Special Report: Light Rail

Hamilton Deserves Better than the Petulant Machinations of a Childish Mayor

Bratina is cherry-picking Rapid Ready in his latest tactic not to support LRT - the very investment that will create the circumstances for Hamilton to achieve its ridership and development goals.

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 25, 2013

So you've probably heard that last night's Council meeting was a debacle. The Spectator and CBC Hamilton have lively reports of the conflicts that boiled over when the subject of Mayor Bob Bratina's recent comments on light rail transit (LRT) came up in a motion by Councillor Brian McHattie.

There was a lot of drama, but we need to peel it back to get at what really went down.

LRT Motion

In explaining his motion, McHattie pointed out that if the City keeps sending mixed messages about its support for LRT, the Province might use that as a reason not to provide the funding. "It's critical in this case, and in all cases, of course, but certainly in this case, with the funding pending, that the Council and the Mayor are aligned on the Council position."

Calling Rapid Ready a "comprehensive" report that integrates the City's transit vision and the years of detailed designed work on the B-Line that the City has done in close cooperation with Metrolinx, McHattie said, "It's critical that we make it very clear what our priority is, and that we ask you, Mr. Mayor, to take that position that the B-Line LRT on King Street, and also advocate for that in your discussions with the Province of Ontario, with Metrolinx."

McHattie also asked that Bratina include the members of the LRT Task Force - Councillors Lloyd Ferguson, Jason Farr and McHattie - be included in discussions the Mayor has with the Province.

Bratina's Response

In his response to McHattie, Bratina stated that he is obliged to represent Council's position as contained in the Rapid Ready report, but then he presented a very particular interpretation of what the report says.

First, he said his understanding of the City's "priority" is that we wanted to prioritize LRT over Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on the B-Line, not that we wanted to prioritize the B-Line LRT over, say, the A-Line. Then he argued:

This document says that, [reading] "the first key contributor to Rapid Ready to invest in improving transit services and reconfigure the transit network in anticipation [emphasized] of rapid transit." And in this case, put the L back in, light rail, because that's our priority. [reading again] "These early investments would increase ridership, elevate the role of public transit in Hamilton and prepare customers for rapid transit implementation." So, if the priority - if what you mean by priority, is that upon the approval of the funding, that we immediately start building the B-Line rapid transit line, LRT line, I just need a motion from Council to, to do that.

Because what I have presented is, and Bruce McCuaig [Metrolinx VP] and I met several times, I met with him this morning, and it's this document that he refers to, which we approved. And the document does not say the creation of the light rail transit line upon funding approval. It doesn't say that.

In fact, on page 25, it says, just to be clear, because I'm puzzled by this, the use of the word "priority" in terms of this document, it says, [reading] "Just building rapid transit alone will not get Hamilton where it needs to be. Cities that have or are moving towards rapid transit are also making significant increases in base transit service levels in advance of rapid transit. It would not be productive for Hamilton to build light rail while maintaining 30 minute headways on regular transit routes serving LRT." And what that means is, how long you have to wait for the bus that takes you down to the LRT, and therefore makes the service function better.

And it says here, it's on page 25 of the document that we approved unanimously, [reading] "Several Canadian cities have higher per capita ridership without rapid transit, demonstrating an opportunity to increase ridership in the interim [emphasized] prior to LRT implementation in Hamilton." So if you wish me to present to the Minister and to the Premier that once the funding is approved, that construction of the B-Line LRT begin, I'll be happy to. But that's not what I've had to this point.

Are you dizzy yet? The Mayor is playing a childish game of gotcha here. He's managed to twist the Rapid Ready report from a comprehensive process for building LRT into a reason not to move forward.

He said it could take 10-15 years before Hamilton achieves ridership levels that would trigger the next step of building LRT.

Bratina also cited an assessment by Toronto Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong that for municipalities that participate in the Metrolinx Funding Strategy, their residents will have to pay $800 on average per household toward paying for The Big Move. (Note: Bratina at first said $800 per month, but later clarified to mean $800 per year.)

