I’ve got to give credit where credit’s due, and hand it to Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.
As loathsome a politician as I think he is — How to measure Political Loathsomeness? Take a politician’s positive contributions and divide them by their negative impact. – the man is nothing else if not a brazen piece of work. And when all is said and done, he is nothing else.
Lost amidst this week’s budget and casino kerfuffles, caught dead to rights trying to smother in its infancy a Mayor David Miller council endorsed environmental assessment of the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway, the dude not only didn’t deny it, he mustered a reasonable facsimile of outrage at the time and cost it would take to restart the EA and allow it to play out to its conclusion. “Six to nine years?!” he thundered at city staff at last Monday’s Budget Committee meeting. “Fifteen million dollars?! Fifteen million dollars!?”
“Denzil Minnan-Wong says it was his original intention to kill the Gardiner EA,” NOW magazine’s Ben Spurr tweeted, “but he then decided to shelve the letter about it.”
Just like that, the councillor as chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee simply disregarded the will of city council and set a new course for transportation spending all on his own. Of course, a skilled politician never leaves his ass totally exposed. ‘A number of parties’ were involved in the decision to shelve the EA, Councillor Minnan-Wong later clarified.
“It was suggested by the public service and Waterfront Toronto, and the mayor’s office agreed to it as well as the chair of public works,” he said, according to Elizabeth Church of the Globe and Mail. “My intention when I asked for the letter was to bring it forward to executive to kill it. We had a number of discussions about this and it was decided to put it on the back burner.”
A number of discussions with everybody but city council, it seems. And now that the EA is on the verge of being revived, ‘the chair of public works’ as the councillor refers to himself in the 3rd person is indignant at such a waste of time and money. “It’s like a bad horror movie,” he says, as if he’s simply just some passive audience member.
Follow the bouncing ball on this. (From the 2013 Capital Budget Briefing Note, Page 2, bolding mine).
- On September 16, 2010, the Gardiner EA Steering Committee, co-chaired by the former Deputy City Manager whose responsibilities include Waterfront Revitalization, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Waterfront Toronto, agreed that minimal work would proceed on the EA in order to manage study costs until the new administration and Council could be properly briefed.
- In mid-November, 2010, the Steering Committee co-chairs jointly agreed to delay the next step in the EA, which was release of the design concepts, pending direction from the new Council and administration. About $3.28 million of the total $7.69 million budget had been spent.
- On March 2, 2011, the former Deputy City Manager whose responsibilities include Waterfront Revitalization was requested by the Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to draft a letter for him to table at Executive Committee requesting a report on the contractual, financial, regulatory, process and other implications of cancelling or modifying the Gardiner EA study.
- On March 31, 2011, the Waterfront Secretariat, in consultation with City Planning and Transportation Services, provided the Chair with the draft letter for him to table at Executive Committee. The letter was not subsequently tabled at Executive Committee.
Given the time frame of this, early on in 2011, Mayor Ford was at the height of his power wielding at city council. His Public Works and Infrastructure Chair in all likelihood could’ve brought the EA back to council and officially put it out of its misery. Instead, he sneakily knocked it off desk, out of sight against the wall, suggesting one of two things, perhaps a combination of both. A shocking lack of political acuity or a full sense of just how flimsy a construct the notion of a Ford Nation really was. They gleefully came out of the gate manhandling all the easy pickin’s: the VRT, councillor office budgets but steadfastly ignored the more contentious issues which might threaten their support.
Like offing the Gardiner EA.
It’s conceivable that had it not been quietly suppressed, the EA might’ve been completed by now. Council could proceed with the 2013 capital budget, knowing the best course of action to take in regards to repairing, rehabilitating or replacing the Gardiner. Instead, they’ll be pressed into deciding whether or not to waste money maintaining a section of it, pending the completion of the ill-advised delayed EA.
And is the man responsible for the delay repentant? Hardly. He carries on as if he had nothing to do with it, as if it was just another example of the bumbling ineffectiveness of a government he so despises.
He’s got moxie, I’ll give him that.
Yet he continues to be elected to office, since 1997, returned 3 times although it is worth noting his share of votes shrinks every time his constituents go to the ballot box. In 2003 when the city went to one councillor/one ward, he scooped up 70.0% of Ward 34 votes. In 2006, 60.7%. In 2010, 53.4%. (Interesting comparison: Councillor Minnan-Wong’s Don Valley East council mate, Shelley Carroll has watched her percentages climb from 36.6% in 2003 to 57.7% in 2010.)
So maybe we should take heart. It seems the more the people of Ward 34 see of their councillor, the less they like him. As a high profile member of Team Ford, there’s never been more attention on him than there is now. We should take every opportunity to shine the spotlight on him and his antics, in the hopes of finally ridding the city of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s destructive approach to governance.
— fingers crossedly submitted by Cityslikr