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  #1  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 11:58 AM
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No Shortage of "Squelchers"

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/997

No Shortage of 'Squelchers'
Posted 2008/05/08
By Ryan McGreal

Hamilton has always been a "live and don't learn" kind of place. There's a prevailing sentiment in this city that we shouldn't aim high, because it won't work, or we're not big enough, or we're not urban enough, or we're just a bedroom community, or we're just going to screw it up anyway.

So it was a breath of fresh air, last week, to read the Spectator's report on the economic summit sponsorred by the Chamber of Commerce, which featured keynote speaker Richard Florida, author of Who's Your City? and the already-seminal Rise of the Creative Class.

As the Spectator's Meredith MacLeod summarized:

Quote:
Florida cautions that Hamilton can still make mistakes on the road to economic prosperity, pointing to tearing down old buildings, failing to focus on innovation and research collaborations and allowing what he calls the old-style thinking of "squelchers" to stand in the way.

He says cities must attract and nurture creative talent by fostering a culture of inclusion, openness and civic engagement, capitalizing on their natural landscapes and preserving and celebrating their history.
Of course, the aptly-named "squelchers" are never far off. A breaking news article from last night, carried in today's paper, reports that the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) has applied for a demolition permit for another building on the Lister Block, on King William just a couple of doors down from the recently demolished Balfour Building.

So much for not "tearing down old buildings". In Hamilton, we look at our rich urban tapestry of heritage buildings and see not an opportunity to be developed, but an "eyesore" to be demolished.

Then, in the letters page, recently-transplanted Toronto property developer Harry Stinson lamented the reception he has received from some quarters for his plan to revitalize the Royal Connaught in an ambitious new mixed use project.

Writing about the economic summit, he observes:

Quote:
I attended this conference and felt encouraged. The next morning, the day on which we were all supposed to go forth and be positive, I opened The Spectator and found a snarky editorial cartoon portraying me as an evil snake oil salesman.

Whether it is ironic or just puts the reality into focus, The Spectator was a sponsor of the summit. May I suggest the emperor has no clothes.

Since moving here, my family and I have generally been impressed with the spirit and warmth of the people of Hamilton. The one sour note has been the mean-spirited, superficial, personal ridiculing of The Spectator's editorial cartoons.
The "squelchers" have struck again. How dare some upstart developer from Toronto come to Hamilton and shame the local industry, which only seems to know how to build suburban single family houses and big box plazas!

In true Hamilton style, we mock his optimism and sneer at his ambition.

It's no wonder we're still suck in the 1950s while more ambitious cities pull ahead of us and put us to shame.

Last edited by ryan_mcgreal; May 8, 2008 at 8:15 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 1:00 PM
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Stinson should get used to that from the cartoonist. The guy hates Hamilton more than anyone on earth.
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  #3  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 1:34 PM
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the day the spec prints a caricature of a hamilton developer i'll eat my dirty gotchies. this town needs a serious enima.
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  #4  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 1:36 PM
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Lol'
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  #5  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 2:46 PM
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The Spec, top City Management and a handful of Councilors are and have been for a long time mouth-pieces and lobbyists for the local home/box store building industry. They build a Lowes a Smart Center/Walmart or a JYSK store and call that progress.

Is that where the 'creative class', the next generation of university grads are going to be employed?
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  #6  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 4:22 PM
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This is why Hamilton desperately needs a CBC affiliate station. We need more media sources/outlets. The CBC would provide another opinion forum. As it is right now, The Spec holds an information monopoly that allows them to squelch and sneer or generally be obtuse regarding important civic happenings.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 4:39 PM
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Quote:
This is why Hamilton desperately needs a CBC affiliate station.
I agree. In the meantime, Hamilton has some pretty feisty independent media - including this forum - to help carry the load and nudge the mainstream media to be more responsive.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 5:33 PM
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Personal feelings on the Spectator's editorial cartoonist aside--Stinson is actually hurt and/or offended by an editorial cartoon? I'm positive on any plans to redevelop the Connaught and bring it back to life--but I would expect someone with Stinson history in the development world to have a thicker skin that this. I believe the suggestion here is that somehow Stinson--or other white knights like him ought to be treated as "precious" due to their willingness to come to Hamilton--in other words, they should be beyond reproach. I fail to see how a blind adoration approach would be a journalistic improvement in The Spectator.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 5:39 PM
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I do not think it's the fact that he was emotionally hurt. I think the cartoon is being used as an example of the defeatist attitude that the Spec consistently takes. Their headlines are always pessimistic, not to mention the actual content. Over time this rubs off on the readers and they come to view all news in a negative light by default. There's no Hamilton pride in the media and it clearly shows.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 5:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coalminecanary View Post
I do not think it's the fact that he was emotionally hurt. I think the cartoon is being used as an example of the defeatist attitude that the Spec consistently takes. Their headlines are always pessimistic, not to mention the actual content. Over time this rubs off on the readers and they come to view all news in a negative light by default. There's no Hamilton pride in the media and it clearly shows.
Exactly. This has nothing to do with "blind adoration" for newcomers and potential investors.