Frustration

McHattie stayed calm but his exasperation was evident as he continued to press the Mayor on whether he would support the Province providing funding for LRT and the City implementing it, and the Mayor continued to dodge around the question.

Bratina argued that Calgary's rate of transit ridership is double Hamilton's, and we shouldn't build LRT until our ridership has matched Calgary's. (What he didn't note is that Calgary's ridership is as strong as it is precisely because of its LRT system, which the city continues to expand.)

McHattie came back: "I'll take that as a no, that the Mayor of Hamilton will not support the B-Line LRT position on King Street to the Province."

Bratina interrupted then, saying, "I can't accept that," but the Chair gave the floor back to McHattie.

I've asked the question in several different ways, and I'm perhaps a bit frustrated that I didn't get a clear answer whether this position will be supported by the Mayor at the Province. So I heard a number of things. I didn't hear that this position would be supported if we passed this motion in a couple of moments tonight.

Bratina replied:

I absolutely, 100% support the B-Line LRT as directed by Council, as directed through this document [Rapid Ready]. The word "priority" is not in this document. So if you want to add the word "priority", get a motion from Council and explain what "priority" means. And if "priority" means we go to the B-Line as soon as the money becomes, as soon as the Funding Strategy is - I, I don't have that direction, councillor. But if you're asking me if I support it when I speak to governments, all I say to them is, "Here is our thing and it's got a B-Line LRT and that's the one that we have said is going first," and that's it.

After that the questions from councillors began, and they were almost uniform in calling the Mayor out on his shenanigans. But for now I'll leave that as the subject for a future article. I want to keep the focus on Bratina's interpretation of Rapid Ready and what it means for the B-Line LRT.

LRT Priority in Rapid Ready

Rapid Ready includes the following clear statements of priority:

The establishment of Metrolinx and the development of The Big Move has allowed for the advancement of a regional transit network, including the identification of rapid transit in Hamilton as a priority.

[...]

Modernized public transportation (including LRT) is a key, corporate strategic priority that supports the concept of community building and economic development while enhancing connections to the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) through improved transportation networks and linkages to the planned GO Transit expansions at James Street North and Confederation stations.

[...]

In addition, LRT supports the City's Strategic Priority of becoming A Prosperous & Healthy Community and enhancing Hamilton's image, economy and well-being by demonstrating that Hamilton is a great place to live, work, play and learn.

[...]

Hamilton's B-Line is identified as a "Top 15 Priority Project" in the Metrolinx Transportation Plan, "The Big Move." Metrolinx completed a Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) demonstrating full LRT (starting with the B-Line) as the option that would generate the highest benefits for Hamilton and also be capable of accommodating the long-term travel demand growth in the corridor.

It is simply disingenuous to pretend puzzlement over what Rapid Ready says about making B-Line LRT a priority - the entire document is dedicated to the goal of implementing B-Line LRT.

At the meeting, City Manager Chris Murray was asked to clarify the intent and meaning of Rapid Ready. Councillor Brenda Johnson asked whether McHattie's motion to call the B-Line Hamilton's priority project conflicts with what Council already approved in Rapid Ready.

Murray's reply is long but I want to quote it in full so there's no question about what he said (emphasis added):

I think the point that's been made - and if I can, just indulge me just a little here to a little bit of context, and I'll get right specifically to your question - the reason why we wrote that report, first of all, we've been focused on the B-Line for some time. Many years, in fact, and investing heavily into the design of it with the understanding that we'd be moving ahead with that project subject to the Province agreeing to the funding as per the comments made earlier on 100 percent funding.

So that's been where we've been focused from a, certainly, from a staff perspective, and from the direction I think we got back in 2011, in the fall of 2011. One of the things that struck us was that it certainly, if the province chose to defer the building of the B-Line, there were other matters that we believe needed to be addressed here in Hamilton. But no question in our mind, we were worried that it was going to be potentially an all-or-nothing situation, so we requested and received direction from you to go away and come back with a report, which is what we've done.

