No Great Expectations

June 6, 2013

I don’t know if you’d call it flop sweat we’re seeing from the mayor this week. flopsweat1You’d need a certain degree of self-awareness about your personal shortcomings and failings to be able to generate the necessary unease that comes from the realization you just might be participating in a grand fiasco. Rob Ford has never struck me as someone possessing that kind of personal insight.

Everything’s fine. Business as usual. Nothing to see here. Everybody move on.

But there is a certain frantic element to his approach this week. At least as frantic as you can get when your workday begins at noonish. In reaction to the crack smoking allegations swirling around him, Mayor Ford and what’s left of his brain trust have come up with a plan to make it look like he’s just going about conducting city business, just like normal, just like he always has. Everything’s fine. Business as usual. Yaddie, yaddie, yaddie.

It’s about optics, folks. And the nakedness of the endeavour is surprising even by the standards of an administration as ham-fisted as this one. bridgetoofarjpgThey just don’t do nuance.

What’s really striking to me, though, is how the activities and events that have made up the mayor’s schedule this week reflect what he perceives to be a mayor’s job. On Tuesday, he led a walkthrough of Toronto Community Housing apartment, vowing to get a few things fixed up with a week’s turnaround. Yesterday, he peered down from the Dufferin Street bridge which has been slated to close for repairs next week. In between, he appeared a Tim Horton’s to kick of Camp Day and stuck a magnet on mural in Scarborough.

Oh, and he did some flat out campaigning while he was at it, taking shots at council colleagues who’d attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Vancouver last weekend and slamming the previous mayor for not investing in infrastructure. handyman“We have filled approximately 200,000 potholes this year,” Mayor Ford told the press gathering on the bridge. “The 2013 budget is an infrastructure budget,” he claimed.

Citizens! May I present to you our mayor of potholes.

None of this struck me as being particularly mayoral. A dedicated effort to reassume control of the city’s agenda. Aside from the PR stuff, staff could’ve accomplished what the mayor did. In terms of the bridge, they already had. This was nothing more than Mayor Ford re-visiting his days as a maverick councillor.

I expect more from the mayor of Toronto. Some sort of overall vision for the city they lead not micromanaging tenants’ complaints and road repairs. Big picture stuff, like transit, planning, economic well being. But Mayor Ford gave up on those kinds of files long ago, sticking to his bread and butter of nitpicking and fault finding. Easier to fit into a five hour workday, I guess.

And maybe that’s the real political divide in Toronto. donothinglistIt isn’t between the downtown versus the suburbs or left versus right. There are those who expect their mayor to personally answer their phone calls and emails, come out to their house to adjudicate a dispute with their neighbour, rescue their cat from a tree, and those who think there’s a process in place to deal with such matters and city staff to sort through them.

A custodian of our city streets versus a custodian of civic aspirations.

That’s an awfully prickly and fundamental divide to try and bridge.

 

demandingly submitted by Cityslikr