Challenger Endorsements I

October 1, 2014

So, let me begin this, All Fired Up in the Big Smoke’s first non-incumbent city councillor endorsement post, as a plea for ranked ballots by the time the next municipal campaign rolls around. (Looking good! Fingers still crossed.) rabitVoting should not be a tactical game, a compromise that rarely amounts to anything inspiring. Settling because, well, it could be a whole lot worse.

Take Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina, for instance. Of some 19 candidates or so, 5 are very interesting or, at least, palatable (says hello to Joe Cressy). It would be easy to list off your favourite 3 and be quite content with whatever the outcome instead of pitting them against one another in the hopes of one of them not winning. Or, whatever the mindset is in a first past the post mindset. It isn’t particularly positive.

That said. Here we are. In an imperfect system, we begin our imperfect endorsements.

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Ward 2 Etobicoke North

Back in early June, before any sort of Ford entered this race, we talked to Luke LaRoque. We liked Luke LaRoque. We still like Luke LaRoque. He’s chock full of good ideas about how to re-engage with residents of the ward. He’s got a real grasp of municipal politics. Luke LaRoque is an ideal candidate for city council.

There’s just one hitch.

The air’s been sucked out of the race by the Fords, in particular the outgoing mayor and former ward councillor, the ailing Rob Ford. What little space is left over has been occupied by Andray Domise. He’s got the media’s attention. He is articulate and passionate about the ward. He presents the perfect foil to the Fords’ dynastic pretensions.

Having not talked in detail with Mr. Domise, I can only assess his campaign based on reading through his website and his entries on WiTOpoli’s Position Primer. I was happy to see things being fleshed out yesterday, starting with his transit platform because until then I wasn’t seeing many robust ideas. There were good, positive initiatives framed in vague generalities and rhetorical platitudes. That seems to be changing.

Andray Domise does, however, speak up for those who haven’t had much of a voice at City Hall under the Ford regime, those they claim to have done more for than anybody else in the world.

In an ideal world, one where we have ranked ballots, at this point, Andray Domise would be my second choice for Ward 2 city councillor. That’s not 2014, unfortunately. We have to deal with the situation at hand.

Andray Domise looks like the sort of positive change that could actually defeat Rob Ford at the polls. For the city to turn the page on this turbulent past 4 years, Rob Ford needs to be defeated at the polls. For that reason alone, we endorse Andray Domise for Ward 2 Etobicoke North city councillor.

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Ward 17 Davenport

This one’s another toss up for me. It was in May when we sat down with Saeed Selvam and while he is a very impressive candidate by almost every other measure, he would still be our second choice in Ward 17. We endorse Alejandro Bravo.

Why?

Electability, in a word. She seems well placed to defeat a terrible incumbent. The stars finally seem aligned for her.

Ms. Bravo also seems seasoned and ready to assume her role as city councillor. She has been in the public eye for the last couple years, commenting on local current affairs. Mr. Selvam is a very, very worthy contender with a detailed platform that puts most other candidates to shame. Unfortunately, this just isn’t his time.

It sucks that this is how such important decisions get made. It feels cheap and shallow. But there it is. Politics in Toronto in 2014.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


The Tory In Us

September 24, 2014

I arrived back home last night after just over a week away prepping some soul-searching about the expected mayoralty of John Tory. jetlaggedThe late night snapshots I’d picked up out on the road pointed to not only a victory for Tory in next month’s municipal campaign but, if his numbers held up, a kick-ass win. What did that very real possibility tell us about the mindset of voters in this city?

Of course, I dropped back in right in the middle of the York South-Weston debate that featured the debut of candidate Doug Ford for Mayor. While a campaign of this duration will hardly turn on one debate, Tory’s wobbly performance should probably set of some minor alarm bells in his camp, given his historical electoral inability to close the deal. underattackBeing the clear frontrunner now, the presumptive favourite, Tory will be the main object of attack and, with whatever remains of the Ford machine lurching back up onto its hind legs, and with absolutely nothing to lose at this point, the attacks will be vicious, mindless and unrelenting.

That could play into Tory’s favour, serving as a useful bogeyman to scare more voters his way. Do you really want this guy running the city? You think Rob was bad? Come in under the big Tory tent for a warm, protective hug.

Which brings me back (conveniently) to my original intent.

In post-Ford Toronto, why is it to John Tory a plurality of voters are turning?

“A safe set of steady hands.” No wait. “A safe, steady set of hands.” No. “A safe set of steady hands.” Hmm. “A safe, stead set of hands”? Nick! Run that by a focus group, would you? See what people prefer, what’s the easiest way to say that.

yodaJohn Tory wants to be the next mayor of Toronto but can’t really tell us why. His whole approach to date has been to generally riff on the theme, he’s not that guy or that guy or that NDP candidate. Toronto wants John Tory because it doesn’t want either of the Fords or Olivia Chow.negativespace

It’s a campaign of negative space. John Tory is the least worst, basically. Rally round, troops! Together we will… hunker down and hope the storm passes without leaving too much damage behind. Hunker down, troops.

Not that he’s alone in failing to fill the electorate with hope and create a wave of forward-thinking can-doism. That ‘vision thing’, as another largely negligible politician sniffed at back in the day. The amazingly disheartening thing about the 2014 mayoral campaign is just how lackadaisical in public spirit it’s been. emptypromiseIf nothing else, the mugging the city has been subjected to over the past 4 years exposed many of its weaknesses, and not just the obvious infrastructure fault lines but how it’s failing too many of the people living here.

Yet, here we are, haggling over keeping to the rate of inflation with tax increases or still talking about finding efficiencies. We continue to talk the Ford talk despite the fact that with every passing day such blather gets exposed as pure fantasy and unfiltered bullshit. Clearly, John Tory doesn’t think so. The messenger’s the problem not the message.

And collectively we seem to want to believe that. That all the city’s problems and needs can be wished away and dealt with by somebody else or with fanciful plans on a map that won’t somehow cost any of us a cent. Pander to us, John Tory. Tell us what we want to hear. Fill our minds with delusion. The same trite shit we bought into 4 years ago.

Having surfed that nonsense into a firmly established lead with more than a month to go now, duckandcover2we should expect the Tory Turtle. Duck and cover. Make no mistakes. Engage only as needed in order to keep up appearances. John Tory has told us as much as he’s going to (or as little as he’s had to) about how he will serve this city as mayor.

We seem just fine with that. John Tory has more than met our lowered expectations. So we can now just get on with ignoring the problems at hand.

grumpily submitted by Cityslikr


The Dirty (Baker’s) Dozen

September 19, 2014

throwoutthetrashOn Monday we typed out a hearty endorsement of twelve incumbent city councilors seeking re-election next month. The nice-to-haves, let’s call them. So how about we bookend the work week with a screaming indictment of a dozen (+1) incumbents who contributed nothing to the well-being of the city and the residents they were elected to serve? I dub these, the need-to-gos. City Hall would be a much better place without them.

From worst to only marginally less worse.

1) Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7 York West)

Two words: Police Investigation. What can you say about a politician who allegedly accepted $80K as some sort of gift while serving in office? And it seems like he can’t understand how anyone thinks he did anything wrong! Add to that his noisy divisiveness and boisterous, braying demeanour whenever there’s a camera or microphone nearby, Councillor Mammoliti needs to be shown the door. A resounding ‘no’ in answer to the question: Could [fill in a candidate’s name here] be any worse?boo1

2) Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11 York South-Weston)

The soundtrack to the Ford administration. Councillor Nunziata succeeded in dragging the position of city council Speaker to the dreary depths of partisanship, procedural disregard and ear-piercing combativeness. She wasn’t a moderator. She was a cheerleader. Her plaintive and repetitive beef about her ward never getting nothing from the rest of the city belies the fact she has represented that ward in some manner or fashion for about three decades now. Ward 11 residents should take a long look in the mirror and reflect upon why that may be.

3) Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East)

I will give the councilor this much. He adhered closely to the few principles he has when he voted against the Scarborough subway and a casino. The latter had something to do with his religious faith. The former underlined the fact there wasn’t a tax Councillor Minnan-Wong didn’t hate, an investment in the public realm that couldn’t be cheaper. thumbsdown2While he may think of himself as the fiscal conscience of city council, he’s actually the spirt of miserliness, determined to shrink the city into helpless submission. His is a pre-amalgamation mindset, one we have to rid ourselves of if we actually are interested in building a cohesive, inclusive city.

4) Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24 Willowdale)

Councillor Shiner would probably rank as a true leader of civic destructiveness if he actually gave a shit anymore. He’s harmful enough as it is and he’s now just going through the motions. Nothing signals that more than his successful non-attempt to ban the selling of plastic bags in the city during the nickel tax debate. He just threw the item up for a disruptive laugh, with little debate, no city staff input or review, only to be caught off-guard when it actually passed. He’s another one from the ancien regime of Mel Lastman with little raison d’etre for serving on city council anymore.

5) Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest)

In a close race, Councillor Berardinetti wins the worst rookie councillor award. It was better being an elephant in this city during her first term in office than say, a cyclist or public transit user. sweepoutThere didn’t seem to be a bike lane she wasn’t happy to tear up or a Scarborough subway plan she didn’t embrace lovingly. The fact that she became one of the most outspoken supporters for the subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line speaks volumes to the dubious nature of the project. Gender (or location) alone didn’t earn her a spot on Rob Ford’s first Executive Committee. She was a true believer, changing courses only when it became politically expedient to do so.

6) Councillor Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1 Etobicoke North)

Owing his very presence on city council to Rob Ford, Councillor Crisanti proved to be nothing if not loyal. Literally. He was nothing but loyal to the mayor, right to the bitter end, voting against any sort of sanctions against the mayor even after the crack scandal broke wide. Aside from that, I can’t come up with one thing the councillor championed during his first term, few he even bothered to express an opinion on. He did excel in asking confusing questions to both staff and his council colleagues during city council meetings. So I wouldn’t go as far as to call him a complete and utter non-entity. Just a simple non-entity will suffice.

7) Councillor Ron Moeser (Ward 44 Scarborough East)

He came into last term ailing, missing many, many important meetings and decisions during the first 18 months. While his attendance and health appeared to pick up over the last couple years, I don’t think it unfair to make it an issue during this campaign. thumbsdownEven when he returned to work, there were times Councillor Moeser didn’t appear to be on top of the proceedings especially during the last budget deliberations after he was made a late addition to the committee. His most memorable moment over the last 4 years? Railing against ice cream trucks during the food truck debate.

8) Councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17 Davenport)

While the councillor wasn’t elected to office on Rob Ford’s coat tails, you certainly wouldn’t know that by how he conducted his council business. A Ford loyalist and then some, he even took to flashing his thumb in support of the Ford agenda during votes after Giorgio Mammoliti thought better of such public displays of affection toward the mayor. Councillor Palacio seemed to take great delight in railing against the St. Clair disaster despite the fact it painted a bleak picture of his own ward. Ward 17 residents have every reason to wonder exactly whose interests their councillor put first, theirs or the mayor’s.

9) Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest)

Not a word of a lie, even now, nearly 4 years on, whenever Councillor Crawford got up to speak at council, I’d be surprised. My immediate thought was, who is that guy? throwoutthetrash1The quietest member of city council, he let his actions speak louder than his words, his major accomplishments being, painting a portrait of Mayor Ford and drumming for the band that played at a few of the mayor’s Ford Fests. After that, he silently supported the mayor’s agenda, rarely getting up to explain why. A loyal button pusher until it became problematic to do so, Gary Crawford is a city councillor without distinction.

10) Councillor Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12 York South-Weston)

Amiable enough, the Team Ford 2nd budget chief, Councillor Di Giorgio came across as overwhelmed by all the big numbers. Actually, given his lengthy time in office, he seemed surprisingly overwhelmed by most aspects of the job. He regularly stood up in city council meetings to ask some of the most stupefyingly obtuse questions, to state the most stupefyingly obstuse points, you had to wonder some days how he was even able to find his way to City Hall. When people point to the low quality of local representation as the reason not to give municipalities more control over their future, they will end up pointing to the likes Councillor Frankd Di Giorgio as proof of their argument.

11) Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre)

I’ve conversed briefly with Councillor Pasternak. Councillor Pasternak seems to be a genuinely nice person. booHowever, I still think Councillor Pasternak shouldn’t be a city councillor. His subway obsession in the form of the mystical North York Relief line and the burr he developed up his ass toward the Ombudsman combined to make for a petulant, pandering politician. The fact that he rose to the ranks of both Executive and Budget Committee member speaks more to the emptiness of the Ford Administration than it does to his talents as a city councillor.

12) Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore)

If anyone knows why it is Councillor Grimes got into politics in the first place, why he continues to seek re-election, maybe they can give us a hint. He doesn’t seem to much like his job, reluctantly participating in city council meetings. I think his main contribution this term was to try and limit the amount of time councilors got to speak during meetings. He gives off an annoyed, can-we-move-this-thing-along vibe regularly, as if he has more important things to do with his time than be, you know, a city councillor. The Midnight Mayor nickname Rob Ford bestowed upon him should ultimately mean nothing more than nobody really sees much of Councillor Grimes. That’s how much of a non-factor he ultimately is.

13) Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre)thumbsdown1

We include this bonus track because nobody so cravenly enabled the push for the Scarborough subway at the city level more than Councillor De Baeremaeker. A largely unremarkable councillor with a penchant for bringing props to council meetings, he displayed a serious lack of political judgment when did he did his 180 from LRT to subway in a matter of months for no other apparent reason than out of pure fear of Ford Nation electoral retribution. Turns out, there is no such thing as Ford Nation and now we’re stuck with an unnecessary subway extension. This Glenn De Baeremaeker is what gives politicians a bad name and supplies political haters with all the ammunition they need.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


Challengers To Watch XVI

September 16, 2014

Sitting in a small coffee shop on Kingston Road chatting with Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest city council candidate Robert Spencer about the city’s alarming rate of child poverty, gabbingI was struck by the fact that, wow, we were talking about child poverty. Here we were, as our municipal campaign hit its home stretch, and we’ve heard precious little about this ‘epidemic’ level of child poverty in Toronto. Talk about all the transit and infrastructure needs you want but a city that tolerates nearly 150,000 of its kids living under the poverty line isn’t really a place you should be proud to call home.

This seems to be the issue that has Spencer back knocking on doors after having lost in 2010 by just over 400 votes. Questions of fairness, equality of opportunity, justice have been lifelong pursuits of his during a career spent as a community activist. A former chair of the Toronto Board of Education, Executive Director of Ontario Association of Food Banks and co-founder of the Bluffs Advocate local newspaper, Spencer is well versed with the needs of the community as well as the bureaucracy that sees to them.

“The reality is the city is only great because its people are great,” Spencer told David Hains of the Torontoist last week. “The city only works well because we all get together and work together. I think there’s a whole slew of issues that are missed — if you only look at the hard services in a city, you miss what makes a city useful: art, culture, community education, good health programs, and good nutrition programs for kids. Those are all within the mandate of the City. They’re all much more interesting than arguing about whether eight years from now an environmental assessment is going to be put on this alignment or that alignment, this number of stations or that number of stations.”

Politics is about people not things. “Repaving the roads is not enough,” Spencer told me, although trying to “resolve as many of the practicalities as possible” is a city councillor’s job, filling potholes doesn’t make a city liveable, filling hungry kids’ bellies does.activism

It’s impossible for me to demonstrate the gulf of difference between Robert Spencer’s approach to governance and that of the man he’s trying to remove from office, Councillor Gary Crawford whose signature items during his first term were painting Mayor Ford’s portrait and drumming in the band that played Ford Fest. Oh, and his 76% pro-Ford voting record during the term, including eliminating water efficiency rebate programs, closing library branches, defunding the Tenant Defence Fund, eliminating community environment days, the Christmas bureau, the hardship fund.

And that was just in year one!texaschainsawmassacre

All this while one of the poorest areas of the city sits smack dab in the middle of Ward 36.

According to Spencer, he’s not hearing much of the Ford agenda banter as he’s talking to residents of the ward. Keeping taxes low doesn’t come up that often. As for the Scarborough subway plan, he’s says it’s about evenly split in terms of support. He doesn’t think much of it. It doesn’t do anything in terms of transit for the ward. He’d rather see express bus service brought back that was lost way back with amalgamation.

Again, politics is about people not about things.

I wound up my hour+ interview with Spencer with barely half a page of notes taken, not because he had little to say or out of sheer laziness on my part. communityinvestmentWe simply talked about the state of the city we both loved and what was needed to help try and fix it and I forgot to write stuff down. But his passion for Toronto and Ward 36, and his focus on how to create a fairer place to live with increased opportunities for everyone was obvious.

Whatever the outcome of this election on October 27th, if Robert Spencer is elected councillor of Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest, City Hall will be a better place. He is truly one of the good guys.

happily submitted by Cityslikr


Stupidity Not Mendacity

September 12, 2014

It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I hate the Scarborough subway plan pacification vote getter plan. hateitNothing more than, what do those politician-hating politicians call it? A boondoggle. If this monstrosity actually comes to be, and there’s no guarantee it will, folks. There’s no deal signed. No money in the bank. Just malleable promises, pandering politicians and one big novelty cheque.

But let’s say the political winds don’t change and sometime down the line, off there on the horizon, at a distant point in the distant future, 3 new stops get slapped onto the eastern end of the Bloor-Danforth subway. Hurrah! Scarborough gets more of a subway, civic pride is restored and… well, nothing much else will change. It’s all just questions after that. Will the ridership numbers live up to the pie-in-the-sky estimates or will there be more of a drain on the TTC’s operational budget? What about all those other residents of Scarborough who can’t easily walk to one of the three subway stops and are once more relying on bus service for their commutes? How come I’m still paying property taxes for this fucking subway?ooops1

What’s so particularly galling about this nonsense is that it’s all so unnecessary, unnecessary and counter-productive.

In a discussion paper released this week, Build Regional Transit Now, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, among other things, called for an end to political interference in transit planning. This being 2014, it is something of a sad irony such a plea had to be made since the provincial transit planning body, Metrolinx, was established just for that very reason. David Hains does a great job in the Torontoist, running down the rocky not so non-political history of Metrolinx.

I want to take you to page 17 of the TRBOT’s report. Under the subheading, “Decison-Making and Project Execution a Struggle”, it speaks directly to the Scarborough LRT/subway debacle. Or ‘standoff’ as the report calls it.

At the heart of any sound governance structure is accountability and efficient decision-making. These elements were clearly not in place with the on-going Scarborough subway versus LRT standoff. Indeed, it demonstrated much confusion around the roles and responsibilities of Metrolinx and who exactly was accountable for driving regional transportation expansion. Despite Metrolinx’s transportation planners recommending an LRT line, including close to $100 million in sunk costs associated with environmental assessments and other preparatory work, Metrolinx’s advice was, in the end, ignored by both the Province and the City of Toronto. Over the span of several weeks, the agency was compelled to first endorse a subway proposal from the then provincial Transportation Minister and later Toronto Council’s approved subway route.

In a paragraph nutshell. Expert advice was ignored. Money burned. Political pressure brought to bear on an apparently non-political agency.

The question, of course, is why? And the simple answer is politics. whyThe conventional wisdom went that Scarborough residents wanted a subway, so Scarborough politicians bent over backwards to give them a subway, good governance and a cool hundred mil be damned.

But here’s what really burns my ass about that line of non-reasoning. When did that become conventional wisdom? Rob Ford’s election and his Subways Everywhere mantra, perhaps. The minority Liberals, running scared and willing to do anything in order to keep seats in Toronto.

A good theory, I guess. I don’t have a better one. The problem is, I’m not convinced the very premise lying at the heart of all this holds water.

As a Forum poll showed this week, 56% of Scarborough residents asked stated a preference for subways over LRTs. Here’s the catch. It was a completely loaded and skewed question. thisorthatEssentially it went, subway or LRT, “if costs for building both were the same”?

The costs aren’t the same. Not even close. Subways are more expensive. End stop. Moreover, the Scarborough LRT wouldn’t have cost Toronto residents any additional money. The subway has its own property tax increase.

So it was a stupid question, for sure, of the all things being equal type when clearly they’re not but even so, even with a pro-subway angle to the question, only 56% of respondents in Scarborough favoured building a subway.

That is hardly an overwhelming majority. Nowhere near the 100% support the mayor and other subway proponents tout. Given a proper shaping of the question, it would be even less.

In fact, earlier this year, a Leger poll found 56% of Scarborough residents wanted to revert back to the originally planned Scarborough LRT. “I think we’re starting to see a shift now as people become more aware of the cost to build subways,” said a Leger researcher. ontheotherhand1Yet, here we are, being told the exact opposite by the politicians we elected to represent our best interests.

The confounding thing to me is why. If voters can be convinced of the folly of building a subway extension into Scarborough with little more than a money argument, how come politicians aren’t willing to do just that? To recommend the advice of the non-political experts who tell us that a Scarborough LRT is really our best option. How has this debate become so fucking convoluted and divisive?

I have no answer. It’s one thing to chalk up politicians’ motives as doing whatever it is they need to do to get elected, and re-elected, and re-elected. Putting their interests before the interests of the voting public. A time-honoured, tried and true formula.

But the decision-making process for the Scarborough subway doesn’t seem to be that. It’s not about some failure to lead. It’s about the desire to mislead.

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When all the factors point in the direction of one decision, and the public appears prepared to accept that decision, what politician would opt not to make it? That’s not crass and craven politics. It’s flat-out idiocy.

head-shakingly submitted by Cityslikr


See Ya, Soks

September 10, 2014

Even in light of David Soknacki’s withdrawal from the mayor’s race last night, I refuse to go blaming a campaign team for over-estimating the public’s desire to engage in meaty policy thinking during an election campaign. goodintentionsIt’s a good instinct to have, I think. Optimistic. Displaying faith in your fellow human beings. Respecting our collective intelligence.

Unfortunately, it also may be somewhat misguided. What a candidate really seems to need to be successful is an image consultant not some nerdy issue wonks. Keep it simple. Most people don’t pay that much attention.

“Ultimately, the reason Ford got elected is that voters were very superficial,” says [Soknacki campaign manager Brian] Kelcey, noting his awareness that these comments may come back to haunt him. “I believe that the reason voters were willing to vote for Ford in 2010 in such numbers was because they were being superficial about municipal issues. That they wanted change, but they bought into the idea that the solutions could were simple and could be expressed in meaningless slogans without a plan to back them up… The challenge is that we’re still facing superficial voters, and the voters who are being anti-Ford may be being as superficial as the voters who were being pro-Ford in 2010, by not demanding more of the other candidates.”

While this, in David Hains’ fantastic Torontoist piece from yesterday, might come across as sour grapes from a failed campaign, it’s difficult to disagree with Mr. Kelcey at this point. sourgrapes1Even in a campaign this long, months and months long, there was very little space given over to detailed ideas and platforms with even two dimensional complexity. Freak shows and catchphrases. Toronto Votes 2014.

Maybe that’s just politics in the Rob Ford era. 2010, Rob Ford, good. 2014, Rob Ford, bad.

But I think it goes much deeper than that. We’d like to think that in a robust democracy substance matters. An informed electorate will look past personalities and zippy slogans, and dig down into the meat of matters. The message is what matters not the messenger.

The fact is, we’d be idiots to believe that. “Firstly, it must be said that Soknacki is a dedicated and conscientious policy wonk and, I think, a genuinely decent human being,” @mightygodking tweeted last night. “All of that said: so what? This is politics. It is not THE WEST WING.”

We can blame this on all those ‘low-information’ voters out there, too busy or too ignorant to take the time to become really informed, substancebut I suspect most of us are not immune to our visceral, initial impressions of a candidate. Many of us love our brand affiliations. This is why the ‘NDP candidate’ Olivia Chow barb from John Tory has stuck so clingingly. That’s gut trumping brains.

Everybody knew that this campaign would be some sort of referendum on Mayor Rob Ford. That tends to happen when an incumbent runs for re-election. The calculus of engaging that by each candidate was different.

David Soknacki and his team rolled the dice, figuring the public was tired of the outrageous antics of the mayor, and wanted somebody the exact opposite. A low key, less colourful figure with good ideas. Toronto just wanted some peace and quiet, and for city council to get on with running things competently.

The problem for Team Soknacki turned out to be that John Tory did them one better. patricianHe was low key and less colourful than Rob Ford minus the good ideas part which rarely counts for all that much in an election campaign. Sorry.

Where in 2010, Rob Ford caught the spirit of voters with one word, resentment, John Tory is doing it in 2014, competency. Is he competent? Doesn’t matter. His suit fits perfectly.

David Soknacki ran smack dab into the impermeable bubble of illusion created by money, influence and class, frankly. The patrician John Tory had the Those Seeking Competency Above All Else vote from the outset. He didn’t have to prove it. He just was.

But I will throw mad props out to David Soknacki and all those who dedicated their time and energy to his candidacy for actually thinking we were prepared to engage in an issues-oriented campaign, for making a bid to our better angels. For various reasons, we weren’t up to the task. Toronto scared itself shitless 4 years ago and now was desperately, irrationally trying to un-inflict the damage. 2014 was no time to engage in ideas about the future.

hattip

grumpily submitted by Cityslikr


Tory Time

September 9, 2014

What do John Tory supporters see when they see candidate John Tory? What do Tory supporters dream when they dream John Tory dreams?sheepdreams

I ask, as I was struck somewhat by a series of responses I got over the Twitter this weekend after I took to mocking their dear leader for his apparent flip-flop over the ranked ballot voting reform initiative now sitting in limbo at Queen’s Park. (Here’s John Tory in May, all over the idea of ranked ballots:  Yes, I’m very open to the discussion…” blah blah blah… “ Look, if you have the discussion, there’s no reason you couldn’t have it in time for the next election.” Here’s John Tory’s response to the ranked ballots Big Idea published this weekend in the Toronto Star: “Position:  No. Both the city and the province are examining electoral reforms and I look forward to seeing the results of those studies…” blah blah blah…

Carrying this parenthetical over to a 2nd paragraph, it’s also interesting to note in John Lorinc’s Spacing article from May, twofaced1John Tory was gung ho about the Downtown Relief Line and stated emphatically that the rapid transit expansion for northwest and northeast Toronto in the form of the Finch West and Sheppard East LRTs might have to be delayed, de-prioritized and sacrificed at the altar of the DRL. Four months on and the guy can’t shut up about SmartTrack. Just how malleable are his transit plans, it makes one wonder.)

In response to his glaring ranked ballots flip-flop, I fired off a series of tweets, suggesting that aside from their respective code of conduct differences — Rob Ford, all debauched, degenerate and dissolute, John Tory, buttoned-down, hair parted on the left, corporate – I couldn’t see much daylight between the two candidates. While Tory’s SmartTrack isn’t nearly as phantasmagorical as the mayor’s Subways Redux plan, it still relied solely on a one magic bullet funding solution. John Tory hates taxes as much as Rob Ford does, except when it comes to the Scarborough subway. waitasecondBoth men now appear to be on the same page when it comes to voting reform.

John Tory: a warmed over Fordism dressed up in a tailored suit. City Hall, crackless, but essentially Rob Ford’s 2nd term.

I expected pushback in terms of policy from Tory fans. No, no, no. You got it all wrong. SmartTrack is this… Or, Mr. Tory’s new position on ranked ballots is more new nuanced. It’s not so much a reversal as it is a re-thinking.

Uh uh. Not even close. What I got were variations on a theme. ‘Inoffensive.’ Gracious. A pleasure to work with. ‘Genuine and impacting’. (**shrug**) ‘A businessman with a sparkling resume’.

Which was the fucking point of my outburst!

Nothing but personal testimonials. Issues? Issues? Give me an issue, I’ll make a tissue and wipe my ass with it. (h/t to the Lou Reed for that.)

Clearly, politics in Toronto has grown flabby and lazy. The uptick in support for John Tory in this campaign suggests that more and more people in this city look around and see the problems we face, birdsofafeatherwhether it’s congestion or growing inequality, and they come to the conclusion that, damn, if only our mayor hadn’t smoked crack, we wouldn’t  be in this mess.

We seem willing to extend our delusion that these things can all be fixed without anybody having to lift a finger to contribute. We just need to fire a few more bureaucrats. Lean on the private sector a bit more. Keep on keeping our taxes low.

Ignore the fact Rob Ford did all these things. In between crack smoking bouts and punching people in the face while holding a McDonald’s bag, these are all policies he pursued. Cuts to services and programs. Reduction in spending. Sheppard subway extension anyone?

Now we seem to think that all these things would work if we only had someone else in place to implement them. Someone inoffensive. Someone gracious. Someone genuine and impacting. Someone like John Tory.

What I once thought was a political liability, I’m now beginning to think might’ve been a stroke of pure genius on the part of John Tory. Back in the 2010 municipal campaign, he donated money to both Rob and Doug Ford. When the donations came to light this time around, people jumped on him. What were you thinking, John Tory? wolfinsheepsclothingLook how this all turned out.

I can only imagine what it was John Tory was thinking. Help get Rob Ford elected mayor. Support him early on. And when he crashes and burns, because the safe bet was he’d crash and burn, people would turn to John Tory to come in and clean up the mess. John Tory’s ticket to power would be that he wasn’t Rob Ford.

The joke is, beyond the wreck in the mayor’s office, John Tory has no intention of cleaning up the mess Rob Ford left behind. A John Tory mayoralty is going to be pretty much business as usual. Build and repair what you can within the confines of shrinking revenue. Cut and eliminate where necessary to keep the books balanced.

He’s done or said nothing to suggest otherwise. Believing he has is simply believing in fairy tales. Once again a plurality of Torontonians seem happily prepared to fall for the big con, part two.

depressingly submitted by Cityslikr


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