Turn That Frown Upside Down

November 30, 2013

He didn’t like the general drift in tone the blog was taking.

‘He’ was Urban Sophisticat who’d dropped by the office in between jaunts abroad.urbansophisticat

“Abroad? Where abroad?” I asked him.

He waved me off.

Urban Sophisticat was looking more and more, how do you say it, downtown elite-ish, every time I saw him which hadn’t been often recently. As you may or may not recall, as a former contributor to this site, he hadn’t taken the victory of Rob Ford as the mayor of Toronto particularly well. I guess it’s safe to say, as a person, he hadn’t taken the outcome particularly well. He seemed determined to become the very essence of that thing Ford Nation hated most after taxes.

He drank only lattes or champagne. He owned 4 different bikes, one for each season. He smoked a pipe but not that kind of pipe. His natural city habitat was quite tiny and he rarely ventured beyond its borders except on those occasions he went abroad. And yes, he said ‘abroad’.

Today he was wearing spatz.

elitist“Are you wearing spatz, Fred Astaire?”

“What shoes do you wear with a cape?”

I hadn’t noticed the cape.

He’d just returned from the States before Thanksgiving.

“I mean, can you imagine?” he asked/stated. “Having Americans pity me for where I live because of the mayor? A-mericans, Cityslikr? Pity me? Because of where I live? Intolerable. I couldn’t stand it.”

“Since when does visiting the States classify as going abroad?” I wondered.

“In transit?” he snapped. “Ever heard of it?”

This visit of Urban Sophisticat’s wasn’t entirely social. He’d come to register a complaint.

“What’s with the Up With People direction you’re going in? All Fired Up in the Big Smoke? How about All Kumbaya in the Big Smoke. What are you? Vincent Van Peale?”

(Not quite. For all you kids playing along at home.)fredastaire

It was true. I’d been trying on a new look lately, not sure if you noticed. Picking at the bones of the carcass that was the Ford Administration was yielding less and less meat. With each passing day it felt like you were just kicking a guy while he was down on the ground flogging a dead horse. (Although, by the sounds of it, next Friday just might re-fill the all-you-can-eat buffet table of Ford’s WTFs.)

“Don’t you just love pounding away at the guy?!” Urban Sophisticat said. “Everything we warned about, wrote about, said was going to happen, happened. And now you’re just going to let up? That’s not very sporting.”

For all the doom and gloom we had predicted accompanying Rob Ford into the mayor’s office, I wish one of us had predicted crack being part of that. Sure would’ve increased traffic to this site, making all those media rounds south of the border. Man, how did we not see that coming!

“What’s the point, dude? He’s been neutralized. He’s not actually contributing anything to the actual functioning of the city. We can safely move on.”

That wasn’t entirely true. At least, I wasn’t absolutely convinced that was the case. upwithpeopleOK. I kind of was convinced. It just… just… I needed to see the house fall out of the sky and crush him or a bucket of water to make him melt away. Ding dong and all that.

“By why would you want to move on?” asked Urban Sophisticat. “Move on to where?”

That was a good question. Move on to where? After almost 4 years (4 years! Where does the time go when you’re not getting paid?) of hectoring, badgering, playing defense and catch-up, it was difficult to change course. With a new campaign starting up in just over a month, it felt like it might be time to start talking about what we wanted in a city and the government that leads it. Enough of the what we don’t want, well it sure as hell isn’t that mode.

Time to accentuate the positive.

“But that’s not what you do,” I was informed by my spatz sporting colleague. “You attack. You berate. You mock and ridicule. I don’t say that as a criticism. It’s just a fact. What’s the last positive thing you’ve suggested?”

“I’ve been trying.”floggingadeadhorse

“Exactly. And you don’t wear it well. Positivity does not become you.”

It’s true. The past week as I’ve been taking pains to stress the need to reach out to like-minded people throughout the city and embrace our commonality, to ask what the city gives us rather than what we give the city. Frankly, it’s been something of a battle. My upbeat muscle has become a little atrophied. Apparently I don’t sing praise like I heap scorn.

“Everybody has their place, Cityslikr. There’s no shame in that. Do what you do well. Even Dr. King said, A Man Has Got To Know His Limitations.”

