Mayor Menace

There was a time back last fall, either right before the municipal election when the possibility of Rob Ford becoming our mayor solidified into reality or just after the fact when he indeed did just that, a collective exhalation of breath among those who hadn’t voted for him could be heard. Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe the office of the mayor will soften him, draw out his inner statesman. Surely there won’t be 22 councillors willing to risk their political future pandering and aiding his worst instincts.

Well, mark your calendars, folks. November 24th, 2011. If it wasn’t obvious to everyone before then, it has become crystal clear now. Mayor Rob Ford is as bad as our worst fears. He is truly a destructive force, laying waste to Toronto either because he doesn’t understand what makes a 21st-century big city work or he just doesn’t give a fuck. At this point, it doesn’t matter the reason. He has simply become Mayor Menace.

How else to explain yesterday’s announced cuts to 56 TTC routes? And yes, they were cuts. Call them ‘efficiencies’, reductions or whatever euphemism you need to rationalize your continued support for the mayor’s War on the City… actually, it’s more than that…War on Modernity, the simple fact of the matter is, once more, Mayor Ford has broken his campaign promise of ‘No cuts to services. Guaranteed.

You want to shrug it off with a ‘m’eh, all politicians do it’ or ‘we all knew he couldn’t keep that promise and anyone who did was just playing dumb’ and any other intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt games you want to play, ask yourself this. If then candidate for mayor Rob Ford had said out loud that he would be instituting a 10% reduction to the TTC budget and possibly raising fares if elected, would he be mayor right now? I hate hypothesizing but given his precipitous drop in favourable poll numbers even before this frontal assault on public transit, can you honestly respond ‘yes’ to that question? Yeah well, who’s playing dumb now?

Even by the mayor’s own bird-brained rubric of government being run like a business, this move makes zero sense. What business, seeing demand for their services at an all time high, would cut back on those services? Charge higher prices, maybe, but cut back? Only if you’re looking to put your business out of business.

Of course, for a city of 2.5 million people or so, in 2011 public transit should not be regarded as some sort of for-profit enterprise. Mayor Ford spearheaded the drive to have the TTC declared an essential service earlier this year but is treating it as anything but. In an already congested city, diminishing TTC service will inevitably put more cars on the road, only making a bad situation worse, socially and economically.

It comes as no surprise that this idea is lost on the mayor and a handful of his more ardent, antediluvian council supporters. But what’s up with TTC chair Karen Stintz? If she has any thoughts about running for higher office, how is overseeing rollbacks in TTC service going to help her cause? “Hi. I’m Karen Stintz. I’m running for mayor. You might remember me as the TTC chair who helped kneecap public transit in Toronto. Can I count on your support?”

Aside from Councillor Maria Augimeri, none of the other councillors sitting on the TTC board have spoken out against the cuts as far as I know. Perhaps we should ask them to clarify their positions.

Peter Milczyn, TTC vice-chair, Ward 5.

Vincent Crisanti, Ward 1.

Frank Di Giorgio, Ward 12.

Norm Kelly, Ward 40.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ward 34.

Cesar Palacio, Ward 17.

John Parker, Ward 26.

When tossing around blame for these TTC cuts, it would be unfair not to mention the role of our provincial legislature in all of this. After 8 years in office, the Dalton McGuinty government has not made good on its promise to re-assume its obligation to pay half of the TTC’s annual operating budget. It never seemed like the right time, as they continued to deflect criticism by (rightly) pointing out big investment in other parts of transit, both in Toronto and the wider region. But it stood back and allowed the public transit system in its largest city to severely struggle and indulged the mayor in his phantasmagorical scheme to kill Transit City and try to build an ill-thought out subway in its place. Now hunkered down in austerity mode, there appears to be little help coming from our provincial overlords. So here’s a couple other names you might want to have a chat with.

Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Bob Chiarelli, Minster of Transport

Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Courtesy of Laurence Lui

But the ultimate responsibility falls on Mayor Ford and the council that continues to allow him to rampage over this city. We can sit and talk ourselves blue about partisanship, petty grievances, the urban-suburban divide and tit-fot-tat politics. These cuts to the TTC, however, should transcend all that. This is a serious setback to public transit in this city. Combined with all the other measures the mayor and council has pursued like tearing up bike lanes, burying the Eglinton LRT, they are making a grave situation much, much worse. A situation that’s not only going to affect citizens dependant on the TTC. Roads will fill up. Everyone’s commute times will increase. Toronto’s competitiveness will continue to come under threat from other jurisdictions that place a higher premium on public transit and liveability.

Cutting and slashing your way to prosperity is an illusion like all of the mayor’s other views on governance. We knew it last year but too many of us closed our eyes, crossed our fingers and hoped it wasn’t true. Time to wake up to the reality, admit our mistake and go about defending Toronto from anymore of Mayor Ford’s deluded impulses.

exhortingly submitted by Cityslikr

5 Responses to Mayor Menace

  1. Kathleen Wynne has been shuffled out. New Minister of Transportation is Bob Chiarelli: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/about/minister.shtml

  2. While writing Wynne is an option – she’s a Toronto MPP, after all. Transit funding remains under the Transportation portfolio at the provincial level.

  3. Sonny says:

    Like I wrote before. Transit riders will rue the day they vote for Ford…

  4. Re: “What business, seeing demand for their services at an all time high, would cut back on those services? Charge higher prices, maybe, but cut back? Only if you’re looking to put your business out of business.”

    I think you just hit the nail on the head. What if putting your business out of business is the idea? This is a mayor who said the city should only be in the business of cleaning up garbage, policing, and paving roads. Public transit isn’t on the list. Neither are libraries or concern for the environment.

    So how to get out of these businesses? Appoint as Chair of the Environment Committee a guy who doesn’t believe in climate change. Appoint a member to the library board a guy who thinks we should close every single library in the city. Hire as your own policy director a guy who thinks the city shouldn’t even have public transit!

    Our city is being hijacked by a bunch of ideological nut jobs.

    Looks like we’re going to see a fare hike now in addition to these cuts to routes. Charging higher prices and delivering less service is a great strategy for going out of business…

  5. Effie Vlachoyannacos says:

    STOP THE ROB FORD CUTS NOW!!!

    Learn about how Rob Ford and Gang are going to be slashing services to the city’s poor and homeless!

    Organised by Social Planning Toronto

    Forum on the City’s 2012 Operating Budget
    Thursday, December 1
    9:30 a.m. to Noon
    YWCA Elm Centre, 87 Elm Street
    (corner of Elm and Elizabeth Street – two blocks north of Dundas, one block west of Yonge)

    Come and find out about the City of Toronto’s 2012 recommended staff and service cuts and what it means for you and your community and how we can fight back!

    Moderator: Winston Tinglin, Social Planning Toronto

    Community Panel:
    John Cartwright, Toronto and York Region Labour Council
    Geordie Dent, Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations
    Mark Ferguson, CUPE Local 416
    Franz Hartmann, Toronto Environmental Alliance
    Jane Mercer, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care
    Michael Shapcott, Wellesley Institute
    Susan Wright, Toronto Arts Council
    Toronto Youth Cabinet

    REGISTER here: http://2012citybudgetforum.eventbrite.com/

    Come out and fight the Mayor Rob Ford attack on the poor, middle class and New Canadians! Join Toronto Stop The Cuts http://torontostopthecuts.com

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