Politics

Councillors Consider Chapman Pay Raise

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 09, 2011

This story just gets worse and worse.

On Wednesday, Spec city hall reporter Emma Reilly wrote that Peggy Chapman, Mayor Bob Bratina's chief of staff, got a $30,000 raise effective December 1. Mayor Bratina justified the pay hike by saying the impetus came from the city's Human Resources department.

"HR reviewed Peggy's employment status and found that she was vastly undercompensated based on job description and history," Bratina said Tuesday. "I didn't give a raise, she didn't ask for a raise."

It didn't take long for this story to start crumbling. The next day, an email surfaced disputing the Mayor's claim that HR had initiated the pay raise.

[HR director Helen] Hale Tomasik's email said the mayor's office "approached HR and requested data on the salary ranges paid to prior Chiefs of Staff, which HR provided."

"The Mayor reviewed the information provided by HR, reflected on the scope of her role being a combination of 3 roles in his predecessor's office, and along with his evaluation of Peggy's performance, determined the salary through her contract renewal negotiation and advised HR accordingly," Tomasik wrote.

Bratina backpedaled in a subsequent email to council that was obtained by the Spectator:

"The annual performance review of my staff included information on salary bands paid to former Chiefs of Staff which was provided by HR," Bratina wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Spectator. "The result was that I adjusted the salary of the Chief of Staff to reflect the scope of responsibility within the role."

Yesterday, Council went in camera to consider what to do about the situation. Bratina did not attend the meeting, and Councillors decided not to take action before giving him a chance to respond.

But privately, councillors say they are considering two options: asking Bratina to publicly apologize to HR staff or issuing a formal censure against the mayor.

Council will go in camera again on Tuesday.

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 DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 08:39:01

My question is this: who initiated looking at the pay bands? Did Ms. Chapman or did the Mayor, or did someone else?

Further to that, a 33% raise is spectacular. I think that most people would expect maybe a 3-5% raise, regardless of what their current pay structure is compared to previous people doing a similar job for other people. With all the belt-tightening going on, this is a real head-scratcher.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 16:13:06 in reply to Comment 72044

Maybe it was Whitehead who was leading the charge for a raise for the Pegster?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:12:36

Never mind the amount of the pay raise, what should raise far more concerns is the mayor's blatant lying about how it happened.

If he had come forward and said "She is doing the work of three people because we decided to go with a smaller staff" an argument could be made. But to lie, shift blame and then backpedal looks pathetic.

If you make a decision you need to take ownership of it, popular or unpopular.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 10:41:36 in reply to Comment 72048

Never mind the amount of the pay raise, what should raise far more concerns is the mayor's blatant lying about how it happened.

Aw, c'mon. Can't we be pissed about the lying and the pay raise? ;)

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 09:26:44

At $103,500 she would be among the top 10% of income earners in Canada, At $120,000 she is well above that. Is this really a "reasonable" salary for a mayor's Chief of Staff in Hamilton? I'm sure that $30,000 could fund a breakfast program for children in the North end.

Better not say that too loudly or the new Military Consultant might come after me.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 10:14:59

Well, at least we're starting to get an idea of outer limits of the Mayor's role as "champion of careful use of taxpayers' money.".

If it's for projects that can have a transformational impact on many Hamiltonians, that's bad (see: WH and LRT).

But if it's only going to benefit his top aide? Well, that's fine!

How anyone at City Hall can stand the stench of this guy is beyond me, though it's heartening to know they're at least considering calling him out on his lie.

It still amazes me that some people risk their credibility defending him...I honestly don't know how they can stomach it.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 10:21:19 in reply to Comment 72058

Also acceptable: if it's only going to benefit someone else named "Bob".

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 11:18:17

The lying liar lied?

Shocking.

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By Potholes Before People!!!!! (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 11:55:06

$30,000.00!!!! There are way too many potholes in this City that need to be filled to justify this wanton and careless spending.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 09, 2011 at 16:29:43

Bratina is such a slime ball. I swear, every time I hear him speak, he tells a lie. It's disgusting. I hope they hold him to the fire for this (and future lies).

As to the pay raise, isn't the point of having one person do the job of what 2 people used to do saving money? I know that my friends who work in places where 8 people now do the work of 12 people (1 of several examples) haven't gotten a single penny raise in at least 2 years. In fact, other than a friend who works in a bank, no one I know has gotten a raise in the last two years. It's been 3 for me.

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By MarieAnge (registered) | Posted December 10, 2011 at 01:16:41

Nevermind the potholes! They don't go to bed hungry. How about the food banks that are struggling to feed all the people who can't find work? That 30,000 dollars would buy a lot of good healthy food for those who can't afford to buy it from the grocery store or the farmer's market!

"At $103,500 she would be among the top 10% of income earners in Canada, At $120,000 she is well above that. Is this really a "reasonable" salary for a mayor's Chief of Staff in Hamilton?"

103,500 minus 30,000 comes out to 73,500$ That to me is a pretty gosh darn nice salary. Wish I had made that much money in a year in my entire life. It would take me 3 years to earn that much money!

I'm tired of seeing the homeless go through recycling bins looking for mostly empty jars of peanut butter that weren't washed out! I'm tired of hearing about people who are freezing their butts off all over Canada for lack of decent housing. Canada is a country that boasts good education, good jobs and good living. Hamilton makes those promises too, but I haven't seen any of it materialize!

I'm tired of the lies, the back pedalling,the story telling, finger pointing, and avoiding issues that need immediate attention.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted December 11, 2011 at 10:07:53 in reply to Comment 72095

Nevermind the potholes! They don't go to bed hungry.

Bless you Marie.

Is this really a "reasonable" salary for a mayor's Chief of Staff in Hamilton?

Any chief of staff worth their salt would've made sure the mayor wasn't found at fault and the mayor, whom I find increasingly difficult to defend, has enough left over in his office budget to hire a dozen more "living wage" friends. I know at least one could be polishing his airborne pens.

However, I also believe our mayor will shine not long into the brave news years, when he activates his military adviser just-in-time as states of emergency declares. Hopefully I'll be outta here by then but if not, you can count on me to be as helpful as can be until this bitterness ends or I drop.

I'm tired of the lies, the back pedalling,the story telling, finger pointing, and avoiding issues that need immediate attention.

I wearily agree and thanks for sharing Marie.

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