Spatial Insanity Polyptych 1992 ~ and ~ a PB Plea

My latest re-release:
Spatial Insanity Polyptych 1992 flat frame large
I wish I had the money to buy one for myself. I don’t actually have these pieces in my collection any more, and I kind of miss them.

But hey, nothing is stopping YOU from going out and buying a copy…

In other news, Participatory Budgeting – Ward 2 is on the verge of hitting the rocky shoreline and sinking beneath the waves.

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but there is a serious problem with this year’s PB process in Ward 2 – Hamilton Ontario. I’ve largely kept schtum, biding my time and hoping that nothing really egregious would come from allowing the Councillor and City Staff to work the tiller of the Good Ship PB this year. It hasn’t been everything it could be, and a lot of the real participatory process we had last year has been left by the wayside, but A participatory process has been put in place, and though it’s not as robust as my friends and I would like it, it still has a lot of fine merits.

Sadly, one of them is NOT oversight. A Number of us PB Faithful (formerly the PB Office), few in number and largely pretty quiet lately, but rabidly loyal to the cause, are becoming alarmed at what we see as an interloper into the process, in the form of a consortium of developers who have managed to bulldoze our Budget Delegate committee into accepting and even championing a proposal for three quarters of the PB budget of 2014.

It’s NOT really hard infrastructure, it’s not significantly beneficial to the ward residents, and it’s not even remotely fair being outgunned by a few suits who have cleverly managed to co-opt our process and get on the ballot for potentially $750K. I saw the ballot earlier than most, because I was working on the design of the paper ballot myself. However, I’ve been so busy with revisions and all the rest that I haven’t even had time to prepare the presentation boards for the PBW Expo at the Farmer’s Market, let alone complain to Karen Burson and Nathalie Zur Nedden, the Facilitator and Animator (respectively) of the PBW2 2014 process. I adore these ladies, whom I was even involved in the hiring of, and I would absolutely hate to think they are in any way tied to what is happening now.

So, details.

The Proposal is as follows: (see original PDF here)
7. Reserve Fund for James and John South capital projects: Set up a Reserve Fund contributing to any structural, infrastructure or other capital projects resulting from the ongoing Urban Design Study of the “SOHO” area (a district that joins Corktown and Durand neighbourhoods). = $750,000

It’s going on the PBW2 ballot (while things like my wife’s community garden proposal were mysteriously dropped without much comment). The so-called ‘SOHO’ (for non-New Yorkers, SOHO is a gentrified, formerly artsy district of NYC, an area located SOuth of HOuston (pronounced Hows-Ton) Street; in Hamilton, it would be more like DUCO (DUrand/COrktown) or CODU (COrktown/DUrand), or perhaps, just perhaps, SOHU, for SOuth HUghson) area IS a slightly underdeveloped business district (lacking a BIA at the moment) that could probably bring some revenue to the City in terms of tourism and development/tax dollars. So I can see where the City might like this proposal a lot.

But it’s PB money we’re talking about, and residents of the ward, rather than relatively well-heeled developers, should be the ones deciding how the money gets allocated. That was the whole point of PBHamilton in the first place. That’s how PB actually works. We don’t allocate funds to a veritably undisclosed slush fund of non-specific features for a loosey goosey proposal that is really just a huge ‘ask’ to save a few bucks from their own development costs for things they’re going to have to do anyway if they want their project to succeed. Expecting residents to eat that expense in lieu of their own projects is pretty galling, when I think about it. Some of us have crazy proposals that will probably draw some fire as well (Full Disclosure: I submitted, amongst other things, a proposal for a huge 35′ statue of an androgynous factory worker holding up the Claremont Access; I also submitted my wife’s proposal for a community garden, and I endorse the Stinson Walkability and Wentworth/Charlton Safety proposals; I’m not actually insane… I just look that way), but some of us have put in a lot of time and effort on some serious and very necessary proposals.

To these developers, this is just about saving some money. To us, it’s endangering civic engagement for an entire generation of Hamiltonians, some of whom have remained blissfully apolitical most of their lives, and will probably go back to being disillusions and disengaged when this all falls through.

So this blog post is really MY huge ‘ask’, to Councillor Jason Farr, to my friends Karen and Nathalie, and to the City of Hamilton Staffers, and in particular Al Dore and Ryan Leverton, and probably Jason’s right hand, Maureen Scally as well: please, PLEASE, reconsider the ballot placement of the James/John St South proposal, which might yield some profit, but could conceivably damage PBW2 and this city’s civic engagement process irreparably if it’s allowed to even go to vote, let alone possibly win.

Thank you so much for reading.


Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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