What we've given you is a report that has a wide range of transit investments that we believe should be made in Hamilton at the end of the day. There isn't anything there that we would say is unimportant. So in terms of where we've been all along, 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. Okay?

But clearly Rapid Ready has added to that a number of other investments that, should they choose, should the Province choose to defer the B-Line to some later date, we are still there with our hand in the air saying, wait a minute, there are other things you should be investing here in Hamilton. That is it.

So that's the sum total motivation for the report and all of its options. And so to suggest to clarify at this point that you want to make clear, if there's any uncertainty around the priority of the B-Line, you are saying that the B-Line continues to be our focus. You are saying, I think, by this motion, that you want the Province to make a decision on the B-Line first - that subject to that, if they choose to advance the B-Line, then by all means do that. If you choose, for whatever reason, Province, to defer the B-Line to some other, we are still there with our hand in the air saying, do not pass us by. There are a bunch of other investments that we believe you should be making here.

That's, in essence, the motivation behind the report and that's what we think the report does for you. It puts the ball certainly in the Province's court to make a decision. We've done our homework, we are ahead of everyone else. You know, we think investing in transit, LRT specifically, in the City of Hamilton is something fundamental to our growth, and that, you know, it's really at the end of the day up to the Province to make a decision about what it is it wants to invest here in Hamilton.

But clearly we've been focused on the B-Line, and by you saying tonight you wish they make the first decision on the B-Line and investment, and if they choose to for whatever reason defer it, then we're saying we're still there wanting to see the other investments made as well.

The Objective is the B-Line

The Rapid Ready report is absolutely clear, as City Manager Chris Murray explained again last night: the objective is B-Line LRT. The report explains the steps the City needs to take to make the B-Line happen.

A project as big and complex as a 13 km LRT line has lots of challenges and necessary steps, and failure in any of those steps puts the project at risk. That's why it's crucial for such a project to have a political champion, someone who can steer it past the hurdles and see it to completion. I'll quote again from the McMaster Institute of Transportation and Logistics (MITL) LRT study:

A political champion can help to realize success by marshaling resources, building coalitions, and resolving disputes. Coordinating institutions, streamlining processes, and minimizing red tape are seen as crucial in implementing TOD projects and are dependent on strong political leadership.

But Bratina is abundantly not a political champion for LRT. As he has said on multiple occasions, he is a champion of all-day GO train service, of "keeping Hamilton affordable" (as he told CHML radio host Bill Kelly in July 2011), and of "careful use of taxpayers' money" (as he told the Spectator editorial board in December 2011).

When he said this past February that he will champion LRT now, he simply didn't mean it.

Whatever inscrutable, temperamental and mercurial process leads Bratina to support one idea and oppose another, it's painfully clear that he is opposed to the B-Line LRT and will continue to undermine it at every opportunity.

When he reads Rapid Ready, he cares only about finding reasons not to built the B-Line, so that's what he sees in the report. When the report says we need to boost ridership and optimize routing to ensure LRT success, a champion would steer policy so that happens. Bratina, by contrast, holds this up as a reason not to proceed.

Bratina is cherry-picking Rapid Ready in his latest tactic not to support LRT - the very investment that will create the circumstances for Hamilton to achieve its ridership and development goals.

Hamilton needs and deserves better than the petulant machinations of a childish Mayor.

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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus and HuffPost. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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By Clyde_Cope (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 14:25:34

I wish we could impeach the Mayor and get this embarrasment out of the council. He seems incapable of carrying forth the wishes of council and in extension the wishes of the citizens of Hamilton.

