Friday, December 17, 2010

Dec16 Council Meeting Analysis and Observations

December 16 Eventful City Council Meeting:

Includes video links to Ana's speeches !
Judge her performance for yourself!
Official Council Photo 2010-2014
* 1.  Ana Bailao speaking about Abolishing Personal Vehicle Tax (at the 7:16: mark in video) Ana spoke after Adam Vaughan, who opposed the motion very strongly. Her first rookie speech got applause as did all other rookies. She was eloquent and informed. She obviously got herself well up to speed on all the angles: environment = it is a tax on who owns cars, not who uses them; unfairness = penalizes inner core residents, not those outside who do use our streets; penalizing those on fixed, low-incomes. ANA voted YES to this and the motion carried 39-6. Those who voted no were: Vaughan, Davis, Doucette,  Mihevc, Perks,
McConnell.  Biggest surprise was that Shelley Carroll reversed herself from when she first voted in the tax to voting YES to abolish it now.

 ** BEST point was made by last speaker, David Shiner at 24:11, when he said that the city has had surpluses of about $300 million+ during recent Miller years, which in his view means that Torontonians have been overtaxed unecessarily. This was the most compelling argument "Our problem was they kept taxing and couldn't spend it fast enough". All kinds of attempts to amend the main motion to ensure no service cuts were all defeated (ANA had voted YES for them). Even amendments to demand more information be gathered were also defeated (ANA had voted YES for that too).

*2.  Ana Bailao along with most of Council (40-5) voted YES to reduce Councillor Office Budgets from $50,445/yr to $30,000/yr. Many, including Ana, chose NOT to speak on this item. In fact, prior to the vote, Council had almoist lost quorum as a lot of Councillors simply weren't there. There was a quorum call and people ran back in to vote. Really, not much of a debate at all, except that Adam Vaughan tried to raise the excellent point that some wards were much bigger than others and so needed different levels of support. His motion to rectify this did not carry (ANA voted NO On it)  Ron Moeser also made some hopeless, unsuccessful amendments to try to ensure he could hang on to his constuituency office - he can't.
Those voting NO to cutting Councillor Office Budgets were: Di Giorgio, Filion, McConnell, Moeser and Perks.

*3.  Ana Bailao speaking about Making TTC Essential Service (at the 1.47 mark in video). "I had a really tough time with this item... If I had $6 or $11 million I'd rather have (money go to what I campaigned on)... affordable, reliable transit". ANA voted NO to making TTC Essential Service. I think this was her first vote that was on the losing side, as the motion carried 28-17. Those voting NO included Augimeri, Bailao, Carroll, Colle, Davis, De Baermaeker, Doucette, Fletcher, Fragedakis, Layton, McConnell, Mihevc, Moeser, Perks, Peruzza, Vaughan and Wong-Tam.

After these key Ford-promised items, City Council pretty much went on automatic pilot, with a few individual motions hardly getting any debate at all and just being passed fast so they could all get out of there (it was after 9:00pm after an all day meeting).  Everyone seemed quite punchy and innattentive.

In fact, Mike Layton's politically-correct (ie in my view a quite silly, unecessary, time waster) to formally distance Toronto Council with MacLean's Magazine's article about universities being "Too Asian" had NO. DEBATE. AT. ALL. I was there in the chamber to see the astonished young Layton lad seing his very first Council action be a success. Afterwards Chin Lee, Perks and Carroll came over and shook his hand. The silly motion passed , even though Mayor Ford wanted to refer it (and kil it) at the Executive Committee. You can see the whole non-debate starting at about 42:17 point in this video )  It passed 27-14. ANA voted YES on this one.
Layton holds Press Conference Dec17 about the "Too Asian" thing, supported by Kyrstyn Wong-Tam and Karen Sn\un. We find out its a copy of his mom's motion in federal patliament (Olivia Chow). Everyone looks so excited, don't they?

*** Another Interesting Note: After the last act of Council (a round of applause for new Speaker Nunziata for a job well done), the last few minutes of the official video  after council adjourned (about the 26:0 minute mark) , you can clearly see Gord Perks and Shelley Carroll descend upon Ana Bailao, likely working to recruit her for the "left wing pinko team" a little more solidly. Ana could do much worse than have veteran talent like Carroll mentoring her!

Verdict:: So far I am impressed by Ana's performance, she's playing the astutue politician and has made no major mistakes. Time will tell about her integrity and character.


Toronto Transit Commission - Safety Record Dead?

I'm so old that I can remember when an accident involving the TTC was a surprising rarity. Like those industrial factories that had signs posted proudly proclaiming " 489 Days Without Accident" or some such, the old TTC boasted of its great safety record. Safety was Job #1.

However, since August 11, 1995 when there was the Russell Hill Subway Incident , the TTC's much mentioned great Safety Record has plummeted, getting much, much worse over the past year. Streetcars hitting each other, colliding with cars, cyclists and pedestrians, TTC subway workers having fatal accidents while doing maintenance work in tunnels, all sorts of delays in the subway, etc. All this happening at the same time that the other 2 governments (province, federal) were coughing up huge amounts of money to help Toronto transit improve. The latest news:

Since about 1997, we've also seen the alarming - though thankfully few - incidents of random people being pushed onto subway tracks by those with mental illness. The TTC has considered off and on adding very expensive modifications to platforms, but so far all have been too costly.

And it's not just accidents and random strangers that TTC riders have to worry about:

The TTC did get "Special Constables" in June, 1997 and there are about 90 of them that patrol the system. Prior to this, Toronto Police did very random (and few) patrols on TTC properties and veghicles.

 Backgrounder link

In June, 2009 the Police Services Board voted unanimously to take control of the TTC Special Constable. On October 21, 2010 the Police Services Board voted in favour of cancelling the TTC Special Constable program on February 1, 2011. Some of the bad press that contributed to this decision is:
TTC Constables Overstep Authority

Something that happened even after this (Dec 13, 2010) is being investigated by ward 18 Davenport City Councillor, ANA BAILAO.  Toronto Sun - Alleged TTC Beating which certainly confirms the decision to cancel the Special Constable program.

