Letters

McHattie Not Missing on Neighbourhood Issues

Craig Hermanson debunks the claim in a recent Spectator column that Brian McHattie has not paid enough attention to local residents.

By Letter to the Editor
Published November 08, 2006

The November 6, 2006 Hamilton Spectator column by Andrew Dreschel (McHattie's sure thing could be a close shave) goaded me to step into the election debate instead of quietly sitting behind LockeStreet.com.

The greatest source of my irritation was a quote from Tony Greco, which seemed to imply Brian McHattie has been MIA on neighbourhood issues. That's not True.

I agree with Dreschel on one thing, though: Tony is a genuinely nice guy. I enjoy visiting with him when I'm on the street or getting my haircut. As Nice as Tony is, I support Brian, who I believe has done an outstanding job representing our area and worked tremendously hard on a multitude of city issues affecting us all.

I know first-hand that Brian has been there on community issues, listened hard to constituents and held innumerable community meetings on the former CIBC building, infrastructure, community safety and business area development.

In April 2006, I contacted Brian about holding a meeting to discuss community views on the ongoing development of Locke Street. Brian's response was a visioning session held in March on this subject, followed by a second meeting in May regarding the format of a proposed expansion of the West Town Bar and Grill.

Brian sought out the community's vision for Locke Street, listened carefully to resident and business concerns, and has continued to work hard to mediate a solution. In the process, Brian shared with us his vision for the neighbourhood and community business development, and helped inform us on the issues.

While Brian has been accused in Dreschel's column of possibly ignoring constituent concerns, there were in fact so many meetings in Kirkendall I was only able to make it to a small portion of them.

Ironically, I don't recall seeing Tony at those meetings I attended, although as he is a leader of the Locke Street BIA agenda, I made sure Tony received personal invitations to the meetings I helped arrange.

Whatever the reason, Tony was absent from those community meetings while Brian politely and respectfully handled political hot potatoes.

The other item in Mr. Dreschel's column to raise my ire was the implication that Brian has wasted his time on the city's big picture at the expense of ward concerns. This is so inward-looking it boggles the mind. Since when did it serve our interests as residents of the city to ignore our next-door neighbours downtown?

When residents in more urban wards have to subsidize sprawl development and the annual ongoing cost to service each new suburban home is more than we can collect in taxes from these properties, how could it be in our interest for our councillor to ignore this issue?

Each time Brian acts as a member of the Board of Directors for the City of Hamilton, he does so on our behalf. I'll thank Brian with my vote on November 13.

Sincerely,
Craig Hermanson

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 13:40:04

Great points Craig,

As a representative of the Strathcona Community Council which meets every month, I can also confirm that Tony did not appear at a single meeting over the past 3 years until our most recent - at the start of the election campaign. Most people had no clue who he is. Who's MIA?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 13:41:38

quick correction...I am a Strathcona resident and attend Community Council meetings. I didn't mean for that to sound like I was speaking on behalf of the Community Council. Brian attended every meeting and Tony didn't attend a single one.

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By bah dreschel (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 15:48:55

Man that Dreschel is a nasty piece of work. Has he got no integrity at all?

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By Locke (registered) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 16:44:35

Thanks for the feedback so far.

I chose in my letter not to focus on any bias in Dreschel's column. Instead I felt compelled to point out we've had a ton of community input and attention while Brian has been our Councillor in Ward 1. To suggest otherwise is misrepresenting the facts. When discussing this with my nine year old son he wisely noted, "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Regarding Dreschel's column: I think Brian ably handled himself on the charge he has been MIA and deftly defended the necessity to work on broader city issues through Brian's words which Dreschel was balanced enough to include in his column.

I enjoy Dreschel's writing for the craft of it, though I might have to stop combining reading with my coffee as it is hard on my heart. However, if I had taken issue with the column itself, my concern would be more that story wasn't just about a 'real race developing', but more a portrayal of David and Goliath with the quaintly common man surprising the smugly overconfident and out of touch ivory tower dreamer. Some of the balance provided by positive comments about Brian were, quite frankly, a little backhanded.

