The Mayor's Chief of Staff Pay Raise Scandal: where we stand now

Hamilton City Council is done with their deliberations regarding Mayor Bob Bratina’s actions and “misstatements” about the Mayor’s decision to raise the salary of his Chief of Staff by $30,000.

The outcome of City Council’s deliberations?


Council made no joint statement, released no finding about the timeline or truthfulness of the Mayor’s statement, and has not requested City Staff to return with policy improvements to avoid similar events in the future.

Some Councillors are asking for individual citizens to file a complaint with the City’s Integrity Commissioner. Filing a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner costs $100. The fee may be refunded if the Integrity Commissioner decides the complaint is with merit.

The City’s Solicitor, wisely, advised Council that it could take no action on the pay raise itself. Any attempt to roll back the raise exposes the City to legal liability greater than $30,000.

From the statement he made in public session, there was no indication that Council could not act to express its displeasure with Mayor Bratina’s misleading statements that included an attempt to misplace responsibility for the pay raise upon the City’s human resources staff.

In fact, Councillor Sam Merulla suggested a motion to express displeasure with the Mayor’s actions and request the Mayor correct the actions he took against the spirit of fiscal restraint that City Council wishes within the organization:

That council is disappointed in and disagrees of the Mayors failure to adhere to the City’s salary administration policy in setting salary rates for staff in his office.

That the Mayor use his best efforts to negotiate a voluntary amendment to any administration policy and report back to council on the results of his efforts.

That if the mayor is unable to negotiate voluntary amendments to employment contracts to bring them in compliance with the City’s salary administration policy that the mayor is requested in consultation with H.R. and legal to seek to reconcile any and all offending salaries for the balance of the term of council and report back to council.

What’s next?

Members of City Council are requesting citizens to file complaints with the City’s Integrity Commissioner regarding Mayor Bratina’s behaviour.

There are no electronic versions of the complaint form available on the City website. In fact, there is not even a page about how to file a complaint on the city website.

I’ve emailed the City Clerk and Deputy Clerk requesting a copy of the form. As soon as I receive the form, I will post it.

Ironically, Hamilton City Councillors shot down an attempt this month led by two citizens members on the city’s “Accountability and Transparency Sub-Committee” to remove the barrier of a $100 fee for citizens seeking redress of Councillors behaviour.

On Wednesday, City Council voted to reaffirm the decision to continue the fee as a barrier against too many complaints.