You Can Have Your Subway, Sir. But It’ll Cost You.

February 2, 2012

Pssst. Residents of Scarborough. You’re not falling for it, are you? He’s the Little Engine That Could. Mayor Ford (Secretly) Loves Transit City.

This story is so fucking messy and convoluted, 2 parts farce and 1 part tragedy, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s all stop, start. A good idea followed by a dud but then upon reflection, hey, that’s not too bad either. To paraphrase Gordon Chong, I have to confess that over the last few moments I have gone from optimism to deflation about this post but now I’m back on track.

Unlike transit planning in Toronto. Ba-dum-tsssh! I got a million of them, folks.

Watching Mayor Ford’s Scarborough press conference yesterday where he basically announced he would be no longer listening to his handpicked TTC chair, I couldn’t help wonder just how much gullibility remained in the pool of support Scarborough residents had toward the mayor. The former east side municipality showed a lot of love for candidate Ford in the 2010 municipal election, voting overwhelmingly for him. While such heady numbers have slipped in recent opinion polls, the mayor is still more popular in Scarborough than anywhere else in the city.

Despite reneging on at least one of his major campaign platforms (“No Service Cuts. Guaranteed.”) that has hit Scarborough particularly hard, Mayor Ford was there with his Grey Cup, just one of you folks’ football jacket to express solidarity with his peeps and let them know that he would not fail them on the matter of subways. He said he would rid their streets of the scourge of streetcars, and that’s what he was going to do. Subways were the only way to go, the only form of rapid transit according to the mayor. So burying all the Eglinton LRT was the only sensible, reasonable thing to do.

And with all the savings that wouldn’t be seen doing that, he would build the fine taxpayers of Scarborough a real, honest to god subway by extending the Sheppard subway east to the Scarborough Town Centre. I love you, Scarborough! Thank you and g’night!

Before all the sceptics out there could finish their first eye roll and mumble something about pixie dust, Mayor Ford had the hard facts to prove that his transportation plan was ‘doable’. Excerpts from the long awaited report from former councillor and both TTC and GO Transit vice-chair, Gordon Chong, began leaking out. Hells yeah, we can build the Sheppard subway extension. The private sector was chomping at the bit to get the party started. They might even pony up as much as 50, 60% of the cost in return for three to decades of air rights and such. Come on. What are you waiting for?

That only leaves, what, 40-50% left over for the city to pick up since the province has washed its hands off any involvement in a Sheppard subway. No problem, right? We’ll just start levying tolls, congestion fees, hiking parking rates, maybe get us some municipal sales taxing powers.

Wait, what? Where the hell did all that come from? Isn’t that kind of talk a little, I don’t know, war-y on the car? I thought that had been declared over and done with.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I would love to have that conversation but if we’re going down that road (or tunnelling under it to reduce the traffic), it changes everything. LRTs versus subways, where and how many. It’s, what do they call it? A game-changer.

If the mayor really wants to open that discussion, I’m all ears. But until he does, until he comes right out and says, yeah, I’m willing to talk about road tolls, then Gordon Chong’s report is an absolute non-starter, meaningless, not worth the paper it’s written on and certainly not worth the money paid to Mr. Chong to write it.

And how exactly does Mayor Ford approach that subject? Remember when he told us the city didn’t have a revenue problem, it had a spending problem? Remember how he championed the removal of the vehicle registration tax? Remember?

Now he’s going to turn around and try to persuade all those he’d convinced on the campaign trail that they were over-taxed and under-serviced that if they really wanted that subway he promised wouldn’t cost them an extra cent, well, they were going to have to chip in a little more to help out. And oh how they will look back on those wistful, innocent days of paying the VRT, and laugh and laugh at how they’d been fooled into believing the city didn’t have a revenue problem. Your basic case of lying to Peter to pay Paul.

But what’s the alternative for the mayor? Rejecting the notion of any additional revenue generation from private vehicle use leaves him with no ability to pay for a Sheppard subway extension into his beloved Scarborough. That means all he’s accomplished is unnecessarily burying the eastern portion of the Eglinton LRT while depriving many of the neighbourhoods of additional new transit lines.

