Oath Of Allegiance

March 31, 2010

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?

admonishingly submitted by Urban Sophisticat


Rossi Rocks The TBT

March 7, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, Rossi. Is it enough? Can a Board of Trade/Empire Club-Toronto Sun coalition deliver you the mayor’s chair in October? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure myself. It’s kind of hard to keep tabs, what with the high-pitched oinking and squealing noises coming from all your shameless pandering. But the question you have to ask yourself is.. do you feel lucky? Well, do you, Rossi?

Because frankly, I don’t see much growth potential in terms of the proverbial Big Tent for the Rocco Rossi campaign, given that to date he’s pitched little more than a two person pup job. There’s room enough for the increasingly strident neo-conservative Toronto Board of Trade along with the Toronto Sun editorial team. Who else is going to join them inside especially if it means having to squeeze up that close to Sue-Ann Levy?

There is the tough to measure anti-incumbent factor swirling around out there that both Rossi and George Smitherman are hoping to cash in on and, not surprisingly, are helping to foment. In case you haven’t heard, Rocco Rossi is not a career politician although he certainly sounds like one every time he brings up the tale of his friend Amanda Belzowski who runs a lemonade stand to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “She has a multi-year plan and she isn’t even a teenager yet!”

Rocco Rossi wants us to know that he hasn’t run for office before because he’s been busy running things in both the private and not-for-profit sectors while professional politicians at City Hall have run things into the ground. You got it? Rocco Rossi’s not a professional politician. Vote for Rocco Rossi!

It’s tough to say how deeply that’s going to resonate with the general electorate outside of the hardcore, non-sports page Toronto Sun readers. But where else is Rossi going to pull in votes? He’s sided with drivers in the War on Cars, the myth of which he’s helped perpetuate. He wants to keep bike lanes off main arterial roads and take back the 5th lane of Jarvis Street from bikers. This may endear him to the mid-and-uptown crowd who drive into the core everyday but they’re probably already on Board (of Trade, The).

His views on public transit are all over the place. He castigates the present city council for not having multi-year plans (see Amanda Belzowski, above) which would help bring the provincial and federal governments with their big purses to the table but has vowed to stop Transit City which comes loaded up with both federal and provincial funds. Citing cost and time overruns on the St. Clair LRT as the reason for such a rethink, Rossi lays the blame on TTC and council mismanagement, ignoring an independent report that pointed out both the provincial government and local residents also contributed to the problems. It went on to state that mistakes and miscalculations made on St. Clair would be lessons learned and could help future projects run more smoothly.

But never no mind all that chatter for Rocco Rossi. Transit was the last mayor’s thing, therefore it must be bad. Everything about the previous administration must be bad or else Rocco Rossi’s flag doesn’t fly.

Which it was at full mast with his speech to the Board of Trade earlier this week. Full of empty platitudes, simple-minded solutions and tough talk against easy targets, Rossi did little to build on what is now merely a reactionary platform. Even a wannabe supporter like Sue-Ann Levy was reserved in her accolades.

“While Rossi’s bones may need some more meat…,” Levy wrote in the Sun after the speech, “…and some of his assumptions a tad naive, at least he’s delivering some meat to citizens…”. Ignoring the creepy sexual undercurrents of the statement, it seems Rossi failed to fully win over even the likes of Sue-Ann Levy. Maybe Sue-Ann was a little put out at not fully understanding what Rossi was saying as she pointed out his language was “somewhat erudite”. If you want Sue-Ann in your corner, you better dumb it down, buster!

And if you don’t have Sue-Ann Levy, you don’t have the crazy vote. If Rocco Rossi doesn’t have the crazy vote, he remains merely a fringe player albeit a heavily media hyped fringe player. Despite surrounding himself with much of the crowd that brought us the honorary Mayor of Crazytown, Mel Lastman, Rossi lacks one quality that made Lastman a viable candidate: big name recognition. If you’ll excuse the grammar because I’m going for the joke, nobody didn’t know who Mel Lastman was. Nooooooo-body!! Without that, Rossi’s just another candidate trolling for votes among deeply deluded conservatives, the demented and disaffected. Is that enough to propel him into City Hall? For the sweet sake of our city and children, let’s hope not.

sanely submitted by Cityslikr