A Dark Gloomy Day

April 30, 2014

Maybe it was just the rain and the relentless reminder that we’ve been forsaken gloomydayby pleasant weather. Everybody’s lost a little grip on their senses. Or maybe it was the void of idiocy left behind by Mayor Ford after he went all radio silent, having dared the city’s top bureaucrat to run in the election so they could debate the $1.1 billion in savings claim the mayor makes and the city manager disputes. Quick! Say something dumb before a reasonable conversation breaks out.

Or maybe, just maybe, politicians and their handlers all now just assume we’re prepared to put aside critical thought to fall happily for any snappy slogan or nonsensical notion that involves us not having to actually contribute anything to the future well-being of this city. Let’s call it the Ford Factor. No problem too big to pretend there’s not an easy fix for it. And it won’t cost you a single dime, folks!

Whatever the reason, yesterday had to be about the most dispiriting day in the 2014 mayoral campaign so far. stunt1And it hasn’t exactly been an embarrassment of riches to date. Just kind of embarrassing.

It started with Karen Stintz’s transit announ—

No wait.

First it was Team Tory’s PR grab. Olivia Twister (at least, that’s what I’m calling it in the spirit of fun. A pun. Olivia Twister. Oliver Twist?) The classic party game Twister played to highlight Olivia Chow’s apparent policy changes. The Relief Line isn’t a priority. The Relief Line is a priority. The Scarborough subway. No. The Scarborough LRT.

It was hilarious. Actually, it was as hilarious as you’d imagine a John Tory campaign stunt to be. Which is to say, no, it wasn’t hilarious.

As for Karen Stintz’s announcement, she fleshed out how she planned to pay for the city’s portion of the relief line. Sell off a majority of the city’s share of Toronto Hydro. Bring in a parking levy in city owned downtown Green P lots and use some of the revenue from enforcement fees – parking tickets. All things considered, it wasn’t completely and utterly mad. One terrible idea. One intriguing idea. One debatable idea. seeifitsticksNot a bad percentage, coming as it was from the Stintz campaign.

This was followed by Olivia Chow’s speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Pretty much old news. She’d revert back to the original Scarborough LRT instead of the subway, re-directing the already agreed on property tax increase for the proposed subway to start on the Relief Line which, according to transit planning timelines, still wouldn’t be done until 2031. Ms. Chow was also going to lean on the provincial and federal governments to chip in with their fair share… More infrastructure spending… Increased bus service… Nothing new. Nothing particularly exciting or scandalous.

Nothing we hadn’t already heard.

But it was more than enough for some.

Setting aside any credibility she might have garnered from her transit announcement, Karen Stintz fired off an indignant tweet. Today I proposed a war on congestion, while Olivia Chow proposed a war on taxpayers. twisterFollow this if you can… a property tax increase to pay for a subway in Scarborough is a war on congestion. That very same property tax increase to pay for the Relief Line is—Don’t bother. It’s not even supposed to make any sense.

Untangling themselves from Twister, Team Tory was not to be outdone in its outrage and incredulity at the Chow speech. Of course, the NDP candidate for mayor would resort to taxation as a way to pay for a subway. Of course. And in 2031?! Just because it’s part of Metrolinx’s 25 year plan!? We need the relief line now!!

John Tory has officially been in the race for about two months now. From the very beginning he’s made the Relief Line his number one issue. Yet, he still hasn’t told us how he’s going to pay for it. He still hasn’t told us how he’s going to get it built any sooner than 2031. But well, Olivia Chow’s an NDP candidate. That’s the thing to remember right now. Not how John Tory’s going to pay to build a subway on an expedited time line. Hey. emptypromiseDid you see us playing Twister earlier today?

And if that ain’t all underwhelming enough for you, with a provincial election quite possibly looking down the barrel at us as early as mid-June, and the fate of many of these transit plans in the balance, pending the outcome, the opposition leader, Tim Hudak waded neck deep into the dumb with a promise to kill the Hamiliton LRT proposal and replace it with… wait for it, wait for it… a new highway! You can’t load pipes onto a bus, harrumph, harrumph, harrumph…

As we all know, the best way to relieve congestion on our roads is to build more roads. Don’t believe Tim Hudak? Ask Atlanta.

What’s truly amazing about this parade of the ridiculous is that our mayor played no part in it. Not so much as a peep from him during the sad spectacle. He’s just established the route. John Tory, Karen Stintz and Tim Hudak are simply following in his footsteps, hoping it ends up just like it did for Rob Ford in 2010. sadparadeWith them first past the finishing line.