At which point, many transit users in Scarborough would be right in asking, so why bury the Eglinton LRT? It won’t be the first time the question’s been asked. Certainly it’s one Councillor Karen Stintz, the TTC chair, wondered out loud. By any measure, Mayor Ford’s transportation plan without at least the eastward Sheppard subway extension amounts to less new public transit for Scarborough. No road tolls, congestion fees etc. means no Sheppard subway. There’s no getting around that fact.

And if the mayor can’t guarantee Scarborough anything other than a buried Eglinton LRT isn’t resurrecting Transit City from the dead the next logical step? Hey. It ain’t subways but it’s a whole shit load better than what’s there now, folks.

This is what you might refer to as being between a rock and a hard place for the mayor. By building a subway, he’s going to have to find a way to re-define the so-called war on cars. Failing that, he faces becoming the poster boy for a transit plan he unilaterally tried to kill, doing what its supporters failed to do properly way back when. Promoting and championing it as a doable, more affordable way to get better transit to those lacking it.

Barbarinoily submitted by Cityslikr

Truly A Ford Nation

June 24, 2011

As a non-car guy, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, talking and writing about cars. I’m bored to death with it, frankly. Perhaps you too are bored with my constant car chatter.

And here I go again writing about cars.

The most recent cause for my car thoughts comes from an article written earlier this week by David Akin. In it he cited a paper given by Zach Taylor, a Ph.D. candidate, at the Canadian Political Science Association Conference last month that suggested car ownership and use may have been a key factor for those who cast their ballots for Rob Ford in last October’s municipal election. “The propensity to commute by automobile is a strong predictor of Ford support,” writes Mr. Taylor, “while property-oriented variables (the home ownership rate and percentage of housing in detached form) are shown to have a negligible influence on candidate support.”

Ah yes, the War on Cars. Great bumper sticker sloganeering that, not coincidentally, fits perfectly on the back of cars that Ford voters drive. Simple, very effective three word politics.

I will stop myself on theorizing about what I believe to be sociopathy in people’s attachment to their automobiles since it would be a gross generalization. Many folks, having either bought into the lure of a nice house in the suburbs or simply living where they can afford to live, depend on their cars. To get to work and home again, shop, take the kids to school or extracurricular activities, to simply get to where they need to go.

Even if they wanted to rid themselves of their auto reliance, many people couldn’t at this point. There’s no other reliable way to move around their parts of the city in a timely fashion. Ironically, by voting for their auto-centric way of life, they helped elect a mayor who seems determined to make it even less likely they could live car-free if they wanted with his orchestrated attack on Transit City.

No, I think the problem is much more fundamental than that. A continued attachment to cars as our primary mode of transport is a refusal to accept that the world has changed. Automobiles are the kings of the 20th-century. We designed our cities around them. They represented freedom and status. Dodge. Grab Life by the Horns. Buick: Dream Up. SAAB:Welcome to the State of Independence. Jaguar: Don’t dream it. Drive it! Honda: The Power of Dreams. Subaru. Think. Feel. Drive. Ford: Built for life in Canada.

Inundated like that, how could you not want a car? How could you not need a car?

Problem is, it’s 2011, a decade plus into the the 21st-century. The true cost of our car culture has fully manifested itself in our blighted streetscapes, loss of productive time stuck in traffic, environmental degradation and a dependence on dwindling energy resources. For many, driving is the worst way to get from point A to point B anymore.

So we split into two camps: those wanting to make driving easier and those wanting to reduce the primacy of cars in our transport system. Although there would be significant overlap between these seemingly opposing views, this is where the battle lines are drawn. Don’t touch my car versus Get out of your car. Status quo versus embracing the future.

