Deconstruct The Construct

September 30, 2013

I sometimes picture the mayor sitting at his office desk (as infrequently as that might be) with a 2010 electoral map open in front of him, 2010electoralmapnodding in satisfaction at the image of downtown pink(o), pinned up inescapably against the unforgiving waves of Lake Ontario, encircled on all three other sides by Ford Nation blue.

These are my people, he figures. My electoral bread and butter. Keep them happy or, at least, angry at the right people, and keep my job.

Fortress Ford Nation. A single bloc of like-minded folks dedicated to one thing and one politician. Their voice being heard at City Hall.

That’s what Mayor Ford has to believe. It isn’t like he’s made any alternative plans to stay in office past next year. A more consensus-seeking politician might look for ways to grow the base, extend a reach into new territory. Not Mayor Ford. fordnationEverything’s about maintaining the base in lock step.

He sees a single monolith of suburban voters because he has to. Given his limited political gifts, it’s the only way the mayor can press forward in the hopes of securing a second term. As wholly manufactured as the downtown-suburban dynamic is, you have to tip your hat to the Ford camp for knowing how to create it in their image and exploit it to their advantage. It may not be in any way good city building. No matter. It makes for one hell of a potent political force.

Embracing that scenario while standing in opposition to the mayor makes far less sense. There’s absolutely no reason anyone else has to follow that particular playbook. trapplayDoing so only helps make the notion of Ford Nation more of a reality than just simply the calculated wishful thinking of one political team.

From a crass logistical angle, the numbers simply don’t add up. There are more potential voters in Scarborough, York, North York and Etobicoke than there are in the two less Ford friendly former municipalities of East York and the old city of Toronto. That’s just the demographics. Conceding that chunk of voters makes the idea of defeating Mayor Ford in 2014 an uphill battle from the outset.

Worse than that is the sheer condescending attitude behind accepting such a definition of Ford Nation. Oh, anyone who voted the guy is nothing but a knucklehead. Those still supporting him 3 years later after everything they’ve witnessed? Contemptible and not worth engaging. De-amalgamate now!

It’s easy to wrap yourself in that kind of security blanket of petulance. fordnation1Spend any time in the comments section of a newspaper or on social media, you will encounter the most extremes of the Ford-loving stereotypes. Pugnacious. Full of resentment. Ill-informed. Rubes bought off with free hamburgers and beer singing about their cost cutting cowboy.

Yes, Mayor Ford will have a surprising amount of support right until the bitter end. He speaks to a certain percentage of the population. It is hardly a nation, though.

If not exactly an anomaly, the 2010 election caught a particular wave that we should see as very possibly a one-off. Piss poor quality of candidates at the mayoral level. Voters edgy and angry with an economic still in turmoil, the lingering stench of a garbage strike in the air. Kick da bums out!

But there’s no reason to assume that’s now par for the course.

Never mind that 4 years earlier, David Miller had won every ward in the city save a couple in North York. He was a popular incumbent (much more popular than the current mayor is at a similar point in his first term). The opposition was weak. The voters in the city content.

In 2003, a then obscure Councillor Miller won the mayor’s office with the help of wards in Scarborough, York and Etobicoke. This while facing a vote split on the left with Barbara Hall and a high profile right of centre candidate. changetherulesThere was no Miller Nation you could point to. It was a city wide victory.

Putting together such a winning coalition is possible again. The quickest way to make sure it isn’t is to accept Team Ford’s conceit that it, and only it, represents the best interests of the city’s suburban voters, and that suburban voters en masse agree with that assessment. It’s disrespectful, disdainful, short-sighted, small-minded and, ultimately, the kind of thinking that deserves a healthy beat down next October.

parsingly submitted by Cityslikr


Only Sure Thing Is There’s Never A Sure Thing

September 27, 2013

The sounds of much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth could be heard this week in reaction to John Lorinc’s Spacing piece, noooooooSubway Nation rises again. “There’s little doubt,” Mr. Lorinc writes, “that this long-awaited federal contribution marks a check mate move for Mayor Rob Ford. Barring a criminal charge relating to Project Traveller, he will walk away with next year’s race…”

Hmmm.