As long as the cheap stunts, empty rhetoric and painless promises prove effective, politicians will return to that well. Why wouldn’t they if we continue to reward them for doing so. We keep acting like chumps, they’ll keep treating us like chumps.

That’s as sure as another gloomy grey day in April.

soggily submitted by Cityslikr


Unreliable Narration

April 29, 2014

Bear with me as I venture momentarily into unfamiliar territory here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, baronmunchausenthat of literary theory.

The unreliable narrator is a device used by authors to undercut the legitimacy of the usual authoritative voice of the teller of the tale. Is what we’re being told actually true? If not, why not? It adds a degree of mystery, leaving readers or an audience uncertain about the veracity of the story they’re being given.

Reading through yesterday’s city staff briefing note, 2007 — 2014 Budget Reductions and Other Budget Balancing Strategies, it struck me that for the past 4 years or so we’ve been following along with a story told to us by an unreliable narrator, many unreliable narrators, in fact. The conclusions drawn by the city manager and CFO draw a starkly different picture of the fiscal stewardship of this city than the one that’s been painted for us over the past 4 years. Everything we’ve been told to believe since 2010? Not so much. It’s a little more nuanced than all that.

Let’s go back to the outside workers’ strike in 2009 because I think that’s where much of this story started. throwingmoneyaroundAt its conclusion, the general consensus was that the then mayor, David Miller, had caved in to his union brethren. Handed over the keys to the city vault, out of control spending, disrespecting the taxpayers, yaddie, yaddie, yaddie.

Our fiscal foundation was crumbling, Rob Ford would then claim, having taken control of the narrative during his successful mayoral run. We needed to tighten our collective belts. What this city had was a spending problem not a revenue problem.

Now, we know why he spun the tale this way without any regard to facts or the truth. It was politically advantageous for him to do so. But I also think he actually believed it. If we’ve learned nothing else from the past 4 years it should be that Rob Ford doesn’t understand how government works. He inherently hates government. He sees it as nothing but a burden, an imposition on our lives. fairytale1Somehow his math works out to less of government=more for us.

According to William Riggan (summarised by Wikipedia for me), Rob Ford had a bit of all 5 of the unreliable narrator traits to him. The Picaro, or the braggart. The Madman, pretty self-explanatory. The Clown, see The Madmen. The Naif, a limited or immature point of view or perspective. The Liar, see The Clown.

Why so many of us took him seriously enough to elect him mayor is equally as apparent. Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Yes, the city faced problems and challenges, we were told, but none of them were our fault. Fixing them would be easy and we wouldn’t feel a thing. A happy ending all round!

Here’s what we know now, four years on.

Yes, the Miller administration taxed us at a higher rate than the Ford administration.  areyousure1It dinged us with other revenue streams like the Land Transfer and Vehicle Registration taxes. It collected more from us in user fees including bigger hikes in transit fares.

But the thing is, in terms of an overall budget, spending has increased under Rob Ford. During his time in office, city council has curbed the rate spending increased but not the total amount. The same can be said about property taxes. They may not have gone up at the same percent as they did under David Miller but we still, on average, are paying higher property taxes now than we were in 2010.

Part of the reason for that is that the Ford administration cut and froze other sources of revenues like the VRT. fordnationIf you’re not cutting spending but are reducing revenue, how do you make up the difference? Cut services you’re providing. Have you taken a bus or subway over the last 4 years? You know what I’m talking about.

City council in Rob Ford’s first term as mayor has spent more than it did in the previous term and delivered less. That’s how it patched budgetary holes. That is his legacy.

The real kicker – no, wait. First, the penultimate kicker. According to this briefing note, David Miller, he who caved into the unions back in 2009, saved more money for the city in his 2nd term as mayor through collective bargaining agreements than Rob Ford has during his time in office. I know, right? How is that even possible? Weren’t we told Miller opened the vault and just started tossing around money? fingerscrossedIsn’t taming the union demands an important cornerstone of Rob Ford’s re-election campaign? Now we’re hearing that Miller the Profligate saved the city more money from union deals than Rob Ford?

Which takes us back to the real kicker.

