Project 23

July 13, 2011

I should be back at City Hall taking in the rest of council business today. There is other business for sure aside from the new bike lane plan. A plan, by the way, that is now in the hands of non-biking riding suburban councillors. Step one? Remove many existing bike lanes in their respective wards.

It’s all a little dispiriting right now, I will admit. A musty smell of the 1950s fills the chambers. Kind of like Aramis or the odd odour your grandparents give off.

Team Ford won a convincing victory in the bike lane debate today. We’re assured those on Jarvis Street won’t be removed until the protected lanes on Sherbourne are up and going although no definitive commitment was made of that if the money for the Sherbourne bike lanes gets lost in the Great Budget Crisis of 2012 or some other technical glitch pops up. Plans are already afoot to bring back the reversible middle lane with nary a peep about the pedestrianized plan that set this all in motion.

Just trust us, we’re told. Our best interests will be taken to heart.

You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t hold my breath, waiting.

But I think it makes the timing right for my unofficial announcement for what I’ve been calling Project 23. An idea in its infancy with the intention of turning up the heat on councillors who are currently enabling the mayor and his crew to do the damage they seem intent on inflicting on the city. As we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have written previously, Mayor Ford is an unmovable force, incapable it seems of compromise or lacking any interest in seeking a broader consensus. There’s little use expending energy trying to change that.

He has his ideological brethren who will not deviate from his position on important or close votes. They too aren’t worth much further consideration. And there are those now luxuriating in the aura of power, a power they could not possibly achieve on their own. Step up and take a bow, Councillor Mammoliti. I’m figuring they are a lost cause. At least until the power begins to dissipate.

Instead, we need to concentrate on those in the so-called mushy middle. Let’s call it the vulnerable middle. Councillors, both new and old, who are regularly siding with the mayor out of either fear of the mayor’s tactical pressure or plain old political expediency. The going’s good now and they are aware of fallout if they are seen to be bucking Ford Nation. So they’re skulking in the shadows, hoping no one notices them and that come election 2014, they’ll be able to continue under the radar of their own ward races.

Let’s start informing them that that’s not going to happen. They will have to answer to their voters if they continue their craven allegiance to this administration. If they think there’s a price to be paid not being a Team Ford player, notice needs to be served there’s going to be no free ride for such slavish devotion.

I’m thinking the likes of the hypocritical Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36). A silent Ford yes man, he managed to get bike lanes in his ward pulled from the new plan for further community consultation and then proceeded to vote against every other motion for further consultation some of his colleagues had put forth. Take that for bipartisanship.

There’s Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10) who gave a rambling, incoherent defence of his support for the mayor’s bike plan. To Councillor Pasternak’s mind, cyclists aren’t parents or business owners. Both he and Councillor Crawford were elected last fall by the slimmest of majorities, propelled mainly on name recognition as school board trustees. In 2014, they will be labeled as nothing more than Ford men.

Executive Committee members Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35) and Jaye Robinson (Ward 25) have been largely silent Ford loyalists, doing the mayor’s bidding and rarely standing up to defend their position. Councillor Berardinetti did get feisty today, flashing the Mammoliti thumbs down in order to remove bike lanes from her ward. Why? Because she lives in the suburbs and the suburbs weren’t designed for bike lanes.

Councillors Josh Colle and Ana Bailão, wards 15 and 18 respectively, lined up in favour of the new bike lane plan and have consistently voted with Mayor Ford on important issues. It’s not entirely certain why yet although one does have to wonder about the mayor’s hold on the Lawrence Heights development in Councillor Colle’s ward until after the bike plan vote. This may be the tactical pressure both rookie councillors tend to wilt under.

And then there’s the other Josh, Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22). Josh, Josh, Josh. Councillor, Councillor, Councillor. I don’t have the vote results in front of me and will state right now I will retract anything I say if I’m wrong but, once more, he seemed to talk a big game of seeking partisanship, deciding on the facts and the facts alone and then proceeding to vote along the lines of supporting the mayor when the chips were down and then voting against him when it didn’t matter. Soon he has to learn that it is not acceptable to talk like a progressive and vote without principles in the hopes that no one notices. We’ve noticed, Councillor Matlow.

We cannot forget council’s perennial deadweights either. Councillors Frank DiGiorgio (Ward 12), Mark Grimes (Ward 6), Norm Kelly (Ward 40), Peter Milczyn (Ward 5) and Cesar Palacio (Ward 17), all of whom voted to install the Jarvis bike lanes in 2009 and then to remove them 2 years later (What about the taxpayers, councillors?) Each had their tortured reasons. None were convincing. Yes, we too know which way the political winds are blowing, councillors.

But the winds will change direction because that’s what political winds do. We can help speed that process along by focusing on these malleable councillors. All we need is to get 6 or 7 of them to start seriously weighing their options every time they press their vote button in favour of the Team Ford agenda. They need to know that there will be repercussions. That they will not be able to operate in obscurity. Their actions will have consequences.

Thus, Project 23. Further details to come. Stay tuned.

Courage!

determinedly submitted by Cityslikr