*** One thing that should be asked is why TTC Chief General Manager, Gary Webster, allowed this to happen on his watch!

Background History of the TTC:

(A full history can be found at This Link ) Some highlights (or lowlights)

1892  First electric streetcar (on Church Street)
1899  ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) Local 113 was founded
1912  With a city of 400,000 the first studies mentioned the need for a subway
January, 1946 Citizens voted 10 to 1 to get a subway started.
September 8, 1949 Construction started on "Canada's First Subway"
1952  TTC endured 19 day strike
1954  TTC becomes sole provider of public transportation in Metro Toronto, taking over various private bus companies
1970  TTC endures  12 day strike
1974  TTC endures 23 day strike * First time province used back-to-work legislation to force end to strike
1978  TTC endures 8 day strike
1984  TTC strike during Pope Paul's Visit
1988  TTC assumes responsibility for Wheel Transportation Service
1989  TTC service disrupted during 41 day labour dispute (work to rule?)
1991  TTC endures 9 day strike
- 1998  Amalgamation of Toronto forced by Mike Harris provincial government
1999  TTC endures 2 day strike (legislated back by province)
- December, 2006 Adam Giambrone appointed TTC Chair by Mayor Miller, replacing Howard Moscoe
2006  TTC endures 1 day strike (May 29)
2007 The current TTC General Manager, Gary Webster, was appointed
2008  TTC endures 1 1/2 day strike (the wildcat illegal one that started at 12:01am)
May, 2008 Miller Council considers making TTC essential service. Motion defeated by only 1 vote.
2008 The TTC safety culture transformation was officially branded: Work Safe, Home Safe
- Nov 30, 2010 Adam Giambrone is out as TTC Chair, New TTC Chair is Karen Stintz

December 16, 2010 New Ford Council passes motion to ask province to declare the TTC an essential service by a vote of 28 to 17.

Other Points of Note:
1998-2007: 150 people committed suicide by jumping in front of subway trains. Since 1954 when first subway built, 1,200 people have attempted suicide by TTC (both failed and successful included).
More TTC information and statistics are HERE

* Update: A CBC radio special The Current on January 13, 2011 says there are 4,000 sucides a year in Canda, more than there are homicides, yet very little piublic attention is on it.

*** QUESTION: December 17, 2010 Why DOES Adam Giambrone still have his website  up saying he is ward 18 city councillor and chair of the TTC???  Arrogant disrespect, Adam, as usual.

SO.... I look forward to seeing if the new TTC powers that be recognize that passenger safety might be more important than station cleanliness or a new fare system -  Link

* Update: The TTC safety record gets worse and another great tragedy January 11,2011
... all the while Toronto Councillor and TTC Chair Karen Stintz talks about the TTC priorities as being 'cleanliness' and Torontonians wring their hands over a possible 10 cent fare increase. Where are our priorities?

Update: Pedestrian Killed by Bus Jan 21, 2011
Update:  Third Pedestrian Fatality for TTC in 2011 (Not even past January yet!)
A TTC bus fatally injured a pedestrian early Saturday morning at Bloor St. and Concord Ave.

* Update: TTC Turning Into Mass Madness System Rosie Dimanno, The Star "Forget the Summer of the Gun from 2005. This is turning into the Winter of the Killer Conveyance" Jan 31, 2011

* Update: Teen Struck by TTC bus Feb 1, 2011

Council Meeting Dec 16 Happenings

Council Seen  From Two Viewpoints

(I will do a more detailed analysis, with emphasis on my local Councillor Ana Bailao's performance, at a later date)

1. The morning portion until the lunch break I watched Rogers televised video, while simultaneously looking at meeting agendas, documents and twitter and tweeting much too much in retrospect. From this at home, media-censored view, I could only focus on the recognized speakers and saw little disruption or 'other activities'. I found it focussed me on listening closely even to speakers whose viewpoints I personally disagreed with. This was the spectator sport debate, with no distractions. The TV screen seemed to make everyone bigger than life and demanding of my attention. The essence of pure debate. Rivetting attention.

2. Post lunch and up to a gruelling long 9:05PM when I left I was there in person. I saw many, many things that are never caught by the televising cameras. Examples:

 1) Councillors reading newspapers, engaging in small 2-3 person conversations, sometimes too loudly for me to hear the recognized speakers (who were using mikes in the room), the Speaker herself distracted, not listening as well and having her own 2-3 ways, Councillors popping in and out of the room frequently.... in summary, a TON of distraction and clear disinterest in hearing other speakers. (I did note that Ana Bailao was present and attentive 90% of the time, credit to her willingness to learn. Kudos! ) In summary: a troubling lack of respect for others, primarily committed by the so-called veterans.

2) At times, rookie councillors being coached and frankly - taken advantage of - by the veteran councillors. Case in point: I saw a bewildered Ana Bailao tring to figure out how to vote on a relatively minor issue, then her next seatmate to her right (Michael Thompson) simply lean over and push her vote button! I really hope that Ana is not going to be over-coached by her two Fordite bookends: Denzil Minnan-Wong to her left and Michael Thompson to her right. Calling this a first-timer's blooper is about as kind as I can get. ANA: Please demand to make your own votes yourself!  If that were me, I'd never let another Councillor "push my buttons". There was also a lot of commenting by people like Giorgio Mammoliti to various rookies to just 'trust us on this, just vote this way' coaxing, heckling etc.

3) Anyone wanting to know the clear divisions of who is pro-Ford and anti-Ford, left or right or whatever division you want to call it just has to be there. You see the 'right' pointedly ignore or vociferously heckle the 'left' when they speak, and vice-versa. It couldn't be clearer unless they mooned each other. Those in the 'mushy middle', supposedly independent or non-aligned councillors generally listen equally to both extremes. The body language and gestures are so telling of who really hates/disrespects who. (Adam Vaughan and Denzil Minnan-Wong should have just had an old-fashioned duel and settled things by now)

4) Playing to the media, choosing your time to speak: the veterans know any neat sound bytes they can deliver must be in the media reporting windows, but they also know how to stage a powerful guaranteed to be noticed speech by choosing WHEN to speak. Example: Michael Thompson on the PVT was the last to speak and put the nail in the proverbial coffin by summarizing Fordite-neato slogans and elciting much applause from the audience. In this regard, Team Ford looked much more organized and savvy than their flailing left wing detractors. I'd compare this to a hockey game where in desperation players make hail mary type moves to score by themselves and fail miserably - that's council's "left wing kooks" right now. Gord Perks making intelligent speeches full of real ponder-worthy information is that single player trying a desperation move.

5) Stunts: Watching the video feed you might not see pointed demonstrations like Pam McConnell offering her takeout lunch to Mayor Ford or Shelley Carroll handing out cookies (I snarfed one by being bold and begging it from her), which I take was probably a protest about last meetings' cancellation of catered food for council. You would not have caught Mayor Ford handing a few bucks to an aide to go get him food either. You would likely not have seen the 3-4 councillors in front of usually long-winded Anthony Perruzza giving him a choreographed "wrap it up" hand signal. You also would not catch the individual seemingly secret hand signals across the floor from one councillor to another, some of which seemed to be like secret baseball coaching signalling.

6) Missing context: Prime example was Michael Layton's silly (in my view) motiuon to have the city protest MacLean's Magazine "Too Asian" comment in an investigative piece on Canadian Universities. The official documents and the televised view would tell you it was a slam dunk agreement by most of council. In reality it was 9:03pm and many councillors were just shouting out they wanted to go home, just say yes. A very visibly surprised Mike Layton was still in shock that it passed when a few lefties came over to shake his hand on his first successful motion - without any debate. It was a vote to leave not to agree to the substance of the motion.

