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


An Ethical Leave Of Absence

July 25, 2013

Whenever a political dust-up occurs, a contretemps that leads to much partisan Did Not-Did So back and forth, I ask this question: didtooWhat if the party/politician you don’t support were to do the exact same thing the party/politician you do support did? Would you be cool with that, shrug it off as being all part of the game, yo?

So Conservatives pulling for Doug Holyday in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore provincial by-election, you’d be easy-peasy if the city’s “on unofficial leave of absence” Deputy Mayor’s opponents in the race did the same thing? Just called up the city’s waste collection company and asked for one of their trucks to swing by for a campaign photo-op? Totally fine, yes?

“… when the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it,” said Green For Life’s chief executive, Patrick Dovigi.

I am trying very hard to avoid stinky-garbage language here but that statement alone should set off alarm bells to anyone concerned with political propriety and rule bending. dougholydaypcPage 7 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Code of Conduct for City Councillors contains 3 violations the Deputy Mayor may have committed using the garbage truck as part of his campaign. (h/t Jude MacDonald). VI, Use of City Property, Services and Other Resources. VII, Election Campaign Work. VIII, Improper Use of Influence.

But Conservative defenders were quick to point out that since Green For Life is a private company, contracted out by the city to pick up garbage, it’s all good. No harm, no foul. Technically speaking, this isn’t a technical breach of conduct by the technically (maybe) on leave of absence deputy mayor.

From Article VI, “No member of Council should use, or permit the use of City land, facilities, equipment, supplies, services, [bolding ours] staff or other resources (for example, City-owned materials, websites, Council transportation delivery services and member of Council expense budgets) for activities other than the business of the Corporation.”

Waste collection is a service Green For Life provides to the city, isn’t it?

From Article VII, “No member shall use the facilities, equipment, supplies, services [bolding ours] or other resources of the City (including Councillor newsletters and websites linked through the City’s website) for any election campaign or campaign-related activities… No member shall use the services [bolding ours] of persons for election-related purposes during hours in which those persons receive any compensation from the City.

Again, if Green For Life isn’t delivering a service to the city, what exactly are we paying them for?

From Article VIII, “No member of Council shall use the influence of her or his office for any purpose other than for the exercise of her or his official duties.

“When the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it.” That seems like a pretty straight forward ‘use of influence’, doesn’t it?

Unless of course you want to argue that Doug Holyday’s campaign staff called Green For Life as representatives of a provincial candidate not the deputy mayor. technicallyspeakingIt’s just unfortunate Mr. Dovigi didn’t say that when a candidate running for provincial office asks for a truck, they’re happy to oblige. But he didn’t. “When the deputy mayor calls and asks for a truck, we supply it.”

But hold on, the deputy mayor PC candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore defender’s say, it’s not as if anyone pulled a truck off collection duty for the deputy mayor PC candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. It just magically appeared at no cost whatsoever to the company, I guess. Free gas, free of charge for the person driving it.

Let’s chalk it up to a campaign donation from a private company to a provincial candidate who just so happens to also be the city’s deputy mayor. He’s also the politician who helped spearhead waste collection contracting out, first as the former mayor of Etobicoke and then as deputy mayor of Toronto. Contracting out that, ultimately, benefited the company supplying their garbage truck as a campaign prop.

Regardless of your partisan political stripe, it’s something of an ethical quagmire, wouldn’t you say?splittinghairs

We’ve come to expect such lapses in judgement from the mayor but until he decided to enter the by-election race, Doug Holyday had a straight-shooting, no bullshit reputation when it came to using taxpayer money even for legit reasons like office budgets.

“Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said regardless of whether Ford pays for fuel, city vehicles should be used for city business alone.” This from a Toronto Star article last fall in response to Mayor Ford’s staff using city vehicles to attend Don Bosco football practices. To now defend the deputy mayor’s use of a Green For Life garbage truck during his provincial campaign as different because it’s not a ‘city vehicle’ seems like mendacious hair-splitting.

