Endorsing Chris Stockwell

October 2, 2013

For me the really interesting aspect of yesterday’s Etobicoke-York Community Council’s nomination process starstruckfor its preferred candidate to replace Doug Holyday as city councillor for Ward 3 was just how predictable it all was. Much is made of how name recognition plays a major factor in voting at the municipal level. Well, it seems even our elected representatives are more than a little star struck when it comes to making their selections.

In the end it was all about the names. Chris Stockwell. John Nunziata. Even Agnes Potts, for those watching Etobicoke politics over the last 20 years, had a certain name recognition as a former school board trustee and pre-amalgamation councillor.

It makes sense. Savvy political operators take 5 minutes to wow the crowd with a rousing stump speech, outlining all the positive ways they will contribute to the community they’ve been appointed to represent. unimpressiveWhat’s a neophyte outsider to do in the face of that?

Yet, aside from Ms. Potts who stressed her work in the community over the time she spent as an elected official, the frontrunners fizzled at the mic. Never mind the forgettable performances of non-pols like Holyday’s choice, Peter Leon, or the Ford blessed Ross Vaughan. John Nunziata did little more than read off his CV and pledge not to run in Ward 3 in next year’s general election.

The community council’s eventual nominee, Chris Stockwell, was hardly more inspired. In what amounted to an extended shrug, Stockwell said, “I’m simply coming here saying, if you want someone who can hit the ground running and knows how politics works, I’m available.”

Certainly there’s something to that. With barely over a year left in the term, all a complete newcomer to City Hall would be able to accomplish is keeping their head above the water, what with the rope learning they’d be doing. shrugA place holder in every sense of the word.

But aside from his experience — over 20 years in fact, first as an Etobicoke city councillor, then a Metro councillor before moving on to Queen’s Park — there was little talk from Stockwell about stepping forward as a public service. When asked why he wanted the job, his response? After 10 years as a private citizen, he ‘missed it’.

You’d think that kind of statement alone would disqualify him in the eyes of someone like Councillor Doug Ford who hates career politicians. Just another fat cat coming for one last slurp at the trough. Where’s your business sense, Stockwell? Your talk of Lean Six Sigma?

But Councillor Ford had other things on his mind during this whole process.

Along with his mayor-brother and newly re-allied Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, the councillor was still smarting from the grave injustice done to them Ward 3 by city council in voting against a by-election to replace Holyday. suspiciousLeftists at City Hall were just itching to further deny them Ward 3 their rightful representation and were all probably gathering together in their coven, looking to impose their will on them Ward 3 with a downtown pinko elite cyclist appointee.

So deep was their suspicion that Councillor Mammoliti tried pushing through a referral motion until they could secure a guarantee that the Etobicoke-York Community Council’s decision would be supreme. Much of the motion was ruled out of order by city staff and the Ford Brothers reluctantly agreed that they had to push on with council’s July mandate in selecting a replacement, regardless of the ultimate will of the people to have a by-election. It was just yet another sad example of how downtown was sticking it to the suburbs.

Nothing would serve this narrative better than if council ignored the recommendation of Etobicoke-York Community Council and appointed someone other than Chris Stockwell as the new Ward 3 councillor. dareyouA narrative, coincidentally, the Fords seem to be pushing a lot in the run up to next year’s election campaign. For 4 years, Mayor Ford has been trying to serve the folks of Toronto to the best of his abilities but city council just keeps getting in the way. Not appointing Chris Stockwell would be a perfect illustration of this and give the mayor plenty of ammunition.

And who better to get the downtown lefties’ collective backs up than a former muckie-muck in the Mike Harris government that killed the Eglinton subway and forced amalgamation on Toronto? My guess is, the Ford faction didn’t give a shit about Stockwell’s qualifications or the reasons he wanted the gig. He provided the best opportunity for council to do their bidding and appoint someone else.

Which it shouldn’t, of course. If precedent has it that city council essentially rubber stamps a community council’s choice for appointment, that’s what should happen next week with Chris Stockwell. Not only for the crass reasons of denying Mayor Ford his perfect talking points going forward but because this particular by-election/appointment situation was highly contentious, its outcome rife with questions and concerns of Ward 3 residents as merely after-thoughts in the battle between the mayor and council. chrisstockwell1This won’t be the last time an appointment process will occur. Council should endeavour to keep it as orderly and grounded in rules as possible.

Besides, I think it’ll be interesting to see Stockwell in action again. By all accounts he was as funny and engaging as he was pugnacious. It’s not as if he can be any more right-leaning and mayor-friendly than the man he would be replacing. It’ll be fun watching someone who was part of the team that created so many of the problems this city faces now try and chip in with some solutions.

positively submitted by Cityslikr


The Deputy Mayor’s Got Those Far Away Eyes

September 26, 2012

I’ve often wondered what goes on behind those blue eyes of our Deputy Mayor, Doug Holyday, as he sits and stares off at the horizon during city council meetings. Lunch? Ava Gardner? Lunch? Lunch? Dirty filthy unions? Lunch? René Descartes dualism? Lunch? Ooo! Tuna salad!