In terms of closing the operating budget gap, from the opening pressure to the final balance, the Miller administration found more “savings” in its last term than the Ford administration did, to the tune of some $432 million over four years. Now, here’s where this gets even trickier and murkier. Using a budget’s opening pressure as the benchmark isn’t exactly what you might call, reliable. Much of it is based on educated calculations and estimates. Both David Miller and Rob Ford used looming opening pressures as political scare tacticsemptypromise (although it is interesting to note the difference in motives. Miller threatened services in order to get revenue increases to pay for those services while Ford threatened higher tax increases in order to cut services to maintain lower taxes.)

Out of all this shaky narrative, however, a couple salient facts need to be noted.

The David Miller administration wasn’t the fiscal laggard popular political fiction made it out to be. It instituted a long term economic strategy that included a broader base of revenue and increased involvement by other levels government. A strategy that helped Rob Ford initially deliver his campaign guarantee of low taxes and no service cuts.

The Rob Ford administration wasn’t the sound fiscal steward it’s claimed to be. While rejecting one time funding sources like the previous year’s surplus and maintaining revenue streams at the rate of inflation, it relied heavily on a regular reduction of services to balance the operating budget. stoppullingmylegIt’s sustainable only as long as residents are willing to put up with getting less and less from City Hall.

It’s that fact that’s made so much of the political story in Toronto so unreliable. Unreliably told by those seeking office on a platform that would be unpalatable to most voters, and believed by those not willing to accept the basic truth of the matter. If you want a great city, David Miller once said, you have to pay for it.

truthfully submitted by Cityslikr


Can We Get A Candidate Here?

April 28, 2014

So the story goes…

Back in 2003, fed up with their representation at City Hall, some residents of Ward 16 took out an ad. helpwantedCouncillor Wanted! A plucky young go-getter named Karen Stintz applied for the job and the rest, as they say, is history.

I was thinking about that tale yesterday when finishing off the post about Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong registering to run for re-election in Ward 34 Don Valley East. Checking to see if he had any opponents yet, I found a serious dearth of information about the 3 candidates running against him. Two are present in name only. There’s nothing else immediately obvious about them. No website. No contact phone number. No social media offerings. The third, Sadiq Al-Ali, is on the Twitter and has a Facebook page with zero about him or his campaign platform.

Damn, I thought. emptyslateWasted opportunity with the incumbent making mayoral noises over the last few months. There was space to get their names out there, establish some credibility. Now, with the councillor officially in the race, it’s going to be a much tougher uphill battle for any challengers.

Then I started looking around to see what other incumbents were running again and facing little opposition. And let me elaborate on what I mean by little opposition. It isn’t a stringent definition. All I want is to Google a candidate’s name and be able to find out something about them. If I can’t, well, they’re not serious contenders.

Aside from Ward 34, I found 10 other wards where the sitting councillor was not facing much of a seeming challenge. Ward 11 York-South Weston, Frances Nunziata. Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park, Sarah Doucette. Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park, Gord Perks. Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence, Josh Colle.alsoran Ward 21 St. Paul’s, Joe Mihevc. Ward 22 St. Paul’s, Josh Matlow. Ward 25 Don Valley West, Jaye Robinson. Ward 31 Beaches-East York, Janet Davis. Ward 32 Beaches-East York, Mary-Margaret McMahon. (Yes, I’m not considering this as serious.) Ward 40 Scarborough Agincourt, Norm Kelly.

Now, I like a handful of these councillors and hope they’re re-elected. Nevertheless, each and every one of them needs to be campaigned against, forced to justify their past 4 years in office to the residents of their respective wards. The decisions they made. The votes they cast. Nobody should be content enough with their local representation to allow them to breeze through to re-election.

Perhaps most egregious of all are the incumbents currently sitting unopposed on the slate. Councillors Mihevc, Matlow, Robinson, Kelly and Nunziata. Frances Nunziata, folks! The worst kind of councillor needs to be chased from office in the worst way. After her significant contribution to the nasty, counter-productive tone at council this term, acclaimedCouncillor Nunziata should hardly be rewarded by being acclaimed back into office.

No elected official should ever be acclaimed. It really sends the signal that nobody gives a flying fuck about life in their ward and city. Yeah, whatevs. All politicians are [fill in your own variation of some meaningless, apathetic generalizations here.]

Now, I know there are some externalities to this campaign that may be affecting candidate commitments at this point. There’s going to be probably two federal by-elections in the city before municipal voting day in October including one in a high profile downtown riding. All signs indicate we’re going to find ourselves in a provincial election before then too. This means some probable candidates and the backroom organizing types who run campaigns are otherwise occupied. sillypartyjpgWhen the smoke clears from those, there will be a more serious consideration of the municipal campaign.

