Mayor Ford? Mayor Ford? Yoo-hoo! Mayor Ford?

June 26, 2012

I write this with an almost disinterested perplexity. Really? Do I have to? Really??

That the mayor of Toronto should, at the very least, attend the flag raising kick off to Pride week just a short drive walk from his City Hall office is beyond question to all but the most confirmed of homophobes. After a similarly uneasy Mel Lastman set aside his qualms and jumped feet first into the festivities, the die was cast. Some acknowledgement of the event had become part of a mayor’s job description.

The matter’s settled. End stop. Continued discussion of Mayor Ford’s rebuff is now officially boring and not much of a story anymore. He’s got issues, let’s just say. What other explanation could there be at this point?

But what perplexes me, frankly, is the manner in which the mayor once again went about excusing himself. And remember, we’re not talking about the parade here and its conflict with a family gathering up at the cottage. A non-holiday Monday gathering to read out the city’s proclamation touting tolerance, diversity, blah, blah, blah. At noon. Right when the mayor usually starts his work day.

He’s busy, we’re told.

Now, anyone who’s been following along with Mayor Ford’s performance recently knows that’s simply a blatant lie. It’s incomprehensible that he couldn’t find the time to squeeze in 15 minutes to do his duty, make an appearance, read what’s in front of him and get the hell out of there before he got any of teh gay on him. As an excuse, it was as lame as it was lazy.

A couple months back, the mayor’s former press secretary and now Toronto Sun columnist something, Adrienne Batra, suggested (while advising him to at least attend yesterday’s flag raising event it should be noted), it wasn’t a case of Mayor Ford being homophobic as it was him not wanting to ‘tick off’ or alienate his political base. Somehow to her mind that makes it more understandable? What happened to that straight shooting, tell it like it is, just one of us guys the mayor said he was? That just sounds like the unprincipled type of politician the mayor used to rail about.

It’s also amazingly passive, not wanting to alienate anybody. What happened to that unruly, renegade, maverick Councillor Rob Ford that 47% of voting Torontonians supported back in 2010? That guy would’ve avoided like the AIDS plague anything to do with Pride and told us right up front why. The city shouldn’t be in the business of supporting any sort of lifestyle choice or something along those lines. Anything.

He wouldn’t be afraid of alienating his base. He’d be activating it with dog whistles and coded language, using the opportunity to burnish the Ford brand of small-minded neo-conservatism. What happened to that guy?

MIA. AWOL. Hiding behind some make-believe itinerary and, in a scene that’s becoming more and more routine, winding up increasingly isolated on the wrong side of an issue. A healthy majority of council was present yesterday including some of the mayor’s closest allies. (Wait. Maybe ‘closet allies’ worked better.) Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. Speaker Frances Nunziata. Councillors Gary Crawford, Frank Di Giorgio and Cesar Palacio.

The mayor has simply stopped trying and leaves his more ardent defenders with little to stand up for him with aside from the usual meaningless tripe. Family first! (*sigh* We’re not talking about the parade.) Where does it say a mayor has to do anything about Pride? (*sigh* That’s like me, writing a Toronto municipal politics blog, saying who says I have to talk about the mayor?) It just comes with the territory.

Mayor Ford has become so detached from the proceedings at City Hall that not only is he blatantly shirking his responsibilities but he can’t even bother to come up with adequate excuses in an attempt to cover his tracks. The Mayor of Nothing, doing nothing and nothing doing as to why. If you ask me, it is the most curious of re-election routes.

wide openly submitted by Cityslikr


When’s The News Not Fit To Print?

April 19, 2012

OK, so somebody’s going to have to bring me up to speed on this. With no journalistic background and even less of one in ethics, I’m a little unclear as to why Mayor Ford being filmed fast food shopping isn’t newsworthy? If a news organization thinks it’s important that they have reporters dutifully show up every Monday to record his weight, why isn’t it part of the story if he’s seen visiting the dead colonel?

Who decides what’s out of bounds or not news?

We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke have, for some time now, made little reference to the mayor’s weight. During the 2010 campaign we tried rationalizing the use of pithy turns of phrases like ‘fat fuck’ as referring to an attitude, a state of mind and not a physical attribute even though it was. Conceding the point that we were treading choppy waters with that, and knowing that we wouldn’t hurl such an epithet at anyone in person no matter how much we might dislike them, we ceased and desisted.

