Civic Inaction

May 1, 2015

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member,” Groucho Marx is said to have quipped.

I thought of that quote as I followed along with the proceedings of this week’s Better City Bootcamp hosted by the venerable CivicAction Alliance. grouchomarxSuch righteous goals. Vital breakout sessions. Elevated discourse about city building.

But through it all, the one thing that kept dancing, pogo-style, around my head was: John Tory. John Tory. John Tory. John Tory.

Good intentions may pave the road to hell but I’m wondering if they also provide solid footing for entry level access into the entrenched status quo.

Is that too harsh?

I know people speak very highly and fondly of CivicAction’s founder, the late David Pecault and his Toronto City Summit Alliance, CivicAction’s early incarnation. There’s no reason for me to doubt those sentiments. Nor is there any reason for me to doubt the integrity and good intentions of those now at the helm of the organization.

It’s just… It’s John Tory, dammit.

What does it say to a group of aspiring community leaders that no matter what kind of  ideas or novel approaches you may have in dealing with some of the problem issues this city faces, congestion or youth employment say, you leave those ideas and approaches behind the moment you get into any position of real, elected power? Thinking outside the box is all well and good when there’s nothing at stake, when you’re just making suggestions not decisions. Once you’re out there in the real world, well, come on. It’s the real world. marxbrothersThinking outside the box is just an empty phrase you say to make it seem like you’re open-minded and all about shaking up the status quo.

Take the former CivicAction chair and now actual mayor of Toronto, the aforementioned John Tory.

Remember CivicAction John Tory and their Your 32 campaign? What would you do with an extra 32 minutes in the day if our commute times were reduced through a grand investment in public transit? That campaign, led by CivicAction John Tory (and, not coincidentally, former CEO and now Liberal government M.P.P. Mitzi “Subway Champion” Hunter), demanded our politicians start having an adult conversation about new revenue tools to pay for it. Evidently both of them have forgotten the particulars of that campaign.

“Indeed, the public has figured out,” CivicAction Tory speechified back in 2013, “that transit plans without money are almost worse than no transit plans at all because they create nothing but false hopes.”

That was CivicAction John Tory. Mayor Tory has offered up SmartTrack, a largely unfunded transit plan, creating ‘nothing but false hopes’. CivicAction John Tory’s words not mine.

So how does he face the gathering at CivicAction’s Better City Bootcamp?

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Be bold. Be innovative. Be tireless in your pursuit of doing the right thing. Just don’t expect any of that from anybody holding public office.marxbrothers1

Dare to dream. Prepare to embrace disappointment. Change that threatens the status quo can be talked about, hashed over in forums like we’ve gathered together for here. Implementation is another matter entirely.

Democracy’s all well and good. I’m as big a fan of it as there is. But there are limits. Corporate boardrooms are where the real action is. If you want to wield ultimate power and influence, put on your networking hat and get yourself mingling out in these hallways today.

Thank you very much and have a good day.

John Tory is living, breathing proof of the stunted policy positions corporate drenched organizations like CivicAction will ultimately affect. Hyperbole? Check out the board of directors or, as they like to think of themselves, “A Team of Strategic Thinkers”. The man chosen to replace Tory as the group’s chair, Rod Phillips, is yet another product of corporate and political backrooms. Chief of staff to former mayor Mel Lastman. A staffer with Tory during his time as provincial Progressive Conservative leader. Former mucky muck of OLG and now mucky muck with Postmedia.

These are not people who will be advocating for fundamental social change. They have it pretty good as it is. Tweaks to the system will suffice. Reasonable, common sense tweaks, you understand.

Look at Tory’s mayoralty so far to see the kind of changes CivicAction players really stand for. See it? Look harder. marxbrothers2Anything? No? Yeah, me neither.

I don’t know if this is the kind of vehicle David Pecault envisioned when he established the organization back a dozen years ago, if John Tory is the kind of leader he wanted to see step up to tackle the problems the city faces. If so, it was doomed to failure from the start. A failure, that is, for everyone else but the establishment types like John Tory who use the organization as a false patina to give them the appearance of being agents of change and not the standard bearers of the status quo which is what they truly are.

contrarily submitted by Cityslikr


Civic Inaction

June 4, 2014

Listening to the new CEO of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, Sevaun Palvetzian, on Metro Morning yesterday,listeningtotheradio the thought crossed my mind just as host Matt Galloway articulated it. “What has that got us?” That, being the type of advocacy and public discourse generating the GTCAA undertakes. The harnessing ‘the wisdom of the crowds”, as Ms. Palvetzian stated.