Still, there’s less than 6 months to go. It’s never easy to beat a sitting councillor. Incumbents don’t tend to defeat themselves, even the really awful ones. Name recognition is a tough nut to crack. It takes time and a long haul to overcome it.

But it has to start somewhere. Why not with A Councillor Wanted! campaign? Serious Candidates Need Only Apply. Legend has it, it worked once.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr


Will No One Rid Us Of This Turbulent Councillor?

April 27, 2014

I had to laugh. One of those chuckles really, a combination of knowing, disbelief and a dollop of self-loathing. laughAlways a dollop of self-loathing.

“Minnan-Wong not running for mayor,” stated the headline of Don Peat’s Toronto Sun article on Thursday.

HeeHeeHeeHee, I chortled to myself. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong running for mayor. Please. It’s a testament to the era of lowered political expectations we live in that anyone, and I mean anyone, including the councillor himself, actually thought for anything longer than a passing notion or fancy that Denzil Minnan-Wong could be considered a legitimate mayoral candidate.

Now, I know that after electing someone like Rob Ford as mayor, the reasonable response to that view is, well, all bets are off. If Rob Ford, why not, I don’t know, a chia pet? chiapetClearly we’re comfortable scraping from the bottom of the barrel. Whatever else you might say about him, Councillor Minnan-Wong cuts an acceptable figure. His suits aren’t ill-fitting.

The difference is, Rob Ford wears the necessary populism any self-proclaimed far right conservative politician needs to win. I don’t get it either but he’s not trying to appeal to me. Enough of the folks believe he represents their values and views of local governance that a quarter of Toronto voters see him as one of them, always looking out for the little guy. Councillor Minnan-Wong is not that, not even close.

He’s more… ummmm, how would you describe the Minnan-Wong brand of conservatism? It’s most certainly not populist. You wouldn’t consider him a John Tory country club conservative. It’s just, I don’t know, loathsome? Along with the mayor, his brother, the speaker and maybe Councillor Mike Del Grande, loathsomecreatureno one is more divisive, petty and single-minded in their pursuit of small government and low taxes than Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

We’ve already written about Minnan-Wong as councillor in our Wards To Watch series but I think it bears repeating now that he’s officially registered to run for re-election in Ward 34 Don Valley East.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is why we can’t have nice things in Toronto. His view of the city seems to come almost exclusively from behind the wheel of his car, out through the windshield. (Or standing, tending to his lawn, evidently.) It’s very telling that in saying why it was he was running again, the councillor said, “There is a lot to do in this city and I’m clearly engaged in gridlock and congestion and trying to make our roads better.”

Trying to make our roads better.

Now, I know it may seem like I’m playing semantics here. Roads could be seen as just a generic word denoting travel or a commuting route. texaschainsawmassacreBut he didn’t say he was trying to make our commute easier or reduce our travel times in the city. No. The councillor’s attitude toward city building is as auto-centric as our mayor’s and just as stuck in the ‘70s suburban mindset of his youth.

He opposes anything that challenges the supremacy of cars to get around the city. Bike lanes. Open streets. Scrambled intersections. Expressway removal. He loves the view of Toronto from the elevated eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway!

Denzil Minnan-Wong has been a city councillor since amalgamation, having sat on the North York council before that, and I think it’s fair to ask for one positive contribution he’s made to life in Toronto in all that time. citybuildingSince 2010, he’s been the chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, arguably the third most powerful position on council (4th if you count whatever position it is Doug Ford occupies) and I’m hard pressed to think of anything on the plus side of the ledger he’s done. Even if it’s just saving taxpayer’s money, I’m thinking that for every dollar in contracting out waste collection and the collective agreement with other city unions, there’s a bunch of cash burned in torn up and rebuilt bike lanes and buried Environmental Assessments.

“In the interests of the public and the City of Toronto,” the councillor told the press after signing up for re-election, “I thought the interests of the people was best served by returning to city council as a councillor.”

Well, I beg to differ, Councillor Minnan-Wong. This city’s interests would be served a whole lot better, justoneand our political discourse more civil if you took your low tax loving, government hating detrimental act elsewhere. Over the course of the next 6 months those running against the incumbent councillor in Ward 34 should badger him relentlessly with one line of questioning and one line of questioning only. What has he ever done for the residents of his ward or this city? Name one positive contribution he’s made during his time in office. One.

