Thank goodness for involved citizens

Hamilton, ON, Canada / AM900 CHML

Thank goodness for involved citizens

Charles Juravinski paved the way for cooler heads to prevail

By Scott Thompson

The Hamilton Spectator

Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Has Hamilton moved beyond the “one step forward and two steps back” phase of its existence? Could it be that the arrival of our current renaissance has also spawned the possibility of leadership? Pinch me!

Last week it was announced Hamilton police Chief Glenn De Caire would get to stay on, receiving another contract in place of the letter of resignation he tendered last year. You all know the story.

As time passed, tempers cooled and level heads prevailed, soon both sides realized they may have been acting in haste. This issue was becoming more about a personality conflict than it was about performance and what was best for the city. That happens.

The question is: Can you admit that and move on with vision or must we get mired in ego and an exercise in futility.

Some complained that a few influential well-heeled people were using their power to sway the vote …

We saw this with the past stadium negotiations that are still affecting the city. The Canadian Football Hall of Fame recently went to council looking for cash to sustain the failing museum. Wasn’t there talk of a plan to put the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and even the Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame, into a new stadium/entertainment complex? Remember that?

What happened to that plan? It went down the drain along with using our Pam Am stadium windfall to build something lasting for the city. Why? Because two sides could not come together with a feasible plan and location to attract the investment needed to do the project right. Sound familiar? In other words, the city had to settle for what it has, rather than what could have been, as a result of a personality conflict.

And we are heading in the same direction with the LRT debate, if we are not more inclusive in our plans. By that I mean designing an LRT system that will serve the greatest number of Hamiltonians, not just those in the lower city.

Some in Hamilton are willing to spend more than $800 million on an LRT system that does not address the issue of taking the most vehicles off the road or easing the most congestion, thus reducing the harm to the environment.

Rather than connecting the LRT line to the downtown James Street GO Station hub, Hamilton wants to construct a line that will cater to those looking to travel from Eastgate to McMaster instead of the majority who travel up and down the Red Hill, Linc and 403 from the mountain to downtown, and beyond. Can you see where that project is heading?

Some complained that a few influential well-heeled people were using their power to sway the vote in the police chief’s favour to stay. Is that what they were doing, or just trying to avoid another good old-fashioned Hamilton train wreck?

Thank goodness Charles Juravinski spoke up and started this ball rolling when he did, including an interview on CHML, otherwise we’d $80,000 lighter and back to square one again.

If he hadn’t spoken up, would anyone else have done so or would we be searching for another police chief right now?

It’s unfortunate this kind of leadership has to come from the citizenry or private sector and not our elected officials.

This issue should never have reached this stage. It should have been handled in a professional manner, leaving the struggle for power, ego, re-election and job security at the door.

At least this time, thanks to the involvement of some citizens, Hamilton seems to have gotten it right.

Let’s hope it’s an ongoing trend.

The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays noon-3pm at News/Talk 900 CHML. www.ScottThompsonTalk.com

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