All this coming less than week after the Integrity Commissioner’s annual report to city council. Never mind the backtracking now in progress to justify the deputy mayor’s actions on this. How could he stand in front of a truck his staff had ordered up, festooned with the City of Toronto logo, to make a campaign speech and not for a moment think to himself, something about the optics here smell? (There. My one garbage reference.)

ignoranceisbliss

And how can anyone, beating the drum of ethical bad behaviour on the part of the provincial Liberals, look at this circumstance and shrug? It’s no gas plant boondoggle, costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars. As if ethics are simply about the amount of money involved and not the conduct it engenders.

demandingly submitted by Cityslikr


The Calculus Of Crazy

June 20, 2013

So this morning TTC CEO Andy Byford lit the always short fuse of car-loving Ford Nation. uttermadnessIn an interview with Matt Galloway on Metro Morning, he floated the idea of closing King Street to car traffic during the morning rush hour. Reaction from the auto-huggers was swift and sadly predictable.

“Where are the cars supposed to go?” tweets radio talk show guy, Jerry Agar.

WHERE ARE THE CARS SUPPOSED TO GO?!

WAR ON THE CAR!!

Nothing Mr. Byford suggested was new or novel or particularly bold. In fact, King Street has been a problem for the city’s transportation department for over 20 years now. I wrote about this very thing in February. Back in the early-90s, city staff tried banning cars along the route during peak times in the day, using overhead signs and markings on the road.

upyoursGuess what happened?

“… this “passive” system of deterrents didn’t work,” according to a staff report, “motorists did, and continue to, ignore it.”

Motorists ignored the rules of the road. Just said, fuck it. I need to turn left here, I’m turning left here.

There’s no war on the car going on. It’s the exact opposite. This is all about the over-weening sense of entitlement and primacy in the minds of those using their private vehicles as their sole source of getting around the city.

I attended a seminar last night given by Jarrett Walker, author of the book and blog site, Human Transit. He talked about ‘symbolic transit’ and symbolic decisions made about transit based on incomplete information.

For at least two generations now, the Car has been presented as a symbol of freedom. That which will get you wherever you want to go whenever you want to go there. There are car advertisements attesting to it. carcommercialSleek machines blowing down the open roads, never another car in sight.

I remember that happening with me behind the wheel once. Driving in Montana. When was the last time you experienced that commercial sensation making your way through Toronto or the GTA?

The fact is, the primary source of congestion on our streets now is the over-abundance of private vehicles, and the position where they sit at the top of our transit policy decision making. Streetcars aren’t the problem. Not even the St. Clair disaster. Not bike lanes. Not scrambled pedestrian intersections.

Cars, and our continued catering to those who drive them.

Of course, you can say this until you’re blue in the face, trot out studies to back up the case but those fixated with their cars will simply tighten their grip on the wheel and demand the removal of anything they perceive that impedes their forward motion. redqueen1The Deputy Mayor’s response to the TTC CEO’s thinking? Replace the King streetcars with buses. How would that be better? Who the fuck knows other than they can get out of the way of cars when they pull to the curb to pick up and drop off passengers.

But a car driver’s sense of their right to the road is boundless.

Who else demands a space to stop their car right in front of the place they’re stopping? I live on a street that neither buses nor streetcars run down. I have to walk to where they are. And then, when I arrive where I’m going, I have to exit at the nearest stop to my destination and walk to it.

Why do drivers expect preferential treatment?

And why do people look around and see congestion on King Street, or Bathurst Street or Dufferin Street, Bloor Street and Finch Avenue, all roads with different modes of public transit, snarled in traffic, and come away saying, get rid of the streetcars/buses/build us a subway? When the one common element is cars and the excess of them on our roads?

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It’s car madness, frankly. A steadfast refusal to admit the obvious and be open to real solutions in alleviating the problem. Problem, what problem? I don’t have a problem.

The first step to dealing with it is to admit you have a problem.

Unfortunately, we still seem not to have hit bottom quite yet.

sanely submitted by Cityslikr


Change Isn’t Always Worse Than The Alternative

May 16, 2013

You know what the scariest word in English just might be? No, not anesthetist. pickawordThat’s the hardest word in English to pronounce but not the scariest. Unless, of course, you’re going in for surgery imminently.

Change.

That’s the scariest word.

People are averse – averse? adverse? averse? Again, tricky words. Not necessarily scary ones — to change. Even those most likely to benefit from a particular change are reticent.. reticent? hesitant? I’ve clearly thrown myself off here. Pick a word and run with it.

Change ain’t easy.

Our penchant is to view change warily, assuming it’s always going to be for the worse. This despite the fact that we are where we are, doing what we’re doing in relative comfort because of change and our ability to adapt to it. adaptchangeI mean, we could still be creatures flopping around in mucky goo, trying to figure how to breathe oxygen in through these things called lungs not gills.

This is not to say all change is beneficial and that we should simply embrace any new fad that comes our way. Change for change’s sake and other interior decorating maxims. I need a change, while usually indicating a desire to move in a positive direction, doesn’t automatically signal improvement. It could be a phrase uttered by a guy in a bar who’s been drinking rye-and-cokes all afternoon and he just wants to change to, I don’t know, rum-and-cokes.

It’s not about blind acceptance but the moderating measured space between that and an open hostility to any notion of change.

Speaking out against the proposed First Capital Realty development for the Humbertown strip mall on Tuesday, Mayor Ford clearly falls in the latter camp.

“Time equals change,” the mayor said in his speech at Tuesday’s Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting, “we have to move on but…” But what? Gradually? In a thoughtful manner? Earlier on in his speech the mayor stated that “we have to maintain these strip malls in Etobicoke”. So we have to move on to what?

We Have To Move On But is the trademark phrase of the bonafide, heels-dug-in intransigent. Frankly, Etobicoke seems to be populated by such types. Look at their representation at City Hall currently. driveinrestaurantFrom the Fords to councillors Doug Holyday and Gloria Lindsay Luby, part of a historical lineage of obstructionist and obdurate municipal politicians fighting tooth and nail against the slow march of time’s encroachment into their neighbourhoods and pocketbooks.

Read Jamie Bradburn’s Historicist piece last week in Torontoist about the city’s west end politicians battling the building of a subway in the late 1950s. All the way to the Supreme Court! ‘Bamboozled’ is a familiar phrase to modern ears, a kissing cousin to boondoggle, and one used in reference to subway plans. “I am afraid these taxes [to fund subway construction] will tie people up so tightly it will make them move out of here,” said Long Branch Reeve, Marie Curtis, “the same as some of us moved from the city.”

“Don’t be misled by visionaries who would lead you to believe they see things the rest of us don’t,” decried York Reeve Chris Tonks.

That’s not an unreasonable statement if you’re talking about visionaries touting contact with occupants not named Hatfield of interplanetary crafts. overmydeadbodyBut it was 1958. Subways weren’t some new fangled technology about to be foisted upon an unsuspecting population. Cities had been building them for about century by that time. It was a question of figuring out how to pay for an established mode of public transit and putting it in the right place.

Intensification runs along a similar line of thinking.

Sprawl is no longer sustainable. These kinds of strip malls Humbertown represents are relics of a past that was guided by the idea of unlimited space and cheap fuels to get us to these far flung places. As a form of land use, they no longer make sense.

Defenders of the status quo proclaim that this isn’t downtown Toronto we’re talking about, but Etobicoke. But this isn’t Etobicoke we’re talking about, not the one of 40, 50 years ago in its leafy-streeted isolation from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Now a fully functioning inner suburb, its quaint dreams of a pleasant village life located miles and miles past the outer suburbs to the west and north that push it closer to the downtown many of the residents are trying to keep at a distance.

I don’t think it a coincidence this heavy resistance to such change comes from the mayor’s own backyard. I think it’s a sentiment deeply rooted in the notion of Ford Nation. leftbehindThe city of Toronto has been undergoing demographic, cultural and economic shifts, accelerated by amalgamation. None of it particularly easy or cheap. But the face of the city is going to change with or without our participation. Probably not for the better if we simply choose to stand on the sidelines hoping it all passes us by without altering and costing us too much.

In 2010, a plurality of Torontonians, a healthy majority of those living in the inner suburbs and experiencing some of the biggest changes, decided to stand pat and with fingers crossed wait things out. Rearranging the furniture and painting the walls instead of undertaking a major renovation. Hopefully, no one gets too attached to the colour of the room.

adaptedly submitted by Cityslikr


Her Master’s Voice

April 7, 2013

You might almost start to feel sorry for Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy if it weren’t for the fact that she has to be the luckiest newspaper columnist around. ?????????????????????????????????Seriously. She must wake up every morning, look into the mirror and just cackle to herself.

