Politics

Merulla Motion Calls for Integrity Commissioner to Investigate Mayor Bratina

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 07, 2013

Councillor Sam Merulla has delivered a notice of motion to council to request that the city's Integrity Commissioner investigate an accusation that Mayor Bob Bratina may have contravened the Code of Conduct of Conduct for Members of Council.

The allegation relates to an incident at the April 24, 2013 Council meeting, in which Mayor Bratina was seen to leave his seat and say something to City Manager Chris Murray.

Murray had just given an explanation of the senior management team's understanding of the city's Rapid Ready Light Rail Transit (LRT) report that contradicted the Mayor's interpretation.

Murray clarified, "we've been focused all along on the B-Line and advancing the detail of that B-Line so the Province can make a decision on the B-Line." He also said, "we think investing in transit, LRT specifically, in the City of Hamilton is something fundamental to our growth," and "clearly we've been focused on the B-Line".

The Mayor had argued earlier that Rapid Ready wasn't actually about building LRT but rather was about improving bus service toward a possible future objective of building LRT at some later point.

After Murray's comments, the Mayor approached Murray and spoke to him. Merulla said during the meeting that he did not hear the Mayor's words but heard his tone, which Merulla called aggressive and bullying.

Then Councillor Jason Farr told the Mayor, "I heard it. I heard what you said. I got it verbatim. You're being awful nasty, awful nasty."

Bratina said, "You're out of order."

Farr said, "Well you're constantly out of order. This is terrible what you're doing."

Bratin then claimed all he had said to Murray was, "I can't believe you just said that."

Merulla's motion alleges that Bratina violated Sections 13.2 and 17.1 of the Code of Conduct. Section 13 concerns conduct toward city employees and reads in part:

Members of Council shall be respectful of the role of City employees to advise based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any individual member or faction of the Council; no member of Council shall maliciously, falsely, negligently or recklessly injure the professional or ethical reputation, or the prospects or practice of City employees; [and] members of Council shall show respect for the professional capacities of City employees.

Section 17, on harassment, reads:

It is the policy of the City that all persons be treated fairly in the workplace in an environment free of discrimination and of personal and sexual harassment. Accordingly, no member of Council shall harass another member of Council, City employees or any member of the public; and all members of Council shall: treat one another, City employees and members of the public appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation; and make all reasonable efforts to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.

Merulla contends that the Mayor's conduct toward Murray warrants an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner, Earl Basse, to determine whether the Code of Conduct was contravened.

If the motion is approved, this will not be the first time the Integrity Commisioner has investigated the Mayor. On May 16, 2012, Basse found Bratina in violation of Section 13.2(b) of the Code by "providing erroneous information to the Spectator Editorial Board" about the impetus to grant a raise to Peggy Chapman, the Mayor's Chief of Staff.

Basse concluded that the violation "was not a malicious or deliberate act" and imposed a reprimand but no other penalty.

Following is the text of Merulla's motion:

NOTICE OF MOTION

Council Date: May 8, 2013

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR S. MERULLA

Complaint to the Integrity Commissioner

WHEREAS on April 24, 2013, during a meeting of City Council, the Mayor stepped away from his place at the table and approached the City Manager and said something to him while Council was debating Motion 7.2, respecting the Re-Affirmation of Council's Position regarding the B-Line Light Rail Transit on King Street;

AND WHEREAS, Sections 13.2 and 17.1 of the Code of Conduct for members of Council, being Appendix "H" of the City of Hamilton's Procedural By-law 13-301, as amended, may have been contravened;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That, pursuant to Section 8 of By-law 08-154, as amended, a By-law to establish the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a complaint concerning the verbal exchange between Mayor Bratina and the City Manager at the Council meeting of April 24, 2013, be referred to the Integrity Commissioner.

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 anonymous (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2013 at 02:26:19

You want to see what harassment of City Staff really looks like, check this out!

http://bayobserver.ca/3-fired-former-city-employees-inching-closer-to-justice/

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 08, 2013 at 13:30:18

It's become patently clear - if it wasn't already - that Bratina is nothing more than a bully. His term as mayor will go down as one of the more bewildering and troubling in this city's history. Please make it end so we can move on and deal with more pressing matters.

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By Main Street (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2013 at 00:58:35

Our mayor is a man of class and dignity under fire. Unlike the incompetent vote sucking bully falsely accusing our mayor of misconduct and referring to his behavior as nasty. I voted for him but I wont again.

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By anonymous (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2013 at 02:02:49

Ross Powers bails on the LRT - and not a word?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2013 at 02:19:26 in reply to Comment 88465

This blog entry was posted yesterday. The LRT meeting just happened. Give us a chance, already. :)

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 09, 2013 at 09:53:21 in reply to Comment 88470

yea, c'mon Ryan. With the huge salaries being dished out to the RTH crew, surely you can get on a story faster than this...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2013 at 10:03:44 in reply to Comment 88513

We could afford it, except you keep running huge expense tabs at local coffee shops.

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By anonymous (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2013 at 09:31:50

Russ Powers withdraws his support for LRT, "we can't afford It"

Joey Coleman's Video at the 46:00 minute mark'

http://www.joeycoleman.ca/2013/05/08/hamilton-city-council-meeting-for-may-8-2013-live-wednesday-5pm/

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