We Can Get Angry Too

This is composed as a dare.

After yesterday’s post there was an exchange of heated words tossed around the office here. While my colleague, Cityslikr, was quite content with his evisceration of the Rob Ford/reactionary phenomena now running amok on the campaign trail, I suggested it wasn’t nearly as belligerent or uncompromising as he might think. In fact, I may’ve called it a ‘cop out’ if memory serves. A mere reactive piece cast in the terms of the debate that they’ve established.

“I’m the angry one here,” I was informed, haughtily. “All Fired Up’s John Lennon.” Refusing to bestow the McCartney label upon me, Cityslikr reluctantly granted me George Harrison status, saying it was impossible that I could match him, taunt for taunt, mockery for mockery, in putting together a cogent argument against the rising tide of Fordism. So here I am doing just that.

Since the very beginning of this campaign, an inchoate anger has driven the political discourse. While sometimes veering of onto bike lanes and the nebulous ‘War on Car’, its focus has been largely on numbers. Big, absolute numbers devoid of much context and certainly no explanation. $9.2 billion. $3 billion. Wow! That’s a lot of money. Clearly something’s wrong at City Hall.

With Rob Ford’s cannonball entry into the race, words were put to numbers but with no additional clarity. We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. The gravy train ends now. Nice, easy-to-remember T-shirt slogans, full of emotive power with negligible substance. The campaign became awash in indignant, empty rhetoric.

Of which, much of the mainstream press has lapped up. Witness last Wednesday’s piece from the Globe’s Christie Blatchford who is clearly vying to become Election 2010’s Queen of the Dumb-Down. Nothing more than a litany of councillor salaries and expenses, it reads like a Team Rob Ford press release. Did you know that a Toronto city councillor makes more than 3 times the median income of Joe Average Torontonian, and has a hefty expense account to boot? (Where’s the wage comparison between a councillor and, say, a columnist for the Globe and Mail, we wonder. Know the newspaper industry has taken a hit lately but surely someone like Christie Blatchford still has an expense account.) The insinuation in all this is that those working at City Hall are not worth the money we spend on them.

No, no, no, you’re saying. That’s not the point at all. Comparing the public and private sectors is apples and oranges. What happens in the private sector is none of our business and beyond our control. The public sector spends our money.

Alright, let’s disabuse you of that notion. It is not our money. It’s tax money. The agreed upon amount that each of us contributes to various levels of government in order that our society functions properly. I know this quote’s been bandied about almost to the point of irrelevancy through repetition but I think it worth another go-round so that it might begin to penetrate the thick skulls of the Christie Blatchfords of the world.

“I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.” So said Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Now we can argue about if our tax money is being spent wisely and what to do if it’s not. Or, we can debate about how much tax money is too much or too little. That’s a matter of ideology and can be hashed out over reasoned, rational discussion.

The thing is, there’s none of that happening. When confronted with opposing views that call into question some of their claims, the Anger-stons have taken to turtling, and wrapping themselves in a cloak of Just Ol’ Down Home Plain Folks. (Witness Blatchford’s recent offerings.) Well, I may not be much of what you city types call a ‘Big Thinker’ with all yer university edu-macations and $19 coffees and uncooked fish but I do claim to knows what I knows and I knows we taxpayers are bein’ fleeced.

No. You know what? Fuck you.

Grow up and stop trying to mask your obstinate ignorance as some kind of homespun wisdom. It isn’t. It’s just obstinate ignorance.

We’re tired of having to talk down to your level. Being uninformed cannot be proudly called ‘populist’. It isn’t. It’s just being uninformed.

Does that make me an elitist? Only if it means that I feel a sense of entitlement to a thoughtful, cogent and logical debate about the future of this city and not some boiling brew of unharnessed and misplaced ire that spouts speculative, spurious nonsense with the demand of being taken seriously. Blind rage is not a reputable campaign platform. Thinking it is, is just your own sense of misplaced entitlement.

So all your Rob Ford types out there (and the Smithermans and Rossis trying hard to tap into that bitterness and bile base), you’re not the only ones capable of being angry. There is a growing contingent of us out here who feel that you are misrepresenting the wider swath of Toronto voters and are threatening much that has been accomplished in this city over the last 7 years. The difference is that ours is a positive outrage at your increasingly outlandish claims and childish behaviour. Ours is the anger that builds not destroys things.

And calling that patronizing and condescending doesn’t make it any less true.

— angrily (even lividly) submitted by Urban Sophisticat

35 Responses to We Can Get Angry Too

  1. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Well, it took a while for US to notice somebody had pissed in his cornflakes. It didn’t seem to matter when things were going well (for him anyway) but now that RF might have his sticker hands on the chain of office there’s some urgency and willingness to engage with people down a level or two.

    Tell us more about the accomplishments and the benefits thereof that we are not appreciating? Keep in mind, you can buy anything so long as you don’t have to actually pay for it yourself.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      As was stated in the post you are commenting on, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have been willing to engage with ‘people down a level or two’ — do we detect a hint of victimhood there? Us downtown elites picking on you poor avergae Joes? It took you two sentences to put that out there. — from the get go. If you’ve been following this site for awhile you’ll know that we’ve been trying to reach out. Just hard to get through all the sloganeering and self-righteousness out there.

      Accomplishments?

      Well, there’s Transit City, our first stab at updating our public transit system in about 30 years. And before you go blubbering on a Ford camp fueled rant about the cost overruns on the St. Clair LRT, take a moment and follow this link (http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2010/Jan_20_2010/Reports/Transit_City_Impleme.pdf). You’ll see it wasn’t all about City Hall mismanagement, etc., etc. and even offers a positive view of moving forward. We anxiously await a viable transit plan from Mr. Ford or any of the other leading candidates too.

      2) Steps toward a more environmentally sustainable city including, yes, bikelanes. Whether you like it or not, it isn’t just the loonie left at City Hall who think cities can no longer plan around the primacy of the private vehicle.

      3) Corruption and rule breaking? Remember the MFP inquiry? Well, this city council brought in an lobbyist registrar and Integrity Commissioner. You’ve heard of the Integrity Commisioner, haven’t you?

      Our taxes here increased over the past 7 years like they did for you. Unlike you, however, we haven’t minded how they’ve been allocated. Taxes will apparently decrease under a possible Ford administration for us like they will you. How that means he’ll bring in a balanced operational budget still remains a bit of a mystery. The numbers don’t add up. But he and his supporters writing in here haven’t really taken the time to explain it to us. Gets in the way of all the accusation hurling and empty rhetoric spewing.

      • Andrew says:

        City Hall and council did not bring in the lobbyist registrar and the Integrity Commissioner – they were mandated by the Province in the revised City of Toronto Act.

        Miller and council took longer to implement the two than required by the act.

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear Andrew,

        From the City of Toronto Act:

        8. (1) The City may provide any service or thing that the City considers necessary or desirable for the public. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 8 (1).

        City by-laws
        2. Accountability and transparency of the City and its operations and of its local boards (restricted definition) and their operations.

        We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke think that suggests the lobbyist registrar was not mandated by the Province but allowed in the revised City of Toronto Act. Which, if memory serves, Toronto became the first municipality in the country to do so.

        As for the Intergrity Commissioner, it seems it was brought into existence in 2004, a few years before the revised City of Toronto Act, so seemingly unrelated to it at all.

      • Andrew says:

        HULK SMASH Toronto City Act.

  2. Selwyn Firth says:

    I notice none of the writers for this website sign their real names. Are you all gutless wonders or too afraid to be identified to your friends. At least Christie Blatchford signs her name to articles she writes. Too bad none of you do the same. Hiding behind pseudonyms is really a cowardly way to behave in a civilized society.

    Selwyn Firth

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Firth,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are hurt and surprised by your venom toward us. You didn’t seem to be that upset about our anonymity when we profiled your candidacy back awhile ago. What have we done to so turn you against us?

      Believe us when we tell you that all our friends know who we are. It’s our enemies we need to keep our identities from. You never know when they’ll show up at your back door, looking to burn the house down.

    • Sonny Yeung says:

      In addition to my previous post below. I heard that Blatch will be on the “John Tory Show” after 6pm starting next Tuesday on OpinionTalk1010.

  3. Andrew says:

    And here is my two cents of angry…arrrrrrgghhhh~~~~!!!

    ps. My angry sounds like a pirate.

  4. Sonny Yeung says:

    Calm down Selwyn; I have met City in person. If you go to public events you will notice some familiar faces. Sept. is Debate Month…Ford is winning the “Air War” with sample polls of 4-500 hundred; I would give him a 3 point lead of decided. Smitherman has a better “Ground Game.” I was at the China Town Festival yesterday and Furious George had a booth with the new lit.
    Today in the Media; Rossi got some recall attention. The Police Union reserves the right to endorse…likely some one conservative who will add officers. Fortunately a fair percentage do not live in Toronto to vote.

  5. Peter MacQuarie says:

    UA – you’re not a serious commentator on Toronto at all. For example, “do we detect a hint of victimhood”. You’re just another shit disturber with time on their hands.

    Dressing-up David Miller’s legacy may well be important to you but I fail to see the relevance of it now that we need to pick his replacement. Nor do his efforts on Transit City amount to much of an accomplishment, yet. That Transit City, bike lanes and the setting up of the Lobbyist and Integrity offices took so long looks more like an indictment on his lack of accomplishments, IMHO.

    No matter, David Miller’s broom is scheduled for the cottage. It was useless these past seven years. We need to change a terrible culture at City Hall. One that sees residents’ concerns swept under the carpet to smooth the way for developers to enrich themselves. One that sees public funds squandered and customer service thrashed.

    I believed David Miller in 2003 but he didn’t even get close to improving City Hall. I’m ready to believe again and if that happens I predict the other jobs needing done will become a lot easier.

    None of this is rocket science, so stop blubbering on about stupid people – you’re only showing your ignorance.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. McQuarrie,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are confused. First you ask us to give you a list of the current administration’s accomplishments, but when we do you accuse us of just “dressing-up” the mayor’s legacy. After, that is, you cast around some personal attacks. Is that your definition of an open and honest debate?

      Then it’s back to hurling baseless, unsubstantiated accusations. Do you even realize you’re proving the point of my colleague’s post not refuting it? Or, refudiating it, as you might say.

  6. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Cityslikr, I didn’t ask for a list of accomplishments and none was given, by the way.

    If you had spent any time at Community Councils or Council at all you wouldn’t be so ignorant. Do some research before you shoot your mouth off.

    If you can’t tell the difference between Sarah Palin and a motivated TO voter you shouldn’t be wasting anybody’s time here.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarrie,

      From a previous comment of yours not more than 2 hours ago:

      “Tell us more about the accomplishments and the benefits thereof that we are not appreciating?” [bolding ours].

      To which we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke replied: Accomplishments?

      Well, there’s Transit City, our first stab at updating our public transit system in about 30 years. And before you go blubbering on a Ford camp fueled rant about the cost overruns on the St. Clair LRT, take a moment and follow this link (http://www3.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2010/Jan_20_2010/Reports/Transit_City_Impleme.pdf). You’ll see it wasn’t all about City Hall mismanagement, etc., etc. and even offers a positive view of moving forward. We anxiously await a viable transit plan from Mr. Ford or any of the other leading candidates too.

      2) Steps toward a more environmentally sustainable city including, yes, bikelanes. Whether you like it or not, it isn’t just the loonie left at City Hall who think cities can no longer plan around the primacy of the private vehicle.

      3) Corruption and rule breaking? Remember the MFP inquiry? Well, this city council brought in an lobbyist registrar and Integrity Commissioner. You’ve heard of the Integrity Commisioner, haven’t you?

      Just because you didn’t agree that any of those were accomplishments, doesn’t mean we didn’t give you any.

      And we’re curious just how you know that we don’t spend any time at Community Councils or City Council? More baseless assertions, once again proving my colleague’s point in his post.

  7. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Well, you’re right about the “accomplishments”. Maybe you should include garbage pick-up and the Santa Claus Parade?

    It’s your rather narrow range of harping that tells me you’re a computer-based community activist.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      You are a hard person to please. You ask for accomplishments and when we oblige, you deny you ever asked. When we show you that, if fact, you did ask, you then mock accomplishments rather than refute them, using the handy ” ” for emphasis. You then add a couple completely nonsensical examples of “accomplishments” for no real reason other than an attempt to undermine the list accomplishments we originally stated and which you claimed you never asked for in the first place. Then with another personal shot, you sign off.

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke wonder why you’re wasting all this time on a site you clearly dislike.

  8. Peter MacQuarie says:

    You don’t like being on the end of some slick remarks, do you?

    David Miller did a completely ordinary job as Mayor. He didn’t come close to living up to the promise. TO didn’t even get an apology for that. He was too steeped himself in the culture we elected him to change.

    I like to call a spade, a spade. You look like a lightweight phonie. Good at slagging, piss-poor on solutions.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      What can we say? You caught us. We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke live in fear of dealing with nimble, cutting minds such as yours. We now know what it must’ve felt like to be on the receiving end of some slick, devastating retort from the likes of Oscar Wilde.

  9. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Like I said, “good at slagging, piss-poor on….” Try doing something worthwhile for a change. It would please your mammy.

    Is Oscar on the net these days? He should be on the look-out for inappropriate use of his repartee.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      Again, touche. So dazzling is your discourse that we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke once more have no idea what you’re talking about.

      Kudos.

  10. Peter MacQuarie says:

    You got that right.

    You’ll be back writing shite again no doubt.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      No, perhaps not. So devastating have your attacks been upon us that we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are thinking of packing it in and heading off somewhere to find ourselves in order to discover how to fully embrace the absolute certainty that seems to be the secret of your success.

      Thanks for setting us straight.

  11. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Good, Grasshopper, maybe some time spent among the great unwashed might avert a terrible waste of time and effort.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      Here’s hoping!

      And as our departing gift to you, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke send this link.. http://bit.ly/a57Vqz for you to mull over and see what muck you can make of it. Maybe you can track down Mr. Lorinc and put him in his place too.

      • Peter MacQuarie says:

        John Lorinc does a better job of hyping David Miller than AFUITBS.

        So, why don’t you move on and try to make an informed contribution to this Municipal Election instead of just belittling people?

        That would be a much better use of your over-puffed ego.

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear Mr. McQuarie,

        And yet, here you are using this opportunity to do nothing other than mount another personal attack.

        We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke thought that such a mind for inquiry as yours would’ve tried to engage with Mr. Lorinc’s article and rebut the assertions made therein because they reveal everything that you’ve said about David Miller in this comments section to be little more than baseless nonsense, spewed forth from someone clearly not capable of developing coherent, independent thought on their own.

        But what do we know? We’re just here to belittle people. Although, some are clearly very able to do that all on their own.

  12. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Do something useful with that ego before it consumes you altogether.

    Response to John Lorinc post –

    Except for RF, mayoralty candidates have ignored the main bone of contention with TO Council. There is much harm done, and much swept under the carpet, as councillors go through their motions.

    Ford mostly acknowledges the wasteful spending but all of the shenanigans are ignored by the others. Why is that? Ford knows first hand but there are others who know what’s been going on too. Maybe they like the culture they have created? And, because we all don’t show up for Council at the same time they have just been getting away with it.

    I like it that RF is focused. He may well be poor at articulation but many TO residents who have had the misfortune of needing help from a rogue councillor or City Staff know what I’m getting at. It’s what RF refers to when he talks about “customer service”.

    I would expect the kind of accomplishments John Lorinc has praised from every Council. Well done Mr. Miller, but why didn’t you use that broom you had above your head? I might be wrong but, did you run for election on all those issues?
    Comment by Peter MacQuarie
    August 31, 2010 | 11:13 am

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      Wait, you’ve confused us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke again.

      You’re saying, “Well done Mr. Miller…I might be wrong but, did you run for election on all those issues?” So you’re unhappy with the Mayor because he merely dealt with the issues he campaigned on? Except for all the corruption and wasteful spending that Mr. Ford claims is going on that somehow nobody else knows anything about except for Rob Ford.

      Oh, what’s that, John Lorinc?

      “Miller’s council also introduced, albeit haltingly, a lobbyist registry, campaign finance rules, an ombud, and independent status for the auditor general.

      These reforms aren’t on the electoral chopping block. In fact, one could argue that Ford exploited the attention surrounding these reforms to help fuel his own drive to reveal councillor expenses. Ironies aside, the City of Toronto has become a much more professionally managed organization under Miller…”

      Why exactly are you so angry at City Hall, Mr. MacQuarie?

  13. Peter MacQuarie says:

    “Except for all the corruption and wasteful spending that Mr. Ford claims is going on that somehow nobody else knows anything about except for Rob Ford.”

    You don’t seem to be familiar enough with the games played on Council. Games that cost a lot.

    For example, so long as an expenditure is “approved”, it’s OK, right?

    I remember Karen Stintz’s speech lessons. She claimed they were approved and if some poor kid with a speech disability can’t get the same from the City, too bad. I’ve heard about retirement parties, bunny rabbit suits and coffee machines that were approved in the same fashion.

    What about the reimbursement of Heaps and Mamolitti? Is that not the best example of a rogue system needing correction? We need 1 million more people in TO but the Planning Department is the least funded and most under-staffed with basically just a bunch of old farts waiting for their pensions. That situation is tolerated because it empowers councillors who, due to system default, become “planners” on Council.

    These are examples of the sense of entitlement that exists and which needs to be addressed by whoever wins the Mayoralty race. It just so happens RF is the only one talking about it and which is why he’s leading in the polls.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      Yes, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are familiar with all the above games played on Council. We’ve read the Team Ford campaign literature as well. May we suggest you take your nose solely from those pages and look around to see what others are saying. Start here, for example. Follow the links throughout, see how much all these games are really costing you and how much a Rob Ford administration is going to save you.

      And just for accuracy sake, although there’s no reason you would know that some of the numbers you’re touting are somewhat suspect as Mr. Ford continues to use them even after being corrected, the 1 million more people who are scarily coming to town over the next 10 years or so, that’s in the entire GTA. Toronto expects to get about a fifth of those. If it matters at all to you.

  14. Peter MacQuarie says:

    I have never read any of RF’s output and I’m at a loss to know what numbers I am touting?. My comments are from first hand knowledge. Something you should consider if you want to be more than a cub reporter.

    FYI, I worked at community level and contributed to Bedford’s OP. I believe we are expecting to have 1 million more residents over 30 years from the original date of the Plan which was 2001.

    Abuse of the OP became a frenzied feeding binge over the last few Council Meetings. It wasn’t hard to figure out why given that there will be so much turnover on Council and a new Mayor.

    Also, FYI, justification for massive intensification is often wrong but rarely refuted by the “professionals” in the Planning Department or pimp councillors. So much for a better run Miller Administration.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      It is truly astounding then, just how much you sound like Rob Ford out there on the campaign hustings. We mean, almost word for word, example for example.

      From the National Post last week: The only population figure in the city’s official plan, which outlines how to prepare for urban growth, states that the Greater Toronto Area will increase by 2.7-million people by 2031. Toronto is expected to take in about 20% of that, or 537,000 people, in the period 2001 to 2031. The provincial government projects Toronto will grow by 170,000 in the next 10 years. But whatever, just some other liberal rag who doesn’t possess the community level, insider knowledge that you do. Cub reporters, eh?

  15. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Yes, I’m Rob Ford and you’re Walter Cronkite.

    So I’ve been listening to the developer pimps for too long, big deal, what’s your point? My point was that the TO population growth is manageable without the need for so many councillors to sell their souls to big property owners.

    Are you just another in the rabble gunning for Ford while neglecting the problems, hoping one of your smart boys will save the day?

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. MacQuarie,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke don’t think that was your point at all. You insisted your figure of 1 million people was right without any proof. We thought you were wrong, provided some document backing our argument and now you’ve started another discussion altogether.

      You don’t really need us to participate anymore, do you?

  16. Peter MacQuarie says:

    Who needs you? I was right about your ego, eh? You need a friend to tell you some honest truths or forever live in your student glory days haze.

    You haven’t participated. You’ve only read RF’s campaign literature.

    No surprise either that you ignore my points or don’t understand them. That’s a function of your motivation.

    Take my advice, read and understand what was going on at Council.

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