Imagine, if you dare, the mayor of Toronto possessing similar governing powers as the Prime Minister of Canada or Premier of Ontario. So sometime, back in 2011 when our current mayor ran into his current losing streak, he simply shut down council, claiming his mandate to have been met and runs out the clock until 2014 when he could begin officially campaigning again. We’d hear from him during his weekly radio show and when he showed up to hand out keys to the city or ice cream but that’d be about the extent of it.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Except for the shutting down city council part. Mayor Ford has essentially checked out in terms of leadership, choosing instead to take a seat at the back of the room and crack wise and project spit balls. Yeah. Just wait `til the next election. I’ll show you who’s the boss.
Now, for many concerned, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The less the mayor participates, the fewer things get broken. He can try and gum up the works, pour sugar in the gas tank but he can’t actually burn everything to the ground.
We’re all just kind of waiting `til the next election to try and sort this shit out.
The thing that gets me, though, is that the mayor isn’t even pretending to be doing anything constructive. Most days recently he can’t even be bothered to show up for work at City Hall. Oh, he’s busy doing constituent work, meeting with them, returning their phone calls. Thousands and thousands of phone calls.
I know a mayor’s job is not one that keeps him chained to his office desk. The mayor is the face of the city, its prime diplomat. There’s official kind of things a mayor is expected to do both around town and throughout the wider world.
But Mayor Ford’s record on that has been pretty stingy during most of his term. He escapes town more often on personal business than actual city business although he often tries to blend the two during his football tours of western Canadian cities. There was that time he went down to Mexico and got the PanAm torch or something. And that trip to Chicago. He went to Chicago…
In town, he pops up to occasionally clean some wall of graffiti, stare at rickety bridges, serve up ice cream for a charitable cause, give out keys to the city, pose for photographs with anybody and everybody who asks. Just like any fading rock star or B-list celebrity would. Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto’s very own Sally Kirkland.
This would all be fine and dandy if we were living in some tiny hamlet on the edge of civilization and he was the part time reeve of the county. (“He won my vote cause he shucked the most corn of any candidate!”) He isn’t and we don’t.
Toronto’s a big city in case the mayor hadn’t yet noticed, in a major metropolitan region facing big, big 21st-century issues. Our infrastructure’s aging and creaky. Public transit has not kept pace with population growth. There’s trouble with our police force; a cop just charged with 2nd degree murder.
What’s Mayor Ford’s response to all that?
He’s giving a key to the city to an outgoing councillor who’s just won a provincial by-election and is leaving municipal politics behind after many, many years of service. (And as I write this, the mayor appears to have been late for that presentation, on a Tuesday afternoon after having not been at City Hall since sometime last week.) Tomorrow night, the mayor’s hosting a community meeting to stir up support for discuss whether or not to have a by-election to fill the outgoing councillor’s seat, hoping for some momentum to take into next week’s special council meeting he’s called to sort out the issue.
This is not the behaviour of someone up to the task or even interested in leading a city the size and complexity of Toronto.
And this should not be some partisan issue. This was a politician swept to power with promises to bring accountability and transparency to City Hall. Try circling that square with a mayor who does not make his work schedule public, keeping it hidden behind Freedom of Information access?
Respect for the Taxpayer?!
Show up late to work, leave for home early.
Close to $170K we pay to have a part time mayor?
I know it’s August, a traditionally slow time at City Hall. Everyone there is entitled to taking some down time. I am one of the fiercest defenders of councillors and staff who work far more than their pay grade might dictate. Take a break. Take some time off. It’s going to be an intense next year and a half year or so.
The problem with the mayor is that it’s almost impossible to tell when he’s taking time off and when he’s working. Every weekend seems to be a long weekend. An 8 hour workday only seems to happen with council and Executive Committee meetings. The City Hall press corps is treated to little more than a few monosyllabic grunts to any questions they might luckily hurl his way when they catch sight of him. He offers up no explanations or excuses for such a lackadaisical approach to his job.
The former councillor known as Rob Ford would’ve been indignant at such disrespect shown by the mayor toward the taxpayers of Toronto. He’d be right to be outraged too. We got a freeloader as mayor, living off the taxpayer dime. No wonder he wants to get re-elected. Who wouldn’t want that kind of gig?
— loafingly submitted by Cityslikr