Challengers To Watch VIII

July 30, 2014

As the municipal campaign begins to gather a little mid-summer momentum of interest, there’s been an uptick in chatter about new faces, new voices challenging incumbents in various city council races. brandnewNOW’s Ben Spurr wrote an article last week, Progressives in the heart of Ford Nation, featuring a group of candidates running up in the city’s northwestern corner. “A group of young, bright candidates are tackling far right politics and voter disaffection in Toronto’s northwest”, he writes.

This is a most encouraging and welcome development. But let me just add that new doesn’t necessarily have to mean young. A challenge to the status quo only needs to be done in spirit and intention. Age has absolutely nothing to do with it.

So it is with Mary Hynes as she has stepped forward to take on the entrenchiest of entrenched incumbents, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, in Ward 34 Don Valley East.

For anyone who’s followed along Toronto politics over the last 4 years, you might recognize Mary as ‘Yelly Granny’ as she was pejoratively dubbed after she gave a blazing deputation at the Executive Committee during the Summer of the Cuts in 2011. Although intended, I think, affectionately, it diminished her impact, enabling those in the mayor’s camp to view her as nothing more than one of the ‘usual suspects’, as I think Giorgio Mammoliti took to saying.

It was unfortunate for another reason as it also undercut what has been a lifetime committed to social justice. An elementary school teacher in Scarborough for twenty-five years, she has also worked on and with a whole lot of community causes. Aside from the ones that pop up regularly at City Hall — Social Planning Toronto, Toronto Environmental Alliance, TTC Riders – Mary’s also a busy part of the Ontario Health Coalition, Older Women’s Network and Fairview Food Security Council.

While no stranger to political campaigns, having run previously at both the provincial and federal levels as well as in a 2012 school board by-election, ward34I wondered what compelled her into this race at this time. It’s all about taking ownership of our communities, Mary tells me. “People don’t know what’s possible.”

At the doors, she’s hearing that, after the condition of the roads which to a car dependent area of the city like Ward 34 is, is a very important local issue, residents tell her there’s a definite lack of communication from their city councillor. As we’re discovering on our travels throughout the suburban areas of Toronto, people don’t really expect municipal politicians to come knocking on their doors. Residence associations, when there are residence associations, tend to focus on keeping property taxes low. There’s not a whole lot of community building going on the part of the city councillor.

So Mary sees big chunks of public space, green public space, going unused. There’s very little sense of connection between neighbourhoods in the ward unless you’re driving. yorkmillsWhile the bus service is adequate, this is not a part of the city easily traversed on foot or by bike.

None of which should come as much of a surprise since this part of the city has been represented at City Hall by Denzil Minnan-Wong for a long time now. He is the stodgy, reactionary, get off my lawn candidate in this race. Regular readers of this blog know the level of contempt I have for the man. He is easily in the top 5 on the worst councillors list, a truly destructive, malignant force at City Hall. davidandgoliathThe skies would be a whole lot bluer, the air much, much sweeter if he was shown the door in October.

Still, this is very much a David versus Goliath battle. At a political level where name recognition means a lot, the current Ward 34 incumbent has a lot of it. As chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, he hogs an awful lot of the spotlight, out grandstanding against almost all sorts of public building and spending outside of roads and bike lanes on roads he doesn’t want to drive on. You might not know why you know his name. You might not even like why you know his name. But you know his name nevertheless.

The one bright spot I’ll take from that, however, is over the past few elections, the councillor’s share of the popular vote has declined noticeably. From nearly 71% in 2003 to just under 54% last time out, it’s a trajectory that might suggest the more Ward 34 residents get to know their councillor, the less they like him. bornoldI know that’s certainly true for me.

Mary Hynes offers up a positive alternative for voters in Ward 34. She is running for city council to build something, to foster a sense of community for every resident not just a select few. She wants to be a councillor who listens first and talks second which is diametrically opposed to the sort of representation the ward has had for nearly 20 years now.

Don’t let the looks fool you. Mary Hynes very much represents the new guard of candidates looking to transform the dynamics at City Hall.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


… And Speaking Of Resigning

July 4, 2014

Think there’s no party politics at play at the municipal level? Look around at what’s going on at City Hall right now, folks. pitypartyTell me we aren’t awash in one great big Pity Party.

