My Conservatism’s 4 Realz!

January 23, 2014

This one’s a long shot.

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Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East).

As divisive and stridently ideological as the mayor and his councillor-brother are and have been, in terms of divisiveness and hidebound anti-tax, small/anti-government sentiment, Councillor Minnan-Wong has matched them step for step. Set aside his new found abhorrence of the mayor’s personal behaviour over the past year or so — their ‘personal’ politics couldn’t be more different – when it comes to politics politics, Councillor Minnan-Wong and the Fords are soul mates.

Yes, the councillor called the mayor out on his cowardice yesterday at Executive Committee for failing to put the money where his mouth is especially when it came to the Scarborough subway. peasinapodHe is positioning himself as a more reasonable conservative than the mayor. Well, good for him. Who isn’t and still maintains the ability to walk upright?

But don’t be fooled by this attempt at political relativity. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is second to only one in his hatred of taxation and the attempts of government to have a positive effect in people’s lives. He was as anti-David Miller as they come, being part of the right wing Responsible Government Group established in opposition to the Miller administration. He lustily embraced the role of henchman for Mayor Ford during the early years, using his powerful position as chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to roll back a number of key initiatives the previous council enacted.

Jarvis bike lanes? Gone. Rebuilt a few intersections over along Sherbourne Street. texaschainsawmassacreThe environmental assessment in progress to study various options of what to do with the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway? Quietly shelved, work on it stopped. Hey. What’s going on in Kristyn Wong-Tam’s ward? Let’s fuck some of that shit up, shall we?

Councillor Minnan-Wong may tout himself as a devout fiscal conservative but what he really is is a destructive conservative. None of the actions in the previous paragraph saved the city any money. In fact, the delay caused by ignoring council’s request for the Gardiner EA will wind up costing the city more in the long run as we have to ad hoc patch and maintain parts of the expressway while waiting longer than we needed to for EA to be finished.

Respect and all that blah, blah, blah.

Even the councillor’s righteous indignation at the Scarborough subway Mayor Ford’s unwilling to pay for is, what would you call it? Rich? henchmanCouncillor Minnan-Wong was in the majority of TTC commissioners who engineered the ouster of then CEO Gary Webster at the mayor’s behest for having the temerity to oversee a report that recommended maintaining the course of LRT building rather than throwing money at a phantom subway. So, he sort of helped set fire to transit plans already in place and ushered us into the next phase of uncertainty and delay.

More respect!

Hold on, you might be saying at this point. Maybe we won’t have to worry about Denzil Minnan-Wong creating havoc as a councillor at City Hall for much longer. He’s rumoured to be looking at a run for mayor.

Well, maybe. I just don’t see it happening, though. For a couple reasons.

With the news this week of John Tory definitely maybe jumping into the race, joining Mayor Ford, David Soknacki and (soon) Karen Stintz, all to the right of centre, there’s precious little room left on that perch for Minnan-Wong. Unless he has something up his sleeve, the big back room guns and money will have already found a place elsewhere. And how exactly is he going to position himself? More conservative than the others, less outrageously unpredictable than the mayor. noroomIt’s the sound of the slicing and dicing of the centre-right vote into smaller and smaller bits.

Besides, ignoring political differences for the moment, Councillor Minnan-Wong just doesn’t strike me as an overly appealing candidate. Whatever the populist appeal is that Mayor Ford has (and I’m told he has it although it remains a mystery to me), Councillor Minnan-Wong ain’t got it. Watching him work council chambers, he seems ill at ease with anyone not wearing a suit and lobbying some issue or another. He’s like that guy we all know who isn’t nearly as clever or funny as he thinks he is.

It’s impossible to imagine him making much of a dent into the loyalist Ford base which leave him trying to capture the rest of the conservative vote as he’s certainly dead to anyone sitting centre-left. Just don’t see the numbers breaking his way.

So that leaves us with the prospect of another term of a Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

As entrenched an incumbent as he is, I mean, the guy’s been at City Hall, some city hall, since 1994 and he captured over 50% of the popular vote in 2010, there is a slight glimmer of opportunity. unimpressedIn the last 3 elections, the councillor’s share of the popular vote has declined each campaign from a high of over 70% in 2003 to 53% last time out. Perhaps the longer voters in Ward 34 see Councillor Minnan-Wong, the less they take to him.

And they have seen a lot of him in the past 3+ years, doing what he’s good at. Gutting the city from the inside out under the banner of faux fiscal conservatism. Responsible government? Hardly. A small-minded bean counter with little regard for healthy city building.

He’s kept your taxes low, Ward 34, but at what cost?

Somebody really should take a crack at forcing him to answer that question in 2014.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr


Denzil The Despicable

January 13, 2013

I’ve got to give credit where credit’s due, and hand it to Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

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As loathsome a politician as I think he is — How to measure Political Loathsomeness? Take a politician’s positive contributions and divide them by their negative impact. – the man is nothing else if not a brazen piece of work. And when all is said and done, he is nothing else.

