Project 23

I should be back at City Hall taking in the rest of council business today. There is other business for sure aside from the new bike lane plan. A plan, by the way, that is now in the hands of non-biking riding suburban councillors. Step one? Remove many existing bike lanes in their respective wards.

It’s all a little dispiriting right now, I will admit. A musty smell of the 1950s fills the chambers. Kind of like Aramis or the odd odour your grandparents give off.

Team Ford won a convincing victory in the bike lane debate today. We’re assured those on Jarvis Street won’t be removed until the protected lanes on Sherbourne are up and going although no definitive commitment was made of that if the money for the Sherbourne bike lanes gets lost in the Great Budget Crisis of 2012 or some other technical glitch pops up. Plans are already afoot to bring back the reversible middle lane with nary a peep about the pedestrianized plan that set this all in motion.

Just trust us, we’re told. Our best interests will be taken to heart.

You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t hold my breath, waiting.

But I think it makes the timing right for my unofficial announcement for what I’ve been calling Project 23. An idea in its infancy with the intention of turning up the heat on councillors who are currently enabling the mayor and his crew to do the damage they seem intent on inflicting on the city. As we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have written previously, Mayor Ford is an unmovable force, incapable it seems of compromise or lacking any interest in seeking a broader consensus. There’s little use expending energy trying to change that.

He has his ideological brethren who will not deviate from his position on important or close votes. They too aren’t worth much further consideration. And there are those now luxuriating in the aura of power, a power they could not possibly achieve on their own. Step up and take a bow, Councillor Mammoliti. I’m figuring they are a lost cause. At least until the power begins to dissipate.

Instead, we need to concentrate on those in the so-called mushy middle. Let’s call it the vulnerable middle. Councillors, both new and old, who are regularly siding with the mayor out of either fear of the mayor’s tactical pressure or plain old political expediency. The going’s good now and they are aware of fallout if they are seen to be bucking Ford Nation. So they’re skulking in the shadows, hoping no one notices them and that come election 2014, they’ll be able to continue under the radar of their own ward races.

Let’s start informing them that that’s not going to happen. They will have to answer to their voters if they continue their craven allegiance to this administration. If they think there’s a price to be paid not being a Team Ford player, notice needs to be served there’s going to be no free ride for such slavish devotion.

I’m thinking the likes of the hypocritical Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36). A silent Ford yes man, he managed to get bike lanes in his ward pulled from the new plan for further community consultation and then proceeded to vote against every other motion for further consultation some of his colleagues had put forth. Take that for bipartisanship.

There’s Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10) who gave a rambling, incoherent defence of his support for the mayor’s bike plan. To Councillor Pasternak’s mind, cyclists aren’t parents or business owners. Both he and Councillor Crawford were elected last fall by the slimmest of majorities, propelled mainly on name recognition as school board trustees. In 2014, they will be labeled as nothing more than Ford men.

Executive Committee members Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35) and Jaye Robinson (Ward 25) have been largely silent Ford loyalists, doing the mayor’s bidding and rarely standing up to defend their position. Councillor Berardinetti did get feisty today, flashing the Mammoliti thumbs down in order to remove bike lanes from her ward. Why? Because she lives in the suburbs and the suburbs weren’t designed for bike lanes.

Councillors Josh Colle and Ana Bailão, wards 15 and 18 respectively, lined up in favour of the new bike lane plan and have consistently voted with Mayor Ford on important issues. It’s not entirely certain why yet although one does have to wonder about the mayor’s hold on the Lawrence Heights development in Councillor Colle’s ward until after the bike plan vote. This may be the tactical pressure both rookie councillors tend to wilt under.

And then there’s the other Josh, Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22). Josh, Josh, Josh. Councillor, Councillor, Councillor. I don’t have the vote results in front of me and will state right now I will retract anything I say if I’m wrong but, once more, he seemed to talk a big game of seeking partisanship, deciding on the facts and the facts alone and then proceeding to vote along the lines of supporting the mayor when the chips were down and then voting against him when it didn’t matter. Soon he has to learn that it is not acceptable to talk like a progressive and vote without principles in the hopes that no one notices. We’ve noticed, Councillor Matlow.

We cannot forget council’s perennial deadweights either. Councillors Frank DiGiorgio (Ward 12), Mark Grimes (Ward 6), Norm Kelly (Ward 40), Peter Milczyn (Ward 5) and Cesar Palacio (Ward 17), all of whom voted to install the Jarvis bike lanes in 2009 and then to remove them 2 years later (What about the taxpayers, councillors?) Each had their tortured reasons. None were convincing. Yes, we too know which way the political winds are blowing, councillors.

But the winds will change direction because that’s what political winds do. We can help speed that process along by focusing on these malleable councillors. All we need is to get 6 or 7 of them to start seriously weighing their options every time they press their vote button in favour of the Team Ford agenda. They need to know that there will be repercussions. That they will not be able to operate in obscurity. Their actions will have consequences.

Thus, Project 23. Further details to come. Stay tuned.

Courage!

determinedly submitted by Cityslikr

36 Responses to Project 23

  1. mahlersfifth says:

    I’m on board.

  2. If I can help. Just say the word.

  3. Sol Chrom says:

    Bring it on, baby.

  4. Andrew says:

    Is this similar to the 10.31 Project by Stephen Colbert?

  5. Cliff Reade says:

    Josh Matlow was one of 8 councillors who voted against the mayor’s bike plan to stop the Jarvis bike lanes removal. You say you want to get the middle onside? Then why beat up on one of them who actually listens and we can reach out to. You may push him further away!

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Reade,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke see a more nuanced voting pattern by Councillor Matlow than simply voting against the bike plan.

      The removal of bike lanes along Pharmacy and Birchmount are part of that plan. During the debate, Councillor De Baeremaeker brought forth a couple motions to retain both bike lanes. Councillor Matlow voted against both motions. He also voted against delegating decision on local street bike infrastructure to the community councils. Then when Councillor Wong-Tam introduced a motion to retain the Jarvis bike lanes and implement traffic signal improvements to help the flow of cars (i.e. advanced turn signals), Councillor Matlow also voted against that.

      But the coup de grace came when Councillor Minnan-Wong brought in a ‘friendly’ amendment that actually ran contrary to Councillor Wong-Tam’s motion that sought a guarantee that the Jarvis bike lanes would not be removed until the heralded protected bike lanes on Sherbourne Street were operational, thereby making no such guarantee at all. Councillor Matlow voted in favour of Councillor Minnan-Wong’s amendment. Councillor Wong-Tam challenged the amendment as out of order and Speaker Nunziata ruled against her. When the councillor challenged the speaker’s ruling, Councillor Matlow voted to uphold the ruling.

      So helping keep the mayor’s bike lane plan intact and when it was obvious the plan would be approved by council, Councillor Matlow voted against it which made it possible for him to claim that he was against it. We see that as a strategic but highly unprincipled stand on the part of the councillor.

      • urbplnr says:

        welcome to what appears to be the world of osh matlow. from the outside, much the same pattern was observed during his time at the tdsb. voting strategically in order to be able to say he was both for and against something as it suited his interests. if you really want to needle him, ask him about his daddy issues. seriously.

        anyway, really looking forward to project 23. i’m glad i’m not the only one that’s thinking of a netroots-based city-wide progressive city-building coalition with an eye to 2014.

  6. markbrownlie says:

    As disappointed as I was about the bike lanes being removed, I was even more concerned that the 2 nurses offered by the province were turned down. Again.

  7. markbrownlie says:

    As well, I live in ward 22 and have spoken to Josh many times via Twitter. I honestly do not know what to think. He said on Twitter last night that he had not intended to vote the way he did. An accident, he said.

    • Robert Wiseman says:

      So he is stupid then.

      • jennifer says:

        I got the same response from one of his staffers, that he “screwed up” on motion 7a and tried to fix it in the amendment. How on earth can you screw up a simple vote? I’m not buying that it was an accident at all.

  8. Paul says:

    Ford would be powerless to destroy our city if it weren’t for the cowards who will do anything to stay on his good side. Good on you for calling out Matlow and Bailao. Both seem to carefully plan their votes on amendments and side issues so that they can present themselves as progressives while actually helping to advance the mayor’s agenda.

  9. mcflash says:

    Palacio is my councillor – Mammoliti lite.

    Anything I can do to help, I’m in.

  10. gravystation says:

    Bailao also had Denzil Minnan-Wong put forward a motion that would move the dupont bike lane almost out of the ward. She didn’t want her dirty paws on the motion for anyone who didn’t watch the debate and read the vote online. She resorted to slimy tactics during the election and is using them now that she has won.

    • urbplnr says:

      she learned well from mario silva. and hopefully she’s taking heed of mario silva’s defeat at the hands of cash. ward 18 is not the safe portuguese grannies with pensions from the old country to subsidise your election campaign warchest it once was. the ward is gentrifying fast with a net loss of residents and increase in housing unaffordability.

  11. ibhattac says:

    looking forward to project 23. i’ve been thinking of trying to organise an alternative official plan project. if anyone’s interested, leave a reply and perhaps we can organise a meetup to share ideas in late august. i’m going to be posting on spacing, urbantoronto forums, etc and the other usual haunts.

    basic premise is the city has to review its official plan every 5 years. that is happening now. we can probably get together an alternative plan reflective of the whole city and see where councillors stand in terms of where they want this city to go.

    imho, 2014 is still very up in the air. the rookie councillors have yet to cement their incumbency advantage, so residents might yet still be in a position of power, especially if we can fundraise for our own initiatives using kickstart, etc in order to shape current councillors and potential candidates.

    it might dovetail well with project23.

  12. Adam says:

    Definitely in. Can not wait for details.

  13. [...] lo, the scales fell from his eyes! If Matlow keeps this up, he may free himself from the Project 23 list, an entire sensible reaction to our current council and a great new piece of political strategy in [...]

  14. mark brownlie says:

    I’m in. Looking forward to getting to work.

  15. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Josh Matlow is taking a page from Stinz’s playbook. He looks like a ‘fence-post-Annie’. A throw-back to the past. i suspect he’s got his eye on a mayoralty run.

  16. mark brownlie says:

    So what is the best process? If we are to convince these councillors to shift left, we need to generate momentum in each riding. How do we go about building up that steam? I have been calling councillors (politely) explaining why I think they should vote against the Ford agenda. But I think we need to do more than just wage a call-in campaign. The question is, what will that look like? Do we organize by ward? How do we reach people who are not typically as involved as those of us who spend their free time reading political blogs or attending council meetings? Pamphleteering on street corners? If that is what needs to be done, I’ll park myself at the corner of Yonge and Davisville (I’m in ward 22) or anywhere else for that matter. Anyway- just some thoughts.

    • ibhattac says:

      I don’t think pamphleteering or a call-in campaign is sufficient. it’s far easier to (community) organise around a specific initiative or project or macguffin. I propose to you that the official plan review is one such undertaking that might be a way to get people involved and thinking about the shape of their neighbourhoods. An official plan isn’t rocket science. It wouldn’t be that difficult to get people thinking about their neighbourhoods and contribute to an alternate official plan and secondary plans. If anyone’s interested, reply to this thread, and we can start the ball rolling.

      Take a look at KWT’s Yonge street study if you’re not sure what I’m getting at. A few meetings with local community organisation and residents groups gets everyone thinking and something created which can then be run up to the Councillor as a sign that people are interested and engaged, and here’s a way to get their vote.

  17. mark brownlie says:

    Also, an interesting read, when considering tactics at a fundamental and internal level: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/06/why-lefties-need-to-change-our-language/

  18. mark brownlie says:

    Sorry for all the comments! But just an aside here…another worthwhile project might be to help turn Deco Labels into a union shop. ;)

  19. [...] Daren Foster at local blog All Fired Up In the Big Smoke has announced “Project 23“, an effort to convince swing-vote Councillors or those allied with Ford who have shown signs [...]

  20. cchassels says:

    I like the ideas behind Project 23. What is your take on Gloria Lindsay Luby, the councillor in my ward?

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear cchassels,

      Thanks very much for expressing an interest in Project 23. As we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have been telling anyone and everyone willing to listen to us, it is an idea still in its infancy. Throughout the summer, we will be working to firm up the details, get some internet thingie up and going and be ready for an official fall launch as the budget battles kick into high gear.

      Your question actually gets right to the heart of what we want to do with Project 23.

      Watching City Hall as we do, we most certainly have formed an opinion of your councillor, Gloria Lindsay Luby. We think her to be too slavishly devoted to the mayor. (Check out the council scorecard over at Ford For Toronto to see what we mean. It hasn’t been updated in about a month, so in fact we think her membership on Team Ford may currently be even more entrenched. Hey, Matt! Get updating, will you? You don’t have any other things you’re doing, do you?)

      That, however, is a difference of political opinion. What we find more disturbing about Councillor LIndsay Luby is her relative silence in standing up in council to explain or defend her position and why she is voting the way she’s voting. While certainly not the worst offender, we think she represents the problem we are attempting to address with Project 23.

      That is, councillor anonymity. Too often, and on both sides of the political spectrum, councillors are able to operate in the shadows, voting not so much with their conscience or how their constituents might want them to vote, but with whatever way the political winds are blowing. (A fine example of that occurred at last week’s Jarvis bike lane vote. We don’t have the numbers at our fingertips but we think it was 6 councillors who voted in 2009 to install the bike lanes, voted to remove them this time around. Since none gave really compelling reasons for their change of heart, we have to assume it was nothing more than political expediency.)

      We have come to the conclusion that councillors do this because they believe (with plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up) that no one’s really paying attention. There’s too much going on at City Hall, there are too many councillors to keep track of for a critical mass of citizens to really notice what they’re up to. This is what we’re seeking to change with Project 23.

      We want to shine a regular light on each and every councillor at City Hall. To broadcast as far and wide as we can, every vote they take and every speech they make…. hey, that’s catchy. Somebody should set it to music… every decision they are part of, we want the public to know they made it and why (if any explanation has been offered) they made it. The ultimate goal is to assist voters when they sit down to decide how to cast their ballots not to be doing so from scratch, wondering what their councillor has been up for the past 4 years. We want voters to know what their elected representatives have been doing, and to make their decision accordingly.

      But that’s only part of the equation.

      While we have been accused (rightly so in many cases) of arrogance and possessing a certain disdain for those we disagree with, we hope we wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to pass judgment on councillors and wards we know very little about. We are downtowners, and tell you that neither boastfully nor with a sense of shame. It is what it is. We follow closely the doings of the mayor and his posse. We know what’s what in our ward and a few of the surrounding wards. After that? We have to claim a high degree of ignorance. Again, we take no pride in that. There just isn’t enough time in the day or resources at our disposal to have our fingers on the pulse of the 44 wards that make up Toronto.

      Which is where people such as yourself come in. We hope to make Project 23 interactive enough so you can chime in and tell us what’s going on in Ward 4. “Hey. Councillor Lindsay Luby hosted a really interesting community event here in Etobicoke Centre.” Or, conversely. “I’ve been trying to contact our councillor for two weeks and still haven’t heard back from her.” A picture may emerge from such on the ground reports that, while we may not think much of Councillor Lindsay Luby’s work at City Hall, she is a fine and conscientious constituency type of councillor. We honestly don’t know. We don’t want to impose our misinformed opinions on others. We want to simply contribute to holding our local elected representatives accountable to those who put them in office.

      Yes, we have a very strongly held political bias here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke. Can’t pretend we don’t. But Project 23 is not a vehicle intended to sweep left wing politicians into City Hall. Or for downtown elites to snatch power back from the suburban hordes. We believe this current administration seeks to eradicate the very things that make this city vibrant, livable and desirable. We would like to stop that from happening. One of the ways to help do that is to start holding those councillors who are supporting such destructive policies accountable for their actions. To let their constituents know that is what they’re doing. And to allow constituents to fill in the blanks that we are incapable of filling on our own. That is the driving idea behind Project 23.

      Hope you’ll join us once we have things operational in the next few weeks.

      Stay tuned.

  21. Project 23 is a good idea. I’ve long suggested that you need to get out more. I’m glad too that you are paying attention to what goes on at CH and on committees. See what can happen when you take your head out of your ass – good things – not just egotistical nonsense. Maybe one day you will acknowledge the damage done by Miller and his crew too. If you had been as observant during his years (and Mel’s) you would have spotted the pattern long ago.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are greatly relieved that we have finally received your approval. (Yes, there are significant daddy issues within these four walls).

      We assume that once things get up and going that you will pitch in and contribute, filling everyone in on what’s going on with your councillor?

  22. I still hate the other guy more than this guy says:

    Any thoughts that the 6 or so councillors who voted for the bike lane might have been pressured to do so by Miller et al, and have now voted the way they wanted to? That would never have happened back then?

  23. Of course Miller and crew pressured for votes.

  24. Great idea, looking forward to the details. Willing to help out anyway I can.

  25. John says:

    This is a timely story on people like Crawford who side with the Fords no matter what. Gary told me that he did indeed vote Ford 95% of the time BUT he is still an independent. When asked about his Ford allegiance, Gary said it gets him on the Mayor’s speed dial and will give Gary leverage when the Quarry land development issue is settled. This is bogus. Gary would not say what he would do with his new power to protect residents from this much-hated development. It smells that he never said a word about this during the election. The Ford candidate in Ward36 did not come close to winning but we get Gary instead. The residents were kept in the dark about Gary’s intentions. He is sly and resourceful but people are starting to notice him.

  26. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Goodness me, look how those who Stintz berated during all those Miller years love her now. Do you think they want her to run for mayor?

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