Hamilton's the kind of city where half of City Hall says they've been bullied at work, where the "accountability" committee charges you $100 to make a complaint and proposed that it would only investigate if you are never quoted in the press on the matter, and where city policy prohibits linking to its website without written permission.
Though Hamilton has its own news media, when crowdfunded reporter Joey Coleman started showing up to livestream its council meetings, he was often the only reporter in the newsroom. Many councilors and City Hall staff conceived of a dislike of him, but none so much as Lloyd Ferguson, who ultimately seized Coleman and, according to Coleman, tried to drive him to the floor while he was on his way to a press-conference (Ferguson also presided over the policy of punishing people who disclosed their complaints to the Accountability and Transparency committee).
After a crooked, one-sided, roundly criticized report into Ferguson's attack on a journalist in City Hall, the city staff changed the rules in such a way as to make his work impossible, citing his "abuse" of the website (that is, linking to the city's official website without written permission) in justification. Then the town paper ran an editorial dismissing the whole affair and its aftermath, saying the whole thing should be "put behind us."
Today, Coleman finds himself all but incapable of doing his job, and the council can once again operate outside of real public scrutiny and transparency.
The Canadaland interview with Coleman (MP3) is a fantastic and gripping tale of how someone willing to do the boring, unglamorous work of attending every single city council meeting can singlehandedly hold the people who control the city's $1.5B budget to account, and how corruption, dereliction and violent intimidation is brought to bear on those who would do the foundational work of democracy.
The Reporter Who Fought City Hall
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