“Dr. King didn’t say that. Clint Eastwood did.”

clinteastwood“No… I don’t think so. I think if anyone knew their limitations, it was Martin Luther King.”

I was truly stumped by that statement and must’ve looked it.

“I mean, he was assassinated, right? That pretty much puts a limit to… your limitations… is what I’m saying.”

The problem was, All Fired Up in the Big blew into town on an ill wind. We appeared on the scene just as the 2010 campaign kicked off, and it kicked off essentially on an anti-everything note. It wasn’t just Rob Ford. George Smitherman. Rocco Rossi. Everybody had a beef about something at City Hall. It was all going to hell in a hand basket and voices of reasoned hope and constructive ways forward were drowned out in the cacophonous noise of grievance.

While some of the players have changed and roles reversed, that discordant tone has continued, if not increased, over the course of the past 4 years.

Maybe it was time to start fighting for something instead of against everything.illwind

“Maybe it was time to start talking about what we want in this city,” I suggested to Urban Sophisticat, “rather than what we don’t like.”

“Love is better than anger? Hope is better than fear? Optimism better than despair?”

“That’s so creepy coming out of your mouth.”

“Yeah, well. I give it two, maybe three posts. No wait. The entire holiday season. You can be all mushy mushy, hopey, changey. Come January when the campaign begins. You’ll be right back at it, right back down in the mud and goo, doing what you do best. Slinging it, my friend. Slinging it.”

That seems especially harsh. Even more so coming from a guy wearing spatz. brightsideoflifeAlthough I hear that Fred Astaire was quite the asshole himself.

“Take heed, Cityslikr. You’ve got the mark of the nasty in you.”

Maybe… maybe. But perhaps it was just the company I keep. Maybe it was a good thing Urban Sophisticat infrequently dropped by these days. Maybe he was just a bad influence.

brightly submitted by Cityslikr


Why Can’t We Be Friends?

November 29, 2013

I’ll take some of the initial blame.

Reading Chris Ramsaroop’s article, Ford on his own turf, allmyfaultin this week’s NOW magazine and following along and participating in the ensuing chatter about it on Twitter, I thought, Yeah, that’s me, a dismisser of the suburbs.

Back in 2010 during the municipal campaign when Ford Nation began to coalesce into a formidable movement, I remember being dumbstruck by it. What the fuck are you thinking?! This guy??

“Rather than demonize the suburbs (they are already criminalized because of over-policing),” Ramsaroop writes, “it’s important to have a rethink. Poverty and racism are extremely complicated and affect people in numerous ways. The folks who show up at a Ford BBQ or rally are some of the same people denied adequate services, decent housing and good jobs.”

Fair enough. And these same people think Rob Ford was the politician to alleviate all those shortcomings for them? Why? Whatever in his career as a councillor would lead you to think that he’d deliver adequate services, decent housing and good jobs?

You know all those phone and house calls were just about building a voters’ database, right? fordnationLittle he did for constituents individually would help the problems long term. Rob Ford very rarely concerned himself with looking out for the little guy.

If suburban voters didn’t know that beforehand, they’d certainly find it out once he assumed office. That’ll show them, I sulked. Serves them right. (See? Suburbanites aren’t the only ones who can wallow in spite and resentment.)

But as things proceeded, I came out from under my self-imposed funk and started to wonder what it was I wasn’t getting. What was the connection between residents out in Etobicoke, York, Scarborough and this mayor who was doing very little to help their daily lives. Savings in frozen property taxes and the elimination of the VRT were being offset by increases to the cost in using transit and other pay as you go fees. whatareyousayingServices were being reduced and programs cut despite the mayor’s campaign promise that none of that would happen. Guaranteed.

I was loath to think of such support being based on what some referred to as ‘low information’. That’s not far off calling somebody stupid in my view. The kind of patronizing attitude that’s apparently got us into this mess in the first place.

But hey. I was willing to accept the premise that there were plenty of folks out there, busy going about their business, working hard just to get by who didn’t have the time to tune in closely to the ins and outs of city council although, I know plenty of people who were also busy going about their business, working hard just to get by who managed to find the time to be more informed.

Still. I get it. There are loads of people due to their location, race, ethnicity, income level, feeling that City Hall is too removed from their daily lives and just some place that takes money from their pockets and gives back little in return. A sense of disenfranchisement encouraged by those elected to represent many of these same people; roadtrip1city councillors who thrived on exploiting this urban-suburban divide as a way to cover their own inability or disinclination to deliver anything of much to their residents. Not unlike Mayor Ford himself.

The only way to bridge this gap was to start reaching out beyond our comfy, walled confines of downtown. Get on the subway and then onto a bus and then another bus and see what the members of Ford Nation were saying in the places they met and organized. As we were constantly being told (no, Mr. Ramsaroop is not the first person to chastise downtowners for their apparent insularity), get outside of the bubble we were existing in, and get to know our suburban neighbours.

If I’m being honest here, my efforts to do just that have not been as extensive as my best intentions. I have attended a couple handfuls of meetings, both official (community council meetings) and resident organized ones. My ongoing connections with these groups are tenuous although others are gathering a solid database. communitymeetingBut this is a project I have been a part of for a couple years now.

And I will tell you, for my part, it did not get off to an auspicious start. One of the first gatherings I attended outside of the downtown core was a transit town hall meeting which I later dubbed Seething in Scarborough. People were not present to converse or have a dialogue. It was shouty from the get-go. Much of my time was spent desperately trying to look inconspicuous, wondering if I shouldn’t join in and let fly with a howl of indignation just so no one might figure me as an outsider.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to go out to the political hinterlands and impose my views on the locals. I honestly don’t know what motivates suburban residents, what their expectations are of City Hall, what drives them nuts. Aside from probably the same things we all want. buildabettercityA city that strives to provide the opportunities every resident needs to flourish (eudaimonia, to steal a thought from Charles Montgomery’s Happy City). A place that’s easy to get around, safely. A respectful city that allows and encourages all our diversity.

And aside from that one madhouse meeting in Scarborough (and one or two proposed development sessions I’ve witnessed), my impression is most people who take the time to organize and attend community events want those exact same things. The devil’s in the details and the sticking points always tend to be how exactly to achieve those goals. Most of the times I’ve ventured north of Bloor, as we joke, the experience has been positive and a little inspiring.

But I will tell Chris Ramsaroop that misconceptions abound on both sides of this particular fence. backandforthHe wouldn’t want anyone to assume everybody living in the suburbs thinks like the worst of the unhinged supporters of the mayor who show up in the comments section of newspapers. So he shouldn’t assume that there’s a blanket downtown disregard and dismissal of the suburbs represented by the intemperate outbursts expressed in some of those same newspaper pages.

There are many of us trying to understand and engage. But, like those in the suburbs, our lives are full too and we can’t keep on top of everything that’s happening around this city. You want us to come to your meetings, make concrete steps and deliver the goods? You’ve got to do a little reaching out yourselves, let us know when and where. Chances are a few of us will be there.

friendly-ly submitted by Cityslikr


Everybody Get Happy

November 28, 2013

Early on in Charles Montgomery’s Happy City (page 6 to be exact), happycitythe author quotes former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, speaking at the 2006 World Urban Forum:

“If we defined our success just in terms of income per capita, we would have to accept ourselves as second or third-rate societies – as a bunch of losers,” he said. No, the city needed a new goal. Peñalosa promised neither a car in every garage nor a socialist revolution. His promise was simple. He was going to make Bogotans happier.

“And what are our needs for happiness?” he asked. “We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.”

Over the past 3+ years, there has been plenty of head-scratching and analysis over and of this thing that has been labelled Ford Nation. Much of it has been very good (most recently from Naheed Mustafa in The Atlantic – h/t @GerardDiTrolio for the link and Marco Chown Oved in The Toronto Star – h/t @CTBNFG for that link).

But if I may be so bold, allow me to put it all under one big umbrella, using Enrique Peñalosa’s words. fordnation“We need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.”

