Comment 96817

By MikeBelmore (registered) | Posted January 15, 2014 at 13:14:16

Bernie Morelli was not an "urban visionary" but he understood two very important things about local politics that the Richard Florida crowd often forget about:

1) Individuals and individual problems matter: By all accounts Morelli was as good a constituency politician as Hamilton has seen; if you called his office with an issue it was very likely to be resolved if it was within his power to do so (and sometimes even if it wasn't strictly or legitimately within his power to do so);

2) Having a vision is great, but in municipal politics, more than at any other level, you will accomplish only that which relationships, moral suasion and horse trading allow you to. There are no majority governments and no party discipline to impose visions which are not shared; City Councils are where the art of the deal reigns supreme, and again, by all informed accounts, Bernie was a past master of the deal.

The man was far from perfect and there are more than a few blemishes on his legacy. Bernie had his share of critics and I was very often among them, but he was indisputably a dedicated public servant and a ward politician who helped a lot of constituents that were not used to getting help. There is nothing in Code Red that you couldn't get a strong intuitive grasp of by walking the width and breadth of Ward 3, from the hardscrabble of Cheever St. to the sprawling comfort of St. Clair South. He was the son of a steelworker and although he was an ambitious man with multiple degrees, he never lost touch with the struggle of the working class and those further out on the margins.

The next Ward 3 Councillor is not going to be another Bernie Morelli and that's likely for the best. But before there was #HamOnt, before art was the new steel, there was the just plain old Hamilton where I grew up,a place with plenty of warts but a heart of gold. Bernie was that Hamilton through and through. It wouldn't hurt at all if his successor has a good bit of that Hamilton in them too.

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