A terrible writer of words, she gets paid to write terrible words that oftentimes include heavy doses of union/leftist bashing, all the while being safely ensconced inside a union. It doesn’t get any better than that, really. Sanctioned and handsomely rewarded sanctimonious hypocrisy. Talk about your sweet deals.

Not only that but she’s risen to the ranks of official court reporting, the Ford Administration’s go-to print mouthpiece. Sue-Ann Levy, the voice of the mayor of Toronto. Who could’ve seen the stars align in such a way for that to happen?

Still, partisan hackery isn’t all bons bons and caviar. Sometimes there’s real work to be done. All the moving parts of this Rube Goldberg contraption that is the Rob Ford mayoralty have to work just so for it to function properly, and god knows there’s been some seizing up of the machine for a while now. rubegoldbergIt takes some resolve to continue tinkering in order to keep the wheels from coming off completely. Less loyal apparatchiks would (and have) simply walked away from what they view as the smoldering remains.

But not Sue-Ann. She’s not willing to give up on her spot in the sun, her position of power. Do you know the chances of this situation ever arising again? She’s been on the outside looking in for too long to simply slink back now and resume yapping at the moon. In for a penny, in for a pound as they say.

So there she was, spilling ink over the mayor’s hollow Hero Burgers victory at city council this week and vilifying those who dared interfere with the sacred process of proper procurement. Her shit-list grows longer – overlapping seamlessly with the mayor’s list — now including ‘rogue councillor’ Paul Ainslie. A recent addition, there’s no patented SAL schoolyard nickname for him yet. Something catchy that makes a 10 year-old laugh like she’s honed for the TTC Chair. Councillor Stunts. (Get it? Her name’s actually Stintz). La TTC Turncoat. nyahnyah(Remember? Councillor Stintz backstabbed Mayor Ford and thwarted his chances of building a make-believe subway on Sheppard Avenue).

You see, anyone disagreeing with or defying Mayor Ford is dead to Sue-Ann Levy. It’s not about partisanship. It has nothing to do with left and right although Sue-Ann does especially hate her the Silly Socialists. Since she’s thrown all in with Team Ford, anyone who doesn’t is going to find themselves on the business end of grade school nickname a la SAL.

That is the mark of a true a flak. Never question your meal ticket’s actions. It’s always the other guy’s fault. Haughty ambitions or weak constitutions are to blame for any falling outs with the mayor. Never is he or his brother or the third Etobicoke amigo, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday in the wrong. Suggesting as much could lead to some unwelcomed introspection or, even worse, unreturned phone calls from the mayor’s office.

It’s called ‘Knowing Which Side Your Bread Is Buttered’. Politics as blind allegiance not good governance. sueannlevyrobfordYou got to dance with the one that brung ya. And Sue-Ann Levy has danced with Rob Ford.

Any hint of desperation in Sue-Ann’s outbursts – and it’s hard to detect since it sounds like her usual ravings – is because she’s hitched her little red wagon so firmly to Mayor Ford’s star. A star that’s dimmed significantly over the course of the last year to 18 months. If Sue-Ann and the Toronto Sun can’t keep the Team Ford super nova from flaming out entirely, they’ll find themselves once more in the power shadow, no longer the mayor’s official paper of record and just another rag with a Sunshine girl and sports scores.

Being so closely aligned with the current administration and lashing out at any apostate, regardless of political stripe, Sue-Ann Levy risks being relegated deep into the bleacher seats again. Having been granted access to power, she’s showing her true colours and they’re not conservative blue. It’s a shade you turn when you give up reporting or even opining, and just start typing out p.r. memos from head office. What’s that look like? A buttery yellow?

Sue-Ann Levy refers to herself as a ‘general s— disturber’. Actual shit disturbers don’t say s— disturber. They say shit disturber. hismastersvoice1And real shit disturbers don’t simply regurgitate talking points and pick fights as a proxy for those in power. That’s called sy—phancy.

Such lack of self-awareness would be sad if it weren’t on display by the likes of Sue-Ann Levy. In her, it’s more pathetic but in a funny kind of way.

almost sympathetically submitted by Cityslikr


Re-Imagining Toronto

March 4, 2013

[On Thursday, March 7th, Idil Burale and I will be hosting a discussion forum at the Academy of the Impossible called, Reimagining Toronto: Understanding the framework of urban/suburban politics. So this week at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, we’ll be looking at some of the issues that make up the divide of such urban/suburban politics.]

