In an unprecedented step, Mike Fahy took over the financial administration of the omnishambles that is the Corporation of Hamilton yesterday.
Fahy, whose Ministry had earlier failed to get an injunction preventing Corporation councillors from paying themselves (because the money had already gone out, apparently), said the move was made under the newly amended Municipalities Act because the maladministration in the Corporation had reached such a pitch that it was in the public interest to intervene.
Since taking power under the residential franchise, Team Hamilton has been anything but. The Ombudsman’s report makes clear that the cabal at the centre of the Corporation has done plenty to get around the good governance processes put in place to protect the public’s money and interest.
The RFP for the Hamilton waterfront was also a joke, and the Ombudsman came as close as she could to say that it was a deliberate set-up to ensure the eventual contract awardee got it. The list continues and has been well reported on elsewhere. Take the time to read the Ombudsman’s report. It is scary.
Just as the mess that the Corporation under Sutherland Madeiros got itself in led to the very changes that led to Team Hamilton’s election, so the chaos that has now ensued has led to this.
That’s too bad. Hamilton runs better when it has its own administration and is not dependent on Government services. Despite the growing financial crisis, it ran very well under Mayor Charles Gosling.
So this move, which is supposed to be temporary, but who knows really, is regrettable.
No doubt Fahy will be accused of undermining democracy and having dictatorial tendencies, but it seems clear he had little choice but this, or let the charade continue. (It is interesting that the Progressive Labour Party response has been relatively muted, perhaps because they wanted to do pretty much the same thing when they were in power, but backed off.)
What he must do is set a time limit on the time that the intervention will last, based perhaps on the time an audit will take, along with the implementation of whatever steps follow from that and the overall investigation. Certainly it shouldn’t take more than six months and Fahy should say so.
- Ombudsman Issues CoH Investigation Report (bernews.com)