The GTCAA has been on the forefront of the region’s congestion question during the past couple years or so. Its Your32 campaign sought to bring home the total cost of congestion to each individual living in the GTHA, not just in terms of money but time lost as well. What would you do with the extra 32 minutes you’d gain if we all weren’t bogged down in traffic and under-serviced by public transit?

Get building more transit, the group chimed in. Fund it. Build it. Push on with The Big Move. Now.

A great discussion to be having but where’s the action, Civic Action Alliance? doitdoitdoitThe follow through? The results?

That’s probably too harsh. New transit is being built. The University-Spadina subway extension. The Eglinton LRT crosstown.

But there’s a shitload more to do and lots of questions about project priorities and where to get the money to fund them. Questions the GTCAA participated in asking and promoting to a wider audience for a broader discussion. The group helped create a real sense of urgency on the transit file.

And then, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum of decision making.

John Tory, the former GTCAA chair, and the former CEO Mitzi Hunter, both left the organization to pursue political positions. civicactionallianceMs. Hunter won a seat in the provincial legislature for the Liberal government in a Scarborough by-election last summer and is running for re-election in the current general election. Mr. Tory is seeking the job of mayor of Toronto.

I think it’s safe to say that neither candidate has pursued the transit issue with the same zeal they had back in their GTCAA days. Hunter, mysteriously, became the Scarborough Subway Champion as part of the Liberal’s backroom politicization of the transit file in order to retain the seat, backing the more expensive and less expansive subway plan over the original Big Move LRT extension of the Bloor-Danforth line eastward. A switch Tory also favours as part of his mayoral campaign. We’re hearing little from either one of them about any sort of funding tools beyond the dedicated property tax increase for the Scarborough subway. coginthemachineRather than agents of change, they’ve settled into the role of obstructionists.

Writing this, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that politics is where bold ideas go to die. Give a listen to the Metro Morning segment following the interview with Ms. Palvetzian. Three party appointed talking heads spouting talking points ahead of the provincial leaders’ debate last night. Oh, that leaders’ debate last night! The boldest vision based on a monumental lie and the other two just carefully calculated poses.

We can talk all we want, hash out plans, harness the wisdom of crowds, but if those we elect to implement such wisdom shrug off the responsibility of doing so, what’s it matter? Do we just accept the role of demanding big change while settling for incremental?

This is where political apathy sets in. “Where has that got us?” as Matt Galloway asked. What’s it matter? talkingheadsOur political leaders are listening to someone but it sure as hell ain’t us.

And I have to tell you, news that the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance had named Rod Phillips as its new chair of the board brought me no great comfort either. Searching through his bio, nothing jumped out at me that screamed civic-minded. Maybe I’m missing something but this is someone who until just recently was the head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming, a provincial government Crown corporation that spearheaded the push for a casino on the city’s waterfront. Civic-minded? Really?

Perhaps we need to stop looking for outside help in solving our problems. Reading Marcus Gee’s 2009 article about the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance’s (originally known as the Toronto City Summit Alliance) founder, the late David Pecaut, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe he had it wrong.

“The message of his [Pecaut] life is that you don’t need to beat City Hall,” Gee wrote. “You can go around it. straightlinefromAtoBRather than wait for the creaking cogs of official machinery to turn, he learned to build networks of interested parties, private and public, that could forge ahead on their own.”

Maybe instead of trying to go around City Hall or Queen’s Park, we should expend our energy going through them. I think it borders on the delusional to think the major issues of our time – congestion, inequality, climate change – can be addressed without government signing on.  “Let’s just go out and do it, and tell City Hall when we’re done,” Mr. Pecaut is quoted as saying. How about we cut out the middle man, and just go out and take control of City Hall?

