Slippery Slope

I’m not a fan of the slippery slope argument. slipperyslopeWhen you respond to an idea by bringing up the worst possible case scenario that could come from pursuing or implementing that idea. Like (Topical Reference Alert!), if someone suggests going out for a few pops and drinking yourself into a stupor but you decline, citing a fear of that leading to crack smoking as the reason.

We heard of the dreaded slippery slope during the last couple special council meetings called to strip Mayor Ford of much of his governing powers. How, proceeding down that path, it would set a dangerous precedent for future councils to neutralize future mayors simply because they didn’t agree with them politically or with what they were wearing on a particular day. Rampant over-reach of powers and nullilfying of democracy just around the corner, folks!

Nonsense, of course. We’re talking a 2/3s majority of council which rarely happens at the best of times. nonsense1So to invoke the specter of such a thing happening on a regular basis over routine disagreements is simply craven fear-mongering.

What happened yesterday at Toronto city council was unprecedented because it was facing an unprecedented situation in the mayor’s office. An unrepentant (and just mouthing the words ‘I apologize’ is different than actually being apologetic) drug using and binge drinking mayor who shirks his duties while consorting with criminals and is a serial liar about almost every aspect of his personal and professional life had become nothing more than an international walking punch line. His contribution to City Hall and civic life amounted to simply a bothersome nuisance that drained the ability of our local government to go about its business.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The hope is, of course, that what we are experiencing right now are desperate times. That it’s just some glitch, an unforeseen anomaly that, through happenstance and bad timing, befell us. The circumstances are such that the chances of something like this happening again are highly improbable. nothingtoseehereFingers crossed.

I mean, watching the mayor and his brother’s performances yesterday (h/t to Ev Delen and Jonathan Goldsbie for the video), one sure as hell would hope that this particular administrative strain is an outlier. Mocking and knocking over colleagues, baiting and yelling at citizens in attendance, declaring war in next year’s election… ? It’s just not the behaviour of reasonable people.

And then, I find myself sliding down my own fears of slippery slope-ism.

Back in 2010 when it became obvious that Rob Ford just might be the city’s next mayor, many of us fingered the suddenly tight collars around our neck and rationalized out loud that, Well, what’s the worst he could do? Even knowing his sketchy background both inside and outside City Hall, he was only going to be a mayor in a relatively weak mayor system. His excesses would be held in check by 44 councilllors, right? youcannotbeseriousRight?

Yeah so, wrong. All hell’s broken loose and there remains enough support for the runaway train wreck that is Team Ford that we still, after all he’s been caught doing, confessed to and the shit still lurking around the corner, have to view him as a threat to be re-elected. No. Really. There is a chance that candidates running for mayor of Toronto in next year’s election will have to treat Rob Ford as an actual credible opponent. Again.

He hasn’t been forced to resign in disgrace. He apparently possesses zero degree of shame or honour to own up to his actions and realize he’s severely sullied the office of the mayor and put the city he was elected to lead on the international map for all the wrong reasons. Hey, folks. WYSIWYG. Take him or leave him. Rob Ford’s going nowhere. At least, not quietly.

Which leads me to wonder is he the new normal? That slippery slope from a public figure that has to at least make a pretense of decorum and decency to just some fucking guy who runs around bellowing, Elect Me! I can do better than that! Whatsa matter, you elitist? Got a problem with a knucklehead? Well, la-di-da.lowerthebar

Don’t get me wrong here. I could care less about the man’s off-duty boozing and drug smoking, although I do think the mixing of both with driving and gangland figures calls into some question his stunning lack of judgement. It’s his inability to actually show up to work that offends me. His disrespect bordering on contempt for anyone not sharing a bloodline with him that’s problematic. His lying. About everything. Every time he opens his mouth.

His general lack of fitness for the job he was elected to do.

Has he now lowered the bar of expectation to a point where behaviour like his by a politician is considered perfectly fine? Will the standards Rob Ford has established as mayor become par for the course? After four years of bearing witness to this out-and-out shit show, will Rob Ford immunize us against the belief that such a thing as good governance once existed?

If I’m right and the case for a slippery slope exists on unsound foundations, we should be able to put this evil genie back into the bottle. downadarkholeUse this past 3 years as a teachable moment and say a sad told-you-so. Close the door and move on.

If I’m wrong?

Well, that’s just slippery slope to depressing thoughts and irreversible apathy.

slidingly submitted by Cityslikr

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Late Tuesday afternoon, we were told that the provincial Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, would be holding a press conference the following day with important news regarding a certain Scarborough subway. raisedeyebrowEyebrows raised. Oh really? I honestly thought they’d let that die after having survived the by-election, relatively unscathed. No federal funding forthcoming. The mayor hasn’t so much as lifted a finger to find some additional financing. It was a great idea. The Liberal government really want to get it up and going but… alas, it was just not meant to be.

