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Committee positions approved
November 29, 2006

Councillors met briefly today to approve nominations for committee positions for the next four years. The exercise demonstrated the size of Hamilton’s government and the variation in workloads taken on by different members of city council.

All councillors sit on city council, which meets twice per month. They are also all assigned to the board of health and the committee of the whole, each of which meets once per month. Today’s decision allocated 177 seats on 57 other committees.

The most important of these are the standing committees which are each scheduled to meet twice per month and to which most other committees make reports. There were six such committees in the last term of council but they have now been consolidated into four new ones – Audit and Administration, Emergency and Community Services, Economic Development and Planning, and Public Works.

Every councillor will sit on exactly two of these four committees – a change from last term where some councillors held twice as many positions as others. The chairs of the committees rotate each year, but who will start off next year has not yet been decided.

Most of the other 53 committees meet once per month. The number of these positions accepted by each councillor ranges from two by Sam Merulla to eighteen by Terry Whitehead. Brad Clark will sit on 16, Bob Bratina, Dave Mitchell and Maria Pearson 13 each, Lloyd Ferguson 12, Chad Collins 11, and Brian McHattie 10.

At the other end of the scale, Bernie Morelli took four posts, Robert Pasuta 5, Scott Duvall 6, Margaret McCarthy 7, Russ Powers 8 and Tom Jackson 9.

Mayor-elect Fred Eisenberger can attend and vote at any standing committee meeting and is automatically included in the Police Services Board. He’ll be joined in the latter task by Whitehead and Morelli.

Eisenberger has also put himself on several other committees, perhaps reflecting his key interests and priorities. They include the newly-established Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Hamilton Renewable Power Inc, Physician Recruitment and the joint committee set up to manage relations between the city and the two local school boards.

Included in the decisions today were appointments to outside boards and agencies. Powers will represent the city on the Royal Botanical Gardens board, Jackson and Pearson retain their roles on the public library board, and Pasuta will sit on the Halton Conservation Authority.

The council appointees to the Hamilton Conservation Authority are Clark, Collins, Ferguson, Jackson and Pasuta. One councillor represents the city on the Niagara Escarpment Commission, a position currently held by McHattie. He is one of three names being submitted to the province from which one will be chosen. The other two nominees are Ferguson and Clark.

Noting that there were only two empty positions left to fill, mayor-elect Eisenberger said “beyond that, everything is done and I understand acceptable to all [the councillors]”. This was immediately confirmed by a unanimous vote of the councillors.

Shortly after the election, Eisenberger had invited the councillors to indicate their priorities in terms of committee positions, leading to the proposal adopted today. The nomination procedure has been controversial in the past, but no conflict was evident at the meeting today, and this year’s method drew praise from Tom Jackson.

“Can I just say on behalf of all of us,” he said, “we very much appreciate the process you embarked upon the last week that got us to the consensus and results.”

The decision today is subject to final ratification on December 6 when the new council is officially sworn in. Some councillors will also be expected to sit on other committees, such as any of the business improvement associations that may fall within their ward.

There are dozens of positions reserved for citizens, most of which will likely be advertised early next month.

© Citizens At City Hall (CATCH)