That’s how close Mayor John Tory came to inadvertently winning Councillor Rob Ford’s business travel expense item for him at last week’s city council meeting. One vote.
I say ‘inadvertently’ since I’m giving the mayor the benefit of the doubt on this one. He spoke out forcefully against it, seconding Councillor Justin Di Ciano’s opinion that the item was nothing more than ‘grandstanding’ on the former mayor’s part. He just pushed the wrong button, green instead of red. Understandable, since in the back of your mind Councillor Ford pretty much always votes ‘no’, so if you’re standing opposed to the councillor, you reflexively vote ‘yes’. Mayor Tory did, and narrowly avoided the embarrassing situation of speaking against something and turning around to vote in favour of it.
The mayor wasn’t alone, it seems, in his confusion. During the revote — permitted on the mayor’s behalf because it wouldn’t change the outcome of the vote — two other members of council, Frank Di Giorgio and Mary-Margaret McMahon, also flipped sides. What had been a nail biter the first time around (one vote), turned out to be a more comfortable 19-12 defeat of Councillor Ford’s motion.
(Let it be noted here, by those who think me overly hyper-critical of Mayor Tory, how I cut him some slack on this gaffe. I didn’t go to the darker place of thinking maybe he was trying to play both sides, have his cake and eat it too, speak out against but vote for, hoping no one would notice. No. Flubbed votes happen to the best of them.)
The mayor’s goof, and the subsequent prolonged process in his taking a mulligan on the vote, only served to add credence to Councillor Ford’s motion when all it really deserved was dismissive contempt. Was it all about grandstanding? You betcha. But add to that, counter-productive nitpicking that probably cost more to debate than it would ever save the city if implemented.
Do you know what the number was Councillor Ford’s motion entailed? The total amount city councillors’ claimed for business travel expenses? Total? In 2014, it came to $42,672.09. $42,672.09. That’s under $1000/per city council member/year.
Or, in terms of an almost $11 billion annual operating budget, 0.0000039 of that. Not sure I have the right number of zeroes, there are so many of them. That’s not even rounding error.
Councillor Ford didn’t necessarily begrudge the $100 per diem. He just wanted receipts to prove a city councillor travelling on business spent that amount. If they didn’t, they’d only get reimbursed the amount they did spend. We’re now wading into the Fordian weeds of infinitesimally small savings but symbolically charged tubthumping. Never mind the time lost to staff tallying up receipts rather than just signing off on established per diems.
But we already knew that. That’s always been this councillor’s schtick. Rather than take time questioning his motives, time would be better spent running those numbers by him. It was a nuisance motion, ultimately endorsed by 12 city councillors who should be ashamed of themselves for contributing to the myth Rob Ford needs perpetuated in order to remain relevant.
Given Councillor Ford couldn’t be at the meeting to personally defend his item, why not just let it slide by pretty much unnoticed instead of breathing life into it and, on Mayor Tory’s part, almost passing it into law by accident? Sure. The councillor was grandstanding. No surprise there. But grandstanding back is still grandstanding, giving more notice to it than it ever deserved.
— contestedly submitted by Cityslikr
“counter-productive nitpicking that probably cost more to debate than it would ever save the city if implemented.” is our strength.
#N&DTD (Nickel and Dimed to Death)
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