Saturday 31 December 2011

A City Council Year in Review

It's the last day of a very eventful year in Toronto politics, and I would be remiss if I didn't take this chance to collect some of the stories and moments that caught our Twitter-addled attention. In particular, there's a number of stories and moments that make you sit back and think, 'Wow, that did happen. How could I forget?' 

The answer: easily. The non-stop rush of stories, quotes and proposals was like a permanent diet of sugar with lots of highs and lows but little substance. So yeah, you can forget things in that state, just like I'm sure I missed lots of great moments in my summary (leave comments to fill in the gaps). 

But I would like to thank everyone who checked in at this website in 2011, gave it a chance and added their support. I hope to work on it more in 2012 than I did in 2011 and that you'll continue to read.  

Top words of 2011:

  • windrow 
  • depute
  • uncompetent
  • cuts efficiencies
  • liberry

Celebrity cameos: 

  • Margaret Atwood 
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Marg Delahunty
  • Yelly Granny

Headscratching moments from Giorgio Mammoliti:

  • Proposes to turn island into red light district 
  • Videotapes Dyke March
  • Rails against alleged opium dens
  • Creates pro-Ford Facebook page and pledges to weed out 'communists' 
  • Claims Janet Davis bullies him 

Best memes:

  • Rob Ford Metro Bowl kickoff 
  • #matlowmurdermystery 
  • Ford Math

Fake numbers of the year:

  • 774 million 
  • 35% property tax increase
  •  4.6% police budget reduction

Quotes of the Year:

"It's pretty hard to hide 300 pounds of fun." -Rob Ford responds to questions on transparency and accountability. 

"[The questionnaire is] not statistically valid" -Denzil Minnan-Wong on the city-crafted KPMG citizen survey, which didn't produce his desired results. 

"It's not backroom planning, it's called backroom vision" -Doug Ford on his surprising Port Lands proposal

"One thing we realized when we got to City Hall was that the bureaucrats...are working hard: 12, 15, 16 hours a day. Joe Pennachetti is working hard. So there's not a lot of 'gravy' at City Hall, per se." -Nick Kouvalis on waste

"We're going to be outsourcing everything that's not nailed down." -Doug Ford

"That really happened?" Moments:

  • Karen Stintz argues that the Jarvis bike lanes prevent a constituent from getting home in time to feed her family
  • Doug Ford talks about Tim Horton's, Margaret Atwood and libraries
  • Doug Ford is super charming at Budget Committee
  • Denzil Minnan-Wong rides a bike 
  • Doug Holyday proposes road tolls
  • Frances Nunziata reads the Pride Proclamation
  • Doug Ford writes a $1000 cheque 
  • A flying shark in council

Council's best votes:

Neglected issues:

A potential 2014 Ford sign, graciously designed by Matt Fucking Elliott
  • The report on citizen committees which was supposed to be delivered in July (still undelivered)
  • The terrible Astral 'info pillars,' given a pass until it was too late
  • The potential sale of TO Hydro- a huge financial decision which receives limited attention because it's complicated and there are limited numbers for public consumption
  • The various civic and board appointments made, which were largely political and lacked diversity. 
Disappointing Votes:
  • Gloria Lindsay Luby votes against looking into studying waste outsourcing west of Yonge St. further, arguing that it won't change anyone's mind. A couple of weeks later we learn that Green for Life, which won the contract, bought out Turtle Island, which services Luby's Etobicoke. From this, Etobicoke's garbage collection is now unionized and Luby was upset. 
  • Josh Colle had promised to support keeping the Jarvis bike lanes in e-mails to constituents. But when the Mayor placed a hold on a Lawrence Heights Development Project vote, Colle got the message and changed his mind. 
  • Jaye Robinson, arguably the most important swing vote, purposefully sits out a key vote on civic appointments at the side of the chamber. The vote is a tie, giving the Mayor a key victory that day. 
Neville Park tells Twitter to channel its anger

Best articles:
  • Ivor Tossell goes on an extended riff on Fordian uncompetence in the Toronto Standard, and it's pure gold. 
  • Trish Hennessy does important and startling research on Rob Ford voters in this post on her blog Framed in Canada.
  • The morning after the most exciting day in 2011 Toronto politics, Edward Keenan manages to keep his eyes open to write about the deputation slumber party and the smell of democracy in the morning. His Ford fact checks were also must-reads. 
  • Cityslikr is at his passionately indignant best in this post on how all you need are 23 councillors.
  • You could choose any number of articles from Matt Elliott's Ford For Toronto, but let's go with this one on the false budget choices the Mayor proposes. 
  • Other excellent writing in 2011 came from Openfile's John McGrath, Torontoist's Hamutal Dotan, the Globe's John Lorinc, and the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale. In fact, one of the great things to come out of 2011 from Toronto politics was the great writing that appeared (I'm neglecting a bunch), a lot of which appeared online.  
Issues for 2012:
  • Budget
  • Collective Bargaining / Lockout
  • Ford's Transit Proposal
  • A proposal to cancel the five cent bag fee 
  • 25% reduction in Land Transfer Tax
  • A prolonged discussion on whether Ford will go to Pride and lots of guessing even though no one will really know anything, including Ford's inner circle. 
  • Port Lands follow up in June
  • TO Hydro sale in January
  • Whether any Ford allies will defect 

This unicorn chaser from Neville Park summarizes the Sheppard plan

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