The Immoveable Mayor

June 23, 2011

Mark it down in your calendar, folks. The week of June 20th, 2011. It’s the date the mayoralty of Rob Ford officially jumped the shark. (If such a thing is possible. To jump the shark suggests that there’s a point of quality from which to jump. For example, can it be said that a Full House or Who’s The Boss? ever achieved the necessary creative heights to attempt the shark jump?)

Within a matter of days this week our very own Mayor Danny Tanner signaled that he’s unwilling, unable or just downright uninterested in reaching out past his core constituency. First, in Executive Committee he deep-sixed an offer from the province to pay for 2 public health nurses. Then the mayor announced that he would not be marching in the upcoming Pride parade, opting instead for a family long weekend at the cottage. In two fell swoops, Mayor Ford made it clear he was not the mayor of all Toronto.

I wouldn’t for a moment be presumptuous enough to try attaching a motivation for these decisions of the mayor aside from a reluctance to accept things that he doesn’t understand. Public nurses? We’ve got hospitals for sick people. Use them. T’eh Gays? Well, it’s all just a little too.. err… queer to him. Have at it. Live your life. Just don’t expect the mayor to endorse something he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.

The real takeaway message here for me is that Mayor Ford doesn’t feel a need politically to broaden his appeal among Toronto voters. He’s perfectly happy wallowing in the pond of support that brought him to power, and that shares his uneasiness with extra front line health workers and homosexuality. These are his people and the decisions he made in both cases make perfect sense to them. His intransigence might even solidify his reputation as a straight-shooting, uncomplicated, apolitical, little guy. Our mayor doesn’t bend to special interests. Just like us hard working, taxpaying, regular Joes.

Or something like that. We who are flummoxed by the choices our mayor makes need to get used to it. He ain’t ever going to change, so stop expecting him to. That trait may be his greatest strength, his best political asset.

So, let’s stop trying to find common ground with the mayor. It is a small and barren patch of land. A my way or the highway mentality means that the only compromise we can ever hope to reach is all on our part. We give. He takes.

We need to set our sights elsewhere. The time has come to turn up the heat on those at city council who continue their willfully blind support of Mayor Ford and who continue to enable him to do the things he does. If the standard operating procedure so far has been to back the mayor or suffer the political consequences, we have to find a way to point out that such unstinting support will also come with adverse political consequences. A light must be shone on those councillors who have, so far, been quietly cowering in the safe shadow the mayor casts.

Sure, Team Ford is made up of a handful of councillors sharing the mayor’s limited view of politics and the city. Brother Doug, for one, and the Deputy Mayor. They will be immune to such pressure. You might throw in Budget Chief Del Grande and Councillor Shiner as well although, they like Speaker Nunziata and QB Mammoliti, former Ford non-allies present now because the going’s been good but alert to any changes of fortune that might come if the mayor’s destructive and narrow-minded policies become something of a drag on their standing with the electorate.

Even in toto that’s a pretty small group and won’t be able to help dig Mayor Ford out of any holes he gets himself into.

The councillors I’m talking about are the rookies who haven’t established any sort of real foothold besides being the mayor’s flunkies. There’s Vincent Crisanti, Gary Crawford and James Pasternak (the two latter elected in 2010 with the slimmest of pluralities, within the margin of error.) Councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Jay Robinson, undistinguished members of the mayor’s executive committee. And the deadweight veterans, Cesar Palacio, Mark Grimes, Frank DiGiorgio, Chin Lee.

Then there are the moderates from both sides of the political spectrum that have already started bucking under the weight of Mayor Ford’s missteps. Peter Milczyn, Michael Thomspon, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Norm Kelly, Joshes Matlow and Colle, Ana Bailão, Mary-Margaret McMahon. TTC Chair Karen Stintz could be counted on to bail out if things get a little rocky.

Let’s refocus a grassroots effort from the mayor to these councillors, the non-ideological hidebound and opportunists, and start holding them accountable for participating in this war against the city. Alert their constituents with loud announcements of their collaboration and facilitating of this ruinous administration. We need a catchy name for it. Project 23 comes immediately to mind but may not be ominous enough.

Mayor Rob Ford is a lost cause for anyone hoping to build a strong city. It doesn’t interest him and he wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to even if he had the inclination. That’s not going to change.

What can change is the support he now has at City Hall if more councillors begin to realize a price will be paid for their ongoing association with a mayor determined to do his thing and his thing only.

start a firingly submitted by Cityslikr