I’m not sure we even ever referenced Cut the Waste Waist, his crass political stunt concocted, I imagine, in an attempt to distract us from the mayor’s 2012 troubles. Ignore it and maybe it’ll go away, was our thinking.

But as the budget chief — himself quietly going about the business of shedding pounds — likes to say, you can’t suck and blow at the same time. If the Fords are looking to generate some goodwill by their weight loss campaign, burnish the mayor’s image as just another little guy struggling with a battle of the bulge, they can’t dictate the terms of coverage. In our drive to ignore this whole issue, we’ve regularly fought the urge to write a post labelling Cut The Waist Waste as the worst PR idea since the fictional boss, Mr. Carlson, of the fictional radio station, WKRP in Cincinnati, decided to give out free turkeys at Thanksgiving by throwing live ones out of a helicopter. “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

So much downside. Why risk it, we thought to ourselves.

And so the mayor endures further public scrutiny and embarrassment, any private misstep quite possibly caught on camera and broadcast for the world to see. His brother-councillor, Doug, the seeming architect of the gimmick, jumps to the mayor’s defence, decrying the very media intrusiveness he was looking for in the first place (“I couldn’t take a candy out of a candy dish at one of the buildings on Bay St. before somebody called the media by the time I got downstairs and said they saw me taking candy”), while making sure everyone knows he, at least, is on track to meet his weight loss target. “Anyways, at the end of the day I’m hitting my target. Fifty pounds. That’s it. Rob? It might be a little tougher.” How tough? “(He’ll do it even) if I’ve got to get a piece of duct tape and stick it across his mouth, put a little hole in there for a straw,” said Doug Ford.

How’s that for having the mayor’s back?

What was once an unbelievable turn of events, a political tidal wave, soon devalued into a farce and has now bottomed out into a sad fucking spectacle.

It’s no longer a question of whether or not Rob Ford is fit to be mayor of Toronto, the answer to that should be painfully obvious, but whether or not he even really wants to be mayor. There are perks to be sure. His view and words, regardless of merit, have to be taken seriously and not just simply laughed off as they were when he was a councillor. He gets to meet dignitaries like Don Cherry and sports teams.

But what happened to the days when you could just slip out for some chicken and nobody gave a shit? Or miss council meetings and most people were relieved rather than upset about it? And the Pride Parade! Why won’t everybody just stop asking me about the Pride Parade?!

Because you’re the mayor of Toronto, sir, and it’s 2012.

If things had broken the way he wanted, Rob Ford would now be a sports broadcaster, moving into that career after retiring from professional football. He’d be doing something he actually enjoys. Instead, he’s stuck being a mayor. Why? It’s impossible to tell. All we know is that nobody’s happy about it including, it would seem, Mayor Ford himself.

Maybe it all just seemed like a really good idea at the time, taking a run at the top job. If he won, he’d clean up the mess he was convinced City Hall had become and make a real difference. How hard would that be? What could possibly go wrong?

I think that’s why his trip to KFC during a very public weight loss challenge is in fact news. That he thought it wouldn’t be. That he thought there would be no implications, no consequences to those actions. So what? So I cheated on my diet a little. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is, the mayor and his brother made a big deal of trying to lose weight, tried to play politics with it, use it to their advantage. What could possibly go wrong? The fact that they didn’t think through what could possibly go wrong speaks volumes about their decision making process. There seems to be an inability to consider the implications of their actions. Of course, people would start watching what they ate. Of course, someone would snap a picture if they saw the mayor eating fast food, his brother eating candy.

To think otherwise, to be surprised that it happened and offended that somehow it’s ‘news’, well, is news itself. It means that the mayor of Toronto and his closest advisor, Councillor Doug, operate purely on a rash, reckless level. Hey! Here’s a good idea. Let’s run with it. There’s no sober second thought. No long term contemplation. No reflection. This just feels right. Let’s do it.

That’s news Toronto needs to know.

hungrily submitted by Cityslikr


Being At Home In The City

July 6, 2011

Unexpectedly but appropriately enough, there was talk this past Canada Day of hunting. Appropriate because this is a country founded, at least in part, by hunting. Hunting, trapping, fishing. All that coureur de bois stuff. Unexpected, since I know nothing about hunting and other assorted hands-on methods of putting food on the table.

