Bloodied Cesar (I Just Had To)

I will give Councillor Cesar Palacio (Ward 17 Davenport) credit for this much. Talk about having the stones to bad-mouth a major piece of infrastructure that runs right through the heart of your own ward. citybuildingInfrastructure built under your watch.

That takes some nerve, it does. Stepping up and announcing to anyone listening, hey. Look at this mess I helped create. Vote Palacio!

But this is exactly the route the councillor took after signing on to Team Ford in 2010. Aside from maybe the mayor and his brother, and perhaps Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston), nobody beat the drum about the St. Clair Disaster louder than Councillor Palacio. Never mind that most of the claims being made were untrue. Yes, the construction did not go smoothly. There were overruns in both time and money. Businesses along the strip suffered.

Don’t forget, however, Councillor Palacio was in office during all this. It’s not as if he inherited it. By yapping on about some perceived disaster, he’s basically announcing that he’s unfit for office. Almost like he’s daring voters not to support him.

Imagine being a resident up near St. Clair or a business along the strip, idareyou1and your local representative can’t seem to tell enough people about how bad things are there. I hear there’s a really good restaurant on St. Clair. Wanna go try it? I don’t know. I would but I hear it’s a nightmare up there. Or… or… You live near St. Clair? I hear it’s a real disaster. Who’d you hear that from? The guy you elected to represent you at City Hall.

Your councillor, Ward 17. Cesar Palacio. Advocating and fighting for your interests since 2003.

Councillor Palacio has been the closest thing downtown Toronto has to a bona fide member of Team Ford. He has accepted the role with particular relish, garnering himself a seat on the Executive Committee through his position as chair of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee. thumbsup3When Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s (Ward 7 York West) thumb fell out of favour or into disuse (was never sure which it was), Councillor Palacio, perched as he was directly behind the mayor, enthusiastically filled in, flashing his thumb to let folks know which way the mayor wanted them to vote.

Not that I’d imagine anyone followed his instructions. In fact, I’m not even sure the mayor was ever aware of what Councillor Palacio was doing. The gesture probably had more to do with the councillor signalling to everyone that he was behind Mayor Ford both literally and figuratively.

Despite the mayor’s recent woes, Councillor Palacio has remained a steadfast devotee although he did join the enemy’s list when he voted in favour of stripping the mayor of his powers. The councillor has been firm in his support of a Scarborough subway and against LRTs (because that’s what made St. Clair a disaster, don’t you know). He was part of the gang of 5 TTC commissioners who helped engineer the ouster of then CEO Gary Webster after he had the temerity to publicly suggest it best to stick with the LRT plan that was already in place and paid for by the provincial government. Councillor Palacio was, in turn, thumbsuprobfordunceremoniously dumped when then TTC chair Karen Stintz pulled off her own putsch (curiously however the councillor voted in favour of his own termination), booting those known as Ford loyalists from the board.

Ford loyalist.

I think that would be the most apt and probably only term I’d come up with if asked to describe the councillor’s time in office this term. What else can you say about Cesar Palacio? A Ford loyalist.

And like all Ford loyalists whose last name isn’t Ford, what did the councillor get in return for such fidelity and reliability?

Why just last week in these very virtual pages we reported how the councillor, in his capacity as chair of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee, overseeing the food truck issue, seemed to have been blindsided by the mayor’s motion to eliminate the 50 linear metre from any restaurant rule the councillor was proposing. gotyourback1Councillor Palacio asked the mayor if he realized it was his motion that the mayor was seeking to amend. So obviously there had been no consultation between them. The councillor also wanted to know if the mayor knew just how long it had taken to bang out the sort of compromise he was now seeking to undermine with his off-the-cuff motion.

Mayor Ford appeared indifferent to the councillor’s plaintive tone. That’s just the way he rolls, yo. Loyalty’s a one way street with him, baby.

Still, Councillor Palacio hasn’t come away empty handed with his toadying to the mayor.