Being part of Ford Nation, from a political standpoint, could be viewed as an exercise in inclusion. For the first time in at least seven years, if not since amalgamation, hundreds of thousands of residents, mainly in the surrounding former suburban municipalities of Toronto, felt there was somewhere they had a voice, exerted some power. Rob Ford was their mayor. David Miller was our mayor. It was their turn now. Equality.

Never mind, for the moment, that many of the policies Team Ford would pursue once in power ran contrary to some of the issues that exacerbated the sense of isolation and exclusion, i.e. cutbacks in programs and services, reductions in public transit. Pocketbook politics are strong. For over 3 decades now, conservatives have sold us a bill of goods that more money in our pockets was all we needed to make our lives better. longwaitforabus1It’s a tough rhetorical nut to crack. To paraphrase a wise politico, sometimes that elderly lady has to start wondering why her bus taking her to church on a Sunday morning now comes every half hour when it used to be only 15 minutes before you can convince her that freezing property taxes does have an effect aside from simply saving a bit of pocket change.

Ford Nation is the face of people wanting in, wanting to be heard if not wanting to directly participate in the civic life of the city where they live.

It’s not enough to simply tsk, tsk, tsk, rant in an alleyway and slap our foreheads in wonder at how these people can support a guy who’s clearly not acting in their best interests. Ford Nation is a vehicle for both a collective frustration and, I hope and think, a demand for inclusion in the decision making of this city. scoldForget the reckless driver who’s behind the wheel. That’s ultimately unimportant. It’s the vehicle we need to take notice of.

If we’re truly concerned about the direction our city’s going, of the well-being of all its residents, we have to recognize what the members of Ford Nation saw back in 2010. The status quo is not working. We need to figure out why that is and how to go about trying to address it.

That calls for a positive reassessment not finger-wagging, blame-naming and nay-saying. We need a bus load of ideas, big and small, with a wide open door policy where anybody who wants to, contributes. Point the thing in the direction we want to go, along the surest route we think will get us there, aware that there’s always going to be detours ahead, and invite everybody who’s interested aboard.

It’s time we started talking about what we want from the city we live in not with everything we don’t like about it. Can’t, won’t, no no no, is the language of division and exclusion. Here’s what I’d like to see. magicbusHow about you? is the way we talk when we’re seeking other opinions, when we want to be inclusive, when we actually care what other people think, even those we think we know better than.

Toronto won’t work unless it works for everybody. There’s no easy fix for that. Consensus building is the only way forward to that goal. True consensus can only happen when everyone’s voice is heard and treated equally. That’s where solutions start.

happily submitted by Cityslikr


24 Hour Party People

November 27, 2013

anhonestquestionAn honest question.

With a couple days rest after the 4 federal by elections, time for everyone involved to set down the arms and put away the campaign battle gear, relax, and maybe someone could tell me what’s with all the political party tribalism, folks?

I am acquainted with many of you out there, some in person, many via social media, and most of you strike me as very civil and fair-minded. Disagreements I’ve had with a few of you have been largely cordial and have seldom ended in rancorous words. A few scratches and scrapes but no lasting scars.

But get you in election mode, in the trenches to defend your brand loyalty, who are you people? I don’t recognize you. All sniping and in your face, at each others’ throats for wearing the wrong colours. Canvassers and get out the voters? More like soccer hooligans.

OK, OK. A bit of an exaggeration but I have to tell you, following along with all the back and forth over the last month or so (and the last provincial general election), through the vitriol and just plain ol’ surliness between warring camps, is somewhat off-putting. soccerhooligansWhile we can point to many valid reasons for a lack of political engagement and lots of apathy, for me, this bitter intra-squad rivalry is seriously off-putting.

My voting days date back to the 1980 federal election. I have cast a ballot, at one time or another, for all four of the major parties available to us here in Ontario. Politically unfaithful, you might call me. I’ve had my favourites for sure, trending in one direction for a period of time before heading off in another. Come each election I’d like to consider myself something of a free agent.

Since I’d long ago disavowed conservatism in its modern permutation as a kind of politics worth paying much attention to, it didn’t seem at all odd to me that its tribalism was in evidence. It had become a club I no longer had any interested in. So there was a certain us-versus-them sensibility. opentosuggestions(It didn’t help that many adherents to the conservative cause were out and out bat shit crazy.)

