On Second Thought

March 20, 2011

Now that the Ford administration putsch (yes, it’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little feistily hyperbolic) of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation is complete, CEO Keiko Nakamura fired by the mayor’s own special henchman, double-dipping ex-councillor Case Ootes (yes, we are still waiting for Sue-Ann Levy’s damning exposé in the Sun of such deplorable teat-sucking since hypocrisy is only something practiced by the left), it’s probably time that we step back, take a breather and examine in more depth the Auditor-General’s report. (My that was a long sentence. Everybody still with me?)

After all, that’s standard operating procedure, isn’t it? Rush and leak a report, foment outrage and indignation at half-cocked and very possibly erroneous allegations, generally stampede to judgment before taking time to try and truly suss out the situation and uncover the actual facts of the matter. Fly off the handle, lay waste and poison the atmosphere before settling in to some sober second thought. Ford Tough. The Ford way.

While the mayor may not be losing any sleep over how things played out, about possibly firing people without justifiable cause, sullying their reputations in the process, it seems some in the media might be reconsidering their actions. Over at Metro Morning earlier this week, Matt Galloway wondered if maybe they over-reacted to the story in an interview with Lindsey Reed, CEO of the Social Housing Services Corporation. Oddly, the show has not posted the segment on line so we can’t link it for you, and we’re trying not to be too suspicious thinking they’re burying criticism of their behaviour, but the gist of it can be found in Ms. Reed’s article in last Monday’s Toronto Star.

Indignant over-reaction and unthinking bellicosity are what Mayor Ford does. It is his forte as Edward Keenan beautifully detailed in Eye this week. Right now, it’s working for him.

But why does the media, the Toronto Sun aside of course, play along? Isn’t it their job to hold the politicians’ claims and machinations up to the light for a closer examination? Just because the mayor runs around screaming gravy in a crowded media scrum, it doesn’t mean the assertion has to be echoed and amplified. Mayor Ford has an easily identifiable agenda. Those covering him should be filtering everything that comes out of his mouth or the mouths of his spokesteam through that filter. As they should any and all politicians.

It was known almost from the get-go that no fraudulent or criminal behaviour was going on at the TCHC. Now, as more of the facts come to light (which should’ve happened if normal practices had been allowed to happen instead of being steamrolled by the mayor and those supporting him) and the din of the screeching mob has dissipated a little, some of the details don’t look so grisly and gravy laden. John Lorinc’s Spacing piece a couple weeks back paints a much more complicated picture of the TCHC, operating as much as development company (see, the new Regent Park) as it was a property manager. Does that justify everything that surfaced during this initial round of the Auditor-General’s report? Of course not. That there are serious concerns about the conditions and ill-repair at various TCHC property was obvious long before the Auditor-General’s report and go far beyond chocolates and bad procurement practices. But all those in the mayor’s entourage who called for the heads of everybody and anybody involved without a deeper understanding of what was happening at the TCHC will ultimately reveal themselves to be little more than fatuous and specious opportunists. Yeah, that’s right. I’m still looking at you, Councillor Matlow.

The mayor’s going to bluster. He’s going to try and make mountains out of molehills whenever he gets a chance to trumpet to the world he’s found the latest example of waste and gravy. That’s his modus operandi and has been for as long as he’s found work at City Hall.

Until Mayor Ford’s accusations actually prove credible, and I think we’re going to find as further TCHC details emerge from the swamp of innuendo, hearsay and outright distortion and misinterpretation of the facts that he was off the mark, he shouldn’t be simply parroted. The press needs to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming his outrage is warranted. His self-proclaimed mandate doesn’t entitle him to a free pass, not everything that comes out of his mouth treated as gospel. That whole asking questions later thing only works in Mayor Ford’s favour, after the damage is done. Post-mortem regret benefits no one but those thriving on gut instinct and irrational reaction.

soothingly submitted by Cityslikr


We Don’t Know Hockey But Know Somebody Who Does

September 9, 2010

(Just in case you’re getting tired of hearing the same old nat-nat-nattering from these quarters, we thought it’d be good to change it up a bit today. So, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a guest commentator…)

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This week in Eye Weekly, Shawn Micallef wrote a perspicacious open letter to George Smitherman, urging the Toronto mayoral candidate to be more like Wendel Clark than Tie Domi. Although I am not a Maple Leaf fan, I’ve watched the team for decades and inevitably started wondering what Leafs our former mayors most resemble:

* David Crombie = Ted Kennedy

Okay, I never saw Kennedy play—I’m not that old—but many hockey historians consider him the greatest Leaf ever. Captain for eight years, “Teeder” helped the team win the Stanley Cup five times and was the last Leaf to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Mayor from 1972 to 1978, Crombie led a reform council that left a legacy the city has coasted on for decades. We still remember him fondly as Toronto’s Tiny Perfect Mayor.

* John Sewell = Frank Mahovlich

A big, supremely talented player, the Big M helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup four times. And yet, management mistreated him and fans booed him. Sewell had been a smart and scrappy activist alderman, but after he had the temerity to suggest Toronto cops were anything less than tops, he lasted just one term as a bike-riding, rights-defending mayor. Pearls before swine, I guess.

* Art Eggleton = Inge Hammerstrom

An ineffectual player, Hammerstrom could, according to owner Harold Ballard, “go into the corners with eggs in his pockets and not break one of them.” Eggleton was equally ineffectual. Unfortunately, he lasted longer as mayor than the Swedish winger lasted as a Leaf—and a lot of things broke in Toronto while he was in office.

The Other Swede

* June Rowlands = Tie Domi

A classic NHL goon, Domi served as Leaf enforcer. Rowlands ran for mayor on a law and order platform, but is best remembered for banning the Barenaked Ladies, an innocuous Scarborough pop group, from performing at Nathan Phillips Square. While both Domi and Rowlands were embarrassing, the big difference between the two was that Domi was, inexplicably, wildly popular in Toronto.

* Barbara Hall = Mats Sundin

The only Swedish player to score 500 NHL goals, the talented Sundin was a rare likable player on a team full of unlikable ones (Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson). Hall was mayor during Premier Mike Harris’s war on the city. Like Sundin, she served with class during a difficult era.

* Mel Lastman = Tiger Williams

A notorious bad boy, Williams remains the NHL’s all-time penalty leader. Some hockey fans thought he was a goof; others found him entertaining. Ditto for Lastman.

* David Miller = David Keon

When I was a kid, the hockey magazines I devoured regularly referred to the small, skillful Keon as “pound for pound the best player in the NHL.” Although he was one of the greatest players to ever don a Leaf sweater, his relationship with the team eventually soured and he split. As mayor, Miller had smarts, skill and vision—and was equally underappreciated. But many of the mayor’s supporters have a nagging suspicion that, like Keon, who won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player, the mayor would have been even more effective if he’d had Gordie Howe’s elbows.

skates strapped on-edly submitted by Tim Falconer, author of Drive: A Road Trip through Our Complicated Affair with the Automobile