The Mayor Declares

September 15, 2015

It looks like now very few of us will ever learn why it was Mayor John Tory caught himself a case of Olympic fever and, for the last month or so, tried to spread the contagion city-wide. torontosignHolding a curious press conference on the roof of snack bar in Nathan Phillips Square (to afford a better camera angle on the PanAm/ParaPan Toronto sign, I guess) to announce his intention not to submit a commitment to bid letter for the 2024 summer games, the mayor cited most of the same reasons those opposing a possible bid had been trotting out since the idea popped up in the wake of the above mentioned PanAm/ParaPan games. Too short a time line to put together a proper bid. No committee in place to do so. A lack of support from the private sector, and by support, I mean money.

One reason he didn’t mention that I think should be pointed out here is the soft public support for a bid. Perhaps the veil of secrecy that surrounded the mayor’s consultative process during the last few weeks dampened any sort of chance at a last minute surge in pro-bid momentum. Who exactly was he talking to? puttingoutthefireWhile he claimed he’d been in conversation with, among other stakeholders, his council colleagues, Anthony Perruzza might beg to differ. In fact, he did just that yesterday on Metro Morning. The hush-hush, behind closed doors approach the mayor engaged in leading up to this decision generated more suspicion than enthusiasm.

Why Mayor Tory took to the podium to make this negative announcement remains something of a mystery to me. Wouldn’t a simple press release have sufficed, given he was saying no? I guess having beaten the bushes to scare up some semblance of interest in hosting the Olympics, words on page might’ve seemed like the coward’s way out. Nope. Step up. Claim the decision as your own.

Which, arguably, has been something of the intent and optics of all this from the outset. The mayor as the authoritative voice, the buck stops with him guy. City council as merely an afterthought, a rubber stamp on mayoral decisions.

None of this is true but you wouldn’t know that from how the entire will he-or-won’t he bid on the Olympics played out. bigcheese1Mayor Tory’s face was all over the push, his words treated as official statements. He brushed aside calls for a special meeting to ensure full council input into the decision, to make the ultimate decision which it inevitably had to do to go forward. This was his decision, the mayor wanted you to think, his alone to make.

Today’s press conference was also an opportunity for Mayor Tory to show everybody he was not rash. He was reasonable, prudent and whatever else he wants you to think he is that isn’t rash. And all that stuff he told you we needed the Olympics for in order to build? Transit and other major infrastructure needs. Affordable housing. Poverty reduction. Yeah well, not necessarily. The other levels of government need to get onboard, helping out with that. Toronto is the country’s biggest city, an important economic engine. When Toronto thrives, the country thrives.

Exactly where we were before all this talk of an Olympic bid to spur senior government action on such vital municipal issues. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I guess. Hey. It was worth a shot. Except that it wasn’t, as it turns out, as Mayor Tory announced today.startfinish

During the press conference, Mayor Tory took a not so subtle swipe at the previous administration, stating an Olympic bid was no ferris wheel. He was no Doug Ford, impetuously redesigning a decade’s worth of planning on the waterfront, with elaborate renderings of amusement park rides and monorails. No, if you’re going to indulge in spectacle, go big. How about an 80,000 seat stadium on the waterfront! Now that would garner us some serious infrastructure. It would have to, right?

So Mayor Tory gets applauded today for his wise and pragmatic decision not to pursue a course of action he himself had encouraged and championed for the entire last part of the summer. Not only encouraged and championed but fluffed with his talk of the September 15th deadline being simply a letter of interest in possibly bidding when, in fact, as he admitted at the podium today, it was a commitment to bid. slowclapI guess it took him all this time to finally get around to reading the not so fine print in the IOC’s bid process documents.

Oh well. It could’ve been worse. The mayor could’ve made the wrong decision today. A decision city council would’ve had to clean up afterwards.

That, I think, earns him a slow clap for prudently and reasonably making a decision on a bid for the 2024 Olympics that was never his to make in the first place and shouldn’t even have been entertained at this late stage in the game.

Well done.

decisively submitted by Cityslikr


Nobody Really Wins

February 28, 2014

Pause for a second before gleefully (or maybe it’s just wearily) putting your hands together and praying for the arrest of Mayor Rob Ford. holduponthecelebrationsPause to think about the optics.

Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that people in powerful positions should be treated any differently than anyone else. If laws have been broken and arrests warranted, lower the boom regardless of social status or political ranking. That I even need to write that is an indictment of the fact that isn’t always the case.

But no one is really the better for it when an elected official is led away in handcuffs or similarly chased from office outside of an election night loss. At least, the office and the governmental body represented sags a little under such a perp walk. It seems to me democracy in America has never really recovered from the Watergate scandal. There was a loss of faith in the system and the void was filled by heavily orchestrated partisanship and big money.

The arrest of an elected representative needs to be carefully considered and conducted with extreme judiciousness. perpwalkThey are not a private citizen. They are a public servant. The reverberations are different and far more widespread.

Now, the argument could be made that any official who’s pushed things to the point of being arrested has already soiled the position they were elected into, reverberations already felt. Lord knows, the likes of Rob Ford and his councillor-brother have inflicted more than enough damage on the office of the mayor of Toronto. A possible arrest, nothing but a fillip, a dollop of icing on a cratered cake.

Still.

I’m just empty postulating but there could be all sorts of things at work here that haven’t bubbled up to the surface yet. All this could be little more than a fishing expedition (so to speak) on the part of the Toronto police. They don’t have anything stickable to the mayor. So they’re just shaking the tree to see what may fall out.

He could be very correct in suggesting they’ve got nothing on him which is a far cry from his claim to have done nothing wrong. The man’s admitted to smoking crack. His hands are far from clean.

It could also be a scenario where the police have just fired a warning shot across Mayor Ford’s bow. Let him know that the gig’s up and it’s time to walk away as they’d expect any reasonable, rational person to do, caught in as many compromising and unbecoming situations as he has been. stewThe chain of office will protect him from any further police investigation. Just step aside and do the honourable thing.

HaHaHa. And **sigh**.

Of course, there could be much deeper implications at work, matters that have only been hinted at and whispered about until now. Things we may never discover. But suffice it to say that we have come a long way from those innocent days of the 2010 campaign when Rob Ford was recorded over the phone agreeing to try and secure some oxycontin for Dieter Doneit-Henderson.

When the news broke, Ford claimed he “said what I needed to say to get the person off the phone without provoking him” and that he did so because he feared for his family. (Note the familiar pattern of turning a gaffe into a point of victimization. One Rob Ford has used extensively throughout his career, up to and including the current morass with the Toronto police.)

Many of us shrugged the whole thing off and actually bought Ford’s explanation. “I’ll try. I’ll try,” Ford was heard telling Mr Doneit-Henderson. “I don’t know this s–t [oxycontin] but I’ll try to f—–g [fucking] find it.”

Of course, he doesn’t know anything about oxycontin. The guy drinks some. Does a little weed. Who doesn’t? saladdaysIt’s not like he knows anything about harder drugs, right? Right??

HaHaHa. And **sigh**

(As the campaign staff scrambled to salvage his candidacy over this, you have to wonder, with nearly some 4 years of hindsight, how many of them knew the true extent of Rob Ford’s drug problems. How many knew and looked the other way. That’d be a conversation I’d like to have.)

You know, I could forgive the mayor his drug use and hard partying ways. Actually, scratch that. I could care less about the mayor’s drug use and hard partying ways outside of their deleterious effect on his job performance.

No.

At issue right now is Rob Ford’s adamant refusal to accept responsibility for his deplorable behaviour, and the attempts to paint what’s happening as some sort of political vendetta. foodfightHaving taken a dump in the mayor’s office and used the city’s flag to wipe his ass, he and his brother are on an all out smear campaign to paint anybody standing opposed shit brown. If he hasn’t done so already, he’s proving with every utterance he or his councillor-brother makes, every unsubstantiated allegation they hurl, his supreme unfitness for the office, let alone any re-election consideration.

Of course, this is not news to a solid majority of Toronto residents.

It doesn’t, however, make the prospect of his possible arrest any more appealing or satisfying. Nobody really wins in that scenario.

reluctantly submitted by Cityslikr


On Your Right

February 25, 2014

Imagine this.ptahasdisbanded

Councillors Shelley Carroll, Adam Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam all join Olivia Chow as candidates for mayor of Toronto in 2014.

OMG! would come the anguished cry from anyone and everybody on the centre-left of the political spectrum. They’re splitting the vote! This’ll guarantee [fill in your right of centre candidate of choice here] the mayor’s office. Catastrophe!