It’s a question Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong would be hard pressed to answer.

— demandingly submitted by Cityslikr


A Letter From Our Mayor (With Some Early Edits)

April 25, 2014

mayorrobford

Dear Friends (Folks, really. But I’m trying to be all mayor formal here.),

Over the last few days, we have heard a lot of talk about Toronto Community Housing. (Disregard everything you’ve heard. All of it was lies, political smear jobs and witch hunting.)

I am here today to ask people to put politics aside (Politics in its original meaning, meaning views of those who oppose or disagree with me. Look it up.) and look at what is best for both the staff, and the residents of Toronto Community Housing. (FORD MORE YEARS! FORD MORE YEARS!)

Four years ago, Toronto Community Housing was in a state of disarray – overspending, ineffective operations, and a culture of entitlement (David Miller. BOOGILY-BOOGILY!!) meant that the TCH didn’t work for the people it was supposed to serve.

fordnation

Over $90,000 spent on 2 Christmas parties, chocolates, manicures, and boat cruises, just to name a few items. (Please avert your eyes from the nearly $1.4 million increase in severance payouts since I became mayor over the previous 3 years. Nothing to see there.)

When I became Mayor I vowed to clean up this mess. (And build subways. And make no service cuts, guaranteed.)

We made some tough decisions that were necessary to get things working again. (Which totally explains why both the state of good repair backlog and waiting list for housing at the TCHC has increased during my time in office… No, wait. It doesn’t. Never mind. Delete! DELETE!)

Working with the Board a new CEO was hired and new senior management – with strong and clear mandates (Remember, folks. Having a mandate means doing whatever you want to do regardless of rules and regulations. Sometimes that even means kicking out old freeloaders who don’t pay their rent. There’s no ‘t’ or ‘c’ or ‘h’ in free lunch.) – to make Toronto Community Housing work for the people of Toronto.

evictoldpeople

Eugene Jones has done what was necessary to root out the people at TCH who were working in an environment of entitlement. (Burn, burn, BURN, BURN IT TO THE GROUND!!!!) He is bringing people on board who see the work that needs to be done, they are getting it done, and they are the right people for the job. (Team players. Team Ford players. God bless Ford Nation.)

Eugene Jones was brought to TCH to clean up a mess. (It’s messy, cleaning up messes. You can’t clean up a mess without creating a mess. Without a mess to clean up, you can’t clean up any messes.) It’s a simple as that folks. (Never ever think anything is complicated. It only leads to having to clean up messes.) Corruption (Completely different from cronyism. Corruption leads to messes. Cronyism cleans up messes.), waste, and poor service to tenants were major problems and Eugene was told to clean it up. He has done an excellent job in doing so. (Didn’t I tell you to ignore those increases in state of good repair backlogs and housing waiting list?)

texaschainsawmassacre

Tomorrow morning, the Board of Toronto Community Housing will meet to decide the future of Eugene Jones. The meeting starts at 8:00 AM at their head office, 931 Yonge St, just north of Yonge & Davenport. (8a.m. is a bit early for the hardest working mayor Toronto has ever had. I’ll be there in spirit, and even then, probably late.)

Come out and show support for a man whose key message has always been to Put The Tenants First. (Bet you didn’t know that, did you? Because I just made it up for this letter.) Show your support for Eugene Jones. (Never mind. Show your support for Eugene Jones by re-electing me this October so I can re-hire Eugene Jones. FORD MORE YEARS! FORD MORE YEARS! ME AND MR. JONES! ME AND MR. JONES! But I’m totally not playing politics with this.)

As always, please contact me at 416-397-FORD (3673) or email me at mayor_ford@toronto.ca if I can ever be of assistance to you. (And I’m desperately trying to replace that voters’ list I lost in one of my drunken stupors, probably.)

robfordbellicose

Yours truly,

Mayor Rob Ford

 

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

Mayor Ford’s Four Priorities:

1 Customer Service Excellence (Through Creating A Culture Of Fear)

2 Transparent & Accountable Government (The Ombudsman Has To Go)

3 Reduced Cost and Size of Government (See Point 1. It’s Just Basic Math)

4 Transportation City (Subways, Subways, Subways)


It All Depends On How You Define ‘Respect’

April 24, 2014

This isn’t about Rob Ford (although he’ll think this post is about him, about him). At least, not directly, it isn’t. dimmenIt’s about how we’ve slipped into his skin, donned his way of thinking, his attitude toward government.

