The 1st Day Of Christmas

And on the 1st day of Christmas… only now do I realize that I’ve done this all backward, the last being the 12th day not the 1st but then I wanted to get all countdown-y like so I flipped it… anyway, the final instalment of our 12 Councillors of Christmas and the partridge in the pear tear is—

Councillor Chin Lee, Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River

Behold, ye Torontonians. If our fair city is to fend off the worst destructive, anti-urban tendencies of the Ford Administration we should turn our collective hopeful gaze to the likes of Councillor Lee. With two entrenched factions at City Hall, the left and far right, there’s been much talk of the true seat of power residing in the so-called Mushy Middle. There the focus has been concentrated on a handful of rookie councillor, largely consisting of the two Joshes, Ana Bailão, Jaye Robinson, Michelle Berardinetti, Mary-Margaret McMahon. Win them over on an issue and your cause will triumph.

Now, I’d argue that at least in the case of Councillors Berardinetti, Colle, Matlow and Robinson, their mushiness oftentimes is reflected more in their principles than the politics, doing the expedient thing rather than the right thing. With Councillor Lee, what we have is one of those rare and, at times, seemingly near extinct species called the moderate conservative. Now into his 2nd term at council, no one would accuse him of being a former Millerite. He was part of the Responsible Government Group that formed in 2009 in the spirit of an unofficial opposition to Mayor Miller. In his pre-politician days, much of his community activism was spent fighting for decreases in property taxes and pay for elected officials.

And to be sure, he boned up on those fiscal hawk credentials early on under Mayor Ford’s reign (rein?), voting in line to repeal the VRT, freeze property taxes, reducing councillors’ office budget, etc., etc. He gave the thumbs up to contract out waste collection west of Yonge Street. Councillor Lee also was part of the financially dubious and entirely War on the Car driven decision to rip up the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

But there has been a drift of late away from the mayor and his team. I noticed it first during the shark fin ban debate. Not the most powerful of orators, Councillor Lee stood up and essentially slapped down Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti who had just finished up blathering on about how a ban would be an attack on Chinese culture. Of Chinese descent, Lee dismissed Mammoliti’s overtly political concerns as nonsense. After the ban passed, Councillor Lee sat alone in his council seat, not joining in the celebration.

Which is a place the councillor is finding himself more and more lately. Watching him at budget committee meetings has been quite instructive. He apparently picked the short straw and found himself plunked down beside the committee’s vice-chair, Councillor Doug Ford. Councillor Lee spends much of the time with his seat turned from his colleague, facing away as if in the hope that it’s all a bad, bad, terrible dream. Or as if he’s simply offended at having to be in the presence of such a know-nothing blowhard who has absconded with the conservative label and soiled it beyond repair or recognition.

It’s a realization much of Toronto is beginning to face up to, and if this city is to survive the onslaught of such radical anti-government ideology falsely calling itself conservative, we have to follow Councillor Chin Lee’s lead and turn our backs on it.

finally submitted by Cityslikr

The Second Day Of Christmas

On the 2nd day of Christmas—Yes, people. Christmas isn’t over for everyone. Think about the Turtle Doves. The Turtle Doves! And, of course…

Councillor Gord Perks, Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park

On a purely vote counting basis, no one on city council is as ideologically opposed to Mayor Rob Ford as Councillor Gord Perks. And while he does draw fire from the administration (and certainly from the mayor’s more rabid supporters in the media), it rarely seems as vociferous or vituperative as that rained down upon the likes of Councillors Carroll, Vaughan and Davis. Although oftentimes lumped in as part of the perceived evil, union-fronted, taxpayer draining CarrollDavisPerksVaughan kape, Perks seldom gets a glove laid on him in the public arena.

Strange, that.

Could it be that Team Ford doesn’t consider him a threat to their reign of error a couple years down the road? His name is not one that pops up as someone with mayoral aspirations. So perhaps, it’s deemed a waste of energy and time attempting to cut him down to size. Just let him flail away in defence of his Ford unfriendly downtown ward that many of the mayor’s Etobicoke tribe only are aware of because they have to drive through it on their way to work at City Hall.

Or maybe it’s simply a fool’s errand for Mayor Ford or any of his brain trust to try and tangle outright with Councillor Perks as none of them possess the necessary intellectual capacity, breadth of knowledge of how the city works or the passion for it to work well and equitably that he does. It’s even worse than bringing a knife to a gunfight. It’s one of those dull butter knives with a plastic handle that snap if you leave the chunk of butter in the fridge before trying to cut it.

Why bother?

So Councillor Perks chugs away at council meetings and as a regular visiting councillor at various committee meetings, beating back the faulty talking points being spouted about gravy, inefficiencies and the need for cuts. His commitment is to build a vibrant and just city for citizens and not just taxpayers. That is, essentially, the wide, unbreachable gap between he and the mayor. It’s almost as if they speak two different languages.

Because ‘looking out for the little guy’ so clearly means something diametrically different to Councillor Perks than it does Mayor Ford.

dovingly submitted by Cityslikr

The 3rd Day Of Christmas

On the 3rd day of Christmas if you find there’s not a chicken small enough to complete your holiday turducken, use a French hen instead. It’ll give the dish a certain je ne sais quoi.

Councillor Janet Davis, Ward 31 Beaches-East York

There’s nothing more deliciously delightful and despairing at City Hall than watching Councillor Davis drop her head back with an audible groan of frustration at what latest idiocy has issued forth from the mouth of a Team Ford member. It is both comforting to know you’re not alone in disbelieving what you’ve just seen or witnessed as well as entirely dispiriting that such folly passes as governance in Toronto circa 2011. Rest assured Councillor Davis shares your pain and incredulity.

In fact, watching her in action, it’s safe to assume that the councillor not only feels our pain and incredulity at what’s going on at City Hall but raises it a couple fold. The Ford Administration is an affront to everything Davis stands for, an abomination of what a municipal government should be doing for its citizens. If there’s one word I had to use to describe Councillor Davis in 2011, it would be indignant.

She does not suffer fools gladly which — surprise, surprise – finds her oftentimes at loggerheads with the daftest of the mayor’s coterie, Councillors Mammoliti and Ford, and Speaker Frances Nunziata. None of whom can hope to match up which leaves her looking arrogant and disdainful at times. That downtown elitist badge further burnished onto her.

Which is not to say Councillor Davis is incapable of playing nice with her colleagues. As a member of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, she has fended off the mad rush to divest the city of its child care obligations led by committee chair, Councillor Mammoliti. The process has been slowed to at least wait until hearing from the provincial government later this winter about its plans for child care funding levels in the wake of the move to full day kindergarten. Councillor Davis has also been able to marshal enough opposition on the TPL board in order to blunt the axe being taken to the city’s libraries. At least so far but it has shown her ability to work with the more reasonable members of Team Ford like Councillor Jaye Robinson.

That’s a hopeful sign for this season of hope, a shimmer of light in these darkest of days. Maybe there will be fewer reasons for Councillor Janet Davis to be indignant in 2012, fewer times for her to hang her head in despair and uttering words of disbelief.

here’s hopingly submitted by Cityslikr