The Useful Idiocy Of Mike Del Grande

Early on as Toronto’s 2011 budget debate got rolling, there were questions about how much the city’s new budget chief, Mike Del Grande, was in the loop about matters budgetary. He’d been caught unawares with the mayor’s decision to freeze property taxes. (Must be how the mayor rolls. Ford For Toronto pointed out yesterday that TTC chair Karen Stintz was surprised to learn that Mayor Ford was planning to build a subway along Finch Avenue within 10 years. Not single-handedly, of course, although it may come to that.) But if Councillor Del Grande bears any ill-will toward the mayor for not being the second or third or twelfth to know about important decisions made, he certainly doesn’t show it. The good councillor from Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt is nothing if not magnanimous. And by magnanimous, I mean dyspeptic.

It was easy to assume going in that given Mayor Ford’s obsession with the bottom line and campaign pledge to stop the gravy train, his sibling and political soul mate would be a natural choice for budget chief. Brothers… are doin’ it for themselves. But maybe it all looked a little too cozy, too Ford-y. Besides, Councillor Doug was a neophyte to municipal politics. He’d need some time to pretend to learn the ropes.

So who better to front the Ford family’s plan to dismantle the city bit by bit than a chartered accountant? It’s not personal. It’s business. The numbers just don’t add up. Don’t believe us? Ask the guy with the pocket protector.

Councillor Del Grande has been ferocious in his role as holder of the purse strings, the man whose destiny it is to restore fiscal sanity to City Hall. He understands the meaning of a penny. You don’t. He’s a chartered accountant after all. You’re not.

Once more I sat in Committee Room #1 yesterday and watched as Councillor Del Grande bullied presided over the budget committee meeting. As we have written about very extensively before (here and here and here and here), there is nothing the councillor can’t take exception to, no contrary view that he can’t blow up into a hysterical tirade about discipline and responsibility. Not for nothing a former colleague on council nicknamed him Cardinal Del Grandstand.

It is shocking to find oneself in a room with, I don’t know, 30 or so other grown ups being bellowed at, finger pounding on the desk, condescendingly talked down to and berated. I half expected the budget chief to tell me I had detention after the meeting. Adults don’t speak to adults like that. Adults shouldn’t speak to children like that because adults who do often times end up alone in their twilight years, packed off to a nursing home where the staff drug them into a satisfying silence.

Such baleful arrogance is barely tolerable in those who’ve earned it through brilliance, acuity or genius. It’s absolutely unacceptable coming from someone in possession of none of those qualities. In fact, Budget Chief Del Grande represents the exact opposite of all those things.

Once Mike Del Grande signed on to Team Ford, he lost all entitlement he may have once had to lecture others about fiscal accountability. Despite acknowledging things were slightly more complicated than simply having a spending problem, Del Grande swallowed the poisoned pill of tax cuts and freezes and no service cuts. Any chartered accountant worth their salt would’ve seen the financial train wreck coming after the tourniquet was applied to the revenue streams, and run as fast as they could in the opposite direction. Instead, the councillor has stood firm, puffed out his cold, hollow chest and declared martial law on spending. Now it’s all about tightening our belts and lowering our expectations. Everything. Is. On. The. Table.

While the budget chief may think highly of himself as a slayer of big government spending, he’s actually nothing more than the presentable if rumpled front for darker motives. Aside from his slight mayoral campaign trope of Respect For The Taxpayers, Mayor Ford and Bros. Inc. have made no secret of their ultimate goal: to reduce government to little more than a skeleton crew. Protector of property and paver of roads. Everything else is gravy.

But to articulate that aspiration out loud sounds much crazier and less populist than it does when you’re at home, talking politics over family dinner. The public is far less enthusiastic if you tell them what you’re planning on taking away from them instead of all the money you’re going to save them. They need to be convinced they’re over-taxed not under-serviced.

Enter Michael Del Grande. He and his chartered accountancy diploma changes the channel. It isn’t a question of not wanting to be involved in social housing or day care or after school programs or environmental initiatives or libraries or the zoo or city planning. We. Just. Can’t. Afford. It. We no longer ask how can we do this or that because the answer will invariably be, we can’t. Dr. No. Mike Del Grande. C.A.

The thing is, he’d probably wear that badge with pride. He truly thinks he’s saving the city from its past profligacy which is what makes him so fucking insufferable not to mention dangerous. As he methodically counts the pennies and Ebenezerly brushes off widows and orphans he offers cover for the mayor to sell this asset off and privatized that service. Hey, folks. My heart bleeds for you. But we just can’t afford it anymore. Ask the budget chief. He’ll tell you. He’s a chartered accountant.

— distastefully submitted by Cityslikr

15 thoughts on “The Useful Idiocy Of Mike Del Grande

  1. Again Mr. Citysliker you put the willies in my heart. Do you not see some saviour on the horizon, a knight in some shape or form that can swoop or ride or take a taxi into our lives and save us from these very very very bad men?