If we’re really fed up with politics, with the inaction we’re seeing on almost every front, the conversation shouldn’t be about whether or not to vote or what the proper way to decline a ballot is. It’s long past that. getinvolved1We should all be looking for and demanding to see candidates on the ballot who reflect our values and aspirations. Rarely, in my experience, has that not been the case.

Sure, many have been longshots and no-hopers. As long as we stay on the sidelines or remain content to hold our nose and vote for the least worst option, that’ll continue to be the case. Our time and energy would be better spent trying to change that dynamic rather than passively accept it and trying to work around it.

challengingly submitted by Cityslikr


What’s The Story With John Tory?

October 17, 2010

I was asked the other day what it was we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke would write about after October 25th. Pointing out that life does go on after an election, and a city will be run – for good or ill — regardless of who does the winning next Monday, so it will probably be more important to follow what’s going from that point than it was throughout the campaign. That’s when they can do the most damage.

“One thing I definitely won’t be doing after October 25th,” I went on, “is listening to another single word that comes out of John Tory’s mouth.” Unless I were to find myself mysteriously trapped inside a demonically possessed car during a weekday sometime between the hours of 4 and 7 pm, the radio dial refusing to budge from Newstalk 1010, driving me to the brink of insanity. I rule nothing out. Odder things have happened.

It seems almost as if we’ve come full circle since our debut post, way back on the first official day of campaign 2010. We exhorted Mr. Tory not to enter the race as we believed that he really brought nothing but baggage to the table. It was nip and tuck there for awhile, as he hummed and hawed, Hamlet-style, before officially declining sometime in late August. Pheee-ew, we thought. That’s that.

And yet the man hung around, always lurking near the spotlight, a regular debate moderator. Now, I realize Tory’s a Toronto media figure and wasn’t the only one of that breed who took part in the process. But he was treated as something more, like some civic sage, successor of David Pecault at the helm of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. An agent positive change.

Now come the much heralded and desirable John Tory endorsements. Candidates (challengers and incumbents alike) flaunting His benevolent tap on their shoulder as the chosen one of their respective ward. Vote For Us Because John Tory Would If He Lived Here.

Can I just take a moment and remind everyone that JOHN TORY WAS NEVER MAYOR! He lost the 2003 election after which, he did not stick around to contribute to the general well being of the city, but moved on to bumble and stumble through the vast wilderness of provincial politics, before getting chewed up and spit out back here. You don’t like the notion of a career politician? How do you feel about a failed career politician?

As a professional pontificator doing his schtick on the talk radio circuit, Tory has done his part to create the atmosphere of Toronto being a failed city under the Miller administration. Wise, objective truth telling or a little personal score settling; burnishing his own halo as the one that got away? If only we’d voted for John Tory in 2003, things would be so much better now…

A second reminder, folks. Before declaring himself a candidate for mayor back in 2003, a certain John Tory was a member of the infamous Mel Lastman ‘kitchen cabinet’. Ahhhh, Mel Lastman. Remember that guy? He and his cronies bear much responsibility for whatever financial straits the city finds itself in now with their ill-advised property tax freeze (hello, George Smitherman) and outright refusal to deal with the financial realities taking shape under amalgamation. As corrupt (of the official, MFP kind as opposed to the Rob Ford pretend stuff) as it was inept, it left behind a city reeling under not only weak governance but more than a little red-faced out there on the international stage. From that, we are to somehow jump to the conclusion that John Tory would’ve made a great mayor.

No, in more perfect world, a John Tory endorsement would be treated as pure poison to any candidacy. Yeah, thanks for that, Mr. Tory. But you know, my opponent has a lot to offer too. Here, take a look at their campaign literature. You’re going to like what you see. Instead, it’s a big deal to be trumpeted, perhaps even a game-changer in a close race. That says as much about the truly twisted nature of this campaign than even the fact of Rob Ford being one of the front runners. Unimaginable, lamentable and more than a little unsettling.

exasperatedly submitted by Cityslikr


Vision Quest I

September 17, 2010

This one’s mine.

My colleagues here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are too compromised. Too caught up in the race. Too waist deep into the mindset of strategic voting and settling for A.B.F.

I am an old hippie. It’s not a label I shun. In fact, I embrace it.

As an old hippie, I retain a mighty mistrust of institutions, especially those ones that influence us greatly but seem impervious to our presence. Those we can only ignore as our last line of defense against them. The media is one such entity. For our purposes here, the media is the Man.

From the very beginning of this municipal campaign, we were presented a 6 candidate menu. Six candidates and six candidates only. Three sitting councillors. One former deputy premier of Ontario. Two neophytes, picked from the ether of political backrooms and media social circles. A couple of the councillors switched up and another dropped out, leaving us with a choice of five. All neatly wrapped and parceled out for our viewing/listening pleasure/displeasure.

When the people called out, hey, there’s an empty chair at the table, half-hearted measures were taken on occasion to fill it. With a 2nd Rocco, possessor of similar skills to the other five and a comparably uninspiring set of ideas. He proved ineffectual (no less so than Sarah Thomson but she remains) and soon fizzled out.

So there are 5.

Anything more would just be messy, we are told. Unruly. Counter-productive. These are your five choices. These are the ones you will see on your TV and read about in the newspapers. Choose.

I have another idea.

HiMY SYeD, the Peoples’ Mayor. He was featured here back in June, just after he’d popped in for cup of coffee on stage at the Better Ballots debate. “We’ve Had Enough Cowboys in City Hall, Now It’s Time for an Indian!” A hell of a punch line and we could leave it at that except for the fact that Mr. SYeD has proven to be much more than a gag candidate.

Following him since then or, at least trying to, as the man seems to be everywhere at once, it’s clear that he is a candidate worthy of careful consideration. A ferocious Tweeter, his constant updates reveal an individual at home with workings of the municipal government. It is in this writer’s humble opinion that HiMY SYeD is more knowledgeable about how City Hall operates than any of the other candidates save for, perhaps, Joe Pantalone. While council was still in session, he’d be there at meetings, deputations, community councils, all while campaigning. At the debates, he’d give real times answers to the questions that were posed as if he had been invited to participate.

He never has been which remains something of a nagging mystery. Invites have been extended and then retracted with no explanation attached. No one wants him involved it’s clear, from the candidates to debate organizers, begging the question why.

My take on it is simple. For all the talk of change we’re hearing during this election, it’s all nothing more than cosmetic change. No, that’s not quite right. Some of the proposed changes are quite radical in fact. But none meant to make the lives of Torontonians any better. The changes being offered up by Mssrs. Ford, Smitherman, Rossi and Ms. Thomson all amount to nothing other than telling the people of this city to expect less. That’s what comes from tax and spending cuts and hiring freezes.

Change for HiMY SYeD’s is a whole lot different than that. To try and understand his approach to change, one needs to look at the politics of Jaime Lerner. A 3 term mayor of Curitiba, Brazil’s 7th largest city, he is credited with helping turn around what was a typical South American urban environment, dirty, crime-ridden and intensely segregated along a gaping economic divide. By using the immediate, easy accessible tools at his disposal, Lerner transformed Curitiba into a prime example of greener, more sustainable, equitable and more livable city.

Despite what 80% of our front running candidates are bellowing at us, compared to the problems and difficulties cities in the developing world face, ours are mild and we have far more resources to deal with them. Hence, Mr. SYeD’s calm and considered approach to change. Or what he calls, transformation. “Change is no longer enough,” according to Mr. SYeD.

Vision 2020 offers a glimpse into Mr. SYeD’s thinking about change/transformation. Calling it “an integrated 10 year strategy of hope in Toronto” (some of which voters might recognize as recent additions to a few of the leading  mayoral candidates’ platforms and announcements), it consists of 3 simple ideas. Mobility. Sustainability. Identity.

From those come specific ideas. A move to complete streets which is not a War on Cars but rather an acknowledgement that in a healthy city, private vehicles can no longer have primacy on the roads. Designate neighbourhoods that develop and implement sustained and green technology for the city to use. SaTuRN. Sustainable Architectural Technological Urban Research Neighbourhood District. Bring about an elected comptroller for the city to deal with our finances. According to Mr. SYeD, Toronto doesn’t have a spending problem. It has a borrowing problem. In terms of increasing citizen involvement with the city, Vision 2020 proposes neighbourhood councils to be elected annually and with a real say in what happens in their neighbourhoods.