I’m hoping Mr. Lorinc states that as some sort of heads-up warning shot, a little chin music to stiffen the resolve of those grown complacent, thinking the mayor’s political future will destruct under his own volition. Focus, people! This bad dream isn’t over yet.

He’s too astute an observer of the political scene here in Toronto to honestly believe that statement. That this particular moment in time, more than 13 months before the actual election, will prove to be the defining moment in securing the mayor his re-election. This transit situation has been too fluid to imagine a sudden hardening in place. chinmusicAnd Mayor Ford, well, he hasn’t shown himself to be the best in protecting leads.

Here’s a politician who took an electoral mandate in 2010 and trampled his way to surprise success for the first year of his term before squandering it with a potent mixture of hubris, over-reach and chest-beating triumphalism. Since that time, he’s established that he can take a punch like George Chuvalo, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. He has a solid base that hasn’t abandoned him yet. But that’s about the extent of it. Now suddenly, he’s snatched the ring from Frodo and has an undefended line straight to Mordor?

I think already this week since the fed’s announcement of funding for the Scarborough subway and Lorinc’s Spacing article, some loose threads have shown along the hemline of Mayor Ford’s cloak of invincibility.

The $660 million in federal funding seemed to secure the certainty of the city’s Scarborough subway proposal to replace the LRT. It also immediately exposed city council’s need to come up with nearly a billion dollars of its own to put some skin in the game as many of the subway’s supporters like to say. georgchuvalo(For a crazy good analysis of the full costs of the Scarborough subway, David Hains’ post in the Torontoist is a must read. Click now. Go, read it. I’ll still be here when you get back.)

Back in July when council precipitated this whole transit fiasco, Mayor Ford would only agree to a .25% property tax increase to be dedicated to the Scarborough subway which, everybody else knew even in the best case scenario of funding from other levels of government, was woefully inadequate. It seems the mayor is holding tightly to that number despite the obvious shortfall.

So when city council meets next month to debate the issue, the mayor is either going to have to champion the subway but go on record as being not willing to pay for it or he is going to have to get behind a higher property tax increase. That one’s going to be tough because, while Mr. Lorinc suggests that subways were “the centre piece plank in his 2010 platform”, I don’t remember it quite that way.

Rob Ford’s centre piece plank in his 2010 campaign platform for mayor was about money. robfordsuperheroTransit was a hastily drawn up throw in when the campaign team realized his candidacy was actually being taken seriously. He was the numbers guy, stopping the gravy train, representing the little guy tired of being nickel and dimed to death with tax increases and money grab fees.

Now he’s going to hold the subway trophy above his head in 2014 and tell Ford Nation, oh yeah, about those additional property tax increases?

I get the concern that logic and reason don’t always apply to the supporters of Mayor Ford. Cognitive dissonance and magical thinking tend to be a way of life. But, come on, every house of cards eventually collapses.

On top of which, recent polls suggest that the subway preference in Scarborough isn’t nearly as maniacal as its most ardent supporters insist it is. shellgame1Already soft, what happens when the true costs, ridership numbers, coverage become a campaign issue? When voters are being inundated with what they’re getting versus what they’re giving up?

This goes right to the matter of the mayor’s slam dunk re-election. Much of that supposition rests on the belief with both the mayor’s supporters and biggest detractors that somehow 2014 will play out just like 2010. That the 47% of votes he collected in 2010 are somehow an unmoveable bloc. That the power of incumbency will only play a positive role. That Mayor Ford will face no serious opposition in a candidate a plurality of Torontonian can rally around.

While I’m uncomfortable making any sort of prediction about an elections that’s still more than a year away, I will confidently suggest 2010 will be nothing like 2014.

Take former Scarborough councillor David Soknacki’s open musings about running for mayor. dejavuA pro-LRT, right of centre suburban candidate with past experience but no office to have to give up to run full tilt right to the end. How rock solid is Mayor Ford’s support to withstand an attack from not one of the usual suspects who is constantly calling into question the mayor’s fiscal credibility?

