opportunity to reinforce the public belief that he is not serious about LRT.

How else should we interpret his naked boosterism of all day choo-choos and VIA (still not a done deal!) while not-so-subtly mocking the "little trains" that can make a huge difference for those impoverished, "marginal" downtowners he cares about?

He had the opportunity to set the record straight and still position himself in a leadership position on LRT but he chose not to. I think that abdication alone speaks much louder than the rest of his blather.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 15:14:08

From 1982 - 2000, debt charges in Canada never dropped below 7% of GDP. In that time, GDP/capita increased faster than home prices, and GDP(PPP) grew at 4.71%/year.

From 2000 - 2010, debt charges have been reduced to around 3.5%-3.75% of GDP, while GDP(PPP) has only averaged 3.02%.

If our past history shows us that our economy performed quite well with higher debt charges, why are we so concerned about deficits?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 15:56:21

If we want money from Metrolinx, we need to present a compelling business case. About that, the mayor's right. So what's he doing? Re-assigning staff away from the project, publicly. Is that how we convince the province that we're worth money?

These dire warnings for tax increases seem to be based on the idea that we'll have to cover the whole cost ourselves in a single year. That just isn't how large government project capital is handled and he knows it. There would be loans, development charges and a fair bit of provincial help, even if not "100%". Whichever way it pans out, we won't know until we study it in depth.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 16:12:28

Thanks for sparing me from AM radio! I have to wonder if maybe Bob is just a little too comfortable with CHML and maybe doesn't realize that Bill Kelly is pushing his buttons - which really makes Bob sound so confused and disjointed?

On the other hand - I don't think anyone ever suggested that a rock solid business case for LRT wasn't necessary - so most of what I think Bob said is correct (although its really hard to sift the actual message from the AM radio gibberish).

But the whole point of City staff working on LRT is to do the studies necessary to build the business case - so I have no idea how Bob can babble for an hour about how we need to do the studies, get information and build a business case - without addressing exactly how the City intends to do that with no staff or funding commitment?

The man simply makes no sense!

I want to know how long Chris Murray's vacation is? Where is this guy Afghanistan - that he can't pick up his cell phone and answer some questions to clear this up? I don't care if he is at Rob Ford's cottage for the rest of the summer - he needs to make himself available and explain what the hell is going on.

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By Papalouie (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 17:22:06

Chris Murray is on a well deserved vacation probably in New Brunswick....and he needs to get away, even a few weeks away from BroBrat is a blessing.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 17:50:11

Why can't the mayor say that we, the city of Hamilton, are going all out to build a case , for the province, for full LRT funding.

Why all this fear about raising taxes?

Transform the lower city city so that tax revenues increase. Make that the number one priority, and do it now!

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 18:10:07 in reply to Comment 66891

Its the Streisand effect- the more he comes out to speak of it, the more it becomes public and more feedback he gets which makes him go on the radio (and the cycle continues).

Now he's pulling a Frank Drebin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83...

It is amazing that very few in the city know to set up a press conference or even press release!

Comment edited by Vod_Kann on 2011-07-26 18:18:33

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 18:15:38 in reply to Comment 66918

"I have to wonder if maybe Bob is just a little too comfortable with CHML and maybe doesn't realize that Bill Kelly is pushing his buttons - which really makes Bob sound so confused and disjointed?"

Winner winner chicken dinner!!

Both the spec and CHML are guilty of using this topic to sell papers/get listeners. It's the summer- traditioanlly a slow news period. Ottawa and queen's park are shut down, council meetings are few and far between. Like the Stadium last year, both media venes see a hot button issue that can eleicit an immediate response (and sale or tune in). Bob is playing right into their proverbial hands

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2011 at 18:18:28 in reply to Comment 66923

From my perspective, it's because there's no strong voice being heard at all on Council.

So people aren't being given the opportunity to see things framed in a straightforward way, as suggested by your penultimate sentence.

Maybe that's the great indicator: never mind 'vision', we can't even have sound declarations made by those charged with leading us.

But then, 'we' voted in a Mayor with no discernible platform.

Seriously, things need to expand from the confines of newspaper and the online environs, so that we're creating our own information loop. And this surely isn't going to come from City Hall.

'It's time to think outside the blog.'

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 18:44:55 in reply to Comment 66901

"Yea, Mark Chamberlain should know better than to suggest we improve our economy and generate wealth as a means of improving poverty. As if getting a job is going to help anyone....."

The Chamberlain rebuttal was the one that floored me.

Let's see...respected citizen, writes thoughful peice regarding LRT. Yeah its pro-LRT but it not a "rah rah" article by any stretch. It list challenges and does not immediately dismiss alternatives like BRT.

It gets represented as "I love those pretty trains". And the mayor gets his fur up that he is misrepresented?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 19:25:39

This reminds me of Caesar sending "war diaries" back to Rome to be read in the forum, so the people could hear of his exploits, and gain him fame and support.

Mayor Bratina is apeparing on CHML, giving his views and justifications so he can get increased support from the CHML listeners.

He's a pretty shoddy debater...thankfully most of the people who listen to Bill Kelly don't seem to know any better.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 19:45:50

"Every city needs a toilet" Paul, former co-worker circa 2008

That was a comment from a former co-worker when we were arguing about what I thought was the incredible potential of lower Hamilton from James to Gage. I'll never forget the comment or the discussion that it came from. Paul considered the area the city's toilet because that was exactly what that area had been engineered to be.

His arguments, 1)Police liked to keep as much crime as possible concentrated into a tight area downtown to make the job easier. 2)Politicians liked to keep poverty, halfway houses and social services concentrated downtown because the majority of voters didn't live there and the ones who did were acclimatised anyway. 3)A city needs to release with drugs, bars and hookers so keep them all in the same marketplace where most wives won't see husbands picking up girls. 4)Keeping the lower city down helped property values in the outlying areas up

Paul concluded that because of these and many other reasons I was deluded in thinking that any positive developments would be allowed to occur in the James to Gage area of lower Hamilton, any rays of sunshine would be 'taken care of.' Paul was a sickening person to have to spend any time around at all, let alone 3 years of 12 hour shifts together. I told Paul that day that he was a demented, sick, bitter little man... he laughed at me and said I'll see someday that he was right.

Was he right?

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 19:47:04 in reply to Comment 66888

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-08-08 22:22:03

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 19:54:40

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator adrian on 2011-07-26 21:12:44

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By GrahamFan (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2011 at 20:19:16

Keep up the great work Graham. Nothing of good in Hamilton ever came without a fight. It's just the price of living in this city. It breeds tough persistent citizens and it is something to be proud of. For those who find this uncomfortable, there are some great apathetic suburbs in the GTA you can move to - unfortunately they don't have local blogs to troll.

For inspiration, look no further than the Lister Block. There are those who said over and over again that the Lister Block was on its last legs. That is was ready to fall down. You even had the messy intertwined dealings of a shady mayor, an organization with links to organized crime, and the local newspaper acting as a mouth piece for the other two. Everything was lined up against it. But a funny thing happened on the way to the wrecking ball. A bunch of citizens decided to push back and it turned the whole thing around. We are now only days away from what was said to be impossible: A revitalized Lister Block. It wasn't easy - but it was done.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2011 at 09:05:49 in reply to Comment 66937

Thought provoking words.

I disagree with him on point 3, because drugs are just as readily available in the suburbs if you know where to look. Of course it's harder to see because there are so few "public" areas in a suburbs compared to an urban environment. Most suburbanites just choose not to see what's going on in their own backyard.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2011 at 09:10:24 in reply to Comment 66891

"Come to think of it, he's defensive and annoyed about almost everything."

Tell me about it, did you read his first post-election interview with the Spectator?

He forced them to ask the exact same quetions they asked Fred Eisenberger, gave unremarkable answers (you think he would have asked for the questions in advance if he was so concerned) and then left the interview about 4-5 questions in. The Spec published the complete transcript.

It's also interesting that you have someone from radio "slamming" the Spec for its advocacy bent, when the same could be said of CHML for giving the mayor so much airtime (although I guess it's only a problem if you're not in favour of what the mayor is saying, right?).

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2011 at 10:41:57 in reply to Comment 66942

The Lister Block solution wasn't a perfect one, either. Had the heritage consensus not occurred, the province would have had an out for funding, and then the funding shortfall would have been enough to bring on the wrecking ball.

The success is a fractional victory – a property saved at a per-square-foot cost far higher than originally projected, and with almost no space available for non-governmental tenants, even assuming you could located ones with a stomach for exorbitant rents (maybe as a tax write-off).

As happy as I am to have the Lister live and breathe again, the reality seems to be that it will be more or less closed to the public by 5pm and the nightly glow we've seen in recent months will vanish with the cleaning staff.

There are encouragements to be found in the story, to be sure, but it has also become a poster child for the enormous pitfalls of architectural heritage, and the pressing need for enlightened private sector investment in imaginative reactivation of this stock.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 27, 2011 at 13:44:00

First we have...

Well the Downtown BIA under Gerry Murphy who's a great guy, and I love him, and I've ridden in his truck in the Santa Claus Parade, he sent us a letter on behalf of his organization saying we should be pushing for LRT funding.

Then we have...

We've heard so many, "I'm a senior and I'll be happy to pay $125 dollar increase in my taxes."

Not to mention the various organizations that have publicly said LRT is the way to go, and finally...

But we got a whole bunch of bloggers that want LRT. Who's that gonna convince?

Funny how everyone is reduced to a "blogger" and therefore irrelevant.

Regardless, I'm not quite sure what his message is here. He tells us that there are lots of people from business leaders to seniors who want LRT to happen, then he tells us it's just a bunch of bloggers.

Platform Shmatform.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-07-27 13:46:43

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2011 at 10:56:36

...and again today. I think I may be past the novelty of Tweedlebill and Tweedlebob.

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