In Praise Of Paul

April 2, 2015

We spend a lot of time railing here at all Fired Up in the Big Smoke, bitching, if you will, agonizingly over the state of affairs of our local politics. notallbadWith good reason, I think it fair to add. Things are terrible, from the state of our public transit, public housing to the repute (illin’, in the vernacular of the kids today) of our local governance, and many points in between.

Grim, dark days indeed.

From all that glum, occasionally the positives appear, brightly alight on the dreary canvas of civic/political life of this city like the spring flowers we should expect to see sometime soon if this cold, heartless winter ever ends. We’re told it will. Honest. It has to.

So I’d like to send a shout out today to one of those positives, one of the proofs that Toronto isn’t necessarily going to hell in a hand basket. It is the Easter holiday season, after all. If the dead can rise again, why not the near dead? (Too much?)

Councillor Paul Ainslie.applaud

At yesterday’s council meeting, he entered the fray of the accountability officers’ debate, putting forth an amendment to a motion that should put the issue to rest at least for a bit, seemingly satisfying a solid majority of the two factions. It was an adept bipartisan move that deflated the hyper-partisanship which had needlessly infected the issue. Such diplomacy, let’s call it, was a far cry from the Paul Ainslie I remember when I first started closely watching City Hall back in the early days of the Ford era.

It struck me then (and I believe with justification) Councillor Ainslie was simply a robotic ‘yes’ vote for whatever crazy idea the Mayor Ford demanded. In fact, I will confess publicly here for the very first time, I had a hand in an obscure Twitter parody account mocking the councillor, mostly for his refusal to get up and defend some of the positions he took. We can all disagree politically, I think it’s safe to say. caterpillarI just want to hear why you’re doing what you’re doing.

To give Councillor Ainslie his due, at the same time, he was plugging away quietly in his position as chair of the low visibility Government Management Committee. Yeah, I know, right? What the hell is the Government Management Committee and how does it impact my life?

Well, OK. I’m not going into the details here but let me say this. If ranked ballots arrive at City Hall for our next municipal election (currently nestled away somewhere in Queen’s Park awaiting provincial approval), Councillor Ainslie should be credited as one of the prime adoptees of the initiative at City Hall in his role as chair of the Government Management Committee. In a time of regressive, backwards thinking embraced by many in the Ford administration, it is a testament to the councillor’s doggedness to the cause that ranked ballots made it through such a mess.

Then came 2013.

Hopefully when a definitive history is written about Toronto’s city politics from 2010-14, Paul Ainslie’s role in pulling one of the many loose threads of Rob Ford’s ratty, tawdry behaviour will be acknowledged. standupA full month before the crack story broke, it was Councillor Ainslie going public about Ford’s drunken, loutish appearance at the Garrison Ball that really teed the ball up for the messy, ugly fall that followed. Few of the mayor’s supporters had broken ranks with him yet. This was big news at the time that got lost in the ensuing crack story.

The Fords, of course, denied it. They wrote the claim off as just bitterness on the part of Councillor Ainslie for not getting the nod as the budget chief to succeed Mike Del Grande. A few months later, they booted Ainslie from his post as chair of Government Management in a display of what spite was really about.

Let me just say here that while there is no need to point out the Ford’s unfamiliarity with the truth, the notion Ainslie, I don’t know, used the incident to get back at them is sort of laughable. Having chatted with the councillor on a few occasions, I have to say, the man comes across as lacking as little guile as I have seen in any other adult I know. You have to have a little bit of the sharp elbows in you to be successful in politics and Ainslie’s city councillor origin story is not without controversy but if there is a more genuine politician at City Hall right now, I haven’t spoken to them.drunkdriving

The feud between Ainslie and the Fords escalated especially when the councillor reversed course on the Scarborough subway extension. Initially supporting the move, he said after looking at all the information that the numbers simply didn’t add up. He was the lone Scarborough councillor to speak out and vote against scrapping the LRT which led to a series of robocalls being placed by the mayor to residents of Ainslie’s Ward 43, a subsequent complaint to the Integrity Commissioner by Ainslie and yet another apology from Rob Ford.

Compare and contrast the principled stand on the issue made by Paul Ainslie with the complete and utter cowering capitulation and 180 made by Glenn De Baeremaeker.

What was really interesting about yesterday’s accountability office motion by Councillor Ainslie wasn’t so much that he made it, and made it stick. There’s every reason to believe that the original motion of Councillor Stephen Holyday’s wasn’t going to pass, so ill-thought out and deliberately divisive as it was. steakthroughtheheartIt was Councillor Ainslie’s response in defending it to some critics who thought the original motion should just be killed outright.

“I’m not trying to salvage it [Holyday’s motion],” the councillor tweeted. “If we defeat it outright it will only leave too much on the table with an axe to grind.”

Ainslie wasn’t aiming at the motion. He was going after those behind it who had ‘an axe to grind’ with the accountability officers and, for their own mysterious reasons, were determined to reduce oversight of city council despite any protestations they made to the contrary. A more thorough review of the offices (as opposed to the very narrow, amalgamation-orientated one asked by Councillor Holyday) would better arm accountability proponents for future attacks.

