The 4th Day Of Christmas

On the 4th day of Christmas I discovered it’s Colly Birds not Calling Birds. Colly Bird is just another name for a blackbird, a species of true thrush. In case you were wondering. Anyway…

Councillor Shelley Carroll, Ward 33 Don Valley East

As a former budget chief of Mayor David Miller, Councillor Carroll is the very face of the alleged out of control spending at City Hall that swept Rob Ford into power. She must defend her actions every time she opens her mouth, every time she asks a question or makes an assertion. There’s the profligate witch! Burn her! Burn her!

That the criticism of her often descends into personal attacks and manifests itself in the most bizarre of ways – remember that time Deputy Speaker John Parker tried to deny her an extension of speaking time under the pretence she’d strayed off topic? – suggests a couple things. First, the administration can’t really go toe-to-toe with her over the numbers. She defends hers passionately, tirelessly and with hard facts to back them up. They just sort of pull whatever’s convenient out of their collective asses.

Perhaps more significantly, the visceral nature of the animosity hurled at her is as if Councillor Carroll is a traitor to their cause. No left wing, downtown loonie she, Carroll is a big L liberal representing a suburban ward surrounded on all sides by members of the mayor’s Executive Committee. How could she think the things she does, say the things she does? Who does she think she is?

Taking us right to the heart of the matter.

If Mayor Ford really intends on running for re-election in 2014, you got to believe he sees Councillor Carroll as his most dangerous opponent. Aside from her connection to David Miller, she represents nothing he can easily shoehorn into the strawman he’ll need to successfully defend his administration. She’s plain spoken with an ease for explaining more complicated aspects of municipal governance. She’s hardnosed and will not be at all intimidated. She works a room like nobody’s business. And more to the point, Councillor Shelley Carroll clearly loves the city she lives in, from the suburbs to the downtown core. Something we’re not at all convinced can be said about the mayor.

So expect the battles to get testier, the attacks on Councillor Carroll uglier and more personal over the next couple years. The Ford Administration will attempt to run against her record because it sure as hell won’t want to be running on theirs.

prognosticatingly submitted by Cityslikr

The 5th Day Of Christmas

And Five Golden Rings!!

Councillor Adam Vaughan, Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina

I will confess to a personal bias on this one.

Councillor Vaughan is my favourite councillor to watch in action as he battles Team Ford. He is everything they aren’t. Smart and articulate with a positive vision how to build the city equitably.

For those reasons and many more, they can’t stand him.

Which is why Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti flashed him a middle finger during a council vote, and mused out loud about how Vaughan was just like the kids in high school he used to beat up. Vaughan is very successful in getting under this administration’s skin and is able to bring out its inner bully.

He serves as the opposition’s lightning rod, taking direct hits as the example of everything’s that’s wrong with City Hall culture in Mayor Ford’s view. He’s too downtown-y. An elitist. Completely out of touch with the real, hard working Torontonians the mayor is always running into at Tim Horton’s.

There is mileage in that, certainly. Some traction in helping to exploit the supposed urban-suburban divide the Ford administration so thrives on. During this month’s 2012 budget committee session, Councillor Vaughan lashed out during an argument with Councillor Doug Ford, referring to Ward 2 as ‘an industrial park’. He later apologized and clarified but couldn’t fend off the notion in the press that he was, in fact, a downtown elitist with no understanding of what goes on in the suburbs.

The thing is, neither does Councillor Ford. During the verbal tussle with Vaughan, Ford revealed his complete ignorance of his own ward, claiming there were no wading pools there (there are) as well as a misguided view of money matters at City Hall, suggesting money only flows in a one way fashion from the suburbs to downtown (it doesn’t). Councillor Vaughan lost the PR battle on that one but continued to build a case that the mayor and all his proxies are unfit to govern a city this big, this complex.

Councillor Vaughan is neither the furthest left of those standing in opposition to the mayor nor is he incapable of working with Team Ford when a compromise is possible. Being perhaps their most outspoken critic, however, makes him public enemy #1. It’s a role he seems to relish and is suited for, and one that is ultimately vital in the long run as it helps expose the radically anti-urban agenda Mayor Ford is seeking to impose on the city.

strikingly submitted by Cityslikr

The 6th Day Of Christmas

On the 6th day of Christmas and I could go for the easy goose egg joke on this one but it’s all about being Xmas-y positive, right?

Jaye Robinson, Ward 25 Don Valley West

This one I write, torn, as Councillor Robinson could just as easily be on the 2011 Most Disappointing Councillor List if such a thing existed which it doesn’t because, well, it’s Christmas and that would just be mean. Appointed as an at-large member of Mayor Ford’s powerful Executive Committee along with fellow rookie councillor Michelle Berardinetti, there was some hope of the two bringing a moderating voice to the otherwise largely hard right boys club. While, given recent events, Councillor Berardinetti has gone all in with the mayor, Robinson has remained an infuriating fence sitter.

A long time city bureaucrat, Councillor Robinson unseated a right of centre incumbent, Cliff Jenkins, in the 2010 election on a vaguely Fordish platform of fiscal efficiency and accountability. Yet she was part of a department that brought Nuit Blanche to life, showing that the public and private sectors could work together in a positive fashion that benefitted the city. Jaye Robinson wasn’t one of those conservatives whose sole interest in governing was to destroy government.

But she stood by silently as the Ford administration did its best to inflict grievous damage on Toronto. Rarely speaking up, Councillor Robinson even made a habit of ducking out of votes in order to not be attached to them while helping to enable their passage. Principled in her lack of guiding principles.

Then came the Ford Brothers’attempted waterfront land grab. Robinson found her voice. Leading the charge from the Executive Committee, she spoke out passionately and loudly in defence of the current plans in progress for the area, signalling to the mayor that he simply would not have the votes to pull of the coup. A consensus was quickly found, covering the mayor’s tactical retreat.

Councillor Robinson is also helping to fend off the mayor’s axe wielding on the Toronto Public Library system. Along with another rookie councillor, Sarah Doucette, Robinson has helped stiffen the backbone of the mayor’s handpicked board and may well find herself back in the spotlight in the new year as the budget chief has vowed to enact the 10% cut Mayor Ford has demanded. It could be a defining moment in her relationship with this administration.

That is the bright light of hope I latch onto. In 2012, Councillor Jaye Robinson will find her way as a voice of reason and compromise at city council and establish the tone for what it is to be a moderate conservative.

shining starly submitted by Cityslikr