Municipal Election 2006

Eisenberger Responds to RTH

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 10, 2006

As Monday's election approaches a number of progressive groups in Hamilton are coming out in support of Fred Eisenberger for Mayor.

Community Action Network (CAN) recently endorsed Eisenberger for supporting more of their principles of good government and quality of life than the other candidates.

Citizens Against Pig Slaughterhouse (CAPS) supports him because of his support for brownfields reinvestment, his promise to plan growth more deliberately, his refusal to accept corporate or union donations, and his record of community service.

Raise the Hammer is not endorsing candidates, but we have tried our best to present the candidates' views and goals in their own words while at the same time articulating our own views and goals. We have been unable to do this with Eisenberger, because he has not responded to any of our requests for information.

So I found myself wondering what to make of a candidate, indeed the only "high profile" opposition to the incumbent, who claims to support urban revitalization, sustainable development, and grassroots democracy but won't respond to information requests from an authentic grassroots community group that's actually dedicated to urban revitalization and sustainable development.

Yesterday I sent one last request to Eisenberger, and he responded this morning. For the benefit of RTH readers trying to decide who to support on election day, Eisenberger had the following to say (edited slightly for clarity):

I apologize for not responding sooner. As you may appreciate, our campaign has been tremendously busy and the fact that we are only accepting donations from individuals has meant a whole lot more effort with less resources.

Your web-based magazine plays a vital role in helping to inform Hamiltonians about revitalization and sustainable development. In a city that has few mainstream media sources, Raise the Hammer helps to balance and expand debate on many issues important to Hamilton. I commend you for your continued efforts.

Many of our campaign policy positions are in line with your magazine's philosophy. Specifically, a commitment to ending sprawl-type urban development that not only costs the city economically, but also is working at odds with revitalization efforts in the downtown. Through initiatives such as the true adoption of Smart Growth principles and improving public transportation, such as Bus Rapid Transit, we can create a more liveable community with cleaner air.

There are some good news stories in Hamilton such as the redevelopment of the waterfront and the booming arts scene. These need to be embraced and encouraged as part of a broader city renaissance. At the same time, we have a tremendous level of poverty and we need to ensure that any economic development plans provide opportunities for all Hamiltonians to prosper. Essentially, we need to become more sustainable as a city socially as well as environmentally.

Equally important is restoring accountability and integrity to local government. Until there is openness and transparency, where all citizens feel they have a true say in how Hamilton operates, we cannot have a constructive debate on how we want to move forward as a city.

This is only a snap-shot of our campaign and I invite you to look at our full campaign platform posted at www.fredformayor.ca.

In addition, we understand the value (and power) the web has in communicating and promoting progressive ideas. That is why we have endeavoured to have a comprehensive website and we have released a campaign video on YouTube to help promote the fact that we are an alternative to the status quo for Hamiltonians.

Thank you for posting a link to the video on your website. I appreciate that you have not chosen to endorse candidates, but hope that you will consider endorsing some of our policy ideas and help get the word out that there are alternatives to the status quo.

So there you have it. Whatever else you do on Monday, learn the issues, study the candidates, and get out and vote for the candidates who seem most likely to represent your interests and serve with integrity.

And remember: after the election is over, the real challenge of democratic engagement begins!

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 jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 11:44:49

hmm, interesting. He certainly tickles my ear with a few major points - sustainability, transit, ENDING SPRAWL and most importantly doing away with the status quo. Whether Hamiltonians have finally decided they really don't like the look and feel of streets like Barton, King East or Cannon remains to be seen, but certainly voting for the status quo will ensure another 4 years without a single stich of revitalization or effort being directed at those crucial city neighbourhoods...and of course, those same neighbourhoods having money taken away from them to subsidize the poor folks building sprawl everywhere. Sheesh, we're a poster-town for 'reverse socialism' if there ever was one. Thanks for the comments Fred.

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By King James (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 13:16:54

Amazing that he can be a progressive and a neo-con simultaneously. The man has talent.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 13:44:48

neo-con?? this ain't the US. I'm not sure if one exists in Canada.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 10, 2006 at 14:12:37

Jason, The Conservative Party of Canada is being run by people whose politics can fairly be described as neo-conservative since the Tory/Reform merger.

Consider Harper's uncritical support for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, for US-style tax cuts to corporations and the rich, for continental integration, and for US-style political propaganda (exploiting wedge issues, accusing opponents of being unpatriotic, etc.).

Red Tories and paleo-conservatives in the party have been pushed out and marginalized, or else have subsumed their own differences of opinion with the party leadership (Harper, Flanagan, et al.) for the greater good of the party.

In the US, we start to see a resurgence of the paleo-conservatives in the Republican party, as the James Bakers and Brent Scowcrofts (old-school conservative pragmatists) are called in to clean up the mess created by the chickenhawks (Cheney, Rumsfeld) and the Straussian ideologues (Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith, Perle, Schulsky) who have had the reins for the past six years.

I think King William is making reference to the fact that Eisenberger is connected to the Conservative Party in Canada. I don't know if he's closer to a paleo-con, a Red Tory, or a neo-con.

His work with the Port Authority and Clean Air Hamilton seems to suggest that he is more of a "conserving" conservative than an ideologue, but of course there's no way to know unless he gets elected and we actually get to see whether he actually does what he says he will.

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By King James (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 17:56:41

That was my point Ryan, thanks. Fred may indeed be a "Red-Tory", but just two years ago he ran under Stephen Harper's banner in Stoney Creek. Now he's an urbanist...an environmentalist even. Pardon my scepticism.
He was also a city councillor during Hamilton's ever-so-prosperous 1990's -towing the Bob Morrow line every step of the way -sprawl, sprawl, sprawl.

I'd never vote for DiIanni b/c he's a crap Mayor. But I won't vote for a "Red-Tory" either. Damn you, Dave Braden.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 18:14:59

yea, I still don't know what Braden was thinking. How would he have split any votes between these two?? If anything, he may have been able to sneak up the middle while Larry and Fred split the votes.

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By King James (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 18:24:20

exactly

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By vote4me (registered) - website | Posted November 10, 2006 at 21:11:52

We have been monitoring all candidates during this election and have found Fred’s campaign to be the most web suave. The other mayor candidates could learn a lesson here, BUT the real lesson will be Election Day! Will lawn signs beat out online media? Maybe they will this election, but we think their days are numbered. vote4me.ca

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By Locke (registered) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 09:00:02

This may be (at least in part) a case of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't.

Personally, I'm willing to give the devil I'm less familiar with the chance to show he does understand the need to stop sprawl, revitalize the urban core and is not beholden to developers. Yes, the part-allegiance has concerned me to, but Fred is saying all the right things and has a fighting chance... there has to be AT LEAST a 50-50 chance he'll be better than Larry.

Politics is a complex business, with views all over the matrix -- not simply on a left-right line.

Would I have voted for Dave? Probably. Would he have won? Probably not. Unfairly, he's been too thouroughly discredited by the Mayor's office and the local rag to really stand a chance and he knew it.

All of which means that Fred not only will get my vote, but just yesterday received my financial support as well.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 15:07:29

I was just informed by someone working in the Eisenberger camp that they have received over 7,000 calls requesting lawn signs since the Merulla story broke on Tuesday. One wonders how much corruption and scandal citizens can take before finally making a change. Also, the Spectator had a headline this week stating that DiIanni was 'kept in the dark' about the Merulla fiasco. There is quite a bit of outrage in the community right now from people who find that to be a poor showing of leadership and inter-office communication at city hall, and by other folks who claim to know that DiIanni was told a couple of months ago that this investigation was going on. Whatever the truth is, you can be sure that the Spec won't break it until after the election.
However, if the vibe on the street is any indication, we may have a new mayor come Monday so the Spec won't need to waste their time.

Stay tuned, and GET OUT AND VOTE!!

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By King James (anonymous) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 18:48:55

That figure sounds exaggerated to me, Jason. I worked on Christopherson's campaign last time around and he didn't have 7000 sign locations throughout the entire campaign. It's hard to believe that Fred would have gotten 7000 locations in addition to the ones he already had over just the past week.

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