I understand why councillors like Shelley Carroll opposed any sort of review. It is unnecessary and floats the idea that there’s something amiss with the accountability offices when the reality is, the only thing wrong is they are all chronically underfunded. easterbunnyYet the pipsqueaks on the council, the Stephen Holydays, Michelle Berardinettis, James Pasternaks, Justin Di Cianos and John Campbells were relentless in their fight against the offices. Councillor Paul Ainslie attempted to put an end to their pursuit once and for all, or, maybe even better, expose them for the regressive, anti-democratic types that they are.

For that, and the general all-round geniality and amenability, good natured can-do-ness, we salute Councillor Paul Ainslie. May you find all the easter eggs you search for in the easter egg hunt you will undoubtedly participate in.

positively submitted by Cityslikr


Des Cracked Bürgermeister

November 1, 2013

Well, we didn’t really expect a graceful response from Mayor Rob Ford to all the mounting evidence pointing to the reprobate lifestyle he leads,bullinachinashop did we?

Set aside for the moment the alleged drug use. As it stands right now, we haven’t seen any direct proof of him using illegal narcotics and, even if we had, well, those of us in glass houses and such. Drug use is not my main concern here.

And, having not seen the video Police Chief Bill Blair yesterday confirmed exists, I’m even going to ignore the racist and homophobic blathering from the mayor that’s allegedly on it. That’s for another day.

At this point, it’s the seedy aspect of it all that is so eye-popping. A shock and disappointment, to paraphrase Blair’s reaction. The amount of time the mayor of this country’s largest city spent on drug transactions degenerate(or “constituency meetings” as he and his staff might refer to them) is astounding. In gas stations. At kids’ soccer games. On residential streets. Dark, secluded public spaces.

These weren’t just simply in passing hand-offs of money for product either. There’s His Worship, sitting in his SUV, swilling vodka and tossing his empties out into a school parking lot. Or him stepping out for a public piss. Last month when Sandro Lisi was first arrested, a neighbour, Carol Peck, said she spotted the mayor in his truck outside Lisi’s house brushing his teeth and spitting his oral bilge out onto the street. “And I thought,” she later said, “I can’t believe I’m seeing what I’m seeing.”

I can’t believe I’m seeing what I’m seeing.

Mayor Rob Ford’s behaviour goes beyond seedy.

The man is a monumental fucking liar, to boot.

“I cannot comment on a video that I have not seen or does not exist,” the mayor claimed last May when news of it first surfaced. liarWell, now we know for certain the video exists unless, of course, you’ve holed up behind the barricades of all reasonable thought and think somehow the police chief is playing politics and has joined in with the media conspiracy that’s just making this shit up. Based on the evidence released yesterday, Mayor Ford knew it existed from the get-go, with all the frantic phone calls logged between him and Lisi immediately following the Star’s initial story about it. That’s why Lisi was in court again today. On extortion charges stemming from his alleged attempts to get his hands on the video Mayor Ford assured us did not exist.

The woeful remnants of Team Ford is going to do what it has to do to fight this to whatever bitter end lies ahead, and I’m pretty confident now it’s going to be a bitter end for them. Going out on a limb of speculation here, I’m guessing Chief Blair offered the mayor a quiet exit yesterday. To think that the remaining redacted portion of the surveillance evidence doesn’t contain the mayor’s name and, in all likelihood, in a much more damaging light, is to put wishful thinking ahead of just plain common sense.

The cross your fingers and hope the worst is over portion of this end game is finished despite what the Fords may want to believe. Fighting for your political survival does not leave much room for actual leadership. custerslaststandWe’re done pretending it’s business as usual at City Hall.

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby summed it up in response to the controversy, saying Mayor Ford “has lost moral authority”. I’ll do her one better. Mayor Rob Ford never had any moral authority because clearly he has no moral compass. He and his dwindling band of rag tag defenders don’t know right from wrong and simply refuse to step up and accept responsibility for their actions.

This isn’t a leadership vacuum. This is a leadership black hole from which no light has any hope of ever escaping. When the mayor’s staff has to contact the mayor’s drug dealer to find out the whereabouts of the mayor, well, I don’t know how to possibly end that sentence except to say if Mayor Ford was really looking for a reason why he should resign…

Any of the mayor’s 44 council colleagues still harbouring the notion that he’s capable of effectively running this city are both enabling his negligent behaviour and putting the city’s best interests behind those of Mayor Ford’s and/or their own political careers. hediditWhen the budget chief, Ward 12 councillor Frank Di Giorgio, reacted to the evidence released yesterday by telling CP24’s Katie Simpson that “maybe he [the mayor] doesn’t do it [smoke crack] everyday”, he got the stench of corruption all over him. Continuing to pretend that everything’s fine is nothing less than a dereliction of duty on city council’s part.

Even if Mayor Ford thinks he can survive this and still play mayor, councillors must start working over and around him. There are few tools at their disposal to do this officially but they can start acting as if he’s not there which, given how much of his time and energy will be spent defending himself, won’t be too far from the truth. Toronto is now without a mayor in every way but name. Any councillor conducting business contrary to that stark reality will be complicit in perpetuating a fraud on the city they were elected to represent.

keepcalmandtakecontrol

demandingly submitted by Cityslikr