Who’s Your Dada?

April 5, 2015

whosaskingIn this year’s Easter edition of Answering Questions No Reader Asked, we respond to the non-query, What Is Dada and What the Hell Were You Talking About Earlier This Week? Making Up Stories. What the hell was that? Some kind of April’s Fool thing?

Yeah so, about that.

As the week wore on, it struck me that the post felt like an incomplete thought or, at least, there’s was more to say on the subject. Let’s sum it up as right wing faux populism as a form of Dada expression. None of it has to make any sense exactly because that’s the point, to not make any sense.

We need to stop looking for explanations in their actions, in the things they say, the positions they pronounce. Logical consistency is absent not through any inability to reason logically but because there’s no need for it. Reductio ad absurdum. See? This whole government thing is ridiculous because, well, look at me. Look at what I do, what I say, the shenanigans I wind up performing.

If there really was anything to this idea of the usefulness of City Hall, surely politicians like we are wouldn’t be elected, time and time again, time after time. How could it not be a circus and clown show when clowns and carnies perform key roles? absurdDon’t take what they do seriously because they sure don’t.

And I’m not just talking the Ford Brothers Travelling Shit Show, their little fiefdom of folly. Or Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and His Flickering House of Mirrors. Add to that extremity of lunacy, new councillor and long time Member of Parliament, Jim Karygiannis, defining defiling the Liberal brand for a generation now.

Consider the more ‘serious’ acts. Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, at perpetual war with anything and everything he deems to be excessive public spending, and most public spending is excessive in the Deputy Mayor’s eyes except when it comes to clearing the way for his much beloved Subaru. How about the chair of Planning and Growth Management and self-proclaimed pro-Spadina Expressway protester back in the day, Councillor David Shiner? Planning and growth? In somebody else’s backyard please with a helping of subway, if you don’t mind.

Councillor Ron Moeser, some 30 years a city councillor and still operating in a state of constant confusion. nonsenseDitto Councillor Frank Di Giorgio who, in addition, isn’t a big fan of the City of Toronto Act and all its proposed responsibilities for municipal politicians. Who needs that, am I right?

Elected public servants with a dim view of the efficacy of public service, dedicating much of their respective adult lives to actively diminishing it. You don’t actually take this stuff seriously, do you? Nobody really thinks we can make much of a difference, do they? If they did, they might pay a little more attention to the people they send to City Hall to represent their interests.

It’s a political negative feedback loop.

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

City Hall’s a joke, right? Let’s not waste any time doing anything productive. We’ll just play down to the non-expectations everyone has of the place. dadafairPoint of order, Madam Speaker! Or maybe it’s a point of privilege. I never did understand the difference between those two. Whatever. Blah, blah, blah, blah…

And then an earnest do-gooder arrives at the place, one sharing a similarly askance view of it. After all, he once thought Rob Ford would be a suitable mayor of the city. Taking in the spectacle for a few months, he shakes his head. It only confirms his bias. “I thought (Wednesday) was an example where there were probably four or five hours just wasted on stuff that was sort of interesting maybe to a few people but it really wasn’t advancing the public interest,” Mayor John Tory said. Democracy, eh? Just a bunch of people wasting hours and hours, talking about stuff that was sort of interesting to them but to what end? We need to streamline this. Less chatter, less grandstanding, more doing.

Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right. Mayor Tory’s stuck in the middle with democracy. shirtlessSurely there must be a more productive way to get things done around here. I mean, what the hell does Giorgio Mammoliti have to offer anyway?

Exactly.

Councillor Mammoliti and his ilk have been striving to prove that point for years now, decades even. This whole thing’s a joke and he’s a clown prince. You’d be an idiot to think otherwise. If you just stopped caring (like he has), then maybe the place would just shrivel up and disappear. I mean, what the hell does City Hall have to offer for us anyhow?

ridiculously submitted by Cityslikr


How High Sir?

February 19, 2015

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 17 million times.

You want to fix City Hall? Start electing better city councillors. upthehillEasier said than done, for sure, given the disheartening results of last year’s municipal campaign. Thirty-seven of thirty-eight incumbents returned to office including one still under the cloud of a police investigation. Another, Frank Di Giorgio in Ward 12 York South Weston.

The councillor was on Metro Morning today along with another former budget chief, Shelley Carroll, to talk about the city’s need for more revenue, new revenue tools. “Do you think we need new taxes, Frank Di Giorgio?” asked the show’s host, Matt Galloway. Here’s how the councillor responded:

Not at this point. I think certainly, I think the one thing that’s important in the immediate future is that we have to support the mayor…

Say what?

That’s what’s important in the immediate future? City council needs to support the mayor? [Begins flipping frantically through the city’s Code of Conduct for Members of Council. Must support the mayor…Must support the mayor….] fealtyNope. Not seeing that stipulation.

