A Man Of Many Words

March 11, 2014

Not going to lie to you. I am kind of a sucker for the occasional outburst of oratorical thunder that Councillor Anthony Perruzza williamjenningsbryan(Ward 8 York West) unleashes at city council meetings. And by ‘oratorical’ I don’t really mean to suggest any sense of eloquence or particular skills in rhetoric. It’s more to do with the loud noises that come out of his mouth in no discernible pattern or meaning. Most of the time, I have no idea what the councillor’s on about or the point he’s trying to make. It’s just fun to watch him perform.

Which pretty much sums up my impression of his term on council during the Ford administration. I don’t know what he’s been up to or the reason why he’s there. I get no sense of who he represents. It’s a mystery to me who Councillor Perruzza stands up to advocate for when Councillor Perruzza gets up to thunder.

I imagine if he didn’t have such a unique style of delivery, I’d hardly notice Councillor Perruzza at all.

He is (at least according to his Wikipedia page) a member of the New Democratic Party, serving as an MPP for one term as part of the Bob Rae government alongside now Communist defector Giorgio Mammoliti. headscratcherBoth men voted against their own party’s same-sex rights and benefits bill, helping to defeat it. Perruzza was also a North York Separate School Board Trustee and councillor before eventually becoming an amalgamated city councillor.

He seems to have been a long time advocate of affordable housing, tenants’ rights and low property taxes. Throughout much of the past 3+ years, unlike his former NDP MPP colleague Councillor Mammoliti, Perruzza has kept his distance, politically speaking, from Mayor Ford while still managing to eventually snag a chair position of one of the city’s standing committees, Community Development and Recreation. That’s the kind of appointment the mayor usually only grants to his closest allies. Councillor Perruzza was even tapped by the mayor as one of only five councillors worthy of being re-elected this year. “Although he doesn’t vote with us sometimes,” the mayor said, “but he supported me when times were tough.”

This is where the whole Anthony Perruzza enigma gets really unsettling for me.

Somewhere along the line, the councillor softened toward the mayor, going to bat for him on two recent fronts. First, the Scarborough subway. Not only would this transit line provide zero help to transit users in his part of the city, Councillor Perruzza voted in favour of a property tax increase to pay for it (at least, initially he did.) throwalifelineCouncillor Perruzza is not a big fan of property tax increases.

More baffling however was the councillor’s standing up for Mayor Ford in his fight to keep all his powers after the crack scandal broke wide open. The ‘tough times’ the mayor referred to. Perruzza rose to his feet to boom about the political implications of such a move, worrying that it might set a dangerous precedent. The next time a city council and a mayor had a falling out. He even voted against asking the mayor to apologize for lying about smoking crack.

As if smoking crack and lying about it while impugning the reputation of others is in any way political. As if the motion to remove the mayor’s power wasn’t at all a reflection of his job performance and somehow just political posturing. As if the mayor’s behaviour could be categorized as the normal functioning of the office that some of his colleagues simply didn’t agree with.

Matt Elliott later pointed out when Mayor Ford YouTubely endorsed Councillor Perruzza that the worthy list of re-electable councillors consisted of only those who voted against stripping the mayor of his powers. So a cynic might conclude that Councillor Perruzza’s motivation was with an eye on the upcoming election. In order to tell voters in Ward 8 that, while he opposed the mayor on many issues, he wasn’t against the mayor, if you catch the fence straddling there.

Why would not being perceived as too anti-Rob Ford be a goal for Councillor Perruzza?scratchmyback

In the Etobicoke-York-Scarborough axis of… nevermind… that served as the base of support for Ford Nation, Ward 8 ranked at the bottom, with just 47% voting for Rob Ford, almost the same as the average city wide numbers. One would think approval ratings for the mayor haven’t increased there more than anywhere else in the city over the last 18 months or so. Does an unofficial endorsement from Mayor Ford actually help Councillor Perruzza’s re-election chances?

On the other hand, the councillor has been engaged in electoral war in Ward 8 over 4 campaigns since 2000, all with the former incumbent, Peter Li Preti. He lost twice (3 times if you count the pre-current council alignment in 1997) before winning the last two times. All of the elections, save in 2000, have been close. The last three were determined by a combined 1381 votes, less than 500 an election.

Now, in the 2010 election Mr. Li Preti was nailed for various campaign finance violations. Last summer the Compliance Audit Committee voted in favour of proceeding with a prosecution. hedgingSo, there’s a good chance the two men won’t meet in a council race for the first time since the city amalgamated.

But you can never be too sure about these things. Councillor Perruzza may just be hedging his bets, making sure all his bases are covered. That roar you hear when he gets to his feet to bellow could be the sound of someone marking their territory. I am Councillor Anthony Perruzza. I represent Ward 8 York West.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing more than a re-election bid.

cynically submitted by Cityslikr


Just Wrapping Up Loose Ends

February 27, 2013

Yesterday I decided to take a break from our perpetual mayoral sorrow and His Worship’s latest justice dust-up governanceand spend some time catching up on the actual running of the city. Drop into a Community Council meeting maybe, witness me some day-to-day governance going on in the shadows of continued misrule. Ask the question: can a chicken really still run with its head cut off?

Entering the City Hall lobby, a sign caught my attention. Chief Planner roundtable…  Our Urban Fabric: Designing and Creating Public Places. Well, look at that, would you. And off I was, my destination changed from Committee Room #1 to Committee Room #2.

I encourage everyone who wasn’t there or didn’t follow along with the live stream to take some time and watch the proceedings. Failing that, read the agenda outline. What the city may lack in political leadership currently, it is made up for by a ferocious intelligence determined to grapple with some of the major issues we’re facing.

On the particular issue of the public realm, it was quite clear from the outset that many on the chief planner’s panel held diametrically opposed views from our administration. publicrealmThat’s not entirely fair. I mean, can anyone express the mayor’s views on the public realm in fifty words or less? Here, let me try. A football field.

The public realm is no one thing, obviously. Building design. Transportation. Green space. Planning and development. Seemingly disparate items but all serving the single notion of liveability and quality of life. Very few of those things has Mayor Ford had much to say about.

Certainly some of the views expressed by some on the panel — made up of urban planners, designers, landscape architects, civil engineers, transportation consultants, market researchers, from both the private and public sectors. And Anne Golden! – would not be those you’d be hearing from Mayor Ford and his allies. According to the city’s General Manager of Transportation Services, Stephen Buckley, his department is “no longer just about moving cars…” I says, what?! Who the hell hired this guy? Denzil! Code Red! lookingthewrongwayRogue city staff! STAT!

(One of the upsides to our mayor’s obsessive focus on every single nickel and returning residents’ phone calls could well be his disengagement with the hiring of senior city staff. Whatever influence his office has on such matters, I can only imagine his involvement in anything that doesn’t directly have to do with dollars and cents is passing at best. Can picture the hiring of Jennifer Keesmaat as chief planner going something along the lines of, Hey, she’s from the private sector! Without looking up, a silent thumbs-up from the mayor as he works his phone.)

Such a disconnect between our highest elected local official and those implementing policy cannot be maintained, of course. Eventually, they have to either coalesce into some sort of coherence or heads are going to roll. Just ask Gary Webster, for instance.

But the ball may not be in the mayor’s court this time out. Not only has he essentially lost control of the agenda at council, he’s also heading into a campaign year. While that may be his strong suit, or at least, stronger than governing, as the incumbent he might not be as free to simply tout meaningless numbers and slogans as he was in 2010. He might have to talk honest-to-god policy ideas.

During yesterday’s panel discussion, the chief planner talked at some length about value. costvalueWhat it is we place value on as residents of the city. It struck me that would be a good place to start asking our politicians as we head into the next campaign. What is it that they value?

We know with almost dead certainty how Mayor Ford would respond to that question. What do you value? Customer service and respect for the taxpayer.

But what does that mean in everyday practical terms?

Returned phone calls and low taxes? What’s the value of those?

It doesn’t deliver us much needed transit. It doesn’t rebuild aging infrastructure. It doesn’t create vibrant public spaces. Outside of our own individual satisfaction there is no value in a phone call from the mayor or not paying the level of taxes necessary to properly maintain our city.

The mayor has no sense of the value of public service. stumped1His values don’t deliver, build or create anything other than divisions, resentment and antagonism.

After Mayor Ford escaped unscathed from the Compliance Audit Committee on Monday, Matt Elliott suggested it was now time for him to get back to the work of governing. “It didn’t escape my notice yesterday,” Elliott wrote, “that when Ford started to listing his mayoral accomplishments in his post-victory speech, virtually none of them came from the last six months of his term.” Sure, we can lay the blame for that on all his legal wranglings but I think the truth of the matter is that Mayor Ford has nothing else to offer because there is nothing else he really values.

Public transit is merely a nuisance to him. There’s only value in it if it’s kept underground, out of sight, out of mind. Of course he’s in favour of a casino wherever it’ll fetch the most money for city coffers and offset some of the revenue his administration has foregone in its War on Taxes.

After that, what does he value? With no values, you can’t govern. And if you can’t govern, what else is there? killingtimeCampaigning for re-election.

“I think a lot of people are already in that election mode,” the mayor told the media, “and just wrapping up a few loose ends and we’re going to be on the campaign trail.”

With about 20 months to go before the next election, Mayor Ford is ‘just wrapping up a few loose ends’. That’s what a politician with no values calls governing.

impatiently submitted by Cityslikr


Payback’s Rarely Pretty

February 17, 2013

Say what you will about Toronto lacking things like an adequate transit system or good governance, cautionarytaleswhat it does have in droves is cautionary tales. Hardly a day or two goes by when some new news flashes across our screens that leaves us shaking our heads and muttering. Well, who didn’t see that coming?

Just this past week, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti was in the thick of it again over loans he received from some business interests whose requests he championed at community council meetings in regards to billboards in his ward. At this point it doesn’t appear as if the councillor did anything wrong aside from look a little greasy. It’s just, coming on the heels of the compliance audit committee report that alleges some gross campaign over-expenditures during his 2010 mayoral/councillor race, bad optics abound.

The cautionary tale bit?cautionarytales1

If you insist on being an unrepentant jag off, an epic asshole, drunk with power from sitting beside the mayor and flashing your thumb up or down to help forward his agenda on the council floor and signal you’re part of the in-crowd, expect a little pushback. Keep your nose clean, all your ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed if you’re intent on going out of your way to draw unwanted attention to yourself and openly bait those you disagree with. People are bound to start looking for dirt. And if they find even a speck of grime… Well, who didn’t see that coming?

Blatant opportunism doesn’t win you many friends either. Councillor Mammoliti’s about face from Rob Ford’s mortal council enemy to best friend forever as Ford’s popularity rose on the 2010 campaign trail didn’t go unnoticed. His dying fidelity when the mayor got into a little legal trouble manifested itself with Council Mammoliti bolting from the Executive Committee, and then awkwardly trying to shrug the move off with a bizarre conspiracy tale of covert left wing operations being conducted against him.

Now, in a tight spot himself, he’s left to dangle. Yeah, love to have your back, Giorgio, but, you know, you kind of abandoned me in my hour of need. With friends like that… Well, who didn’t see that coming?

Grace in victory goes a long way in smoothing ruffled feathers and soothing bitter feelings. cautionarytales2Being amenable to people when you’re on top because you never know who you might encounter on the way back down, and all that. While Councillor Mammoliti may’ve been the most egregious offender, Team Ford, pretty much to a player, couldn’t contain frequent noisy chest beatings and score settling, soured by their perception of being kept in the wilderness during the Miller years. In taking that low road, power must be maintained because, once lost, the crowd’s a little less forgiving, more inclined to help pull the rug out from under your feet rather than reaching out to keep you upright. That Kick Me sign on your back is a little hard to resist. And who didn’t see that coming?