More than that, let’s atomize next year’s race down to the council level. What happens when Scarborough councillors running for re-election outside of the immediate area where a subway might be beneficial get assailed by opponents pointing out that their constituents are getting none of the pluses while paying their share of the costs? The Norm Kellys. The Mike Del Grandes. The Michelle Berardinettis. Paul Ainslies and Gary Crawfords.

Beyond Scarborough, what do incumbents in York, North York and Etobicoke tell their voters about asking them to pay additional property taxes for a subway that in no way will help them. In fact, it’ll probably set their transit needs back decades. hediditAnswer me that, Councillor Vincent Crisanti in Rexdale. Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Frances Nunziata and Anthony Perruzza in York. Councillors Mark Grimes and Peter Milczyn in Mimico. Budget Chief Frank Di Giorgio. Budget. Chief.

Campaigned on just the right way, the Scarborough subway could fracture this whole suburban as one myth that everyone seems to have accepted as fact based on just the past election.

From a transit perspective, the Scarborough subway is nothing but bad news. But I also fail to see how it’s all good news for Mayor Ford’s re-election chances. The electoral landscape may’ve changed, it’s just far too early to tell to whose advantage.

wobbly submitted by Cityslikr


Civics Lesson

September 26, 2013

Sometimes democracy scares the living shit out of me.

There. I said it. To hear your fellow citizens, gathered in a room, angrymobdiscussing matters they’ve clearly not spent much time actually thinking about, and feeling entitled to expound upon… Yikes! It makes you wonder how the hell we ever moved ourselves out of the caves and into village huts.

Magically, however, it only takes one sublime moment of, I don’t know, nobility? stateliness? intergrity? or maybe just simple frankness to strip away that accumulating layer of cynical misanthropy. You sit back and relax a bit. Yeah, there it is. That’s what this is all about.

Just in case you think this some random musings from someone who’s spent a little too much time watching Toronto’s city council over the past 3 years or so, no. No, it isn’t. At least, not entirely.

I attended last night’s information session given by city staff to those looking to be appointed Ward 3 councillor next month, filling in the vacancy left behind by Doug Holyday’s by-election elevation to Queen’s Park. informationsessionThere were some 50 or so hopefuls it looked like to my eye although I expect there won’t be that many making presentations to the Etobicoke-York Community Council on October 1st given the very short lag time between last night’s meeting and today’s noon deadline to submit the proper paperwork. As my friend Himy Syed suggested afterward, the quick turnaround might be in place in order to weed out those candidates who couldn’t find their way to City Hall with a 15 hour head start.

For sure, there were the fringe candidates, let’s call them, in attendance. Probably the most notable, Peter Caragianakos his card said, the guy looking to have his dog, Ozzy Spartacus Caragianakos his card said, appointed Ward 3 councillor. Now, I have no problem with someone taking the piss out of the process, especially one as contentious as this was with the appointment versus by-election debate that occurred. A gesture of protest. I get it.

But at least take the time to understand the thing you’re protesting.protest

Mr. Caragianakos, speaking for Ozzy I assume, wasn’t quite sure who it was he’d the dog would be giving a presentation to. “What’s this York council?” he asked. “Who’s on it? Will Mammoliti be there?”

You really want to be a city councillor, even an appointed one? Do a little homework, huh? And if you think I’m being too elitist about it. Later on in the evening, I heard Mr. Caragianakos berating some poor soul in the audience about the ‘section 37 shakedown of developers that Rob Ford exposed’. Oh, so you’ve heard all about that bogus claim but remain in the dark about council committee structures. Hey! Maybe your dog Ozzy might make a perfect Etobicoke councillor.

That’s the amazingly infuriating thing about municipal politics. No matter how disengaged from the process, how uninterested you are in the procedural aspects of it, everybody lives it on a daily basis. Driving on the roads, taking a streetcar, getting your garbage collected, hanging out in a park, it’s all city business. So everybody is an expert. They could do things better. How hard could it be after all?

But… but… and here’s the thing, the beautiful thing. councillorjobdescriptionSometimes one or two people step forward and help clear away the dark clouds of loathing.