I say this without a trace of boastful pride, having just never learned about or participated in such sports. There was that one time I reeled in a large mouth bass and the only gun I have ever fired was of the pellet variety. So I was very interested over the weekend to discover how exactly a gun works, how gauges are determined, etc., etc.

What struck me most about these conversations, though, was how in touch with their surroundings the folks were who spent their time hunting and fishing. At home in their environment, knowing everything there was to know about every hill they climbed, every point they positioned themselves at while tracking their quarry. Much of our conversation took place on a boat as we meandered over a lake where various points of interest and local history were revealed.

It all got me to thinking and wondering if those of us big city dwellers could ever attain such equanimity with where we live. Is the urban idea still too alien to us, what with our hundreds of thousands of years living directly off the land, huddled in small groups against the elements, putting on our best, bravest and most stoic frontiersmen face? Towns are where we went to conduct our mercantile business, stock up on supplies and get our debauched groove on if the need arose. No decent person was meant to live in town.

Until just recently, the notion of urbanism has been viewed as a necessary evil at best, with great suspicion at worst. One might argue that even the post-World War II stampede out to the suburbs was a negative reaction to city life. Big houses with big yards that you escaped to. No one lived in a city by choice but by necessity.

So how can someone develop a positive affinity toward such a place? Can we ever be truly at home in our urban homes? We were born and evolved in the great outdoors and that is our natural habitat. Anywhere else is simply a compromise. Settlers, you’ve settled.

Of course, that flies in the face of the last six thousand years of history, much of it made in the cauldron of urban centres. The city-states of Ancient Greece. Rome. The birth and flourishing of the European Renaissance in Venice and Florence. East meeting West in Byzantium-Constantinople-Istanbul. London. Paris. New York. Shanghai. Beijing. Mumbai. Rio de Janiero and São Paulo. Civilization as we know it is the creature of cities.

So we should be comfortable in that habitat. Not all of us. This isn’t intended as an either-or argument. But for an increasing majority of people worldwide, cities are where we live, where we work, where we play. Cities are our homes. Instead of fighting that idea, we need to embrace it and figure out the best ways to make our home, well, livable. Dare I say, desirable? For everyone who chooses to put down stakes here and not just those who can afford it.

All of which may be at the core of the struggles currently being waged in these parts. On one side are forces who still view cities and their teeming masses, density and diversity with great suspicion. Something to be tamed and brought to heel. Yes, I’m thinking about Toronto’s current mayor and his cadre of anti-urban reactionaries. Witness Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s self-righteous crusade to end the city’s Pride funding. You’re free to be gay. Just not on my dime. His blinkered obsession reveals many things but chief among them is his uneasiness with those living their lives differently than he does his. The Attack of the Anti-Urban Urbanites, let’s call it.

The thing is, those differences are the very essence of which not only makes cities great places to live but vibrant centres of constantly evolving civilization. And for those of us standing in opposition to the backward, destructive thinking, fighting a rear-guard fight over battles we thought were already won, that is what we have to remember. We’re not just defending our home or way of life or our preferences. We’re marching to the beat of history here. We’re defending civilization itself against an attempted onslaught from those unprepared to let go of a past that is no longer applicable and whose continued hold should only be viewed as detrimental to our future well-being.

Canada may once have been a nation of hewers of wood and drawers of water. Many here are happily still descendants of such stock. But at this juncture in history Canada has become a full on urban nation. We have to accept that fact. Those who don’t are simply standing in the way, struggling against the tide. It is a losing battle on their part. They just don’t know it yet. We do.

on guardedly submitted by Cityslikr


The Immoveable Mayor

June 23, 2011

Mark it down in your calendar, folks. The week of June 20th, 2011. It’s the date the mayoralty of Rob Ford officially jumped the shark. (If such a thing is possible. To jump the shark suggests that there’s a point of quality from which to jump. For example, can it be said that a Full House or Who’s The Boss? ever achieved the necessary creative heights to attempt the shark jump?)

Within a matter of days this week our very own Mayor Danny Tanner signaled that he’s unwilling, unable or just downright uninterested in reaching out past his core constituency. First, in Executive Committee he deep-sixed an offer from the province to pay for 2 public health nurses. Then the mayor announced that he would not be marching in the upcoming Pride parade, opting instead for a family long weekend at the cottage. In two fell swoops, Mayor Ford made it clear he was not the mayor of all Toronto.

