Opinion

Is the Mayor Leading the West Harbour Side?

Saturday's West Harbour rally is an opportunity for the Mayor to coalesce a worthy movement around his leadership. The crowd will be in no mood to hear diplomatic triteness.

By Keanin Loomis
Published August 06, 2010

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way." - John C. Maxwell

Since reaffirming his support for the West Harbour stadium location following a period of uncomfortable uncertainty following Mediator Fenn's report release, Mayor Eisenberger seems to have become the de facto leader of the West Harbour side of the stadium debate, while at the same time insisting that an increasingly unlikely amicable resolution is still possible.

I don't envy the position the Mayor is in right now, stuck between a rock and a hard place so close to an election. If defeat of the West Harbour proposal is snatched from the jaws of victory, impressions of his lacking the requisite leadership abilities crystalize and certainly doom his reelection. If he wins, it's unlikely that "Boxed In" Bob Young suddenly ends the drama - threats of lawsuits and relocations don't just go away overnight.

Getting the Tiger-Cats on board will still be an election issue with lingering wounds exposed for political hay-making. Still, in politics even a messy win is a win.

Though Our City, Our Future can claim to representing a large percentage of Hamiltonians who have come to embrace grand visions of a large infusion of government cash accelerating our nascent urban renaissance, no individual has emerged to take on Bob Young toe-to-toe. Instead, a whole movement has risen up in response. Seeing this play out one too many times, a more activist electorate has attempted to hold its leaders accountable for their commitments to finally embrace progressive urban renewal.

Caught off guard by the Tiger-Cats ill-timed and sudden aversion to the West Harbour, the Mayor has been cautiously stradling the divide. However, being the person to whom demands (PDF) are addressed has a way of sparking a reaction and the Mayor has replied with some encouraging statements that match the public's disdain for Tiger-Cats' heavy-handed rhetoric.

With the Ti-Cats and the CFL having overplayed their hands and alienating citizens that were once reluctant to choose sides, the public is now firmly of the opinion that Bob Young's bluff must be called on principle alone.

Despite the cover that this broad community and establishment support have provided, the Mayor, as de facto leader, has still not emerged as the firebrand equivalent to Bob Young. As a Chief Executive that is still trying to find a solution that makes everyone happy (and does the least damage to his reelection prospects), his actions and measured statements have been dignified in comparison to the Tiger-Cats'. But they also have the effect of giving supporters of the West Harbour the feeling that the rug could be pulled out from under them on Tuesday in some Faustian bargain with the Province or a majority of Councillors.

Promised reports have been delayed, information even to Councillors has been scant and neither side seems to be budging. Even with further proof coming out today that the Tiger-Cats' proposals are "financially sustainable" for one person only -- costing the taxpayers tens of millions more than the West Harbour -- too many Hamiltonians, not knowing if anyone with political power in any of the three tiers of government is actually working hard to affect their will, are waiting on pins and needles as Tuesday's deadline is fast approaching.

Saturday's West Harbour rally is an opportunity for the Mayor to coalesce a worthy movement around his leadership. The crowd will be in no mood to hear diplomatic triteness; passionate supporters of urban renewal and sensible community investment want to know that as decision day draws nigh, this time might will not trump right. Attendees will want to be reassured that the Mayor has dug in his heels for the good of Hamilton and that Bob Young isn't somehow out-manoeuvering him and popular will behind the scenes prior to Tuesday's vote.

Most importantly, West Harbor supporters will want to know that he has the votes in Council to reaffirm the progressive, City Building values that have created optimism for this city's future. In short, they want to know that their leader is truly leading.

Keanin is the President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

19 Comments

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:02:58

I was thinking of sending Mayor Eisenberger a copy of "The Prince" for Christmas... but by then it may be too late.