Of course, a cautionary tale only really serves a purpose if its lesson is learned. There’s very little evidence the intended audience has been following along, taking notes, modifying behaviour. Any problems or missteps are not of their doing. It’s all the work of sore loser left wingers still unable to accept the outcome of the 2010 municipal election, yaddie, yaddie, yaddie.

cautionarytales3

And so, the beat goes on. An endless loop of new allegations, denials and rebuttals that begin to sound the same after a while. Didn’t we hear this song-and-dance before? Our cautionary tales grow into epic sagas.

told-you-soly submitted by Cityslikr


Put Up Or Shut Up

February 7, 2013

Read through Edward Keenan’s article in The Grid yesterday, Troubled by the mayor’s apparent rule bending?, stinkstohighheavenand tell me something there doesn’t ‘stink to high heaven’. I don’t care if you are an ardent supporter of Mayor Ford or not. Something’s just not right with that picture.

…in June 2011, half a year after the election, while Ford was the sitting mayor, he attended a party in the home of Robert DeGasperis, who is president of a development company called Metrus Properties. Doug Ford, the chair of Build Toronto, the city agency that sells public real estate to developers, also attended. We do not know who else was there or what was discussed. The result of that meeting was that an envelope containing $25,000 in cheques from 10 donors was passed from DeGasperis to former premier Mike Harris, and on to Ford’s campaign to help settle his outstanding election debt.

The same week, Paul Golini, an executive with developer Empire Communities, had a Ford fundraiser in his home that was attended by the mayor and about 40 members of BILD, the Toronto developers’ association. The $2,450 catering bill was picked up by a former CEO of BILD. Those at the party gave the mayor’s campaign $19,500.mysteryenvelope

Earlier that month, yet another private party was held for the mayor at Harbour 60 restaurant. We don’t know who attended, and we don’t know what they discussed. The tab for the 28 people in attendance came to just over $9,000, and was picked up by the owners of the restaurant. After meeting with the mayor, guests at the event saw fit to donate $27,000 to his long-finished campaign.

So in June 2011, as outlined in the audit report, a bunch of unknown people, many of whom appear to be developers, gave a total of $71,500 to retire Rob Ford’s outstanding campaign debt after private meetings with him. That was the same month that Ford proposed a massive selloff of TCHC properties and killed the Jarvis bike lanes. It was during the period when Doug Ford was shaping his proposal to radically change and speed up the plan to develop the Port Lands. It was the same period when Ford was studying how to get the private sector involved in building subways.

As Mr. Keenan points out, no one’s laid a glove on the mayor about this so far, the audit report only suggests ‘apparent violations of rules’. These will be hashed out in further detail at the February 25th Compliance Audit Committee meeting. brothercanyouspareadimeThe optics, though, scream a Rob Ford scream of outrage.

Trace the pattern.

A candidate mulling over a run for the mayor’s office takes a flyer, goes into debt to finance their campaign with the hope that, once victorious, the hole can be filled by supporters wanting to be helpful. I imagine nothing opens hearts and wallets like access to a newly installed mayor. I would’ve loved to chip in earlier but, you know, I was hedging my bets.

But please. Envelopes stuffed with cheques? $9000 restaurant tabs picked up by the owner? Fundraisers at the home of the executive of a development company?

And before you get all m’eh on me, shrug your shoulders and insist it happens all the time, everybody plays the game, don’t. Just don’t. It’s a fucking cop out.

I am so sick of the response coming from the mayor’s defenders to any accusation made about his seeming nonchalance toward adhering to laws, rules, regulations, guidelines that it’s nothing new. Municipal politicians before him did it. Municipal politicians coming after him will do it. It’s no big deal. apoxIt’s the way the world works. Move along, nothing to see here.

David Miller did [fill in alleged wrongdoing here] too.

Well firstly, prove it. You can’t just brush everything off with a wink and a knowing nod of the head signifying that there are lots of bodies buried if you know where to look for them. Casting baseless assertions that sully everyone who’s ever run for office. It’s lazy and it’s cynical. If all politicians are corrupt in one way or the other, why bother trying to change anything, why bother getting involved? A pox on all their houses. I’m going to watch the How I Met Your Mother marathon. (Do we not know the answer to that yet?)