Following along yesterday to the monthly proceedings of the Executive Committee, the committee the mayor no longer chairs but remains part of only out of legislative necessity – everyone elected to city council must serve on one standing committee – it all felt so petty and small-minded. Bereft of heft. Lacking in rigour. These are the tiny men of a big institution.

It’s no surprise, really. They all were picked to be there by the mayor before his tumble from the seat of power. Not one to challenge his own preconceptions or belief systems, unLincolnian in assembling a team of rivals, the mayor sought nothing more than to surround himself with fellow boobs and yes-men. The worst and the dimmest.

During the debate over somehow commemorating the 1915 Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, Councillor Frank Di Giorgio presented a muddled view of history where the Holocaust was fact but South African apartheid was still contested. Or something. badhistoryCouncillor Peter Leon referred to the Armenian genocide as an ‘unfortunate mishap’ which he later upgraded to a ‘horrible atrocity’.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti moaned about not being paid to have to deal with international issues like European history. He was elected to fill potholes and cut grass, he told the room. If only you would stick to that, Councillor Mammoliti. If only.

Councillor Anthony Perruzza mentioned prosciutto.

But where that item, tabled late in the afternoon when many members of the Executive Committee might’ve been passed their nap time, brought out the dumb, fizzleit was a couple matters earlier in the morning that really saw the collective sparkle fizzle.

A proposed council pay increase, council office budgets and city travel expenses, all the mayor’s bread and butter, led to not so much a healthy debate as regular opportunities to politically grandstand. Protestations of We Are Not Worthy (which is true for many in that room) mixed with talk of gravy and the need for more oversight and micromanaging. Apparently, our city councillors aren’t paid enough to sort out matters on an international scale but don’t make so much money that they can’t waste time looking through colour swatches to find just the right colour at the right price for their office walls.

Of course, there was no way this committee was going to push forward the 12.9% pay increase for council members recommended by the OCG Strategy and Organization Consulting company after surveying 16 Canadian municipalities. puntDespite the fact that, comparatively speaking, our mayor and city councillors are not in the upper echelon of renumeration in terms of their fellow municipal representatives, this is an election year. Nobody’s dumb enough or brazen enough to face the voting public after giving themselves a substantial pay hike.

OK. Maybe Giorgio Mammoliti is. And Frank Di Giorgio might push the wrong button when it came to casting his vote.

It would also be monumentally hypocritical for this group of men to give themselves a raise after nearly 4 years of preaching the gospel of austerity and penny-pinching. What’s good for the goose and all that. They kind of painted themselves into a fiscal corner on this one.

“We can all agree we are well compensated for the job we do,” declared the mayor, mindful I’m sure of his own financial situation as the scion of a wealthy family. In his case, it’s true. Given the job he does, the time he puts into it, I’d argue Mayor Rob Ford is amply compensated, as are many of his colleagues sitting on Executive Committee with him.

livinglargeHow much should the going rate be for bad representation at City Hall?

How much should the going rate be for good representation at City Hall?

I’ve seen how much work the diligent and dedicated city councillors put in on a daily basis. Forget your notions of any 40 hour work week. Double that. On call 7 days a week most weeks of the year. You break their 6 figure salaries down to an hourly rate and I think you’d find a much more modest pay rate.

But because we’ve assumed the anti-public sector stance that the mayor believes so passionately in, any amount is too much. It’s our taxes that pay their bills, we trumpet. Respect, we demand. Why should they be entitled to anything more that we are?miniscule

We’ve willing agreed to travel down the deceptive road of misconception, believing that somehow the taxes we pay at a local level don’t go toward paying for all the useful things we use on a daily basis. We hear that this councillor makes $100, 000 a year in salary, plus perks, and imagine, well, there goes all my money. Straight into the councillor’s already stuffed pocket, so they can jaunt off to some all-expenses trip to somewhere they have absolutely no need to be going to, somewhere I’ll never get to go.

In actual fact, the operations of city council costs us collectively around $20 million a year. Throw in the mayor’s office along with the city clerk, and I’ll generously round it up to $30 million. $30 million, in a $10 billion operating budget. Do that math. .003 Every municipal tax dollar you submit, missthepoint.3% of that goes to our elected officials, and the general operations of their offices and meetings.