7) Class and Kindness: TV cameras would not catch the many councillors who left their seats to go up into the audience and chat with their constituents. I myself was extremely pleasantly surprised that Ana Bailao spent a few minutes welcoming me and not only heard my wish to see the TTC an essential service but also why. She even mentioned it in her speaking time. Even though she voted NO (her first vote not to be on the "winning side" of votes?), I do honour and believe that she struggled to come to her own decision on this, in what she believed to be in the majority interest of her ward. Kudos to Ana, even though I disagree on this I respect your process. When Adam Giambrone was in that chair, I never felt welcomed or respected, even when I initially campaigned for him. Ward 18 has definitely gotten a step better than Adam's time.

8) The Physical Toll: To be there, in the chambers, watching the debates is physically exhausting, and not just because of the rambling on-and-on speeches by some, or even the length of time to be seated and paying attention - but primarily because of the CONSTANT bombardment of activity around you for attention! Mini-conversations everywhere, movement everywhere, even the audience distractions of applause (not supposed to be allowed but it was today). Add to this the massive amount of documents, binders and papers some had on their desks and the rush of last minute amendments, some of whichwere overly complicated. In the private business world, and afternoon meeting if it happens (mornings are known to be better) it lasts for no more than 3 hours at a stretch. Simple organic sensible reality of the creatures we are. Yet council chooses to compress wayyy too much into one day of deliberating rather than return refreshed and at peak efficiency? Not wise.

***Update: On the topic of whether any Councillors would mention the increasing POVERTY problem in Toronto, I was surprised that 3 of them actually did so, if only in a very tangential way: Ana Bailao, Pam McConnell and Paula Fletcher. Actually, they talked about compassion for those on LOW INCOME, but close enough. At least that can compete with "hard-working taxpayers" as a token slogan...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Toronto - City of Poverty

Shocking News? Rich get richer, Poor get ... more populous
Is there a Class War in Toronto?

T.O. Turning Into a City of Poverty?  A Torstar story in today's Metro, a partisan shot at Rob Ford as the lead-in photo. Nearly TWO-THIRDS of residents will be in the low income bracket by 2025 The Globe and Mail story is: Shrinking Middle Class Makes Toronto a City of Socioeconomiuc Extremes

The Toronto Star story on this is HERE

Juxtaposed in the free Metro paper is this story: Rob Ford and the Politics of Class Warfare in which an opinion piece by the "SpinDoctor" claims there "appears to be a deliberate attempt by the Ford administration to start a class war in which someone NOT using a car in Toronto is somehow classed as elitist". Essentially, we are told the right-wingers are using the same old trick as Mike Harris when he scapegoated those on welfare. Perhaps this is why Ford's first priority is getting rid of the vehicle tax in Toronto, especially as he proclaims the "war against the car" in Toronto is over and that there will be no more "gravy trains". It plays to this mythos.

What I find astonishing is how very, very few candidates running in the just finished city elections even talked about poverty in Toronto. Food banks and hunger were not mentioned either (except by me, as far as I can tell).

The big issues were Transit (maybe because the increasing army of low income service industry workers need it to get their measly pay?), Cycling (maybe because people cannot afford transit fares or service disruptions?) and Development - which is a catch-all term for whatever you want it to be. I'd bet people who wanted development addressed really meant they want better jobs and affordable housing. The iuntolerance for the "Gravy Train" was probably voters who see highly/overpaid politicians getting many perks they could never afford.

Will anyone now in power notice this issue of poverty and class separation?
Time will tell.

***Update: Here is another link that spells trouble for the future High Health Care Costs Directly Linked to Poverty "Some twenty per cent of Canada's spiralling health-care costs can be directly attributed to low income and education levels"

So, Toronto's future is one of rising poverty, class warfare and declining health. Wonderful...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First City Council Meeting Results Dec 8, 2010

Toronto City Council Lineup Now Set for 2010-2014

.....You can see all the appointments and official city minutes HERE


Ward 18 Davenport (south) City Councillor is Ana Bailao

Member of the Planning and Growth Committee (Peter Milczyn is Chair):
Other members are Adam Vaughan, Karen Stintz, Frank Di Girgio, Gary Crawford
JOB: To focus on urban form, with a mandate to monitor and make recommendations on planning, growth and development of the city.

Member of the Affordable Housing Committee (Chair to be elected by members)
* Special Note: Ana Bailao was Mayor Rob Ford's special designate)
Other members: Joe Mihevc, Mark Grimes, Vincent Crisanti, Miuchelle Berardinetti, Maria Augimeri
JOB: To focus on affordable housing policies, acquiring land for affordable housing, providing funding and financing development fee and charge waivers and property tax reductions or waivers for affordable housing projects. Propose legislation to provincial and federal governments. In charge of strategic planning for Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC)  and measuring effectiveness of Affordable Housing Office projects.

Toronto and East York Community Council: (Chair is Gord Perks)
Ana Bailao, Janet Davis, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Adam Vaughan, Krystyn Wong-Tam
JOB: In the designated georgraphic area, make recommendations on local planning and development, as well as local matters including traffic plans and parking regulations. Community Councils report to full City Council, but they have final decision-making power on certain items like fence bylaw exemptions, and appointements to local boards and BIA's.
Note: There are 4 geographic areas that make up the community councils: Etobicoke-York; North York; Scarborough and Toronto-East York.
... First meeting Toronto-East York was Decembert 8, 2010 Official Minutes Here
...Second meeting Official Decisions Here
Next Meeting is: January 18, 2011

Exhibition Place Board of Governors  (term up to December 31, 2012)
Mark Grimes (Mayor's designate), Ana Bailao, Chin Lee, Gord Perks, Gloria Lindsay-Luby
+ 4 citizens to be chosen, +4 members of CNEA

Toronto Parking Authority  (term up to December 31, 2012)
Ana Bailao, Giorgio Mammoliti + 5 citizens to be chosen

Bloorcourt Village BIA
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton + 12 citizens to be named

Bloortdale Village BIA
Ana Bailao, + 7 citizens to be named

College Promenade BIA
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton,  + 9 citizens to be named

Dovercourt Village BIA
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton, + 7 citizens to be named

Dundas-West BIA
Ana Bailao, + 15 citizens to be named

Little Portugal BIA  (formerly called Dundas-Ossington BIA)
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton, +12 citizens to be named

West Queen BIA
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton, + 17 citizens to be named

McCormick Playground Arena Board
Ana Bailao, Cesar Palacio, +9 citizens to be named

Artscape Toronto
Ana Bailao, Mike Layton

Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA), Municipal Section
Ana Bailao, +15 other Councillors + Mayor
(NOT the Board of Directors group)

Toronto Arts Council
Ana Bailao, Shelley Carroll, Gary Crawford, John Filion, Mary-Margret Fragedakis + citizens

