Bob Green Innes,


curmudgeon

Hamiltonian by birth & occupation!  

.... seeking to restore values, traditions, institutions, laws and protections Canadians once enjoyed
      .....lost by apathy
          ..... but stolen nonetheless




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TAGS

FCP, CAP, Election 2011

Bank of Canada (BOC)

Money - create, inflate, deflate, banks

Fluoridation

LRT 1ST, Latest

Stadium, Ti-Cats, Pan-Am

student debt, OSAP

Light bulbs, ban

Green

Other

Tiger Leeches score Touchdown - Blog 18a - click to jump

Response received from Clr Sam Merulla - click to jump

News Flash - Pan Am Cost Blowup - Blog 18b - click to jump

Council's Craziness Spawns Creativity
- Blog18c

Stadium decision - My Belated Reaction, but no cartoons. Sam Merulla speaks again. Bizzaro Bankers.

- Blog18c Feb13, 2011, Updated Nov 12, o11

My reaction to the stadium decision had to wait till I waded through the complicated Fluoridation issue, and then I got sidetracked by the fascinating straddle bus. I had wanted to do a cartoon reaction but the limitations on my bandwidth and my own artistry.... well, perhaps later. But if you close your eyes and imagine a cart before a horse, that will do for now. That is what council has done. Politicians pretend to think new stadia will bring business so they have a photo op in a few years. The resulting tax burden then goes (stays) higher than surrounding competitors which instead, drives business away just as it has for decades. The piper must be paid.

On Tuesday this week, I bundled myself off to Sam Merulla's ward meeting. His comments on the stadium certainly reminded me of someone drinking kool-aid with something in it. Basically, he talks fast and is very effective at controlling a meeting.

I brought up my usual concern about money, interest, and what's happening to so many other countries. Sam does not want to hear about what is happening elsewhere - like, lets just stick to Hamilton issues. I have a carpet where I sweep stuff when I don't want to deal with it, but is that really the best way to run a city?

He also said, in response to my idea about using the Future Fund to pay down our debt, that Hamilton has about $500 million in reserves and waxed eloquent about how Hamilton is in much better financial shape than other cities. He seemed very proud of this bizarre accomplishment. I'll tell you about his response in November below.

Bizarre because do taxpayers understand that they have been fleeced in order to give politicians a huge slush fund? And huge it is. The Reserved Fund Investment Report states that "The total return of $42.9 million was realized on an investment of $750,642,769. The actual return on asset cost was 5.72% ($46.3 million)." (For some reason I've not yet fathomed, the reserves noted of Appendix A of the financial report listed reserve funds of $484m on pg 9, or 512m on p26??? - closer to Sam's number). Note that whichever number we use, the reserve represents either more, or somewhat less, than a year of tax revenues ($670m). If you had a year's salary sitting in the bank, wouldn't you be thinking about paying off your mortgage? Rainy day fund is one thing, half a billion is over the top. It just sits there tempting everyone to figure out ways of getting their mitts into it. So spending $120mill for something not a whole lot better than the old one hardly needs justification, no?

The good news is that the return on investment is a darn sight better than the rates you and I get on our bank accounts but the bad news is that things that money will buy is inflating even faster. Just you watch the cost of the stadium balloon from here. The other bad news is that the 'mortgage' payment on our debt ($309 + 93 = 402 million) that is listed on p 36 chews up 40.17m/yr (principal of 25.5m plus interest of 14.7m). This works out to 4.8% on $303m (at simple interest) which makes Hamilton look brilliant in negotiating good rates on both ends - as long as it isn't set up like the infamous ARMS mortgages in the US, or more ABCP, or interest rates don't skyrocket like they did in the 80s and are now in Europe's PIIGS.

Further on the bad news front, I was horrified to see in the reserve report, that Hamilton is holding ACBPs to the tune of $80.1+9.9 million. Remember that crap that blew up a few years ago? Indeed, page 2 outlines how some is under litigation and some got 'restructured' which is legalese for taking a hit on interest payments, which after all was the purpose. If you managed to plow through my Money risk blog, you understand what actually went down - that by the time Hamilton gets out from under, it's principal will not be worth nearly what it was at the beginning. The financial report contains this line item: "Decrease (increase) in investments 73,861 [2009] (165,854) [2008]". On the bright side, the city managed to earn 31% on its small "ONE Funds equity account". I had no idea that cities could invest in stock based(?) equity funds . Or maybe its a Madoff type scam. After all, if you get relatively high interest, you get it for assuming more risk. What's in that ONE thing anyway? More digging required on several items.

