Creating A City Hall Potboiler

You know, I’m not going to lie. Having no functioning mayor in place really makes for tough writing at this end. I’ve been trying to experiment with my colleague’s suggestion here yesterday not to write about Mayor Ford if he isn’t doing anything worth writing about and, wow, it all just kind of grinds to a halt. I got zip. Zilch. Nada.

It’s like fucking August around here. Except for the weather.

If this keeps up, I’m going to have to start writing about provincial politics or something.

I have to totally agree with Councillor Doug Ford who said on the radio yesterday that governments don’t create jobs but the conditions for job. When the mayor stops working, my job becomes that much more difficult. The conditions just aren’t right for me to write. And it’s all Mayor Ford’s fault!

As the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat reported on Saturday, a group of the more centrist councillors are planning to meet this week in order “…to hash out what issues they want city council to tackle next.” Ranging from TTC Chair Karen Stintz to TCHC task force chair Ana Bailão (an average of 52.5% on the Matt Elliott Ford For Toronto Ford Nation scale), the sit down seems intended to combat the inertia that settles in at City Hall with Mayor Ford’s abdication of authority. “Councillor Colle says agendas are pretty light at City Hall lately,” Peat tweeted, “nine items on four committee agendas.”

Have you seen this man?

I would imagine their first big challenge is going to be finding the mayor. They’re probably going to have to use the city’s new graffiti app as a way to entice him out from his secret location and ambush him as he’s water cannoning some defaced wall. Hey, Your Worship. We’ve got some ideas we could possibly talk about at the next council or committee meeting. What do you think?

I know there’s no official path of tossing or impeaching a badly/under-performing mayor from office but there has to be some sort of expiry date. One of those clauses that stipulate if your account has been dormant for a specified period of time, it gets closed up. If Mayor Ford doesn’t actually perform something mayoral in that given time, he’s asked to pack his things up and move on.

Not too long ago, I jokingly opined that if the mayor can’t turn this thing around and starts to approach the 2014 election with dim prospects of re-election, he might pack it in early. Claiming health reasons brought on entirely by left wing animosity and perfidy (my words not his), he will officially leave office. He’ll do it when the weather turns miserable in order to spend the winter in Florida.

Which totally explains his brother-councillor’s behaviour of late!

In covering the mayor’s radio show (which, natch, the mayor missed yesterday) Open File TO’s David Hains expresses unease with Councillor Ford’s references to his brother’s KFCgate. “1:22: Doug calls out his sick and absent brother Rob, saying that he might be in front of some KFC right now.” “2:13: Doug invites Angel to meet with the mayor, saying that he meets with anyone and everyone. Angel takes him up on the offer, and Doug adds that if he brings some KFC he can jump the line to meet Rob.”

This after the councillor joked about taping his brother’s mouth shut and feeding him through a straw to stop him from eating fast food. Don’t worry, buddy. I got your back. As the mayor flails on the weight loss gimmick Doug dreamed up, his own flesh and blood gleefully mocks him. I can joke. I’m family.

It’s only the latest in a growing list of examples where older brother councillor undermines younger brother mayor. The Portlands. The Sheppard Subway. All taxes are evil.

You know what I think? I think Councillor Ford is Gaslighting his brother. Driving Rob crazy, making his life as mayor completely unbearable until he runs, screaming from office. Come 2014, Councillor Ford rides the sympathy ticket into the election, vowing revenge and retribution on all those who persecuted his baby brother from public life. This Ford is Ford tough. Doug Ford for Mayor in 2014!

Ahh, such behind the scenes intrigue and machinations. Municipal mystery fiction at its finest. I don’t like it anymore than you do but you can’t blame a guy for filling in the blanks left in the void of a mayoral absence.

 — hackily submitted by Cityslikr

Ferris Wheel Of Fortune

Great title, eh? Wasn’t ours. It was the good folks over at Torontoist where we’ve posted our thoughts about yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting.

Until tomorrow…

multi-taskingly submitted by Cityslikr

Our Liberal Media Bias

At the risk of revealing myself to be a downtown pinko elitist (ha, ha), I have to ask the question: who the fuck listens to AM radio? Outside of sports fans, that is, and I think it is sports coverage sensibilities that define the presentational style of the whole band. Strongly held opinions expressed vehemently, often times with little to no evidence backing up said opinions and rarely rising above the level of You Suck/They Suck.

I ask because I found myself yesterday afternoon listening to Councillor Josh Matlow’s regular 1 hour spot on Newstalk 1010’s Sundays with John Downs. As we have written here previously, the good councillor from Ward 22 is an intriguing new face at City Hall, bright, articulate and, as of yet, politically amorphous. He comes across progressive minded when he speaks on all the various platforms he has, and he has a lot of platforms especially for a new councillor. Yet when he votes, he more often than not falls in line behind the mayor’s agenda. Slippery or open to compromise? An opportunist or pragmatist? Time will tell.

This dichotomy was on display as Councillor Matlow took to the airwaves to question the $3 million on offer for outside consultants to come in and uncover all the wasteful spending that Mayor Ford as a candidate claimed he could easily find on his own. There were systems already in place at City Hall, according to Matlow, like the Auditor-General looking into spending like it had at TCHC. Handing over an extra $3 million to have another entity do what could be done for a fraction of that price smacked a little like the gravy the mayor was so intent on eliminating.

So far, so good but this thought was bandied about in the midst of jokes about crazy councillor spending, the TCHC ‘scandal’ and Councillor Matlow’s pronouncement that Mayor Ford was right about one thing. The city’s budget did balloon under David Miller. End stop. The intimation being that it ballooned because of wasteful spending. No other explanation need be discussed although there are plenty of other plausible, laudable reasons even, why the budget numbers rose. (h/t Ben Bergen.)

Councillor Matlow was able to appear that he was critiquing the mayor while accepting whole-heartedly the narrative framework that there was plenty of gravy still flowing at City Hall. Commence the slow clap. Well played, Mr. Matlow. Well played indeed.

More than that, however, my concern is, if John Downs gives over an hour of his show per week to talk to a councillor, why just Josh Matlow? Why not throw it open to all comers? For a diversity of opinion, from the far right to the far left and all points in between. Let Toronto (or at least the portion of Toronto who spends their Sundays listening to AM radio) hear a whole range of views.

Unless, of course, that isn’t your intent. Unless what you’re really trying to do is narrow the debate so it ranges from A all the way to B. But why would a media outlet do that? It makes no business sense, limiting your audience reach like that, undercutting any possible growth…

Yeah, yeah. I’m being facetious. Liberal Media Bias? What Liberal Media Bias? Point me to all those leftie councillors with their own outlet to deliver their thoughts on the goings on at City Hall? Where can I get my weekly dose of Janet Davis, Gord Perks or Shelley Carroll? Adam Vaughan used to be a television journalist. You’d think his former employers over at CityTV would jump at the chance to give him 30 minutes a week to opine on the state of municipal affairs. Remember before he was mayor, how Rob Ford had his regular spot over on 680 with John (Johnny to his good friends) Oakley?

And before you start screeching about George Smitherman and the $1billion eHealthscandalexcessivelyhighenergycosts and all the other offal you involuntarily vomit up every time his name is mentioned, for those of us actually over here on the left, the George Smitherman who ran for mayor was never one of us. The fact that Newstalk gave him a show is akin to Fox News hiring former Indiana senator Evan Bayh, arguably one of the most conservative Democrats ever to serve the party since the collapse of the Dixie Democrats way back when. Empty proof of their objectivity as they claim to deliver news and information from both ends of the political spectrum.

No, it seems when it comes to how they spend their Sunday afternoons, left leaning councillors can only hope to listen to the radio not have their own shows on it. Or, like Councillor Joe Mihevc, they can go out into the community and talk to people, face-to-face, as they did in the old days before the advent of new-fangled contraptions like the wireless. After enduring an interminable hour with John Downs and friend, I wandered up to catch Councillor Mihevc talk about “City and citizens…How the city sees its citizens and how citizens perceive its city. How do we talk to each other? What counts?”

Me, 10 other people and the councillor in the community gallery at the Wychwood Barns for the third of four scheduled St. Clair Salon Sundays. Not the glamour (or reach) of AM radio but an actual give-and-take between engaged community members and their elected representative. I have to admit, I’ve never found Councillor Mihevc to be a forceful speaker at council meetings and the like but one-on-one, up close and personal, he really is quite charming, thoughtful, gracious and well-spoken.

And passionate. Especially about transit. Councillor Mihevc didn’t give up his Sunday afternoon for self-promotion or to score political points. He sat down with a small group and led a discussion on how to encourage further citizen participation beyond just voting. “Deepening democracy,” Mihevc called it. We didn’t solve that particular equation but it’s reassuring to know that there 10 people out there who think that it’s an important enough issue, that of voter/civic apathy, to come out on a brisk weekend day and discuss it with other like-minded people. *Cliché Alert! Cliché Alert!* What’s that saying about big things starting with small groups? No, seriously. What is it? I can’t remember.I know Councillor Matlow isn’t purely a media hog and he too goes out into the community. I know this because he never fails to tell me that’s what he’s doing.  And this isn’t intended as a slag of him. Entirely. Councillor Matlow bad, Councillor Mihevc good. It’s just that for every active, hands-on engagement with citizens Councillor Matlow does, he undercuts it by participating in the pretense of informed dialogue that is AM talk radio. You can’t be fully informed if you’re only hearing one half of the debate.

submitted by Cityslikr