Only in a Rob Ford administration could an undistinguished councillor like Cesar Palacio rise to the rank of a standing committee chair, even a lowly regarded one like Municipal Licensing and Standards. But hey. If a Frank Di Giorgio can become budget chief, the sky’s the limit for mediocrity. Chances are Councillor Palacio’s star will never shine as brightly (such as it) as it has for the past 3+ years, although I did spot him at the official launch of John Tory’s mayoral campaign, so his time in the sun may not yet be done.droppedball

The bigger question is, what have Ward 17 residents got in return for their councillor’s brush with power? Used as a political cudgel to fight a transit war across the city in Scarborough. Check. The implementation of the Ford agenda. Check. Fighting to remove a methadone clinic. Check.

Ummm… after that, I’m kind of drawing a blank.

After 10 years in office, you’d think Councillor Palacio and the ward he represents would have a lot more to show for it than that.

curiously submitted by Cityslikr

13 Responses to Bloodied Cesar (I Just Had To)

  1. Sonny says:

    Last week I ran into Alejandra Bravo who with the help of a shift in New Democrats in Davenport should beat Palacio & the other 2 candidates!

    Rob thinks the LRT is like the St. Clair street car as Soknacki challenged him in the first TV debate…

    Ford claims to be “vindicated” because 1 OPP officer threw out the theory that he was a “victim” of extortion. It was Alessandro Lisi that was arrested and charged; who based on the docs was looking for some video and threatening to rain down dirty cops in the hood…

  2. mike says:

    Time for him to go! Bravo gets the votes from my household.

    • Sonny says:

      I would recommend talking to your neighbours as well rather than have them read the melee below.

      Joe Mihvec (W21)who was also reelected many times despite the misinformation from S.O.S. has been a more articulate respondent on the benefits after the hard changes done by the TTC/ the City. He in fact does not vote with Ford much.

      The good news is that Palacio has never received more than 50% of votes cast. Schein and Cash were first elected in 2011…which bodes well for Bravo

  3. If you are going to write an article – research the facts!

    It is more than likely the case that you are not a business owner in Ward17 (who suffered economic losses) or a local resident who was opposed the St. Clair Right of Way project as it was implemented. To be opposed to the project does not mean that I am opposed to integrated, efficient transit…..my extreme opposition to this project stems entirely from the fact that the TTC and Mayor at the time were pushing through an agenda that DID NOT take into consideration how we (the local community) felt about the issue or any concerns we had with how they were proposing implementation ….nor did it take into account the fact that emergency vehicles would have an issue driving on the ROW, the bottleneck that would be created at St.Clair West and Keele Street and sadly the design of the new street cars that were meant to use the platform – which is why there is a need to continue spending millions more of tax payers dollars to fix this issue.

    Councillor Palacio was the only one who represented how we, the local community felt….I went to countless meetings that he hosted to give us an opportunity to pose our questions and concerns – the existing mayor at the time of course nowhere to be found and only city staff and TTC staff left to explain the “done deal” – Councillor Palacio spoke out loud and I recall participating in countless strategy meetings to see if there was anything at all we could do to stop the proposal of the ROW project and discuss other possible options that would address the transit issue in an inclusive way – where the local community would have a say and be heard. To suggest that this happened under Councillor Palacio’s watch – the fact is it did…but it was certainly not with his approval or support – he tried to represent our concerns every step of the way and am grateful to him for all he did to try to help us…..when the media finally picked up on the ROW issue at Councillor Palacio’s insistence – it was clear that the only person who was listening to our concerns was our local Councillor.

  4. Mike says:

    This is journalism? You are intentionally misrepresenting basic facts and the guy’s record. You don’t have to like the guy, but you have to be fair and accurate and can’t just make things up to suit your desire to smear him.

    Cesar Palacio is Toronto’s first hispanic City Councillor. He speaks four languages and represents one of the most immigrant heavy and blue collar areas of the City. It is well known and indisputable that his community was up in arms over the proposed construction of the exclusive right-of-way which increased traffic on community streets, cost more than double the original estimates, and didnt even improve transit service(!). He also had to represent his community which submitted a petition of over 12,000 names from his ward alone against it. The TTC ITSELF commissioned an independent report which concluded that it was a “fiasco”: http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/01/19/12534386.html It was handled so badly that it actually managed to give transit service improvement a bad name. Cesar was the only one saying this all along as it was happening. The rest of Council came around to the same realization only much later. We owe the guy a thank you for shining a light on this, and hopefully the TTC staff will learn from their mistakes, which they pledged to. None of this is in dispute.

