Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who's Who on Ford's Right

Getting to Know the Inner Power Circle

Posted Feb 18 by prolific tweeter Cityslkr in his excellent blog " All Fired Up in the Big Smoke (Municipal Politics. Like it matters), his blog Problems With Governing gives a neat personality descriptor of those few Toronto City Councillor's in Mayor Ford's inner circle. I will copy liberally from Cityslkr's blog, giving him full credit for his words which I post in this colour . I encourage people to check out his blog for unique and sometimes downright profound views.

I will update it as need and whimsy demands with my own comments and views to build a profile of those 13 power councillors at city hall.

Executive Committee
(The Mayor's "cabinet" if you will):
The Executive Committee makes recommendations on Council's strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations.  There are 13 members (a 'baker's dozen'?), including Mayor Rob Ford who is the Chair. Here is a weblink to official city website

Mayor Rob Ford Ward 2 Etobicoke North His Own Website

Rob Ford has been at city council for more than 10 years, most of it spent in the political wilderness of an an outcast. Usually on the 'NO' side of any vote, he was stubbornly critical if anything left of the right and was an outspoken critic of former Mayor David Miller. More often than not, he got into all kinds of hot water for his politically incorrect statements that were used to pillory him by the rabid left.  There are tons of news stories about his frequent faux-pas, but here is my personal assessment. His greatest quality and downfall is his stubborness and perseverance. He was not good as a councillor in building support and was a lone wolf. Rarely as a councillor did he propose solutions and was just critical of almost everything.

However, he does deserve some respect. I remember going to him for some help when my own ward18 councillor Adam Giambrone was not helpful. (I had a question on another matter but Adam told me, "That's not my area. I'm the TTC"... but that's another story). Rob saw me in person when I just dropped by and gave me a few minutes and some helpful suggestions. Another time, I called his office and did get a return call from the man himself within 24 hours. Another time, I saw him on a committee where he spoke out (however unsuccessfully) to have the committee hear from people who came to make deputations.

About his stubborness. I remember asking him how he could keep at it when he was so often attacked and alone. His response, "Well, you gotta do what you gotta do". Kind of sums up his outlook.

* Update: Torontoist does an article on how Mayor Rob Ford (doesn't) think on his feet, see here

Giorgio Mammoliti whose slavish deference to the mayor is exceedingly creepy especially given the often times antagonistic relationship that existed between the two when they were both just lowly councillors. Mammoliti’s devotion, however, is in all likelihood about an inch deep and predicated almost solely on how popular the mayor remains.

Giorgio Mammoliti Ward 7 York West weblink

Giorgio Mammoliti was an Ontario provincial MPP (NDP party,,, can you believe it?) from 1990-1995. When he was elected to city council after Premier Bob Rae's downfall, he quit the NDP and joined the Liberal Party. Now he is in league with the Rob Fordite conservatives. More surprising is that as fellow councillors, Mammolitie and Ford often clashed...Ford reportedly called Mammoliti "Gino Boy", which was taken as an anti-Italian slur. As a result of Ford's comment, Mammoliti filled a human rights complaint against Ford. But in latter years, they seem to have patched things up. GiorgioMammoliti is generally considered a right-leaning and socially conservative member of council, but was a rabid supporter of former police chief Julian Fantino. When he ran for mayor (and withdrew in July) he unveiled a platform that included building a floating casino, introducing a municipal lottery, reversing tax increases he had he previously voted for and creating a red light district for prostitution as well as an 11 p.m. curfew for children under the age of 14 and giving guns to by-law enforcement officers. To say he has had some other crazy ideas is an understatement.

* Update: Link to Ford-Mammolitie battles here Also, note Mammoliti literally sits on the right hand of Rob Ford now. Buddies in Good Times?

Giorgio Mammoliti seems to just adore being in the spotlight now, often making quite unecessary and impassioned speeches defending and praising Rob Ford..... but, he is fun to watch.

