Striking Out At Striking Committee

November 19, 2012

If anyone’s still patiently waiting for the Ford administration to get its shit together after two years at the helm, you only need to look at Friday’s events to realize that’s probably not ever going to happen. Either through sheer incompetence or simply not giving a fuck, the mayor and his… brain trust, let’s call them, seem content to simply fly by the seat of its collective pants and let the chips fall where they may. No direction. No design. No over-arching bigger picture.

No nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

As Mayor Ford took the stand to defend himself against a case of libel, his Striking Committee settled in to sort out councillor (re)assignments on council’s committees, boards and agencies for the second half of the term. How badly did it go? Well, the mayor did better in court than the Striking Committee did doing its work, and the mayor didn’t do very well. Following along with both events via the Twitter, it wouldn’t be out of line to call it all a two-pronged shit show.

Establishing councillor representation of the city’s ABCs goes a long way to determining how successfully mayors roll out their agenda. Deftly beating out the wrinkles in items and motions at the committee level smooths the ride out for them when they arrive at council meetings. Arguably, good, thorough work done at committees will help lessen the time and length of full council meetings.

Naturally, any mayor wants and should have a majority of like-minded councillors in control of the committees. At least the ones they view as important. (Take a peek at the proposed line-up of the Community Development and Recreation Committee to see what little interest the mayor has with those issues. If the committee gets too big for its britches, he can bury its motions at Executive or Budget Committees.) There has to be an upside to our semi-strong mayoral system. Committees shouldn’t be a quagmire for an administration, the places a mandate goes to die.

That said, committee make-up also needs to reflect the diversity and regional representation of Toronto. From the outset back in 2010, Mayor Ford has shrugged that obligation off, choosing instead to load up the committees he cares about with loyalty first and foremost. Nothing from Friday’s Striking Committee circus suggests he plans on anything different for the second half of his time in office.

His Executive Committee, nine of the thirteen members there “…by virtue of office or having been appointed by the Mayor as a Standing Committee Chair” and the remaining four selected as at-large members are all from the inner suburbs and only one isn’t male. Ditto the Budget Committee. Its six proposed members are all suburban and only one is female. If Councillor Mike Del Grande is re-named chair by the Executive Committee, the rigid and narrow gender, regional and ideological pattern will be reinforced.

Such flagrant disregard of even a semblance of bi-partisanship led to the Striking Committee meeting’s biggest flare up. According to tweets from the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat and Star’s David Rider, Councillor David Shiner appeared to have lost his cool with the proceedings and the mayor’s staff over moves to leave him on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and remove Councillor Gord Perks.

“At striking committee where midterm council appointments being hashed out, [Councillor] Shiner is blowing his top,” tweeted Rider. “[Councillor] Shiner now very mad at Mayor Rob Ford’s office staff,” from Peat. Peat again, “”Your boss doesn’t consult, your boss works in a vacuum. The chief of staff doesn’t consult & guess what, you don’t win like that,” from Councillor Shiner. Summarizing, David Rider tweeted, “Backstory to Shiner flipout is he was angry that mayor’s staff want to take uber-knowledgable Cllr Perks off public works.”

So a noted conservative councillor, a regular ally of Mayor Ford (plastic bag ban aside) goes all snake (to paraphrase the mayor) on the mayor’s staff and the Striking Committee process because he feels that they’ve put politics ahead of good governance by moving to replace a qualified but ideologically opposed councillor on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee with, let’s face it, nothing more than a major mayoral toady, Speaker Frances Nunziata.

And there’s poor Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday seemingly baffled by the kerfuffle.

“I would have thought someone would like the opportunity to serve on executive.” 

Why, when only the most blindly loyal need apply?

No, that’s not entirely true.

The blindly loyal, nakedly political and/or most highly delusional.

After musing out loud earlier this year about leaving the Executive Committee, Councillor Jaye Robinson will be back for another kick at the can. In replacing Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti as the chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, she will return to the Executive Committee, the lone female representative. Councillor Michelle Berardinetti has jumped ship, citing a desire to be free of “…intense vote-whipping pressure from Ford’s staff… on even minor issues.”