I wouldn’t for a moment be presumptuous enough to try attaching a motivation for these decisions of the mayor aside from a reluctance to accept things that he doesn’t understand. Public nurses? We’ve got hospitals for sick people. Use them. T’eh Gays? Well, it’s all just a little too.. err… queer to him. Have at it. Live your life. Just don’t expect the mayor to endorse something he’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.

The real takeaway message here for me is that Mayor Ford doesn’t feel a need politically to broaden his appeal among Toronto voters. He’s perfectly happy wallowing in the pond of support that brought him to power, and that shares his uneasiness with extra front line health workers and homosexuality. These are his people and the decisions he made in both cases make perfect sense to them. His intransigence might even solidify his reputation as a straight-shooting, uncomplicated, apolitical, little guy. Our mayor doesn’t bend to special interests. Just like us hard working, taxpaying, regular Joes.

Or something like that. We who are flummoxed by the choices our mayor makes need to get used to it. He ain’t ever going to change, so stop expecting him to. That trait may be his greatest strength, his best political asset.

So, let’s stop trying to find common ground with the mayor. It is a small and barren patch of land. A my way or the highway mentality means that the only compromise we can ever hope to reach is all on our part. We give. He takes.

We need to set our sights elsewhere. The time has come to turn up the heat on those at city council who continue their willfully blind support of Mayor Ford and who continue to enable him to do the things he does. If the standard operating procedure so far has been to back the mayor or suffer the political consequences, we have to find a way to point out that such unstinting support will also come with adverse political consequences. A light must be shone on those councillors who have, so far, been quietly cowering in the safe shadow the mayor casts.

Sure, Team Ford is made up of a handful of councillors sharing the mayor’s limited view of politics and the city. Brother Doug, for one, and the Deputy Mayor. They will be immune to such pressure. You might throw in Budget Chief Del Grande and Councillor Shiner as well although, they like Speaker Nunziata and QB Mammoliti, former Ford non-allies present now because the going’s been good but alert to any changes of fortune that might come if the mayor’s destructive and narrow-minded policies become something of a drag on their standing with the electorate.

Even in toto that’s a pretty small group and won’t be able to help dig Mayor Ford out of any holes he gets himself into.

The councillors I’m talking about are the rookies who haven’t established any sort of real foothold besides being the mayor’s flunkies. There’s Vincent Crisanti, Gary Crawford and James Pasternak (the two latter elected in 2010 with the slimmest of pluralities, within the margin of error.) Councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Jay Robinson, undistinguished members of the mayor’s executive committee. And the deadweight veterans, Cesar Palacio, Mark Grimes, Frank DiGiorgio, Chin Lee.

Then there are the moderates from both sides of the political spectrum that have already started bucking under the weight of Mayor Ford’s missteps. Peter Milczyn, Michael Thomspon, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Norm Kelly, Joshes Matlow and Colle, Ana Bailão, Mary-Margaret McMahon. TTC Chair Karen Stintz could be counted on to bail out if things get a little rocky.

Let’s refocus a grassroots effort from the mayor to these councillors, the non-ideological hidebound and opportunists, and start holding them accountable for participating in this war against the city. Alert their constituents with loud announcements of their collaboration and facilitating of this ruinous administration. We need a catchy name for it. Project 23 comes immediately to mind but may not be ominous enough.

Mayor Rob Ford is a lost cause for anyone hoping to build a strong city. It doesn’t interest him and he wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to even if he had the inclination. That’s not going to change.

What can change is the support he now has at City Hall if more councillors begin to realize a price will be paid for their ongoing association with a mayor determined to do his thing and his thing only.

start a firingly submitted by Cityslikr


Selling Off Stock

May 29, 2011

(In case you missed it at the Torontoist on Wednesday, we’re reposting the post. With new, pretty pictures.)

* * *

Just before the May 24th fireworks reignited the ongoing Pride/anti-QuAIA debate at yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s (still) one-man board was given the go ahead to sell off 22 properties. While possessing moments of drama and emotion, the TCHC debate ultimately lacked the highly charged personal edge that gripped the Pride v. anti-QuAIA deputations. Perhaps that’s what happens when only one side holds all the cards.

What Tuesday’s TCHC process was also lacking in was concrete answers. And not just answers to pointed questions from visiting councillors looking to score political points. Honest to goodness answers to honest to goodness questions asked by the mayor’s allies on the Executive Committee.