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By election (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 21:05:16 in reply to Comment 88187

We didn't have a chance to impeach L Di Ianni. We did have a chance to defeat him twice in mayoral elections and very soundly in a federal election where he lost worse than the average Liberal vote in the rest of Ontario--tho' Lar on his gift blog from the waterfalls man tortuously 'defended' himself. Election, folks

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 14:51:34

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By anon (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 02:29:10 in reply to Comment 88188

dude, are you unschooled, illiterate, challanged or loaded

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By Shelley (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2013 at 02:46:58 in reply to Comment 88209

Perhaps it is you who is illiterate? Challenged is spelled with an "e". And sentences begin with a capital and end with punctuation. But you would know that since you are so "schooled".

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 14:54:14 in reply to Comment 88188

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 17:44:13 in reply to Comment 88189

I think Clark's comments make sense in a perfect bureaucratic world where nothing but what is written matters.

However this isn't the case. What goes on in the media and how politicians react to it and the public's perception of it is a major element of politics and the political process, because if it's not at the very least acknowledged, you don't get relected.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 15:56:10 in reply to Comment 88189

I think both McHattie and Clark had good points. It's unfortunate (understatement) that it any of it was necessary. Merulla was right -- it's only become an issue because of Bratina's statements, particularly the "ultimatum" presented by Wynne. Either the Spec is wrong or the Mayor is wrong and given that neither is backing off of their position then someone is wrong, and it appear someone is lying. The wild thing is no one is taking it further.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 15:46:18 in reply to Comment 88194

I think no one is taking it further because Bratina knows the more he fights it, the dumber he looks and the Spec isn't fighting it because they've stated they are standing behind their editor, they know they are right and don't want to appear that they are gunning for Bratina specfically because they don't support him politically.

Bratina's doing a good enough of job by himself committing political suicide, he doesn't need the Spec to help him.

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By more bullying (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 15:53:47

Bratina went over to Chris Murray after his answer and said something threatening to him. I guess Bob the Bully didn't like getting schooled by his own city manager. The days of Bob and Chris chumming it up on the Bill Kelly show seem to be over.

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By j (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 15:55:38

the debate gets heated around the 2:30:00 mark in case anyone is watching

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By robert Bouskill (anonymous) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 20:34:58

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 02:35:12 in reply to Comment 88197

To answer your question, get you there faster, more reliably and cheaper then the existing 5 bus lines we have servicing King St. assuming that the initial startup costs are covered by the province.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 16:14:07 in reply to Comment 88210

Just to add, as good an idea the LRT project is, there is no way the City of Hamilton can go it alone on this project.

Regardless if you agree or disagree with the stadium development, is around a quarter of the cost of an LRT B Line and it put a substainial strain on the city's finances. I know there are many who is disagree with me on this one, but the benefits of an LRT do not justify the costs of a city having to service an $80,000,000 loan, which effectively would become another infrastrucutre cost, which we all accept is currently out of control in Hamilton.

If the Province or Feds aren't willing to shoulder the lions share of this development, it's not something we should be considering at this time. Just my two cents, like I said I'm sure many may disagree with me on this one.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-26 16:15:16

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 16:50:10 in reply to Comment 88228

I agree that the upper levels of government should be shouldering the lion's share of the costs. This is precisely why Bratina's one man anti-LRT campaign is so dangerous. Any appearance of hesitancy on our part could put that funding in jeopardy, and I'm sure Bratina knows it.

I'd just like to add that, while LRT may cost 4 times more than the stadium (are you sure that's correct? Sounds like a bargain to me!), it's spin off benefits will be an order of magnitude higher than those of the stadium. Frankly it would still be worth the investment IMO, but it's an investment we most certainly should not have to make on our own.

Comment edited by highwater on 2013-04-26 16:56:28

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 17:27:50 in reply to Comment 88230

The Pan AM stadium is comming in at a total price tag of $145.7 million (I initially though $200 but I appear to be mistaken) although a great deal of cost overuns are apparently worked into the number (although I doubt we'll be seeing a dime back from it).

We ended up having to put in $45 million, which nearly emptied the future fund. It's nice that despite the location debate (which I hope doesn't reopen as a result of this post) we are getting a new stadium for a faction of the cost. That being said, even financing that small fraction some would say strained our finanaces.

