The Bloody Aftermath

October 26, 2010

Is it discombobulation I’m experiencing? I am distracted, to say the least.

Not wanting to get out of my bathrobe today, I made the short jaunt to the office wearing it. Hey. It’s unseasonably warm out there, my friends. And it’s not like it’s a long commute. A couple, 3 stops. And needless to say, I wasn’t alone, wearing morning flannel on the streetcar. At least I had the decency of wearing something under the robe, unlike someone sitting next to me, let’s call him ‘Brett Favre’, who absolutely refused to cross his legs.

My fears of what I would find (or not) at the office when I got here were well founded. Against my better judgment I’d left Acaphlegmic alone when I headed out to mourn and commiserate with the crowds reeling from last night’s election results. He’d rounded up a couple fellow Ford supporters, and they were cleaning out our bar stock while singing Eye of the Tiger and other Rocky theme songs. I should’ve kicked them out but had little fight left in me.

This a.m. not only was all the liquor gone but most of the office had been ransacked as well. Don’t get me wrong, I point no fingers at the character of Ford supporters. Acaphlegmic is not a stranger to petty larceny, so I’m keeping the blame entirely in house on this one.

The more startling aspect of what I was looking at, over and above the fact that the office had been largely cleaned out of its contents, all the windows were sealed up with that plastic wintertime shrink wrap. Why, I wondered. The place was a sweatbox no matter what time of year.

Yes, it’s going to be a strange next 4 years.

Which is probably why Acaphlegmic will fit into the Ford era so perfectly. My other colleague, however, might not be so adaptive to the change. I’d met up with an ashen faced Urban Sophisticat along my magical misery tour last night. Much of his lack of colour could be explained by an adverse reaction to the evening’s election outcome. Some had to be due to the fact that I’d found him out on a patio furiously puffing on a pipe. A pipe?!

“They want to call me an ‘elite’?” he told me in response to the quizzical look on my face. “I’ll give them elite.” He then inhaled a little too defiantly, sucking smoke deep into his lungs and setting off on an extended coughing spell. Poor Urban Sophisticat. He hasn’t the constitution to cope with the coming 4 years. They’ll eat him alive. I wanted to give him a hug of deep consolation and assurance but between the hacking and smell of singed hazelnut, well, we’re not that close. I moved on before he started expiring blood.

That is not to say I possess an unassailable sang-froid about the Ford situation. What’s eating me this morning is the idea that I’m very much responsible for this fiasco. Perhaps if I hadn’t started this thing and joined in on the municipal politics conversation way back in January, things would not have transpired as they did. Before we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke appeared on the scene, there was only 1 Ford at City Hall. Now there are two. How can’t that be our fault? Maybe if we’d just kept our big yaps shut and simply continued doing what we were doing (I was content enough at my millinery work), things would not have turned out so very, very badly.

Of course, correlation does not imply causation. I may be taking myself a little too seriously, magnifying my importance in all this, way out of proportion. (You think?) But as I sit here, in my robe, in a plundered office, I cannot help but think that as a part of a movement, we did not beat back the storm of anger that descended upon the city. We did not/could not counter the anti-everything sentiment that swept over us last night. Instead, we chose the route of ridicule and disdain; dismissive of the feeling of alienation and outrage that was allowed to run amok, allowing the unbelievable to become the improbable that blossomed into the inevitable. Rob Ford’s success was our failure. There’s nobody else to blame.

Accept it. Learn from it. Move on. A much bigger battle lies ahead.

And why is it so fucking hot in here!

over-heatedly submitted by Cityslikr


Meet A Mayoral Candidate XV

May 28, 2010

It’s Friday again and—wait, wait. Friday? Really? Didn’t the work week start, like, just 3 days ago? Oh well. If you say so. Friday it is then, bringing another installment of Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

Up this week: Rocco Achampong!

Voted by those in this office as the Candidate Most Likely To Break Out From The Back Of The Pack And Start Running With The Big Bulls (you mean your office didn’t have a similar pool?), Rocco Achampong appears ready to fulfill that destiny. He’ll be appearing along with Keith Cole at the Better Ballots Mayoral Debate on June 1st at the University of Toronto’s Hart House with the 6 top dogs, acronymously known as TRFMPS. His time in the shadows is about to be a thing of the past as steps out into the glaring limelight.

