Cherish The Moment

The Great Shark Fin Ban Debate 2011. Offering us up a glimpse of what we’d naively hoped against hope would be a regular city council occurrence when we were shocked to learn last October that Rob Ford was going to be our next mayor. A once renegade mavericky councillor turned big kahuna still constantly on the losing end of votes, often times by wide margins. The mayor’s powers useless in his ham-fisted hands.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. So it was nice to revel in the vibe of seeing Mayor Ford one of only 4 votes against a municipal shark fin ban yesterday. Maybe, unlike the puzzling gustatorial appeal of said soup, other councillors might get to like the taste of that, drubbing the mayor. I refuse to let go of my dreams just yet.

To give the mayor his due, it is completely consistent with his small government, libertarian views that elected officials should not be telling people what they can eat. What they can buy in city operated vending machines. It’s a belief that also makes him uncomfortable with the idea of random drug and alcohol testing. As heartless as it appears toward the plight of sharks, it totally makes sense Mayor Ford would vote against such a ban.

Maybe the same can be said about Councillor David Shiner although I didn’t hear him speak out about why he opposed the ban. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Either that or he really, really hates sharks. Or maybe just Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker for floating his mechanical shark in council chambers before the debate began.

Don Peat -- Toronto Sun

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday’s opposition was much less defensible. While also a small government conservative, his tack seemed to be protecting the city against any possible lawsuits stemming from the ban. Over and over again he used the legal departments caution about a ban as justification for not proceeding. But seriously, when is a city’s legal department not cautious? If asked, their default will always be that any course of action council chooses to make could lead to legal action against it. Even from one of their very own, isn’t that right Deputy Mayor? Mr. Holyday’s resistance seemed nothing more than craven and querulous.

Ditto Councillor Mammoliti. It appears in defence of the mayor no argument is too ludicrous to make, no stance too bone-headed for Team Ford’s QB. Add to that a crowded gallery full of hippy activists and quite possible communists, Councillor Mammoliti is in his element. He bellows and belches purely to provoke. ”… a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing. “

All of the air was let out of Mammoliti’s bluster balloon by Councillor Chin Lee. Of actual Chinese heritage and representing a ward with over 50% of its population being ethnically Chinese (Councillor Mammoliti’s Ward 7 is less than 3%), Councillor Lee quietly dismissed Mammoliti’s cultural encroachment claim. After doing some legwork, talking to his constituents, Lee felt comfortable with the ban, once more proving himself to be an independent minded, right leaning councillor who will not mindlessly follow the mayor down any crooked path.

Even the normally docile and obedient mayoral acolyte, Councillor Cesar Palacio stood up to be counted. This after his public claim that the mayor would be supporting the ban turned out to be more wishful thinking than actual fact. The ban was ‘the right thing to do’, the councillor told his colleagues. See, Councillor Palacio? The sky didn’t fall when you defied the mayor’s wishes.

Since I’m all about the kudos now, I have to give a shout out to the budget chief, Mike Del Grande. He gave what I’d call a puppies and baby seals environmental plea, decrying our ransacking, pillaging and preying upon other species. Lawsuits be damned, he told the room (more or less). A stand had to be made to atone for our planetary misdeeds.

I really want to leave it right there, on a complimentary note to the budget chief. But he really doesn’t seem to get the whole environmental angle. One day after his pro-shark fin ban speech, according to the Star’s David Rider, Del Grande was railing about his colleagues who opted for the more expensive UV treatment of sewage at Ashbridge’s Bay over the cheaper chemical rinse, his compassion for marine life, apparently, doesn’t extend to the creatures living in Lake Ontario. “We can’t afford it,” the budget chief claimed.

** sigh **

And there we go, back to reality. Our little dream world of a fringe mayor marginalized as ephemeral as the fanciest of fancies. It was sure nice, though, while it lasted.

wistfully submitted by Cityslikr

An Honest Debate

At this point, I don’t think it’s at all out of line or libellous to call Mayor Rob Ford a liar. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker owes the mayor no apology for doing so yesterday as proposed service cuts were made public by city manager Joe Pennachetti. Throughout last year’s mayoral campaign, then Councillor Rob Ford went on and on and on and on about all the wasteful spending at City Hall, and how he, if elected, could cut spending, cut taxes without cutting services. Guaranteed.

We all heard it. Some disputed it. Others bought it. But it is on record and Mayor Ford can’t wiggle out from under it. He lied.

The alternative explanation is that he’s just flat out dumb. After 10 years sitting at council, a decade of experience with the budget process under his belt, and he still didn’t understand how it all worked. Mesmerized by the big numbers being thrown around, numbers that dwarfed anything he’d ever seen or dealt with at his family business, he wrongly assumed it was all so excessive. There’d be no problem trimming the layers of fat without laying a finger on any services. Guaranteed.

With reality’s baleful gaze quickly mocking such thinking, even the dumbest of dummies would eventually reconsider their errant thinking. Ooops. I was wrong, folks. Services are intricately connected to revenue streams. Who knew? I’m going to need a do over on all that campaign rhetoric.

But the mayor and those in his camp are no dummies. They knew all along service cuts were in the offing but saying so out loud during an election campaign was political poison. People like their taxes low, sure. Until you link low taxes to decreased services that many rely on and take for granted. My taxes pay for snow removal? My taxes put police on the streets? That’s an entirely different discussion.

So now we’re hearing that what the mayor actually said during the campaign was that there would be no ‘massive’ service cuts. It’s not cuts. It’s efficiencies. Wait, wait, wait. I especially love this piece of (and I summon the spirit of Allan Fotheringham on this… Fotheringham’s dead, right?) bafflegab: alternative service delivery.


Take that, English language. I tie you up like a pretzel and rendered you meaningless.

In an essential Ford For Toronto post yesterday, Matt Elliott linked the $100 million of lost revenue to the city after council froze property taxes and rescinded the vehicle registration tax and the $100 million cuts in services proposed in the Core Services Review report handed over to the Executive Committee. By forgoing the $60 VRT and any property tax increase last year, the city is now facing possible cuts in snow removal, policing, library service, the TTC, Planning and Heritage, Parks and Recreation and so on and son. A direct contradiction of what the mayor promised us on the campaign trail less than a year ago.

Now, if you’re OK with that, if paying as little tax as possible trumps maintaining current service levels that the city provides, fine. Let’s debate that.  But let’s stop pretending this is about anything else. Let’s just be honest and admit tax cuts/freezes=service cuts. Anything else is simply lies, distortion, obfuscation and did I say lies?

And until Mayor Ford is candid enough to come right out and say what his plans have always been, that he doesn’t give a fuck about most of the services the city provides, that everything outside of keeping the streets safe and clean is gravy, he must be treated as a dishonest agent. Everything that comes out of his mouth is suspect. Everyone who steps up to come to his defense, spouting nonsense, claptrap and Six Sigma businessese is equally culpable of making honest discourse impossible.

An honest debate. That’s what we need to proceed.


matter of factly submitted by Cityslikr