Other Council Votes of Note:  December 8 first real Council Meeting Results

Ana voted NO to add Glen de Baermaeker to Toronto Zoo Board (Motion lost 245-21)
Ana voted YES to put Shelley Carroll on Audit Committe in place of Ron Moeser (Carried 24-21)
Ana voted NO to add John Filion to Planning and Growth Committee (Motion lost 28-17)
Ana voted YES to defer consideration of adding Joe Mihevc to TTC Committee to dec16 meeting (Motion carried 26-19)
Ana voted YES to replace Michael Thompson with Adam Vaughan and to replace Pam McConnell and Frank Di Giorgio with Chin Lee and Frances Nunziata on the Police Services Board (Motion carried 29-16)
Ana voted YES to adopt motion as amended (Carried 39-6) a formaility
Ana voted YES on motion for another councillor Ron Moeser to withdraw motion calling for meal breaks (Carried 45-0)
Ana voted NO to Krystyn Wong-Tam's motion to defer meeting schedule decision and allow time for budget consultation to consult with local communities (Motion lost 23-22) *** CLOSE VOTE ***
Ana voted yes to allow Gord Perks to withdraw his motion that would have allowed public input at start of City Council meetings (Motion carried 44-1)
....Then it got messy, with Ana joining in successful YES vote to refer to Executive Committee Adam Vaughan's motion to add a day for public input to meetings...


* ANA BAILAO was on the winning side of all the votes,
* City Councillors as a whole were unanimous in approving all of Mayor Rob Ford's choices.

...Interesting Notes:
* Having watched all of the December 8 meeting on Rogers TV  I noticed that pretty much the only Councillors who stood up and spoke in any debate were the 2/3 of City Cuncil that are returning veterans. (Exception: Josh Matlow spoke well)... still waiting for Ana'a inaugural speech...

* The 'unofficial opposition" to Mayor Ford's agenda seems to be led by Adam Vaughan, Gord Perks, Shelley Carroll and Janet Davis. We can look forward to these people probably voting no on all of Ford's agendas.. (Everyone else seems mollified and pacified by their committee appointments and are so far on the Ford agenda bandwagon)


Tale of 2 Rookie Councillors - One on the right track, one not

First Impressions for New Councillors Tell All

Rookie #1: ANA BAILAO tackles real issues Councillor Wants Investigation in Alleged TTC Beating
Kudos and thanks you to Ana for paying attention to what's happening and picking out the important issue that needs addressing. Even while it appeared the city (it's the TTC) was just going to sweep the incident under the carpet and ignore it, Ana wrote TTC General Manager Gary Webster demanding answers. I hope she pursues this with full vigour, as it seems our city police dropped the ball as well by not investigating. The future of TTC special constables is in doubt as they are not trained as well as police in the use of force and, in my view, as just glorified security guards who are not properly supervised.

Rookie #2: MIKE LAYTON (yes, that Layton - son of Jack and Olivia) in Joe Pantalone's old ward 19 wants to take up valuable council time with a motion to demand MacLean's magazine apoligize for it's "too asian" story. Here is the motion to be considered December 16 And here is A Globe and Mail story and an Opinion Piece I agree with. Mike Layton is a councillor who just doesn't get it and I feel sorry for the constituents in his ward if this is his big starting priority. With all the haste to get control of the budget and very limited time, THIS is his big thing?

***Side note: Like most Canadians, I respect his father, Jack Layton, who did stellar service both as a Toronto councillor here and in the federal parliamnent. However, I heard Mike at a debate and he looked lost amongst the other candidates who could speak intelligently about real issues. So sad that the guy gets elected just because of a name, yet no substance.

***Another side note: Guess who seconded his motion? Rookie councillor Kyrstyn Wong-Tam. I hope its just the courtesy support councillors tend to offer one another, and that she is not off track too.

Here is 12 year old Mike Layton back in 1991 when dad Jack lost the Mayoral race

So now rookie councillor Mike is 31, dad Jack is 60. You'd think Mike would have learned some savvy from old dad by now.

***Update: And here is an old, veteran councillor we all know and ...well..
Retiring Councillor Dings Taxpayers for Xmas Cards  Guess who?

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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's New (and old) at City Hall

Both Kevin and Ana Now At City Hall

Tweet tells us: TOCouncil News: @ joins @ as her executive assistant on Dec 1.

Seems the party machines take care of their own, don't they?
Actually, it makes sense that somebody would snap up Kevin given his insider knowledge at council and his proven discretion and loyalty. Anyone that can be loyal to a guy like Giambrone, should be loyal to anyone.

The media are starting to do cutesy stories about the new council. The Star did a story asking councillors to bring what will represents them for the next term:  Symbols  Ana Bailao brought a picture of her grandmother, sayiung she told her "It's the community that raises you is the community you praise".

... hmmm? Does that mean if you are not Portugese and part of Ana's in-crowd, that you'll be unrepresented at City Hall?

In a previous The Star story, they did a quick intro of Ana Bailao

Inn another story, this time The Toronto Sun, it seems they like Ana: She's Been to the School of Hard Knocks Young at 34, Ana has 'already staffed her office with people from outside city hall'. Is that a wise move? Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The New (Ford) Adminstration Announced!

It's Gonna be All Right, alright... no lefties welcome

* Mayor:  Rob Ford
Deputy Mayor:  Doug Holyday (Etobicoke Centre - ward 3)
Budget Chief: Mike Del Grande (Scarborough-Agincourt - ward 39)
TTC Chair? Karen Stintz? (to be formally elected by those on the TTC committee) (ward 16 Eglinton)
Government Management: Paul Ainslie (Scarborough East - ward 43)
Economic Development: Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre - ward 37)
Planning and Growth: Peter Milcyzn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, ward 5)
Public Works and Infrastructure: Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Valley East - ward 34)
Parks and Environment: Norm Kelly (Scarborough-Agincxourt - ward 40)
Community Development and Recreation: Giorgio Mammoliti (York West - ward 7)
Licencing and Standards: Cesar Palacio (ward 17 Davenport north)

* Speaker: Frances Nunziata (York South-Weston - ward 11)

... Full Globe and Mail story here: Lefties Locked Out of Ford Administration
Also more comment and speculation here in The Star: Ford Team Taking Shape at City Hall

It is abundantly clear that this signals two major things:

1. No Lefties welcome (even though roughly 1./3 of councillors can be so described)
2. It IS a case of the downtrodden-ignored SUBURBIA versus the lefty-elite DOWNTOWNERS

It will be interesting to watch which way the "mushy middle" 1/3 of council, including our own ward 18 Ana Bailao, fall.

The other 1/3 of council is solidly of the Ford-rightist persuasion.

It is also an interesting tidbit that developer-friendly Ana Bailao is aligning herself with a key ally in Michael Thompson, who will chair the powerful Economic Development committee.  ... hmmmm... Good or bad for ward 18?

David Miller's 2006-2010 Executive Committee included 12 people, all lefties.

.... NOW tell me there "is not party politics at City Hall"...

Whether the Millerite-lefties get exiled to the boonies on votes like Rob Ford suffered for a decade or not will all be up to.... Liberals, like Ana.  Will they sellout to the Fordite-rightists or truly be neutral or iundependent.

Only time will tell.

I really, really hope - Davenport Got Better...

PS: There is a new look website for any political geeks wanting to follow City Hall shenanigans:
 Toronto City Council and Committees

PPS: Royson James points out in his Star article that "Theoretically, city council can reject the mayor's slate of appointments, but that is not anticipated. City Councillors submit a wish list of positions they want. Those who get their wish are asked to support the slate, and they almoist awlays do."

Hey Ana Bailao - Take Note

Recurring Issues and Ramping Up for Change?

* PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: We should all be disturbed that being a pedestrian in Toronto can be a dangereous - and increasingly so - activity. SIXTEEN Pedestrians Hit Over Two Days - One of Them KILLED: That pedestrian killed was a 50 year old woman at Dundas and Dupont ( ). It angers me that every time the media report on this, the message seems to be blaming the pedestrian, not the rushing drivers that hit them. In a related Spacing story, the often quoted Sgt. Tim Burrow comments that the media are the ones that seem to blame pedestrians, not the police: In a big city increasingly becoming car-centric and cyclist/pedestrian unfriendly, I fear things will get much worse. Despite having a 'Pedestrian Charter' and some inroads on building a sensible cucling structure, we now have to deal with the Ford agenda. Who will stand up for the people in ward 18, many of whom are like the rest of the city aging and slowing down ?

* METROLINX- ELECTRIC TRAINS ? Yes this is still an ongoing fight. It seems everyone does NOT want polutting diesel trains running through our ward (and others), yet it is still being rammed down our throats by the non-elected entity. My fervent hope is that Ana doesn't take the expedient political manoeuver of saying - 'oh that's a provincial issue'... kind of hard when she is a Liberal and it is the Dalton McGuinty driven initiative at its core. I actually know of a resident who is considering moving away because of this. I suspect there are more. How exactly will Ana stand up for the people of ward 18 in this matter? (Better than the non-entity Tony Ruprecht, I hope)

* DAYCARE DILEMMA: Yes,. I know it's across the street from ward 18, but the city-run Dovercourt Child Care Centre just north of College Street gave notice it is quite suddenly closing in just 6 weeks. We all know that most families have two parents working to be able to afford living in the city, so this is an unacceptable hardship and a step backward for Toronto. In the past we've seen closings of daycars the other direction for ward 18 near High Park (unbelievable community complaints there were 'too many' daycares on the street). This needs to be dealt with FAST by incoming council. There is a great fear that the Rob Ford administration in its crusade against "the gravy train" will cut many city services... What will Ana Bailao do?

* VOICE OF RESIDENTS: Ana Bailao during the election campaign, like everyone else running, said that community-councillor relations and representing the voice of the ward to city hall (and not vice-versa) was a priority issue and promise. (Reconfirmed in today's Toronto Star article ). Ana "plans to launch a community advisory board made up of residents who have a mix of ideas and a mix of experience, including local business people, planners and environmentalists". This was said in relation to local residents having a say in future development in ward 18 - but I hope she expands it to become an advisory panel on other issues, not just development. If there was one key thing that the people are looking for to be different in the ward, it is to be the exact opposite of Adam Giambrone when it comes to timely consultation with ALL the ward and allowing input to inform actions at council.

* Some recommendations for her 'Community Advisory Board": Frank de Jong (environmentalist); Please NOT Spiro Koumoudouros - Bloordale BIA and strip club owner (He is simply speculating on tons of properties in Bloor Lansdowne area); I don't klnow exactly who, but it would be nice to reach out to the NDPers... Kevin Beaulieu? ... at least, I hope all members live in the ward or have an active interest in it. What about Hema Vyas as someone who knows multiple cultural interests? And just what sort of mix of ideas is Ana looking for? Doug Carroll had some interesting things to say about city governance. There have also been many engaged people in the ward, like: Dyan Marie, Jack Fava, Sam Galati, Steve Barbosa, Kirk Russell, (and me)..... AND what about HIMY SYED who ran for mayor, is a Muslim, lives in the near area and is the most civic engaged person I have ever met with tons of knowledge and wisdom? How will she put such minds to work?

* DUNDAS PARKING RESTORATION: Again quoted in the above referenced Toronto Star article, Ana says that's the first thing she'll do on council. It shouldn't be hard, given Rob Ford's love affair with anything that involves individual motor vehicles. Yet, it is a double edged sword, since TRANSIT (TTC) is also an important issue for most of the ward. 41% of the work trips in ward 18 are by transit - an often reported statistic in profiles of the ward: As well. pretty much all of the runnbers up in the election were in favour of 'Complete Streets' where we give equal weight to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, cars, transit, seniors, disabled, etc. How will Ana handle the TTC issues at council?

* POVERTY: In an article from the Hamilton Spectator about provincial (non) reponse to poverty issues, they said: " The City of Hamilton is tied with TORONTO for the highest poverty rate in Ontario, at 20 PER CENT of its population " Source: Now whther that is accurate or not, we know that ONE THIRD of ward 18 residents live on less than $30,000 a year in our very expensive Toronto - and that many live below the poverty line on less than $12,000 a year. All you have to do to see the need is visit a Food Bank or see tha constant dire warnings that demand is outpacing supply. HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS, POVERTY, WORKING POOR do exist in ward 18, Ana. Despite the ongoing gentrification of our area and the rise of upscale yuppie-artsie boutiques and eateries, there is still those left behind. What will Ana do to respond to this?

* CONSTITUENCY OFFICE: So, I am wondering where Ana will locate her ward constituency office - if she has one. There is no requirement for councillors to do this, and in today's The Star article she says she "will hold weekly open office hours at community centres across the ward". Not a bad idea if she can do it and it is well publicized and equally rotating. I actually favour heving city-owned lodgings located in a central geographic area of the ward that is wheelchair/disabled accessible and close to public transit. (This stops politicians from favouring one part of the ward over another). But... rotating is good if equitably done.

Davenport Deserved Better - Did We Get It?
The NEW City Council meets December 6-7.
We shall see... If We Watch....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sour Grapes by Ex-Councillors

If They Quit Early, Why Should They Be Paid ?

Both Adam Giambrone's constituency office at 1232 College Street and his City Hall office are empty and nobody's there. I guess Adam must be busy spending the last of his office budget on French lessons and whatever else so he can ding the taxpayers for all he can get.

Update: Nov 8 Adam's seldom used constituency office is now a discount store

No wonder associating himself with Kevin Beaulieu cost Kevin the election. Giambrone shows his continuing lack of integrity and shafts his constituents yet again!