Now I can sort of see why Sam is so nonchalant about interest. The problem is that, if one considers what is happening all around us, it appears that this situation cannot remain so benign. Many countries are experiencing sharp interest rate increases and one reads about austerity measures and cutbacks in many jurisdictions. Sam, we are in a low interest rate bubble that is unravelling around the globe.

Update: At the November meeting I raised the same issue, this time prompted by Hamilton's planned .8% tax increase. Talk about adding insult to injury. Have wages in Hamilton's east end been raised (when US Steel/ Stelco is STILL strikebound? Sam's response, other than being nonchalant once again, was along the lines that Hamilton residents pay on average $3500 in tax which is a small fraction of the overall tax one pays, maybe 5%. So sit down and shaddup. Gad Sam talks fast but the point is fair enough. Trouble is everything is about to change as things continue to melt down. Even fairly dense folks are starting to worry and in the meantime, a new Occupy Wall Street has sprung up, even in dusty old Hamilton. I was shocked to learn that Ontario, which is funding much of the Stadium, has a deficit "bigger than that of California, America’s basket case. In per capita terms, it is more than three times as high: $1,840 to $541." Ontario's debt amounts to $50,000 per worker, the Fed's another $25,000.

Does anyone really think Sam's point will still be valid in 10 years when the stadium is finished? If so, comment here and tell me why.

One last thing. Having such huge reserves requires Hamilton to keep a high priced financial manager. Paying off our debts and giving taxpayers a break might leave him with little to do. Horrors.

Stay tuned

B Green Innes


Council's Craziness Spawns Creativity

- Blog18c

RTH reported today that council, confronted by exorbitant cost increases and unwilling to just walk away from the deal, decided to proceed conditional to a cost cap.

The estimated cost of the Ivor Wynne renovation is $156.5 million - $174.5 million. With $115 million on the table, the plan is short $36.5 million - $54.5 million.

Of all the comments made, I'll go with RenaissanceWatcher who concluded

Today's decision by Hamilton city council will probably result in community sized Pan Am soccer stadium being built in Mississauga or Brampton.

That would be an excellent result although the momentum in Hamilton is still too strong for comfort. It ain't over till you know what happens.

Another article focuses on developing something in the West Harbour site and posits some very interesting logic that shows how Hamilton can extricate itself from this mess.

Graham Crawford shows how his developer friends scope out the opportunity to find what looks like a $21.4 million profit potential (before land, remediation) in a west Harbour condo-commercial complex ($33 million costs for 168 units plus 12,000 square feet commercial). Since developers won't touch the brownfields, Hamilton's future fund needs to be tapped. Makes sense to me.

But why can't the city be the developer since it already owns the land and has the Future Fund as seed capital? Why can't the city make a profit for heaven's sake? Forget the stadium. Crawford has shown us how the city can dig itself out of its hole. Build a project, make a profit, flip, rinse, repeat until brownfields are gone. Crawford posits that three such developments will provide enough stimulus in the West Harbour. Let the city act as that stimulus, not by taking a bath on an unneeded stadium but by providing a great sounding mix of commercial-residential.

Remediation is the key. If Toronto Hydro's office on Commissioners Street can be used as a template, the project seems eminently do-able. They capped the land and put the building on stilts so there is an air separation (parking lot) to prevent gassy problems. Another RTH article outlines other creative solutions. That's what we need - more creativity.

So good job Graham, and others. If proper creative thinking can over-rule idiotic ego driven schemes, Hamilton can make good on its potential. Please help build this city by opposing the stadium plans and putting your support behind a city built habitable development.


News Flash - Pan Am Cost Blowup

- Blog18b

CBC news reported yesterday that costs for the Toronto portion of the Games had doubled. They were blaming it on having to clean up an old landfill. Anybody who believes this should reflect on yesterday's other cost news - first class mail to go from 57c to 59c. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, none of this comes as any surprise. It's called the gravy train. Con artists always understate the costs. Gummerment con artists achieve this by understating inflation. They've been telling us that inflation is 2% or so. Now they want us to pay an extra 3.5% for stamps, according to my old calculator. Do I need a new one? Can anyone still do long division in their head? Two divided by 57. Yup. 3.5%.