So far the reaction to my letter has been one where all sorts of people -- even people with Greco signs, not just those of us with a Smoked Salmon in the freezer -- have responded by saying that the attack on Brian was unfounded and unfair. The quote appears to be backfiring.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 19:40:01

I think Mr Dreschel may have inadvertantly done McHattie a favour. All the McHattie supporters who thought he was a shoe in may be motivated to get out to the polls if they think he's in trouble. At least I hope so, because I do think he's in trouble. I attend alot of community meetings in Westdale and he is ALWAYS there. I don't know how he does it. He seems to be in three places at once sometimes. It is difficult to imagine 'Mr. Tony' even comprehending a tenth of the issues McHattie's involved in let alone doing anything about them.

If you're a McHattie supporter, get out and vote! A McHattie loss will be a blow not just for our ward, but for the entire city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 08, 2006 at 22:23:37

I'm with you....I attend meetings in Strathcona and he is always there. He responds to neighbourhood issues and has a great handle on the ward. If he gets beat by Tony, it would only take people about 6 months to realize what a mistake was made....we'd have to go back to being unimportant citizens like many folks in other wards.

Personally, I think he'll win. The big issues in the ward have been dealt with brilliantly by him - most notably having Main St designated for high rise student buildings in order to give single homes in Westdale back to families. He's Hamilton's best councilor in my opinion. Heck, my wife doesn't really follow politics like I do, but even she can't believe how good of a job Brian has done.

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By Larry Di Mayor (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2006 at 17:13:48

I hope and pray "Mr. Tony" gets in.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 09, 2006 at 19:47:34

I just got back from the Ward 1 debate. Brian is hands-down the best candidate of the bunch. Mr. Tony had an interesting idea that seemed to raise the ire of the crowd. He said he wasn't really a fan of seeing student housing on Dundurn or Locke (no kidding), but instead suggested that McMaster take advantage of all the land they have behind the campus along Cootes Paradise for student housing.

Now we know he wasn't kidding when trying to demonize Brian for caring about the environment. Imagine the next 'Trees Across Hamilton' planting along Cootes with university student couches and 3 week old piles of garbage enhancing the surroundings. That'll make for some cool photo-ops.

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By Locke (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 09:58:34

The difference between Brian and the other contenders was clearest in Brian's knowledge of the issues and the detailed specifics of what his actions have been and the course he would continue. One might say, Brian was a 'Grounded Realist' while the others were on the side of 'Lofty Angels' when it came down to how people would tackle the issues.

Honestly, the biggest disappointment to me was a tendency to beat up on McMaster and the students. Both Fred Spencer and Brian were willing to say Mac is economically important to Hamilton and Ward 1 but acknowledge the problems very fast growth has caused. Only Brian was able to point to what is being done and knowledgeably suggest a path for solving housing issues in the area.

As Jason said, Brian was the clear winner.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 10:15:57

I agree with you about Mac. I mean I know there are problems, but we shouldn't be beating up on the school. It does a lot more good than bad. Balance is the key. Not bitter feuding. I'm sure folks in East Hamilton would be thrilled to trade the steel mills for McMaster in their neighbourhood.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 10, 2006 at 18:11:58

Just wanted to comment that on several occasions, I and friends of mine have emailed Brian's office about small concerns here and there and we have always, ALWAYS received a prompt reply, usually directly from him, and usually with specific information about what is being done about the concerns at hand (not just a generic "thanks for youtr note"). It is really nice to know that he is listening.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 10, 2006 at 18:18:58

you're right Sean. I think that's why Cooke and Caplan et all are supporting Tony's campaign. They don't believe that citizens should have so much input and say into how their neighbourhoods or city is run. They'd rather we vote once every 4 years then just shut our mouths.
Brian has been a fabulous councillor and for that reason alone I believe he'll win on Monday. Unless you're a close friend or family member of Fred or Tony, you'd have a tough time voting out Brian.