The War on Cars should actually be referred to as the War on Modernity. Having held sway for, let’s call it 60 or 70 years, car ownership is the entrenched interest, a fact of life that was simply a given, the norm, but is now under siege. A perceived assault on the ability to drive anywhere anytime is seen as an assault on a way of life. First, they came for my car, and I said nothing. Then they came for my parking pad. You will have to pry my cold, dead hands from the steering wheel.So it’s not really about cars. It’s about change. Change will always be resisted until it becomes inevitable but the transition seldom is smooth or without – ahem, ahem – the occasional bump in the road. History, though, can only be delayed not indefinitely deferred. We, us car unenthusiasts and embracers of the future, are in a temporary holding pattern, waiting for the last dying gasp of an era.

autodidactically submitted by Urban Sophisticat

Vision Quest IV

October 8, 2010

The Thanksgiving edition.

Up this week: Rocco Rossi For Mayor!

Honestly, I thought this post was going to be more of an obituary than an actual write up of a candidate who had any bearing left on the campaign. As recently as earlier this week, rumours were swirling about major Rossi staffers jumping ship and swimming over to the Rob Ford compound. Polling in the double digits was a distant memory. A sense of inevitable disappointment hung over the whole enterprise, manifesting itself by the forced buoyancy of Rossi supporters throughout the various levels of social media.

But he gathered positive notices upon the release of his policy platform book, Together We Can. (No, Barack Obama’s stump line, Yes We Can, did not immediately spring to mind.) Then, he turned in a solid performance at the CBC mayoral debate on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, there seemed to be a little bounce back in the Rossi campaign step.

If it turns into anything resembling even a modicum of momentum, it might change the dynamics of the race. For the past couple weeks or so, we’ve been told that it’s basically down to two candidates and we better start thinking strategically in terms of voting. A Rossi uptick, however, would probably come at the expense mostly of Rob Ford which would open things up a little wider, possibly making it a very unpredictable, four man campaign for the final three-and-a-half weeks.

Here’s hoping!

Otherwise frankly, I could give a shit about Rocco Rossi. No candidate shoulders more of the blame for the negative tone of this campaign than he does. Lacking a track record since he wasn’t a “career politician” (the openly elected kind at any rate), Rossi came out of the gate determined to smear everyone and anyone who was. How? Start screaming about the mess the city found itself in. Fiscal insolvency! Beholden to unions! Constant road construction! (Every announcement/pronouncement emanating from Rossi camp needs to exclamatized©™®!!! owing to the shrillness of tone.)

And, oh yes, the War on Cars! Thank you very much for that divisive addition to the campaign, Mr. Rossi. Create a rift where none existed, all to give a shine to your uptown appeal.

I guess it made sense in the early days of the campaign, to stake out the right of centre spot on the spectrum, and box George Smitherman in toward the… centre.. ? I guess. Really? Actually no. It makes no sense. Which is why I’ve never been able to fully grasp what the Rocco Rossi campaign’s been all about.

Neither had it, evidently. Having trail blazed the anti-City Hall/anti-incumbent path, Rossi got caught off guard when Rob Ford tore out ahead of him (and who amongst wasn’t), rightfully claiming the issue as his own. Why wouldn’t he? It’s been Ford’s schtick for the past 10 years.

But instead of righting the ship that had been swamped by the Rob Ford rogue wave, and ceding the far right, libertarian ground to it with a sensible move slightly toward the centre, Rossi tried keeping pace in the reactionary race. Who advising him thought he could win that one? Why not take the opportunity to point out what everyone except his most ardent supporters knew – that Ford was little more than a blustery blowhole and most everything he stood for was based on faulty premises, logic and out right lies – and gain some traction as the reasonable right wing candidate?

Nope. What we got was Spadina Expressway II: The Tunnel. (Remember, there’s a War on Cars going on, people.) The Goodfellas ads. The Rocco Rossi-Sue-Ann Levy danse macabre pas de deux.By all rights, the Rocco Rossi campaign deserves to be dead and buried. His performance has been erratic enough that it should scare off Liberal Party organizers sizing him up for a federal run, if that’s what this whole sad farce has been about. And it must’ve been about something other than actually winning the mayoralty of Toronto, right? Because if that was the intent, well, Rocco Rossi certainly had us fooled.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr

Vision Quest III

October 1, 2010

Now I don’t know if this’ll work the same magic as it did last week when we wrote about Sarah Thomson’s candidacy and a few days later – voila – she dropped out of the race. But here’s hoping…

Vision Quest III. Up this week, Rob Ford!