So a fifth or sixth is probably closer to the mark, or a sixteenth if you consider how much we put in for the stadium, which makes things far, far worse. I'm to understand the LRT is estimated at $800 million for a B-Line, so needless to say if the city tried to do it itself, it would be a recipe for disaster.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-26 17:33:02

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 17:37:02 in reply to Comment 88231

Another concern that should be raised, is how is the Province going to pay it's Lion's share? Certainly when a municipality gets to dip into high level coffers, it's a benefit for that city, as the whole of the province shares the burden, and Hamilton's LRT is a small burden compared to what Toronto and Missisauga are looking for.

That still being said, our Province is in a lot of debt right now, where are they comming up with the money? Sure they can raise it a lot easier with the larger tax base and crown corps, but this is a concern that Ontario is going to have to deal with soon. I get that infrastructure upgrading in the best way for a province and country can attract investment, but at what point to the debt levels reach a point where getting that under control becomes the priority?

That however, I think is a debate for another more provincial based website.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-26 17:37:14

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted April 26, 2013 at 01:02:09 in reply to Comment 88197

An LRT train operating on its own traffic light system and right of way will move you across the city much much faster than a conventional bus. It is not subject to traffic jams, stalled vehicles (with the exception of an very rare breakdown ON the tracks. It has a higher passenger capacity than a bus and because of the dedicated station stops along the route will stop less frequently than a bus and make more efficient use of its time on track.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 21:46:27 in reply to Comment 88197

Which king st. bus should I take?

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 21:55:25

Great job, Ryan.

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By Bob (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 22:20:40

1,1A,10,5,51.

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 23:24:12

Brad Clark is a bit of a Grumpy Gus, isn't he.

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By think first (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 06:30:56

given his chronic pain from arthritis, i am surprised by his clarity of thought and attention to detail

watch carefully and you will see the scowls are grimaces from pain and yet he never complains

i'll take grumpy over stupid any day

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 10:08:37

Wow! I thought Farr was gonna leap out of his seat and have a go at the mayor. That would have been great TV.

So, I wonder if we're going to hear exactly what his worship said to the City Manager. Weird, wild stuff.

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By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 13:24:40

After reading the Rapid Ready report, it is painfully obvious we will need to spend at least $10 million a year to improve ridership to the point we will be able to build and run a 14Km LRT route. The B-Line express bus service is the only route that breaks even, if not generate a small profit. The A-Line from the park-and-ride at the Airport to the Waterfront is also getting improved ridership, as it hooks in with the Go Station. The HSR has been run by the same person for decades, perhaps the HSR need new leadership.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 22:18:04 in reply to Comment 88218

The HSR has fewer bus-hours currently than it did in the 80s.

With the way costs have increased, I don't blame people for not wanting to pay more for less services.

All other cities have improved their transit, and seen increased ridership as a result. Hamilton cuts its services, and then wonders why no one takes the bus...

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 22:16:21 in reply to Comment 88218

That might be a little unfair, since the HSR doesn't necessarily get to decide how much funding it gets and can't necessarily set it's user fees with much freedom. The reality is that we should have been giving them the extra $10 million over the last few decades already.

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By Voice of Fire (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 14:03:44

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 21:15:07 in reply to Comment 88221

Don't know where these assumptions pop up from. There are plenty of successful examples of effective planning and implementation of LRTs and associated land use that our planners are fully aware of.

It's easier for a city like Hamilton to learn from these because we are so far behind. We're still stuck in the 60s mentality of planning streets and transportation. I cannot for the life of me understand why some want to get left further behind as all other surrounding municipalities continue to move ahead.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 20:22:19 in reply to Comment 88221

No, I'm pretty sure the idea is to reduce the number of busses servicing the Main/King line (of which we have five routes effectively) and maybe reorganize one or two so that they sweep specfic neighbourhoods that these lines used to service (I think Delaware is one) in a north/south direction with the LRT nodes as a prominent stop.