For her part, Councillor Robinson still believes she can be a “moderating influence” on the Executive Committee. Just like the committee’s newest member, Councillor Josh Colle. “My hope is that I can inject some reason and ration and new ideas into some of those [Executive Committee] discussions,” he said.  “I think I can contribute to that discussion and hopefully some refocusing.”

Well, good luck to them on that front, I say. Both have, at times, been the faces of moderating influence on the Ford Administration. Councillor Robinson led the pushback to the mayor and his brother’s wacky waterfront plans while Councillor Colle announced the proposal to eliminate some proposed cuts in last year’s operating budget. But I would argue that was done at council level where there are actual allies for them to count on.

The Executive Committee?

Aside from the occasional renegade in Councillor Shiner, there’s not a single face of moderation on the committee. Maybe councillors Ainslie, Milczyn or Thompson on particular issues but even then, that’s still a minority in the room. So why would either Colle or Robinson want to waste their time and energy trying to roll that rock up the hill?

If anything, the messy, partisan cock up at Friday’s Striking Committee session should only have emphasized to them that Team Ford remains in highly immoderate mode.

just sayingly submitted by Cityslikr


Bad Mojo Rising

November 5, 2012

How much weight is too much for even the strongest of Mayor Ford supporters on city council to bear?

I ask as the Executive Committee goes in to session today, dealing with such matters as a casino, property taxes, capital budgets and Mayor Ford’s bogged down in yet another football coaching related controversy, his ability to lead once again hampered by questions of bad judgement. Where’s the tipping point when even members of his own Executive Committee decide the city’s future, as well as their political fortunes, will be irrevocably harmed by a continued enabling of the Ford administration? When will good governance trump crass politics?

Now maybe everyone’s hoping that once the high school football season ends in a couple weeks or so, the mayor will re-focus his attention on the job he’s actually paid to do. But unless he vows to dial back on his involvement next fall and the fall after that, it will be on ongoing item of contention. (Could it be he’s all in now, working toward a championship season so that he can announce his temporary retirement and go out a winner? Stay tuned, Don Bosco Eagles’ fans).

But I think it’s safe to say that the mayor’s troubles aren’t really seasonal and the rate of such incidences is hardly declining as he gets more comfortable in his role. Sure, they’ve spiked this fall but it’s not like they return to an acceptable level of competency. It is truly a regression to the mean in the case of Mayor Ford’s ongoing transgressions.

Councillor Jaye Robinson announced earlier this year that she’s leaving the Executive Committee at the end of 2012. There are similar rumblings from Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. Councillor David Shiner is on the outs with the mayor after his motion to ban plastic bags made it through city council. Although highly unlikely to jump ship, councillors Milczyn, Minnan-Wong and Thompson have all been openly critical of Mayor Ford on various issues over the last couple months.

This is a leaky boat that can only keep afloat if the mayor stops punching holes in it. Mayoral clout is as effective as the power that wields it. The bully possesses strength through fear and intimidation. If Mayor Ford continues to piss away base support with these ridiculously preventable missteps and abuses of position, what’s to fear or be intimidated by? Sure, he can remove you as chair of a committee or boot you from Executive but so what? As his reputation sinks, there’s less and less upside for councillors to hitch their wagons to him.

This is go time for Team Ford. The debate over the 2013 operating and capital budgets is just starting and will not only determine the direction going forward but may define his term in office. (The 2014 budgets will be seen as little more than a campaign document.) If the mayor squanders this opportunity, either through an obstinate adherence to bad policy ideas or bad behaviour, he might not be able to reassume even the appearance of council leadership. That would leave him, going into the next election campaign looking like an out of control (gravy) train wreck.

 

prognosticatingly submitted by Cityslikr


Disbelief Fatigue

September 20, 2012

What’s the best way to torpedo an out of town, largely benign, taxpayer funded business ‘trade mission’ taken by some elected representatives? Spend your decade+ time in politics railing about out of town taxpayer funded jaunts taken by elected representatives. It makes for some awkward questions before you even get to the airport.

No reasonable person living in a rational time would begrudge our politicians the opportunity to occasionally head out, meet and greet, talk and listen, move and shake with the wider world as part of their job description. Maybe it brings 100s of new jobs with it. Maybe different approaches to governance are hashed out. Or maybe it just lends itself to help develop a wider, broader perspective. Surely that can’t be bad.