Councillor Di Giorgio has been a local representative for almost 30 years now, at City Hall in amalgamated Toronto since 2000. This is the sum of all his civic wisdom. “I think one thing that’s important in the immediate future is that we have to support the mayor.”

If the councillor actually believes that — and he’s not alone in that way of thinking, sadly, in talking to a candidate during last year’s election who was running against another deadweight incumbent, I was told that a few years earlier in discussing with the councillor why he had voted a certain way, he was told that, You gotta support the boss — why bother with city council races in the first place? Just elect a mayor, be done with it. No messy debates to deal with, rubber stamp city council meetings, items all passed with a waxed red royal seal.

Parsing Councillor Di Giorgio’s go along to get along logic a little further, consider his 2014 re-election. At Marshall’s Musings, Sean Marshall has done fantastic work breaking down the numbers October’s election. waxsealA look at the results in Ward 12 shows that less than one in five voters there voted for John Tory. The councillor fared little better, garnering under 30% of the popular vote where just over 1300 ballots separated him from the 4th place challenger.

So, less than one in three voters gave Councillor Di Giorgio a mandate to unwaveringly support a mayor who fewer than one in five Ward 12 voters backed? It’s how first-past-the-post elections work, I get it, but it’s almost as if the councillor thinks we have some sort of presidential system at City Hall, though. The Big Guy wins. You fall in line behind the Big Guy.

Councillor Di Giorgio’s views on such ring-kissing fealty to the mayor also extends to city staff. As Jude MacDonald reminded me, back during the last administration when the councillor was still TTC commissioner and voted to fire then-CEO Gary Webster, he had his reasons. “Excellence in bureaucracy means the ability to perform tasks that are consistent with leaders of a corporation, the leaders of a city,” he declared. “It’s the ability to put forward positions that are consistent with positions adopted by the mayor.”

Your councillor for Ward 12 York South Weston, folks.  Frank Di Giorgio.

So, city councillors are elected to merely to serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Such passiveness from Di Giorgio extends to the city’s dealings with the province evidently. jumphighhowDuring the Metro Morning discussion, he said exploring the idea of more revenue tools will simply let the province off the hook for paying their share of stuff like social housing. They’ve already stopped paying, Councillor Carroll pointed out. That’s why the city’s scrambling to plug the hole in its operating budget. That’s why we need to a discussion about new revenues. It’s all on us now.

The councillor was having none of it. No need to rush. We already have revenue tools in the arsenal, like the Land Transfer Tax which is bringing in substantial amounts of money to the city coffers. Maybe we could milk some more from that cash cow. If not, the City of Toronto Act is coming up for renewal in a few years, 2018 or so. Let’s revisit this discussion then. In the meantime, don’t ‘undermine the mayor’s initiatives’ because that would be ‘dangerous’. Loose lips sink ships, I guess.

Councillors like Frank Di Giorgio are throwbacks to an era when municipalities were little more than wards of the province, where we were given the property tax to play with, to largely pay for local initiatives, roads, sewers, maybe a portion of public transit. A time when the province contributed substantially more to the overall operations of this city than it sees fit to now. As Councillor Carroll (as well as the city manager, Joe Pennachetti) pointed out, Toronto is a big boy now, closing in on 3 million people. asleeponthejobIt’s time we put on our big boy pants and realize we’ve been pushed out of the nest.

Provincial contributions to the well-being of this city will be grudging and probably when it is only politically advantageous for them to do so. We can act like two year-olds and hold our breath until we turn blue in the face in hopes of changing their attitude but, well, umm, I wouldn’t…hold my breath. But that’s what Mayor Tory has in mind, and loyal foot soldiers like Councillor Di Giorgio see it as his job to follow the mayor’s marching orders.

After all, that’s what he’s been doing for three decades now. That’s what he was elected to do.

at your servicely submitted by Cityslikr


Go, Go, Go Giorgio

March 18, 2014

STOP THE (WORD) PRESSES!!

stopthepressesBreaking news in our Wards To Watch 2014!

Yesterday, Keegan Henry-Mathieu registered to run for city councillor in Ward 7 York West.

Why is this so newsworthy? Two words. Giorgio Mammoliti.

In our very first post of this series, we implored voters of Ward 7 to rid our city of this clown prince of municipal politics. Along with the Ford Brothers and Councillor Frances Nunziata, Mammoliti makes up one third of the unholy triumvirate of City Hall’s masters of divisiveness, discord and dysfunction. I know much of the campaign focus has been and will continue to be on the mayor’s race with an eye to ending the current reign of error but I cannot stress enough how chasing Giorgio Mammoliti from council would contribute to restoring much calm, decorum and civility as well.chasetheclown

As the councillor likes to point out regularly, in an attempt to deepen the urban-suburban fault line to his advantage, his ward never gets anything. And exactly whose fault is that, Giorgio? In his capacity as both an MPP and then city councillor for the area since 1990, more than a little of the blame should rest on his shoulders. He made it clear repeatedly throughout this term that it was a subway or nothing along Finch Avenue even if his residents had to wait a 100 years. His constant motions to freeze property taxes would also serve to provide a whole lot of nothing for Ward 7 residents.