    As for infrastructure, under Cesar’s watch Ward 17 literally has had more infrastructure spending than any other Ward in the City of Toronto some years. That is success under the Miller regime and the Ford regime – and what happens when you focus on what matters and not simply waste your day blowing hot air at City Hall and in the press (as many councillors do). How many Councillors have secured a new Police Station in the last 10 years where there wasnt one before? Answer: 1 – Cesar Palacio, 11 Division. To offer another easy recent example: very, very few Councillors have managed to get funding to do something like this: http://breakingprojects.com/junctioneer/cesar-palacio-on-the-ward-11-and-17-regarding-widening-the-road-at-st-clair-and-keele-between-old-weston-rd-keele/ which somehow he has.

    I dont mean to be rude but dont write the guy off just because he has an accent. He actually delivers rather than just issuing press releases or making inflammatory statements about one another like most Councillors waste their day doing.

    As for “team Ford” – get a clue. He has been a prominent (and card carrying) LIBERAL since the days of Pierre Trudeau. He puts it on his signs for god’s sake and prominently campaigns for every liberal in every Davenport election. When a new Mayor starts offering jobs on the Executive they usually try to secure a geographic/ethnic/gender balance. Cesar is one of the few visable minorities on Council and is from the former City of Toronto. He is also not an NDPer (which almost every other Councillor in the former City of Toronto is). It is no wonder that Ford offered him a prominent job if he wanted it. Just like Ford put Anthony Peruzza on the Executive, or David Miller put Gloria Lindsay Luby or Brian Ashton on his. It is not a cabinet. Cesar votes against the Mayor all the time, including as you reluctantly point out, to take away most of his powers. How do you reconclie this?

    I could go on for pages more, but when someone is obviously out to smear (or “swiftboat”) someone, as you seem to be in this case, more facts generally do little good.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr. Mike,

      We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke never, ever claimed to be journalists. So no, this isn’t journalism. We pretty much wear our political bias on our sleeves.

      That said, most of our criticism of the councillor is post 2010 where he still continues to call St. Clair a disaster. Is it? Some kind of deserted streetscape where nobody ventures and stores and offices are boarded up like some ghost town?

      We never said that the building of the ROW was all hunky dory, roses and cocktails. We know there were severe problems, poorly thought out design elements, over budget and way over time. So what that the councillor can look back and say, I told you so? That hardly suggests good local representation in our minds.

      As for Councillor Palacio’s voting record vis-a-vis the mayor. Did you check the link in the post? On many of the big issues of this term, the councillor has voted along with the mayor more than 80% of the time. What do you mean he votes against him ‘all the time’?

      And as for us writing the guy off just because he has an accent. Where did we say that? Seems like you’re just petulantly tossing stones now.

      • Simon Says says:

        “We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke never, ever claimed to be journalists.” let that sink in for a moment.

      • cityslikr says:

        Dear Mr. Says,

        We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have taken the moment, let it sink in.

        Please continue…

  5. Mike says:

    That is simply not accurate. You are emphatic that you are not a journalist (implying that therefore standards of truth and fact-checking dont apply to you), but that is no defense for slandering someone.

    You should read and understand your own links before citing them. The link you reference arbitrarily selects a few dozen votes from over 3 years of Council meetings and assigns a percentage to each Councillor. (It is amusing that these clearly appear to be many of the votes that ended up along NDP/non-NDP lines). You have stated that means Cesar votes with the Mayor 80% of the time. In fact, it only establishes that he voted with the Mayor 80% of a random sampling of about a dozen votes taken from among literally hundreds, if not thousands, over the same period of time.

