Investigation Launched: Corporation Of Hamilton

March 20, 2013

[Updated] Arlene Brock, Ombudsman for Bermuda, announced that she is launching a Systemic Investigation into the Corporation of Hamilton [CoH] on her own motion in the public interest.

A statement from the Ombudsman said, “Allegations brought to her office include lack of transparency, inadequate governance and lack of public consultation – generally [e.g. operational decisions made beyond remit of the Board] and particularly [regarding the proposed waterfront development project].

“The CoH had promised that for the waterfront project: ‘the entire process from early on planning to final construction will be conducted in full transparency and will be inclusive for all to participate at every step of the way’. However, there are concerns that this promise is not being kept.”

Ms. Brock stated: “21st century transparency must demonstrate evidence-based decision-making, adequate disclosure and public consultation on major developments.

“The continuing controversy and apparent growing loss of confidence in the Corporation, in addition to the centrality of the city of Hamilton’s role in Bermuda give me reasonable grounds to launch a systemic investigation in the public interest. Shedding light on governance at the Corporation can only be of benefit to the city of Hamilton and to Bermuda as a whole.”

Ms. Brock takes note of a statement [by a Canadian Court] that sets out the value of Ombudsman investigations: “the Ombudsman can bring the lamp of scrutiny to otherwise dark places, even over the resistance of those who would draw the blinds. If his scrutiny and observations are well-founded, corrective measures can be taken in due democratic process, if not; no harm can be done in looking at that which is good.”

Anyone with relevant factual information is invited to deliver a brief written summary [no more than one page] by 5:00 pm Friday 5 April to info@ombudsman.bm or to 14 Dundonald St., Hamilton.

If more information is required, the office will contact persons who make submissions for follow-up interviews. All submissions are treated in the strictest confidence.

A newspaper report today indicated that a report commissioned by Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge and his City Hall team recommended they each be paid a five-figure annual salary.

In last summer’s election — which was the first under new laws which see one vote per resident — Graeme Outerbridge defeated incumbent Mayor Charles Gosling with 55.33% of the vote [109 - 88].

All of Mr Outerbridge’s fellow candidates in “Team Hamilton” were voted in, with the entire previous Corporation of Hamilton team ousted from power.

Update 12.16pm: In response to the Ombudsman’s statement, Deputy Mayor Donal Smith stated, “The City of Hamilton Council confirms that Office of the Bermuda Ombudsman has begun an own motion review of the City of Hamilton. All council members and staff have been instructed to fully cooperate with the investigation.”

Deputy Mayor Smith added, “The Council welcomes this inquiry into the governance of the City and particularly both the legacy and future aspirations regarding the proposed Hamilton Waterfront Redevelopment Project.

“We look forward to receiving her report, and reviewing any recommendations that shall be forthcoming at the conclusion of the investigation.”

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Comments (65)

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  1. Lets Hope says:

    Thank you Ms. Brock!

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  2. The Truth! says:

    It is time for this "nightmayor" to come to an end!

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  3. Hmmmmm says:

    and when Ewart tried to end this ridiculous institution you all said.............

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    • Sandgrownan says:

      It's not the institution dummy, it's the Nightmayor.

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      • Hmmmmm says:

        You are so right, I forgot all the Mensa members who have led the Corporation in the past. I ain't no fan of Outerbridge either but please do not suggest that he is the first idiot to wear the chain of office.

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        • Bermuda Male says:

          Definitely not the first!

          But he is the first to give away front street to some unknown entity with no consultation.

          And all this power for a man voted in with 109 votes.

          Please Ms. Brock get to the bottom of this nonsense had see whats really going on?

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    • Loquatz says:

      Actually, in its long existence prior to Ewart's meddling, the CofH never had these issues. In fact in the recent years before "the reform" the CofH had been performing very well. Now it's a joke.

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    • Jason Smith says:

      Are you not concerned about the fact that this COH administration effectively gave away Bermuda's most important piece of real estate under the cloak of secrecy? And it is Dr. Brown's team that is in power there now (i.e. Mr. Smith).

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    • UPS says:

      Dr. Browne and company sought to TAKE OVER the corportaion of Hamilton and thhave the government take over and manage their income.

      However, in case you can't see it , City Hall is an extention and filled with friends and family.

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  4. Truth is killin' me... says:

    More out there...keep it coming. The people deserve BETTER!!!

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  5. ? says:

    Wish I knew more about this situation....can anyone explain it to me?

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    • JD says:

      Well it all started when the PLP successfully changed the voting rules for the Corporation from business owners to residents, thereby pretty much guaranteeing a victory for whoever they wanted to run the Corporation. All in the name of democracy of course, because we really shouldn’t have those pesky business owners involved in running Bermuda’s centre for...business, not on planet PLP, no sir.

      Anyway the PLP then put a photographer in as Mayor, stuffed the rest of the Corporation with PLP insiders, and voila a recipe for disaster. I'm just surprised it took this long for problems to arise.

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      • Hmmmmm says:

        Isn't it terrible ?! How dare the PLP allow the residents to vote in an election for where they actually live? It is appalling that universal adult suffrage would be extended to the only remaining vestige of the oligarchal system that we all miss and yearn for. I have an idea, let's get a petition going for the OBA to take that vote away from the people and give it to the businesses where it rightly belongs. And while we're at it, we can trash this pesky single seat constituency thingy we've got going on too; after all aren't you the same people that called that "empire building" that would guarantee a PLP Government forever? Let's do it all in one fell swoop.

        I think its hilarious how you all turn on folk when they don't stick to the script. Graeme is now just "a photographer" when with his name and ilk, had he towed the line he too would've been just like some of the revered City fathers, most of whom onlyfinished high-school and rode the wave of family business and money to Mayor's Parlour.

        Don't rewrite history, its insulting to those of us who were there.

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        • Loquatz says:

          "Don’t rewrite history, its insulting to those of us who were there."

          Don't screw up the present - we're both living it now.

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        • longtail says:

          It is insulting to those of us who paid Corporation taxes and have NO say in how the monies are spent or how the governance of the City is conducted.

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          • Hmmmmm says:

            My taxes pave roads in Devonshire but I can only vote in Warwick. Ah hello ?

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            • Hey says:

              that's not a Devonshire tax it's a Bermuda tax !

              The Corporation tax is to the CITY

              BIG BIG DIFFERENCE

              TRY AND CATCH UP !

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        • UPS says:

          You do realize some took advantage of the fact that "bums" are residents even though their home may be the trees. And before you all freak out, when I say BUM, I don't mean someone that is homeless for reasons beyong their control. Im talking about the alcoholics and drug addics that sleep in trees by choice because the shelters reject them if they are "under the influence".

          If you think these residence are of sound mind and can make sane decisions to benefit the besinesses and true residents - YIOU ARE CRAZY!

          They saw a hole, took advnatage of it and now we have - what we have!!!

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        • UPS says:

          Many of us THAT VOTED PLP originally in good faith wish we could rewrite history, at least the last 14 years of it!

          We all lived thru the last 14.

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  6. Serious Though says:

    ... don't forget the quangos too!

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  7. Pastor Syl says:

    In short, during the Brown Administration, the Corporation was taken over by the Government who then declared that businesses in Hamilton could no longer have a say in what happened in the City, which is patently unfair. After that, they had an election, in which Hamilton businesses could not vote, and elected this new set of councilors, who are doing whatever they please.

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    • Loquatz says:

      Note that the property owners in Hamilton pay the taxes. In the past they had a vote, now they do not. As the Corp technically exists to provide services to the property owners, this is wrong.

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    • Everyman says:

      Agree - taxation without representation is wrong.

      Time for a tea party in Hamilton Harbour?

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    • Hmmmmm says:

      Please don't rewrite history. The Corporations were NOT taken over by the Government. If they were, wouldn't your Government now have been in a position to prevent all of these shenanigans? Why don't all of you admit that opposing the true reform of the Municipalties that EB wanted to do was short-sighted and that if people had the foresight to support rendering the Mayor and the Corporation purely ceremonial we wouldn't be worried about them now. The then Opposition described the reforms as "a land grab". I bet they wish they had grabbed the land back in 2010 so they could control the waterfront development and the like as they do in other developed countries.

      And just so we're clear, managed and peaceful conflict of interest like it was in the good old days of the municipalties, does not equate to good governance and a well run municipality.

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  8. Bermudian says:

    Whatever EB touched turned to ca ca!

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  9. shut up says:

    Don't make me laugh, woman. The PLP did nothing BUT all that nonsense throughout its 14 years. It spent millions on single consultants, and blew 5 billion dollars and lost billions.
    SO SHUT UP!

    I could go on for days. You people are beyond pathetic. The PLP destroyed our island and it will take about 50 years before our debt alone is paid off - the debt that the PLP caused!

    The PLP is so incompetant the only way they got re-elected each time is by brainwashing their followers into believing racist nonsense and shoving anti-white crap in our ears.

    The PLP is garbage and always will be, and you should all shut the heck up because now WE are cleaning up for fetid mess!!!!

    WHAT A JOKE YOU PEOPLE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GET A LIFE AND SOME DIGNITY!!!!!!!!

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    • Loquatz says:

      But they brought Beyonce!

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    • Serious Though says:

      @shut up ... this is the language that push PLP supporters!!!
      you sued these words

      "WE"...clean up the mess
      "incompetent"
      " pathetic."
      "destroyed our island"
      " racist nonsense "
      "YOU PEOPLE"
      "LIFE AND SOME DIGNITY"

      are they directed to the Black community that's support PLP.

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    • Sans Dollaz says:

      don't pay too much attention to this comment...it's just a PLP supporter masquerading as an obnoxious PLP detractor to drive a wedge between white and black Bermudians and make it appear like there are more racist OBA supporters on Bernews than is true in reality.

      a lot of these comments are. Notice how the PLP always talks about "the tone of the bloggers indicates this" and "the vitriol on the blogs shows that" as though ANONYMOUS blog comments are tantamount to empirical evidence. the more racist comments that show up in these ANONYMOUS blogs that allow ANYONE to comment under ANY name, the more the PLP benefits, so it would be in their best interest to hire a squad of paid bloggers to advance a narrative of condescending whiteness.

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  10. here's a thought.... says:

    someone get rid of the 'night-mayor' -- he is nothing but a really bad dream.....

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  11. J Starling says:

    I always welcome the Ombudsman's investigations - her previous ones have been excellent in my opinion. In some ways I think the Ombudsman should routinely investigate every institution that receives public monies, to ensure accountability and transparency and keep everyone on their toes. Why wait until there is a problem, afterall?

    On the issue of the CoHamilton, whether there is a problem there or not will be revealed by this investigation, and no matter what I'm sure it will lead to benefits for Bermuda as a whole in the long-term, and the residents and workers of Hamilton in particular.

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    • Bermuda Male says:

      No sit in at the CoH to demand the documents that detail how the CoH administration just recently gave away the waterfront to an unknown consortium with no external consultation?

      Why not, Jon?

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      • J Starling says:

        Feel free to do so if you feel it is warranted. I am currently overseas. I would fully encourage you to do this if you think it is warranted in this situation.

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        • Bermuda Male says:

          So you don't? Interesting but not surprising

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          • J Starling says:

            No, that is not what I said. Nor was it what you asked (which I initially answered).

            Seeing as the Ombudsman is now investigating the CoH, and part of their investigation, as I read it, is to look at the lack of public consultation re the waterfront development, I personally do not think it is needed, but if others feel it is (and I may have agreed before this announcement)then I fully encourage them to do so.

            I have stated elsewhere that I am not against the redevelopment of the waterfront, but I have concerns about it, particularly the lack of consultation to date, and the risk of increasing spatial inequalities in Hamilton.

            Do you feel it is warranted?

            If so, please feel free to do so rather than sniping from behind your keyboard in anonymity.

            Should you feel such sniping is sufficient, then that would be neither surprising or interesting, but that's by the by I suppose.

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            • Bermuda Male says:

              No worries mate.

              I agree completely that criticizing the Premiers shoe shine business photo op is not on the same level as giving away our waterfront real estate (hence your silence on the matter) What was I thinking?

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              • J Starling says:

                As stated above, I have criticised the proposed waterfront development elsewhere. Please stop your misinformation.

                Again though, why no sit-down protest by you?

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                • Bermuda Male says:

                  Sure you did (re: criticizing the giving away of our waterfront real estate), sure you did.

                  No time as I am going to stage a sit in within the new shoe shine station in HP to demand to see the contract that permitted the use of our tax dollars for the Premier to visit the new hotel addition. Hope they call the police so I can get on the news!

                  I mean we have a right to know!

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  12. It only hurts when I breathe................. says:

    The giving away of Front Street waterfront property under the cloak of secrecy and behind closed doors is MORE THAN ENOUGH reason to get rid of these clowns.

    Outerbridge has just added another nail to his and his fellow CoH's coffins.

    And to think you actually expect now to be paid BY the people of Bermuda for _____ Front Street/the Waterfront FROM the people of Bermuda shows just how delusional you really are (as if I had any doubts!).

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  13. Common Sense says:

    The blame for this debacle can be laid fairly and squarely on the PLP Government in their so-called move to "extend the franchise" in the City of Hamilton. They "extended" it by DISenfranchising every single owner or operator of any shop, store or business, all of whom paid their taxes at a rate far higher than City residents, on the false pretext that individual property owners had numerous votes depending on the number of properties they owned. That had been abolished many years ago.

    The Corporation had already been recommending extending the franchise to all resident of the City rather than one vote for each residential unit. It is a fact that Mayor Outerbridge was elected to office by a grand total of 109 votes - far fewer than in any previous elections. So much for "extending the franchise".

    Bravo to the Ombudsman for making the decision to investigate the Corporation of Hamilton and their complete lack of transparancy. Anyone can read the Corporation of Hamilton's minutes on their website. I defy you to find any record of the decision, or even the debate on leasing the waterfront property. Nor will you find any record of the debate or the decision to hire a "consultant" to advise on how to improve efficiency being raised at any of the public meetings.

    The Ombudsman needs to investigate whether it is true that without any public debate or discussion with the taxpayers they have already set aside between $750,000 and $1 million in their 2013 budget for their members "expenses". It would be interesting to know what this figure was in previous years so we can compare them. The public can then see whether they have decreased this budgetary item in line with these hard economic times (and their cancellation of the annual Christmas Parade), or they have increased it to line their own pockets. Transparency is coming but some may need to be dragged, kicking and screaming before they can be seen in the bright light of day.

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  14. Yeah but... says:

    @shut up - tell us how you really feel about black people...your acestors should have left them wherever they dragged them from right? Things would have been better then right?

    Truth is, wherever the CANCER of colonialism is present you will have this type of divide - it is YOUR sins being manifested right now worldwide with the downfall/implosion of your FAKE monetary/economic systems - not ours.

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    • Bermuda Male says:

      How do you know the color of the above poster? If you haven't noticed not all black Bermudians support or were happy with the PLP.

      What monetary system do you suggest? Should we go back to bartering?

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    • Chuckling says:

      They need one of their buddies to spell it out for him. You will never convince them of anything. Everything was fabulous for EVERYONE prior to 98.

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  15. Hmmmmm says:

    Funny, this is how you know the developers aren't PLP. Not one word about who the developer is and who else signed the ominous lease for the waterfront. This lease was signed only by the Corporation and one signature alone is involved. You people and your bias is just so transparent. The developer is a founding member of the BDA, now OBA, now your Government. Why can't you find it in your poison keyboards to attack him and his partner(s) or does that only apply to some developers? This is fun because the only losers in this scenario are the Government and its rabind supporters who can't quite figure out what friggin side to be on in this one. Even Ms. rent-a-report Ombudsman can't help you.

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    • Bermuda Male says:

      Who are the developers?

      And isn't it the responsibility of COHs elected representatives to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are consulted with such a massive project that includes the selling off of tax payers real estate? I know we aren't used to that given the gift of land afforded to Coco Reef and what not.

      And you shouldn't really be accusing anyone of bias. Just read your posts. They are just as "rabid" my friend.

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    • Yellowfin says:

      Lets hope they are not your useless PLP developers or have you fogotten the crap work, padded bills and underhanded nasty nasty that went on during the PLP`s reign of destroying Bermuda !! No one`s keyboard is more poison than yours!

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    • UPS says:

      The story is about an investigation! Not about a Developer?

      Read carefully:
      “The CoH had promised that for the waterfront project: ‘the entire process from early on planning to final construction will be conducted in full transparency and will be inclusive for all to participate at every step of the way’. However, there are concerns that this promise is not being kept.”

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    • Verbal Kint says:

      So tell us who the developer is so we don't have to guess.

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  16. And The BS Continues says:

    Well doesn't this sound familiar?

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  17. Y-Gurl says:

    Ms Brock, thank you! this quango has been allowed to operate with no rules or regard to the taxpayers that fund them, look at the state of our city since their "engineers" decided to put in 20 foot wide sidewalks which dont allow for vehicles to turn the corners properly, the almost elimination of our much needed loading zones, and this because they could not properly manage them, now our drivers have a terrible time trying to get goods to the stores. The decisions they make on public property are in their own self intrest and without regard for anyone else, and more recently the digging of Hamilton which has been going on for a year without ANY consideration for anyone, and now it has become the norm to have roads closed for months....

    The people of the City welcome this investigation and maybe this will put an end to the bully tactics of a city funded organisation againt the very people who fund it!

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