Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome to 2011, Now to Get to Work

ANA BAILAO's New Year resolution: "New Year's resolutions are often about spending more time with the people you care about, creating a financial plan and getting active. As city councillor for ward 18 my new year's resolutions are to meet with even more residents, getting our city's finances under control and delivering on campaign promises. As for fitness, in the mornings you'll be able to find me at the gym."
Toronto Sun story Dec31

Trying hard not to be cynical or over-analytic, I hope that the people she cares about are ALL of her constiuents, not just the Portugese Block or the Developer Block or the Liberal Party Block that got her elected. The "getting our city's finances under control" comment must be music to Mayor Rob Ford's ears.... Does that mean she will support cuts in city services?  Will she lean left or run right for power?

5 Cent Bag Fee:

rbmorra twittered that 2011 is already looking up because Ana Bailao supports keeping the 5 cent bag fee. I guess he is easily impressed. Although I agree the fee has encouraged people to be environment-conscious, I still find it absurd that many of the retailers just pocket the 4 1/2 cent markup rather than putting it back into environmental programs or programs that help society.
* Here's an idea: why not require that the markup go to the FOOD BANKS?

Toronto Public Library:

As regards cutting services, where will Ana go on the issue of Cutting Library Services ? While Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor got a $3 million boost from the feds and library workers reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike, it seems the Urban Affairs public library right at Metro Hall serving many in the area could be 'on the chopping block'.  The Star's Dec31 story even indicates that the book buying budget may be cut. "On Thursday the 13 member board - made up of eight citizens and five city councillors, three of them Ford allies,  will vote on its $171 million operating budget for 2011"  The final budget goes to the city on January 10.

The Library Board members are listed here and the Jan 6 agenda meeting details are here if anyone wants to make public deputations at the meeting.

BUDGET 2011 :

And what about the budget process? What kind of public consultations will we really have, since it seems it is happening much earlier and faster than ever before? Where are the public meetings Ana campaigned on?

I remind everyone that every single candidate running spoke about the need for better public consultation with timely information and a chance to make an impact on what happens to our ward and our city. Indeed, the lack of consultation was a big part of the previous councillor's problems.

Toronto Police Services Budget: WE WANT MORE!

So while previous budget chief Shelley Carroll and the previous administration had asked everyone to cut their budgets by 5%, we see Bill Blair asking for + 3% more. Some twitters have pointed out that the TPS budget has increased by 77% over the last ten years. I recall that in the Lastman years, they didn't even submit details of why and it was simply approved without debate. It will be interesting to see if Ana Bailao gets a 'line by line' breakdown of THAT budget! (Ana spoke often of plans to demand a line by line breakdown of all budgets during the campaign). News stories about the TPS demands are here: The Star Dec31 and Now and Toronto Sun Dec30

* Now magazine says Bill Blair is looking for $26.7 million more, bringing total police budget for 2011 to $986.9 million (lets just say almost a billion). TPS is staffed by 5,587 officers an 2,068 civilian ranks. It was almost funny that Mayor Rob Ford wanted to give Blair 100 MORE officers and he actually declined, saying they are not needed. In fact, if crime has gone dramatically down, why on earth would we not have less officers?

The Toronto Police Services Board will meet on Wed, Jan5 at 3PM and the agenda is here It is a public meeting where all the new Ford-friendly councillors will be sworn in and the new board chair, Dr. Dhun Noria will take control. They will talk about the 2011 budget as well. Toronto Police HQ at 409 College Street, 2nd floor. (hmmm ... no talk about the G20 in this meeting)
* Update: Backgrounder on new appointee to the board:   Dr. Noria

Don't Forget the G20 !

Chief Bill Blair is not off the hot seat on this one. After the ridiculous amount of unecessary arrests last summer, the dropping of almost all the charges and the stupidity of the 'law that was not a law' where police conveniently interpreted that they could trample on the constitutional charter rights of citizens at will, we see that the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) found no cause to lay charges against any officers. Then... some of the thousands of citizen videos show up, the masses refuse to just forget it and suddenly ONE officer is identified and eventually charged. Background stories by CBC news Dec21 and The Star police union response. The telling comment by a twitterer was how strange that 12 trained police officers right at the scene couldn't identify the perpetrator. Does this mean our police are just a gang of thugs?

Since this G20 event was responsible for civil and human rights abuses on an unprecedented scale in Canada, will Toronto City Council have the guts to stand up and address it?

West College Street BIA ?

OPENFILE did a short story on a "village waiting to be reborn" Jan 2nd by Josh O'Kane musing about the need for a BIA for this neglected section of College Street. Talks about how Adam Gimbrone's old constituency office at Margueretta (now a discount tv ad stuff store) is next to up and coming The Proudest Pony hair salon. Is the area really ripe and ready for rejuvenation and a "College West Village BIA" ?

Since I live very close by, I am intimately knowledgeable of the area. In my view, it has suffered from a series of city councillors who just did not care about the area and knew they could keep getting elected by just catering to the more chi-chi areas of the ward. Lots of rooming houses and tiny crammed apartments interspersed by a car wash, a body shop, a small mall (highlight of which is the booming Tim Horton's) and another dead mall (Coffee Time cannot compete) at Dundas and Lansdowne, just 1/2 block away. There is also in the area a gas station, a used car lot, a vietnamese restaurant, some small tailor shop and a laundry. Lots of semi-derelict houses and lot of graffitti everywhere. (Graffitti removal was what Adam Gimabrone campaigned on in 2003).  All in all a 'well-used, fixer-upper' area with the Lansdowne freeway nearby.

Who in their right mind will start a business here without significant help from the city?