Lost amidst this week’s budget and casino kerfuffles, caught dead to rights trying to smother in its infancy a Mayor David Miller council endorsed environmental assessment of the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway, the dude not only didn’t deny it, he mustered a reasonable facsimile of outrage at the time and cost it would take to restart the EA and allow it to play out to its conclusion. mockoutrage“Six to nine years?!” he thundered at city staff at last Monday’s Budget Committee meeting. “Fifteen million dollars?! Fifteen million dollars!?”

Yeah, seriously.

“Denzil Minnan-Wong says it was his original intention to kill the Gardiner EA,” NOW magazine’s Ben Spurr tweeted, “but he then decided to shelve the letter about it.”

Just like that, the councillor as chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee simply disregarded the will of city council and set a new course for transportation spending all on his own. Of course, a skilled politician never leaves his ass totally exposed. snidelywhiplash‘A number of parties’ were involved in the decision to shelve the EA, Councillor Minnan-Wong later clarified.

“It was suggested by the public service and Waterfront Toronto, and the mayor’s office agreed to it as well as the chair of public works,” he said, according to Elizabeth Church of the Globe and Mail. “My intention when I asked for the letter was to bring it forward to executive to kill it. We had a number of discussions about this and it was decided to put it on the back burner.”

A number of discussions with everybody but city council, it seems. And now that the EA is on the verge of being revived, ‘the chair of public works’ as the councillor refers to himself in the 3rd person is indignant at such a waste of time and money. “It’s like a bad horror movie,” he says, as if he’s simply just some passive audience member.

Follow the bouncing ball on this. (From the 2013 Capital Budget Briefing Note, Page 2, bolding mine).

  • On September 16, 2010, the Gardiner EA Steering Committee, co-chaired by the former Deputy City Manager whose responsibilities include Waterfront Revitalization, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Waterfront Toronto, agreed that minimal work would proceed on the EA in order to manage study costs until the new administration and Council could be properly briefed.
  • In mid-November, 2010, the Steering Committee co-chairs jointly agreed to delay the next step in the EA, which was release of the design concepts, pending direction from the new Council and administration. About $3.28 million of the total $7.69 million budget had been spent.
  • On March 2, 2011, the former Deputy City Manager whose responsibilities include Waterfront Revitalization was requested by the Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to draft a letter for him to table at Executive Committee requesting a report on the contractual, financial, regulatory, process and other implications of cancelling or modifying the Gardiner EA study.
  • On March 31, 2011, the Waterfront Secretariat, in consultation with City Planning and Transportation Services, provided the Chair with the draft letter for him to table at Executive Committee. The letter was not subsequently tabled at Executive Committee.

Given the time frame of this, early on in 2011, Mayor Ford was at the height of his power wielding at city council. His Public Works and Infrastructure Chair in all likelihood could’ve brought the EA back to council and officially put it out of its misery. sneakInstead, he sneakily knocked it off desk, out of sight against the wall, suggesting one of two things, perhaps a combination of both. A shocking lack of political acuity or a full sense of just how flimsy a construct the notion of a Ford Nation really was. They gleefully came out of the gate manhandling all the easy pickin’s: the VRT, councillor office budgets but steadfastly ignored the more contentious issues which might threaten their support.

Like offing the Gardiner EA.

It’s conceivable that had it not been quietly suppressed, the EA might’ve been completed by now. Council could proceed with the 2013 capital budget, knowing the best course of action to take in regards to repairing, rehabilitating or replacing the Gardiner. Instead, they’ll be pressed into deciding whether or not to waste money maintaining a section of it, pending the completion of the ill-advised delayed EA.

And is the man responsible for the delay repentant? Hardly. He carries on as if he had nothing to do with it, as if it was just another example of the bumbling ineffectiveness of a government he so despises.

He’s got moxie, I’ll give him that.

What he doesn’t have is any sense of city building. Denzil the Destroyer. He serves to tear things up. Not so much a public servant as he is a public nuisance.texaschainsawmassacre

Yet he continues to be elected to office, since 1997, returned 3 times although it is worth noting his share of votes shrinks every time his constituents go to the ballot box. In 2003 when the city went to one councillor/one ward, he scooped up 70.0% of Ward 34 votes. In 2006, 60.7%. In 2010, 53.4%. (Interesting comparison: Councillor Minnan-Wong’s Don Valley East council mate, Shelley Carroll has watched her percentages climb from 36.6% in 2003 to 57.7% in 2010.)

So maybe we should take heart. It seems the more the people of Ward 34 see of their councillor, the less they like him. As a high profile member of Team Ford, there’s never been more attention on him than there is now. We should take every opportunity to shine the spotlight on him and his antics, in the hopes of finally ridding the city of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s destructive approach to governance.

fingers crossedly submitted by Cityslikr