According to the mayor’s councillor-brother-campaign manager, there’s a “full out jihad” against the Fords now in response to yet another complaint registered with the integrity commissioner, this time about Councillor Ford’s comments made about autistic kids under care at the Griffin Centre. This jihad comes on top of the media jihad that’s been waged upon the mayor since his planned triumphant return from rehab this week.

Happy Ramadan, Muslims. The Fords feel ya.

Not to be outdone in this woe-is-me parade (never to be outdone when it comes to grandstanding), Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti wants everyone to know that he was sick, very, very, gravely ill, so, you know, don’t be pointing the finger at him about some ‘illegal fundraiser’ as alleged by an obviously ‘unfair and biased’ Integrity Commissioner, Janet Leiper, yesterday.

mybrainhurts

How can anyone have done anything wrong that was in a hospital bed with his head carved open?

If there was some improper, shady shit going on in terms of this so-called ‘illegal fundraiser’ – and that’s a big ‘if’ since the integrity commissioner is obviously out to get Councillor Mammoliti as she is always, always ‘breathing down his throat’ – he’s blameless due to medical reasons.  “Some short term memory loss during this period of time.” “I can barely remember any of it.”

The claim, as full of holes and leaky as it is, might hold some water if this was the councillor’s first ethical lapse in judgement. countingfingersI don’t know. The surgeon must have cut out the moral compass of my brain! But it isn’t. Giorgio Mammoliti has come under scrutiny for at least a couple other violations. He’s currently in court facing campaign finance irregularities. There’s the below market value rent he’s received for an apartment owned by a company that does business with the city. Never mind the illegal re-election signs that have popped up.

That’s just this term alone. Let’s not forget the oldie but goodie from way back when the councillor got the city to pay his legal defense against a challenge of his campaign financing in 2006. So either, the thing that was wrong with Councillor Mammoliti’s head was long term and slow growing or the guy simply operates under the premise that The. Rules. Apply. To. Other. People.

Perhaps the most egregious bit of conduct the Integrity Commissioner laid at the councillor’s feet in her report was his accepting of $80,000 from the fundraiser that was attended by lobbyists and companies doing business with city. whome1Even if he was non compos mentis at the time, wasn’t there anybody surrounding the man, family, friends, staff not busy planning the event on the city dime, who thought such a gift might be, I don’t know, a little out of bounds? I’m not a politician, Councillor Mammoliti, but accepting money while you’re in office seems… not quite right. Especially when it’s from people who might benefit from such a transaction with an elected official.

Even when the councillor had seemingly recovered from his brain affliction and returned to his normal state of assholery, he didn’t bother to respond to the integrity commissioner’s offer of allowing him to return the money. Money? What money? Short term memory loss, remember? Remember what? Money? What money? Short term memory loss, remember? Remember what? Money? What money?

And here’s the real kick in the nuts to any and every right-thinking resident of Toronto (and beyond). Even if the integrity commissioner’s recommendations are adopted by city council and Councillor Mammoliti is docked 3 months pay, slaponthewristthe maximum penalty that can be dealt out to him by the city, he’d still walk away with over $50,000 in his pocket. Money paid to him by registered lobbyists and companies doing business with the city.

“This is as offside as you get when you come to a code of conduct violation,” said Brian Iler, the lawyer who brought the original complaint to the integrity commissioner.

Is it any wonder politicians like Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford continue to disregard the rules put in place to ensure ethical behaviour from our elected officials? Why wouldn’t you if you can still come out ahead of the game. It’s a twisted realm of thinking that, if there are no deterrents to your questionable conduct, if there are no tangible repercussions to your actions, like jail time or being chased from office, then clearly, you did nothing wrong. If you did, where’s the appropriate punishment?

getawaywithit

The system as it’s currently set up at the municipal level may not exactly encourage bad behaviour. I can confidently declare that ethical, upstanding councillors heavily outnumber those who aren’t. Those so inclined to disregard the rules, however, are hardly dissuaded from doing exactly that. Ethics preferred but not required should go with the job description. Cheaters sometimes prosper.

cleanly submitted by Cityslikr


This Fucking Guy

June 17, 2014

There are many reasons to dislike many politicians. From fundamental disagreements over policy matters to simply, shirtlessmammolitiI don’t know, their general tone of argumentation. He’s such a smug smart-aleck. I just don’t care for the cut of his jib.

And then there’s Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

If there’s a more loathsome politician at work today, I would be very interested to hear about them. Actually, no. Scratch that. Spare me the details. I’ve had my fill of vileness, following along with City Hall these past four years.

It takes some doing, in this the Age of Crack Mayor and His Numbskull Brother-Councillor-Consigliere, to outdo the prevailing degenerate tone of discourse and governance. But hey. Giorgio Mammoliti has proven himself up to the task.

His latest foray into dim-witted fuckery is his continued entanglement with the Muzik club and electronic dance music doings down at Exhibition Place. spewIt is hardly worth delving into except to say it’s all about vested interests, and a business that has close ties to the mayor and the rather unsavoury side of his time in office. Booze, drugs, barfing.

Why Councillor Mammoliti has taken a special interest in the situation is anyone’s guess. It’s the way he’s gone about it that is beyond shameful. Reprehensible does not go far enough to describe it. Like the mayor he’s so strategically defended, this is a man who apparently operates without any sense of shame.

“Given the many issues surrounding children relating to these events [EDM parties] there should be great concern over the fact that the neighbouring Parkdale is home to one of the highest concentrations of registered sex offenders, including pedophiles, living in the City of Toronto,” the councillor wrote in a media release ahead of last night’s community consultation. “With ‘all-ages’ parties being held next to a pedophile district we are simply encouraging the continued abuse of our children. Given the rampant alcohol and illicit drug abuse and poor security, our children can fall victim to peer pressure participating in these activities or becoming victimized at the hands of current and past pedophiles. It is a disaster waiting to happen. The question needs to be posed to the Parkdale representative, Councillor Gord Perks, who has publically condoned the all ages promoters – why are you advocating for children and adults to be partying together right next door to your ward which has one of the largest concentrations of registered sex offenders in the city? Who are you really representing? This is about much more than a dance party.”

This guy. This fucking guy. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is the reason some people think so poorly of local representation. miredinthegooWhy doesn’t Toronto have more legislative power to decide its future? Because Toronto keeps electing the likes of Giorgio Mammoliti is why. That guy. That fucking guy.

Set aside for the moment how mired in ethical lapses Mammoliti is currently. On trial for campaign finance violations from his 2010 election campaign(s). Allegations of an illegal fundraiser held for him last year. Below market rent on an apartment owned by a developer who does business with the city. Just last week, he had re-election signs up nearly 4 months before the allowed date. The dude simply does not abide. By any rules he finds inconvenient.

Clearly, he doesn’t abide by acceptable methods of debate either. Rolling around in the goo of darkest paranoia, tapping into our worst fears and prejudices, scotfreehe has little compunction tossing around rhetorical pipe bombs just for the sake of it. The sensational sake of it. Giorgio Mammoliti engages in distressingly nasty outbursts of bile because that’s the only way he can get noticed. If there was ever a time in his political life where he contributed positively, it was a long time ago and even then, you’d be hard pressed to point to many examples of it.

Giorgio Mammoliti does what he does because he’s never had to face the consequences of his actions. There are no repercussions for him. Despite delivering up little more than nonsense and malevolent parochialism throughout his nearly quarter of a century — yes, Giorgio Mammoliti has held elected office for almost 25 years, yes, 25 years – he continues to be rewarded by the voters in Ward 7. Nothing could be better for the tenor at City Hall if 2014 was the end of that improbable and destructive run.

Giorgio Mammoliti needs to be chased from office. pitchforkFor the good of Ward 7. For the good of the city.

If you’ve ever needed a reason to become politically active, if you’ve found yourself fed up but unsure of just how to go about making a contribution, find yourself a candidate who is running against Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti this year and donate some time or money or both to help defeat the incumbent on October 27th. You would be doing Toronto a great service.

call to armsly submitted by Cityslikr


Sore Losing

June 16, 2014

One last thing about Thursday’s provincial election… OK, maybe one last thing for now… onemorethingYou know… we’ll see.

If nothing else, the reaction to the Liberal win from the two main parties (and their supporters) that went down to defeat serves as valid justification for having not voted for them.

Ousted from the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding he’d claimed only last year in a by-election, Doug Holyday summed up the reason for the loss. Union attack ads. A conservative politician bemoaning his fate at the hands of attack ads. Imagine that.

For its part, the NDP were still smarting from the perceived betrayal by the traitor within its own ranks during the campaign. When 3 MPPs from Toronto lost on election night, it was all, see what you went and did, you bunch of Judases? You got played, dumbasses. Here, let me help clean that egg off your faces.

Whatever happened to taking responsibility?

I mean, the NDP and PCs presented their respective platforms from a campaign strategy “…developed over years” as NOW’s Susan G. Cole stated. blameothersThey took it to the electorate over some 40 days. Here, voters. This is who we are and what we’ll do if we form the next government. Vote for us.

The dice were rolled and came up snake eyes for the two opposition parties. For reasons that can only superficially be explained at this early juncture, Ontarians rejected the PC and NDP bids (based, of course, on a first past the post model) and gave the Liberals a majority mandate. The vagaries of democracy, eh?

Now, a noble person, full of humility, would, at least publicly, accept the loss as the result of the wisdom of the masses. It’s not necessarily that they were wrong and the public right on any particular issue. The messaging didn’t work, this time around. Or maybe, it was just the messenger who failed to click with people, failed to tell a compelling story.

Take your pick but, my god, take responsibility.

One particularly condescending bit of unwillingness to accept defeat graciously came from a chorus of conservative commentators. blameothers2Pampered and entitled voters refused to take the dose of tough medicine needed to turn things around in this province. So this line of reasoning went.

Aside from the various mad scribblings to this effect inside the Toronto Sun, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee put on his somber face. “Investment may be good for Toronto,” he wrote. “A provincial government that continues to go into debt is not.” Further, “While she [Premier Wynne] carried the day by arguing in the campaign that it is wrong-headed to cut the way to success, it is it is unclear what answers she has for the broader Ontario problem.”

“Wrong-headed” but not necessarily wrong to think, like Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives, that you can cut your way to success.

In other words, enjoy your victory lap, Liberals. blameothers1Your day of reckoning is at hand.

The National Post’s Matt Gurney took it one step further, assuaging the troubled minds of conservatives with the soothing assurances that, it hardly mattered who won the election, the tough choices were coming whether the Liberals like it or not. “If Ontario is to maintain any fiscal credibility, and avoid ruinous ratings cuts,” he writes, “there is significant austerity ahead.”

While the Progressive Conservative platform was unpalatable for voters in Ontario, it is inevitable. Like night following day, fall following summer, austerity is coming, folks. It doesn’t matter who’s in power.

Mr. Gurney may be right. The Liberals may accept that reality as it’s being pitched. Certainly there were dark utterings of austerity measures being loaded into the back end of the budget that brought the Liberals down in May and that they have pledged to bring back post haste.

But my question to him over the weekend, and to all the others singing from that same neocon songbook, was why? There’s no question the province’s fiscal fitness is worrisome. The economy remains fragile. Our debt level is high. But where is it written that austerity is the only way out of this? I’ve pleaded for austerimaniacs to point me to an example where it has worked. blameothers3The response so far? A shrug.

So maybe voters in Ontario didn’t reject the conservative bad news reality because they were unwilling to face up to the harsh facts of life. Maybe they just didn’t accept the premise. Maybe they weren’t prepared to go down that brutish road of untested economic theory. Especially since the alleged upside, the million jobs that would be created, was, well, maybe not that robust. A claim, based as it was, on faulty math. Or “glitches” as the National Post’s editorial board referred to it in its endorsement of Tim Hudak.

We all know from our own personal experiences that being rejected is tough. It’s difficult to accept the fact that you didn’t measure up. Despite your best intentions and firmest belief in them, your plans just did not work out.

When that happens, though, we don’t really indulge the impulse to blame others for the failure. It tends to lead to a narrowing of vision, a hardening of conviction, a wobbly sense of certainty and confidence. What we really should expect is that, in the face of defeat, we go through a period of reassessment and rethinking. What did I do right? Where do I go wrong? lookinthemirror3What could I have done differently to bring about a different outcome?

Going back to the drawing board, as they say.

But it’s hard to correct any mistakes you might have made when you refuse to admit mistakes were made in the first place. It seems at this point of time, the PCs and NDP are refusing to make the tough choice necessary in acknowledging that they fell short again this time, and the culprit for that is looking straight at them in the mirror. That is, if they decide they really need to have a look in it.

honestly submitted by Cityslikr


Well NOW

June 5, 2014

This morning, a week before the provincial election, Editor/Publisher Michael Hollett of NOW magazine – the downtown leftist elitists’ weekly of choice – broadsideissued a broadside against the looming menace facing Ontario voters. Downtown NDP elitists.

I’m sorry. What?

