Monday, 26 September 2011

Tracking Rob Ford's Arguments in Council

It’s tough to keep up with the Team Ford claims at City Hall, but it’s necessary. Smart policy can’t be made when the discourse is flooded with murky misrepresentations or poor policy, so filtering those out is a helpful task.

This morning Mayor Ford spoke at Council and thus took follow-up questions from councillors. It may have been his worst performance on the floor of Council as mayor. He was constantly defensive and there was noticeable anger bubbling. Importantly, there were no outbursts.
Photo of today's City Council meeting by Jeremy Kai

There were, however, many misrepresentations or contradictory messages, well covered by people on Twitter (you know who you are). Among those messages:

  • Ford said he was following the wishes of people who tell him to ‘stay the course’. Challenged on this, he was asked about his poll numbers and said that the last Toronto Sun poll had his approval at 72%. This poll is hardly relevant today as it was done in April.

  • Anthony Peruzza asked about the $49 million (expected) cancellation fee from Transit City. Ford began to talk about the right of way streetcar on St. Clair, saying that it was a failure. This project was not a part of Transit City although the right of way is similar to various lines.

  • In the same segment where he bemoaned the financial straits of the city and the structural deficit, Ford insisted the land transfer tax (which brings in close to $300 million) is ‘one we don’t need’.

  • Gloria Lindsay Luby, who normally doesn’t speak much at council, challenged Ford on the land transfer tax, pointing out that Toronto has had the hottest real estate market in North America despite the tax. Ford said that’s irrelevant, it still hurts the market.

  • Ford claimed ‘he gave the police a raise when no one said it could be done’. No one claimed this. (If someone can correct me in the comments, please do).

  • Ford argued that the city should increasingly rely on a user fee model. Mike Layton asked him to define ‘user fees’ and then applied his definition to the vehicle registration tax. Ford insisted his definition of ‘fees paid by individuals who use the service’ didn’t apply (arguing if the money went to road repair it might).

  • Ford cited the Toronto Sun (and Denzil Minnan-Wong) when discussing ‘gravy’, pointing to overtime paid by various departments. The City Manager later said this overtime was largely because of the G20. Additionally, the other option to overtime while maintaining service levels would be more costly- to hire more employees.

1 comment:

  1. Surprise! Plenty of FAT to be trimmed from the Police shiny toy budget.

    Chief Bill Blair noted in this budget request in 2010 the police responded to 578,000 calls for service to the end of November — about 630,000 for the full year. There are 5,600 officers, which means that on average each officer responded to about 110 calls in 2010.

    Since each officer works about 220 shifts per year, this means that each officer responded to one call for service every two shifts.

    I think most residents of the city will be astounded to learn that Toronto’s finest respond to so few calls — only one every second shift. This is not a productive use of the time of city employees paid about $75,000 a year.

    And it is not as if officers are making arrests on every shift. The average number of arrests per officer in Toronto, as it is in other Canadian cities, is seven to eight per year, that is, one arrest every six weeks, only one crime of which is a crime of serious violence.