As long as there are proper checks in place, guidelines to follow, transparency on offer so that we can be as sure as we ever can be about these things that propriety is being maintained and, for the most part, we are funding a work-related trip, have at it. Enjoy. Learn. Schmooze.

Nobody I take very seriously on these matters decried Mayor Ford’s Chicago trip this week. That is, until he tried to pretend it was somehow different from other trips members of city council take as part of doing the city’s business. That somehow this was different and new ground was being broken.

Or that it wasn’t costing taxpayers one dime or one red cent.

See, this is where the mayor does himself no favours, creates a mountain out of molehill and proceeds to overshadow any positives he may have been contributing. It also reveals, once again, his inability to see past his own nose, out beyond the bubble of his own life. What seems to be mounting evidence of a stunning lack of empathy.

He’s paying for the trip out of his own pocket therefore it’s costing the taxpayers nothing. What about city staff? Is he covering their trip as well? Are they? What about the eight councillors attending the trip with him?

Well, Councillor Michael Thompson made it pretty darn clear he wasn’t paying for the trip out of his own pocket. “It is important city business,” Councillor Peter Milczyn said, “so it is an allowable expense under the office expense policy that is how it is being paid for.” Councillor Michelle Berardinetti also expressed some doubt she’d be footing her bill on her own dime.

And they’re right!

If they’re traveling on legitimate business, if it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, the economy, the economy, the economy, if they’re working hard “…to promote trade between the City of Chicago and the City of Toronto,” as Councillor Thompson said, why the fuck should they have to pay for it? The idea is that we’d all benefit from that. So yeah. Submit your receipts and expense report and it’s all good.

Our rich mayor should not be the standard bearer for public service. Among the countless other reasons why, we don’t want to start demanding from those who seek elected office they pay for any and all on the job incidentals. It would restrict the field of candidates to a very small and, quite possibly, democratically undesirable segment of our population. Mitt Romney anyone?

And has anyone ever asked Mayor Ford, come tax time in late April, if he writes off all the work related costs he incurs as business expenses? It would make sense if he did. Perfectly legitimate. But, we have been told, there’s only one taxpayer, haven’t we?

It’s this constant twisting and turning of the truth that grows tiresome. The cognitive dissonance the mayor must operate under – official trips are gravy unless he goes on one of them – is now not just his to deal with. It’s ours. It’s afflicting not only our discourse but the running of the city.

In The Grid yesterday, Edward Keenan wrote about how Mayor Ford built his career on sweating the small stuff, “…pointing out penny-ante spending frivolities”. Councillor Rob Ford convinced us it was important enough to the city as a whole that we elected him mayor. His inability as mayor to cope with, let alone even understand or comprehend the bigger stuff, the defining issues like transit, public housing, the basic fundamentals of adhering to conflict of interest rules somehow gets framed as partisan gamesmanship. You just disagree with/are piling on the mayor because you’re [fill in the blank].

We’re living through some sort of political event horizon currently. Reality’s gravity is sucking all matter that’s been flimsily attached to misguided belief. I’m pretty sure I know which is which but the fact I’m not absolutely convinced makes me very nervous about how this is all going to turn out.

weighed downedly submitted by Cityslikr


Conservative Conundrum

September 14, 2012

As the football shit show builds and swirls around Mayor Rob Ford, much chatter continues about his re-election chances in 2014, if there are any re-election chances for him once the courts and city’s Integrity Commissioner are done with him. Who from the left will run against him? Adam? Shelley? Does the barrage of accusations and criticism hinder them or only serve to strengthen the mayor’s core support?

But I’m sitting here wondering, what are the Ford Follies doing to the right wing at council?

Surely, the mayor and his councillor-brother must be hurting the brand. Whatever accomplishments they may try to lay claim to are now getting lost in the disbelief shuffle. Repealed the VR–Sorry, I can’t hear you above the din of special assistant/assistant football coaches. Settled city workers’ contracts without hav—What’s that you’re saying? Apparently city owned cars were used to chauffeur around football players. Cut councillor office expenses. You’re kidding, right. Cut councillor office expenses? Ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha. Hahahahahahahah…!

