Mayoral Candidate Silenced

Media, not Russians interfering in our Election

 

“For the first time since amalgamation, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce won’t be hosting a mayoral debate during the municipal election campaign.” With those words Andrew Dreschel opened his latest opinion piece.  In the October 10th edition, he described how Fred Eisenberger’s strategy is to avoid a one-on-one debate with “his presumed main challenger”, and why that works for him.  I’m more interested in how it is that Vito Sgro became the only perceived opposition to Eisenberger.

Keanin Loomis is the president and CEO of the HCC and is quoted by Mr. Dreschel about half-way through the article. Speaking on behalf of his group and its partners in real estate and construction, he admitted that they wanted to focus on those two candidates only, “because the `media narrative’ suggests they are the main contenders”.  The Spectator’s coverage of the election backs that up.  You only see articles in the paper about Sgro and Eisenberger.  That is intentional.  The Spectator (Dreschel, Sept. 4th) printed that it would not give equal coverage to all candidates, but what they really meant was NO COVERAGE of any other candidate.

What gives The Spectator the right to frame the mayoral election as polar and then cover the debate that way excluding any dissenting voice to that point of view? What gives priority to Sgro’s message of taking the provincial funding and building piecemeal infrastructure, over that of Henry Geissler’s that takes the money and builds an alternate, environmentally superior LRT to that of the proposed “B-Line”?

Why does The Spectator choose Vito as the opponent to Fred? It is pretty obvious that he raised a lot of money for his bid, and he has experience in the backrooms of the Liberal Party, so I have been informed.  Let us recall another very rich candidate with an equally rich pedigree from a recent election in the United States of America.  Our media here in little ol’ Hamilton is considering Sgro as the natural opposition to the incumbent Eisenberger, as the US media considered  Hillary Clinton to be the obvious president-in-waiting in their last election.  It is an assumption made by people “in the know”, who look down with distain on ordinary folks.

I have written a rebuttal to a clearly biased piece in favour of the currently proposed East-West run LRT, and have been informed in writing by the editor of the paper “You have already had your candidate submission.[the paper offered to publish for each candidate a treatise on “why I’m running”] Candidates get one only otherwise we would be swamped.”  Swamped with what?  Mayoral candidates giving you their opinion on the articles you publish on issues concerning Hamiltonians?  Does The Spectator not think that it might be their function in this (or any) election to actually disseminate information rather than manipulate what is to be read and what is not to be read?  I think The Spectator has overstepped the line between editing and censoring.

I encourage everyone to contact The Spectator and any other media, and ask why it is that they are not hearing about the alternative LRT, the North-South LRT proposed by Henry Geissler, or any other planks of any other candidates’ platforms in the media’s daily coverage. To demand less, is a road to oligarchy, where the rich rule, and ideas are secondary.

Henry Geisslercensored stamp straight

Rebuttal to Ryan McGreal

Short-sightedness preventing Hamilton from leaping forward

 

Ryan McGreal’s article on page A19 of the October 6th edition of The Spectator, “A platform built on falsehoods”, shows clearly his bias toward the current City Council/Metrolinx B-Line LRT plan.  It also underlines the bias of the media in general to viewing the LRT into a simple Yes or No option.  I read in the Spectator that Mr. Ford would give Hamilton council the choice of project funding[i].  Whatever you think of the new provincial government aside, we should celebrate the liberty from Metrolinx that it allows.  “Presto”, it’s gone.  Now we’re rid of a whole level of bloated bureaucracy.  Hello HSR operated LRT.  Give up on the contentious East-West LRT plan that will cause traffic congestion, and look at really promoting GO Train commuting with a North-South LRT that delivers riders to the GO Train platform at James Street North.

McGreal correctly identifies the problem with Mr. Sgro’s platform of redirecting the provincial funding. To spend it piecemeal on repairs to infrastructure, “leaking away” the money filling potholes, will have squandered the opportunity to build something with a future.  Unfortunately, the B-Line LRT doesn’t have that scope.  The current plan solves a problem that doesn’t exist.  If more buses are required, then add more buses, but to reduce a major traffic artery into a glorified sidestreet, and suggest that this will benefit transit in Hamilton is ridiculous.  The proposed B-Line LRT doesn’t even stop at the GO station, which was the purpose of funding the project. Do you remember “The Big Move”?  No, City Council’s Metrolinx plan is going to cause business closures and established residents to become frustrated and move out of the corridor.  Could that be the real purpose of this plan?  If it is, then the mayor should come clean and tell us that he’s pushing the old out for the new.  I regularly meet people who still don’t understand what the plan is actually going to do to King Street.

Arguing that improving the underground pipes and cables is the reason why we need to build this destructive project ignores the city’s own Maintenance Department assessment of the condition of that underground “plant”. I was in the chamber when it was made exceedingly clear that the plant in question was eighty percent good.  That means mathematically, if you spend six hundred million dollars replacing it, you are wasting 480 million dollars.  Are you ok with wasting one half of a billion dollars to build a railway down the middle of King Street?  Let’s conclude that the reason for building the LRT along the proposed route is not to replace old infrastructure.

