Challengers To Watch II

May 20, 2014

If I were a voter in Ward 17 Davenport, and I was forced to choose between the incumbent councillor Cesar Palacio and,mrpotatohead say, Mr. Potato Head, I’d have to go with the plastic spud. You can pop his eye out when you’re mad at him, plus he sounds like Don Rickles. Neither of those qualities does Councillor Palacio possess.

Fortunately for voters in Ward 17, they won’t have to make that kind of choice. In contention this time around in the upcoming municipal election is Saeed Selvam. He is one of numerous new faces and new voices throughout Toronto running for city council in October. We really should be excited at the prospect of such a vibrant slate of newcomers putting their names forward as candidates. We just have to figure out a way to get them all elected.

Mr. Selvam is a long time social and community activist, going all the way back to high school. He was a member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet. accomplishmentsHe helped create the Youth Challenge Fund. He co-founded the SPARK Initiative. Most recently, Mr. Selvam managed the Your32 campaign for the CivicAction Alliance’s push for more dedicated transit funding.

Phee-ewww!

I got kind of winded just listing the guy’s accomplishments.

When we sat down to chat last week, and with Mr. Selvam already out there knocking on doors in Ward 17, he told me that what he was attempting to do was engage the disengaged. Last time, voter turnout in the ward was a good 5% less than the city as a whole, one of the lowest of the 44 wards. There is a pool of voters out there, largely ignored. It’s a potent number if the right voice decides to speak to them.

While a lot of factors go in to determining voter turnout – personal income, home ownership versus renting, the weight of incumbency – I do think the quality of representation plays a significant part. If your councillor is something of a stiff, disengagedslow to respond to requests and questions, rarely venturing out into the wider community or connecting with them in a any regular and meaningful way, I tend to think they don’t generate a mad rush to the ballot box come election day. Apathy breeds apathy.

For Mr. Selvam, the local leadership in Ward 17 has been largely reactive not proactive. Nowhere is that more in evidence than the St. Clair streetcar right of way. Or the St. Clair Disaster as Councillor Palacio has been known to parrot regularly.

You notice the boundary line between wards 17 and 21 at Winona Drive. East of it in the ward represented by Joe Mihevc, an early and ardent supporter of the ROW, business has bounced back and is flourishing in fact. Part of that is as you head east you approach the St. Clair West subway station at Bathurst Street. The neighbourhoods nearby tend to get a little more upscale too, as you start to nudge into Forest Hill.stclairdisaster

The other way, in Ward 17 the traffic snarls at the western end by the railway overpass that squeezes traffic near Weston Road. This presents the streetcar ROW as a problem not an opportunity for economic development. A disaster!

But Councillor Palacio was an opponent of the ROW from the get-go. He fought it, resisted it and wound up not prepared for the rebuild when the construction did finally end and the streetcars started running. So Ward 17 lags behind its eastern counterpart along St. Clair, at least in part, because the local councillor never accepted it or came to terms with it as an economic driver for his ward.

Mr. Selvam points out another under-utilized asset. Earlscourt Park, a strip of green space between Davenport and St. Clair, on the east side of Caledonia. creatingcommunityIt’s perfectly serviceable, according to Selvam but it could be so much more, much more of a true community gathering space.

Creating a stronger sense of community seems to be one of the main driving forces behind Saeed Selvam’s desire to serve Ward 17 at City Hall. While that may seem like little more than a platitude, an empty talking point, if that’s not every municipal politician’s political touchstone, then you have to question their ultimate motives. A community is only built through inclusion not exclusion. That can only really happen when you endeavour to open engagement to a wider segment of those you were elected to represent.

The truth is, it won’t be easy to unseat Councillor Palacio. He is a wily politician who has beaten back challenges from very impressive candidates over the past couple elections. This time around, however, he has the additional baggage of being one of the ardent supporters of our disgraced mayor, remaining loyal to the end. mosaicHe needs to answer for such loyalty, explaining to every one of his residents how that helped them in their daily lives.

Once again, Ward 17 Davenport has the chance to elect a representative to City Hall who better reflects the new realities of their neighbourhoods and communities. A new voice seeking a wider engagement with a constituency bigger than just those who voted for him. Saeed Selvam represents an opportunity for not just the ward he wants to represent but for the entire city to press the reset button and put the mess of the last 4 years behind us. To get on with the task of real city building.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


Bloodied Cesar (I Just Had To)

April 7, 2014

I will give Councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17 Davenport) credit for this much. Talk about having the stones to bad-mouth a major piece of infrastructure that runs right through the heart of your own ward. citybuildingInfrastructure built under your watch.

That takes some nerve, it does. Stepping up and announcing to anyone listening, hey. Look at this mess I helped create. Vote Palacio!

But this is exactly the route the councillor took after signing on to Team Ford in 2010. Aside from maybe the mayor and his brother, and perhaps Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston), nobody beat the drum about the St. Clair Disaster louder than Councillor Palacio. Never mind that most of the claims being made were untrue. Yes, the construction did not go smoothly. There were overruns in both time and money. Businesses along the strip suffered.

Don’t forget, however, Councillor Palacio was in office during all this. It’s not as if he inherited it. By yapping on about some perceived disaster, he’s basically announcing that he’s unfit for office. Almost like he’s daring voters not to support him.

Imagine being a resident up near St. Clair or a business along the strip, idareyou1and your local representative can’t seem to tell enough people about how bad things are there. I hear there’s a really good restaurant on St. Clair. Wanna go try it? I don’t know. I would but I hear it’s a nightmare up there. Or… or… You live near St. Clair? I hear it’s a real disaster. Who’d you hear that from? The guy you elected to represent you at City Hall.

Your councillor, Ward 17. Cesar Palacio. Advocating and fighting for your interests since 2003.

Councillor Palacio has been the closest thing downtown Toronto has to a bona fide member of Team Ford. He has accepted the role with particular relish, garnering himself a seat on the Executive Committee through his position as chair of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee. thumbsup3When Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s (Ward 7 York West) thumb fell out of favour or into disuse (was never sure which it was), Councillor Palacio, perched as he was directly behind the mayor, enthusiastically filled in, flashing his thumb to let folks know which way the mayor wanted them to vote.

Not that I’d imagine anyone followed his instructions. In fact, I’m not even sure the mayor was ever aware of what Councillor Palacio was doing. The gesture probably had more to do with the councillor signalling to everyone that he was behind Mayor Ford both literally and figuratively.

Despite the mayor’s recent woes, Councillor Palacio has remained a steadfast devotee although he did join the enemy’s list when he voted in favour of stripping the mayor of his powers. The councillor has been firm in his support of a Scarborough subway and against LRTs (because that’s what made St. Clair a disaster, don’t you know). He was part of the gang of 5 TTC commissioners who helped engineer the ouster of then CEO Gary Webster after he had the temerity to publicly suggest it best to stick with the LRT plan that was already in place and paid for by the provincial government. Councillor Palacio was, in turn, thumbsuprobfordunceremoniously dumped when then TTC chair Karen Stintz pulled off her own putsch (curiously however the councillor voted in favour of his own termination), booting those known as Ford loyalists from the board.

Ford loyalist.

I think that would be the most apt and probably only term I’d come up with if asked to describe the councillor’s time in office this term. What else can you say about Cesar Palacio? A Ford loyalist.

And like all Ford loyalists whose last name isn’t Ford, what did the councillor get in return for such fidelity and reliability?

Why just last week in these very virtual pages we reported how the councillor, in his capacity as chair of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee, overseeing the food truck issue, seemed to have been blindsided by the mayor’s motion to eliminate the 50 linear metre from any restaurant rule the councillor was proposing. gotyourback1Councillor Palacio asked the mayor if he realized it was his motion that the mayor was seeking to amend. So obviously there had been no consultation between them. The councillor also wanted to know if the mayor knew just how long it had taken to bang out the sort of compromise he was now seeking to undermine with his off-the-cuff motion.

Mayor Ford appeared indifferent to the councillor’s plaintive tone. That’s just the way he rolls, yo. Loyalty’s a one way street with him, baby.

Still, Councillor Palacio hasn’t come away empty handed with his toadying to the mayor.

Only in a Rob Ford administration could an undistinguished councillor like Cesar Palacio rise to the rank of a standing committee chair, even a lowly regarded one like Municipal Licensing and Standards. But hey. If a Frank Di Giorgio can become budget chief, the sky’s the limit for mediocrity. Chances are Councillor Palacio’s star will never shine as brightly (such as it) as it has for the past 3+ years, although I did spot him at the official launch of John Tory’s mayoral campaign, so his time in the sun may not yet be done.droppedball

The bigger question is, what have Ward 17 residents got in return for their councillor’s brush with power? Used as a political cudgel to fight a transit war across the city in Scarborough. Check. The implementation of the Ford agenda. Check. Fighting to remove a methadone clinic. Check.

Ummm… after that, I’m kind of drawing a blank.

After 10 years in office, you’d think Councillor Palacio and the ward he represents would have a lot more to show for it than that.

curiously submitted by Cityslikr


Big Fucking Idiot

April 4, 2014

No, no. This isn’t about that, the term of endearment hurled at Mayor Ford by his crack-buddy, Elena Basso Johnson, and caught for posterity on police wiretap. bfiNo. I was turning the phrase over in my mind while watching the mayor on his feet at city council yesterday during the Great Food Truck Debate of 2014.

Set aside his personal travails. The manner in which he spends his off hours and down time. The affection and loyalty he so clearly engenders, hanging out and just being himself with the drug and gang folks. Pretend for a moment that isn’t what would normally disqualify anyone from continuing to hold public office anywhere in the real democratic world.

Watch Mayor Ford in action (clip via Matt Elliott), ostensibly doing what he was elected to do, what he’s supposedly been doing since 2000 when he first arrived at council. Watch and tell me, within a couple minutes, you don’t sit back in your chair and just think, What a big fucking idiot. Who voted for this guy again?

Look. The mayor’s not even entirely in the wrong on this. I mean, god! Food trucks! Watching this agonizingly prolonged debate, coming at the end of a year and a half process, you’d think we were venturing into uncharted territory here, as if no place else on earth has gone down this road before. It’s like the plastic bag ban or the fight over removing part of an expressway. Careful as she goes, guys! Trailblazing’s tricky!

And given the last big adventure in mobile food slinging, the á La Cart program (spit!), who’s going to disagree with Mayor Ford when he states that he’d “…just like to loosen up the restrictions a bit”? cuttheredtapeIf there’s one thing councillors should’ve learned from that mess of mess providing is that you can be too prescriptive, restrictive, meddlesome and red tape-y.

Fighting all that and the bureaucracy at City Hall is supposed to be his bread and butter. Looking out for the little guy, right? The defender of small businesses and job providers. Scourge of intrusive big government and political man-handling.

Could there be an item before city council more tailor made for Rob Ford to hit out of the park? A bigger and slower softball lobbed tantalizingly into his wheelhouse?

You wouldn’t think so.

Yet, there he was, in typical stumbling and bumbling fashion, unprepared to defend his motion.

foodtruck1If only he’d done even a modicum of homework.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Rob Ford doesn’t do homework. He’s a fly by the seat of his pants, gut feeling, shoot from the hip politician. That’s why the folks love him.

It’s also why he’s a big fucking idiot.

First of all, his motion to delete the proposed stipulation keeping food trucks 50 linear meters from any bricks and mortar restaurant sought to amend an item put forth by his very own Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee chair, Councillor Cesar Palacio. This is a guy loyal to a fault to the mayor, dimming his re-election chances in Ward 17 in the process. As Mayor Ford’s fortunes go, so too will Councillor Palacio’s.

Clearly from the tone of Councillor Palacio’s questions to the mayor, there had been no prior consultation between the two men before the motion was put forth. The councillor asked if the mayor was aware he was amending his item. Mayor Ford shrugged. Councillor Palacio wondered if the mayor knew about the food vending working group that had been hammering out compromises like the linear distance for the past 18 months. cantbebothered
Again, Mayor Ford shrugged.

This followed the same line of reasoning Councillor Raymond Cho pursued when he asked the mayor if he’d attended any of the committee meetings that put the food truck proposals together. The Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee. The Executive Committee (which Mayor Ford is a member of). The mayor shrugged. Attended? Not so much. He assured the councillor, however, that he followed along. He is the mayor of this city after all.

Besides, Mayor Ford met with people about the item. In his busy, busy office. ‘They’ told him what ‘they’ wanted.

Were these people lobbyists, Councillor Paula Fletcher asked. Like it’s up to the mayor to know that! The integrity-challenged mayor then went on to explain the rules to the councillor. “It’s up to them to register,” Mayor Ford said. “It’s not up to me to ask.” goitalone1Apparently, in Mayor Ford’s world, a lot of people get offended when you ask them if they’re lobbyists before you sit down to discuss city business with them.

I told you guys from the beginning, he’s a big fucking idiot.

Besides his lack of collaborative interest or acumen, Mayor Ford also displays a fundamental deficit of attention to details. In moving to delete the 50 linear meter regulation, he just simply proposed a ‘not in front of a restaurant’ rule. Exactly how not in front? A meter on other side? Could you set up shop right around the corner from the restaurant at the side of it, in clear view of the front? How about the parking lot? Could a food truck park in the lot of a restaurant as long as it was at the back?

These kind of details matter. In all likelihood, they were discussed in the working group and various committees that hashed all that out leading up to the council debate. Meetings the mayor may or may not have followed in between appointments with people who may or may not have been lobbyists.howshouldiknow

If he’d spent even an hour checking out how other cities manage the food truck-restaurant dynamic (and it’s not like he has much else to do at this point in his busy, busy schedule), he might’ve come up with more specific ideas instead of his half-baked “This is free enterprise! Let them sell what they want! Let the customer decide” motion that emphasized nothing more than his haphazard, governance in isolation mode that serves no constructive purpose aside from burnishing his lone wolf brand.

Forget his monumental personal failings. This is why he’s unfit to be mayor of this city. This is why he’s a big fucking idiot.

frankly submitted by Cityslikr


Who Are They Trying To Kid?

November 22, 2012

Exactly who or what is the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition? Enquiring minds want to know.

Or, at least, I want to know since this other TTC has become the go-to group for conservative columnists in town (the Toronto Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy is a fan) and talk radio show hosts like the Ford Brothers (just this past week, Part 1 of the show) when it comes to getting the skinny on tax and spending matters at City Hall. Even the apparently liberal biased CBC gave the group a nod, mentioning its 2012 City Council Report Card that was released this week. (More on that in a minute.)

From the other TTC Mission Statement: The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is a non-partisan advocate for the municipal Taxpayer. We are committed to lower taxes, less waste, and holding government to account with respect to how they spend your hard earned money.

Ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….

If the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition considers itself a ‘non-partisan advocate’ then that term is absolutely meaningless. Fuck. By that measure, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are non-partisan advocates.

Their Mission Statement could’ve been cribbed from the Rob Ford for Mayor campaign platform. Taxpayer. Lower taxes. Less Waste. Respect. Respect for the municipal taxpayer from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition.

When the group’s 2012 City Council Report Card (I’m getting to that. Just a second.) our friend on Twitter, Chaicube, plotted a graph, overlaying the other TTC’s councillor grades with Matt Elliott’s council scorecard which is a ranking given to councillors in accordance with how they vote in relationship to the mayor. (A 100% rating means a councillor is in lockstep with Mayor Ford’s politicies; at 3%, speciation has basically occurred between a councillor and the mayor).

And surprise, surprise. The graph showed a clustering of conservative councillors around Mayor Ford while tax and spenders – otherwise known as left of centre – huddled in a ball below. The Great Left-Right Divide on an X-Y axis.

Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Conservative means being fiscally respectful of hardworking taxpayers’ dollars, right? Enemies of wasteful spending and all that.

Except when you take a look at the issues the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition used to grade councillors. A big one seemed to be support for subways over LRTs. Now, how exactly is that being fiscally prudent or respecting taxpayers? Using the same amount of money to build less transit in fewer areas. I believe that would be called spendthriftry, if such a word existed and I think it should. It’s not about respecting taxpayers. It’s about playing the divisive card.

The plastic bag ban also factored heavily into the other TTC’s councillor evaluation. This makes some sense since it started from their opposition to the 5¢ fee on plastic bags. Nickel and diming the taxpayer to death, as Mayor Ford, the other TTC touts.

And the ban now, well, that’s just going to invite lawsuits from everybody with some sort of interest in maintaining the plastic bag status quo. It could wind up costing the city big bucks. So reverse that ban before Toronto’s coffers take an unnecessary hit.

Curiously however, one of three A+s the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition gives out is to Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong. (Another recipient is Cesar Palacio, a councillor who outside of his own family wouldn’t receive a passing grade from anyone else for his work at City Hall.) It might surprise you to know that in his role as chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Minnan-Wong actively promoted the private sector taking the city to court over the plastic bag ban.

“For those members of council who didn’t support the bag bylaw and others who regret they supported it in the beginning , we’re leaving it to the private sector to save us from our own madness,” Minnan-Wong told the committee. “They have to save us by hopefully going to court and having this stupidity overturned.”

Evidently for the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, respect means disrespecting the democratic process when things don’t go your way.

It’s also interesting to note that there was no mention of their A+ student’s spearheading the move to tear up the Jarvis bike lanes at immense superfluous cost to the city. Respect for the taxpayer? More like respect for the car driving taxpayers. Fingers crossed the new parking revenues from along Jarvis Street make up the shortfall for Denzil’s Folly!

Look, I don’t have any trouble with a conservative advocacy group going to bat for Team Ford’s agenda. That’s politics. But can we stop pretending the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is anything other than that? Claiming non-partisanship doesn’t automatically make it so.

partisanly submitted by Cityslikr


A Whole Lot Less Where That Came From

November 20, 2012

Taking a break from his Santa Claus Parade Promenade, Mayor Ford called into his Sunday afternoon radio show to make his case for a second term in office. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Obviously, we can’t do it in the next two years (the remainder of the current four-year term). I’m going to need at least another four to six years to complete the work, and we’ll take it from there.”

That’s the key. Never let the folks forget that we’re in a perpetual campaign. Keep the base stoked. Maybe they won’t realize just how little governing there is going on currently.

It was particularly rich, reading the mayor’s plea for four more years to git `er done, while sitting through his Executive Committee’s meeting yesterday. He was absent, of course, busy in court defending himself from libel charges. In his place, a heavy hanging sense of inertia filled the room. The exact opposite of gittin’ `er done. Not gittin’ `er done, let’s call it to double underline my point.

The agenda was just eleven items long. Meatier ones like the 2013 Rate Supported Budgets for water, solid waste collection and the Parking Authority were adopted almost perfunctorily lickety-split. No debate, no questions to staff, just got `er done.

What took the majority of the committee’s time? Some five hours, part of it in camera, wrestling with the future of three city owned theatres. And in the end? A decision deferred for four months.

Now, look.

I’m not suggesting this isn’t an important matter that needs to be carefully sorted through. But should the Executive Committee be the one agonizing over it at this juncture? We’re talking about a net expenditure last year for the city of less than three million dollars. Surely there’s a more appropriate committee to be banging out the details. The Economic Development Committee perhaps? Even the Budget Committee.

The Executive Committee is a mayor’s steering committee. The hands on the tiller, charting a direction, shaping a mandate and agenda. The brain trust.

Under this mayor, it’s now relegated to wasteful micro-managing. Stuff people devoid of bigger ideas spend time doing to make it seem like they’re doing something important. Treading water, shuffling papers, looking busy.

The only jolt of life during the meeting came from a brief spat between councillors Minnan-Wong, Shiner and Thompson. Councillor Minnan-Wong took exception to the disrespectful manner in which he felt Councillor Thompson was questioning one of the deputants (yeah, insert laugh track here. Denzil? Meet respect. Respect? Some guy who has no time for you.) Sitting between the two, Councillor Shiner interjected, causing DMW to snap something about ‘your stupidity’, apparently referring to the plastic bag ban Shiner had instigated at council. ‘Sue me, Denzil’, came the response, proving only that Councillor David Shiner is the sharpest member of the Executive Committee.

Dust settled, it was back to the matter of doing precious little.

It could be argued that this Executive Committee might be merely running out the clock. The last meeting of the first half of term, they were lame ducking it. Indeed, exiting member Councillor Berardinetti skipped out to attend a ward event, never to return. (Hey. If the mayor can beg off to coach football…) Might as well put off any serious decisions until the new blood arrives to re-energize the atmosphere. Shuffle the deck. Shake up the roster. Refocus. Get `er Done.

But the fact of the matter is, the mayor has done nothing more than retweak. One councillor in, one councillor out. The mushy middle Josh Colle will still be outnumbered on Executive Committee by do-nothing loyalists like councillors Paul Ainslie, Norm Kelly, Peter Milczyn and Cesar Palacio. That’s the mayor’s team. The one’s who’ve allowed things to grind to a screeching halt, a mid-air stall out.

And he’s out there on the hustings already, talking four more years?

Out of breath and ideas, he’s barely limping past the first halfway mark.

windedly submitted by Cityslikr


Heightened Security. Diminished Awareness.

August 15, 2012

If a politician says that what is needed to deal with a crime problem is more security, more cameras, guards with dogs on patrol 24/7, the next thing that comes out of their mouth should be: I resign. They’ve simply given up looking for actual solutions. Lock `em up and throw away the key. Problem solved.

“Most of the shootings that have happened in my ward have been at Toronto community housing buildings,” said Councillor Frances Nunziata, Ward 11, York South-Weston. “At these problem buildings we need 24-hour security, guards with dogs patrolling the area.”

According to the councillor, security cameras alone don’t help this situation. At least not in the 84% of TCHC buildings that are equipped with some 4300 cameras. So the only solution is to beef up security further.

The only simple solution, that is. Talk of alleviating poverty, providing opportunities that help keep kids out of the reach of gangs, creating less of a bunker mentality at TCHC properties, that’s a little too complicated, too hug-a-thuggish. And it all costs money. Money that could be better used further shoring up an already plenty shored up police budget.

It just makes sense. Step up an approach that hasn’t proven to be overly effective in curbing a particular behaviour in the first place. Like punching a baby in the face to stop it from crying. It’s going to work at some point of time, right?

Not surprisingly, the three councillors advocating this stepped up line of attack are three of Mayor Ford’s closest allies, Vincent Crisanti, Cesar Palacio along with Speaker Nunziata. There was hardly a program, service, tax they weren’t on board with the mayor to cut. A free public nurse to refuse. A Tenant Defence Fund to de-fund. Yet somehow there’s always money (in the banana stand) to increase security measures.

Never mind that there’s really very little evidence that shows that throwing money at a crime problem in the form of more security and policing yields much in the way of positive results. At best, it’s a knee-jerk, crowd-pleasing, stop gap, make-it-look-like-we’re-actually-doing-something display. At worst, it’s this. Something akin to a militarized zone.

What’s particularly galling about Councillor Nunziata’s role in this is that it’s as if she’s some kind of innocent bystander. Like her regular complaints about her ward and her former municipality of York always getting the short straw on things, there’s no community centre, the downtown gets everything and the suburbs get nothing, blah, blah, blah; all this helpless hand-wringing and cloaking herself in the victim hood and cape. Excuse me, councillor. But haven’t you represented the good people of York for, like, 80 years? If memory serves, weren’t you the city’s last mayor before amalgamation? Shouldn’t you be shouldering at least some of the blame for the state of things in your ward? For having nothing but the most simplistic of solutions?

Rather than just clutching at straws and offering up floppy band-aids, just admit you’re in over head and step aside. That’s what someone who was truly concerned with the residents of your ward would do. And take the likes of councillors Crisanti and Palacio with you. There are serious problems that need to be fixed and clearly your tool box is empty.

submitted by Cityslikr


Mayor Ford? Mayor Ford? Yoo-hoo! Mayor Ford?

June 26, 2012

I write this with an almost disinterested perplexity. Really? Do I have to? Really??

That the mayor of Toronto should, at the very least, attend the flag raising kick off to Pride week just a short drive walk from his City Hall office is beyond question to all but the most confirmed of homophobes. After a similarly uneasy Mel Lastman set aside his qualms and jumped feet first into the festivities, the die was cast. Some acknowledgement of the event had become part of a mayor’s job description.

The matter’s settled. End stop. Continued discussion of Mayor Ford’s rebuff is now officially boring and not much of a story anymore. He’s got issues, let’s just say. What other explanation could there be at this point?

But what perplexes me, frankly, is the manner in which the mayor once again went about excusing himself. And remember, we’re not talking about the parade here and its conflict with a family gathering up at the cottage. A non-holiday Monday gathering to read out the city’s proclamation touting tolerance, diversity, blah, blah, blah. At noon. Right when the mayor usually starts his work day.

He’s busy, we’re told.

Now, anyone who’s been following along with Mayor Ford’s performance recently knows that’s simply a blatant lie. It’s incomprehensible that he couldn’t find the time to squeeze in 15 minutes to do his duty, make an appearance, read what’s in front of him and get the hell out of there before he got any of teh gay on him. As an excuse, it was as lame as it was lazy.

A couple months back, the mayor’s former press secretary and now Toronto Sun columnist something, Adrienne Batra, suggested (while advising him to at least attend yesterday’s flag raising event it should be noted), it wasn’t a case of Mayor Ford being homophobic as it was him not wanting to ‘tick off’ or alienate his political base. Somehow to her mind that makes it more understandable? What happened to that straight shooting, tell it like it is, just one of us guys the mayor said he was? That just sounds like the unprincipled type of politician the mayor used to rail about.

It’s also amazingly passive, not wanting to alienate anybody. What happened to that unruly, renegade, maverick Councillor Rob Ford that 47% of voting Torontonians supported back in 2010? That guy would’ve avoided like the AIDS plague anything to do with Pride and told us right up front why. The city shouldn’t be in the business of supporting any sort of lifestyle choice or something along those lines. Anything.

He wouldn’t be afraid of alienating his base. He’d be activating it with dog whistles and coded language, using the opportunity to burnish the Ford brand of small-minded neo-conservatism. What happened to that guy?

MIA. AWOL. Hiding behind some make-believe itinerary and, in a scene that’s becoming more and more routine, winding up increasingly isolated on the wrong side of an issue. A healthy majority of council was present yesterday including some of the mayor’s closest allies. (Wait. Maybe ‘closet allies’ worked better.) Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. Speaker Frances Nunziata. Councillors Gary Crawford, Frank Di Giorgio and Cesar Palacio.

The mayor has simply stopped trying and leaves his more ardent defenders with little to stand up for him with aside from the usual meaningless tripe. Family first! (*sigh* We’re not talking about the parade.) Where does it say a mayor has to do anything about Pride? (*sigh* That’s like me, writing a Toronto municipal politics blog, saying who says I have to talk about the mayor?) It just comes with the territory.

Mayor Ford has become so detached from the proceedings at City Hall that not only is he blatantly shirking his responsibilities but he can’t even bother to come up with adequate excuses in an attempt to cover his tracks. The Mayor of Nothing, doing nothing and nothing doing as to why. If you ask me, it is the most curious of re-election routes.

wide openly submitted by Cityslikr


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