Politics

Merulla: Release Red Hill Lawsuit Costs

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 07, 2011

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla sent an email to the other members of Council this morning to advise that he will be bringing forward a notice of motion to have the City publicly release "all costs related to the [Red Hill Valley] Expressway lawsuit against the Federal Government of Canada."

This latest attempt to drop the seven-year-old city lawsuit against the Federal government comes right after Justice Peter Hambly rejected the city's attempt to have the court accept the city's claim that federal staff and politicians knew their attempt to subject the Red Hill Valley Parkway to an Environmental Assessment violated federal rules.

The City first launched the $75 million lawsuit against the Federal Government in 2004 on a claim that the government conspired to block the expressway.

When Council voted to launch the suit, they also instructed city staff to report regularly on the cost of the lawsuit. However, council overturned that decision [PDF] in 2008 on the basis of "solicitor-client privilege", at the same time that they voted to lift the projected $450,000 budget limit.

According to a November 2007 update [PDF], the city had spent $243,224.03 to the end of September 2007.

CATCH has a transcript of the Committee of the Whole meeting. According to city solicitor Peter Barkwill, "Invoices we received from our counsel are privileged matters and should not be discussed in public."

Councillors Brad Clark, Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Lloyd Ferguson, Tom Jackson, Robert Pasuta, David Mitchell and Maria Pearson voted to continue the lawsuit. Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Bob Bratina, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, Russ Powers and Terry Whitehead voted to drop it.

Council reconsidered the issue in November 2009 but voted again to continue with the lawsuit and to keep the legal costs secret. Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Bob Bratina, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, and Terry Whitehead voted to drop it.

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.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 11:16:03

I say drop it because this city needs to start moving on from the things that have divided us in the past - this included. I hate that it's there but it is. Maybe one day we will find away to return it to it's glory..

We can't move forward if we are always looking back. Reflection and lessons learned is one thing. A vendetta-type carrying of the torch, not so much. I think they should show the Mosca/Kapp video the next time they discuss this in council chambers. How humiliating that was for our game. How is it any less embarrassing that we have government suing government. Watch the whole video. It's exacerbating just watching it.

We are suing ourselves. There were reasons many people fought against that monstrosity. Get that, and move on. It's built. 'You' won.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-12-07 11:16:41

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 11:28:01

Drop it or keep it, City Hall needs to be transparent. We need to know how much has been sunk into this thing.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 11:32:15

From the taxpayer's point of view there is only one winner when governments sue governments .. the lawyers.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 16:38:03 in reply to Comment 71970

Yes and no...

Yes, because you're right in that taxpayers as a whole are no better off.

But no because Hamilton taxpayers will be better off if the $75 million is borne by all federal taxpayers rather than only municipal taxpayers.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 12:05:33

this reminds me of the police response to why they won't reveal a line by line budget: it will put officers' safety at risk. It's like they have a panel of red and blue buttons: Cue laugh track? No, wrong one: officers safety at risk. Solicitor-client privilege. That's a good one. As if releasing just the amount spent, or the number of hours worked (at David Estrin's fee - $500 an hour? $600? We can figure the rest out ourselves) revealed ANYTHING confidential about the proceedings.

I have a good idea, someone should determine whether this goes against rules of procedure, hire another lawyer, and sue the city. Because it's no fun wasting money unless you take it to the NEXT LEVEL.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 13:31:09

Speaking of council, is anyone watching Bratina live right now?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 14:03:51

Awkward Peggy question with her sitting next to him.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 14:31:28 in reply to Comment 71979

Not watching, but I'm guessing it's about Peggy's massive raise that suddenly has made her the second-best-compensated staffer in the whole province?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 14:46:51 in reply to Comment 71980

Just a question near the end from Spec editorial board to Mayor about Peggy's raise. Awkward moment.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2011 at 16:15:23

At what point do we just sue Larry DiIanni and David Estrin to recoupe our collective costs?

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By Spec,Bratina&LRT (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2011 at 19:01:47

see Hamilton Spectator site, Wed. evening,
Meredith MacLeod

Citizens must champion LRT, mayor will not

Mayor Bob Bratina will not champion LRT, he told The Spectator Wednesday, but a champion is just what Hamilton will need, a Metrolinx executive told a business meeting one day earlier.

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