These days, I would imagine, it wouldn’t be surprising if the good councillor from Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre sits silently ruminating about the possible folly of getting those Ford boys involved in municipal politics. It seemed like a good idea at the time. A couple like-minded tax-hating kids from the neighbourhood. Sure, they seemed a little boisterous but chalk it up to youthful exuberance. Besides, their daddy’s company sold election campaign signs!

Like almost everyone else, it’s unlikely the last mayor of Etobicoke ever imagined that Rob would scale the heights of amalgamated Toronto politics and become the city’s chief magistrate. An improbable outcome, let’s call it. But what the hay. Somebody had to come along and clean up the profligacy of the left wing downtowners. Why not Rob Ford?

Why not indeed.

How did it become so unseemly? What ugliness had Doug Holyday wrought as political mentor to Rob and Doug Ford, I imagine Doug Holyday thinking as he gazes into the distance.

That the Deputy Mayor essentially suggested that the mayor’s brother shut his trap for a bit gives voice to the dilemma all council conservatives must be facing at the moment. How do you solve a problem like Mayor Ford and his most vocal supporter/nemesis, Brother-Councillor Doug? Or more specifically, how do continue with the mayor’s message of frugality while not getting any of the messy taint of scandal and bad behaviour on you?

They don’t come much more rock solid conservative than the deputy mayor. His ideology is as rabid and unbending as any on Team Ford including the mayor and his brother. Councillor Holyday has been known to step in it himself with the ‘it’ being headline grabbing outbursts like the one we saw earlier this year with the mythical Little Ginny, held against her innocent little will by her morally bankrupt parents in a downtown high rise.

The difference being that was said during the heat of council debate which doesn’t make it any less reactionarily anti-urban but, hell, we all say dumb things if we talk long enough. By all accounts, the deputy mayor is courteous and accommodating to anyone who asks of his time. Even certain publications that represent the polar opposite of his political leanings. You clearly don’t last as long in politics as Holyday has by drawing up an enemies list comprising of those who cover the work you do on a daily basis.

Obviously his patience is waning with the administration’s off-field antics. “We have important work to do,” the deputy mayor said, “the taxpayers expect certain things from us and these distractions don’t make it any easier. To have a public fight on the radio with all media isn’t really helpful.”

That’s not to suggest there’s an imminent breaking of ranks of the far right wingers at council but when your staunchest compatriot in the ideological wars openly chastises you… And this after another devout defender of the faith, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong told the CBC that the mayor needed to “smarten up” with all the appearances of conflict swirling around him. It’s kind of hard to lead, I bet, when you’re constantly looking back over your shoulder.

Only the budget chief, Mike Del Grande, appears prepared to go to the mat for the mayor. “People will find ghosts where there are no ghosts,” he said. Del Grande has even lobbed a budget broadside at the Integrity Commissioner who will inevitably be dragged further into the mayoral mess over the next little while, demanding a line-by-line audit of the city’s accountability offices. All this for the mayor and what’s he have to show for it? Lousy bedbug bites. That’s devotion.

If they’re not openly criticizing the mayor, other conservative and right leaning councillors are either keeping quiet, hoping no one will notice them or they’ve publicly walked away on certain issues. The highest profile, obviously, is TTC Chair Karen Stintz who served up notice that Mayor Ford could be openly defied with no repercussions. Councillor John Parker followed along with her. Councillor Michelle Berardinetti quit her position on the budget committee and word is Councillor Jaye Robinson will do similarly at the end of year with her position on the executive committee. Councillors Michael Thompson and David Shiner have at times had little trouble disagreeing with the mayor, the latter the architect of the proposed plastic bag ban that slipped through council in the spring.

There may be no bigger sign of a realignment of the informal council conservative caucus than the silence of Mayor Ford’s other official mouthpiece, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. Having effortlessly and spectacularly flip-flopped in joining forces with his long time adversary, no one could be surprised if there’s a full 360 pulled off if the fortunes of the mayor continue to plummet. I’m sorry. Did you call me Gino-boy?! Hey everybody. The mayor called me Gino-boy again!

This commotion should strike a positive chord for all but the hardest of hardcore right wing conservatives. With one of the polarized ends collapsing under the weight of its own obstinacy and incompetence, the atmosphere at City Hall can only moderate. Poisonous partisanship – so pronounced right from the beginning of Mayor Ford’s time in office – will die down to just a dull roar and maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually start to see some constructive governance again.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr