Let’s Just Disagree To Agree

Watching as the wagons circle tighter around Mayor Ford, what remains of his loyal footmen launching darts at the most recently exiled from the base camp, iwonderI wonder if I too am being politically opportunistic. While the likes of councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Denzil Minnan-Wong and (of course) Doug Ford along with the faithful stenographers at the Toronto Sun attempt to diminish and denigrate their colleague, Paul Ainslie, with school yard name calling, I embrace him as one of ours. A principled, well-informed participant in our local democracy.

Yeah. That’s how I see myself when I look in the mirror in the morning. After applying a little spit and polish. Don’t you?

I wasn’t alone yesterday in finding myself wincing slightly while taking in Councillor Ainslie’s press conference denouncing the mayor’s robocall response to Ward 43 residents after the councillor had voted against the Scarborough subway plan.

“What I’ve been about as a Councillor is the value of taxpayers’ money,” Ainslie said, “I’m with this mayor in fighting the gravy train at city hall…Many people like the Ford agenda, and so have I. That’s why I backed Rob Ford from the outset, and was a member of the Mayor’s Executive Committee. I’m proud of all that has been accomplished.”

There’s so much about that statement that makes me want to scream. The gravy train! simpsonsshudderWhat accomplishments? I’m sorry, councillor. You backed Rob Ford from the outset?

Looking back at some of my posts from early on in this administration, I clearly had a low opinion of Councillor Ainslie. Confession time. I was the brains behind a Twitter parody account mocking the councillor. (A sidebar: parody accounts are really, really hard to sustain. My hats off to all of those who can pull it off.) For me, he represented that largely silent block, enabling the administration’s worst instincts.

But as I pointed out in my post yesterday, Councillor Ainslie was also quietly going about interesting business in terms of civic engagement and participation as chair of the Government Management Committee. Earlier this year, he pushed forward with the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization (which he had originally opposed back in the day) complete with a new bike parking station. “If you’re getting people off the road, out of their cars using either public transportation or their bikes, in the long run, I think it is worth it,” he said. reconsiderAinslie’s been instrumental in trying to alter the approach the city takes with development charges in order to direct growth in areas that have been long neglected.

I can’t believe I actually have to write this — for my sake as much as anybody’s – but times being what they are… Gradations of political approaches, let’s call them, actually still survive out there in the world of imaginary black and white. Only those thriving on an us-versus-them divisiveness want to pretend otherwise. Despite the attempts at easy to understand packaging that highlights a brand, it’s counter-productive to try and govern in such a manner. As we’re currently experiencing.

Look, I’ve already said that, given the importance of subways to the very viability of the Ford administration and just how vocal Councillor Ainslie was in opposing this particular one in Scarborough, there should’ve been a parting of ways. But the unnecessary attempts to vilify him, the Burn The Witch squeal is nothing but scorched earth policy. paintswatchesDefy us, Defy Ford Nation, and there will be dire consequences.

That’s not how things get done. That’s how things get undone.

Councillor Ainslie and I arrived at an agreement that the LRT option for extending the Bloor-Danforth subway further into Scarborough was the best way forward for entirely different, if related reasons. His was financial. It was a needless imposition on municipal taxpayers. “For the record, I have always supported a subway for those who live in Scarborough,” the councillor said in his statement. “Just two and a half months ago I joined the Mayor and voted in favour of a subway. I voted for a subway based on sound financial transparency, disclosure and the commitment there would be no tax hike for people in this city and especially my constituents.”

I don’t happen to agree. Scarborough doesn’t need or deserve a subway. consensuspieIt needs better transit and it needs it 20 years ago. In my opinion, LRTs are a much better fit. I’d be perfectly happy with a dedicated property tax increase that built more LRTs running all through Scarborough and York and North York and Etobicoke.

Despite that difference of opinion, Councillor Ainslie and I ended up in the same camp. That’s how democracy is supposed to function. Reaching a workable consensus through negotiation and horse-trading.

That’s just a basic civics lesson we seem to have forgotten, much to our detriment.

kumbiyahly submitted by Cityslikr

10 Responses to Let’s Just Disagree To Agree

  1. Sonny says:

    Ainslie who used to be Vice Budget Chair knows that Ford is a hypocrite for opposing the Province suggesting raising taxes for Transit then proceed with 23 councillors to raise taxes to potentially pay for his Transit campaign.