It’s a convenient embrace of apathy that makes no demands on those in public office and even less on citizens.

Regardless of whether or not Mayor Ford violated any campaign financing rules, there has to be a better way for politicians to run for office that precludes accepting envelopes stuffed with legal currency and depending on moneyed special interests to turn your bottom line red to black. How could that not be a corrupting influence? It’s the very definition of backroom deals politicians like the mayor rail about. We should all be irate, and not just at Rob Ford but the whole system that could allow him (and any others who play like that) to operate on such a shady level. It makes every one of their political motives and actions suspect.

pepelepew

And if you don’t find that at all troublesome, you just don’t give a flying fuck about democracy.

indignantly submitted by Cityslikr


A Lousy 3%

February 2, 2013

Come on, folks.

It’s just 3%. That’s only 1% more than the kind of milk downtown elites use in their lattes.whatsthebigdeal

Just 3%, folks.

It’s not like anyone, I don’t know, on the mayor’s campaign team gave the thumbs-up for a break-in of a rival candidate’s psychiatrist’s office, then taped and erased conversations about it and lied to congress. Or ordered the illegal bombing of Cambodia.

A little perspective here, folks.

It’s just 3%.

Nobody’s talking about envelopes stuffed with money being shadily handed over in hotel rooms. So there was one slightly under-priced Winnebago involved. It’s not like anybody got run over with it.

3%, folks.

What’s the big deal about a measly six figure loan between a brother and his brother’s corporate company? Tell me all families don’t do that kind of thing when one of them is running for political office. It’s not like there was any lobbyists involved or anything. I don’t think. Let me check that before you run with it. It might take a while. misseditbythatmuchThe report’s like, what, 52 pages?

We’re talking 3%, folks. Some 40 grand. It’s not as if we were actually counting every single dime during the campaign, am I right? That’s what happens after you’re elected. When you’re respecting the taxpayers. Tell me that fucking weasel Vaughan hasn’t bought like 200 coffee machines for his office in the past couple years.

3%.

If they didn’t want us going over a spending limit, why set one in the first place? That’s just a dare. Should we be punished for being that kind of risk taker, folks?

3%.

Are you trying to tell me that not one leftie councillor went over their spending limit in 2010? Not one of the loser candidates for mayor? Seriously. Are you trying to tell me that? I’m asking. Seriously. I don’t know. I could get an investigation started but it’s just so much easier to cast aspersions and innuendo.

We’ve saved the Taxpayers of Toronto ONE BILLION DOLLARS, folks. Now you’re unwilling to overlook a lousy 40 Gs, 3% of a billion dollars?

Look, folks. Our forefathers didn’t chase the English off the shores of the Great Lakes in 1492 only to see democracy overturned by sore losers who can’t even get elected to the school board. shrug1I mean, if Del Grande’s kid can get elected trustee… You see what I’m saying here? The meek shouldn’t be inheriting the earth because that’s how communism works. Who’d you put money on in a kick-boxing fight? Me or Jim Stalin?

3%, folks.

This is a witch hunt, pure and simple.

And while I’m sure a few of those witches they burned at the stake back in the 60s knew a little hocus-pocus, I’m willing to bet none of them were witchy all the way through. You see what I’m saying? Like that Bewitched! She was a witch but not a bad one. Should they’ve burned her at the stake?

Witch hunts are only as bad as the witches involved. It’s all about perspective, folks. Not all witches should be hunted. So if a witch is only 3% bad, is it really worth the effort?

Be careful what witch you hunt, is what I’m saying.

And 3%, well, that’s just petty and vindictive. That’s just a rounding error. Let He Who Has Never Carried The Two Incorrectly Cast The First Stone. If you want rock solid numbers, the private sector’s should run campaigns, folks. Governments are always all over the place with their numbers. Remember the St. Clair Disaster!

thismuch

3%, folks.

A little perspective.

As Thomas Johnson once said, ‘Democracy’s determined at the ballot box not an accounting ledger’. Amen to that. And 2014 can’t come soon enough.

imaginedly submitted by Cityslikr