But I have to tell you, watching the other parties in election mode kinda, sorta gives me the willies too. There’s a cult-like feel of infallibility to the dear leaders and candidates that gives me pause. I might even be able to get my head around that if it also didn’t include the vicious lashing out at opponents in the race. It’s not enough to simply put forth all the reasons why your candidate/leader/party of choice should get your vote but it’s as if all opposition must be destroyed in the process.

I’m at a point where I’ve come to dread the onset of provincial and federal campaigns.

I remain convinced by smart people that a party system is integral to the proper functioning of a parliamentary democracy. Sometimes it’s just difficult to remember that when your disenchantment with the whole process stems, in some part, from your distaste of how political parties go about their business. It’s tough to see the forest through all those annoying trees.

What you can’t persuade me of, however, is that a party system will bring order to our rather fractious, messy municipal government. No, that’s not quite right. partyloyaltyPolitical parties might bring order but it would be an order like we see now in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park. At a distance, once removed from the contact voters now have with their councillors and mayor who have to answer directly to their constituents without (at least officially) having to factor in the demands of the party they also represent.

Besides, I’m not entirely sure party politics didn’t play a part in the fiasco that was Scarborough subway debate at city council earlier this year. All 3 provincial parties, jockeying for the pole position on the transit file, using their municipal surrogates to move the checker pieces. It was mess not solely created by a dysfunctional city council.

And I worry too about further intrusion by political parties and partisanship into our municipal election campaign next year.

It’ll be hard to avoid, obviously, if Olivia Chow, NDP MP, does decide to run for mayor. 24hourpartypeople1I’ve got nothing against Ms. Chow, having voted for her at both a federal and municipal level. But if that race takes on the ugly traits I’ve witnessed during the last couple elections and by elections, it can only dampen enthusiasm for and interest in the election. That’s the last thing we need to see here in 2014, a turned off electorate.

I want to be part of a movement next year not a party apparatchik. I want that movement to be a progressive one that seeks to build a city in a more inclusive, generous, equitable, sustainable way and promises a better way of life to the residents of Toronto instead of shortchanging them and calling it respect. If certain party mechanisms are in place to help with that, aces. If not, well, let’s all remember what is we’re fighting for. People before party.

unaffiliatedly submitted by Cityslikr


Trist And Zara

November 26, 2013

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are — an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

To Make A Dadist Poem

tristantzara

Dada – I’ll let Wikipedia explain it if you aren’t already familiar with the concept, Wikipedia lifting a snippet on the topic from a book by Dona Budd, The Language of Art Knowledge – “… was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World War I … Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition.”

I thought of Dada as I sat watching the mayor and his councillor-brother perform at yesterday’s launch to the 2014 city budget. Definitely a rejection of reason and logic. Lots of irrationality and nonsense.

Their whole scatter-shot outrage seemed created, Dada-style, campaign slogans and rhetoric, picked out randomly from different pockets and blown out through a megaphone. dadaGravy Train! Tax and Spend! Respect For Taxpayers! For Gravy! Taxpayers Spend Tax! Train and Respect!

None of it has to make any sense. It just has to be loud and repeated, repeatedly. Add any context and almost everything that came out of the two brothers’ mouths was little more than monkey babble.

As was quickly pointed out by the media, the 2.5% (oh, I’m sorry) the 2.52% staff proposed property tax increase that the mayor/brother cited as proof that the tax-and-spend floodgates had opened wide without his/their oversight that council stripped away last week is almost exactly the same as the 2.5% property tax increase the mayor himself oversaw and approved just two budgets ago.

Let me write that out in capital letters so no one misses the glaring inconsistency and blatant hypocrisy in the fast one Mayor Ford is trying to pull off.

2012 2.5% PROPERTY TAX INCREASE = 2014 2.5% PROPOSED PROPERTY INCREASE.

The math hasn’t changed. Each number in the equation has the same value in 2014 as it did in 2012. dada2Team Ford was for a 2.5% property tax increase before they were against it.

On top of which, this year’s 2.5% comes with money for the Scarborough subway the mayor so vigorously championed and was so quick to claim credit for when city council approved it last summer. So, in effect, the 2012 Mayor Ford was the kind of gravy loving tax and spender the 2014 Mayor Ford is off railing about and campaigning against.