A woman in the audience whose name I didn’t catch, who wasn’t working the room, handing out cards, she asked if city staff could give her the highlights of what it is a city councillor does. Ah. Some humility. What is it exactly I’d be doing if I were to be appointed city councillor? The job description of what I might be applying to do.

Up steps John Elvidge, Director of the Council Secretariat, to patiently give a quick overview of a councillor’s role and duties. The number of times council meets. Standing committees. Constituency work.

As angry as we might get at our elected officials, we should never lose sight of the indefatigable work the civil service does in this city. getcuriousWe love to deride them as fat cat, 9-5ers, living it up aboard the gravy train but that simply reveals a Mr. Caragianakos level of unwarranted derision. It’s a frank admission that you don’t understand in the slightest how this city actually operates, and operates as well as it does.

My feeling of goodwill received a further boost as a woman sitting a couple chairs away noticed me thumbing away at my phone and asked if I was the media. How do I answer that question? Well, sort of, I guess. I write about municipal politics, mostly for my own amusement.

She had picked up the submission forms and I asked her if she was going to apply for the appointment. She wasn’t sure and I wondered why. “I don’t feel like I have the supervisory experience necessary to do the job.”

I just wanted to fucking hug her.

She didn’t have the supervisory experience. Again with the humility and total possession of self-awareness. Like we couldn’t use more of that at city council, am I right?

I gently suggested that supervisory experience shouldn’t really be the deal breaker in making her decision. grinchsheartIn fact, just the opposite in some ways. We could use more people on council not looking to play boss.

After listening to my off-the-cuff spiel, the woman nodded her head thoughtfully before telling me that she had a bad habit of ‘self-exclusion’. “I tend to eliminate myself from consideration.”

And my heart grew at least 3 times.

The fact is, there’s probably a pretty short shortlist already drawn up to fill the ward 3 vacancy. Less than 10% of the people thinking about applying for the position have even the slimmest of slim hopes in hell of getting the appointment. Probably closer to 5%. That’s just the nature of the beast and probably how it should be. Even a placeholder councillor is too important a role to fill haphazardly or as a lark.

How many of these possible applicants know that? Tough to say. It’s difficult to imagine anyone unaware of the most basic functions of city council would be in the know enough to realize their bid was an impossibly long long shot. impossibleCynicism comes easily in politics, though, so perhaps some were there just to confirm their belief about how corrupt our political system was.

That’s the easy route down the rabbit hole leading to apathy and disinterest. It’s not only uninteresting. It’s harmful in its toxicity.

And still, at least a couple people – I suspect I’m grossly underestimating here based purely on anecdotal evidence from one night of crowd watching — remain immune to such civic poison through either sheer naïveté or a simple refusal to roll over and play dead, and they take their time to at least consider throwing their hat into the ring of municipal politics. That’s where it starts. That’s what we need to embrace.

All the rest is just noisy bullshit.

humbly submitted by Cityslikr


Hey Rain Man!

September 25, 2013

“Once the government gets involved, 9 times out of 10 it’s a disaster.”

mess

This from Mayor Ford at yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting during a debate over recommended increases in development charges. Development charges are fees the city receives for development that increases demand on necessary infrastructure like roads, public transit, sewage and water delivery. Fees this city charges are significantly less than many in the surrounding regions and as anybody who tries to get from point A to point B or who’s had their basement flooded knows, our infrastructure needs have not really kept up to all the new growth.

Councillor Paul Ainslie put forward a motion asking for a staff report on “… mechanisms for development charge discounts along main avenues in our Strong Neighbourhoods, and adjacent neighbourhoods.” A Scarborough councillor, Ainslie pointed out that with development charges the same throughout the city, developers tended to go where they would get the biggest and quickest return on their investment which is almost always downtown. bullhornAs with most things planning related, the city is constrained by provincial law in its ability to manipulate development charges in order to spur growth in areas needing growth. The councillor was just looking for possible ways to work within such restrictions.

But the mayor was having none of it.

“I’m a huge believer in the market determines the cost.”

“We shouldn’t be dictating what these people pay, let the market dictate.”

“This will turn into a complete mess.”

Have conservatives always been this dumb? Are those of us of a certain vintage deluded when we talk about the halcyon days of the red Tory – Joe Clarke, Hugh Segal, Bill Davis, David Crombie – when conservatism was entirely reasonable?

Development charges, by their very nature, are the government getting involved. It takes money from the private sector in order to help offset the costs of growth which, in turn, makes the development more attractive, therefore increases the value of the development. notlistening2Higher value, higher tax base. A win-win for all involved.

In voting in favour of the staff’s report to phase in development charge increases over the next couple years, Mayor Ford voted in favour of government involvement.  But somehow, in an effort to figure out ways to encourage growth in areas of the city in need of it, that was just too much meddling for the mayor’s taste. It would surely precipitate a complete disaster.

The irony (and I believe I’m using the word correctly) is that this anti-government outburst from the mayor came a day after he declared victory in securing federal funding and sealing the deal for a Scarborough subway. An infrastructure project exclusively funded by the government which, in the mayor’s very own words, would stimulate growth and development in Scarborough.

But when Councillor Ainslie and another Scarborough councillor, Gary Crawford, request a report to propose ways to help stimulate growth and development along Kingston Road in their neck of the Scarborough woods? No way. People shouldn’t be dictating. Let the market decide!

It’s like this iteration of conservatism has taken all the easy, self-serving, short term aspects from the ideology while jettisoning its more complicated features. multiplicityThey’re like the third clone in Michael Keaton’s Multiplicity, the ones who eat toothpaste. Pale shadows of their forbearers who can’t or conveniently don’t remember the fuller version of their political philosophy.

There’s no pattern or logic. It’s just partisan addled sloganeering outbursts at words or ideas that don’t sit well with them. Like single-celled organisms reacting to the light. Single-minded entities reacting to things they don’t understand. No thought. Just visceral, opportunistic grandstanding.

Modern conservatism is nothing more than an empty brand masking its one true operating principle: blind, anti-government reactionism. Openly adopting such a stance, however, doesn’t play well with the voting public. So you try and smooth out the rough electoral edges by maintaining a soothing name that reeks of tradition.

A tradition that I now call into question if Mayor Ford and his ilk represent its legacy.

sins-of-the-fatherly submitted by Cityslikr


Back To School

September 24, 2013

It’s difficult to stay positive or upbeat toward our political process after witnessing the latest twist and turn in our perpetually twisting and turning transit file here in Toronto. byzantinemazeOnce more politics trumped good planning. Too many of our elected representatives put personal electoral advantage (or fear of electoral retribution) above the best interests of this city, and called it the democratic process.

Subways love a leadership vacuum, it seems.

Although dispiriting, the outcome as it stands right now is hardly surprising. Any sort of rational discussion was short-circuited from the get-go with the entirely unwarranted vilification of LRTs and the framing of subways as somehow world class. Technology porn. No one in any high profile position of power stepped up to battle what was purely spin.

Not two premiers. Not x number of Transportation Ministers. No opposition leaders or sitting MPPs. deniesMost certainly not the city’s TTC chair and the very friendly commissioners city council bestowed upon her after the battle to wrest control from the mayor.

To stand up against any of the proposed subway plans for Scarborough that emerged over the course of the last 3 years wasn’t perceived as defending a better plan or good governance. It was smeared as simply anti-mayor or anti-suburb. Facts and data figured little into the debate, easily brushed aside by emotion and resentment.

So it goes.

This is not new. I shouldn’t be surprised. Yet still I am.

schooledIs there any way we can stop such madness from continually infecting political discourse and, ultimately, governance?

While sifting through the dying embers of my political positivity, searching for some good news, I came across a two-week old article by John Lorinc and Josh Fullan, How to make civics class matter to kids. Kids?, I think. Why not make civics class matter to everyone?

Among other things, Josh Fullan is the creator of Maximum City, “a program for high school students that partners experts with teachers in the development and delivery of curriculum in urban design, youth engagement, and civic sustainability.” The idea is to get them interested in local politics (and I’m using that word as broadly as possible) early in order to hook them into a lifetime of engagement and awareness of the issues that will affect their daily lives.