Ditto Denzil Minnan-Wong.

Denzil Minnan-Wong Ward 34 Don Valley East weblink

Denzil Minnan-Wong was a lawyer specializing in immigration issues prior to getting into city council in 1994. On city council he was best known for his campaign against squeegee kids and to reform the city's taxi system. Now a 17 year veteran, he is a vocal proponent of tax cuts and was about as opposed to the former David Miller administration as anyone could be. He most definitely Tory blue. He is not a fan of bike lanes orcyclists and once wrote an editorial stating,  "until our downtown is bike-friendly, the city has a duty to enable its citizens to enjoy the benefits of mobility, including trips taken by car."

When I watch Denzil at City Council meetings, he often looks mildly pissed off and sometimes paces around the room, going up into the audience galleries while debates are on.

Increasing their respective profiles also might explain the presence of councillors Paul Ainslie, Michelle Berardinetti, Jaye Robinson and Michael Thompson. None seem to be hardcore ideologues

Paul Ainslie Ward 34 Scarborough East weblink
His own website

Paul Ainslie was initially appointed as an interim councillor in ward 41 in February 2006 when formercouncillor Bas Balkissoon was elected to the provincial level. At the time had promised to not run in the next election, quoted on the record saying, "if appointed to this position, I will not run in Ward 41 or any other ward in the city."  He broke his word and did anyways, and won. He is a Twitter fanatic posting comments about anything frequenty ( @cllrainslie ). Fellow councillor Josh Matlow says "Paul Ainslie seems to tweet his life like taking minutes of a meeting:

Paul Ainslie in his Facebook page claims he is an independent, but media like The Star say he is a centre-right councillor. Ainslie is pretty much a political unknown right now. He also chairs the government management committee.

Here is a Youtube video of Paul Ainslie's maiden speech to City Council.

Michelle Berardinetti Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest weblink

Jaye Robinson Ward 25 Don Valley West
Michael Thompson Ward 37 Scarborough Centre weblink

Peter Milczyn is the administration’s apologist, countering every criticism of his crew with examples of how bad David Miller et al were. His list of grievances against them is as long as the councillor is short

Peter Milczyn Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore weblink

Then there’s the ineffability of Norm Kelly and Cesar Palacio. Who knows what’s going on with those two? One’s practically mute and the other, well, he asks questions that baffle more than they clarify. It’s not a language issue. Councillor Palacio seems genuinely confused and out of his depth much of the time on the Executive Committee

Norm Kelly Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt weblink

Cesar Palacio Ward 17 Davenport (north) weblink

The hardcore believers are Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and Budget Chief Mike Del Grande. These two are Fordites through and through, believing whole-heartedly that all this city needs is some tough love and fiscal discipline to straighten it out. It’s almost endearing, in a doddering, grandfatherly way in the deputy mayor whose inevitable outburst at the table is always followed by a little nap.
Doug Holyday Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre weblink

Mike del Grande Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt weblink

The budget chief  (Mike del Grande) is the one to watch, however, as much as he claims to be out of the loop sometimes. Proudly bearing the badge of Michael Del Grande, Chartered Accountant, he appears convinced that he can vanquish the budgetary beast with the simple math one uses in running a household. Don’t spend more than you earn. Anything else is simply an extravagance which We. Can’t. Afford. As he so tells anyone who thinks otherwise. Government’s just like a business. It’s. As. Simple. As. That.

The outlier on the Executive Committee is the disagreeable David Shiner. He seems much more aware of the reality than any of his compatriots. At least twice yesterday, he plaintively bemoaned the lack of provincial funding for the operating budget of the TTC. What’s that you say, apostate? Surely you don’t mean to suggest that the city actually has a revenue problem! Take that back and chant along with the mayor: the city has a spending problem. Combine that with the proposed plans from the city’s finance department to ask the province for a piece of the HST and things at the committee were beginning to sound downright Millerite.
David Shiner Ward 24 Willowdale weblink