Nothing Against Councillor Mary Fragedakis But…

There’s a moment in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s One Leg Too Few sketch, about a one-legged actor auditioning for the role of Tarzan, where Cook, conducting the audition, tells Moore, the actor, “Your right leg I like. I like your right leg. It’s a very lovely leg for the role. A lovely leg for the role, and I’ve got nothing against your right leg. Unfortunately… neither do you.”

I’ve got nothing against Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth). Unfortunately… that’s hardly a rousing ring of approval, is it? That’d be the very definition of damning with faint praise, if I understand the phrase properly.

I should say right here that I truly do try and cut the freshman class of 2010 some slack. Birthed onto council in a fiery tempest of toxic partisanship brought down upon them by a strictly by the book, us-versus-them administration. trialbyfireThey had to make some hard choices, and make them quickly.

They were either with the mayor, ag’in the mayor or ducking for cover in the much derided mush middle. Imagine gazelles, born onto the savannah just as the herd bolts in fear at the approach of a hungry, hunting lion. Get up, junior. Get up! This is no time to learn how to walk. Run! Run!!

It was evident early on where Councillor Fragedakis came down on that spectrum. Despite going along with stripping the city of revenue by eliminating the vehicle registration tax (many, many confirmed anti-Fordists made that mistake), she clearly took a spot hanging out with the non-friends of the mayor.

But she did so with little distinction. She got lost in the crowd. Try as I might, I can’t come up with one thing she took hold of, made her own. Councillor Fragedakis, champion of… ?

It’s not like she sat silent, disappearing Esmeralda-like (ask your parents, kids) into the background. More often than not, the councillor made her opinion known during council meetings. milfordmanIt’s just… it’s just…

Her voice was like an echo, a reverberation of something that had already been said. Nothing particularly offensive to these ears but little to be distinguished from things already stated. Councillor Fragedakis strikes me as the dutiful political daughter of Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth) and niece of Councillor Pam McConnell. (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale).

It could be worse, no doubt. I have nothing against Councillor Mary Fragedakis but…

Again, it’s worth noting that she could be a superb constituent councillor, attentive to the needs and concerns of the residents in her ward. Not everyone elected to council needs to be a firebrand and on the forefront of city wide issues. Councillor Fragedakis may be happily and effectively tucked away, doing the more mundane tasks of municipal governance.

Her re-electability too is something of a mystery. me tooI may be horribly off the mark seeing her as vulnerable. She is just in her first term, so not entrenched as the incumbent. Ward 29 shouldn’t necessarily be seen as some safe, left wing seat. Remember, the long time representative from the area, for like 150 years, was Case Ootes, an old Lastmanite and noted anti-David Miller foe. Unless there’s been a dramatic shift in demographics, this ward can’t be considered a walk for any left of centre candidate.

In the 2010 election, Fragedakis benefitted from a right of centre split between former councillor and 2006 mayoral candidate, Jane Pitfield, and the Rocco Rossi endorsed, Jennifer Wood. Animosity flared up, in fact, involving those two camps, with a member of Ms. Pitfield’s team sending off an email request for Ms. Wood to step down in order that she not take votes away from Pitfield and ‘let an NDP council (candidate) Mary Fragedakis win’. stumpedWood didn’t withdraw and ended up with over 4200 votes. Fragedakis won by almost 2500. So it is conceivable that played a part in the outcome.

So it is conceivable that a single strong right of centre candidate in 2014 could seriously challenge Councillor Fragedakis for Ward 29. If that happens, the question will be has she shored up her incumbent bona fides to stave such a charge off, to increase her percentage of the popular vote? Like many things to do with her time in office, I remain simply stumped for an answer.

confusedly submitted by Cityslikr

Retirement Becomes Him

So Case Ootes, recently retired councillor for Ward 29, spent his 450 years on council trying to sell Toronto Community Housing Corporation properties. Just four months out of his office, he’s summoned back to public life as Mayor Ford’s interim chair of the TCHC board of directors. Members of said board? One Case Ootes. And by one, I mean one, as in going solo, no other members. Case Ootes est la TCHC est la TCHC est Case Ootes.

But have no fear, we were assured, selling properties wasn’t part of his temporary job description. “That’s not on the agenda for me. I do not believe that is something I’d do.” Yet here we are, less than one month after that claim and Mr. Ootes, acting as judge, jury, executioner and listener of deputations that didn’t have a hope in hell of swaying his ultimate verdict, has recommended city council put 22 TCHC owned, single-family houses on the auction block.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for politicians. Remain vigilant even after leaving office. You can give up your day job and still push through a long held policy. Without all the fuss and bother of having to debate, discuss or even achieve a majority vote because you’re the only one raising your hand. All while double dipping from the city coffers.

The lesson to be learned from this for everyone else is never believe what comes out of the mouths of modern day conservatives. They simply can’t be trusted. If you suspect them of having a hidden agenda, there’s every reason to be suspicious. It’s usually only hidden for those not willing to accept the dark, anti-social implications of supporting such an agenda.

We should know their playbook by rote. Tap into a base of resentment and fear while downplaying or denying questions and doubts that might linger on about their motives. No, no. Tax cuts don’t mean service cuts. Guaranteed. There’s 10% fat around this place that could go and you wouldn’t even notice. Guaranteed. I’m all about honesty and transparency. Guaranteed.

“Ootes says his job is to ensure such practices [alleged inappropriate spending] are an aberration. But any sell-off of assets is the job of city council and the permanent board of directors, not an interim czar.” This from Royson James in his Star column on March 14th. Someone pass Mr. James a napkin so he can wipe the egg off his face.

How many times did we hear about how imperious and undemocratic the David Miller regime was? Hello? I’m talking to you, Sue-Ann Levy. Yet this display of ham-fisted misrule has the mayor’s scribe absolutely braying with delight. If only if only if only the decree of Case the Divine didn’t have to go to city council and get all sullied by the wretched democratic process.

To right wingers, democracy is only convenient when they’re not holding the reins (I so wanted to spell it ‘reigns’) of power. Once they manage to con their way into office, it becomes an annoyance, a bothersome show trial that simply demands they pander to whining losers. It is to be avoided whenever possible and subverted by any means at their disposal.

Whether it’s good policy or makes sound economic sense to sell the 22 TCHC properties is entirely beside the point at this juncture. The dubious manipulation and ongoing obfuscation that has brought us to where one person has been placed into a position of such power to single-handedly make this kind of momentous decision should be profoundly disturbing to everyone anywhere on the political spectrum. If you’re not troubled by the situation, you just might not be as into democracy as you think you are.

just sayingly submitted by Cityslikr