Before becoming mayor, Rob Ford made few allies at City Hall. That was his schtick, the whole lone wolf outsider, giving the straight goods on council waste, nefariousness and gravy train riding. He manned the parapets of eagle-eyed fiscal conservatism.

As mayor, Ford was able to pull together a loose coalition largely through the bullying use of the power of his office. Sure, there are a handful of true hearted believers in the Fordian crusade to cut spending at the municipal level to the barest of the bare minimum and keep taxes unworkably low. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. Budget Chief Mike Del Grande. Speaker Frances Nunziata. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

But what about the likes of councillors Mark Grimes and Norm Kelly or newcomers like councillors Vincent Crisanti and Gary Crawford? Bona fide, hard core supporters of the cause or just simply along for the ride? It could be argued that Councillor Crisanti owes his fledging career to the mayor’s efforts to unseat former Ward 1 councillor, Suzan Hall. If he keeps his dingy tied to the current ship of state, doesn’t he risk drowning if the whole contraption goes under?

Where does the latest mayoral imbroglio leave councillors Paul Ainslie and Peter Milczyn, both of whom are going about their business, trying to do interesting things within their sphere of influence at City Hall. They owe their positions to Mayor Ford’s appointment largesse. Just how far does their allegiance go because of that? Not to mention Councillor Milczyn was targeted for defeat in the last election by the Ford campaign. He must be itching for a little payback right around about now.

Council conservative stalwarts like Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson and David Shiner have already openly defied the mayor on certain issues (as has Councillor John Parker in a supporting role). Mayor Ford’s weakened position can only encourage further independence and, in the case of Councillor Stintz, a solidifying of leadership in her position as TTC chair. If he wasn’t a non-issue on the transit file before this summer’s series of flaps, he most definitely is now.

Then there’s the wildcard, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. A long time foe of Rob Ford right up until he suspended his campaign for mayor in the late summer of 2010, he effortlessly flip-flopped and became a BFF, soaking up the power that comes with sitting at the mayor’s right hand. Why would anyone be surprised if he just as easily reverts back to previous form now that Mayor Ford’s shining star has dimmed significantly? Where’s Councillor Mammoliti been for the last month or so?

In fact, outside of Councillor Ford, the Deputy Mayor and the Speaker, very few of the mayor’s inner circle have rushed to his defence. Fear based loyalty is not all that binding. A marriage of convenience dissolves when it’s no longer convenient. What allegiance to him remains in conservative circles at City Hall is little more than a delicate balance, keeping their distance while espousing similar fiscal policies. Kill the messenger if you must but don’t abandon the message.

If the mayor staggers through all this and is still up for a run at re-election, will other conservatives stand back and allow him to be their standard bearer? That would seem suicidal. Even if Mayor Ford could stage such an improbable comeback, it’s hard to fathom how he would have the coat tails to seriously re-configure council in his favour. So, you’d be facing another four years of council deadlock with little input from the mayor.

It strikes me that a golden opportunity is forming for a moderate conservative candidate to mount a successful campaign for mayor in 2014 even if the nebulous left puts up only one credible opponent. Think about it. Mayor Ford will always have his core support. Pick a number. 20, 25% of voters? Could it be much higher if he continues to alienate every newspaper in this city?

So a right of centre candidate steps up, picks off all the soft Ford support that has abandoned him and claims the middle. All those Torontonians who still believe in small government, low taxes, accountability. What’s that, half the 2010 Ford votes and a sizeable chunk of George Smiterman’s supporters? That would be some hefty number to contemplate.

There’s been much idle chatter since, well probably, October 26th, 2010 about possible winning match-ups against Mayor Ford down the road in 2014. Most of it has involved coming up with 1 candidate from the left side of the political spectrum in order to avoid vote splitting. But I think the real split, the actual divide that’s happening now not 2 years hence is on the right. It’s a split between the dwindling Ford camp and conservatives who still believe in the competency and conscientiousness of government. The bridge between them has been burned and there’s really no going back.

analytically submitted by Cityslikr


N O Are The First Two Letters In Nothing

June 29, 2012

This needs to be said.

Our parents and grandparents and great grandparents mobilized and defeated Nazi Germany. So, surely to god we can build a better transit system. Is that really too much to expect?

The hand-wringing and bed wetting and patronizingly stern tsk, tsk, tsk, we’ve seen this all before m’eh reactions to Wednesday’s One City public unveiling seem a little over-the-top in their underwhelmed haughtiness. Blah, blah, blah, “…the real issue that calls the OneCity plan into question: The fact that it will never, ever happen,” sniffs the National Post’s Matt Gurney. “A Tax Attack,” screeched the Toronto Sun, followed by “Taxaholics” yesterday.

Of course, the mayor hated the plan. As did his brother. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti warned of seniors reduced to eating cat food if the plan ever saw the light of day. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong riffed on anything Mayor Ford and the Toronto Sun said.

Others like Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and Councillor Michael Thompson didn’t like the fact proper procedures weren’t followed in bringing the plan public. “A political move to try and make the mayor look bad,” said the Deputy Mayor to the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat. “I’m appalled actually,” Peat quotes Thompson, “that the mayor’s office has not been consulted on this particular, very important issue.” On the CBC’s Here And Now Wednesday, Councillor Peter Milczyn suggested the architect’s of One City, TTC Chair and Vice-Chair Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker were “up to something”.

Whatever could you mean by that insinuation, councillor?

Is One City a perfect transit plan? Of course not. Many reasonable voices have pointed that out and elaborated on their concerns. John Lorinc. Steve Munro. Edward Keenan. David Hains (here at this site yesterday). Matt Elliott.

It’s just a kick start to the conversation the city needs to have before it falls into the inevitable post-subway-versus-LRT debate torpor that could set in with the belief that our transit situation has been settled for good. No, it hasn’t, folks. We’ve only just begun…

One complaint about One City that I’ve seen repeatedly so far bemoans the fact that it’s just another talky talky plan, some variation of something everyone’s heard before, and that has inevitably landed in the dustbin. We’ve discussed ourselves into substandard public transit. Enough, already! As if, like mushrooms, all the words sown under a damp shadow of neglect will suddenly, magically sprout up into a working, joyful 21st-century transit system.

I’m only guessing here but isn’t it this type of miserly, parochial foot-dragging that’s got us into our current mess? I’d love a DRL but we simply can’t afford it. Why do they get a subway and we don’t?! All we ever do is talk! Just stop talking and do something! Like what? I don’t know. We can’t afford it anyway.

Ad infinitum and here we are in 2012 discussing another big idea transit plan. *yawn*

“Wow! Those Germans really cut a swath through France, didn’t they,” points out the rest of the unoccupied world. “They look like a real tough nut to crack. Maybe we should just lie low for a bit. Keep quiet. Let them tire themselves out a bit.”

Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of something that contributed positively to the future instead of yet another generation dissuaded by indifference and big scary numbers? Pick one. $30 billion? $50 billion? $500 billion? Half a trillion dollars to build a world class transit system from Hamilton to Oshawa, from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe. Daunting. Yes. Absolutely necessary. Yes. Achievable. Well.. errr, ahhh, geez… that’s a lot of money. I mean, how are we going to—

[Annoying game show buzzing noise.] Wrong answer.

Cost is just half the equation. The half fiscal hawks only ever focus their sights on. The price of not doing it slowly but relentlessly, exponentially tally up. Lost productivity. Decreased liveability. A gridlocked future our children and grandchildren will simply move away from in search of a better, more prosperous life.

For the want of a nail, the kingdom was lost and all that.

Nothing is easier than saying no. Isn’t that how a two year-old takes a first stab at independence? Isn’t that how we’ve found ourselves in the transit mess we’re in now?

No one, and I mean no one, has suggested One City will be the answer to our transit troubles. Let’s embrace the spirit of its intentions. An agreement that the status quo is no longer tenable, and hasn’t been for about two decades now. We can do better. We have to do better. And there’s going to be sacrifices involved. The rainy day’s here and we need to, as the currency of the day seems to be, put some skin into the game.