The newly elected councillors do not take office until December 1st. Yet so many of those not re-elected are bailing out early and leaving their wards essentially unrepresented. Wouldn't it be nice if someone started a class action suit against them for not showing up for work?

sigh.... yet another reason why taxpayers voted in Rob Ford.
Update: Nov 9 - And here's another reason (Developers love Ford?)
Still up on Queen West at Triller... think he'll get fined?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bits and Bites of Council News

What is Happening.... and what is not

Adam Giambrone's constituency office is closing up. Not that it was ever much open, particularly since Adam's self-destruction last February... I often walked by when there was supposed to be open office hours and no one was there. During the election, Adam's former staff - Kevin who was running for the crown and Marjolein, were busy with other things (their failed election bid). Now I see furniture stacked up ready to be moved out.
... by the way, Adam is still our sitting councillor and will continue to be paid to November 30th.

Adam Giambrone in the news again for his questionable spending of the taxpayer funded office budget. Over $6,000 being spent on French lessons?
Guess he knew he wouldn't be needing, say Portugese in his former ward? But then we can all be comforted knowing he will be back in 2-3 years to run provincially or federally. Entitlement know no bounds I guess (I always thought that was a Liberal thing).

Post election analysis tells us ward 18 voted (40%) for Smitherman for Mayor, not Ford. But it was the divided Toronto where all the wards surrounding downtown voted Ford in.

So who will be the new TTC Chair? The Star has anointed Karen Stintz or Peter Milczyn as likely prospects.
Wouldn't it be nice is someone with real experience in the industry was in that big job? Maybe someday we will have a separately elected TTC Chair who comes with the qualifications. Doesn't look like that will happen soon.
And the agenda for the TTC may be in jeopardy too:

The Star's Royson James makes apologies of sorts for how the polls gotthe close race thing so wrong:
A better conclusion would be that we need to prohibit polls for the month before voting day. But that won't happen soon.

Ford plans to lower office budgets to $30,000
Guess Rob will save us some pennies out of the $9.28 BILLION budget, but how much will it cost when the TTC strikes on April 1st? (nope, not an AQpril Fool's joke, a real possibility)

Ford also will have a fight on his hand for his plot to cut council size in half (yet again, following his idol, Mike Harris):

So... Did Davenport Get Any Better Yet?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Does Ana Bailo Stand For

Which Way Will She Vote? undecided...undecided...undecided ?

* UNDECIDED on... Do you support making the TTC an essential service to prevent future strikes? Others = 10 yes; 13 no; 9 undecided; 12 won't say

* UNDECIDED on... Do you support contracting out residential garbage service? Others = 11 yes;10 no; 11 undecided; 12 won't say

* UNDECIDED on... Do you support cutting city funding to Gay Pride and other parades such as Caribana? 2 yes; 17 no; 13 undecided; 12 won't say

* UNDECIDED on... Do you support cutting the size of council from 44 to 22? 7 yes; 17 no; 8 undecided; 12 won't say

* UNDECIDED on... Do you support eliminating the fair wage policy? 6 yes; 14 no; 12 undecided; 12 won't say
The cagiest councillors who "won't say" are the ones who did not respond to The Star survey:

Mark Grimes, Anthony Perruzza, Josh Colle, Karen Stintz, John Filion, David Shiner, Jaye Robinson, Paula Fletcher, Michael Thompson, Mike Del Grande, Norm Kelly and Ron Moeser.

What is Ana's plan? To see what goodies she might get by voting for the Ford team? Or will she wait to see which bandwagon is the most popular at City Hall so she can be on the winning side?

Very strange....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Post Election Blues

Election Results - SO WHAT NOW?

In Ward 18 -

As with every election, no matter who wins, I always notice a bizarre feeling of "Is this real?" after the results are in. For those who lost - and expected to win - like Kevin Beaulieu, the shock and grief is understandable. For those who won, there is always the same degree of shock, just in a different direction.

Ana Bailao won big. She campaigned hard and long and had everything going for her. Despite that, the sneaky tricks, primarily by her campaign, stood out in the last week of the election. I have no doubt she exceeded maximum campaign limits (just by looking at the glossy literature that hit my mailbox all year). I have no doubt she had her election signs up (slightly) early. I have no doubt she engineered and authored supposedly neutral stories in the Portugese only media, and probably exceeded expense limits here too (you are supposed to claim for value of offered goods and services). But then, all those questionable tactics have always been the trademark of big Liberal party politics in Davenport, so were they Ana's doing or did it just come with the territory of her backers? It will be interesting to se if anything comes of these anti-democratic tactics through the normal channels of Toronto Election services.

Despite the tactics, Ana won big. Her shock is likely of the "Oh my God, I won! This is serious!" variety and I hope it sits with her throughout her time on council so that she is constantly thinking - "Now I have to live up to my promises and represent ALL my constituents". The absolute worst thing Ana could do would be to cater to her big development dollar donors and/or her ethnic Portugese community.

* 75% of the ward is NOT Portugese. Our City Councillor must represent ALL of ward 18
* Everyone in the ward is concerned about getting the right kind of development, 100% of the ward wants in on community consultation and real input BEFORE things happen in the ward.
* There are several disparate lobby groups of special interests in the ward: cyclists, artists, BIA's, self-defined resident groups - and the as-always forgotten margianlized poor, homeless and hungry. Ward 18 is complex and will need a careful hand to achieve all the compromises necessary.

For those that came in as 'also-rans', the loss was likely expected, or should have been. Media defined the race as a two person, two party one the moment Kevin Beaulieu announced his intention to run on April 13, after his former boss Adam Giambrone had self-destructed in the mayoral race and finally decided not to run again in ward 18. So for the last 7 months the writing was on the wall for all to see.

Still, we should all ask what will become of the 'also-rans', 90% of whom made a serious try at campaigning. At the 8 meetups and debates, they all offered differing ideas to improve the ward as well as cemented the unifying theme of more and better community consultation. They exhibited their various skills and abilities, which would be a shame and loss to the ward if they all did not continue to contribute to improving the quality 0f life in the community.

Frank de Jong, the Green Party candidate will likely take a run again at the provincial MPP race expected in just under a year, so we can probably count on his staying involved.
Hema Vyas although living within walking distance of ward 18 constantly told us she cared for and was involved in the ward 18 community. She came with impressive cultural and non-profit credentials. Will we see her just as active post-election?
Joe MacDonald promised us he would not be a career politician and came with impressive academic and insider political experience. Hw will he stay involved in ward 18 life?
Kirk Russell stayed very much in the centre of discovering and bringing to light alleged and real infractions of electioneering by the two front-runners. He had some extremely detailed and well-researched ideas about traffic that bears further consideration by those now in power. How will he stay involved?
Nha Le, the perennial election campaigner and supporter of the big Liberal party machine is nothing if not persistent in trying to be involved in ward18 politics. Will he be of use to Ana as he has been to Tony Ruprecht? Is he just a Liberal hanger-on or will he contribte to ward 18?
Doug Carroll was an eloquent and ideas driven person, even if those ideas did not resonate within the ward. Will his interest in city governance continue and be listened to by Ana?
Ken Wood, Mohammed Muhit, Joanna Teliatnik and Abdirazak Elmi - how will they be involved in future ward 18 life, if at all? Time will tell.