So, if you pay $5000 a year in property tax about $15 of that is used for your mayor and city councillor to do their respective jobs. Do that math. $1.25 a month. Less than a nickel a day.

So when the mayor goes on some outraged tirade about all that gravy, pointing to $150,000 in councillor travel expenses (.00000015 of the operating budget, I think) or the not quite $6 million in city staff travel expenses, reach into your pocket and pull out all the change. We no longer use the denomination small enough needed to pay for your portion of that. And then stop to think about how we’re paying someone $170+K a year to fussily focus on saving us that amount of next to nothing.

Then honestly tell me who exactly it is respecting the taxpayers?

generously submitted by Cityslikr


Rules Are For Others

April 23, 2014

Let’s suppose for a moment that the Toronto Community Housing Corporation is a big steaming pile of a mess. fierybuildingsThere is evidence to support such a supposition. Hundreds of millions of dollars in state of good repair needed. An impossibly long waiting list of prospective tenants. Tales of cockroaches, bed bugs and fire inducing hoarding.

Let’s also suppose that the fault for all this lies solely with TCHC management. The rot starts at the head, it is said. There is less evidence to support such an assumption but go with me on this for a bit. There were all those chocolates a few years ago. Spa retreats. Yaddie, yaddie.

Something stinks here. Something’s broken. All the king’s men and all the king’s horses…

So obviously, what the TCHC needs is a good shake-up. An ol’ fashion ass-kickin’. Names will be taken later but right now, all bets are off. These HR rules and regulations are what got us into this pickle in the first place, creating a cushy culture of complacency and cosy comfort. Time to bring the pain. Hello, culture of fear.

We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!yosemitesam

Terminate with extreme prejudice.

Even if we’d arrived at such a situation, even if such measures of disregard for protocol and standard operating procedure that the Ombudsman uncovered under TCHC CEO Gene Jones were effective outside of the movies or a flagging sports franchise (and listening to the interview with Schulich School of Business professor Alan Middleton on Metro Morning, it seems highly dubious they are), even if you adhere to some variation of the ends justifying means, what exactly were the ends? Surely Mr. Jones and other members of the TCHC board had a plan, an and then what. We shake this shit up and then..?

If there was some kind of strategy, some method to the madness, to the culture of fear, it hasn’t seemed to have surfaced. The logical follow up to the untendered hirings and firings without cause has yet to make itself evident. shakeitupWe await the appearance of the omelette after the breaking of all those eggs.

Order needs to be restored. Otherwise this just seems like summary executions for the sake of giving the appearance of something being done. Filling the depleted ranks with loyalists and call it The New Team, Under New Management. Fine. So, now what?

Besides, if such a purge was necessary to get the TCHC house in order, as they say, why ignore the rules that were in place to do it? If you have to fire people without cause, maybe you should take a moment to think about it first. Just because is another way of saying without cause. Just because is a pretty flimsy foundation. It’s awfully close to just because I can.

Unless Gene Jones can stand up to public scrutiny and explain why he did what he did since taking over the TCHC, citybuildingand what exactly his plans are going forward because of the course of action he has taken, this simply smacks of petty tyrant shit. A man with no plan except to show up, terrorize the staff into submission, surround himself with loyalists he doesn’t even have the confidence in to subject them to normal hiring practices. Because… well, because… that’s what he was hired to do.

If Gene Jones has no plan other than to wreak havoc on the TCHC, it is simply the sad reflection of the man who remains in his corner, defiantly. Let’s face it. Mayor Rob Ford’s approach to governance is no more extensive or involved than just that. Wreak havoc. Instill a culture of fear and intimidation. Surround himself with friends, allies and toadies to help him out in his righteous indignation with government. The Ford way.

The mayor’s never made much pretense in his attitude toward social housing and City Hall’s involvement in it. Privatize. Sell it off. Vouchers for tenants to contend out there in the free market. Governtexaschainsawmassacrement shouldn’t be in the business of…

You’ve heard that song and dance before.

I imagine in Mayor Ford’s eyes, Gene Jones did absolutely nothing wrong. He’s a doer not a talker. He gets things done, shakes it up a little. And if there’s a mess left behind, it’s hardly the fault of Gene Jones. It’s just further proof that anything government gets involved in just turns to shit. That’s what governments do best. Gene Jones, not unlike the mayor, is simply another victim to the ruinous presence of government in our lives.

obligingly submitted by Cityslikr