There’s really not much more that can be said about Councillor Rob Ford and the race he’s run so far that hasn’t been said over and over and over again already. It’s all so improbable. It’s built on misguided anger and faulty numbers. It makes sense only to those who’ve pledged blind loyalty to the wacky internal logic at its molten core.

(Wacky internal logic, you ask? OK, how about this. Increase councillor responsiveness to their constituents by cutting the number of councillors in half. Wait, what? Won’t that just double their workload and make it that much harder to serve their constituents? On the face of it, sure, but since there’ll be fewer council seats, the competition to get elected will be fiercer and, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Free Market 101 can tell you, tougher competition means only the fittest will survive. So, fewer council seats equals better councillors, all who’ll work harder which, and I’m not even sure the hardest core of Ford’s hardcore supporters have thought this thing as far through as this, it will also increase council’s diversity. How, you ask, again? Well, as Rob Ford is on record saying, the Orientals work like dogs. Such hard workers will make them more fit to be councillors. Under a Mayor Rob Ford and his smaller council, the Orientals will take over council! Two birds with one stone.)

That, in a nutshell, is how our mayoralty campaign has gone since Ford entered the race back in March. As we’ve written here frequently, regardless of the outcome on October 25th, Rob Ford has already won. Or at least, his cause can be declared victorious. His ceaseless harping on City Hall as out of control – bloated, profligate, corrupt, onerous on the citizens – has essentially salted the grounds around Nathan Phillips Square (concrete and all) and created a poisoned environment where every politician and bureaucrat can now be painted with the same unforgiving brush. In it only for themselves with their grubby little hands always in taxpayers’ pockets, demanding more from us and giving less back in return.

That there’s but a sliver of truth to any of that is entirely beside the point. Perception is everything, and as in most talking points emanating from the small government, libertarian leaning sect, simply repeating the same message over and over again at higher and higher decibels passes as truth or fact. It sure beats having to take the time to work through a coherent policy platform.

And why would they, for godssakes? Since the beginning of his run, Ford’s been amply rewarded for the discipline he’s shown staying on message. His lead in the polls is, at least in part, credited to delivering an easy-to-remember brand. Stop the Gravy Train! Cut Wasteful Spending! A War on Cars! (Credit for that should really go to Rocco Rossi but Ford’s it made his own.) It makes for great headlines and editorial chatter.

But just how difficult is that, I have to ask. We used to demand that high school students memorize the fucking periodic table of elements. Now, we’re applauding a man who wants to be mayor for his amazing ability to string the same five or six words together over-and-over again regardless of context or much, if any, meaning? Perhaps an admirable trait to posses in the advertising and marketing businesses but something short of desirable when looking for someone to oversee the nuances of governing a large city.

That’s the rub, of course, for Rob Ford and his ardent supporters. There is no nuance to governing a city big or small. Just fill the potholes, fix the streetlights, rid the roads of crime, bikes, streetcars, the homeless (see crime), festivals and marathons, and respond to every single inquiry and demand from every single voter that makes one. Outside of that, leave it up to the private sector to take care of all our other needs. Easy-peazy.

Aside from Europeans and their apologists, who wouldn’t want life and governance to work out just like that? Just like it was back in … the imaginations of those who actually believe there was such a time when all our needs were met, our taxes low and when we could keep our doors unlocked because crime is what happened somewhere else. That is, in a 1950s sitcom.

There has been some recent pushback to these simple minded sentiments. Since Ford became the presumptive favourite, his candidacy has come under more intense scrutiny. The results have not been pretty. His transit plan (or something approximating that) is a mess. Budget numbers don’t add up, with his proposed tax cuts leaving a large whole that he can’t fill without service cuts he’s refusing to divulge. His track record in council suggests that he has very few allies at City Hall which might render him ineffectual as mayor if he does get elected. Continued personal gaffes evoke images of Mel Lastman bringing unwanted international attention on the city.

