Whose Tune Are We Dancing To?

March 26, 2014

Set aside the back and forth debate on any and all ramifications of the island airport expansion and possibility of jets flying in and out of there. reasonablepersonThis is not about that. I have opinions for sure. But that’s not what this is about.

Trying not to invoke the language of hyperbole associated with this issue, that’s always seemed to be a part of the discussion surrounding the island airport, I’m searching for more moderate words, less combative declarations and judgments. To state it fair-mindedly and even-handedly. It seems to me… blah, blah, blah Steve Paikin not Christopher Hume sounding.

So, here goes.

It seems to me that at the heart of the island expansion and Porter desire to fly jets out of it debate is nothing less than the hijacking by a small gaggle of special interests of our entire democratic system of governance.

Hmmm….cutloose

“The clock is ticking for Porter Airlines to get a decision on jets at Toronto’s island airport,” Vanessa Lu wrote in the Toronto Star last Friday, “because the airline must soon put down non-refundable deposits on its Bombardier CSeries order.”

How soon, you might ask?

“Porter was originally scheduled to make non-refundable payments on its conditional order for 12 of Bombardier’s new CSeries jets in December,” Lu answers, “but won an extension to April.”

April, you say. Like this April? The month that starts next week with, well, wouldn’t you know it, a city council meeting where this item will figure prominently on the agenda?

Why, one might wonder, is the city working to a private company’s timetable? Supporters will point to all the new jobs and wonderful boost to the economy a jet flying, expanded island airport would bring to the city. Unfortunately, those claims are as hard to pin down as most of the others. In his interview with Metro Morning this morning, mayoral candidate John Tory manyunansweredquestions(who assured host Matt Galloway and the CBC audience that he had read the staff report) said there were 45 questions he needed to have answered before he’d give the plan the go-ahead.

45 different unanswered questions!

None more important to my mind than the design of the extended runway that would be needed to accommodate the jets. A runway extension right smack dab in the harbour. How would it affect other users of the public space? Boaters, waterfront residents and visitors. How would the new extended runway and the takeoff and landing of the jets affect the water front development further east along the donlands?

Maybe not at all. Maybe we wouldn’t even notice. But how can we decide about these things with so many open-ended questions still to be answered?

What’s the rush?

Well, we know the rush. Porter has to start putting serious cash down on the table, non-refundable cash for its order placed on 12 jets under the assumption, I guess, the airport expansion was a mere formality. Seems there might’ve been some misjudgement of the situation. rushWhy is that the city’s problem?

Under questioning from members of the Executive Committee last night, Deputy City Manager John Livey was as upfront as a bureaucrat can be expressing his view why the city should simply defer the question until next year when a whole bunch of the unanswered questions, including the new proposed runway design, might be available. Don’t do it. “It would be a very big mistake.”

“I lose leverage, I believe, in the negotiations,” the deputy city manager told the committee. “It would be a very big mistake to do a conditional approval. I think you, as council, would regret having made that decision.”

Yet those pushing hardest for the conditional approval are some of the biggest self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives on city council including Mayor Ford. Looking after every single taxpayer dime, he tells us ad nauseum, but there he was, pushing a motion calling for a conditional approval now. Let’s do this thing. Get `er done!

How exactly is putting the city in a weaker negotiating position going forward in any way fiscally prudent or deemed to be minding the store? porterairYou give a conditional approval, Porter hands over money to Bombardier it can no longer get back, come the time when a decision needs to be made and you don’t like the answers you’ve been giving and turn it down, Porter cries foul! But you said yes!

They’re then out millions and millions of dollars. Who are they looking to make reparations? The city’s been down that road before, has had to uncross that bridge, so to speak.

On top of which, as Councillor Peter Milczyn (the lone dissenter on the Executive Committee from pressing forward with the airport discussion) said on Metro Morning earlier today, there could be as much as $300 million worth of infrastructure upgrades required around the airport terminal at Bathurst and Lakeshore intersection in order to accommodate the airport expansion. bugsbunnysquaredanceThe Toronto Port Authority has already asked senior levels of government for up to $100 million of that.

$100 million that could be spent elsewhere. $100 million the city would put toward more pressing infrastructure needs. $100 million to service Porter’s needs, not Toronto’s.

Why would any city councillor put the interests of one private business ahead of those of the city they were elected to represent? That’s what this debate should be about. The rest of it is just shiny baubles and misdirection, intended to deflect from the real and, quite frankly, disturbing reason we’re having this debate at all.

curiously submitted by Cityslikr


The Wrong Fight For The Wrong Reason

August 2, 2013

So the 5 Ontario summer by-elections are over, and the ruling Liberal party has been humbled vindicated ignored tickertapeand nothing has changed everything has changed oh, I’m sorry, there were by-elections at Queen’s Park.

The Liberals remain in power and voters are now demanding an immediate general election praying to god we don’t have to go through such a depressing experience again for at least a few months couldn’t care a less.

What we do know, here in this city is that Mayor Ford and his councillor-brother Doug campaigned hard did as much work as they normally do for the winning losing Progressive Conservative party candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore Doug Holyday in particular, and the provincial PCs in general. The Tories remain in opposition, emboldened deflated by the results of the by-election, in no more control of the situation in the legislature than they were before the campaigns began. The fate of the government is still in the hands of rewritingthe NDP Green Party who stunned everyone by winning all five by-elections yesterday.

As the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat pointed out, the mayor really made no friends with the Liberals over the course of the last month or so, despite having a mutual love of subways. He took shots at them at every opportunity and made awkward kissy noises with the NDP in a naked attempt to promote vote splitting in the non-Tory vote. You see, Mayor Ford is a dyed-in-the-wool Progressive Conservative. That’s his team. The original blue, folks.

Party Family comes first for politicians like Rob Ford. The job he was elected to do merely an outcome, a result of his politics. Besides, as we’ve learned over the course of the last 3 and a half years, the mayor much prefers campaigning to actually governing. There are no responsibilities like keeping your promises, no consequences to not doing so. It’s just about winning or losing. All so simple. Just like football. Or hockey.

But in this particular game, there are implications to the mayor so blatantly taking sides.

What now of the extra $400 million he’s looking to the province for to build his Scarborough subway? bloodsportWhat possible reason would they have to play nice with him? If they took it on the chin yesterday especially to the PCs benefit, I’m pretty sure the post-mortem isn’t going to be they were not Rob Ford-friendly enough. They lost because their own supporters failed to show up, unimpressed with many things but certainly none of them had to do with being too unfriendly to our mayor.

And if the Liberals weren’t knocked back on their heels? If Tim Hudak’s PC party didn’t step up and assume its predicted rightful position as government in waiting? If our mayor was capable of any sort of self-awareness, well, oops.

Not only did he get all in the face of the government at Queen’s Park to no particular end aside from them being Liberal, it’s not far-fetched to think the mayor’s also further entrenched divisions at City Hall. What self-respecting Liberal sitting on council could now honestly believe that it’s anything other than the mayor’s way or the highway in terms of working with him? This isn’t news but it certainly should be a reality by now.disloyal

Card carrying Liberal party member Peter Milczyn has voted along with Mayor Ford more than 32 other councillors. On almost 9 out of every 10 big ticket issues as tracked by Matt Elliott, Councillor Milczyn backed the mayor, and for what? He’s a great guy, been a great chair of the… Planning and Transportation Planning and Growth Management Committee but, the mayor still very, very visibly campaigns against him.

Frankly, had Councillor Milczyn previously shown any evidence of possessing a backbone, I’d fully expect him to tender his resignation tomorrow morning today as chair of the…. Planning and Transportation Committee and member of the mayor’s Executive Committee. Mayor Ford and his brother showed the councillor absolutely no respect, refusing to simply stand this one out to allow two strong allies to battle with no outside intervention from the Ford family. losingticketBut with the 2014 municipal election just around the corner and Ford Nation lurking somewhere in the weeds out there…

Toronto should feel as equally betrayed by Mayor Ford who put party allegiance before his duty to represent the best interests of the city he was elected to lead. He’s declared himself an enemy of the provincial government who doesn’t appear now to be going away anytime soon. Wrong horse backed, we’re now all going to be paying for our mayor’s losing bet.

to showly submitted by Cityslikr


Summertime By-Election Blues

August 1, 2013

By-election day today in Ontario and, let me tell you, this is one election I am content to be able to sit out. hohum1While I can’t speak to the three races outside of Toronto, what we’ve witnessed with the two campaigns in town – Scarborough-Guildwood and Etobicoke-Lakeshore – has been dismal. Dismal, dreary, discouraging. If the intent of the three major parties was to disengage the voting public beyond what any summer by-election would do naturally, well, bravo. Slow clap and let me just rinse to get the bitter taste from my mouth.

If it wasn’t apparent in the last provincial general election, this past five weeks or so has shown beyond a doubt that the Liberal government is suffering through ruling rot. Three terms in now and it’s all about desperately holding on to power by any means necessary. ribbitHopes that a leadership change might’ve sparked some sort of internal renewal have pretty much been dashed by their performance at least here in the two Toronto riding by-elections.

Prime time for the opposition parties to step up and make their case.

But like in 2011, both the Tories and the NDP have run one note campaigns: The Liberals are bad. Time for a change. OK. I agree. What kind of change are you going to bring to Queen’s Park? The Liberals are bad. Time for a change. OK. We’ve established that. So what will you do differently if elected? The Liberals are bad. Time for a change. A change to what? The Liberals are bad. Time for a change.

Can you give me any sort of specific change you propose?

pander

SUBWAYS!!

But the Liberals are for subways too.

The Liberals are bad. Time for a change.

Throughout the last 3 rancorous, chaotic years at City Hall, there’s been a quiet conversation happening about perhaps the need for the discipline of party politics at the municipal level. partydisciplineToo many wildcards, acting in their own parochial best interests, making decisions in a willy-nilly fashion. Time to bring in the whip. Time to restore order.

Nothing about party politics at the provincial level currently would make me think this is a good idea. These by-election campaigns have revealed the system to be one of rigid thinking and unquestioning loyalty to a banner not the people. It warps otherwise seemingly well-intentioned candidates into talking point spewing automatons. How else to explain the former chair of the TTC and champion of the LRT-driven Transit City now referring to the technology as 2nd-class? His Liberal opponent, past CEO of the CivicAction Alliance, a group well-regarded as sensible contributors to the region’s transit debate, has thrown all that from the bus to embrace a sudden Scarborough subway zeal. brandloyaltyThe city’s Deputy Mayor who has spent some 30 years in municipal politics not building subways wants voters in his riding now to think he’ll deliver one to them as their MPP.

If as a voter in today’s two Toronto by-elections you can bring yourself to cast a ballot for any of the three major parties, you’re just pledging blind, partisan allegiance to empty party politics. You are part of the problem not the solution.

From my perspective, I’d like to see Doug Holyday win in Etobicoke-Lakeshore for no other reason than to have him take his cranky old man act the fuck out of City Hall and up to Queen’s Park. A side benefit might be that Peter Milczyn and the other nominal Liberals on council will realize that Mayor Ford is not their friend and that their relationship with him goes entirely in one-direction. protestvoteMaybe they’ll stop rolling over, hoping for a friendly rub of their bellies.

In Scarborough-Guildwood, it strikes me as the perfect time to go Green. The party’s candidate, Nick Leeson, has sounded the most reasonable, positive and not beholden the interests of Big Subway. I voted Green for the first time last provincial election and the world did not end. My candidate lost but, at the very least, I let it be known to the Liberals, PCs and NDP that none should take my vote for granted and that what they were delivering up as reasons to vote for them were no longer palatable options.

Today’s vote shouldn’t be seen as just a referendum on the sitting government. It needs to be an indictment of the entire system at Queen’s Park and the putrefying, self-serving culture it’s become.

protestly submitted by Cityslikr


Brick By Brick

May 10, 2013

Well, you have to hand it to him.strongmayor

No ifs ands or buts about it, Mayor Ford had his best day at city council yesterday in a long, long time. Not since the honeymoon period of his administration, when he was able to obliterate anything he didn’t like, has the mayor’s limited and dim view of government so thoroughly triumphed. Small wonder he proclaimed it the greatest day in the history of Toronto or some similar variation on the usual Fordian hyperbole.