I keep pounding the table about the real statistics as you can only get from non-gummerment sources like shadowstats.com. They say its closer to 10%, albeit in USD. Our soaring loonie is keeping inflation here a bit lower here. We also have to keep in mind that Canada Posts costs are mostly labour which may explain why they are able to keep the increase to "only" two cents. We all know that labour is getting the short end of the stick (even if posties are doing a bit better than average). Besides, when did they last build a stadium on which our costs are based? Now they get all complicated by talking about a half and half job (half new, half reno) and who really knows what the cost will be until the bids come in. Plus all the extras without which no contractor worth his salt can live without.

Speaking of contractors, homeowners know how tough they all can be when it comes to money. But the gummerment cost-dance is a joke. Don't you think the contractors who will bid on this thing will understand the deadline effect? The politician under pressure effect? The unlimited creditworthiness of gummerment effect? The pizzazz effect? . . . . . Pizzazz? Yes, pizzazz. You don't think just anyone can build the fancy kind of monuments that international showmanship demands, do you? Maybe our stadium really could be built for the $125 M but can it after all those nice architectural details pay homage to whatever hero du jour they can invent in our star studded promo system. Want Terry Fox? It'll cost a bundle. Hamilton is generous, no?

Where did that $125m cost come from anyway? The original was going to be $150m. Lop off 20m land cost, divide the cost in half for half a stadium and add 10m for renovating half the old stadium. Does that not make $75 million? Lets add on 1/3 fudge factor and its still 25m short of what they're telling us. The whole Pan Am thing is just another taxpayer ripoff. Since taxpayers aren't hissing too much, one guesses they don't mind a bit more plucking.

But this taxpayer is hissing. Anyone else?

Stay tuned

B Green Innes

January 18, 2011


If you're too rushed to read, just click the LISTEN button.

Tiger-Leeches Score Touchdown

- Blog18a

Not content with being subsidized a paltry few million by us every year, last night the Ti-Cats persuaded council to jump on the new scheme to get the Future Fund football into the endzone.

But first, this news from China.

China was reported in a BBC podcast to be building a city about the size of Hamilton - 350,000. Its mission will be to satisfy one third of the world's demand for laptops. The timeline was not mentioned but in less than five years as discussed in the same podcast, China has developed from scratch, its own high speed rail industry with the goal of building the world's fastest train (500 kph). This is what the competition is doing.

In the meantime what has Hamilton done - besides losing so many businesses I've lost track? Seems we've spent the last two years being completely tied up trying to figure out where to put a stadium for the occasional pleasure of some dedicated fans. Not to mention all the other grand schemes on our minds. Who is minding the store? Nobody is figuring out how to stop the business drain or get the city's revenue base back onto the shoulders of wealth generators (industrial, commercial) - who at present only carry 20%, leaving about 80% on the backs of homeowners - the highest percentage in the land.

The city-vision contrast cannot be more stark. Shallow entertainments and instant gratification vs. good business, long term thinking, boldness and well earned confidence based on real products for real customers. We will continue to send them our money while we whine about how unfair it all is.

Logic, Not

For Hamilton's latest chapter in this fiasco, I pin the tail on donkey Merulla . His donkey laden speech endorsing the new stadium plan is a complete turnaround from his earlier opposition to a stadium, at least in my simple mind, if not in his. His Machiavellian rationale seems more like mumbo jumbo. Something about the $20 million IW demolition (or renovation) cost was going to be on our tax base so adding $100 million to the project cost is a better deal for the taxpayer?? He says we can't build enough houses on the site to recoup that $20 million. Really? Wouldn't we get 'paid' by not having to subsidize the Tiger-Leeches any longer? Let 'em go. Balsilie is rich enough to put them in Waterloo. Maybe someone can explain this to me as I just don't get how spending $120 million (and blowing out our FF) is better than spending $20 million (over 20 years), even if the fuzzy word "renovation" is added to the title. Spending is spending - the Future Fund is not free money, it is the sweat of our brow. I can understand the logic that Hamiltonians will benefit for two years of having Moosonee residents help pay our construction workers to build this bauble but taxpayers only have one pocket. Taxes are taxes. In my implacable opinion, the whole business of shifting payors around like peas under the magician's cup only gives rise to skimming, opportunism, unfairness, manipulations and unwise expenditures. And possibly corruption.

Same thing goes for the Future Fund, a pot rich enough to make greedy developers to salivate over. Any trick that works is good for that crowd. This money is now garnering maybe 1% interest. Woop-de-doo. Meanwhile, Hamilton already carries about $400 million in debts on which we pay interest at least 4 times higher. Duh. We could save 3 or 4 percent just by using the Future Fund to pay down some debt. But that concept is too simple for elitist councillors who we pay to manipulate us into thinking that their wants should trump our needs. The Spectator is accessory to that crime. Neither cares for the long term welfare of Hamilton and its people.

The larger picture

This is amazing at a time when PIGS are falling like dominoes. Make that PIIGGS if you don't mind a little double counting. I hope we are all aware enough to know what PIGS stands for and why these countries are having so much difficulty. But if you just got back from planet Uranus, you may not know that those gummerments' greed and hubris caused vast overspending and a build-up of debt which led to failure, bailouts and austerity measures. Technically, most Western countries, states, counties and cities are bankrupt. Canada dodged the first bullet (fired by crooked bankers south and east), and we, like our Hockey Juniors, think ourselves to be invincible.

Not so. Ontario is $220billion in the hole, last time I looked, which is a $50,000 mortgage on the back of every worker. Add $25,000 Federal Debt. By 2017, Hamilton will be the hole about $700 million. Nobody is looking at this slo-mo tsunami which will soon engulf us one way or another.

Consequences

Once we have vaporised the Future Fund, the fun will begin. Interest rates will rise, just as they are now for the PIGS. The Loonie will (continue to) be driven up by oil (and Uncle Ben's Helicopter maneuverings) putting Ontario manufacturers under extreme pressure. Small businesses, which are already feeling the pinch will go critical. That means worry, layoffs, closures, cutbacks - and fewer spectators. Tax revenues will plummet as the Debt (bond) vigilantes smash all improvident borrowing with higher interest rates. Interest payments on that $700million could easily double or triple. At 10% that's 70 million. At 15% (like my old mortgage), that's $135 million EACH AND EVERY YEAR. Instead of being prudent and getting our house in order now during this intermission in the unfolding economic drama, we are still at the punch bowl, still drinking the koolaid laced with hypnotic dreams and wild schemes, mesmerised and distracted by the Spectator and other vapid entertainments.

It's now or never folks. Either you put voice and action to your concerns or their next touchdown will win the game and spending madness will smash our wellbeing to smithereens. Your silence gives your consent (Plato). Nobody will be spared - except the rich. Bob Young will still have his. Who will get yours? Speak now or forever hold your peace/ pieces.

Stay tuned

January 14, 2011

B Green Innes


Can Hamilton Innovate?

- Blog #5

Vital question on Raise The Hammer.

Lots of great ideas posted - illustrates the benefit of the blogosphere.

  • stop greenfield development
  • focus the inno center PierB
  • game points for health, local food, innovators?
  • diversity, energy conservation, green spaces,
  • cheap rent
  • selective subsidizing
  • dynamite city hall!
  • court intellectuals, creatives
  • clean up, eliminate one way,
  • lower property taxes
  • residential units? face-the-street? toxic cleanup, city to rent biz units
  • Remote Surgery, automotive tech, Steel tech, Nuclear Medicine, OCAD
  • Health care center
  • shutter steel, "gritty" spinoff aka Parkdale, regional transit,
  • Steel Research,
  • Hamilton must want the change
  • Stop listening to snake oil salesmen
  • Innovation Factory, Eight
  • Affordability, Entertainment, Access to clients, money, research, tech, visionaries
  • import dna (brains)
  • liaison officer / one stop
  • James North = seed of change
  • Glen Murray presents Wednesday, think global vs think local
  • National initiatives (research, etc), good research here,
  • necessity mothers invention - less gummerment, more 'stress'
  • find ways to integrate based on good old fashioned local proximity.
  • startup spaces, live-work
  • commercial waste policies./ recycling
  • GorePark attraction vs King Street Rush
  • CityJoe list infrastructure problems
  • higher welfare payments, less gummerment

Again, a great example of what the blogosphere does best. One would never see a list like this in the Spectator, our local rag. They would edit out the ideas they didn't agree with, or if unavoidable, such as reporting on a meeting, would use language to ensure the reader understood just how stupid an idea was considered by experts. In other words, the media prejudges and filters everything. That might not be so bad except their filter includes the interests of their main source of revenue - advertisers, but I digress.