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By citizen (registered) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 00:12:20

I was at the ward 1 all candidates meeting and must agree that Brian was the clear winner. He always looked interested and alert, answered questions clearly and concisely with details about what he has already been doing and aims to do in the future.

I must admit that I have some sympathy to Spencer's views, but to say he is gaffe prone is a bit of an understatement.

I must note that Spencer and Brian seemed to get along quite well during the debate.

About Mr Tony. When I could understand what he was saying I was shocked by his views. Developing Cootes Paradise? Give me a break. If anything we should be spending money to clean up and re-habilitating the RBG trails that have fallen into disrepair over the years.

Also this isn't directed to just Mr Tony, but many candidates at the debate seemed to think that you can take a student house and turn it back into a family home in a snap. There is no such thing as a cheap house in Westdale and most if not all student houses would need a major investment of capital to bring them back up to "snuff". In fact many "family" homes in Westdale require major updating of all their electrical, plumbing, windows, etc.

I know of one family who bought a house in Westdale from a Professor who had let a HOLE develope in the roof.

It's sad to say that it's so Hamilton/Canadian to bitch and whine about McMaster as a major cause of problems in our city, when it is in fact one of the best things we have going.

It would be nice if the -30 year old crowd would get out, vote and make our voices known so that the old and cantankerous individuals with far too much time on their hands would stop driving public policy and debate to the extent that they do.

One can only imagine that a significant reason why McMaster is looking at a Burlington campus is to get away from a mouth that constantly bites each time it's being fed.

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By Finance Questions for Greco (anonymous) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 10:24:05

Last night (Fri, Nov 10) I received a pre-recorded message from Mary Kiss and Terry Cook endorsing Tony Greco. Eloquent, Professional and probably expensive.

Thursday the 9th, I was at the debate where the question of election financing and backers came up.

Tony called himself the ordinary citizen and claimed that all of the money he had put into this campaign so far was his own. He promised to reveal any donations that come in between now and the election after the election as required by law. (At least, that's what I think he was saying.)

Excuse me for being a cynic, but how much would all of those signs, colour pamphlets, and computerized calling of the ward cost? His own money. I don't think so.

Do you believe that Tony's well-heeled supporters would simply give him a pat on the back and smile for the photographs, or do you believe he already has their money and has already lied to us?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 11:50:36

nice choice of endorsements by Tony. I hope that phone message makes it to every single home in the ward. it should help seal the deal for Brian once people realize who's behind Tony's campaign.

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By (anonymous) | Posted November 11, 2006 at 14:03:29

I recieved that call. Such insincere nonsense from a has-been and a nasty manipulator. Hardly ringing endorsements. I agree they are expensive and one wonders where all the money for Greco has come from?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 12, 2006 at 15:18:11

I received that automated call today too. What a joke. Notice how the 2 speakers didn't give their names....I'm proud to say I live in Ward 1 and those two know that their names would harm Tony's campaign more than help. Unfortunately he needed their money train...you can't have the money without the baggage. If Brian wins tomorrow it will be a great day for democracy and a fine example to show others that hard work and good leadership can win an election more than the developer/special interest money trail.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 12, 2006 at 17:33:50

Glad I'm not the only one with questions about Mr. Tony's backers. I called his office Thursday to ask them if they'd be revealing his list of donors before the election and was told it would be up on the website this weekend. Then I attended the Ward 1 debate and heard him claim that he had no donors and wouldn't reveal anything till after the election. I hopped up to ask him to clarify, but unfortunately they ended the questions before they got to me. In retrospect I should have gone up to the moderator and pleaded with her to allow my question as I believe it was a very important one. Alas. I called his office the next day for clarification and the 'gentleman' who answered the phone told me that he had been at the debate also, and that Mr. Tony had not claimed that he had no donors. Could have fooled me. That's certainly what he insinuated. I asked again if he would be making his list public before the election and he assured me again that it would be up on the website this weekend. Well I just checked and - surprise, surprise - no list. Can't wait for March 31. I'll be there with pencil, ruler, and abacus. The Joanne Chapman of Ward 1.

Now go vote.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 12:48:49

Donor list finally up on Mr. Tony's site. Apart from a maximum donation from LIUNA, it seems his high-profile supporters didn't pony up.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 16:51:15

what is cooke capital corporation??
"you grow it, we pave it" ??

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By smoke this salmon (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 21:39:31

Polls closed for Ward one, and it's McHattie by a landslide!!!

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By citizen (registered) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 23:47:34

Cootes Paradise is safe!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 23:49:18

Ha ha...love the screen name - smoke this salmon. The Spec is going to hear about it for this. Anyone who lives in Ward 1 knew it would be a landslide. I told my wife this morning that I was expecting Brian to double Tony. Sure enough.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 14, 2006 at 01:24:57

Ah. Right you are. I missed Cooke Capital. Speaking of Terry Cooke, did you see the look on his face when Fred squeaked through? He looked like his grandmother had just died. Couldn't even muster a half-smile for the camera. I'm off to celebrate. What kind of wine goes with smoked salmon and gloating?

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By citizen (registered) | Posted November 14, 2006 at 01:40:17

Cootes Paradise is safe!

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 15, 2006 at 13:16:22

Highwater, I saw Cooke's face - I was at a bar watching the results come in and the television had no sound on, so staring at the faces of the hosts was the best I could do to try and figure out what they were saying.

He started out the evening all smiles but as the night wore on and first McHattie built a big lead (Cooke supported Greco and even starred in a robocall for him) and then Eisenberger kept see-sawing into contention, the smile started to fade. A pained look appeared on his face, as though he was struggling to swallow a large vegetable whole - perhaps it was his pride. The facial contortion he was able to make looked less like a smile and more like a grimace, perhaps even a gag reflex. It was a remarkable study in body language. I kept expecting him to bolt from the podium so he could down a few straight whiskys at the local watering hole.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 15, 2006 at 13:59:22

Oh my God. Perfect description. Too bad the sound was down though. You missed a couple of classic lines like "We knew McHattie was popular with academics and environmentalists, but we didn't realize how much he had reached out to ordinary families." and "The suburban polls haven't reported in yet. We'll see Larry's lead open up when the suburban results start coming in." Of course, in the end it was the suburbs that went for Eisenberger. As if Fred winning weren't great enough, Cooke's reaction was the icing on the cake. What a night.

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By steeltown (registered) | Posted November 15, 2006 at 15:04:05

Yea it was great watching Cooke's face the whole night hahaha

He had all his bets on each ward and mayor. He had McHattie to win. The funny part was that he had D'Amico win for ward 8 which is Cooke's buddy. D'Amico also just happens to be LIUNA's spokesperson hmmm wonder who financed his campaign. Of course D'Amico lost.

Everyone at the station betted on Di Ianni to win. The funny part was when they talked to a CHML reporter and he was all like "oh Di Ianni a massive landslide win for sure!" then after awhile they go back to him and he's speechless.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 15, 2006 at 17:33:11

at one point Cooke even talked about how hard it was going to be for Fred to lose such a close race. He said "I'd rather be blown out of the water than lose a tight one. Fred's camp will be torn because they did a good job, but in the end still came up short." And you'll recall his Spec article a couple of weeks ago predicting who would win and which races would be close etc..... arrogance is the first downfall of a declining 'empire' (not to get weird on you) and the 'big money empire' in Hamilton clearly showed their arrogance through this campaign. And like all arrogant and proud 'empires', they fell.

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