I hope Ana Bailao continues to read my blog and considers seriously her promise of better and real community consultation. She has been quoted as saying "Now the work begins". If she doesn't govern well, the next election results could be very different, yet again.

Remember: Davenport Deserves Better.... Will We Get It?

Monday, October 25, 2010




1. Ana Bailao = 6,277 votes = 44 %
2. Kevin Beaulieu = 4,911 votes = 34% 1,366 votes behind
3. Frank de Jong = 869 votes = 6%
------------------ Top 3 candidates belong to political parties
4. Hema Vyas = 776 votes = 5%
5. Joe MacDonald = 669 votes = 5%
6. Kirk Russell = 326 votes = 2%
7. Nha Le = 154 votes = 1%
-- Above all had significant election signs and/or campaign offices
8. Ken Wood = 106 votes = 0.8%
9. Mohammed Muhit= 74 votes = 0.7% ???
... Mohammed did not even campaign, never met ???
10. Joanna Teliatnik= 70 votes = 0.5%
11. Doug Carroll = 54 votes = 0.4%
12. Abdirazak Elmi= 42 votes = 0.3%
----------- TOTAL VOTES = 14, 346 out of 26,737 eligible voters

VOTER TURNOUT = 53.7% !!!!!!!
Wow! Up from 35% last city election
So we could say Ana was elected by 23.5% of all eligible voters... if we assume that the 12,391 eligible voters who did NOT vote were of the 'None of the Above' persuasion.
So.... Why did 12, 391 people decide NOT to vote at all?
Lazy? Just didn't care? Weren't aware an election was on? This baffles me.
I do know from anecdotal experience that at a few polling stations I saw voters come in to say "I just want to vote for Mayor" Maybe they didn't know any of the other candidates? I wonder if the mayor race captured their attention because the media kept saying it was so close.
Assuming Ana expended the maximum limit allowed (she likely went way over), it cost her about $4.58 per vote she received. Just.... interesting.
1. Rob Ford = 381,803 votes = 47%
2. George Smitherman = 288, 104 = 36%
3. Joe Pantalone = 95, 0844 = 12%
----------------------- Again top 3 belong to political parties.
4. Rocco Rossi (who dropped out) = 5000 votes = 0.7% of vote followed by many others.
Himy Syed = 576 votes = 0.07% of vote
Ward 1 = Vincent Crisanti
Ward 2 = Doug Ford
Ward 3 = Doug Holyday
Ward 4 = Gloria Lindsay-Luby
Ward 5 = Peter Milczyn CLOSE VOTE
Ward 6 = Mark Grimes
Ward 7 = Giorgio Mammoliti
Ward 8 = Anthony Perruzza
Ward 9 = Maria Augimeri CLOSE VOTE
Ward10= James Pasternak
Ward11= Frances Nunziata
Ward12= Frank Di Giorgio
Ward13= Sarah Doucette
Ward14= Gord Perks
Ward15= Josh Colle
Ward16= Karen Stintz
Ward17= Cesar Palacio
Ward18= Ana Bailao
Ward19= Mike Layton
Ward20= Adam Vaughan
Ward21= Joe Mihevc
Ward22= Josh Matlow
Ward23= John Filion
Ward24= David Shiner
Ward25= Jaye Robinson
Ward26= John Parker
Ward27= Krystyn Wong-Tam
Ward28= Pam McConnell
Ward29= Mary Fragedakis
Ward30= Paula Fletcher
Ward31= Janet Davis
Ward32= Mary-Margaret McMahon
Ward33= Shelley Carroll
Ward34= Denzil Minnan-Wong
Ward35= Michelle Berardinetti
Ward36= Gary Crawford
Ward37= Michael Thompson
Ward38= Glenn De Baeremaeker
Ward39= Mike Del Grande
Ward40= Norm Kelly
Ward41= Chin Lee
Ward42= Raymond Cho
Ward43= Paul Ainslie
Ward44= Ron Moeser
Not a Ford Majority council, but some may change their colours to get plum positions the Mayor gets to dole out.... Wonder WHO will be TTC Chair? Mammolitti?
Women jumped from 22% to 33% of council.... will things be more compromise seeking rather than competitive?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


TIME's UP Toronto - Please VOTE - Seriously, Vote!

Here's a tool to find where you should be voting:

10:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday October 25, 2010

You will need identification that shows: Name, Address and Signature

Here is what is acceptable id:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

LAST CHANCE WEEKEND - and My Predictions

... or is it the other way around?

It's Saturday before the Monday vote, and I see signs of desperation in campaigns everywhere.

* An old guy by himself in a purple Smitherman T-Shirt exorting busy shoppers outside No-Frills at Dundas and Lansdowne to vote for George....

* The sudden appearance of 'Ford for Mayor' signs in bizarre locations, outside coin car wash at College/Lansdowne, on vacant offices ... along with home-made signs on hydro poles telling us "Ford is the Man"

* A sudden influx of "newsletters" and announcements of endorsements that appear at first glance to be delivered by The Star or The Villager

* Mailboxes jammed with flyers, cards and notices trying to be seen and read

* Call after call on my home phone as well as my cell phone telling me why I should vote for Joe MacDonald in ward 18 or for Kirk Russell in ward 18... or Smitherman... or - you get the picture.

* The sudden appearance of never before heard Twitter accounts telling us why Kevin Beaulieu or Ana Bailao or Hema Vyas are the greatest

* Tweet after tweet reminding everyone who endorsed whom in this elections (even if the endorsements came at the last minute or from predictably partisan sources like the Liberal Toronto Star or the NDP Spacing or Now sites)

* Candidates standing outside busy subway stations in the cold rain trying to buttonhole voters who rush by heads bowed, their body language saying 'leave me alone'

What a strange thing an election campaign is!

10 months for candidates to get out their platform, be seen and heard. Some 70 debates for the Mayors (with not much new said after the first one) and 8 opportunities for voters in ward 18 to get out and see candidates. I hesitate to call them 8 "debates" because the first 6 were really coming out parties where everyone was oh-so-Canadian and polite. It wasn't until the 7th gathering - the on air live Rogers TV debate, "The Local Campaign" where any fireworks ensued and any attempts were made by candidates to challenge competitors' platforms. The very last debate ended with a vitriolic attack and the words, "...You lying bitch!" after some equally testy moments.

