Friday February 15, 2002

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 15, 2002

Sam Merulla’s scheme for banks was ill-conceived

What a guy that Councillor Sam Merulla is.

With a poker face and artfully restrained indignation, he actually professed to be baffled by council’s move to ditch his idea of shaking down the chartered banks to help pay for the city’s infrastructure needs.

Frankly, you would think he’d be more bowled over by the fact he managed to muster as much support as he did to try to stave off Councillor Russ Powers’ successful motion to kill the idea.

Believe it or not, five councillors — that’s fully one-third of council, excluding the mayor — wanted to let Merulla’s proposal stand.

Fortunately, it went down to dirt-eating defeat. But the black eye it gave council lingers on.

Five elected officials wanted Merulla’s motion to have staff investigate the feasibility of sticking the city’s banks with licensing fees to go forward.

It didn’t matter that the idea is a non-starter because it’s outside the city’s legal jurisdiction. It didn’t matter that it would have taken an estimated two to three weeks of a staffer’s time to ferret out all the information Merulla wanted for his half-baked scheme.

And it didn’t matter that the idea stinks of punitive discrimination.

When push came to shove, one-third of council thought either the notion or the brain behind it was worth supporting. (Hamilton Spectator)