Yet here we are, two high profile conservative candidates, Councillor Karen Stintz and John Tory, entered the mayoral race yesterday in a bid against ultra-right wing Mayor Rob Ford, joining self-declared moderate right wing candidate David Soknacki in what has become a very, very crowded field on the right.

Where are the alarm bells from the respective conservative camps?

crowdedfieldI’m trying to run the numbers here and I just don’t get it.

In 2010, Rob Ford was the only credible (and I’m using that word very specifically in this situation) conservative candidate still operational at the finish line, and he garnered 47% of the vote. Meanwhile, I think it’s safe to say, few on the left were truly content with their options but yet, between the two of them, George Smitherman and Joe Pantalone, they came in with over 46%. The slightest of cracks on the right and this thing’s wide open. What we’re looking at now is more like multiple fractures.

Not only does one of these candidates need to get a solid majority of conservative voters in under their tent but they have to do so while attracting at least a chunk of progressive voters. Moderate, will be the pose in the hopes that enough people are tired of the turmoil that’s come with the current administration. Crackless conservatism, let’s call it.

Still.

What’s the calculation for the percentage of crazy plus the power of incumbency Mayor Ford will have going for him? fordnationGiven the kind of name recognition the mayor possesses, not necessarily all favourable, what’s the number you write off as unassailably Ford? Just how potent is Ford Nation?

Disregard the 42% he’s regularly clocked in at Forum Research polls. Favourability does not equate into reliable voter intention. 30%? 25%? 20%?

Any of those types of numbers from Mayor Ford this time around dooms the conservative cause. Even at the low end, that would mean Soknacki, Stintz or Tory would have to take the rest of the right of centre vote and nearly all of Smitherman’s numbers from last time out in the hopes of winning it all. So a collapse of conservative votes into two uneven camps and scooping every centrist and soft left supporter to boot. Not undoable but certainly a tall order.

Traditionally, mayoral elections in Toronto have ultimately come down to two candidate races. Over the long haul of 10 months, the field gets winnowed down, attrition takes its toll. slicingupthepieIt wouldn’t be surprising to see something like the 2010 campaign pattern emerge again this year. The third place finisher, say Mayor Ford, holding on to his 10-20% rabid followers. The top two, one, a redder shade of blue, the other, deep, deep red, vying for the remaining, 75-85% of voters.

But this time around, we got some big names duking it out, much bigger names than four years ago. More money behind them. Better organizations. I’d argue that even the truly unknown candidate, David Soknacki, has a higher name recognition than 2010’s two fall by the waysiders, Rocco Rossi and Sarah Thompson. Looking for an early knockout may not be a sound strategy.

So in the early stages of this campaign, every declared candidate needs to stake out their conservative ground and then paint their opponents who aren’t Rob Ford as further left than they are (and I’ll exclude David Soknacki from that assertion as he seems busy just defining who he is as a candidate). splitvoteSo Karen Stintz and John Tory immediately state their subway preferences (because true conservatives believe in only subways as a viable form of public transit) and their adherence to the low taxes that will magically pay to build them. Expressing otherwise is pretty much Bolshevism.

“Karen Stintz says she’s worried about pendulum swing back to NDP government,” CTV’s Natalie Johnson tweeted after the councillor had registered to run. “Says Toronto has had enough of that.”

“There is no such thing as right of centre,” Mayor Ford told the press later in the day. Only the mayor and everybody else who is two steps left of Stalin. Right is not right. Right is right, if you get what the mayor’s trying to get at.

Nothing to see here, folks. Just a bunch of mayoral candidates, touting conservative values. If we are all right of centre, then right of centre ceases to be a defined position. It simply is the place from which everyone campaigns from.

Of course, the possibility exists that once a truly progressive candidate emerges, and if only one emerges, the optics of everyone together on stage or in a television studio might be that they are the odd one out. badnumbers1Four right of centre candidates versus one from the left. The power of numbers, suggesting, giving more legitimacy to the majority view. The left of centre pushed out to the fringes, not to be taking seriously.

Even if that were to happen, the scenario still exists of four candidates vying for enough of the electoral slice of the pie to put one of them over the top. Vote splitting, in other words. There are only so many conservative votes to go around. The real battle this year might not be for the mayor’s office but for a workable slice of the 383,501 votes Rob Ford had all to himself in 2010.

You do the math.

by the numbersly submitted by Cityslikr