A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a character that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him or not. In either case it will always be more advantageous for you to declare yourself and to make war strenuously; because, in the first case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of him who has been conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand, court his fate. - Nicolo Machiavelli

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:40:43

Kind of irrelevant at this point ... Province, Feds says East Mountain only

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-08-06 14:41:19

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:44:52

Just going to post the same link, Kenneth. Why on earth would they pull away from the Harbour?

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:46:00

Everything about this "announcement" doesn't make any sense.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:49:55

Must be a relief for most of the council, given the impending election: no matter what their position, it's now not their fault.

Politician fail; political win.

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By Gord (anonymous) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 15:50:47

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:01:22

East Mountain WINS! Hess village's west harbour rally now a east mountain celebration party!!!!!!!!

So you think having no choice is a victory?

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:01:46

And a WH celebration party if it gets cleaned up as well with some development potential.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:20:38

So you think having no choice is a victory? - lawrence

And a reported 55 to 80 million dollar more costly "victory" at that.

Everything about this "announcement" doesn't make any sense. - UrbanRenaissance

Sadly it makes prefect sense if you consider it in the context of pockets being lined and election war chests funded.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:25:17

sorry. double post

Comment edited by jason on 2010-08-06 15:27:29

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:26:47

Sadly it makes prefect sense if you consider it in the context of pockets being lined and election war chests funded.

Bingo. Anyone who supported WH needs to come out in full force and support Mayor Fred in the next election. He has some wicked men working against him behind the scenes and selling out our future and our prosperity for their own petty gain.

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By ToldYouSo (anonymous) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 18:58:58

I knew when RTH and Fred supported the WH that it was doomed. Sad but true.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 19:12:19

So true. No mafia and old boys connections here or with Fred.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 19:30:43

I'd rather live in a fridge box than conduct myself like the corrupt rats pulling off this caper.

An indecently huge bank account can buy a lot of red hats and undue influence, but it can't buy respect or honour.

Everything about this stinks. I'm with Fred 100%

Comment edited by kevin on 2010-08-06 18:32:20

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 20:03:17

Fred gambled but didn't know how to make friends in the right places. A politicians worst behaviour but Fred you have my vote even if I think you're not cut out for politics, and you aren't. Now get it right, clean up the WH and lets get this baby built for our TiCats on the EM and make Hamilton proud!

-10 votes on RTH with this post, what do I expect from this site.

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By greenfingers (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 23:54:09

What a disappointment the announcement was. Wrong in so many ways - economically, environmentally, socially, What happened to lowering dependency on cars and petroleum based fuel? Encouraging public transit and a more active livestyle? Saving decreasing arable farm land? Living up to our Pan Am bid which included a downtown stadium, accessible by transit? Have these people, these federal and provincial politicians, not paid attention to the history of other major cities as they made both good and bad decisions about the placement of major sports facilities? A football team should not dictate the future of a city for its own benefit, not ours! Let's fight this Fred. Lets fight this one and all.

Comment edited by greenfingers on 2010-08-06 22:56:59

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 07, 2010 at 11:45:54

Every single member of council should do one simple thing when it comes to a vote, they should all abstain. Most of the members are for a stadium at one location or another but because of the provincial/federal government hijacking real democracy abstaining is the only way. After they all abstain they can tell the other levels of government the reason they didn't vote was that it was suppossed to be a democratic vote and it wasn't. After that is done they can tell bob young, mark cohon, the federal/provincial governments individually to do a "braveheart" and stick their head between their legs and kiss their own "arse"

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 07, 2010 at 17:16:56

I've seen a lot of politicking over the years. And I knew a twist like this is coming. Not like DiIanni has any friends in federal/provincial Parliaments.

There is only one thing Fred can do right now: come out swinging. Prove that somebody, somewhere in Hamilton's government is willing to stand up for something.

People will support him if he does. But if he doesn't, he's gonna get steamrollered as these puppeteers continue with their schemes.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 09, 2010 at 10:20:35

Undustrial that's exactly what I said in my email to him a few weeks ago.

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