Benign Neglect Is Still Neglect

At a press conference yesterday (a ‘press avail’ in journalese), Mayor Tory announced that progress had been made in reducing the 2016 police budget. mayorjohntoryOf course, when it comes to the police budget, reduced actually means less of an increase. So, an original ask of 5.8% knocked down to 2.76% works out to be a decrease in the police budget. It’s what we call ‘progress’!

The day before, on Monday, the TTC budget committee met, and in discussions about proposed waterfront transit projects, seemed ‘resigned’, in the words of the Globe and Mail’s Transportation writer, Oliver Moore, to some sort of people moving walkway linking Union Station to Queen’s Quay. Yeah, an escalator rather an actual vehicular link like the one that was favoured here, way back in 2013 (h/t Matt Elliot). Why? A serious lack of capital funds. No money.

This is Mayor John Tory’s Toronto, folks. Where police budgets continue to rise despite evidence showing crime statistics declining. nomoneyPublic transit budgets keep growing too but not enough to accommodate the increasing ridership numbers that continue to go up despite a less than optimal service, let’s call it.

Mayor Tory’s Toronto.

To be sure, this isn’t all on him. He’s only officially held the office for some 11 months. Bloated police and insufficient public transit budgets most definitely preceded him.

But the mayor wears this current Police Services Board. The former chair, Alok Mukherjee, left the position before his term was up, and replaced by the mayor’s buddy and former chief of staff, Andy Pringle. Upon assuming office, Mayor Tory dumped the only black member on the TPSB, Councillor Michael Thompson, and took his spot on the board. The new police chief, Mark Saunders, is his choice.

So, yeah. The 2016 police budget belongs to Mayor Tory.

And as the TTC struggles to maintain proper levels of service and plan future transit projects, Mayor Tory has dropped a huge turd into the proceedings, his election campaign ready SmartTrack. whitewashingDraining money and time resources from city and TTC staff, the plan is no less fuzzy and ill-formed than it was when it was pitched for votes some 18 months ago. Reports on it have been delayed. Ridership models adapted to work it. There’s no lid tight enough to contain the stink coming from the project.

None of his gestures toward the TTC, bus service bumped back up to 2011 levels, free transit for the kids, are making any dent in the pressures weighing down on the system. So the ongoing problems facing public transit in this city are now Mayor Tory’s problems.

Is there any reason to believe that he’s up to the task of dealing with them?

His full on commitment to seeing SmartTrack through, regardless, seems nothing but self-serving, an eye solely on re-election in 2018 rather than improving transit for the city. He’s spent much more of his political capital (not to say a lot of the city’s actual capital) catering to the perceived needs of drivers, speeding up repairs on expressways, keeping others elevated for absolutely no reason aside from optics. Being modestly more transit-friendly than the previous administration in no way should be perceived as being any less car-friendly.

On the policing front, Mayor Tory’s wading in to the carding issue was a complete and utter fiasco. He got bailed out temporarily by the province who redirected the focus onto themselves as they figure out how to try and reconfigure regulations. sweepundertherugHis TPSB chair dropped the ball on a KPMG report on police budgeting that’s been on or near the table (depending on who you believe) for nearly a year now. Chair Pringle, in responding to questions about why the report hadn’t been made public yet, referred to it as an ‘internal think document’. “Random suggestions aren’t necessarily something that we report back on,” the chair said.

Mayor Tory has subsequently suggested the KPMG report be made public but not in time to have any impact on this year’s police budget. A budget that will be increasing again despite how the mayor’s office tries to spin it. An increase is an increase no matter how small an increase it is.

Given the current crisis level climate in the city toward its police services, with the laughably light penalty given to the only office convicted of a G20-related crime and the ongoing trial of Constable James Forcillo in the shooting death of Sammy Yatim, Mayor Tory’s not rock the boat approach seems wholly inadequate. The additional strain of his SmartTrack plan on an already over-stressed transit system is the exact opposite. Unnecessarily burdensome in a white elephant kind of way.

This is a mayor completely tone deaf to the reality of the city he was elected to lead. He preaches steady stewardship but practices little of it. whatsthatTimid when he needs to be bold. Heavy-handed when required to be conciliatory. Wanting to be everything to everybody, Mayor Tory is proving to be nothing to anyone.

If the Ford Administration was a reaction to the instability Toronto now faces, brought about by unequal access to income, mobility, opportunity, Mayor Tory’s soothing can-do cheerleading in no way addresses that instability. It doesn’t even provide a band aid. It’s the blank, toothless smile of a nothing to see here sensibility that focuses all its energy looking back over its shoulder instead of at the rocky road ahead.

impatiently submitted by Cityslikr

Muddling Through Or Is He?

Just 4 days after yet another black man, Andrew Loku, a father of five, a former Sudanese child soldier, living in an apartment building “leased by the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide affordable housing and services for people suffering from mental illness” was shot to death by Toronto police —“Andrew died right in front of me. There was no reason for it.” – just 4 days after the incident, Mayor John Tory, delivering one of his “angrier speeches”, fought to have his friend, not that that was relevant in any way, his friend and 2014 campaign fundraiser and chief of staff when Tory was the provincial leader of the P.C. party, Andy Pringle, re-appointed to the Toronto Police Services Board despite the fact that according to the former vice-chair of the TPSB, Councillor Michael Thompson, the lone black member of city council who the mayor dumped from the TPSB upon assuming office, according to Councillor Thompson, Mr. Pringle provided “a deafening silence on major police issues” and “consistently rubber-stamped police actions…not in the best interest of the community”, “policing was not his finest hour”, waving such criticism off as just politics, Mayor Tory pushed the pro-police carding Mr. Pringle’s appointment through council on what proved to be an easy, lopsided (and possibly whipped) vote, further highlighting that the mayor has no idea what the hell he’s doing on the police file or he knows exactly what he’s up to.

unbelievably submitted by Cityslikr

You Call Yourself A Conservative, Huh?

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you another instalment in our whatareyousayingWhat The Fuck Is Wrong With Conservatives These Days? series.

God almighty.

Listening to Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak on the CBC’s Metro Morning yesterday, touting his Million Jobs Act which he plans on tabling in the provincial legislature next month, it all sounded a little, I don’t know, empty. Look, Matt. I’ve strung together five or six of my slogans, slapped on some improbable but round number, packaged them up with a nice pithy title and, there you have it. Bob’s yer uncle. Thanks for having me on the show. Beats paid advertising.

Not that the show’s host, Matt Galloway, didn’t try and engage with Mr. Hudak seriously but what can you do when somebody insists on tossing out fantasy numbers based on increasingly dubious economic theories? Respond with only the sound of your head banging repeatedly against the desk in front of you? facepalmJust call bullshit on every statement that comes out of your guest’s mouth?

During the course of the conversation the opposition leader assured Mr. Galloway that he’d “…“I’ll argue back and forth with the evidence all day”. Obviously, a slip of the tongue although, when given the opportunity to provide evidence of how further reducing corporate tax cuts would lead to more jobs when it clearly hasn’t happened over the last decade or so, but it pretty much sums up conservative political philosophy over the last 30 years or so. Arguing back and forth with the evidence all day.

Why, over 16 years after the PC government of Mike Harris (which Tim Hudak was a proud member of) forced amalgamation on Toronto and other Ontario municipalities, a report comes out saying that it didn’t save taxpayers the money the Tories told us it would. This is not news to anyone who took notice of the proceedings back in the day. The general consensus from those possessing an expertise in these matters of municipalities was that amalgamation didn’t automatically guarantee cost savings. In fact, in a city like Toronto with much of its big ticket budget items like the police and transportation already amalgamated, thingsthatwontworkthere were no real savings to be had.

Turns out they were right and the common sense Harris government was wrong.


Of course, no one does fact-free, evidence-schmevidence policy decision making better than our current Conservative government in Ottawa. The last truthful thing I can remember it doing is striking the ‘progressive’ from its party title. Books have been written about the Harper government’s attempt to wrestle reality into submission, so I’ll just go with the latest, lightest example of this disinclination to dealz with the for realz.

The federal government blanketed the internet with ads and bought pricey TV spots during playoff hockey as part a $2.5-million publicity blitz to promote a skills training program that doesn’t yet exist…

This from a government that insists governments don’t create jobs, promoting a jobs skills training program that doesn’t yet exist. shellgameIn other words, a government doing a thing it says a government can’t do but not really doing that thing, only pretending to be doing that thing it doesn’t do. On top of which, spending money it says it doesn’t have to push a thing it says it doesn’t do and isn’t doing anyway.

Now I know you can look around and reflexively scream, Well, the other guys do it too! The Lieberals, conservative backers like to say with an ever so smug snicker. Gasplants! Ornge! E-Health!

As if that somehow justifies it all. What’s the first thing about responsibility most of us learn early on in our lives? You get caught doing something wrong, it’s not alright because you claim that other people do it too. If Johnny jumped off a bridge, abracapocuswould you jump off that bridge as well?

And the big difference is, the entire current conservative political philosophy is based on a lie. That somehow, magically, their inherent hatred of the institution of government, their attempts to rollback the function it plays in our lives, will somehow be better for us. Our streets will be safer. Our water cleaner. Our bank accounts fuller. If we just let the private sector and the free market have their way with us, unfettered.

It’s all just wishful thinking by those who see themselves as entirely self-sufficient, independent yeoman who just want to be left to their own devices and ask for nothing in return.

So yeah. Pretty much pure fantasy. As if life is just some video game.

This is not to say I have not met some perfectly reasonable people who are proudly conservative. We can chat amicably. Disagree on more than a few things pleasantly. Politics is not supposed to be a blood sport fought to the death.texaschainsawmassacre

But until reasonable conservatives accept the fact their brand has been infected with a toxic substance, that, in fact, their crazy uncles have taken control of the party and movement that reasonable conservatives still lay claim to, they’re all getting tarred with the same ugly brush. The likes of Rob Ford and Tim Hudak and whatever nutty jack-in-the-box pops up this week at the federal level are now the conservative poster boys. It’s a picture that doesn’t look good on any of you.

mystifiedly submitted by Cityslikr