    Ainslie has been replaced with Leon; the man with a few days experience on the Exec. who appears to be a Yes man. Should have picked Potts…

  2. Patrick Smyth says:

    “Ainslie’s been instrumental in trying to alter the approach the city takes with development charges in order to direct growth in areas that have been long neglected.”

    Toronto’s DCs are far below other municipalities in the surrounding area. Council rejected the Staff proposal to increase them and voted to approve a big discount for the development community. Ainslie’s proposal sought to discount them further, increasing the subsidy Toronto residents pay to developers. Councillors shouldn’t try to be planners.

    The folks at AFUITBS seem to chase after any flip-flopper, regardless.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Smyth,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are confused by your assertion that council “rejected the Staff proposal to increase them [development charges] and voted to approve a big discount for the development community.” Reading through the agenda at last week’s council meeting, we can’t see where council rejected the staff recommended development charges. There’s this http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-61617.pdf where staff suggests a phase in of a 71% increase in development charges over 2 years which, according to the city website, was adopted by council.

      Are you suggesting council voted it down?

  3. Patrick Smyth says:

    I’m not surprised that you miss this kind of stuff. It’s intentional on the part of the clowns on Council.

    Council voted to continue the subsidization of the development industry by rejecting City Staff’s original proposal.

    Ainslie sought to increase the subsidy even further.

    I’d prefer Council to respect the opinion of Staff, bring DCs to market rates, and subsidize instead the creation of affordable housing.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr Smyth,

      As we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke frequently end up saying to most of your claims, prove it.

      On the city website, the city clerk states that the staff recommendation for a 71% increase in development fees phased in over 2 years was adopted by council.

      Was the increase big enough? Was the extended phase in too long? Perhaps a respective ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to those questions would be in order. But to state that city council rejected the staff recommended development charge increase appears to be a complete fabrication on your behalf.

      Prove us wrong.

  4. Patrick Smyth says:

    When it comes to the question as to why the AFUITBS heroes on Council voted to eliminate affordable housing, in your blogs you always ignore the proof. As I’ve said before, you’re an odd lot of socialists.

    http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2013.EX33.1

    The above is a link to the July 3rd Ex Comm. It was another phoney leftie, Cllr Milczyn, who proposed that the Item be deferred and that the DCs be revised downwards. Being well-bullied and intimidated Staff, that’s what came back to Ex Comm and onto the October Council Agenda.

    What Council eventually approved was a watered-down version of Staff’s recommendation. Of course, “consultants” were hired to provide the necessary political cover and this technical review resulted in the lower DCs.

    The political part was the phase-in. This is totally unnecessary beyond the July 2014 point recommended by Staff and represents an additional level of subsidy to the development community.

    Cllr Matlow spotted the political opportunity that day at Council when he hurriedly put together a Motion he knew would fail but which he hopes keeps him kosher with those who grasp the absurdity of subsidizing those who fund many re-election campaigns.

    Not a peep from the self-styled socialists on Council – proving once again that they are of the phoney type, and proof-positive that it is the development industry driving the planning and infrastructure renewal agendas in this city.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Smyth,

      So what you’re saying to us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke is that your original assertion of city council voting down the staff recommendation for increases in development charges was a mis-truth, let’s call it.

      This isn’t about watered down recommendations or whether or not the increases are to your liking. It’s about you coming into this comment section and making claims that are factually incorrect.

      That’s all we were trying to establish.

  5. Patrick Smyth says:

    Agreed, you have failed to grasp the issue. Or, once again, since your heroes were AOL on it, you’re in denial.

    Funny how the folks at AFUITBS didn’t take the same attitude on the subways debate. They didn’t think much of “the will of Council” then.

    Odd, they’re very odd.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Smyth,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke just want to go on record as showing that from this time forward you will be blocked from this site’s comment section not because we disagree with your point of view or have a different opinion but because you have trouble telling the truth. You lie, you obfuscate and do not bring anything constructive to the ongoing discussion here.

  6. pielrick says:

    Agreed, Cityslikr. Enough wasting time. Let’s move forward.

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