    I strongly encourage you to attend a City Council meeting sometime. Or read the minutes, (here is a recent example: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewPublishedReport.do?function=getCouncilMinutesReport&meetingId=7850). If you do you will see that the vast majority of votes do not break down along NDP/non-NDP lines, as that highly selective sampling does. Very often they break down along geographic lines, or are non-controversial altogether, or break down in almost innumerable different combinations that have no regard for “left” or “right” (granted – those votes dont conform to a very specific black and white, “us” versus “them” view of the world that unfortunately, some people like you have. Although I concede that thinking about complex isues in such a black and white way makes it very easy to feel righteous and knowledgable, while the full colour truth does the opposite). Council is not the house of commons, where parties exist and vote in block, and the exact outcome is known before the vote is even taken based on attendance alone. You can literally cherry-pick a dozen votes out of thousands to show that any Councillor is, for the purposes of that narrow group of specific votes, “allied” or “opposed” to anyone. To completely debunk that laughable logic in a way you can’t deny: since Cesar voted as frequently with Karen Stintz (and voted to make her Chair of the TTC!), he must be on “team Stintz” and must be endorsing her and vice versa and must have views indivisible from hers. That doesnt make sense. Yet it is exactly what you are suggesting with the word “stintz” substituted for the Mayor. You are smart enough to realize that what you have suggested along those lines is simply ridiculous. I suppose though that once a person makes up their mind that they hate someone myopia often takes over. Logic is shown the door and confirmation bias takes hold until eventually an article like the one you wrote actually makes sense in some twisted way.

    I’m sure that this will come as an unprocessable shock to someone in that condition, but not everyone shares that highly partisan and superficial black and white view of the world. In fact, some people actually vote for things based on what their community asks them to do, or what they think is right, (even if someone objectionable has the same idea). That might even include raising new revenue to pay for a subway, if they think that is the right decision, even if you don’t. The fact that someone detestable may also vote for it (or someone detestable proposed it), doesn’t pre-determine everyone’s position on it, even if it naively does yours. Some people actualy judge things on the merits, and dont simply vote the opposite way out of fear that narrow-minded people may use it to either intentionally smear them, or legitimately dont understand that voting to build a subway for the next 100 years has almost nothing important to do with the person who proposed it, who probably wont be around even a few more months.

    I hesitate to even waste my time debunking the rest of your post, because you’re probably tone-deaf to anything that doesn’t reinforce your black and white world view – but I will mention briefly that it is well documented that Cesar has secured literally millions of dollars for everything on St. Clair from parkettes (@ glenholme, st. clair gardens, caledonia, prescott, to name a few), murals (@ appleton, caledonia) to facade improvement funding, to the Shop St. Clair program, to funding for festivals, etc, etc, etc. He has been endorsed by and works with all of the local BIAs and the St. Clair West Revitalization Committee to achieve these goals. Saying that he doesnt like St. Clair for simply repeating verbatim from the TTC’s own reports – that the St. Clair ROW is a “disaster” – is like accusing someone of being “anti-islands” or “anti-waterfront” if they say the island airport has made the waterfront a disaster. Sheesh.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Mr Mike,

      Before we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke continue to debate you on this, we’d like you to clear up a couple things if you don’t mind. Since we’re being so up front and open, would you please confirm for us that you were once in the employ of Councillor Palacio, as his executive assistant?

      Two. Slander? Do please elaborate.

  6. dobsonic says:

    Councillor Palacio, the guy who complains about issues AFTER they happen on his watch liked the bridge over St. Clair at Keele that somehow it never dawned on him might need widening (a few others didnt either). Or how about his video he played in council that “showed ” St. Clair was a mess? The video that was of the only non developed corner along St. Clair (and which is now being developed) but failed to show massive redevelopment on the other 3 corners. Ward 17 deserves so much better.

  7. mike says:

    Looks like some of palacios staff is posting. St clair was a hard road during the revamp but it is light years better. Palacio I’m sure is a nice man but his time has come. Just time for a fresh voice in ward 17.

  8. Lloyd Alter says:

    Great post and totally true. You see Joe Mihevic cutting ribbons on new condos and restaurants and going out of his way to build up St. Clair. Go west of Winona (where I live) and it is a different world.

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