Which would’ve come in handy if more of us had been exposed to the proper functioning of our local government and what it takes for a city to operate properly, equitably and healthily. puttingoutfiresInstead, once again, we were susceptible to the wall of misinformation that tore through the heart of the transit debate. No, LRTs are not simply glorified streetcars. No, speed should not be the key requirement of what type of transit you build. No, your neck of the woods doesn’t deserve one type of transit simply, well, because.

More importantly, an increased civics awareness enables people to get out in front of an issue rather than always fighting a rearguard battle. Knowledge allows people to define ideas and approaches. It’s proactive not reactive.

And let’s face it, this city has been reacting to an all out attack on its institutions since 2010. Defenders have been sluggish, always back on their heels, only counter-punching. Too few of us have the necessary vocabulary to battle what is nothing more than gut appeals and the most basic grunts of parochialism.

That’s something we only have ourselves to blame for. We can rail about the stupidity and willful ignorance of some but it’s on us to figure out how to start making a better case for proper city building. noresponsibilityTo do that, we have to know exactly how to go about achieving that.

Using this ‘city as a classroom’, as the article by John Lorinc and Josh Fullan suggests, may be something we don’t just establish for students. It’s time to head back to school for everybody who finds themselves increasingly despondent about the current turn of events in Toronto. Clearly, we’re all a little rusty when it comes to civics.

keenly submitted by Cityslikr


Now Comes The Fun Part

September 23, 2013

Scarborough subway.shhh

Two words I never hope to write again. Ever.

Today the federal government announced they’re putting their skin into the game to the tune of $660 million for the city council approved subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line all the way up to Sheppard Avenue East. At first blush, it would seem that seals the deal. Scarborough gets its subway built for all the wrong reasons.

Damn. Scarborough. Subway again. Damn. Again.

On Metro Morning today Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a Johnny-come-lately supporter of a Scarborough subway brandnewday(OK. After this post I hope to never write that phrase again.), called today’s news a ‘game changer’. He may just be right but like the subway he’s touting, for the wrong reasons. Or at least unexpected ones.

The provincial government, who seems to have been entirely side-stepped on this move from Ottawa, might look at this and see no further political gain from any insistence on ‘their’ subway line being built. They helped bring the feds to the table. A Scarborough subway will now get built. One way or the other, they will be providing the lion’s share of the funding, so they can rightly call it a victory.

Given the fractious relationship that’s developed between Queen’s Park and City Hall especially over this issue, however, I think anyone believing things will get quietly wrapped up in such a peaceful fashion are as deluded as those who see this project as a solution to the woes Scarborough transit users face. It’s not just the mayor I’m referring to on this point. elbowingThe TTC chair’s rather belligerent approach with the province can’t have made any friends.

So we really shouldn’t expect the Liberal government to simply shrug its shoulders, sign a cheque and assure us no harm, no foul, should we? This is where the play really gets rough. We now go into the corners, elbows up.

Here’s our contribution to the subway, the province tells the city. $1.4 billion plus the nearly half billion more going into the Kennedy station redesign and rebuild. Let’s call it $1.8 billion, shall we?

That’s already $400 million the city now has to make up.

Don’t forget the sunk costs already gone into the Scarborough LRT plans. And if we go with the council subway plans the feds are backing, the current SRT’s lifespan will have to be extended now to the better part of 10 years and then torn down completely. We might be looking at over a quarter billion dollars in additional money by some estimates that the province can rightly say are on the city.

And this is before we get to calculating our direct portion of the subway project we need to pony up through an additional increase in property taxes. payup1We know where our mayor stands on the matter, and going into an election year? How many incumbents will be willing to go to the electorate campaigning for either/or additional property taxes/service cuts to offset the costs of building the Scarborough subway?