He stood firm by his principles of not burdening the voters with taxation, and the majority of city council went along with him, outright rejecting almost all of the ‘revenue tools’ city staff had recommended as a way of funding Metrolinx’s Big Move. The mayor threatened all who dared to defy him with certain electoral defeat in next year’s campaign. cowerSome 30 long months into that heavy-handed schtick and with little evidence he’s ever carried that kind of clout, enough of his council colleagues tucked their tails between their legs and rolled over for him.

None more so than Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker who put his political self-interest right out there front and centre. On Wednesday, the councillor boldly stated on council floor that he would only support any revenue tools recommendations if, in return, the proposed Scarborough LRT extension was reverted to a subway. In effect, another demand, yet again, to alter the terms of the master agreement between the city and Metrolinx that’s in place for what is the first wave of the Big Move which includes the Eglinton crosstown LRT that is already under construction.

To bolster support in his Scarborough ward, Councillor De Baeremaeker argued that any other form of rapid transit aside from a subway was inferior, and that his residents and all of the residents of Scarborough were tired of living with inferior rapid transit (long a tactical political argument pushed by Mayor Ford). plottingFellow Scarborough councillor Michelle Berardinetti, bringing along some weird internecine provincial Liberal party baggage, helped prop up the argument with slides and talking points that must’ve brought tears to the eyes of the mayor. I’ve taught them so well. Fly, fly my children.

Of course, such cynical pandering was merely a prelude to the heaping helping of it that was to come. If there’s a more calculating member of city council, someone so utterly devoid of principle whose name isn’t Peter Milczyn, it has to be Josh Colle. His motion which was kinda-sorta an amendment to Councillor Milczyn’s, laid out the proposed revenue tools the city would not be supporting which was almost all of them. Let’s call it a negative motion because it put forward nothing, was big on nots with scant mention of anything positive.

When Councillor Matlow stood to ask Colle what exactly he was seeking to do with an amendment which sought to delete a segment of an earlier motion of Matlow’s supporting a proposed sales tax, fuel tax, parking levy and development charges, Councillor Colle said he was seeking to provide the province with an answer to their questions about revenue tools. faceplantNot answering would be impolite, I guess. But delivering an across the board no and a couple lukewarm shrugs of indifference represents the height of active engagement.

After more than a year of having her way on the transit file while stoking talk of a mayoral run along the way, TTC Chair Karen Stintz has taken her first serious stumble on this. By supporting a motion that essentially throws no support behind any revenue tools to build transit and by openly siding with misguided parochial pro-Scarborough subway councillors, Councillor Stintz positions herself with very little daylight showing between her views and those of Mayor Ford. The only difference, and it’s a very big difference, is that the mayor is upfront expressing his opinions. Councillor Stintz is simply pretending to express her opinions.

That’s a distinction voters pick up on and usual gravitate toward the one that feels more genuine.

One of the discouraging aspects of the outcome of all this is the pure abdication of responsibility shown by a majority of our city councillors. Not only did this overarching decision to avoid getting behind any of the transit building revenue tools simply dismiss the work done by the city manager and staff — that’s not an unusual occurrence — but it disregards the contribution made by thousands of residents who took time out to participate in the town halls and public sessions put on by the likes of Feelingcongested.ca and others. patontheheadSure, we appreciate your opinion, folks. *patpat* Now let us get on with the business of governing.

And by governing, of course, council displayed its preference to not govern. In deciding to sidestep the revenue tools discussion, they left the heavy lifting of persuading a public wary of new taxes that new taxes were necessary up to the provincial government. There is some merit to that since taxation is largely under the control of Queen’s Park. But to so thoroughly disavow any involvement in the funding discussion, to throw up your hands and say, hey, not me, all the while upping your ask for the transit you want built in your part of the city?

It just emphasizes the junior aspect in the junior level of government.

If you don’t want to make any of the difficult decisions in how something as important as transit gets built (all the while demanding your fair share of it), the next logical step is to cede control of the operations of it, isn’t it? busboyWhy should one level of government do all the politically risky work of getting the money together to fund public transit up and not make sure it is properly run and delivered? I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Metrolinx to do one of two things in the wake of Toronto city council’s decisions yesterday: walk away and say, have fun wallowing in your congestion or, thanks for all the help, guys. If you don’t mind stepping aside, we’ll take it from here.

And city council basically turns its attention to the more mundane matters of collecting our garbage, keeping our streets clean and our toilets properly flushed. Exactly the stuff Rob Ford tells us local politicians should be doing. By deciding to remain defiantly on the sidelines in the transit funding debate, city council embraced Rob Ford’s political philosophy of do little, tax little and always keep your cell phones on.

Which is fine if that’s all residents want from their councillors. But you can’t expect that and demand things like fully functioning public transit as well. There’s an additional cost that comes with it. One Mayor Ford and every councillor rejecting the idea of new transit taxes and fees refuses to acknowledge.

Near the end of the debate yesterday, the mayor touted his Subway Plan, and how council had previously rejected his Subway Plan. notnotlickingtoadsThe mayor has no subway plan. He rejected the revenue tools the Chong Report pushed that he cites as the backbone of his Subway Plan. He cannot point to the efficiencies he will find to fund his Subway Plan. The private sector has remained strangely silent on his Subway Plan.

There are no subways without the kinds of revenue tools Mayor Ford and city council refused to get behind. The mayor seems completely comfortable believing that’s not true. As long as we continue to throw our support behind politicians who believe that, we join in on that magical thinking and absolve ourselves of any responsibility for building a better city. We just want our garbage picked up, our street clean of debris and our toilets to flush without incident.

dispiritedly submitted by Cityslikr


You Can’t Build If You Don’t Know Where

April 15, 2013

Planning and Growth Management Committee

Remember that time I wrote something to the affect of, aside from the Budget Committee and maybe the Executive Committee, cityplanning5no committee was as important as the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee? Friday, I think it was.

Well, it seems I might have to revise that statement slightly after attending the Planning and Growth Management Committee meeting. It’s tough to build sewers and roads, lay track for rapid transit or sell off chunks of public space in return for ad revenue without knowing exactly where to do all that. Thus, Planning and Growth Management. Providing the proverbial blueprints in order for the digging to begin.

Planning and Growth Management is the yin to Public Works and Infrastructure yang of city building.

The Planning and Growth Management Committee’s primary focus is on urban form, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on planning, growth, and development of the City.

The first thing I learned at PGMC is that you have to actually have quorum to proceed with a meeting. Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start, if more than half the committee members are not present, that’s it. cityplanning2Recess until after lunch.

A bit of an eye-opener for anyone who’s made other plans for later in the day.

Fortunately, I’m not such a person.

Setting aside any petulance I might’ve had about this meeting not being important enough for a majority of its members to attend so why should I, I returned for the afternoon session. Quorum was achieved. The meeting got underway.

What quickly became apparent was that if there’s no Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong or Doug Ford on a committee, things move along very smoothly. Smoothly, amicably, productively. Why, near the end of Thursday’s meeting, when the committee chair, Councillor Peter Milczyn, put a motion up, the rest of the committee plus staff had input editing it to everyone’s satisfaction. Right there up on the screen for all to see.

Consensus!

While it’s certainly impossible to deny city council as a whole may be dysfunctional at the moment, it would be incorrect to assume the entire place is broken. Some vital organs are still operating. cityplanning4And it isn’t as if there’s nothing potentially contentious in the Planning and Growth Management file. Just think about two of those words. Planning. Growth. You’re doing what now to my neighbourhood?

If Public Works and Infrastructure is about the big ticket items money-wise, Planning and Growth Management deals with the aspirational big ticket items. Big ideas in theory. Transformative initiatives in a bid to make a city a better place.

Here’s some of the motions discussed at Thursday’s meeting:

Official Plan Amendment Application. Updated City-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines. Strategic Forest Management Plan. Addressing Mobility, Aligning Growth and Transit.

Everybody can point to planning projects that failed, some miserably so. Utter the name Robert Moses in many circles and observe the slow shaking of heads and guttural moans of disapproval. cityplanning3Toronto is undergoing two massive redevelopments at Regent’s Park and Lawrence Heights in an attempt to correct the mistakes of a previous era’s city planning approach.

But the thing about urban planning is, as with many of the social sciences, it isn’t an exact science. Even with the noblest of intentions, we can only proceed with the best available knowledge and information we have at hand. To expect anything more, to demand perfection, is futile, unreasonable and, ultimately, harmful. There are always going to be bumps in the road ahead, tweaks and overhauls that need to be done.

The worst thing a city could do in the face of problems that arise is to remain static. Fighting change because sometimes change doesn’t work. A reasonable and fact-based approach to planning and growth management is of supreme importance to any city’s future well-being. cityplanningIt should be the buttress against rampant, greed-based development, and residents need to be vigilant that’s what the committee is doing.

Councillor Josh Colle, the PGMC vice-chair, asked an interesting question of staff after the Tall Building Design Guideline presentation. In essence he wondered how best to lay out plans for tall buildings – intensification, basically – to neighbourhoods that have never had them before. Big, necessary change is afoot, folks. Here’s how we think it should happen.

Planning and Growth Management is not just about the kind of city we want to live in but the kind of city we leave to our kids and grandkids. The big of idea of posterity. Everybody needs to be a part of that discussion and, perhaps even more importantly, everybody needs to trust that the best interests of the city are being served and not just those of a selective few.

A tall order in the current environment of divisiveness and general scepticism toward the public good at City Hall. cityplanning1So it’s refreshing to watch, at least in one small corner, at a very important committee level, a communal sense of purpose between councillors of varying political stripes, and between elected officials and city staff.  Working together rather than looking to score cheap partisan points.

Yes Virginia, there can be accord at City Hall. You just need to know where to look for it.

smilingly submitted by Cityslikr

 


We Won’t Pay. We Can Pay. But You Pay.

December 12, 2012

Just another quick thought after this week’s deputations at the Budget Committee. My magnum opus on the subject is coming tomorrow. onemorething(That’s what you call a self-imposed deadline, folks. Fear of a ‘What is this shit again? You promised something weighty today’ response.)

At committee end yesterday, councillors split into their respective camps over the proposed 2013 budget, not coincidentally, the visiting ones largely on the ‘nay’ side while the mayor’s men, committee members, lining up in formation in the ‘yea’ aisle. To Take On More Debt Or Not To Take On More Debt. That was the question.

For a much more in-depth explanation of this budgetary divide, you need to read Matt Elliott’s analysis, Budget 101. But the gist of it is, some elected officials see debt as a useful tool in building and maintaining stuff a city needs like, say, basic infrastructure. Sewers, roads and sidewalks, transit. Others see debt and soil themselves.

Yeah. I think that about sums it up. Self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives want to run a government nothing like they would their households or businesses even while proclaiming that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. And they’re the ones who keep bringing that analogy up. Funny, that.

Never mind how Councillor Doug Ford used his three minutes to sum up the budget direction. Nonsense and hyperbole largely. Just a rehash of his greatest hits. Everything we’ve heard before, signifying nothing. womanscream(More Shakespearean allusions to give this thing some heft.)

Councillor Peter Milczyn piped in saying this budget and this administration he’s been an integral part of has done nothing more radical than reverse the Miller years’ habit of ‘spending money we didn’t have’, I believe is how he put it. Note to self: email councillor_milczyn@toronto.ca and ask how exactly he bought his house or car for that matter.

I know, I know.

I hate having to go to that well all the time but how else do you respond to such inane views of public sector financing? Seriously? I’m asking because I’ve tapped it dry and politicians like Councillor Milczyn never seem to tire of making such ridiculous claims.

Councillor John Parker took a more intriguing angle on the debt question. Citing the entirely self-imposed 15% debt level of the city’s property tax revenues, he suggested council shouldn’t aim for it simply because it was there. How’d he put it exactly? You don’t put canaries down a coal mine just to kill them. As if councillors want to mount that entirely artificial debt ceiling simply because it’s there and not because there’s pressing shit the city has to build and repair. But for the likes of Councillor Parker – a one-term member of the Mike Harris government, it should be noted regularly, a player on the team who kick-started us down this path of fiscal instability – debt ceilings, even ones as entirely manufactured as this one is, are there to be feared and trembled before, shied away from at all costs.