Basically instead of servicing several, long, spaghetti like bus routes, have the busses go through shorter, straighter routes to get people to the faster LRT.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 18:47:41 in reply to Comment 88240

Increased bus connectivity and frequency to the trunk line would be the ideal (and, arguably, logical) outcome, but it's not one that was prescribed in the Rapid Ready report:

"With implementation of LRT, an increase between $2.9 million (no increased ridership and 6.5 minute LRT headway) and $3.5 million (assumes an 8% city-wide increase in ridership and a four-minute LRT headway) in the transit portion of the City operating budget levy can be expected. There may be a need for some reduction in service frequency to fully utilize the available train capacity. This scenario also assumes the LRT system would be operated by the City of Hamilton and *eighteen buses would be removed from service.*"

Not sure how this would impact users west of McMaster. Presumably they'd need to preserve part of the 5 family (ie 5B, 5C, 52, 52A) in a modified form in order to maintain west-end local service. Otherwise they're stranding some of the very users who helped plump up the B-Line ridership numbers and complicating LRT adoption.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 26, 2013 at 19:04:11 in reply to Comment 88221

Um, you know that the Province is running the funding for the LRT, right? Which means that either way "we" will be paying for it. Those congestion fees or sales taxes or gas taxes or whatever are going to happen no matter what Hamilton builds.

Even if you think there are better ways to spend a billion than a B-line LRT, nobody asked you that. What the province is saying is "we'll spend a billion on an LRT here in Hamilton or somewhere else".

Asked that way, who the heck turns it down?

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 20:29:26 in reply to Comment 88238

I will say this, and it is a point Brad Clark raised.

It's certainly within the Provinces power to mandate that a municipality pay for it via thier own taxes, or to put in a munipical specfic gas tax/parking levy for a specfic peice of infrastructure in that city.

That being said, I doubt they would. An across the board tax makes them more revenue and they can point to specfic projects in several cities to address the need for increased taxation across the board. The possibility is there though.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-26 20:30:10

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 15:23:46

You know you've got a situation when Morelli worries about reining him in.

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/article/924793--dreschel-city-manager-shocked-by-bratina

http://home.cogeco.ca/~ccar/Issues/CCAR&Morelli.html
http://hallmarks.thespec.com/2007/02/morale_crisis.html

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By Amy Gringhuis (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 15:32:07

Great article! This is more thorough than anything reported in conventional media, so well done! Any advice on what the average citizen can do to hold the Mayor accountable to doing his job? If we're stuck with Bratina until the next election, what can we do to avoid our council from wasting time and money attempting to undo the damage and confusion he continues to stir up unnecessarily? Would it help to write e-mails to council? Anything else? I'm tired of sitting by and watching these schoolyard antics and want to do something--I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 23:39:55 in reply to Comment 88224

Yes and no, there's certainly many more facts given that Ryan has posted the video right from the debate in question, you can't really get much fresher from the source then that without being there.

However, the rest of the article certainly carries a very spartan tone (if only evidenced by the headline) compared to the more calm reporting in the local media such as Andrew Dreschel's more calm evisceration of Bratina.

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

That all being said, Bratina deserves every bit of it, and I wholly agree with the conclusions of both articles.

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2013 at 22:57:55

IN my view the last great Mayor was Sam Lawrecne, a man who stood by his princples. The workd ahs changed since his time.

I am surprrised that the many fall for the claptrap, the BS, we are constantly given.

Come on people, rise up!

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By apple (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 01:54:55

" First, he said his understanding of the City's "priority" is that we wanted to prioritize LRT over Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on the B-Line, not that we wanted to prioritize the B-Line LRT over, say, the A-Line."

The mayor wants to prioritize the A-line, James St. I don't know why, as it wouldn't have the ridership of the B-line. Maybe just to undermine LRT altogether. Odd.