After all, in the scheme of things, it’s only building transit we’re talking about here not defending the world from a totalitarian scourge.

cheerleadingly submitted by Cityslikr


Why One City’s Flaws Are OK

June 28, 2012

(Our 2nd favourite City Hall watcher — come on, seriously, who can top the Toronto Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy? — David Hains deigns to grace our pages with his thoughts on the new proposed transit plan, One City. Every now and then we do like to offer up some actual clear-headed analysis. Thanks, David.)

* * *

When it came time to discuss how to fund the Sheppard subway plan, Doug Ford knew how he felt. As is his talent, he put it simply, “All taxes are evil, as far as I’m concerned.”

With this statement, the councillor for Ward Two made it clear that there was no discussion to be had. His was an absolutist belief, and it is one which says nothing is worth having unless it is free.

Of course, that is not the world most of us live in, the one called ‘reality’.

The reality of the situation is Toronto needs massive investment in transportation to be economically competitive and make the city more livable. With an average commute found to be the worst in North America, the current ‘Big Move’ strategy is projected to only maintain current levels of congestion, and focusing on a cars-only strategy won’t deliver the progress that’s needed.

Which brings us to One City, the supposed antidote for Toronto’s transit ills. It’s massive in every dimension: investment, scope, and ambition. And for a city that is preternaturally risk-averse and provincial when it comes to realizing its stated visions, this actually seems to have political support.

Council’s newfound pluralism, as left-leaning councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) put it, is the direct result of the necessity of leadership created by a mayor lacking vision, moral authority or a solid attendance record at city hall.

Into that void steps Stintz, fulfilling her role as TTC chair with a plan and some staggering numbers. $30 billion. Six subway lines. 10 LRT lines. 5 bus and streetcar lines. $180 per year in property taxes for the average household over the next 26 years (phased in over four years).

Naturally, there are flaws and this process will have immense obstacles.

It needs equal investment from the federal and provincial governments, hardly sure things when their word of the year is ‘austerity’.

The map, already a very political document (of course) will have councillors try to graft on further squiggles that will lead to further squabbles.

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby (Etobicoke Centre, Ward 4) will insist on the Eglinton Crosstown to be underground from Scarlett Rd. to Martingrove. Councillor Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ward 5) asked today where the western leg of the downtown relief line and western Bloor-Danforth extension were, adding that he prefers to wait until October to hear from staff.

Councillors Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre) will wonder whether too much of this is an expensive sop to suburban councillors.

Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) will use the occasion to advocate for a sales tax, and Norm Kelly (Scarborough-Agincourt, Ward 40) might even join her.

People will worry about all sorts of things: paying for the unfunded operating costs, the most effective funding methods (like parking taxes), the wisdom of building a subway between Yonge and Spadina along Sheppard when geologists say that’s not possible and how Toronto can pull all this off without the mayor’s support.

While these concerns are well placed, One City is not meant to be immutable. Like a constitution, it speaks more to a framework of aspirations than a detailed model going forward. In this case dissent to that plan is the entropy of progress; the healthy and messy part that demonstrates why the process is worthwhile.

Despite all this, the key is Toronto has something to talk and get excited about. It finally has a holistic vision for the TTC that has an attached funding model (albeit just for capital). And it got to this point in spite of the mayor, not because of him (Yesterday the mayor toured a beer factory, looked at a caterpillar, and didn’t go to Pride’s police reception.)

So here we are, at the start of a transit journey and not entirely sure what the destination will be. And that’s OK, because unlike Doug Ford’s earlier statement, we finally have a conversation on how to get there.

guestily submitted by David Hains


Dreaming Of A True Ford Nation

March 26, 2012

Hey.

Did everybody see that? At the NDP federal leadership convention this weekend, councillors Karen Stintz and John Parker, locked arm in arm, cheering the radical left crowd on, belting out Le Internationale.

Yeah, me neither. But apparently that’s exactly what Councillor Doug Ford and his brother mayor witnessed. “You’re on our side or against us,” Mayor Ford said yesterday on his radio show. “You’re on the taxpayer’s side or against them. There’s no mushy middle. It’s left or right down there.”

In what must be the most ridiculous case of repositioning ever, Team Ford is desperately trying to cast the world of municipal politics here in Toronto as a simple binary system, a black-and-white world of simplistic right-versus-left, us-versus-them. You’re either with us or you’ve been brainwashed by the vile and manipulative NDP. The mushy middle has drunk the koolaid.

Councillor Karen Stintz, a dipper. That must be news to the previous incarnation of Councillor Stintz who stood in strong opposition to former mayor David Miller. She was a chartered member of the Responsible Government Group. The other Councillor Karen Stintz speaking out passionately if misguidedly against a motion to reclaim about $19 million in service and program cuts in the 2012 budget.

And former Progressive Conservative MPP and Mike Harris backbencher, Councillor John Parker. Another member of the anti-David Miller Responsible Government Group, now suddenly a left leaning councillor, his blue hues changed overnight to that bilious orange.

Let’s not forget fellow Etobicoke councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, a long time foe of the Ford family, clearly because of her political stripes. You see, way back in 1999, she had the temerity to oppose Doug Ford Sr. in a political nomination showdown for the… wait for it, wait for it… Progressive Conservative party. Clearly, a lost cause left wing wingnut. So much so that she was a member of Mayor Miller’s Executive Committee before resigning. “I never felt part of that small inner circle”

In the magical world that exists in the Ford family mind, bona fide conservatives become evil socialists the moment disagreement emerges. There is no middle ground, no third way. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, in her 2010 race to unseat David Miller Speaker, Sandra Bussin, endorsed by former provincial Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, is now a left winger. Councillor Ana Bailão ran in the 2003 municipal election against very left leaning Adam Giambrone and then won the ward in 2010 by beating Giambrone EA, Kevin Beaulieu. Councillor Josh Colle, offspring of Liberal MPP Mike Colle, and up until the recent rash of transit votes, sided with the mayor more than 40% of the time. Councillor Chin Lee, another member of the Responsible Government Group back in the day, backed Mayor Ford more than half the time.

Now, because of their disagreement with him over transit plans have all been hopelessly lost to the dark side, left wingers all.

There was a reason some of the more outspoken critics of the mayor and his brother began calling them ‘radical conservatives’. Actually, two. One, because the Fords are radical right wingers. Despite the election promise not to cut services and programs that’s exactly what they’ve done. They want to make government smaller under the banner of efficiencies. They are endeavouring the smash the unions. They want to privatize everything not nailed down.

That is, in fact, a radical right wing agenda.

The other reason to colour them with this label is to differentiate the Fords and their hardcore supporters on council from actual moderate conservatives. Despite what the brothers will try and tell you over the course of the next 2.5 years, city council is made up with a fair rump of moderate conservatives, those who are able to reach out and form a consensus with a majority of council members. That is what occurred on the transit vote. A consensus of 24 councillors from the moderate right to the left (29 when it came to assuming control of the TTC board) to take  the transit file from Mayor Ford when he failed to bring forth a workable plan to build a Sheppard subway that would almost get to Scarborough.

But the mayor and his brother see such cooperation as nothing short of betrayal and treachery. In their us-versus-everyone else who disagrees with us on any issue worldview, true conservatives march in lockstep. Since they are conservatives, you can’t vote against them and still be a conservative.

So now they’ve pledged to run a slate of candidates against any councillor that dares to defy them. This isn’t new. They did it on a limited scale in 2010. They nearly unseated Councillor Lindsay Luby as well as Councillor Maria Augimeri. Councillor Peter Milczyn similarly had to fight for his political life with a Ford backed candidate in the race. He, unlike councillors Lindsay Luby and Augimeri, has largely turtled and become a pliant supporter of the mayor except for some of his recent votes on transit.

In Ward 1, the Fords did manage to boot then councillor Suzan Hall, locking in undying fealty at city council from one Vincent Crisanti. Councillor Crisanti immediately assumed the position as a largely silent deadwood paper weight rubber stamp yes man for the incoming mayor. When he does rise to speak, he invokes the babbling oratory of councillors Frank Di Giorgio and Cesar Palacio. In the debate over transit and the Sheppard subway, Councillor Crisanti insisted busses ran faster than LRTs and endeavoured to ensure Etobicoke would not see improvement in transit in our lifetimes.

That, folks, is the slate of candidates the mayor wants to put together. Team Ford and Vincent Crisantis in 2014.

sirenly submitted by Cityslikr