Investment in Hamilton will continue from simple economic pressures, and there is no reason to assume that building a North-South LRT will not attract similar investment as that imagined along an East-West route. In fact, there are reasons to suggest that the corridors opened up by NSLRT would give all the same benefits touted by the B-Line proponents, but none of the drawbacks.  For example there are no issues with tall buildings blocking the view of the escarpment along Upper James.

Ridership has long been spoken about as the reason to build the B-Line into the LRT, but that’s a red herring. NSLRT guarantees ridership by design.  It’s not everyday that a city gets a billion dollars to build transit infrastructure, so splash some cold water on your face, and think a little outside of the box.    Today, October 8, 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced a “final warning”.  Whether you believe anything about climate change or not, when a lot of scientists are saying things like:temp rise graph

“The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone…”
“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes…”
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk…”[ii]

 

then perhaps the prudent thing to do is heed their warnings. Now is the time to change the paradigm of public transit in Hamilton.  Not only does NSLRT promote GO rail commuting, it does so in the greenest way possible using inclined rail technology.  Instead of cutting down  hundreds of air-purifying trees along King Street, we could stop driving all the buses up and down the hill, polluting the air and converging on the downtown core in that crazy zig-zagging carousal of redundancy!  Why use radial routes when the city is laid out like a grid, for heaven’s sake?  Simplicity is beautiful in science and in traffic planning.  Use the buses to run East-West to feed the LRT running North-South.  The B-Line LRT is like a patch on an old garment, the North-South LRT can give us a whole new suit in one fell swoop.

 

Visit NorthSouthLRT.ca                                                                                                                                             Henry Geissler, for mayor.

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[i]Van Dongen, Matthew. “Metrolinx stops buying LRT land citing provincial spending freeze.” The Hamilton Spectator, 30 August 2018, p. A6

[ii]United Nations IPCC Press Release. “Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C”, 8 October 2018

The Spectator has “Boring Election Blues”

It should look a little beyond its upturned nose!

Those at the spectator covering the municipal election decided early on that they were not going give equal coverage to all candidates.  Does that mean that they ignore other ideas completely?  If they’re suggesting that YES versus NO on Light Rail Transit is two dimensional and flat, then add some depth to the reporting with the third dimension, an ALTERNATE LRT, one that makes sense in the time-space continuum: North-South LRT, GO Train station to the Airport, infrastructure with a FUTURE.

 

eisensgrospeccartoon

A Letter to Environmentalists

The following is a letter or parts of, that I have sent to more than one member of the voting public who are concerned about the environment

I am very happy to respond to you questions.  My campaign is centred on an environmental concern.  I am very concerned that the current Light Rapid Transit plan to run the train down the middle of King Street will cause traffic delay and increased engine idling time, while obliterating over 600 trees along the route.  It is galling that it was purported at one time as a green alternative.  We have to change it and change it right now.

What I propose is a North-South LRT that joins the James Street GO train station with the Hamilton airport via the CNR right-of-way to Victoria Avenue and Wellington Street (running the lines separately north and south respectively) joining again at the bottom of the Claremont Access where an inclined rail system will engage with the railcars to transport them up and down the escarpment.  The LRT can then run straight along Upper James past the HSR garage to the airport.  Southbound vehicular traffic can take the West 5th bypass and rejoin Upper James at Fennell where the street widens.  If it is feasible the LRT might take the bypass instead, and deliver Mohawk students directly to campus.  This is a route with wide enough streets to allow for trains, traffic, and trees.
The point is that a North-South run LRT will allow us to stop running the buses up and down the hill all day, burning up the atmosphere as they do.  In fact as you might be aware, an inclined rail utilizes gravity to greatly reduce energy input into the lifting of railcars up the hill.  Delivering people right to the GO station platform can only promote the use of rail commuting, which was the whole impetus for the LRT funding from the province in the first place.  Connecting to the airport is only logical.  All-in-all, a North-South LRT such as I envisage will be very environmentally friendly, while I argue that the current East-West proposal is not at all.

I imagine this news might be encouraging to you.  Please do visit the NorthSouthLRT.ca site and spread the word.  I am relying on the idea resonating with folks, and that a groundswell of common sense will overcome the blindness of our city council.

Vote Henry Geissler for mayor.

All Candidates Debate, squared.

The Durand Neighbourhood Association

There were two mayoral candidate debates last night, with a half-hour to get from the one to the other…maybe not the most considerate decision.  Every debate has its particular format, and last night’s Durand Neighbourhood Association Mayoral Candidates Debate time-limited nature has me wondering if starting earlier might not have been better.  After initially trying to jam too much information into the answer to the first question, given ninety seconds, I settled down to deliver solid answers to the remaining ones.  Here are the questions and my written answers:

Q1. Do you have specific goals for the city and how do you plan to bring about collaboration on Council to bring your ideas to reality?

My campaign is all about the LRT.  The “B-line” is a terrible idea that will lead to traffic congestion and the disruption of businesses along King Street and requires the cutting down of the trees all along the street.  That must be stopped.

Instead the North-South LRT should be built to connect the two higher order transportation hubs, namely the Go Train station on James and the Hamilton airport.  That will promote GO Train commuting and future airport traffic.  It can be done using streets that are wide enough to handle vehicular and rail traffic without cutting down trees:  Airport – Upper James – Claremont access – Victoria(northbound)Wellington(southbound) – CNR (right-of-way) – James Street GO Train station platform.  Utilizing inclined rail technology will give us the most ecologically sound means of transporting people up and down the escarpment.  Stop running buses up and down the hill, but use them to feed a North-South LRT.  That will reduce air pollution.

Given the provincial government’s de-coupling of the transit infrastructure funding from the current City Council plan, we can boot Metrolinx out of the equation, keep it public and use the HSR to run the LRT.  This is a golden opportunity to build infrastructure that is logical and green, and has a future.

 

Q2.Neighbourhood associations are often the first stop for developers who want to get input from the community.  In fact, they are often referred to associations by local councillors to get comments on the proposal.  Meaningful engagement requires time from volunteers who serve on neighbourhood associations, and sometimes money to engage appropriate expertise to review development proposals.  Without either time or money, community participation can be superficial at best, and highly imbalanced in favour of the developer at worse.  If you were elected mayor, how would you support neighbourhood associations with resources to reduce the power imbalance that exists between well funded developers and volunteer run organizations who are called upon for comment and input?

Congratulations to the Durand Neighbourhood Association.  I am really impressed with your efficiency and fiscal responsibility.  That being said, I am not interested in creating another level of bureaucracy.  I am not against neighbourhood associations, I think it is wonderful for citizens to get together and discuss local issues, but if your concern requires municipal funding, then it is your councilor’s job to pursue the issue and give satisfactory answers to constituents.

I would hate to think that councilors are so out of touch with their wards that they need to rely on neighbourhood associations to tell developers of the neighbourhood’s concerns.  Perhaps we need to revisit the requirements for City Councillor.  Currently they need not live in the ward which they represent.

 

Q3.Given the carnage on our roads in Ward 2, what will you SPECIFICALLY do to not just protect pedestrians/people on bikes, but prioritize all residents/children that are losing their streets, neighbourhoods and quality of life to this deadly speed epidemic we all face from a culture of driver entitlement?

I would advocate a return to a form of sanity in street design, and a requirement of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to be aware of their surroundings.

I agree that traffic volume is increasing and that is a problem.  What do you think the “B-line” LRT will do?  Whence will the traffic divert?  It’ll go right through here.  That’s why I say NO to the “B-line”.  The only hope of reducing traffic is to give a viable alternative.

Where is the traffic around here going?  -Up the hill and to the highway.  What will give relief to that?  -The North-South LRT.  I have a plan to change the paradigm of public transportation in Hamilton, up and down the escarpment and to the GO Train station to promote rail commuting, done in the most efficient and  environmentally friendly way.

 

Q4.The Durand Neighbourhood has incredible history and heritage as one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in one of Canada’s oldest cities. Many residents of Durand were drawn to the area in part because of its rich heritage. How would you work to see that the City of Hamilton’s planning and zoning departments really recognize and best protect this heritage from the rampant speculation and development that we have seen returning to the city?

This question is about building heights and over-development, I think.  May I be so bold as to say that you have a friend in me.  Increasing density in this part of the city will only exacerbate the traffic problems.  I don’t think the building height restrictions should be loosened here, you have a beautiful neighbourhood.  The good news is that a North-South LRT would open up other corridors to higher density development in areas that would benefit, for example Wellington Street and Victoria Avenue, as Upper James Street.

 

The Flamborough Review and The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce

The Flamborough review and the FCC had a very professional debate which almost had me regret not rushing up to Waterdown and joining in, but I had already decided beforehand to meet and “gladhand” those in Durand after their debate.  I weighted the decision in the knowledge that any LRT would be a hard sell to those in Flamborough,  and from what I heard (by the time I got to Waterdown), I was right.

I went to hear what were the issues important to Flamborough, and heard what I had expected for the most part, including concerns over taxes and representation, and traffic congestion through Waterdown.  I also heard that city hall by-law and “red tape” were a concern, as well as policing.  The last point reminded me of the conversation I had with Gary (from Flamborough) who had told me that there were a very limited number of officers assigned to the area.

I’ll leave you with this bit of news.  Fred Eisenberger earlier quipped that the guns on HMCS Haida and those at Dundurn Castle could be trained on Burlington to stop the annexation of Flamborough, but later said he would move to Burlington if he has to listen to more of Edward Graydon (I think he meant from the mayor’s office).

 

 

Paying the Bills

I spent 30 minutes on the phone AT THE BANK to find out the balance on my MasterCard.  At some point I wanted to see just how long it was going to take.  It is hard to believe, but that is what is called “service” today.  Getting ready for tonight’s debate at Central Presbyterian. #mrmayorhenry #NSLRT #HamOntLRT #savethetrees @thespec @chchTV @agreendress @cityofhamilton