But consistency is not your goal when you’re simply pulling ideas from your pockets, hat or ass. Or, at least, consistency of thought isn’t. To give him credit, the mayor has maintained his consistency of performance for the past 3 years. Always the outsider. Always looking out for the little guy. Always angry.

And always, always wrong.

One thing that seems to go largely unnoticed during these budget debates is that residents of the city of Toronto (as of this year’s proposed budget) pay nearly $1100 less in property taxes [page 14]  than the GTA average. dada3Yes, there are matters of mill rates and property values. Property taxes aren’t the only funds we hand over to live in the city. But to stagger around, beating your chest and bellow how over-taxed we taxpayers of Toronto are displays a certain detachment from reality.

(I hesitate to present further data that might not give all the salient factors but graph two here would suggest that even compared to 7 other Canadian jurisdictions, Toronto has not been in the grips of crazed tax lovers intent on picking every last nickel from our pockets.)

Especially if you take a look at the admittedly hard to make out picture on page 34 of the city manager’s Strengthening Toronto’s Fiscal Health, Investing for the Future report and see what we get in return for the taxes and fees we give to the city. You’d just have to hate the very notion of government, of a collective sense that some things are worth paying for and are cheaper to pay for if we all chip in, to look at the picture and not conclude that we’re getting pretty good bang for the buck here in Toronto. There’s nothing rational or logical in thinking otherwise.

That’s what makes the Fords and their followers political Dadaists. They react negatively to what they see as the horrors of government and the murderous demands others make upon them. Unable to combat such expectations with sound reasoning and thoughtful opinion, they resort to utter nonsense and incoherent gibberish.

dada1

It doesn’t have to make sense. Just noise. Incomprehensible, disordered, absurd noise.

artfully submitted by Cityslikr


Taxation Shouldn’t Be A Dirty Word

November 25, 2013

In the lead up to today’s kick off of Budget 2014, here’s the headline to a Toronto Star article: Toronto budget committee braces for tax-hike debate.texaschainsawmassacre

So in many ways, despite being turfed from most of his mayoral responsibilities last week, Rob Ford has established the terms by which we’re going to go about discussing the city’s budget priorities.

It’s all about the taxes, folks.

Which shouldn’t be all that surprising or abnormal. Taxation is how we pay for the kind of city we want to live in. But it’s the de-contextualization that’s disconcerting. As if it’s only about how much we the taxpayers are handing over and nothing about what we’re getting in return.

We all know that .5% of any property tax increase we see for next year is going toward the building of the Scarborough subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. taxesThat’s tangible even if disagreeable to many of us. It’s a direct cause and effect.

After that, it’s all presented as just some random number, picked out of thin air. The mayor wants nothing more than an additional 1.25% for no other apparent reason than to go into next year’s municipal election campaign claiming this year’s increase was less than 2% total, lower than any other city in the known universe, he’ll likely claim, as if a place’s worth can only be measured by how small a tax bill its residents receive. Others, including the budget chief, think staff will be asking for a 2.5% tax increase in total, a reasonable number by any other measure aside from the Fordian scale of All Taxes Are Bad (But Some Are Worse Than Others).

In reality taxes aren’t just money we hand over and receive nothing in return. accoutantThey serve as a marker for the transaction made between residents and the city for services that are provided to them. This time around, let’s talk about those first, shall we, the services we receive. The things we think are important to making Toronto somewhere people want to live rather than a place we wind up in and reluctantly are a part of.

What is it we’re willing to pay for rather than how much we’re willing to pay should be the starting point for any budget conversation. (Yes, yes. As hard as it is to believe that point has to made, it’s proof of the degree to which tax haters have infected our civic discourse). Today’s as good a day as any to begin having that conversation.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


Damaged Goods

November 24, 2013

Cast your minds back to earlier this year, this spring to be specific. runamokJust after the crack allegations first broke and after former chief of staff Mark Towhey took leave of his employ to Mayor Rob Ford.

Trace that line forward to today, through all the stunning events over the past 6 months especially the last, I don’t know, three weeks or so. Package that sequence up, the crack smoking admission, the “2nd” video, the pussy eating comment, all the unacknowledged business coming out of the police surveillance ITO, the whole shit show clusterfuck that’s been comedy gold for late night TV.

And plunk it down into the 2010 campaign for mayor. Imagine it happening then, while knucklehead Rob Ford was still only a dissenting councillor from Etobicoke trying to muscle his way into the mayor’s office. setthehouseonfireThat’s the guy George Smitherman and Joe Pantalone ran against.

You honestly think that we’d still be talking about all the problems we’re having with our Mayor Rob Ford?

I ask because this is pretty much the scenario we’re facing as we head into the 2014 municipal election. Rob Ford left to his own devices, watched over only by his brother Doug who’s proven to be equally as maladroit at managing his impulse control and outbursts than his little brother, the mayor. There’s no telling what either of them might do at any particular public appearance.

In 2010, Rob Ford was kept on a very tight leash by a team of professionals including Nick Kouvalis (his first chief of staff), Adrienne Batra (his former press something something) and Towhey. onashortleashEven then, his behaviour — both past and current – regularly burst forth and threatened to sink his candidacy. But overall, his campaign team managed to keep him on message, disciplined and under control long enough to elect him mayor.

All three remained on board throughout the early part of his administration, when his council successes piled up. But then, one by one, they jumped ship. First Kouvalis. Then Batra. Towhey hung on but was shown the door when the crack scandal erupted.

What we’re seeing now is pretty much what we should expect going forward. The brains of the operation have left the building. It’s now just Rob and his demons egged on by Doug and their weird family dynamics. It’s not going to be a campaign as much as some demolition derby. Just one car wreck after another.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where anyone with actual campaign skills and knowledge of how to manage an almost unmanageable candidate would be willing to sign on with the Ford re-election team. hazmatsuitThe mayor’s become toxic. Even the most mercenary of political operatives would have to weigh the money against the yuck factor that would surely attach itself to them for trying to secure another go at public office by such a disgraced politician.

I guess there might be the thrill of the challenge of getting such damaged goods re-elected. If I can win this one, there’s no candidate I can’t get elected! I’ll be a legend!!

But that’s assuming the mayor has flamed out as much as he can, as any human can, flame out. It wouldn’t be an assumption I’d be willing to make at this point. Witness the latest news that dribbled out about Mayor Ford’s antics on Friday. You think that’s the last head shaker we’re going to hear about? (It wasn’t even the last one we heard on Friday). The risks just seem to outweigh any benefits to attaching yourself to the rightfully dubbed Ford crazy train.

Besides, Rob Ford and his brother probably don’t think they need anybody else now. They must look at the favourable numbers that haven’t seemed to have budged through all this mess and ridicule and figure, hey, we can ride it out. If admitting to smoking crack doesn’t put a dent in his support, what will? Full steam ahead!

If that happens, I’m predicting the Rob Ford Unhinged Tour in 2014. No one to keep him tied to political realities. No one to keep him on message. On message? No one to keep him on time. Huh? Oh, the debate started at  7?! caveatemptor1My watch must be running late…

This isn’t to get all smug and self-assured about Rob Ford going down to defeat next year. As we witnessed to our horror four years ago anything can happen during an election campaign. But it’s hard to see how he just doesn’t simply implode without the assured, if diabolical, hand of the likes of Nick Kouvalis, Adrienne Batra and Mark Towhey. (Why diabolical? There’s no way they didn’t know they were pawning off a defective product on the Toronto electorate, an electorate equally as diabolical, I guess, since there’s no way they didn’t know they were buying into a defective product)

And many will continue to look past those defects, embracing the positives they see as being more important. toxicsinkholeIt’s not easy giving up on a brand you bought into. No one likes to admit to buyer’s remorse.

It just seems possible that a Rob Ford running amok during a campaign with no one around to reel him will make it very easy for those who voted for him the first time around to convince themselves that wasn’t the guy they voted for. He’s not the brand they bought into. They’re not changing their minds. Rob Ford’s just not who he claimed to be.

Cue the support crater.

realistically submitted by Cityslikr