The Gang That Could Shoot Straight

June 9, 2011

Each and every morning (or afternoon depending on how late my night was before), I sit down in front of the computer to face the increasingly monumental task of staying on top of the goings-on at City Hall. I am overwhelmed by the choices that open up before me. What recent outrage to rail about? What latest bit of boneheadedness to comment on? Where to start? Where to end?

To put it in the budgetary parlance of our time, there is a tsunami of malevolence at work within the halls of 100 Queen Street West. A mean-spirited ineptitude that borders on the sociopathic. Operating under an unwavering orthodoxy that stands in strict opposition to actual reality, it manifests itself in empty rhetoric, cheap sloganeering and meaningless gestures. I’d call it a government run by the gang that couldn’t shoot straight except, I fear, they know exactly what and who they’re aiming for.

Where to start?

With the city mired in an apparent fiscal crisis, our Deputy Mayor spends his time engaging in an anti-panhandling/squeegee crusade. They’re everywhere, it seems, blocking up sidewalks, grabby hands reaching out for the change dangling in our pockets. At least, I think it’s the change they’re reaching for. Squeegee delinquents beat up innocent motorists. It’s a jungle out there, according to our Deputy Mayor, and something has to be done to clean up our streets. Sweep away the refuse so it’s out of sight, out of mind.

And while he’s at it, the Deputy Mayor takes a moment to berate the 12 councillors who jetted off to live high off the hog in Halifax (as if such a thing’s possible) and attended a conference that dealt with pressing urban issues. “What benefit is it to taxpayers to send a dozen people to Halifax?” Oh, I don’t know, Councillor Holyday. Maybe to get together with other municipal representatives throughout the country to sit and try to bang out a workable strategy to deal with homeless people living on their streets?

Then there’s our lovable curmudgeon of a Budget Chief toting a red piggy bank to make some kind of point about saving money. I think. Is that right, Councillor Del Grande? Am I understanding the use of your prop? He also likes to spout that favourite old chestnut of modern fiscal conservatism about governments needing to be just like households, the notion of which Matt Elliott over at Ford For Toronto pleasingly eviscerates.

Let me tell you something, Mr. Budget Chief. If you were out working in the “real” world as you like to say, and I was paying you for financial advice? Don’t show up at the office with a piggy bank and some logically lazy ‘for example’ story because I would immediately demand my money back and then seek out someone who was prepared to talk to me like an adult.

Not to be out done for the ineffectual but mean award on Team Ford is TTC Chair, Karen Stintz. As Laurence Liu over at Twitter called it, “StintzySense” for her intuitive ability to know that the organization she’s leading is still somewhat bloated and in need of further slicing and dicing. “There’s a sense the TTC is overstaffed,” Councillor Stintz said. “We need to be able to address that issue. There are issues around absenteeism we know about.” A sense? What’s that? Some sort of vibe or aura? Surely after a half-year or so at the helm, there must be some facts and figures that can be used to come to an actual conclusion about the issue. Before you go cutting staff and services, raising fares to meet the arbitrary 10% budget cuts that the mayor has demanded of all city agencies, boards and committees, give us some rock hard numbers instead of simply gut feelings.

So it goes. An administration, full of contempt toward the positive power of governing, led by people so clearly out of their depth and incapable of offering solutions other than cutting and shifting responsibility elsewhere. Where to end?

If you follow along the comments sections of any article written about our current municipal scene, inevitably there’s someone chastising others for calling Mayor Ford stupid or his policies and decisions asinine, backwards and counter-productive. It doesn’t help, they say. You need to reach out. Well, you know, to reach out, offer up helpful solutions and try to reach a consensus would mean that you’d have to have even a modicum of respect for the views and opinions of those you don’t agree with. But respect has to be earned, and very little of this gang’s performance so far has deserved any respect whatsoever.

defiantly submitted by Cityslikr