Nothing Against Councillor Mary Fragedakis But…

There’s a moment in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s One Leg Too Few sketch, about a one-legged actor auditioning for the role of Tarzan, where Cook, conducting the audition, tells Moore, the actor, “Your right leg I like. I like your right leg. It’s a very lovely leg for the role. A lovely leg for the role, and I’ve got nothing against your right leg. Unfortunately… neither do you.”

I’ve got nothing against Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth). Unfortunately… that’s hardly a rousing ring of approval, is it? That’d be the very definition of damning with faint praise, if I understand the phrase properly.

I should say right here that I truly do try and cut the freshman class of 2010 some slack. Birthed onto council in a fiery tempest of toxic partisanship brought down upon them by a strictly by the book, us-versus-them administration. trialbyfireThey had to make some hard choices, and make them quickly.

They were either with the mayor, ag’in the mayor or ducking for cover in the much derided mush middle. Imagine gazelles, born onto the savannah just as the herd bolts in fear at the approach of a hungry, hunting lion. Get up, junior. Get up! This is no time to learn how to walk. Run! Run!!

It was evident early on where Councillor Fragedakis came down on that spectrum. Despite going along with stripping the city of revenue by eliminating the vehicle registration tax (many, many confirmed anti-Fordists made that mistake), she clearly took a spot hanging out with the non-friends of the mayor.

But she did so with little distinction. She got lost in the crowd. Try as I might, I can’t come up with one thing she took hold of, made her own. Councillor Fragedakis, champion of… ?

It’s not like she sat silent, disappearing Esmeralda-like (ask your parents, kids) into the background. More often than not, the councillor made her opinion known during council meetings. milfordmanIt’s just… it’s just…

Her voice was like an echo, a reverberation of something that had already been said. Nothing particularly offensive to these ears but little to be distinguished from things already stated. Councillor Fragedakis strikes me as the dutiful political daughter of Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth) and niece of Councillor Pam McConnell. (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale).

It could be worse, no doubt. I have nothing against Councillor Mary Fragedakis but…

Again, it’s worth noting that she could be a superb constituent councillor, attentive to the needs and concerns of the residents in her ward. Not everyone elected to council needs to be a firebrand and on the forefront of city wide issues. Councillor Fragedakis may be happily and effectively tucked away, doing the more mundane tasks of municipal governance.

Her re-electability too is something of a mystery. me tooI may be horribly off the mark seeing her as vulnerable. She is just in her first term, so not entrenched as the incumbent. Ward 29 shouldn’t necessarily be seen as some safe, left wing seat. Remember, the long time representative from the area, for like 150 years, was Case Ootes, an old Lastmanite and noted anti-David Miller foe. Unless there’s been a dramatic shift in demographics, this ward can’t be considered a walk for any left of centre candidate.

In the 2010 election, Fragedakis benefitted from a right of centre split between former councillor and 2006 mayoral candidate, Jane Pitfield, and the Rocco Rossi endorsed, Jennifer Wood. Animosity flared up, in fact, involving those two camps, with a member of Ms. Pitfield’s team sending off an email request for Ms. Wood to step down in order that she not take votes away from Pitfield and ‘let an NDP council (candidate) Mary Fragedakis win’. stumpedWood didn’t withdraw and ended up with over 4200 votes. Fragedakis won by almost 2500. So it is conceivable that played a part in the outcome.

So it is conceivable that a single strong right of centre candidate in 2014 could seriously challenge Councillor Fragedakis for Ward 29. If that happens, the question will be has she shored up her incumbent bona fides to stave such a charge off, to increase her percentage of the popular vote? Like many things to do with her time in office, I remain simply stumped for an answer.

confusedly submitted by Cityslikr

The Recumbent Incumbent

Gawd! These infernal pre-campaign polls. Story generators produced by those without caller ID on their phones, onthephonewilling to engage with anyone who dials their number. Idle speculation meant to fill in the gap between actual stories.

The only folks these polls are intended to help out are those mulling over a mayoral run. An informal testing of the waters. Polls establish front runners, differentiating them from those without a hope in hell of becoming the city’s next mayor. Hey. Possible candidate X was seen having lunch with John Laschinger at Spadina Garden. How would they do in next year’s election matched up against candidate Y?

The funny thing is, if the history of amalgamated Toronto is anything to go by, such polls conducted so many, many months before the actual election are pretty much meaningless aside from confirming the name (or names) of the candidates to beat. In 2003, John Tory and Barbara Hall. wiltsIn 2010, George Smitherman. All lost the subsequent elections to candidates few had on their radar when the campaign actually commenced.

So beware everyone currently placing their bets and hopes on the likes of John Tory (again), Olivia Chow, Karen Stintz. Our recent electoral history has not treated early front runners well.

I think the one certainty we can take from the likes of Forum Research’s most recent poll for next year’s municipal election in Toronto is that the incumbent, unlike his predecessors, is going to find himself in the midst of a bruising battle to keep his job. In 2000, Mel Lastman was as good as acclaimed for a second term, facing no politically established opponent in the campaign. In 2006, Councillor Jane Pitfield stood as little more than a sacrificial lamb in her attempt to deny David Miller another go-around at the job.