Councillor Mammoliti also appears to hold the adherence to rules in as much disdain as he does his constituents. shirtlessmammolitiDuring this term, he’s been dinged with some ethical taint not once, not twice but three times. There are those 2010 campaign spending charges. There’s that questionable fundraiser now under investigation by Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner. Last fall, it was suggested that the councillor was paying below market rent owned by a developer that does business with the city.

It all adds up to a big ol’ bucket of What the Fuck? Just whose interests has Councillor Mammoliti been serving at City Hall?

While no official endorsement at this point, I will say that Keegan Henry-Mathieu appears on the tattered political landscape of Ward 7 like a refreshing breeze. I’ve met him a couple times in passing. He is some engaged, having spent time at City Hall as part of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, with an interest on issues like poverty, priority neighbourhoods, nutritional programs and equity. He would represent a much needed new voice on council and for Ward 7.keepcalmandturnthepage

Along with Lekan Olawoye who is challenging long time Ward 12 York South-Weston incumbent, Frank Di Giorgio, maybe Mr. Henry-Mathieu represents a new wave rising up against the old guard in the former city of York. If we could get somebody willing to step into the ring with Ward 11 York South-Weston councillor, Frances Nunziata, it might just be a movement stirring. A new generation of politicians, truly representing a post-amalgamated Toronto.

First, they take York. Then, they take Scarborough…

A guy can dream, can’t he?

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


The Mayoral Shakedown

November 30, 2012

There was a moment during the recess. A recess called by Deputy Speaker John Parker after Mayor Rob Ford lost his shit. Vintage Rob Ford losing his shit. angrybirdLosing his shit like we had not seen since he was Councillor Rob Ford.

The matter in hand was about parking. A proposed development in Councillor Adam Vaughan’s ward was going ahead without the amount of parking spaces the mayor deemed appropriate. Parking spaces the developer didn’t want to build.

The mayor thought it inconceivable anyone would want to live somewhere they had to take the streetcar to and from. Or bike in the winter. It was just another project Councillor Vaughan was trying to sneak through under cover of the dying moments of the third day of council meeting.

Heated words. A time out called. Both sides retired to their respective corners.

In that moment of recess, Rob Ford looked very contented. Unfazed by the fact he’d just got walloped in a previous vote over another proposed development in Councillor Vaughan’s ward that the city planning staff was not yet entirely on board with.alrightmrdemille Another item he’d lost his shit over.

But clearly, losing a vote hardly mattered to the mayor. Losing his shit was the whole point. He needed the clip, the sound bite, the TV moment. “Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

Throughout the three days of this council meeting, Mayor Ford had been absent, both physically and.. what? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? He’d checked out. Yet he hung around yesterday long after the higher profile items and motions had been dealt with. Long after his presence had been required. He wasn’t engaged so much as he was lurking.

“A shakedown! A shakedown of developers!” he bellowed on the first item he’d held for no apparent reason other than the opportunity to bellow ‘Shakedown!’ Under questioning, it was revealed he knew absolutely nothing about the development. He hadn’t talked with staff. He hadn’t attended community council meetings on the issue. He most certainly hadn’t consulted with Councillor Vaughan about the development.

He only knew that a million dollars in Section 37 money had been ponied up during the modification period between plans and that city staff still weren’t entirely ready to sign off on the project. hohumThat the gears for an OMB appeal had been set in motion and the city faced not only losing the Section 37 money but also the possibility of seeing an earlier version of the development nobody wanted didn’t factor into his thinking a bit. The mayor never uttered the words ‘corruption’ or ‘skulduggery’. ‘Shakedown’ was going to have to do.

Of course, under pressure, he retracted the statement. There must be limits even he has to going to court to defend his indefensible claims. But his purpose had been served. He’s Rob Ford, dammit! Listen to him roar! The base’ll love it.

Or at least that must have been his thinking.

The fact that the likes of Councillor Frank Di Giorgio saw through the ruse should set some alarm bells off for the dwindling ranks of Ford Nation. As any regular reader here knows, we’re no friend of Councillor Di Giorgio. He is often an object of ridicule for us. But during the insane hullabaloo the mayor triggered, the councillor made his way over to the planning staff, had a conversation with them and came back to make a speech in favour of Councillor Vaughan’s item. He even waved off Councillor Peter Milczyn’s placating motion of deferral. During the vote, with the mayor hissing at him and making menacing faces, Councillor Di Giorgio stood his ground and voted against the mayor.

He saw what we all saw.

Mayor Ford is unprincipled. Mayor Ford doesn’t give a shit about good governance. Mayor Ford doesn’t give a shit about good planning. Mayor Ford doesn’t give a flying fuck about the unwieldy oversight the Ontario Municipal Board possesses on development in this city. Mayor Ford doesn’t fucking respect the taxpayers.runforyourlife

Mayor Ford only cares about the Ford brand.

That’s what this whole unseemly set-to was about. Reasserting the maverick mayor. The lone wolf. Captain Shouty. Admiral Bluster.

Red-faced populism masking a deep seated contempt of democracy.

The mayor had reached back into that reserve in the hopes of reviving his Everyman image in the eyes of those still wanting to believe that’s who he was. It’s all he’s got. He seemed satisfied with his performance, perhaps even emboldened that once again he’d come out, drubbed, on the losing end of a council vote. He’d summoned the black magic that had worked so miraculously before, counting on enough people being fooled a second time to save him from the more ignoble fate that is slowly taking shape and waiting in those dark clouds off in the horizon.

still reelingly submitted by Cityslikr


Mayor Ford? Mayor Ford? Yoo-hoo! Mayor Ford?

June 26, 2012

I write this with an almost disinterested perplexity. Really? Do I have to? Really??

That the mayor of Toronto should, at the very least, attend the flag raising kick off to Pride week just a short drive walk from his City Hall office is beyond question to all but the most confirmed of homophobes. After a similarly uneasy Mel Lastman set aside his qualms and jumped feet first into the festivities, the die was cast. Some acknowledgement of the event had become part of a mayor’s job description.

The matter’s settled. End stop. Continued discussion of Mayor Ford’s rebuff is now officially boring and not much of a story anymore. He’s got issues, let’s just say. What other explanation could there be at this point?

But what perplexes me, frankly, is the manner in which the mayor once again went about excusing himself. And remember, we’re not talking about the parade here and its conflict with a family gathering up at the cottage. A non-holiday Monday gathering to read out the city’s proclamation touting tolerance, diversity, blah, blah, blah. At noon. Right when the mayor usually starts his work day.

He’s busy, we’re told.

Now, anyone who’s been following along with Mayor Ford’s performance recently knows that’s simply a blatant lie. It’s incomprehensible that he couldn’t find the time to squeeze in 15 minutes to do his duty, make an appearance, read what’s in front of him and get the hell out of there before he got any of teh gay on him. As an excuse, it was as lame as it was lazy.

A couple months back, the mayor’s former press secretary and now Toronto Sun columnist something, Adrienne Batra, suggested (while advising him to at least attend yesterday’s flag raising event it should be noted), it wasn’t a case of Mayor Ford being homophobic as it was him not wanting to ‘tick off’ or alienate his political base. Somehow to her mind that makes it more understandable? What happened to that straight shooting, tell it like it is, just one of us guys the mayor said he was? That just sounds like the unprincipled type of politician the mayor used to rail about.

It’s also amazingly passive, not wanting to alienate anybody. What happened to that unruly, renegade, maverick Councillor Rob Ford that 47% of voting Torontonians supported back in 2010? That guy would’ve avoided like the AIDS plague anything to do with Pride and told us right up front why. The city shouldn’t be in the business of supporting any sort of lifestyle choice or something along those lines. Anything.

He wouldn’t be afraid of alienating his base. He’d be activating it with dog whistles and coded language, using the opportunity to burnish the Ford brand of small-minded neo-conservatism. What happened to that guy?

MIA. AWOL. Hiding behind some make-believe itinerary and, in a scene that’s becoming more and more routine, winding up increasingly isolated on the wrong side of an issue. A healthy majority of council was present yesterday including some of the mayor’s closest allies. (Wait. Maybe ‘closet allies’ worked better.) Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. Speaker Frances Nunziata. Councillors Gary Crawford, Frank Di Giorgio and Cesar Palacio.

The mayor has simply stopped trying and leaves his more ardent defenders with little to stand up for him with aside from the usual meaningless tripe. Family first! (*sigh* We’re not talking about the parade.) Where does it say a mayor has to do anything about Pride? (*sigh* That’s like me, writing a Toronto municipal politics blog, saying who says I have to talk about the mayor?) It just comes with the territory.

Mayor Ford has become so detached from the proceedings at City Hall that not only is he blatantly shirking his responsibilities but he can’t even bother to come up with adequate excuses in an attempt to cover his tracks. The Mayor of Nothing, doing nothing and nothing doing as to why. If you ask me, it is the most curious of re-election routes.

wide openly submitted by Cityslikr