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. Not 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. Matt 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 – 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. Nothing 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. In 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