HiMY SYeD wants to bring about what he calls, “Transformational Regime”. What’s that, you ask? I’ll let him explain it.

A Transformational Regime built upon the foundations of three faculties:

1) Strategic Alliance — A stable, highly committed group of political, economic, and social interests that share a common strategic purpose. We have it already: The Toronto City Summit Alliance.

2) Local Practices of Urbanism — The planning processes, technical solutions, designs, and business models that shape the way Toronto is built, serviced and used so as to achieve our defined strategic purpose.

3) Strategic Institutions — A dedicated institutional apparatus responsive to the alliance, for developing, testing, and diffusing our new practices of urbanism.

These three faculties form a practice “regime” with the stability and power to transform urban form, regional markets, and local culture to establish a New Urbanism in Toronto.

The key is putting more power into the hands of the people rather than the top down, institutional change the leading candidates are vowing to inflict on us. Thus, HiMY SYeD, the Peoples’ Mayor. A pie in the sky dreamer? No. I’d call it dreaming little to bring about big changes.

More to the point, HiMY SYeD has proven himself to be a viable candidate who deserves to be heard. Those of us in the city looking for real change deserve to hear him, to see him up on stage with those who’ve been designated as our only choices. Denying him access only heightens suspicion that real change is being denied us.

So start to holler and demand that space be made for you to hear HiMY SYeD. Go to ArtsVote and vote for him to be the 6th candidate at their debate on September 29th. He deserves it. We deserve it.

Last word to Mr. SYeD:

Vision 2020 – Another Toronto is Possible. A Twenty Year Urban Strategy embracing Mobility, Sustainability, Identity — Where Everyone feels and says, “We Belong”.

“We Belong, Here.”

— assertively submitted by Acaphlegmic


A Ray Of Sun-Shine

July 15, 2010

It’s easy if you follow politics for enough hours of the day to find your ugly, surly side. Gone are our Capraesque notions of the nobility in public service, if ever they existed outside of, well, Frank Capra movies. We have grown to expect the worst in anyone who offers themselves up for political office. What are they really angling for? What’s the matter with them anyway, can’t they find a real job? How many times have you heard this sign off on a discussion of politics? A plague on all their houses!

Certainly a municipal mayoral campaign like the one we’re experiencing currently in Toronto does little to buoy a person’s outlook. Government, bureaucracy, they are the enemy. Anyone speaking in favour of the public good cannot be trusted and is suspected of wanting to only pad their own nest. Ill-temper and mean-spiritedness rule the tone of discourse.

So what a long, cool glass of water it was attending a fundraiser last night for Ward 19 councillor hopeful, Karen Sun. Check your cynicism at the door, please. This here be a can-do zone.

(Even writing that I can feel every atrophied editorial muscle in my body screaming – OK, squeaking – don’t write that, don’t write that! Unless you’re being facetious. Are you being facetious? If you’re being facetious, that’s OK then. As long as everyone knows you’re being facetious. Will they know you’re being facetious?

What is wrong with me?!)

I had myself a very pleasant and upbeat experience at a political fundraiser is what I’m trying to say without getting all embarrassed and fearful of losing whatever edge cred I might have. The room was full of positive talk and energetic people who weren’t ashamed about expressing a desire to contribute to the building of this city rather than ripping it apart. Yes, there were some dark discussions about the odious possibility of a Mayor Rob Ford and the clusterfuck that was the G20, yet it was mostly background noise. A soft, discordant noise that vaguely grated but never imposed.

As for the candidate herself, Karen Sun, well, she is, or should be, considered a serious contender in Ward 19. She brings a decade of experience working and volunteering with and around the city on numerous environmental issues which is clearly her métier. But her resumé is also full to bursting with work on matters like immigration, human rights and sitting on advisory committees like Toronto’s Emergency Medical and Fire Services. Civic groups like the Maytree Foundation, Toronto City Summit Alliance and Diverse City have tapped Ms. Sun for her leadership capabilities.

However, she will be up against it in the council race in the form of Michael Layton, son of you know who, and who’s already picked up the endorsement of outgoing councillor and mayoral candidate, Joe Pantalone. Mr. Pantalone did himself no favours around this office with that move which smacked of old school horse trading. My machine for your machine? Michael Layton will have to bring his A-game to the table if he wants to convince us that he would better represent Ward 19 at City Hall than Karen Sun would.

