Hamilton has a ‘safety plan’ in regard to councillor who bullied and harassed


Published August 10, 2022 at 5:25 pm

There is a confidential safety plan at Hamilton City Hall tailored to Coun. Terry Whitehead — who is also the last incumbent who has not shared his plans for October, one way or the other.

The elements of the plan particular to Whitehead, the veteran Hamilton Mountain representative who has been docked 2½ months’ pay in the last year for bullying and harrassing, are not being shared with the public. His council colleagues, at just shy of the nine-hour mark of a nearly 10-hour general issues committee meeting on Monday, did discuss an overview report about a safety plan.

City staff had been directed to make a plan in late June, after Whitehead was assessed his second pay penalty and returned to medical leave. He has said he has a medical condition that affects his cognitive functions.

At that time, he was also required to inform politicians and City of Hamilton staff if he planned to show up at city hall in person.

“It’s helpful to have something in place that would respond to similar circumstances and similar situations,” Mayor Fred Eisenberger observed on Monday.

The elements that are known in the viewable report include restrictions on access (through key locks and swipe cards); enhanced monitoring and patrolling by security; and personal safety whilst parking, entering and exiting city hall. Councillors and other city employees who have direct contact with elected representatives were also told about using buddy systems, described as “pairing with two or more co-workers and peers to provide support and to look out for each other.”

The more recent sanctions imposed against Whitehead stemmed from an integrity commissioner’s report that found he has bullied and harassed two city employees and Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge. One of those instances involved him confronting an employee in regard to council discussing a report about his treatment of a city worker during a meeting in September 2020, where Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko, who was chairing it, had to eject Whitehead.

“We have put up with this for too long. We have to do something about it,” Partridge said, adding that accepting any apology — not that one was offered — would have amounted to enabling.

The deadline for filing nomination papers to run in this fall’s municipal and school board elections is nine days away. The clock strikes at 2 p.m. on Aug. 19, one week from Friday.

Farr files in Ward 2

At the start of this week, Whitehead and Ward 2 Coun. Farr were the only incumbents who had not signalled their intentions. Farr is now officially registered, taking on challengers Cameron Kroetsch (for the second time) and Raquel Rakovac to represent the downtown core.

Farr ran for the Ontario Liberal Party in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek in the June 2 provincial election. He finished third, about 13½ percentage points behind the winner, Neil Lumsden of the Ontario PC Party.

Back in 2018, Farr was reelected in Ward 2 with a nearly 17-point margin over Kroetsch, a community activist who has also owned a business concentrated on employment and recruitment services in the healthcare industry.

Rakovac says on her campaign page that she is a small-business owner who sees affordable housing as the main issue in the ward.

At least 9 seeking re-election

The choice by Farr means at least nine incumbents — those who have represented wards 1 through 3, 6 to 10, and 13 — are aiming to earn four more years around the horseshoe.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, the aforementioned Partridge and Couns. Sam Merulla (4), Russ Powers (5), Brenda Johnson (11) and Lloyd Ferguson (12) will not be on the ballot. Powers was appointed to a vacant seat last fall, and the others have made a public announcement.

On May 13, 40 days before his pay penalty was imposed and he went back on medical leave, Whitehead told a Hamilton legacy media outlet he would run again. The last term was actually his first in Ward 14. From 2003 to ’18, he represented neighbouring Ward 8 until switching following a boundary redrawing.

As it stands, Ward 14 has four candidates (listed in order of entry):

  • Kojo Damptey, a social justice activist and musician who is executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion;
  • Brian Lewis, who has worked in the logistics field and volunteered on two citizen committees (race relations and status of women). (A different Brian Lewis ran in Ward 1 in 2014.)
  • Colleen Wicken, a community volunteer who was once the chief of staff to Whitehead. Wicken ran in neighbouring Ward 8 in 2018.
  • Mike Spadafora, a community sports organizer who is president of the Hamilton Kilty B’s (Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League) and general manager of the Hamilton Huskies youth hockey program. Spadafora’s work background has also involved working in business development for PPG-Dulux, the paint manufacturer, and owning a contracting company.

Like Farr, Spadafora is contesting his second election this year. He ran for the Ontario PCsin Hamilton Mountain this spring, finishing second to Ontario New Democrat incumbent Monique Taylor.

Taylor held her seat with 44.8 per cent support. Spadafora drew an even 30, which was the the Ontario PCs’ best showing there since 1999.

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