  2. Wow. Great writing! I loved this turn of phrase:
    “Such baleful arrogance is barely tolerable in those who’ve earned it through brilliance, acuity or genius. It’s absolutely unacceptable coming from someone in possession of none of those qualities.”

  3. And in the end, the garbage will still be picked up, transit will still be moving people, your water will still run, daycare centers will still care for children. The pontification of doom and gloom continues…

    • Dear Dude Love,

      No one here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke has suggested the garbage won’t be picked up, the water won’t run, the daycare centres won’t be caring for children. The question is, who’s going to be picking up the water, who’s going to be caring for the children and how much more this is going to cost us? The neo-conservative record points to us paying more and getting less.

      That’s what we’re dooming and glooming about.

      • If you look, City run daycare centers are already twice the daily rate than private daycare centers with the same services. Water is already been scheduled to go up for the next few years.

        The cost of services has been going up for the last seven years. If you are so concerned but funding, McGinty raises the ghosts of Mike Harris all the time but has done nothing to fix downloading in his tenure.

    • My concern is the PRIVATIZATION of Public Services!
      For example; 21 TCHC houses will be sold & there will be less units when there is a huge waiting list…
      TTC will raise fares for the same system until the Ford’s figure out how to pay for the Subway addition.

      • Seven of the homes up for sale sit empty due to lack of funds to repair them to a regulated standard.

        The remaining homes are individuals who do not qualify for social housing but are getting the benefit of paying below market rates.

      • Mr. Love; the City is not going to evict the little old lady who can pay market rent but will be evicting others to sell and reduce the number of units overall?!

      • People living in those homes are not social housing recipients. They are people who happen to be living in a property owned by the TCHC and paying rents well above the socialize housing levels.

        Buildings get sold all the time and tenants can be asked to leave by the new owners.

      • That’s right Andrew! TCHC found the people housing at market rate, so they don’t have to subsidize them. My question to you is if the PRIVATE rentals are so great, why do we have Public Housing?

      • Public housing, i.e. subsidized housing and if for individuals who can’t afford private housing or their benefits pay for a portion of rent, the city picks up the rest, that is why PUBLIC housing exists.

  4. Thank you Mr. Foster.

    I am reminded of the following:

    “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember – the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you.” – Zig Ziglar

    You must have a real hate for CA’s- 5 honourable mentions- I can only suspect you must have flunked out of Accounting 101 by your CA Prof. When I see you have Mr. Yeung as a follower I can only surmise I am on the “right” side of the ledger.

    As is typical, for those hiding in the gutter with their vulgarity.

    I await a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner for some trumped up complaint from this posting.

    • Dear Councillor Del Grande,

      Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to read our humble contribution to the municipal political scene in Toronto and see fit to offer up constructive and positive comments. What we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke find especially edifying is how you seem to reject any impulse to view criticism of your performance as a public servant or disagreement with your opinions as nothing more than resentment or jealousy of your elevated status. Instead, you cut right to the core and address the issue at hand. Which is, how someone in their role as budget chief can castigate others for lack of fiscal prudence in the face of an apparent oncoming financial tsunami (as I believe you and Councillor Mihevc have called it) while at the same time voting to cut various revenue streams that the city has access to.

      It’s not a question of hating CAs, Councillor. In fact, we have one who works for us and we get along like gangbusters. But if he were to start offering us advice in times of financial duress, suggesting that perhaps we start charging less for the services we provide, our relationship might become a little frosty. Even someone flunking Accounting 101 would see that for what it is. Lacking a whole lot of business sense.

  5. Tenant Defence Fund Budget Cut

    On February 24th, 2011 City Council passed the new budget for the City, including a cut to the Tenant Defense Fund of $100,000 a fund that provides essential services to poor tenants. $25,000 was cut from the grant money that tenants can access in order to challenge above guideline rent increases, demolitions, and conversions, and $75 000 was cut from the tenant education and support services offered by the FMTA. The cuts will result in a reduction in services provided by each branch of the FMTA, that is, the Tenant Hotline, the Outreach and Organizing Team, and the Tenant Education Project.

    Of the 45 city councilors, 23 supported the heartless cuts while 22 voted to keep the funding for providing these necessary city services.

    Voting against the cuts and defending tenants rights:
    Maria Augimeri, Ana Bailão, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, John Parker, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, Adam Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam

    Voting to cut essential services to the poor and tenants:
    Paul Ainslie, Michelle Berardinetti, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson

    Make sure if your councillor was part of this attack on tenants than your neighbors know about this.

    Contact the enemies of tenants and get your friends to do the same to let them and their people know we won’t put up with this attack on the poor. You can find the contact info on these slimy politicians here http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp

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