For progressive minded voters out there, this may be the key to a successful election outcome in the fall. Let the mayoralty chips fall where they may, hoping for the best of a worst lot and concentrate your energies on electing council candidates like Karen Sun. Yes, that would be handing over the bully pulpit that is the mayor’s office to some disagreeable views and opinions, lending them credence and traction. But the mayor still only carries one vote and if they can’t muster 22 likeminded councillors to their way of thinking then it will all be nothing but bluster.

So maybe candidates like Karen Sun are the way forward and the hope for breaking through the darkness that has descended on civic life in this city.

shinily and happily submitted by Cityslikr


Time To Get Serious. Seriously.

July 7, 2010

If anyone wants to see just how out of touch Toronto’s 5 front running candidates for mayor are on one of the more pressing matters the city faces, they should take a glance through Toronto City Summit Alliance’s recently issued Time To Get Serious: Reliable Funding For GTHA Transit/Transportation Infrastructure report. Seriously. It’s not nearly as dense as the title suggests. Even just a quick read through the 7 page executive summary would do the trick. Wouldn’t hurt the 5 candidates in question to familiarize themselves with the document either.

The first thing that jumps out from the pages is what the report refers to as our glaring lack of a National Federal-Provincial Transit Strategy. We are the only OECD country that doesn’t have one. The only country. Let me repeat that because it bears repeated repeating. Canada is the only member country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that has no overarching national strategy for public transit.

That means the Slovak Republic has one and we don’t. Turkey has one and we don’t. The most free market oriented country around, the United States has one and Canada doesn’t.

Without a National Federal-Provincial Transit Strategy, there is little hope of securing stable, long term funding for big ticket transit initiatives. What that leaves us with is the present ad hoc, most politically expedient mish mash of projects that get money (or don’t) depending on whim, the weather or some other inconsequential intangible. That’s not a strategy and leads inexorably to the traffic and transit chaos we now have making our lives miserable.

Now wait, wait, I hear you saying. A National Federal-Provincial Transit Strategy? So what’s that got to do with our mayoral race? Mayor means municipal, right?

Yes it does. What a National Federal-Provincial Transit Strategy means in terms of the ongoing mayoral race is that candidates running for the office must stop talking about the city going “hat in hand” or “begging” the province for the proper transit funding. “Getting our fiscal house in order” has nothing to do with the province (or Ottawa ultimately) doing its part — no, duty — when it comes to transit. Conflating those two ideas is disingenuous and entirely beside the point.

Demanding that the provincial and federal levels of government participate fully and equally in the development of a city and region wide transit plan and financing is neither begging nor going hat in hand. As the TCSA report shows again and again, this city and greater region cannot address issues of congestion, traffic induced pollution and transit coordination without the province and feds sitting down at the table not on their wallets. Pretending otherwise is simply pandering and short-sighted.

So what’s a would-be mayor to do about recalcitrant senior levels of government?

First, speak truth to power. Stop enabling our Prime Ministers, Premiers, M.P.s, M.P.P.s to walk away from the issue of transit. They are the laggards on this not us, and have been for decades now. We have not dropped the ball, so shouldn’t be apologizing and acting all Oliver Twist-y, asking for please sir, more. It is not begging to demand every level of government own up to its responsibilities. Mr. Rossi? There was a deal in place with Transit City. All the ducks were in order, the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Guess who reneged and pulled a cool 4 bil from the table? The province. Guess why. Their fiscal house wasn’t in order.

Secondly, stop coming up with magical, unrealistic ways that you’re going to build all those subways we apparently want. Selling Toronto Hydro? A fraction of what is needed. And if it were so easy to get the private sector on board to build and/or operate our transit, don’t you think they’d already be at it? We’ll just sell the air rights over new subway statio—zzzzzzzzz.