It ain’t going to be so easy for Rob Ford. The one caveat is that both Lastman and Miller went into re-election mode after only two years (of a 3 year term)donnybrook in office, perhaps seeming a little more fresh-faced than our current mayor who’s had an additional year of public scrutiny in office before his re-election campaign begins. Perhaps this will be the new norm with 4 year council terms now. A one term mayor facing an uphill battle in a bid for re-election.

For many incumbents that might seem a little daunting but may be this is nothing but good news for Mayor Ford. He loves playing the underdog, the outsider. The little engine that nobody said could and nobody better think of writing off as an impossible long shot again. Every indication suggests that 2014 is the mayor’s election to win. Just like 2010.


If you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think that’s the exact spot he’s positioned himself to be in at this juncture. Failing miserably toward a second term

cassandraly submitted by Cityslikr

No Mayor Good Enough For Royson James

Far be it from us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke to lash out at a fellow Ford basher. It just seems so natural now that the mayor has been revealed to be a complete and utter fraud. Only blinkered partisan hacks and fellow small government travellers could try and argue that’s not the case.

Still, we rankle somewhat reading a feisty, spittin’ mad Royson James tear into Mayor Ford. “City not nearly as broke as mayor suggests.” Is that right, Royson? Seems strange for you to say that since it was only a few short years ago that you hinted almost exactly the opposite.

“The quiet descent into near-bankruptcy is a deliberate strategy by Mayor David Miller and the ruling New Democrats at city hall,” Mr. James wrote back in 2007. “The bankruptcy isn’t deliberate, of course. But the strategy of underplaying its dangers – of governing as if there is a viable plan to right the ship – is a carefully studied one.”

Or how `bout this one?

“If Toronto is near fiscal ruin, as the numbers suggest, why wasn’t this a big talking point in last November’s election?

Why, why, why, why, why?

Because the political handlers didn’t want the mayor [Miller] tarnished or left vulnerable by a volatile election issue. Because no one has the guts to outline the tough road ahead. Because no one wants to be bloodied politically.”

Toronto, according to Royson James, was broke when David Miller was mayor but no one would face up to the fact. Under Mayor Ford, the city is not that broke so could we please stop harping on that it is. A tale of two cities, indeed.

An over-simplification of the Roysonian Jamesonian worldview, obviously, but there is certainly a smattering of hypocrisy to the high dudgeon in which the Toronto Star columnist holds the mayor. It’s almost exactly to the same degree he held the previous mayor. Is no mayor good enough for Royson James?

Granted, it took James a little longer to arrive at a similar level of outrage toward David Miller that he now bears Rob Ford. In fact, way back in 2003, James endorsed Miller in the final days of the election campaign. The blush was off the rose by 2005 and when Miller ran for re-election in 2006, Royson could be seen flirting openly with the competition, Jane Pitfield.

After Miller gained a second term, the gloves came off. James deemed him imperious, out of touch, beholden to unions and other activists, intent only to spend the city into oblivion. Sound familiar?

In late summer 2007, James wrote out 10 points that Mayor Miller needed to hear. Much of it could’ve been the template for Rob Ford’s run for the mayor’s office three years later. Point # 1. Cut councillors’ perks and salaries. (Done and frozen.) Point #3. Open the city’s books to public scrutiny. (Hello KPMG.) Point #8. Announce “Water-Buster” findings. (What do you mean there’s very little gravy, KPMG?)

The inference behind all this was that under the Miller regime, the city was walled off from its citizens and had become bloated, hidden away in the darkness. Royson James helped construct the platform Rob Ford would use to launch his successful bid to become mayor. He greased the rails with alleged gravy that rode David Miller out of town and Rob Ford rode in on.

That very little of it turned out to be true now has Royson James hopping mad. “Every evidence flies in the face of this characterization of wanton waste at city hall,” James writes. “Still, every crumb that falls triggers claims the whole bread is spoiled so let’s can the baker.”

2011 Royson James meet 2007 Royson James. You two should chat, try and clear the air a little bit. Then we’ll pop into the wayback machine and start setting the record straight.

Now, we’ve got no problem with contrarians. Some have brushed us with that very same stroke. Truth needs to be spoken to power. But, in reading through many of James’ columns during the last 5 years of David Miller’s time in office, it’s hard not to get the sense that it was more about having a grudge than having an actual axe to grind.  The animosity such that it extended beyond Miller himself to his apparent heir apparent, Adam Giambrone. No one was more front and centre finishing off Giambrone’s municipal career than Royson James who took self-righteousness and sanctimony to new heights with what should’ve been nothing more than gossip fodder about a public person’s private life.

Royson James worked really hard to rid the city of any vestiges of David Miller. Realizing now the horrors that he help wrought, he seems to have dialled up the indignation and alarm a notch or two. Better late than never, I guess, but if he’d only been a little more diligent, responsible and fair-minded a few years ago, the task ahead of him might not seem so onerous.

miffedly submitted by Cityslikr