Like much of the rush to foist the Ford Nation mandate onto Toronto, there’s a sense that the mayor and his team don’t have to explain themselves. They won the election, so they’re free to do as they want. All this back-and-forth is simply wasting time. Pitter patter, let’s get at her!

It was in evidence at last week’s council meeting and the debate over proposed garbage outsourcing in district 2. The staff and privatization advocates were all a little hazy when it came to the numbers and figures. Would it save $8 million? If not, how much? Any? What about diversion rates? Different? On par? Improved?

Stop with all the questions, already! We campaigned on privatizing garbage. We won. We’re going to privatize garbage.

Likewise, TCHC Managing Director Case Ootes and CEO Len Koroneos didn’t seem particularly driven to talk turkey about their recommendation to unload the 22 housing units. How many tenants would be affected by the sell off? Ummm… let me check my notes. 32. Who would be in charge of relocating the tenants losing their homes? Ummm… not sure. “The Planning Department’s not here,” the mayor offered up by way of an answer. What would be the difference in cost to the city between putting in necessary repairs and renovations and continuing to rent out units and simply unloading them as is? Ummmm… we’ll have to get back to you on that, councillor.

“A huge absence of information,” Councillor Janet Davis suggested.

The Committee wasn’t even provided with definitive numbers when it came to such fundamental inquiries about how much the city could really expect to get for selling the houses. Mr. Ootes is thinking close to $16 million. Others like Michael Shapcott at the Wellesley Institute aren’t convinced the number will be that high. Whatever sum it ends up being, the money will be applied to the backlog of repairs on other TCHC properties that is now in the neighbourhood of $650 million.

Another number that came as a surprise to some councillors at the meeting, more than a tripling of repair costs in just two years if true. And if true, it’s hard to imagine how $16 million is going to make a lick of difference in their bigger picture even 1 elevator repair at a time. Especially if we’re ultimately reducing the amount of rental units available to a list that’s already 10 years long to do it.

That seemed to be one thing we could safely conclude would happen if the sale gets approved by city council. Less TCHC housing to go around. “A reduction of capacity,” as Mr. Ootes admitted reluctantly. But, he was quick to add, we weren’t responsible. “We’re not reducing capacity,” Mr. Ootes spun. “Capacity’s being reduced because we don’t have the money.”

It is a new age, a new reality, according to Councillor Mammoliti. “We’re on our own,” he informed the room. We should never expect to see money from senior levels of government ever again. That was that.

So, wave the white flag and agree to be the hatchet men, to do the bidding of the provincial and federal governments’ respective and collective negligence in the social housing portfolio. Instead of standing up and fighting to protect the most vulnerable in our city, members of the mayor’s Executive Committee voted to use them as fodder, sacrifices to the new order. Making tough choices, it seems, means making other people pay for your lack of imagination and willingness to go to bat for your constituents.

“This particular sale of 22 houses is a start,” the unelected, unaccountable Case Ootes told reporters, undoubtedly striking fear into the hearts of every TCHC tenant.

For all the talk of having to go it alone and make choices out of enforced necessity due to fiscal restraints not personal preference (the mark of all small-minded municipal politicians who operate happily under the umbrella of not bearing ultimate responsibility), the irony of the decision to sell the houses is that, even if city council agrees, it is still pending provincial government approval. What the Executive Committee signaled with its vote to sell off TCHC properties was that it was willing to get its hands dirty and be the bad guy. That answer seems firm and unequivocal.

repeatedly submitted by Cityslikr


How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sue-Ann?

April 18, 2011

I’m not really sure this is worth the effort.

Or at least, my subconscious isn’t convinced which might explain the hours and hours of procrastination I’ve been subjected to, trying to sit down and write this out. Ignore it, my better me tells me, no good can come from harping on it. But my ugly me (who I’m partial to) leans in and badgers me to do this thing. This cannot stand, unchallenged, I’m challenged. Nonsense must be called out. Yeah but… good me whines… Some things are better left ignored. Let them simply rot in their own putrid, bilious juices. My God, you are so fucking naïve, ugly me yells at good me, and so the argument continues as does the procrastination.