Rather, it's about the Spec simply endorsing legitimate efforts on the behalf of the citizenry--regardless of their vocation--to move Hamilton forward, instead of applying a trademark small-town, narrow-minded cynicism. (Admittedly, however, the Spec is improving, albeit gradually).
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 7:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fastcarsfreedom View Post
Personal feelings on the Spectator's editorial cartoonist aside--Stinson is actually hurt and/or offended by an editorial cartoon? I'm positive on any plans to redevelop the Connaught and bring it back to life--but I would expect someone with Stinson history in the development world to have a thicker skin that this. I believe the suggestion here is that somehow Stinson--or other white knights like him ought to be treated as "precious" due to their willingness to come to Hamilton--in other words, they should be beyond reproach. I fail to see how a blind adoration approach would be a journalistic improvement in The Spectator.

blind adoration from the Spec is only saved for mobsters like LIUNA who ruin Hamilton, NOT for people who are trying to fix it.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 7:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JT Jacobs View Post
Exactly. This has nothing to do with "blind adoration" for newcomers and potential investors.

Rather, it's about the Spec simply endorsing legitimate efforts on the behalf of the citizenry--regardless of their vocation--to move Hamilton forward, instead of applying a trademark small-town, narrow-minded cynicism. (Admittedly, however, the Spec is improving, albeit gradually).
I also agree with this point...LRT coverage has been stellar (for the Spec).
Granted, it's what I would expect from any newspaper in any city, but for the Hamilton Spectator, it's been stellar and miraculous.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 7:43 PM
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I wasnt commenting on anything except the Stinson issue. This isn't about LIUNA, or suburban developers or mobsters. This is about Harry Stinson's glass jaw. I'm glad the LRT coverage has been positive--that's excellent news. Let me be clear--I'm 100% behind Stinson's plan--I'm behind any legitimate plan to restore the Connaught...but the fact remains that as a self-proclaimed real estate tycoon--I would expect his ego to be slightly more resilient. Someone who was as committed to Hamilton as he claims to be would simply brush it off and move forward.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 8:05 PM
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Quote:
I would expect his ego to be slightly more resilient.
I don't think it's about his ego. I think his point is that Hamilton will never become a great place as long as we continue to let the "squelchers" disparage efforts to improve the city.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 8:07 PM
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I have to respectfully suggest that stinson's glass jaw is just your interpretation and not the actual gist of his letter.

The meat of his letter, in my opinion is:
Quote:
I attended this conference and felt encouraged. The next morning, the day on which we were all supposed to go forth and be positive, I opened The Spectator and found a snarky editorial cartoon portraying me as an evil snake oil salesman.

Whether it is ironic or just puts the reality into focus, The Spectator was a sponsor of the summit. May I suggest the emperor has no clothes.
Now because this cartoon was about him, and he is the one responding, I can see how it could be assumed that he's simply taking the cartoon personally. But there's more here in my opinion. Perhaps it should be interpreted more like this:

[paraphrase]
I attended this conference and felt encouraged. The next morning, the day on which we were all supposed to go forth and be positive, I opened The Spectator and found a snarky editorial cartoon portraying someone actually trying to create a positive change as an evil snake oil salesman.
[/paraphrase]

Whether or not any of us think he can pull it off, regardless of the number of successes and failures under his belt, and aside from his social weirdness, I don't think any of us can argue that he's been anything but positive and forward thinking in his words and actions so far in Hamilton, and the spec needs us to whip them into shape because their chronic negativity does have an effect on this city.

By the way I also agree they are getting better (sometimes better by the week it seems!) so maybe all of these little nudges are actually worthwhile :-)
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 8:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan_mcgreal View Post
I don't think it's about his ego. I think his point is that Hamilton will never become a great place as long as we continue to let the "squelchers" disparage efforts to improve the city.
^This is precisely how I read Stinson's letter.