*  *  *countrymousecitymouse2

Last week after wiggling off another over sight hook at the Compliance Audit Committee meeting, Mayor Ford took some time to talk to the media. The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Church reported an interesting little tidbit the mayor passed along. “The suburbs, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough,” Mayor Ford said, “these people are obviously right of centre.”

It is a wholly unsurprising view coming from a right of centre politician who doesn’t do nuance. A world that can simply be broken down into two camps, right/left, suburb/downtown. letatcestmoiThe suburbs, c’est moi.

The statement is worth further scrutiny. Certainly the federal Conservatives made inroads onto Toronto’s electoral map last election, winning 8 of the city’s 22 ridings, all of them in the inner suburbs. But their counterparts at Queen’s Park were shut out both in the suburbs and downtown in the provincial election that followed less than half a year later. Twenty-two seats. Zero representation.

So I think it’s more accurate to say that ‘these people’ in the inner suburbs of the former municipalities Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York will vote conservative but it depends entirely on the situation. In the 2010 municipal election, they embraced Rob Ford’s conservatism. In the spring 2011 federal election, they were warm to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. In the fall 2011 provincial election, they gave Tim Hudak’s PCs the cold shoulder.

At the municipal level, while the inner suburbs loved both Mel Lastman and Rob Ford, they weren’t vehemently opposed to David Miller. In the 2003 election, Miller won wards in York, Etobicoke and Scarborough. mayoral2006When he was re-elected in 2006, the only wards he didn’t win in the city were the two in Don Valley West.

Despite Mayor Ford’s hope masking as a claim, there are no hard and fast political divisions in drawn along party lines in the city. Tendencies? Sure. But by their very nature, tendencies tend to be fluid, fluctuating on a case by case basis.

The key to Ford’s election success in 2010 had less to do with uniting Toronto’s conservatives under his banner than it did corralling the former suburban municipalities back into the fold. Four years earlier they had all supported David Miller and the Ford campaign artfully convinced them they were the worse off for it. Out of control spending all directed to the downtown. $12,000 of tax payers’ hard earned money spent on a retirement party for some councillor from downtown. resentmentTime to stop that gravy train, folks.

It was an appeal to geographic tribalism. Suburbanites unite! Put an end to the profligacy the downtown elite have been showering upon themselves for the past seven years.

Look at two of the key members of the mayor’s administration, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and Speaker Frances Nunziata. Fiscal conservatives for sure but also the last mayors of their respective cities before amalgamation, Etobicoke and York. These are two politicians steeped in the history of big ticket items like transit, police and emergency services being looked after by a second, city-wide tier of local government. A time also when senior levels of government were not absent on other issues like social housing.

City government for the likes of Doug Holyday and Frances Nunziata was about keeping property taxes low and programs provided on a pay-as-you go model. There was no need for all that spending they then witnessed as amalgamated councillors. What was good for their days in Etobicoke/York/North York/Scaroborough was good enough for the megacity of Toronto.

It is the gasping of the past unwilling to come to terms with the present reality. A city of 2.7 million people does not, cannot be run like cities a fraction of that size. Economies of scale give way to a critical mass. Big city. Big numbers. metropolisandmayberryAttempting to roll those back is not some act of civic heroism but simply a dereliction of duty.

Councillors Holyday and Nunziata, along with the mayor and his brother and a few remaining hardcore loyalists remain convinced the amalgamated city of Toronto can operate in the frugal manner the former inner suburban municipalities did. Notwithstanding the glaring holes in the social fabric this approach brought about – high priority needs neighbourhoods, a lack of public transit, aging, malfunctioning infrastructure – this method of governance threatens the well-being of the entire city now. Rather than moving in a direction that brings issues of mobility and liveability up to higher service levels, the Ford administration is attempting to reduce them the barest of bones.

Conservative or not, I don’t believe that’s what voters signed up for when they backed Rob Ford in 2010. While urban-suburban differences may be many, I think on fundamental questions of fairness (no, subways are not about fairness) and good government, reasonable Torontonians, regardless of political stripe, can agree on the fact the Ford administration is delivering neither. That’s something a majority of this city should be able to unite around.

texaschainsawmassacre

submitted by Cityslikr


Suck It Up, Losers

February 22, 2013

spite

During Wednesday’s city council debate over the Striking Committee’s appointment recommendations to the Executive and Budget Committees, Matt Elliott asked, “What would this administration do if they didn’t have so much spite to fuel them?”

Spite? That sounds absolutely benign compared to what some raging right wingers hurled around council chambers over the course of the past few days. Witness Councillor Mike Del Grande vituperative outburst. The sound a black hole makes when it’s collapsing into itself. (Video clips courtesy of Matt  Elliott).

To the victors go the spoils. Just like Jesus Christ himself said. To which the Romans replied, Hey, guy. You’re a carpenter, right? How be you build us a cross. We’ll bring some extra nails.

While the tone of the councillor’s screed was astounding, the really telling aspect of it was the claim he made early on in his speaking time. “… and we were denied getting on certain committees [during the Miller administration]. And the reason was, the mayor at the time decided who he wanted on and who he didn’t want on, and one of the early criteria was the bridge to the airport. Bridge to the airport. If you weren’t onside with the bridge on the airport, you were automatically discounted. So that was the key. And I remember going to talk to Deputy Mayor Pantalone at the time, and he made it very clear. That vote was important to the mayor, and that’s what differentiated whether you got positions or not.”

In other words, every mayor has an agenda and if you’re not on board, you’re on the outside looking in. So suck it up, lefties. That’s how things have always been done at City Hall.

Except for the fact, well, I’ll let Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby explain.

“Mayor Miller had an Executive Committee after the City of Toronto Act. I sat on that committee. He knew that I did not support – I mean, I did support the bridge to the city airport. He knew that. But he still asked me to sit on that Executive Committee, even though knowing that I am a conservative and that I would not support him on every vote, and I certainly did not.”

Oops.holdonsec

Now hey, who’s to say that Mayor Miller and his deputy mayor didn’t tell Councillor Del Grande and Speaker Frances Nunziata or Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday — who have both also endlessly complained about how they were sidelined during the previous administration (although, as noted by Councillor Paula Fletcher after Mr. Holyday’s similar themed left out in the cold rant this week that he was, in fact, chair of the Audit Committee under David Miller, just like he is currently) — that there was an anti-bridge litmus test for anyone wanting to get key positions? Maybe it was just a more diplomatic way of going about it. After watching their respective performances while in power over the course of the last couple years, isn’t it quite possible nobody in their right mind would choose to spend any more time than they had to in the company of such flinty, carping, divisive people?

That fact of the matter is, even the most cursory search through the archives of amalgamated Toronto will quickly show that the Ford Administration is by far the most exclusionary administration this city’s ever had. Neither Mel Lastman nor David Miller demanded such blind loyalty based solely along strict ideological lines as Rob Ford has. To argue otherwise is nothing less than to embrace revisionist history. It is perpetuating a basic untruth.

wipeclean

Which brings us to an even more problematic point. The appropriation of rightful anger, resentment and a feeling of exclusion purely for political purposes.

There should be no doubt that far too many residents in this city, entire under-served neighbourhoods and communities, have been excluded, neglected and sidelined in terms of economic development, transit, planning and representation. They have every right to be pissed off and resentful. That tune sung by many of their councillors, none louder and prouder than Rob Ford, hit the right chord for them. It sounded like fellow travellers.

The big difference, however, is that the isolation and bitterness spewed by the likes of Rob Ford, Doug Holyday, Frances Nunziata, Mike Del Grande was entirely self-imposed. Each of them chose to varying degrees not to play along with the previous administration because they did not agree with the agenda. And now they try to propagate a mythology of exclusion that does not hold up even to the slightest push against it. Councillor Del Grande’s is demolished within a minute by Councillor Lindsay Luby.upyours

These hardcore right wing ideologues were angry but not for the same reason many of those voting for them were angry. They frothed the anger in much of the electorate and used it to gain power. Achieving that, it’s all become about settling political scores and getting even while doing absolutely nothing to address the roots of the discontent and isolation that swept them into office.

In no way do any of them reflect the true outsider status many of their constituents actually experience. Taking their cue from Mayor Ford, they merely exploit it. To build walls and divisions that having nothing to do with good governance or positive public service. It’s all about laying waste to their opponents and playing the politics of destruction.

Thinks I’m exaggerating? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Burning Rage of a 1000 Nunziatas”. (phraseology h/t @ManuvSteele).

ragedly submitted by Cityslikr