Throughout this campaign, everything has been defined by the MEDIA, not the candidates or the voters' wants. Big news media from the beginning told us there were only a handful of people running for Mayor, and we all watched as they self-destructed or dropped out one by one due to poor polling - usually an indication no one is interested in them. Yet, big news media kept the field restricted as it shrank to what most Torontonians think are choices between disasterous, terrible and least worst.


In the local ward 18 campaign, Ana Bailao bought the election from even before day one. She lined up all her Liberal ducks and donors, raised at least twice the maximum expense limit and proceeded to deluge ward 18 mailboxes with expensive and glitzy multi-colour flyers, brochures, cards and letters. Of all the candidates, she must have done at least 20 mailings per household, judging by the mailboxes at my place. Ana used her big red Liberal machine to its maximum capacity and had kids erecting election signs before the start date/time and made sure her campaign was seen everywhere by the important people. She used the Portugese ethnic card to maximum advantage (possibly even exceeding use of resources, a la Senso) and got everyone to buy in that Ana is the only community activist and city builder worth paying attention to. She is the Goliath in the ward, but it will come with a price when she is elected: favours requires payback. Developers are 'partying hardy'over her positioning and licking their lips in anticipation. If she doesn't win this, I'll be surprised.

The likely second runner-up, Kevin Beaulieu, never really let himself be known to those that didn't already know him. As the NDP 'medium-big' party machine choice, his campaign seems terribly tightly controlled by backroom politicos and co-campaign managers. getting (and proudly proclaiming) both Adam Giambrone and Mayor Miller endorsements likely will hurt more than help him in a divided ward with pockets of real hate-ons for the Miller-Giambrone twins. During the campaign, I've learned Kevin does have a solid grasp of details of how city hall works, and likely some creative ideas of his own, but alas - his soul belongs to the NDP as much as Ana's belongs to the Liberals. If Kevin wins this, I'll be (slightly) less worried for ward 18.

Who comes in third or 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th,11th, 12th (Ward 18 can never say they didn't have choices!) is a toss-up.

While Hema Vyas is liked and loved by the Maytree-cultural-diversity-fixer lobby, as an individual she has not yet stood up to challenges. In a Metro Morning radio interview she admitted to being scared of debates. Not bad in itself as all candidates who are human have a twinge of fear at being in the spotlight, but in my view she has not performed well in challenging situations. Having seen countless council debates, our political representative has to have the warrior beast in them to stand up for the ward and for their principles. She needs a lot of seasoning; a campaign is not just about reading a resume or a list of endorsements.

Frank de Jong is probably the most comfortable campaigner I have ever met. I suppose he should be given his 13 or so runs at office at all levels and his stint as President of the Green Party, but I got a really good sense of him as a person. He really is WYSIWYG : "What You See Is What You Get" - a genuine person comfortable in his own skin and happy with himself. Would he ever get elected, I'm pretty sure voters would re-elect him and be happy with his work. Why he can't break the ice is a puzzle to me.

Kirk Russell is an enigma to me. He seems the dark horse candidate in the race. A serious contender, he went all out with e-signs, campaign office and web presence and was smart enough to get himself a Portugese speaking campaign manager with a lot of street smarts. Yet, although he seems to have a major problem with Ana Bailao (youtube videos calling her a liar, always on the scene when Ana did something scandalous or bordering on it) - he appears to be a fellow Liberal in many aspects of his candidacy. Contrast this with his last minute support of Rob Ford for Mayor (huh ?) and I really wonder what his game plan was. A nice guy whom I admire, but still don't get. Ana Bailao is being mostly slagged for her ties to the development and construction industry - yet Kirk is IN that industry?

Joe MacDonald was a relative latecomer to the campaign and his beginning presence was only felt in the Big on Bloor Festival in the summer. Despite his many protestations that he is not a 'career politician' or part of the big NDP party machine, he is really exactly that. Just because the party chose to back Kevin rather than him doesn't negate that he was in the inner power circles of the Big Bob Rae NDP government. His self-proclaimed credentials tells us he was involved in many party campaigns. What he has contributed to this campaign most positively is an intelligent and experienced-backed knowledge of what it takes to be a political representative. He has honestly spoken about his views and challenged other candidates. What is unfortunate was his attacks on Hema Vyas for not living in the ward she wants to represent and questioning her motives for running in ward 18. It wasn't the challenge, which was fair, it was the way and tone in which he delivered it. He probably lost himself a lot of potential support there. His e-signs were very underplayed with muted purple on white but his website was professional and well done.

Doug Carroll is someone who was clear on the area of the campaign he wanted to contribute to: the process of government and city-building. He is an articulate man with a depth of understanding that at times was amazing. He didn't really campaign in the same way as the election-sign-proven-candidates above, didn't really have a website to speak of, or any campaign literature I saw - yet he still made a significant positive impact on the quality of debate.

NHA LE is persistent, I'll give him that, but not much else. He's run a few times before, getting about 250 votes and although he has real English language communication problems, he impressed me as sincere about his wants for ward 18. I just never got a good handle on what those were. That he lives outside the ward, is a card carying Liberal and proud to have been working and mentored by Tony Ruprecht, the do-nothing Liberal MPP for Davenport makes me automatically reject him. His recent promise to cut down trees on Lansdowne to beautify it was a killer too.

Abdirazak Elmi was about the strangest candidate I've ever run into. Opening his introduction at the last debate with "I have two wives...." says it all. Although I stress that he did at least try - he spent his own money on flyers and delivered them, he could never have won. He lives WAY outside the ward, only jumped in here because it was a non-incumbent ward and Mammoliti had dropped out of the mayor race and returned to the ward he was originally going to run in. He has zero understanding of what is going on in ward 18 and was constantly calling me to ask about how he should campaign. A nice guy, but very confused about elections here.

Joanna Teliatnik is perhaps the second strangest candidate I've run into. She joined at the last minute, lives way out at Kipling and 401 and - told me she was "trying to run a campaign under the radar" when I met her campaigning on my street. Over coffee I got the impression she was a career bureaucrat who wanted to change things, but didn't know how. Why she ran here, I'll never know.

Mohammed Muhit had better get last place in votes! He was absolutely invisible in the ward, although I discovered his email address and that he lived a few streets over from Joe MacDonald in the ward. Zero campaigning, no literature, no show at debates, no response to any news media enquiries. Why?

KEN WOOD - I'll leave it to others to describe or remember me in this election.

All I know is that when I first registered to run 20 minutes before we knew if Giambrone would run in the ward or for mayor, what I wanted was:

1. To See Adam Giambrone out of office (Thanks, Adam)

2. To have an impact on the issues and nature of the debate in the ward

3. To offer a real choice to voters of someone truly independent

4. To contribute to increasing voter response and turnout

5. To test myself to see if I could be more than what I was

Whatever happens on Monday, I hope the results are conclusive and the winner remembers that: