So the Mayor Rob Ford era is off to a colourful start, let’s call it. Amidst all the news reports filled with the ‘dirty tricks’ his team employed, we’ve also learned that our mayor-elect is now deep in debt; the fiscally responsible candidate turning out not to be all that fiscally responsible when it came to campaign spending. Except perhaps when it came to paying minimum wage for some of the campaign workers. “I wanted young kids because I could pay them nothing and they would do what I told them to,” said Nick Kouvalis, Ford’s campaign manager. “I paid them $500 a week and I wanted 60 or 70 hours a week out of them.”
One could almost shrug it off as nothing more than the understandable triumphalist crowing from a guy who masterminded one of the most improbable election victories in recent memory. Basking in the publicity of last Friday’s Public Affairs Association of Canada gathering of campaign managers and city bigwigs, who could blame Mr. Kouvalis for indulging himself in a little boastful chest-beating? In political circles, he’s clearly arrived and his services would now be in high demand. Polish up that resumé and move on to the next electoral fight.
The thing is, Kouvalis is sticking around town to become Ford’s chief of staff. So were we being offered a preview of how the new administration will operate? Deceitful. Dishonest. Divisive. Possibly acceptable when it comes to running a campaign (possibly) but regrettable and destructive in terms of running a city. Especially a city that appears to be as divided between its inner suburbs and downtown core as Toronto is presently.
Little so far emanating from the Ford camp suggests that it’s a divide they’re looking to heal or mend. When Kouvalis veered off into policy between tactical discussions at PAAC, one of the things he suggested he’d like to do away with is the Tower Renewal Program. Without getting into the details, it’s an initiative that “combine[s] green technology with neighbourhood revitalization projects to make stronger, greener communities across the city.” Hoping to eventually include all the 1000+ residential apartment building in Toronto, 4 pilot sites started in September, 3 of which are located deep in Ford Country.
If his chief of staff is to be believed (a stretch based on the kind of campaign he ran), Mayor-elect Rob Ford doesn’t care for neighbourhood revitalization even in the areas of town who voted for him. Combine this with the fact that he wants to kill Transit City and replace it with subways that’ll reach far fewer riders outside the core and it’s difficult to reconcile Rob Ford as a mayor who represents the anger and dislocation felt by his suburban constituents. It seems as if the split wrought by amalgamation is one that our new mayor wants to exploit for his own political success and survival. Otherwise, he would’ve sent Nick Kouvalis on his way with a handshake and briefcase full of cash after the election and brought in someone more conciliatory to oversee the running of his administration at City Hall.
— curiously submitted by Cityslikr