Try this one on instead, Rob Ford:

As mentioned in Section 2.4, the reliable, long-term revenue streams from such funding sources will make it possible to issue bonds for the up-front investment capital needed…using the revenue streams to make interest payments and repay the borrowed capital over the lifetime of the new rapid transit facilities. Such debt financing not only expedites the construction schedule but also enables the private sector [bolding ours] to participate – along with the public sector – in raising capital. This, in turn, makes it possible to spread the financing risk between the public and private sectors [again, us] and harness more fully the productive capability of the latter public/private partnerships (PPP) [and again] and alternative funding and procurement (AFP) arrangements.

There is no single, silver bullet solution to restoring our transit system back to a working state. According to the TCSA report, “… it seems clear that more than one of the potential [funding] sources will be required – no single source would be sufficient.” In other words, it’s going to be complicated. Not only that, but the TCSA suggested funding sources consist of either tolls, taxes and/or levies. Ouch! That’s going to be hard to gibe with your slashing, burning, union busting and general all-round anti-tax platforms now, isn’t it. Finding efficiencies will not build this city a better transit system.

Near the conclusion of its report the TCSA states that, The local governments in the GTHA have not always been up to the task of engaging residents in a constructive and open dialogue. Take heed, all those vying to be the next mayor of Toronto. If you can’t engage the voters “in a constructive and open dialogue” about transit on the campaign trail, it will inevitably lead to future disappointment and disillusionment once you assume office. Be honest and forthright about your goals and intentions. Start by reading this document and coming to terms with the reality of our transit situation. There are no easy solutions. Stop pretending there are.

badgeringly submitted by Cityslikr


John Tory Doesn’t Want To Be Mayor. Really.

June 23, 2010

With two or three campaigns under his belt, it now seems that John Tory has started to get the hang of all this political…stuff. Pronounce yourself uninterested in any further office seeking, grab a high profile gig that underlines your commitment to public service and talk politics five days a week on your very own AM radio show. Toss in a regular guest debate moderator spot for the handful of actual declared mayoral candidates anyone’s paying a lick of attention to and, presto magico, Tory’s getting all the publicity he needs to not run for mayor until he absolutely has to.

Because let’s face it, the campaign trail has not been an easy road to hoe for John Tory in the past. A multitude of reasons have been bandied about over why that is but the inescapable fact of the matter is he simply cannot light a big enough fire under a critical mass of the voting public to make a very serious go of it. And this very same electorate who won’t give him the time of day when Tory’s actually in a race loves him to pieces when he’s not running for office.

Tory’s finally figured out that dynamic and is now playing coy while maintaining an extremely high profile for someone who supposedly retired to private life after his last thrashing at the polls. The truly odd part of the story is that he’s being allowed to carry out this plan of attack in broad daylight without anyone saying so much as, hello, what’s all this then? If I were one of the leading six candidates who were forced to hash things out in public two, three, four times a week for all those interested to see and judge, I think Monday morning’s Urban Land Institute debate at the Toronto Board of Trade which Tory moderated would be the last one I’d be participating in with him still uncommitted, standing right up there beside me, looking all regal and non-partisan, able to merely ask questions and answer none. Of course he’s the more appealing mayoral prospect. He’s doing the scrutinizing not the one being scrutinized.

And what about the other 24 or so registered candidates for mayor? They can’t buy their way up on stage with the front runners while Tory simply strolls out onto the dais without even having to lay his $200 down. Hasn’t he had more than his fair share of kicks at the can? Step aside, Mr. Tory. You’ve already had your turn. It’s time to let the others play. It’s difficult watching this unfold and not have the notion of ‘entitlement’ enter your mind.

I know, I know. The man isn’t running for anything. He’s told us as much. On a fairly regular basis. Yet he is not shy about sharing the spotlight with the others who have made their intentions clear, remaining squeaky clean in the process while they get filthier and filthier, wallowing around in the muck and goo that comes with a 10 month campaign battle. Then, Richard the Third-like, it’s all “Oh, alright then. If you insist…” to the growing entreaties for him to get into the race.

If John Tory truly is not planning to run for mayor again this time around, instead of using his considerable position and societal weight to increase his own profile, he should be pushing for a widening of choices and for more inclusion of those “other” viable candidates whose voices have been ignored so far.  That’s what someone who was really concerned for the future of his city would do. Is that the kind of citizen John Tory is? I guess we’ll find out come September 10th at around 2pm or so.

submitted by Cityslikr