Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina has been rapped – officially – for a second time, in connection with a controversial pay raise for his chief of staff.
Councilors passed a motion of censure in March after a long running battle with the mayor over compensation for his chief of staff, Peggy Chapman. She was given a $30,000 raise by Bratina which councillors say was out of line and beyond the bounds of procedure.
They accused the mayor of bullying city staff, and breaking the rules on staff compensation. Four allegations were filed against Bratina with the city’s integrity commissioner Earl Basse and today the commissioner ruled on those charges. On three of the charges — he found no evidence of misconduct.
On the fourth he ruled that the mayor: “provided erroneous information to the Hamilton Spectator editorial board which had the potential, of injuring the professional or ethical reputation of the City of Hamilton human resource staff … “
The commissioner also found that it was not a malicious or deliberate act by the mayor, something that Bratina seized upon in his official response to the report. He said “I want residents to know that I accept Mr. Basse’s findings. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to read through the entire report to fully inform themselves of its conclusions, in particular the finding that there was no ‘malicious or deliberate act ….to mislead the Spectator Editorial Board or to discredit the professional or ethical reputation of the City’s Human Resource staff.’ I have the utmost respect and confidence in our staff and the professionalism they bring to their work. This process as laid out by Council has resulted in clarification of the matters in question and now puts them to rest.”
Although the mayor believes the matter has been put to rest, there is no guarantee of that.
There was also a response from the man that started the process of official sanction against the mayor: councillor Sam Merulla told CHCH News in a text message late this afternoon:
“There are times in public life when you have to make tough decisions. Having initiated the censure against Bob, and now having an independent investigation finding Bob guilty, is an endorsement of Council’s censure, and decision to do the right thing. ”
The question now is what’s the “next” right thing, to be done in regard to all of this? It’s hard to believe that the fallout will not continue in some form. But we will have to wait for councillors to return next week to get a solid sense of where this may go.
Video: Scot Urquhart reports: