Wednesday 30 November 2011

Council Snack-sized News

Photo from Xtra (Andrea Houston?)
So some news and notes in bite size format for you council watchers on the go:

Adrienne Batra is leaving the Ford Team to join the Ford cheerleaders at the Sun comment page, Newstalk and filling in on SUN TV. Really, it's a logical fit for her (she's written for Sun Media before) and she's done a pretty good job as Ford's media handler. Doing that job for a year- and another year on the campaign- would be some of the toughest media work around and she's lasted as long as you could expect someone to. I'm also told that when she's not cutting off questions mid-sentence she's a really nice person. So while I look forward to criticizing future Sun editorials, good for her. 

Yesterday was day one of the council meeting where they predictably defended community environment days. What's notable about it is this charge was led by conservative Ford ally David Shiner, who proposed keeping them at a reduced cost. Denzil Minnan-Wong, Shiner's Public Works colleague, argued against this and Shiner probed for areas of compromise as Josh Matlow solemnly nodded his head behind the two of them. The fact that Shiner has been coming across as the reasonable one lately (on Public Works and here) due to the prominence of the likes of Minnan-Wong in this administration? Amazing. 

Remember how the Mayor was going to stick up for the little guy and stop the nonsense at City Hall? Yesterday councillors discussed the water and trash budget. In the water budget, councillors voted to give high corporate water use and polluters a break in the morning. In the afternoon? They voted to have non-profits, churches and the like pay for garbage collection so the city can collect $2.9 million. If this sounds like exactly the opposite of Ford's rhetoric, then you're reading it correctly. 

On the subject of corporate water use, Norm Kelly asked council why they would want to confuse an environmental and economic issue. Oh Norm. 

But what council meeting would be complete without Norm Kelly's monthly Contrarian Book Club Recommendation? This month you're assigned to read Thomas Sowell, the libertarian economist and social critic who doesn't really like multiculturalism. He also once compared Obama to Hitler, so there's that too. 

As for this morning, you know that Lawrence Heights revitalization project? It passed another vote, 27-3. The three votes against with the two Fords and James Pasternak. I'd love to know what Pasternak was thinking. 

Last night Mike Del Grande criticized the library for carrying popular movies, 'like Pirates of the Caribbean' and carrying items in languages other than English. I get that Del Grande really cares about keeping costs down, but I'm pretty happy that my library system serves diverse communities and doesn't act in an overly prescriptivist way. I'd also point out that one of the library's most popular items are Hindi movies, which are 1) not books and 2) not English. 

Lastly, Edward Keenan and a revitalized Royson James both have outstanding columns on the tomfoolery in the city budget for The Grid and Star. I'll be getting back to these columns for a future post. 


  1. I've been reading a bunch of articles regarding decisions made by our government lately (federal and municipal mostly). It's baffling, frustrating, and I feel betrayed by politicians, and even citizens who just sit back and let themselves be convinced that unions are to blame for all of societies woes. I can't believe Ford managed to lie his way to power, and then frames every terrible decision he makes (which usual costs people their jobs) as necessary. I'm so glad we're like-minded David because it gives me the slightest ray of hope that as our generation grabs the reins we can take a new approach to government. An approach that won't focus on corruption, lies, and shameless self-absorption. A governments solo purpose is to help people live better lives, and Ford has been on a mission to turn our government into a business, whose solo purpose is to make profit.

  2. In response to Brian B. I couldn't help but wonder how it is that you mention Conservative governments as being administrations that "lie" yet you somehow missed the Ontario Liberal government that, ummm, lies all the time and got elected on it.

    Not just conservative governments lie. All politicians in all parties say what they need to get elected then change their mind.

    You probably thought when Jean Chretien got elected on the promise of removing the GST (twice!) that he was a great leader. I, personally, saw him as a giant fraud, and I was working in the GST department of the government at that time so removing the GST would have removed my job.

    Oh, and as a former unionized employee, I can tell you with 100% certainty... It is the unions. See Greece.

  3. @Brian Thanks for the comments, they're very kind.

    @urbandaddy You're right that the track record of not fulfilling campaign promises crosses party lines. Certainly all parties should be held to account for that, and I think that speaks to Brian's comment of wanting a more engaged and informed electorate.

    As for the unions comment, I disagree. Greece's crisis (which is nothing like anything we have in Canada) is multifaceted, with a culture of cheating on taxes, economic growth predicated on leverage, phony accounting and unions each playing their roles. Unions on their own are not bad although they can contribute to problems ( for instance, by being unwilling to let go of unproductive workers, although it is their legal obligation to do so).

  4. @urbandaddy
    While I am left leaning I don't have a party bias. I vote for the politician who is most likely to improve my community and the lives of my fellow Canadians. The whole idea of engaging in politics is to keep a critical eye and I don't believe anyone should be left to do as they please. In fact, I never once said conservative in my first post (although I did mention I was reading municipal and federal related articles).

    My issue with Ford is that his entire campaign was peppered with lies. He manipulated people to vote for him in the worst kind of way. He got people to vote against their own interests just to push his own agenda through. I'm frustrated with Ford for being so casual about hurting so many people's lives needlessly, but I'm equally (if not more so) frustrated with the electorate who let themselves be duped. My girlfriend works in lower income neighbourhoods to help with tenant's rights issues and she comes across former Ford supporters everyday who were convinced ford would free up money at cityhall that could be directed to services that help people of lower income get a better footing in the job market. Turns out Ford just cut all their services.

    As for your Jean Chretien comment... I'm not sure how you deduced that from my post.

    I was also unionized when I worked construction and I can tell you, they're a good thing. There is a reason unions start up. Employees are abused, overworked, and under payed by many companies who can afford to pay them well and hire a full staff (ie. Walmart). I'm not saying unions don't need to be properly managed, but de-unionizing is most definitely a step backwards in a culture of large corporations that are all to willing to take advantage of their work force. Many factories in China are beginning to unionize and you can't tell me that that is a bad thing. This all ties in to my original post. The sole purpose of a business is to make profit and people need to have a way to protect their human rights from unscrupulous executives, or mayors.