The ideas I liked best are the problem busting things like addressing red tape, taxes, etc. These are also the cheapest and fastest as no building/ little money is required. I like to call this the power of negative thinking - the first job of any renovator is to remove useless crap and unneeded surfaces to 'see what you've really up against'. The problem is that folks don't like such negative thinking because it involves criticism. One needs criticizers to identify the bad stuff.

Folks also fear what will happen if regulatory crap is removed. The NIMBY thing. Do we live and let live or do we insist on using the club of gummerment to keep people in line? I lean toward the former but there's a lot of selfish people around.

I also lean toward poster Undustrial's view that without so much regulation/ old boy stuff/ city hall bumbling/ Spectator judgementalism, etc., that our local folks will naturally find something interesting to do with themselves. We can't predict what pearl will grow from a grain of sand. But you gotta keep gummerment away from the grains of sand! Exception is horn blowing which our new mayor should excel at.

As for the more positive ideas such as cleaning up/fixing up, since these involve money in a constrained financial environment, we have to understand that we must utilize marginalised resources to keep costs down. In a city that needs so much, why do we pay people to sit at home? This sacred cow needs attending to. RTH's Libertarian poster, A. Smith, usually has something to say, (albeit with that one dimensionality of all Libertarians!) and is then set upon by the more left leaning posters. The RTH, like many blogs, provides a voting system for this purpose. I never said the blogosphere wasn't a raucous place! However, he makes a valid point about the effect of public expenditures diverting money away from private investment - and then to my surprise, suggests that welfare payments be increased using monies diverted from gummerment programs.

Finally, despite my Scottish reluctance to spend money, Hamilton needs some excitement, something exciting that can be made for not too much but will give a positive image that transcends our problems. Our harbour and escarpment are obvious foci. Why do we not make these exciting? There must be a hundred possibilities. Real life climbing wall. Zip line from the old Tamahac down to Mac?? Skating on the bay - poorly done at present. Skating trail like St. Donat in PQ. Uli's stairs are one grain of sand that is already a pearl, imo (but look what the city did with that one. Little cost. Big potential (lost for us sleepy Canuks that allowed US liability rules to rule us.)

Someone needs to blow the cobwebs outta this joint. If we don't see any action soon, I hope we can make some noise about it.

:-)

Stay tuned.

Nov 2010.

B Green Innes


Have your say

Comments Received

Any comments I might insert will be in square brackets [ ] and are intended only as clarification. I will reserve the option of fixing spelling, punctuation, etc as needed for clarity.

Clr Sam Merulla says . . . .

The important distinction with the Ivor Wynne renovation is the fact we are now fully renovating Ivor Wynne without losing assessment growth with city-building characteristics, an anchor tenant and doing so without a 35 to 120 million dollar deficit.

Also the total city commitment is approximately 20 million more on capital than the 2007 renovation plan however this plan has no general levy impact ie taxes as a result of using the Future Fund and I am committed to eliminating the 1.3 million dollar annual subsidy provided to the Cats thereby mitigating the tax impact significantly and obtaining a newly refurbished stadium with a sustainable tenant.

Furthermore please read my prepared position and assessment related to the stadium debate from day one.

Many thanks for taking the time to provide me with your input. From my perspective the foundation of the problem is that the Toronto Pan Am games bid has been fueled by emotion and based on wants rather than needs of our community. The original purpose was to create a legacy for amateur sport first and foremost and now it is simply providing a new stadium for the private for-profit Ti Cats without any city-building characteristics. My contention has always been that if the Ti-Cats cannot afford the old stadium how would they afford a new stadium? Well the answer was provided by the Ti-Cats with the East Mountain proposal and now Longwood which changed the original purpose to simply creating a legacy for the Ti-Cats and a potential professional soccer team in partnership with a private developer(s). This relationship with the developer(s) is what in essence allows the Ti-Cats to become sustainable but only leveraging public dollars and with a capital deficit of approx 120 million which benefits the Ti-Cats and developer(s) but not the local taxpayer.

Therefore the issue of sustainability is only realistically addressed at Ivor Wynne and the business challenge of the Ti-Cats is to fill the nearly 30 thousand seats available to them at a publicly subsidized Ivor Wynne. The issue of a new stadium is not the answer to the Ti-Cats sustainability. The issue of sustainability is addressed in providing a product on the field that creates a demand for tickets and the necessary revenue to become and remain sustainable. Therefore a renovated Ivor Wynne and a sold out stadium for all Ti-Cat home games is the answer and the most prudent initiative for all to pursue which is not what some people want but I believe that is what they need.

I believe we need to focus on priorities that matter e.g. Manufacturing Jobs, 2 billion dollar infrastructure deficit, 146 million dollar provincial downloading crisis and 20 percent poverty rate. My position has always been the same and that is the fact the Pan Am games and stadium is the mother of all unfocused priorities. I've attached the proceeding [subsequent?] comments for your perusal surrounding this fiasco I had written during the summer months:

Bottom line is a vote for West Harbour is a vote for Ivor Wynne due to the criterion that money will only be allocated to a site with a long term tenant. Keep in mind West Harbour has a capital deficit of approximate 50 million dollars and millions more in operating thereby creating an environment of an ultimatum from the Province and the Feds due to the preceding criterion.

A vote for the urban sprawl option on the East Mountain is a vote for a stadium that is underfunded by approximately 120 million dollars deeming it unaffordable to the taxpayer but with a tenant.

Therefore the only viable option left is the renovation of Ivor Wynne which can accommodate soccer and a sustainable tenant that has played at Ivor Wynne since 1930. Anything but Ivor Wynn is a pie in the ski option and a travesty to the hard working people of the City of Hamilton.

This unmitigated disaster could have been prevented had my request for due diligence been pursued back in February of 2009. Although I didn't support such a unmitigated ill prepared initiative at least we would have known then what we've confirmed now that this unfocused priority will victimize the taxpayers of this city.

Furthermore the proceeding [following?] was my statement issued in June.

Merulla: No Stadium Support Just trying to make the best of the Pan Am Fiasco

I have clearly and consistently stated I am not supporting a stadium.

To date I have only supported a study to compare the two sites and not to endorse either location.

Moreover, as you should know, I did not support the expenditure for the stadium nor do I plan on supporting the forthcoming recommendation from the Future Fund Committee. Having said this it was incumbent of me to attempt to make the best of a very bad decision to build stadium. Furthermore the East Mountain site was the best case scenario for the taxpayer due to the fact the Ti-Cats absorb the present subsidy and operating costs. They were also putting 15 million dollars toward capital. The private sector was expected to provide the additional 35 million dollars as promised.

West Harbour development and LRT are still moving ahead and were actually planned prior to the Pan Am fiasco through the Setting Sail Plan. I've always argued that we need to govern based on needs and not wants and I was ridiculed for my position on the stadium when I didn't support the financing in February, 2009. Instead I was focused on what Hamilton needs sewers, roads and bridges. I did need to attempt to protect the taxpayers and the East Mountain site would have mitigated the financial hit on residents. Moreover, the private sector is apparently not contributing the additional 35 million dollars necessary at the East Mountain site and to date we have no private sector money for West Harbour as well as no tenant. I would hope council would support my position to upgrade Ivor Wynne as per the 2007 plan of twenty million dollars over twenty years for generations to come which in essence is a third option which I have always supported.

Lastly its important to understand that the provincial and federal monies are conditional based on sustainability of a long term tenant. Therefore, the monies are being channeled through the Ti-Cats rather than the City which compounds the absurdity of this unfocused priority.

As you should know, I have always been very concerned about wasteful spending at city hall and creating an environment conducive to increasing assessment growth. I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance governing based on our needs rather than wants. I would like to see our City of Hamilton attract and retain business in a sustainable manner.

We need to continue to find a balance between greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity through employment lands.

The most significant motivation in my seeking office has always been my desire to help anyone who needs it. I have been in public service for twenty years from working with people with disabilities to substance abusers and troubled youth to serving the great people of Hamilton East, Ward 4, and as a whole, the City of Hamilton and there is no better feeling then advocating change and seeing it legislated.

My focus has been and will continue to be eliminating the two billion dollar deficit in hard infrastructure (i.e. Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant, roads, sewers and bridges). Continue to pursue successful redevelopment of East end neighbourhoods through infill/brownfield developments (i.e. Lowe's at Barton and Woodward, Princess Auto on Barton, Seniors Centre at Main and Cope, Greyfield developments on Ottawa St and Kenilworth, Barton, King and Main Streets).

Furthermore I am focused in continuing to create a climate of investment such as Ward 4's The Centre on Barton, Crown Point Medical Arts building on Kenilworth, redevelopment of the old Derby Tavern to Rexall Pharmacy and the future Native Cultural Centre on Kenilworth. Lastly, I am very proud of the future park development at Rennie/Brampton Streets (Rennie St. End Use) and the creation of a new pedestrian/cycling bridge which will allow Ward 4 residents to safely connect to the city's waterfront.

City Council must focus on emerging problems (i.e. the need to increase industrial and commercial investments; thereby, increasing tax revenues without impacting residential taxes or front line services). We must be far more aggressive in uploading the tens of millions of dollars that the Province of Ontario downloaded to the City of Hamilton in terms of mandated programs and services without the necessary funding which deems it NOT revenue neutral and has cost the municipal tax payer in Hamilton $1 billion over the past decade or $146 million dollars, which impacts our operating budget.

The successful conclusion to the downloading crisis will allow council to function in a manner conducive to focusing in our needs and actually put the city in a position to assess a tax decrease of nearly 25 percent. We must determine who does what and who pays for what in our relationship with Ontario. We must do this in consultation AMO and FCM thereby renegotiating our agreements with Ontario to ensure a progressive form of taxation at the municipal level rather than the regressive nature that exists presently.

Moreover Hamilton has lost too many manufacturing jobs as a direct result of globalisation. We are attracting employment such as Canada Bread, Tim Hortons and more but much more must be done to aggressively and proactively promote Hamilton as a leader in providing opportunity which is the answer to the poverty issues and infrastructure redevelopment. My strong support for PRO business initiatives such as the Red Hill Valley Parkway and airport employment lands will be instrumental in the growth and repair of this great city of ours in the future. We need to continue to find ways to balance greenfield and brownfield developments in an attempt to provide a diverse environment of opportunity.

Hope this helps.

Thank You,

Councillor Sam Merulla,
City Hall: 905 546 4512
24hr pager: 905 777 7491
Email-smerulla@hamilton.ca
Bob Innes says . . . .
There's plenty to agree with here, and enough wiggle room (I hope) to allow Clr Merulla to choose to support or not support any further Council motions as to whether the stadium proceeds or not. Hopefully, he will reflect on my concerns about the larger picture before the next vote. But there is one delicious irony I can't resist -
"....... tenant that has played at Ivor Wynne since 1930."
We all know what happened the previous year. Sure seems like history is repeating, no?

Since 2008, I have been waiting for the other (economic) shoe to drop. Now we can guestimate. Assuming Sam is right and working backwards, the original stadium was probably approved three years before first play, making the approval date 1927. (Those were heady days, less red tape but slower construction??) Therefore we can conclude that the present recovery will peak in 2013 and Depression 2 will likely hit in 2014. If other parallels hold, this malaise will linger, just as before, and WW3 should be upon us by 2023 or about 4 generations after WW2. Just enough time to forget. Just as Neils and Strauss suggested in The Fourth Turning. The hubris of present thinking in the face of so many warning signals reflects that.

Do we really have to go through all that again? Can we not pull ourselves back from the edge? Cancelling the stadium would be a good first step in the right direction. People, let's get us a touchdown. Get involved.


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    Forcing my mind to grapple further with that pesky smart meter thing. I'd hate to be a party pooper when it comes to the good intent of the smart meter - BUT.........

    So much to mention - GMO foods, fluoridation, dogcast listening, Puppy - maybe I'll put up a sort of note space for miscellaneous

    Ongoing economic meltdown - two threads: Hamilton's unique problems and the more general economic melting down of the US. Four Horsemen.

    Global warming questions and myths. I'll borrow this for now.

    Eventually, thoughts on the deeper questions that vex our world.


Favs & Locals

Bob's BlogLog

    This website is finally getting to be something organized. Alas, just as it's getting into full swing, it's getting full! I'll be keeping this site alive for various purposes, but I'll be more or less migrating to my page at Hubpages.com, probably with a trailer here.

    In case you had some difficulty with broken links, please be patient. I'm just changing files over to php so if something doesn't work, try changing the extension from .html to .php. PHP cuts the storage requirements and facilitates the updating of anciliary sections like this one. Master files are used that are pulled into every page (links, header, footer, favs, breviations, etc). For anyone interested, the clever command that is used for this is 'include', the syntax for which can be found on the net. Very cool, no?

    Most blogs are based on simple table layouts - two or three column using a markup language. The professional sites have sophisticated coding in many languages to provide many features such as automatic archiving, variable text size and the like. We shall see what the future brings but for now I'm just enjoying using HTML and a smidgeon of others such as PHP, javascript. CSS looked interesting too but with the above php setup, looks to be unneeded. Debugging is not my strong suit but this page is nothing like the old basic programs that once drove me nuts.
    Next: I'll also be starting to group blogs on the same page - why not - saves storage space too. New table for miscellaneous??? (For now, I'll just stick odd stuff below.) Eventually I may get code to improve the comment section but in the meantime, i found an online forum site which makes things easy and fast. First though is to bring some order to the numbering system which right now is conflicted between normal chronological postings, logical pointing system, and page groupings in reverse chronological.

    Also need to ensure font is not too small on newer hi res screens. Please use your browsers zoom feature as needed - or complain!

    As you can see, Netfirms is hosting this site. My frugal buddy Johnny suggested it as the most economical site for a modest blogger. The two domains and the two sites cost about a case of beer per year which i guess is justified. There is limited storage and limited bandwidth but that's ok for now. They offer pagemaking services but being a control freak, I prefer to stick to my own understandable system. Hope you enjoy.

Bob's 'Breviations

  • LRT - Light Rapid Transit
  • MSM - Main Stream Media
  • k, Mn, Bn, Tn - thousand, Million, Billion, Trillion Dollars
  • GMO - Genetically Modified Organism Foods
  • PIIGS - Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, (Italy?) Greece, Spain,
  • OSAP - Ontario Student Assistance Program.
  • RAP - Repayment Assistance Plan
  • CSLP - Cdn Student Loan Program
  • Cdn, US, Aus, GB, Fr, Ont, PQ - Places abbreviated
  • F - fluorine or, because I'm lazy, fluoride, fluoridated water


Pet Peeves

      * gummerment overspending
      * what we're doing to our political and educational systems -

      * banksterism.

      * political correctness (equity policies) along with

      * MSM - mainstream media, especially the Spectator, our local rag

      * human rights commissions and their guilty-until-proven-innocent destruction of our ancient rights. Soon to get worse.

      * Overmedication in our society - this link relates to kids ADD, ADHD

      * Rigid thinking, dismissiveness, judgementalism, The Spectator

      * legal liability issues - playgrounds, bake sales gone. This is stupid (corporatism).

      * senior (upper levels of ) gummerment funding - distorts and deflects responsibility

      * Public sector unions

      * credentialism

      * a little rant on mailboxes!

      * spelling in the English language. The real culprit is Johnson and his dictionary that picked words before they ripened!

      * apathetic people. Plato said 'Your silence gives your consent'

      * aphids, Torx screwdrivers, proprietary parts, the great Eyeglass ripoff





    * retired Professional Engineer, married, father of 2 including one still in the system.

    * pursuing many interests - partial list below

    * small-c conservative (but not a Harper PC - that's the party of big business!)

    * investigating causes of economic problems, finding troubling trends and possibilities

    * Former candidate, Hamilton East Stoney Creek, FCP, Public System Trustee, Ward 4



Links to other Interests.


Requests.

For other items or requests, please feel free to email me. Sorry for the spambot-fighting inconvenience but I've learned not to provide the normal link or the inbox becomes clogged or breaks down completely. Please paste the following then remove the spaces and add the usual symbols where noted:

r o b e r t i n n e s (at sign) r o b e r t i n n e s (dot) c a.

Alternatively, Click here to bring up your email window - but you'll have to change the fake address!

Thanks


 
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