If upon hearing the news of Councillor Frank Di Giorgio’s appointment as Mayor Ford’s new budget chief you didn’t share in the collective shudder, you really need to go see your doctor. Clearly you don’t have whatever mechanism it is a body needs to shudder.
Budget Chief Frank Di Giorgio. Mr. Budget Chief, as the mayor kept referring to him during yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting. Budget Chief Frank Di Giorgio.
As any regular reader of these pages knows, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoker were no fans of the previous budget chief, Councillor Mike Del Grande. In fact, it would be safe to say we loathed him in the position. Not only was his approach to municipal finances shockingly misguided, woefully hampered by a 19th-century view of society and a rigid ideological abhorrence toward the idea of government spending, he was petty and dismissive of those he disagreed with.
Budget Chief Di Giorgio?
“One of the most loyal, loyal folks we have,” according the Councillor Doug Ford.
Ah yes. Loyalty. Loyalty above all else. A one-way type of loyalty, of course, where the mayor is free to play the field according to whatever whim stirs him to turn his back on those doing his bidding.
With one more budget to go before heading into a re-election campaign, Mayor Ford has tapped someone to oversee billions of dollars in spending and revenue based purely on being a good soldier on Team Ford. A numbers guy for sure with an impressive resume if he were being asked to teach algebra to high school students. Back in the 70s.
From my perch in the cheap seats at city council chambers, Frank Di Giorgio has been a wholly unimpressive, inconsequential councillor. His contribution to the discourse of city business has been almost exclusively twisted logic and syntax. A golden oldie from way back in 2003 as noted by the Toronto Star’s David Rider yesterday:
“Mr. Chairman, I think we find ourselves in an unfortunate position simply because, simply because we have tended to over-regulate perhaps too often, or Madam Chairman I should say, we have a regulatory system that is trilateral in the sense that we have three levels of government that fall in a regulation system and two levels of government that do their part.”
And a book of such quotes could be written.
Certainly, his first 24 hours on the job as budget chief did little to suggest he might grow into the job. His first media scrum with the mayor after the announcement he told all assembled that he’d be looking to freeze property taxes, department budgets and look at reducing the land transfer tax by some 10%. Later, he clarified his position, saying that an inflationary property tax might be necessary and that he was only talking about keeping spending at 0%.
“There’s no clarity as to what I’ve been asked to do, other than examine certain things,” the new budget chief said, “like: What’s the likelihood of doing something with the land transfer tax? What’s the likelihood of coming in, let’s say if (Ford) says to me, ‘0 per cent tax increase’?
“I think those are far-fetched ideas, but I will look at them.”
One might think before taking the job that sort of ‘clarity’ would be something the budget chief might want to sort out. You want me to do what? That’s kind of — how’d he put it? – ‘far-fetched’ from a budgeting standpoint, to continue slashing revenue. Oh well. Lemme see what I can do.
Good, loyal soldiers never question their superiors.
Say what you will about the previous budget chief but he had a certain independence of thought and ultimately stood firm when he felt his job and contribution to the administration had been compromised by Mayor Ford.
There’s little sense Budget Chief Di Giorgio will show the same spine in the face of the mayor’s disregard.
“One of the most loyal, loyal folks we have.”
This lack of resolve in our new budget chief as the push forward to a discussion of transit expansion and new generation of revenues was on full display in an interview yesterday with CBC’s Here and Now (h/t John Lorinc). “I personally will not be supportive of the tax increases that will come forward as potential tax increases,” the budget chief said, sharing a similar view with the mayor, “to pay for transportation.” Instead, we must ‘grow the economy’ as if transit has nothing to do with that equation.
“And if congestion is something we have to live with in the short term, we have to look at alternative ways at easing congestion.” And those ‘alternative ways’, Mr. Budget Chief? Stay tuned but don’t hold your breath in anticipation.
To paraphrase a title of a forgettable movie from the 80s: Oh no, Di Giorgio.
— dismayedly submitted by Cityslikr