Even the Toronto Sun has questioned the viability of a Rob Ford mayoralty. Sue­-Ann Levy took a powder and hiked on over to the Rocco Rossi camp. If a radical right wing candidate can’t even maintain the support of a radical right wing rag, is there the critical mass in place to be elected? Plenty of people remain angry out there at what they perceive to be our local government’s vast shortcomings but are there enough of them who will ignore their better instincts and put their ‘champion’ in place so he can take back City Hall for them?

That will be the question between now and October 25th.

quizzically submitted by Cityslikr

An Open Letter To Rob Ford Supporters

July 14, 2010

Dear Supporters of Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford,

I’m writing to you not to mock or belittle you, or to denigrate your candidate of choice for mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. I’ve participated in such easy activities in the past but now want to build a bridge between us. Your man just might win the election in October, so I want to understand how that could possibly happen and how you imagine a Mayor Ford administration is going to help make your lives better. Consider this a letter asking for some clarity from you.

In his column last week, the Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume suggested that Ford represents the suburban anger that has reached a boiling point more than a decade after the enforced amalgamation made us all one. Your concerns have been marginalized by downtowners such as myself, shrugged off while we’ve been busy eating our brie and sushi, sipping lattes and demanding bike lanes, increased transit in the core and conducting our War on Cars, your cars no less.

Fair enough, and undoubtedly true. None of us wanted to be part of the megacity and it seems that those of you living in the outer ring of it in places like Scarborough, North York and Rob Ford’s home turf of Etobicoke feel you got the raw end of the deal. You’ll get no arguments from us here about that. Amalgamation’s miracle of efficiency and money savings never really worked out as well as we were to told it would, especially for you folks out there on the fringes.

Interestingly, Mr. Ford, the fighter for the little guy, takes every opportunity to evoke the memory of his beloved late father, Doug Ford who, as a backbench M.P.P. in the Mike Harris government, sat on his hands during the debate over amalgamation except to raise it in favour of the motion when it came to vote it into law. In direct defiance of over 70% of his constituents, Rob Ford’s father helped usher in an era of municipal governance his son and his supporters now rail against. Nothing more than an example of irony, I guess, but I do hope his father’s anti-democratic tendencies didn’t brush off on his son.

So let’s say your man becomes mayor and is able to muster a majority of the new council to support his way of thinking. (The second scenario much less likely than the first.) A frenzy of cutting taxes and slashing spending ensues. You wind up with a little more money in your pocket and fewer services at your disposal. Now what? How is it your lives are going to be improved because of that?

Transit City – a plan put into place to deliver better service to the areas of the city you live – will be gutted. Replaced by some mystical, magical building of subways your candidate insists the private sector will do for some strange reason that they have not yet thought of. That’s as detailed as his transit plan goes. Aside from making the TTC an essential service, the matter isn’t even referred to in the Issue section of his website. How is that going to get you from point A to B any faster or lessen the traffic congestion that is now part of your life?

I’m also mystified how cutting council numbers in half is going to increase Mr. Ford’s vaunted customer service agenda. I know you love to believe that every other councillor except Rob Ford simply sits around doing nothing more than counting ways they can steal your money except for when they’re partying with Kyle Rae but that is nothing more than an ideological fantasy. Fewer elected officials at City Hall (plus their respective staff) can only deliver better customer service if there’s less services to deliver. Maybe you’re content with that. Fair enough. That’s a different vision than making people’s lives better.

And all that money the city will supposedly save? Even taking Mr. Ford’s numbers at face value which is always an iffy proposition (take a moment to read Simon McNeil’s Writing and Tutoring blog post for an analysis of candidate Ford’s questionable numbers and spotty savings), he claims that eliminating 22 councillors and their staff will save the city $9 million a year in direct savings plus another $6 million due to some sort of nebulous “reduced burden on City Hall staff”. Reduced burden? Would someone please explain that one to me? Less demand on City Hall because it’s doing less?

Even giving Ford the dubious $15 million annual savings with cutting the council in half, what’s that going to do? In terms of a $9.2 billion budget it represents less than a percent. Much, much less. How much less? Let me write it out to 18 decimal points if it helps. 0.0016304347826086956. You know what $15 million will get you in terms of subways even factoring in the lowest estimated cost to build one subway stop? Half one percent of one. So with that cost savings, Rob Ford will be able to build one subway stop every 20, 000 years.* Oh right, I forgot. In Rob Ford’s world the private sector will step right up and build subways once governments get out of their way.

His candidacy just makes no sense to me, Rob Ford supporters, and it’s not like I won’t personally benefit if he becomes mayor. My taxes will go down (although user fees will very likely gobble up much of those gains.) I don’t depend on the city services that a Mayor Ford would attempt to cut. Oh sure, I’ll probably lose a bike lane or two but mostly my life down here in the core will be unaffected if your candidate wins in October. Except that, the city will feel a little more… vindictive.

Because that’s the vibe I get from your campaign. Vindictiveness. It doesn’t feel like what’s driving you is justified anger or outrage. It’s more of a temper tantrum. Rather than fighting to secure a better place for yourselves within the amalgamated city and thereby making the entire city a better place to live and work, you simply want everyone to be as pissed off as your are, as your candidate is.

It’s purely the politics of destruction and wherever it’s been tried before has never made anyone’s life better. How will it work this time around?

earnestly (and unironically) submitted by Urban Sophisticat

* Math may not be exact but it’s no more than one decimal point off. Either way, savings are going to miniscule.

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

Back Into The Trenches, Weary Soldiers Fighting The War On Cars

February 14, 2010

The truce, it would seem, is now over.

Making my way home yesterday afternoon from my weekly outing to the health food store to replenish a flax seed supply that had grown surprisingly low… that is, if something can actually grow low… I’m mindfully crossing a busy street at a designated crosswalk, having done all that I’m required to do as a pedestrian save pointing. It is a gesture I refuse to do. How much more obvious do I have to be, motorists? I’ve pressed the button to activate the overhead flashing lights. I’ve stood dutifully still at the curb, waiting to make sure that oncoming drivers have noticed me and slowed down to a stop. Do I really have to point in the direction that’d I’d like to go as well? Is there really any question in your mind as to what my next move is going to be?

Besides, I don’t think my pointing was going to prevent what happened next.

As I start to cross the street, a streetcar has stopped to the north of me to let off some passengers. Subconsciously that means I can relax as no vehicles will be barreling down from the left and it isn’t until the streetcar’s bell starts ringing wildly that it dawns on me that this is a dumb assumption on my part. Some moron in a minivan (if you’ll pardon the redundancy) has blasted by on the inside of the streetcar, past the open doors that are telling him to stop. He continues on still oblivious to the bell from the streetcar and my profanity laced shouting and wild gesticulations, through the crosswalk and on down the street until he stops at a red light making it one out of three traffic signals he’s obeyed in a 30 second span. Not bad, I guess. Should we really demand more from our drivers?

Shaking my head, I get to the other side of the street and somehow feel like the asshole in the situation to all those who had witnessed the proceedings, having made some sort of uppity pedestrian spectacle of myself. Then on through a parking lot I go before being stopped up short again by a car racing up a back alley. Now I’m pretty sure the speed limit on these things is 20 k/hr which I tried shouting out at the passing driver but he was long out of earshot before I got past, Hey, jagoff… It was then a quiet, uneventful walk the rest of the way home.

But it appears the congeniality that I felt had descended onto the streets since the rash of pedestrian deaths a few weeks back has disappeared. On a busy Saturday of a long weekend, distracted drivers are once more gunning around town, striking back at the war on cars. Streetcars? What streetcars? Pedestrians? Keep on the sidewalks where you belong. Unless, of course, I have to pull up there for a quick stop at the Tim Hortons.

So I guess a few brave souls are going to have to step up and step out into the traffic and get run down again in order to bring peace back onto the streets. That seems to be the only way to make it safe to walk the streets of this city.

ruefully submitted by Urban Sophisticat