He doesn't want to be Hamilton's Messiah, as far as I can tell. He simply wants to be synecdochic part of its rebirth. That he called the Spec on its squelching simply implies that he wants to occupy a positive niche in this renewal.
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  #17  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 8:24 PM
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Live by the sword--die by the sword. Without passing judgement on his accumen as a developer--the man's entire business relies on hype and promotion. Frankly it's akin to the celebrity who doesn't like to be mocked on Saturday Night Live--they'll happily cash the cheque at the end of the day but are wounded mortally if they're mocked. It doesn't make sense to me at all, and the fact that it would even be raised as an issue is disappointing. Stinson should be full steam ahead as opposed to pouring a foundation for his exit strategy. While it is correct that the Stinson proposal would be a positive change for the city--it's not a not-for-profit project--it's business--in most ways no different than building houses in Ancaster is business. I want Stinson to suceed here very badly--the welcome he has received thus far has been far more than warm--but when I read of his being slighted by an editorial cartoon--I can't help but think that he expects a parade in his honor. I understand why people are rushing to his defence--but give it some serious thought--it just doesn't make sense.
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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 9:20 PM
JT Jacobs JT Jacobs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastcarsfreedom View Post
Live by the sword--die by the sword. Without passing judgement on his accumen as a developer--the man's entire business relies on hype and promotion. Frankly it's akin to the celebrity who doesn't like to be mocked on Saturday Night Live--they'll happily cash the cheque at the end of the day but are wounded mortally if they're mocked. It doesn't make sense to me at all, and the fact that it would even be raised as an issue is disappointing. Stinson should be full steam ahead as opposed to pouring a foundation for his exit strategy. While it is correct that the Stinson proposal would be a positive change for the city--it's not a not-for-profit project--it's business--in most ways no different than building houses in Ancaster is business. I want Stinson to suceed here very badly--the welcome he has received thus far has been far more than warm--but when I read of his being slighted by an editorial cartoon--I can't help but think that he expects a parade in his honor. I understand why people are rushing to his defence--but give it some serious thought--it just doesn't make sense.
I'd say that you missed the point of Stinson's letter. Any number of us have made this abundantly clear (see supra). He's not offended; he's using the cartoon as an illustration, if you will, of a general Hamilton mindset that he'd like to see curtailed in favour of Hamilton righting itself attitudinally. Note that he referred to a Spec article and the keynote address by Richard Florida in addition to the cartoon. He's not crying: he's exhorting. There's a difference. Self-pity is self-directed; exhortation is other-directed.

Only with an appropriately positive attitude can the city really get its shit squared away. It's a good point. People who come here from Toronto--particularly recent immigrants--are not held back by the Hamilton stigma and cynical attitude: they see opportunity, cheap real estate, and plenty of commericial opportunities to set up businesses. James ST N, Ottawa ST, and Locke ST are all exemplars of such.

Why don't we quit putting Stinson down and just root for him and watch what he does? Clearly, we are divided about his past performance, although I think that he has done plenty to warrant our confidence.

Even if his past dealings have been less than we'd hoped, who cares? Since when can't a person reinvent or redeem him/herself by starting anew? Why would we begrudge him this opportunity? It certainly mirrors the Hamilton mythos afterall. From the ashes, and so forth . . . .
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  #19  
Old Posted May 8, 2008, 9:52 PM
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I have been zealously positive about Hamilton for my entire life. Questioning someone's past performance--or using it as an indicator of future performance does not a hater make. Nor is someone a booster merely because they are willing to support a particular developer or development project. Many of the issues that the City is now working to resolve are directly a result of past mistakes--others are simply cirucmstance and timing. I want Stinson to suceed--I want the Connaught thriving again--I can't be more clear about that. Nonetheless, I remember one of the first discussions I ever participated in here was about "mega-projects" and I was soundly taken to task over my support of past "mega-projects"--therefore Hamilton and Hamilton's future neither live nor die on this project. See the thread regarding the London Tap House--a project in many ways as significant for the faith it symbolizes in the city's future.
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  #20  
Old Posted May 9, 2008, 2:17 AM
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Originally Posted by raisethehammer View Post
Stinson should get used to that from the cartoonist. The guy hates Hamilton more than anyone on earth.
Let's not equate hating on Harry Stinson with hating on Hamilton.
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