Mr. Achampong should have somewhat of a home field advantage at next Tuesday’s debate as he is a graduate of U. of T. where he co-founded the Black Students Association and served as the president before being elected president of the university’s Students’ Administrative Council (now known as the Students’ Union). In fact, so at home with the place is he that Achampong even announced his candidacy for mayor earlier this year in the very room where the debate will be taking place. He’ll be well versed with where the puck bounces unexpectedly off the boards into the slot in front of the net.

There is little question that as a candidate for mayor Mr. Achampong has all the goods. He is young, driven and possesses a compelling and uplifting biography. Born in Ghana, his family immigrated to Canada when he was nine years old. Some of his youth was spent in Toronto’s rough-and-tumble Jane-Finch area, where Achampong was well aware of the violence that sometimes flared up in the community.  But with a strong family bond steeped in love and faith, he overcame these struggles to make his way through school, eventually graduating from Osgoode Hall with a law degree in 2008.

It is perfect political pedigree, bestowing a can-do under dog, over-achieving mantle on him that Achampong clearly relishes. “I think of myself as Rocky,” Achampong has said. “As long as I’m still on my feet after 12 rounds, I’ve won.” Strike up the Bill Conti theme music, we say, because up that flight of stairs we go!

Yet for all the fresh-faced, new blood, rising star qualities enveloping Achampong, there’s a whiff of familiarity upon closer examination. Imagine my surprise when glancing through his biographical material that Mr. Achampong campaigned for John Tory back in 2003 in that mayoral election. I say, what? Tory may be a nice guy and genuinely decent human being but what’s a bright-eyed, impressionable young thing doing going to work for the consummate insider, an official member of the unofficial kitchen cabinet for the execrable Mel Lastman regime? What does that say about Achampong’s politics?

It speaks volumes.

From Mr. Achampong’s speech announcing his intention to run for mayor: I have no experience when it comes to raising your taxes – time after time after time. No experience when it comes to looking for ever more innovative ways to separate our hard-working citizens from their hard-earned money. I have no experience when it comes to wasting these same hard-earned tax dollars through reckless and irresponsible spending. I have no experience when it comes to selling our city out to special interests, no experience in caving in to demands, to sitting idly by and complacently while union bosses hold our citizens hostage with outrageous demands.

Unlike my professional politician opponents, I have no experience when it comes to running government agencies rife with scandal and corruption. I have no experience when it comes to hiking transit costs for hard-working citizens to pay ever higher salaries to overfed employees who sleep on the job.

Words that could just as easily be emanating from the mouth of George Smitherman, Rob Ford or Rocco Achampong’s former boss on the John Tory 2003 campaign team, Rocco Rossi. For a new kid on the block, Mr. Achampong sounds awfully shopworn, clichéd and hackneyed. Where is the new vision to accompany the new face? Even his answer to the question we’ve been asking all our candidates, If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Achampong like to see his legacy written? strikes us as somewhat generic. “A Mayor Achampong would like his legacy to be that of economic growth, prosperity for the many, and hope for all…when they look back, I  would like them to not forget that times were great under my administration”.

Yes, there is much to admire in the compassionate and progressive elements of Achampong’s platform. A national housing initiative. TTC fare freeze. Doubling of the city’s arts funding. Dedicated bike lanes.

We just do not see how all this gibes with the anti-tax, anti-union stance Mr. Achampong’s touting right now. The hope is with a new voice comes a new vision. Rather than trotting our all the old sawhorses about this city’s out-of-control spending and being held hostage by union layabouts, we’re looking for someone, anyone, to point out how the fiscal straits Toronto is facing presently are largely beyond its control. We’re looking for a candidate to stand up for our interests in the face of recalcitrant and negligent senior levels of government and state categorically that we refuse to play delivery boy to the heartless and harmful effects of the neoliberal policies that they’ve been pursuing for decades now.

And somewhere in our peabrains we lodged the idea that a candidate such as Rocco Achampong might be that one. Now, we’re not so sure. It saddens us. Maybe over the course of the election campaign we will be proven wrong.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr