Thursday, December 9, 2010

Toronto Council Starts Up on a Down Note

Mayor Ford Setting a Low Brow Tone

Cherry Picking

Not only did Mayor Ford cherry pick his right wing buddies to all key posts, effectively shutting out centrist-liberal-leftist-ndp councillors, he took a blatant step to put all those people who criticized him in their place by inviting bombastic Don Cherry, the annual foot-in-mouth, completely politically UN-corect host of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

True to form, in his introduction of new Mayor Ford, Cherry lambasted not only the 'left-wing pinko media' but also pointedly insulted anyone not on Ford's favoured list as 'left wing kooks'. Ford added measure, he took a shot at all those who ride bicycles as being 'pinkos' as well. Cherry Rips Left Wing Pinkos at Council Inaugural

A subtle but meaningful response by several of those lumped in as kooks was to wear pink at the next day's first real meeting of Toronto City Council Pinko Ladies Councillors Dress to Protest Cherry (Kudos to our own ward 18 Davenport Councillor, ANA BAILAO, for joining in)

*** Side note: NOW  magazine points out an 'eybrow raising moment' when rookie councillor Ana Bailao was appointed to the striking committee, claiming Ford scored quite a few votes in her ward. Actually ward 18 voted mostly for Smitherman (40%) to win, not Ford.  Who Voted for Whom
To see what the striking committe is, go here

It seems the first shots in an intentional divisive strategy by Mayor Ford have been fired. The un-civil war of RIGHT versus LEFT (left being anyone who is not right with Ford)  has been declared. It will be interesting to watch the votes and see how this plays out when real issues are decided.

As for the general public, Spacing online magazine has hit on a cash cow with their "Bike Riding Pinko buttons" to fuel the common folks' response.

Ford Supported Transit City ?

It seems Rob Ford forgets he actually voted YES several times to support transit city (also unusual in that Rob Ford the councillor was also the 'no-man' on proposals of pretty much any kind). Steve Munro investigates and proves Ford did indeed vote yes many times. Also: Globe and Mail story

This only illustrates what I've seen of the councillor Rob Ford by watching many council meetings: he doesn't pay attention and certainly does not do his reasearch before he speaks.

The real key to the future of transit in Toronto rests with the full council, since the province who will fund it is willing to listen to the will of the people (particularly given an upcoming election). background story

*** Side Note: It seems ANA BAILAO is leaning towards supporting a motion to ask the province to declare the TTC an essential service. Ford faces tight vote on declaring TTC essential

G20 is Not Forgotten: Politicians and Police in the Spotlight

Provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin pulls no punches in releasing his report Caught in the Act charging that the 'secret' G20 fence law was illegal and also that there were serious violations of civil rights by police.

Indeed, photos are coming up regularly that clearly identify brutal acts by police Baton Beating while Toronto Police Chief Blair tries desperately to stay out of the spotlight and Dalton McGuinty apologizes

Personally, I find it amazing and sad that the worst violations of charter rights in Canadian History were barely on the radar in the recent city elections. How is it that riots and burning police cars and trashed businesses are so easily ignored? Are we too-polite Canadians so easily cowed that we don't see the rise of the police state in our society as a threat to freedom and democracy?

The only hope I get is from this 58,000 strong Facebook page that shows there are aware citizens in our country.

BUDGET and Other Actions

* Mayor's office budget reduced by 20% (will be $2 million in 2011)
* Wants to reduce Councillor office expense budgets by 40% (from $50,445 to $30,000)
* Mayor compensation recommended by Hay group market study to be $183,604 starting Dec1
* Councillor compensation recommended by Hay market study to be $99,620 starting Dec1
* Both studies done July30,2010 were just received = yet to be decided upon

All of the above are being considered as I type this by the Mayor's right wing executive committee.

FYI: Median income for a single person in Toronto is $28,675 (Don Cherry makes about $700,000+ a year while Rob Ford is a millionaire with his Deco label business.)

Mayor Ford has promised ZERO property tax increase for residential next year (no word yet on commercial/industrial). He has instructed that there be no "major" service cuts, but who decides what is major or minor will no doubt be hotly contested at council when individual wards are hit by cutbacks. As always, by law, the budget must be balanced.