Oh, Sue-Ann Levy. How can such a mean-spirited, talentless typist cause me so much consternation? I mean, I don’t even read the Toronto Sun and highly suspect anyone who does aside from gathering their sports news. Yet she and it represent the nasty, squalid side of the Ford Nation. Ignoring her and the paper that employees her services allows for misinformation and character assassination to stand. However, addressing what spills seemingly unedited from her poisoned pen (or whatever passes for the modern equivalent) may only lend credence to it.

Decisions, decisions.

It all started (again) last week when SAL got caught up in the whole Pride-QuAIA situation which she has been very vocal about. To do the brouhaha justice, read all about it in Xtra! where it was covered much more thoroughly by Andrea Houston. The thing you need to know is that in a flurry of Twitter activity, Ms. Levy managed to toss around an anti-Semite accusation (misspelled) and taunted another journalist with a ‘Johnny Jew’ epithet. Many deletions and one apology later, she was then removed from covering the ongoing Pride-QuAIA story for the Sun.

A peaceful silence ensued.

And then came this.

So many things coalesce along with the assorted bacteria and other single-celled beings in the pit of my stomach when I read a Sue-Ann Levy article, none of which makes me feel better as a human being. The least important but most glaringly apparent is the fact she is a terrible, terrible, terrible writer. Is that enough terribles? A terrible, terrible, terrible, monstrously terrible writer. Just terrible. There. That’s better.

To call her a hack is to heap unjustified scorn and derision on true hacks everywhere. Hackery suggests some form of organized, systemic badness. That’s a bar Ms. Levy simply doesn’t possess the creative vertical leap to clear. It’s all a stream-of-consciousness, spewed forth like the expressing of a dog’s anal glands, ideology and vitriol trumping logic, truth and basic construction of thought at every turn. No literate adult should write as poorly as Sue-Ann Levy does. Certainly, no literate adult should write as poorly as Sue-Ann Levy does and get paid for their efforts.

My offended artistic sensibilities aside, the real damage inflicted by Levy’s rant writings.. wrantings?.. is on the political discourse in and around City Hall. Like the radical right wing City Hall pols she so slavishly shills for, SAL now basks in the glow of Mayor Ford’s ascension to power, having been on the outside looking in during the Miller administration. To a one, they claim the exclusion was because the Millerites brooked no dissent although judging from their performance so far in office and in print, one could just as easily conclude that an inability or unwillingness to contribute anything positive to the proceedings might also have been factored in.

It’s Team Ford time now and no one epitomizes the nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah triumphalism better than Sue-Ann Levy. Because they won the election in October, they don’t have to justify themselves. They don’t have to defend or debate their ideas. The only fact that matters is the fact Rob Ford is mayor now. Suck on that, left wing kooks.

So it’s invective name-calling and innuendo from the mayor’s court reporter, Sue-Ann Levy. Reading one of her columns is like eaves-dropping on a teenager’s phone call with a friend. It’s all like, gawd, why doesn’t she just, like, shut up and mind her own business! I was talking to Dougie and she, like, all butted in. (Hint to Ms. Levy? If you really want to conduct a private interview with a councillor? There are these places at City Hall called ‘offices’. Go inside, close the door behind you and have at it.) I mean, did you hear her laugh? All horsey. Maybe we should start feeding her sugar cubes. Tee hee, tee hee.

Perhaps it’s because she herself lacks any principles other than obsequiousness to right wing power, Levy can only impugn the motives of anyone at council she disagrees with. And she disagrees with no one at council more than Adam Vaughan. There is nothing he does to SAL’s eyes that isn’t due to him angling for a run at the mayor’s job in 2014 and his bitter resentment Rob Ford now occupies that place. He has become her new bete noire, David Miller incarnate. It’s surprising that, nearly 6 months in, and she’s yet to come up with a derogatory nickname for him yet. Here’s a tip, Sue-Ann. Vaughan rhymes with yawn. Run with it.

Most disturbingly, Levy shares a dim view of council meetings at City Hall with her right wing bestest friends. “An exercise in sheer madness” she wrote about the debate over the city’s proposed new appointment process of agencies, boards and committees. “Look, I’m all for democracy,” Levy claimed in her article which, loosely translated, means she isn’t really, leading inevitably to this thought finisher, “but it was all just nonsense, grandstanding by a bunch of petulant councillors who can’t get it through their heads they no longer run the show at City Hall.”

In Sue-Ann Levy’s world, democracy is little more than ‘sheer madness’, ‘nonsense’, obstructionism, interfering in the city’s business and a “waste of time and tax dollars”, as duly quoted from the paradigm of democratic thought, Doug Ford.

Which is what makes Sue-Ann Levy more than simply an innocuous albeit annoying wingtard (oops. I meant, wingnut.) As eye-poppingly ludicrous as much of her wrantings are, she has a significant enough platform to amply pollute public discourse. She serves those seeking to push through an agenda with as little democratic input as possible and who believe that winning an election grants 4 years of autocratic rule. By belittling the established democratic process at City Hall, she undercuts democracy itself.

Of course, my good me suggests I may be giving Sue-Ann Levy a little too much credit. Is she really capable of thinking that far through things? She’s probably just writing love notes to those who are paying any attention to her whatsoever. Maybe all David Miller and his allies needed to do was give Sue-Ann the occasional scratch behind the ear and they would’ve had her eating out of their hands. Ooooooo, says ugly me. Listen to good you, getting all catty and stuff. It looks like Sue-Ann Levy brings out the worst in you.

Sue-Ann Levy brings out the worst in all of us.

dividedly submitted by Cityslikr


Don’t Let The Bastards Wear Us Down

June 10, 2010

At the risk of appearing to be indulging in a little log rolling for this site, allow me to pick up on a thematic thread from my colleague’s post yesterday.

Our ever increasing democratic deficit.

After a slight walk on the wild side with the Better Ballots mayoral debate a week and a half or so ago where more than just the Gang of 6™®© were allowed on stage to air their ideas and differences, it’s been back to the business as usual format. The kids had been treated to an evening of dress up and pretending to be grown ups but now playtime’s over. Why, just the other evening CP24 hosted their second mayoral debate (of a conveniently numbered six) featuring their designated six front running candidates. How could you possibly open up the floor to more candidates and threaten that kind of entrenched synchronicity? Even the community held debates like the one in Parkview Hills this past Monday and hosted by John Tory, are opening their doors only to the 6 main candidates as if some hard and fast rule exists to keep interlopers out.

I understand why the media wants this easy to remember, uncomplicated setup. It’s difficult enough for the likes of Ben Mulroney to remember the names of all the candidates on stage, forced to use both hands to count heads while still managing to hold onto his microphone. Imagine what would happen if the numbers got into the double digits. (Keep your pants on, Ben.) I also indignantly understand why the anointed six want to be left on their own. No further sharing of the spotlight while lending credibility to their campaigns even if they haven’t earned it.

But why is the voting public so willing to chip in and contribute to the stifling of debate? Shouldn’t they want to hear a wider chorus of voices offering up a wider swath of ideas and solutions to the problems and concerns they’re facing? Surely we’re not as empty-headed as Ben Mulroney and are able to cope with slightly more complexity.

Then this appeared in our interwebs mailbox earlier in the week. A note from mayoral candidate Keith Cole (and participant in the Better Ballots June 1st debate), announcing his withdrawal from participation in PRIDE’s ALTERNA-QUEER event due to the organization’s banning of the phrase “Israel Apartheid” from its annual and iconic parade. Not really wanting to enter this particular fray, I bring it up only to point out that while every one of the front running candidates ducked for cover and came out in favour of the ban, and in favour of overt censorship through media, government and corporate pressure tactics, there was one dissenting voice with a dissenting opinion. Keith Cole made a stand (and sacrifice) for his principles. Yet he is being arbitrarily shut out for the sake of convenience and whatever other sinister reasons there are for maintaining a manageable status quo.

This is how totalitarian regimes operate, folks, to paint a shiny happy face of a free and open society. They present to their electorate a sanctioned list of candidates for the voters to choose from. Debates range from points A through to B. People cast their ballots. Someone the party has given their seal of approval to wins. No fuss, no bother. It’s what we usually refer to as a ‘sham election’.

But true democracy is messy. It shouldn’t be clean and easy to navigate. Giving voice to disparate views, as many views as demand to be heard, means tolerating – encouraging — a cacophonous din on the march toward forging a workable consensus. That’s how democracy works. The expectation of having everything presented in a nice tidy box is frighteningly short-sighted and narrow-minded especially this early on in the game. And it doesn’t qualify as democracy. What it is, what we should call it is mediacracy in all its appropriately homonymic glory.

urgently submitted by Urban Sophisticat