And make no mistake, there will be costs to such debt fear, there have been costs already (*A-hem, A-hem* TCHC repair backlog. The crumbling Gardiner. *A-hem, A-hem*). bleakfutureThose proclaiming that, at the end of the day, these are the times we live in, have played a major part in getting us here. In these times. At the end of the day. Catchphrases devoid of any real meaning, replacing real argument.

It seems perfectly acceptable and fiscally upright to defend our children and grandchildren from a future weighed down by financial debt. Yet somehow handing them the baton of decrepit infrastructure is hunky dory. Yes, kids. We could’ve helped you out, paid for some of this when interest rates were low and the costs less but instead, we saved ourselves a few bucks and left you to it. You’re welcome.

That’s what you call fiscal conservatism in these days we live in.

matter-of-factly submitted by Cityslikr


A Whole Lot Less Where That Came From

November 20, 2012

Taking a break from his Santa Claus Parade Promenade, Mayor Ford called into his Sunday afternoon radio show to make his case for a second term in office. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Obviously, we can’t do it in the next two years (the remainder of the current four-year term). I’m going to need at least another four to six years to complete the work, and we’ll take it from there.”

That’s the key. Never let the folks forget that we’re in a perpetual campaign. Keep the base stoked. Maybe they won’t realize just how little governing there is going on currently.

It was particularly rich, reading the mayor’s plea for four more years to git `er done, while sitting through his Executive Committee’s meeting yesterday. He was absent, of course, busy in court defending himself from libel charges. In his place, a heavy hanging sense of inertia filled the room. The exact opposite of gittin’ `er done. Not gittin’ `er done, let’s call it to double underline my point.

The agenda was just eleven items long. Meatier ones like the 2013 Rate Supported Budgets for water, solid waste collection and the Parking Authority were adopted almost perfunctorily lickety-split. No debate, no questions to staff, just got `er done.

What took the majority of the committee’s time? Some five hours, part of it in camera, wrestling with the future of three city owned theatres. And in the end? A decision deferred for four months.

Now, look.

I’m not suggesting this isn’t an important matter that needs to be carefully sorted through. But should the Executive Committee be the one agonizing over it at this juncture? We’re talking about a net expenditure last year for the city of less than three million dollars. Surely there’s a more appropriate committee to be banging out the details. The Economic Development Committee perhaps? Even the Budget Committee.

The Executive Committee is a mayor’s steering committee. The hands on the tiller, charting a direction, shaping a mandate and agenda. The brain trust.

Under this mayor, it’s now relegated to wasteful micro-managing. Stuff people devoid of bigger ideas spend time doing to make it seem like they’re doing something important. Treading water, shuffling papers, looking busy.

The only jolt of life during the meeting came from a brief spat between councillors Minnan-Wong, Shiner and Thompson. Councillor Minnan-Wong took exception to the disrespectful manner in which he felt Councillor Thompson was questioning one of the deputants (yeah, insert laugh track here. Denzil? Meet respect. Respect? Some guy who has no time for you.) Sitting between the two, Councillor Shiner interjected, causing DMW to snap something about ‘your stupidity’, apparently referring to the plastic bag ban Shiner had instigated at council. ‘Sue me, Denzil’, came the response, proving only that Councillor David Shiner is the sharpest member of the Executive Committee.

Dust settled, it was back to the matter of doing precious little.

It could be argued that this Executive Committee might be merely running out the clock. The last meeting of the first half of term, they were lame ducking it. Indeed, exiting member Councillor Berardinetti skipped out to attend a ward event, never to return. (Hey. If the mayor can beg off to coach football…) Might as well put off any serious decisions until the new blood arrives to re-energize the atmosphere. Shuffle the deck. Shake up the roster. Refocus. Get `er Done.

But the fact of the matter is, the mayor has done nothing more than retweak. One councillor in, one councillor out. The mushy middle Josh Colle will still be outnumbered on Executive Committee by do-nothing loyalists like councillors Paul Ainslie, Norm Kelly, Peter Milczyn and Cesar Palacio. That’s the mayor’s team. The one’s who’ve allowed things to grind to a screeching halt, a mid-air stall out.

And he’s out there on the hustings already, talking four more years?

Out of breath and ideas, he’s barely limping past the first halfway mark.

windedly submitted by Cityslikr