That’s why I’d hesitate making any predictions about how today’s news is going to affect the outcome of upcoming elections. To date, the debate’s all been about fuzzy hypotheticals and wishful thinking coloured in crayon on pretend maps. Things just got real and it’ll be interesting to see how politically expedient an embrace of subways will be when the discussion turns to actual costs everybody’s going to be paying – payup1not just in terms of money in the form of property taxes but in cuts to other services we might suddenly be looking out to fund this one particular project for one portion of the city.

Everybody loves getting stuff. It’s the paying for it discussion that gets thorny. And we just walked into the Scarborough subway bramble.

Scarborough subway.

It’s probably not going to be the last time I commit those two words to the page.

so-so-so-tiredly submitted by Cityslikr


Didn’t You Used To Be… ?

September 20, 2013

During yesterday’s mayoral portrait unveiling, I quipped that the looking out for the little guy mayor we’d elected back in 2010 had started to act quite regally. fawningNot only was he using the City Hall stage to promote a painting of him commissioned by his mother but when reporters started asking questions, his staff ran interference, yelling No Questions! No Questions, and generally harassing the assembled media for their impertinence in soiling such a solemn occasion by doing anything other than dutifully noting the general all around specialness of the spectacle.

The day culminated in Mayor Ford’s over-arching dismissal of any inquiries into how things were being done under his watch. In response to questions about one of his staffer’s aggressive antics at a GO station on August 27th (not the first time it’s happened allegedly), the mayor stated bluntly, “It’s actually no one’s business what happens in my office. I take care of the people that work for me and they do a great job, as you see.” Anything else?

So much for all that accountability and transparency Rob Ford touted back in the day. upyoursMatt Elliott does his usual bang-up job in outlining the many ways the mayor has veered away from his candidate self on this account. In short, the two wouldn’t recognize each other.

I’d argue that the gaping chasm between what the mayor campaigned on and what he’s delivered three years later extends much further past just transparency and accountability. Following along this morning with a Twitter conversation between Councillor Gord Perks, Marc Coward and James Aldersley on the ballooning state of good repair backlog, it seems that maybe the city does have a spending problem but not in the way the mayor convinced us it did. In terms of state of good repair, we haven’t been spending enough.

Or course, Mayor Ford and his supporters love beating that drum about David Miller especially over the Gardiner Expressway. But it seems this administration has been kicking costly capital spending down the road themselves while claiming all sorts of found savings sweptundertherug– as much as a billion dollars if pure, unsubstantiated hyperbole is to be believed — along the way. It’s such a fine line between sound fiscal management and outright dereliction of duty, isn’t it.

There are all sorts of ways to save money in the short term that don’t take any particular kind of financial acumen. As a homeowner I can not fix that leaky basement or crumbling foundation. I can decide to only pay the interest on mortgage and leave principle in place. On paper, at least for awhile, it would appear as if I’ve cut my costs and saved myself money.

Until the foundation gives way and the house begins to lean westward.

When that happens, it’s pretty tough to go around touting your credentials as a sound manager of money.

Like his promises of bringing a more open form of government to City Hall, Rob Ford’s Stopping the Gravy Train of wasteful spending was bogus and illusory. mayorfordportraitNothing more than a harmless sounding sound bite that masked a much darker intention to reduce spending, wasteful or not. Period.

In fact, Rob Ford’s entire campaign was chimerical. Just a host of test-marketed, anti-incumbent slogans packaged into an everyman’s suit. You’re angry, folks? Me too. You want simple answers to complicated questions? I’ve got them for you. Let’s go down to City Hall together and shake things up.

From the start, there was about as much intention to be fiscally responsible as there was to be open and transparent. Any savings he has actually registered, the $11 million/year on partially contracting out waste collection for example, have been dwarfed by cuts to revenue like a property tax freeze and elimination of the VRT. robfordshrugIn order to balance the books, state of good repair projects have been postponed.

His is not the first administration to perform this accounting trick but as mayor of the city Rob Ford was supposed to be different, supposed to do things differently. That was his whole schtick, wasn’t it? As we’re discovering, Rob Ford with no schtick is just another self-serving politician, in love with all the trappings of power but unwilling to accept any of the responsibility that comes with it.

Just the kind of politician 2010 Rob Ford campaigned against.

unsurprisedly submitted by Cityslikr