What’s with all these committee meetings going into the late-afternoon and evening? It’s supposed to be lickety-split, a couple hours, I get the vibe of the room and I’m home to write it up. Instead it’s like all day affairs as if people don’t have other things on their plate.
Not to mention afternoon baseball this week. By the time the game’s over, I’m sedated on the couch, stuffed full of nachos, chicken wings and Nyquil & ginger. Yes it is a thing.
How do the councillors get other stuff done?
More to the point, how do City Hall reporters do it, attending these meetings and writing about them?
How do you do it, Daniel Dale of the Star, Hamutal Dotan of Torontoist, Don Peat of the Sun, Ben Spurr of NOW, to name just a few. You people aren’t human. You are machines!
So I’m two behind already with Planning and Growth Committee today. Let’s hope it’s a short one so I can do a little catching up.
This is a grind, man.
— committed-to-committeeingly submitted by Cityslikr
Reading where councillor Adam Vaughan may’ve fallen afoul of the code of conduct demanded from members of the Police Services Board when he issued a newsletter to his constituents briefing them with some details about the security and anti-terrorism plans for the upcoming G20 summit this summer. He received a reprimand for breeching the board’s oath of confidentiality but seemed less than contrite in the face of it. His response was quite telling.
“There is no higher calling at city hall than to be an elected representative in a city ward, Vaughan said. “The residents of my ward will get my full and undivided loyalty.”
Here lies the beating heart of the dysfunction that passes for the democratic process at Toronto’s City Hall.
Council consists of 44 councillors and one mayor. Only the mayor is elected city wide and, therefore, only the mayor speaks for all of Toronto. That must compete with 44 individual voices, like Adam Vaughan’s who are concerned first and foremost with their respective wards. It’s like medieval Europe with one king surrounded by rival and feuding duchies. Gridlock prevails and nothing short of all out war will bring about any meaningful solutions.
This is why single tier municipal governments are ultimately ineffective and detrimental to the smooth running of a city especially one the size of Toronto. Outside of the mayor and that one single vote, there is no one unified vision for matters that involve the entire city like transit or new development density. NIMBYism will often rear up and bite well intentioned projects in the ass. Like the construction of the St. Clair LRT, for example, that was disrupted and derided by orchestrated community groups that deemed their convenience to be paramount to a highly functioning transit line.
As much as it pains this true believer in streamlined forms of government to say, another administrative level is needed in Toronto as an advocate for long term planning on a city wide scale. Much like we had back in the pre-amalgamation days with the Metro Council. It was not perfect, no, but it was a voice for the whole of Toronto and wasn’t driven purely by local interests. Right now, the city lurches and convulses to discordant parochial rhythms.
And maybe if the loyalty of councillors like Adam Vaughan is fully and undividedly given to the residents of his ward, he should think about not sitting on the Police Services Board or the Planning and Growth Committee. These duties require a wider overview beyond the interests of just one ward, Vaughan’s ward in this case. His divided sense of loyalty smacks of a conflict of interest to those of us outside his ward and causes us to wonder just how effective his contributions are for the entire city of Toronto.
And shouldn’t a better, stronger city be the ultimate goal of all our elected municipal officials?