Oh well. That ol’ LRT is just gonna have to do, I guess…

Then came word yesterday morning before the minister’s press conference that, no, in fact, subway plans were still alive and kicking. Minister Murray and some faceless folks over at Metrolinx had been hard at it, busily revisiting and revising, ahead of the city council imposed September 30th drop deadline to deliver up a Scarborough subway. scribblingNo siree, bob. Queen’s Park wasn’t playing politics with this. They said they were the subway champions. They will be the subway champions.

And boom!

There it is.

The Scarborough subway, running from Kennedy station all the way up to… Scarborough Town Centre?

What kind of holy fuckery is this?!

The good Minister of Transportation couldn’t be serious, could he?

This story must be some sort of feint, a PR exercise to lower expectations, lower than low, so that the real plan they’ve been concocting throughout the summer will emerge, smelling all fresh and rosy. amimissingsomethingThere is no way in fucking hell the minister, this Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre can step up with anything even close to a straight face and announce a $1.4 billion expenditure on a subway that runs an even shorter distance than the much reviled RT now runs. He can’t possibly re-route the fucking the thing along the RT route when much heated debate had been expended at city council in June about interrupting that service and using a shitload of buses in its place while the subway was being built.

It. Just. Couldn’t. Be.

We are announcing that we are putting $1.4 billion into extending the subway to Scarborough Town Centre.

Apparently, I was wrong. Hardly the first time I’ve missed the mark, predicting which way a political wind will blow. Probably not the last. amimissingsomething1[Note to self: stop predicting things.]

I must not be seeing the bigger picture on all this. The one beyond the first blush of pure political brinkmanship, of simply some demented bumper car ride initiated back in 2010, on his very first official day of work when Mayor Ford unilaterally declared Transit City ‘dead’. This can’t be the end point. The Scarborough subway people have been clamoring for, Gollum-like, as some sort of symbol of equality.

“Today is a great day, they’re getting subways in Scarborough,” Mayor Ford pronounced. “We’re getting subways for Scarborough. I campaigned on it. Promise made, promise kept.”

That’s it? Subway Supporters of Scarborough (SSS™©®) are that easily appeased? No new extension further into subway-less regions of Scarborough. Simply a re-jigging of a pre-existing line. Burying (maybe) what is now elevated, with fewer stops and a terminus ending before the current one does.

youcanbeseriousIf we’re going to insist on being pandered to, we might want to extract a little more from the arrangement.

As it stands right now, this proposed subway does nothing to help the transit weary in Scarborough. In fact, as a line drawn on a map, it can only exacerbate what problems there are already. Looking at it and listening to its most ardent defenders, it’s hard not to think the only purpose this serves is to mollify those with their noses out of joint over the perceived slight of being subway deprived.

You wanted subways, Scarborough? We gave you subways. Enjoy!

When this discussion first got started, there were grand plans to extend the Sheppard subway east until it met Eglinton where the LRT would all be underground. Once that was in place, we could close the loop, bringing a subway all the way down to meet the Bloor-Danforth subway.

When that idea foundered on the rocks of Where the Fuck Would the Money Come From?, a more modest proposal emerged. Replace the proposed Scarborough LRT with a 3 stop subway, from Kennedy station up to what would be the Sheppard LRT. emptycupNot as all encompassing as the previous plan, and not without its serious concerns but a Scarborough subway nonetheless.

This is what it comes down to? This Sheppard subway redux is the measly result of all the fuss, all the indignation, all the foot-stomping and petulant screaming? We need a comprehensive transit network plan for a woefully under-served quarter or so of this city but we’ll settle for two lousy subway stops in the one spot in Scarborough that isn’t faring too badly when it comes transit service already?

We all can roll our eyes, shake our heads and mutter about the uselessness and self-serving of our politicians of every stripe and at all three levels of government. In this story alone, there is plenty of villainy to go around. But if our demands are so easily met, if our expectations and understanding of an issue as fundamental to the proper functioning of this city as public transit is are so superficial and little more than slogan thin that we can be assuaged with a token gesture which qualifies as nothing more than in name only, well, come on, folks. scratchedbellyThere’s nobody else but ourselves to blame.

The people wanted subways. The people got a subway. If all we ask of our elected representatives is for them to pander to us, we will be pandered to. That’s one prediction I’m fairly confident I’m right on.

 — postulatingly submitted by Cityslikr