In a gung-ho, rooting’ tootin’, down and dirty, rough and tumble burst of Toronto Sun-like prose, Hollett screamed and hollered at the nerve of the “Gang of 34” who had the temerity during this election campaign to question the direction the NDP was taking. “Preachy and patronizing.” “Party poobahs.” “Brita-filtered progressive purity.” “Curmudgeonly critics.” All having a champagne soaked hissy fit [that one’s mine] and stamping their Fluevog clad feet [mine too] about the “Steeltown Scrapper who “doesn’t want moral victories” but “a win that is moral.”

“Don’t be hustled into believing a little scruff and a little tough from a Steeltown tornado can’t take it all,” Hollett concludes, elitistsummoning his best H.L. Mencken stylings.

Yeah, yeah. We get it, Michael. You and Andrea love and are part of the rabble hoi polloi we downtown elitists have lost touch with. We don’t understand the value of a buck. “Pocketbook issues”? The only issue I have with my pocket is does it fit my fob watch.

You know what, Michael? Fuck you.

Given 3 opportunities to vote for the Dalton McGuinty-Kathleen Wynne Liberals, I never have. In 2003 and again in 2007, I voted NDP. Last time out, I was already feeling something of a disconnect with the party and eventually ended up voting Green. I’m leaning that way again.

Truth be told, I held out some hope that when Kathleen Wynne became premier and slipped out from under the yoke of the rightist McGuinty crowd, the party would come back to a comfortable spot on the left-centre side of the spectrum. That may still hold true. I could also be woefully misguided. It doesn’t matter to me now because when John Lorinc and Spacing detailed this Liberal government’s full-on politicization of the transit file, my brief flirtation with the Liberals ended.texaschainsawmassacre

Since the Common Sense Revolution yanked Ontario to the far right beginning in 1995, there have been wide open spaces on the left. The Liberals’ incremental nudges back to the centre didn’t really close the gap significantly. It was too attached to the prevailing neoliberal economic principles to do much else.

During much of that time, the NDP was exiled into the wilderness, the bad taste of the Rae government lingering for many Ontarians. Inexplicably, it seems in hindsight, given the destruction wrought on the province subsequently. Still, for more than a decade, politics in this province was little more than being slightly less conservative than the Progressive Conservatives.

Then came the economic meltdown of 2008 brought about by the unrestrained pursuit of wealth in an unchecked free market. fdrCombined with the hollowing of Ontario’s manufacturing base as a result of another neoliberal concept, free trade, it seemed the time was ripe for a political comeback of left wing politics. The worst downturn since the Great Depression. Let’s get all Keynesian, baby. A new New Deal anybody?

I’m not hearing too much FDR from the NDP these days. This afternoon on Ontario Today, Andrea Horwath tossed out props to Tommy Douglas. I’m just not getting that vibe from her.

Yes, yes, yes. I know those olde tyme lefties were meticulous with their budgets. That good ol’ prairie populism was equal parts generosity, fairness and bottom line-y. And yes, we have witnessed a shockingly deplorable profligacy of public money by the ruling Liberals. Of course, it’s time for a change.

But the NDP have tapped into a vein of black magic on this with their re-purposing of the populist rhetoric of Rob Ford. fabricateTheir ‘respect’. Their ‘common sense’. It feeds into the sense of the problems we face in this province are all somebody else’s fault. Rather than use the opportunity to revive the idea of a common good and smash the concept of taxes being evil, the NDP, like Rob Ford and every other right wing populist out there, have taken to assuring everyone that putting the pieces back together will be a cinch. Put an end to scandals and private-public partnerships. Raise taxes on a few people (not you). Reduce bloat in the ranks of government and the cost of energy consumption.

Bing, bang, boom. All is right. And you didn’t feel a thing, did you.

It’s complete fiction. There’s no easy way out of this mess we’re in currently. Our economy remains anemic. Our infrastructure is wobbly. The price of an education is sky high. The state of social housing in this province is shameful.

This has happened because too many of us, not just the well-to-do and corporations, have operated under the premise that investment in the public realm comes cheap and/or somebody else does it for us. By taking on the mantle of looking out for the little guy and respecting tax dollars, Andrea Horwath and the NDP continue to fuel that illusion. At least Tim Hudak is being honest when he tells us there are tough choices to be made. His are monstrous, for sure, but he’s not lying about that. The NDP have simply swept tough choices under the rug.

noproblem

I don’t know about Michael Hollett but that doesn’t strike me as any sort of moral victory.

snobbily submitted by Cityslikr


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