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By conspiracyguy (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 02:40:58

Just a thought - but Bob has had a real hate-on for James since most didn't support him in the election. I could see the move to prioritize the A-line as a way to disrupt the upward and positive build taking place there. Supercrawl would have to be moved temporarily while construction takes place. Some businesses would close due to lack of traffic. Building owners sell at a cheaper price to developers after losing money due to empty storefronts and aggravated apt. renters. Just a thought.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 03:19:13 in reply to Comment 88251

I think your name does you credit. I think if you want to screw a neighbourhood, putting a substantial transportation investment that many who live there and frequent have been calling upon isn't the way to go about it.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-27 03:19:34

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By Funny (anonymous) | Posted April 27, 2013 at 19:23:14

Fujny that Sam Merulla called the Brat a bully. Does Sam know what a bully is? Here is a bully http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2012/06/clr-merulla-on-hamilton-waterfront.html

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By Steel City Rising Agsinst Poverty (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2013 at 02:52:23

Well, interesting cmments from the hoard. The problem is greater then what is discuseed here, you know idfficult questions and answers.

I like that issues are brought forward and discussed and the opportunity to see others vies on things.

Who stands behind the mayor, who is ti, the inner sanctum? We must as a community rethink things, however, given all things we are battling a uphill battle.

Can we break through all the PR?

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By me,me and me (anonymous) | Posted April 28, 2013 at 12:44:21

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 28, 2013 at 16:01:39 in reply to Comment 88267

Wait what? Which lie is that?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 30, 2013 at 21:40:45

The following is a good discussion of the limits of the "hard money" approach to debt. Essentially, governments issuing their own floating currency do not need to take the view that money has "intrinsic" objective value, unlike individual households and businesses:

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2012/...

"Governments, and in particular ones that issue a non-convertible, floating exchange-rate currency, have greater influence in determining the value and quantity of money when public spending is applied to maintaining and increasing overall social wealth. MMT theorists point out that monetarily sovereign governments are not constrained in issuing currency and can, if necessary, afford any goods and services sold in their currency. While currency-issuing governments cannot in their spending ignore international perceptions of the value of their currency, they can at any time spend money to support the national interest, though nations with economies in which many critical goods are produced abroad are most vulnerable to depreciation of the exchange rate of their currency in these situations and therefore to economically damaging inflation."

(MMT stands for Modern Monetary Theory, the theory of fiat money http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Mone...

It is also a good idea to represent Krugman's ideas accurately (he is not claiming governments should always run up debts!). Here is how he recently summarized his argument: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04...

  1. The economy isn’t like an individual family that earns a certain amount and spends some other amount, with no relationship between the two. My spending is your income and your spending is my income. If we both slash spending, both of our incomes fall.

  2. We are now in a situation in which many people have cut spending, either because they chose to or because their creditors forced them to, while relatively few people are willing to spend more. The result is depressed incomes and a depressed economy, with millions of willing workers unable to find jobs.

  3. Things aren’t always this way, but when they are, the government is not in competition with the private sector. Government purchases don’t use resources that would otherwise be producing private goods, they put unemployed resources to work. Government borrowing doesn’t crowd out private borrowing, it puts idle funds to work. As a result, now is a time when the government should be spending more, not less. If we ignore this insight and cut government spending instead, the economy will shrink and unemployment will rise. In fact, even private spending will shrink, because of falling incomes.

  4. This view of our problems has made correct predictions over the past four years, while alternative views have gotten it all wrong. Budget deficits haven’t led to soaring interest rates (and the Fed’s “money-printing” hasn’t led to inflation); austerity policies have greatly deepened economic slumps almost everywhere they have been tried.

  5. Yes, the government must pay its bills in the long run. But spending cuts and/or tax increases should wait until the economy is no longer depressed, and the private sector is willing to spend enough to produce full employment.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-04-30 21:55:20

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2013 at 09:56:54

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/marcus-gee-transit-debate-descends-into-debacle/article11805809/

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2013/06/20/allegations-about-name-calling-and-foul-language-discussed-at-meeting

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