Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ken Wood's "Full Platform Jacket"

Ken Wood's Platform: All the complexity of issues in ward 18 and citywide


* Fair Taxes: Reduce where possible, No more User Fee tax grabs for things like parks & rec; Hold the line on any property tax increase beyond inflation at a minimum

* Smart Budgets: a FIVE year budget plan cycle, which starts with a declaration of VALUES that would inform the rest of the budget cycle.

* Independent Audit of City Budget by January 31 of any year in which an election is to be held with results released publicly

* More transparency: Better involvement of citizens, with an interactive website that encourages budget saving ideas, city-wide; More town Halls explaining the budget process and situation

and Community/Councillor Relations

* Ranked Ballots: Where voters can select preferences by priority (1,2,3,...) to ensure the person elected truly represents voters' wish; No more 'Strategic Voting' confusion

* Term Limits: No City Councillor may sit for more than two terms consecutively; Person can take off one council term and then run again for the position; Encourages accountable political representation and respects the size and diversity of the city by giving fresh ideas a chance; No term limits for Mayor as this is the city's key recoignizable spokesperson and requires experience.

* Ban Polls: No public release of polling in the last two months of a campaign; Individual parties may poll but may not release results during election blackout period; This respects the democratic process and right of voters, not the media or partisan parties to choose *Update: As @enzodimatteo tweeted: "Poll after insufferable poll. They diminish our democracy and add nothing meaningful to the political discourse. They should be banned."

* NO - To Lowering the Voting Age: This may be appropriate at a later date, once civic education and the youth vote actually improves in terms of turnout.

* VOTING EQUITY: Right now if you own a property in a ward and live anywhere else, you get TWO votes - owner and spouse. Remove the 'spouse' vote, so that a resident or property owner each have but one vote.

* NO - To Extending the Vote to Permanent Residents: Citizenship should NOT be devalued; The issue is the 3-5 years it takes to gain Canadian Citizenship - we should push to reduce this time to 2-3 years.

* NO - to Online Voting: Technology is still too prone to viruses, hacking and manipulation; The time-proven method of many eyes ensuring a legal vote is working

* Mandatory Voting: With financial penalties for not performing a civic duty for anyone without a medical waiver; This MUST however include the option of 'None of the Above' to allow accurate voter intentions

* Publish Donor Lists: Of all campaigns at least one week before the first Advance Voting date; Would not require disclosure of finances, just names and locations.

* Ban Election Signs: For reasons that they are uninformative and hostile to the environment; Replace with temporary 'Election Kiosks' that would be erected at key points such as parks, community centres, outside subway stations, etc.; Permit candidates to only list their platforms on 8x10 pages with contacts

* Election Support: Permit candidates to link websites on accessible city website designed for ease of use with ELECTION button - would seamlessly direct inquiries to candidate sites; Allow 311 to route inquiries in a similar fashion; Require all candidates to list at a minimum their contact address and telephone number.

* Monthly Town Halls: To be held just after the monthly city council meetings to allow incumbent to report on activities and seek direction for the next monthly council meeting; Must be held in central, easily accessible location and be well publicized.

* Multi-Lingual Communication: In order to rise up, meet and cherish diversity in our city, I would allocate $20,000 of my first year's City Councillor salary to an initiative to reach constituents in their own most fluent home language. This is essential to increase civic engagement and is the price of democracy in our new society.

* Community Grants Program: Forbid City Councillors from using their office budgets to arbitrarily support lobby voting blocks; transfer a portion to a community grants program that is administered by a neutral, independent community council on a points system that ensure fairness, equity and that the community gets the best 'bang for the buck'.

* Constituency Office Designation: Every ward should have a central, easily accessible office that is owned and maintained by the city; would reduce the likelihood of politicians cherry picking locations to cater to only a segment of their ward.


* Protect Public Assets: No sell-off of city assets like Toronto Hydro, but also find a way to reclaim Schools that have been designated toi close (example: West Toronto). These lands and structures belong to the taxpayers - it doesn't matter if they are administered by school boards, the province or the city. They belong to the citizens. Find solutions, whether that be long term leases, rebranding as community centres/disaster relief centres/out of the cold/cooling centres.

* Smart Development: Change and gentrification is inevitable. We need to manage that change, which requires local neighbourhood resident input at early stages so that the change is balanced and positive for all the community. Ensure constituents are kept in the loop for all changes at every stage in their communities. Explore the possibility of local planning councils.

* Mixed-Use Buildings: No more single use buildings - ensure ground floors allow for commercial applications; Ensure housing is available for mixed--use as well: singles, families, low-income, seniors, etc.

* Smart Zoning: Ensure city zoning allows for better designed communities; Do not allow situations that would create deserts like what happens in Flemingdon Park where residents do not have easy access to food stores, banks, etc. More involvement of the community to build villages within neighbourhoods within cities.

* Expropriation Template: There are too many abandoned and wasted properties in our ward. We need an easily accessible process whereby a single citizen can identify such properties and start a process of review that eventually cause better use of such buildings and lands. Again, keeping constutuents informed and engaged is important.

QUALITY OF LIFE: is the business of government

* POVERTY: We need a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy that includes reducing poverty through intelligent social programs and spending money where it has real, proven positive effect. The City needs to work more closely with non-profits in this sector to make better use of their skills, research and networks.

* HUNGER: The City's Food Strategy needs a restart. Community Gardens are a help but not a solution. Food banks are struggling to keep up with demand and need city help with rent and space. Why not have food banks located in schools after hours?

* HOMELESSNESS: Streets to Homes is a good start but it is not enough. We still have homeless everywhere. Increase Toronto Rent Bank supports to all who need it (they give no interest loans for people in dangers of losing housing, now limited eligibility). More rigourous research on the efficiency of the shelter system likely will lead to city subsidies in market rent housing.

* AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The city's Toronto Community Housing Corporation needs a major investigation! It is not doing the job expected - poor maintenance, poor support of marginalized tenants, bedbugs, etc. We need a restart on this portfolio as well. Improved safety for rooming houses and more frequent inspections.

* ANIMAL/PET BYLAWS: There is a feral cat crisis in Toronto (See Cat City ). We need mandatory spay-neuter bylaws and a low cost downtown accessible spay neuter clinic. I support Dean Maher's )e\ward 20) call to ban sales of dogs and cats from retail pet stores, as it supports backyard breeding and animals are not properly cared for. "Why Buy or Breed when Rescue Pets are Euthanized". The City has to patch up relations with Toronto Humane Society and reach out to all the shelters and rescues to provide a coordinated effort.

* PUBLIC PARKS: We need more green spaces in ward 20 and need to support community initiatives like Dufferin Grove Park. Bureaucracy should not get in the way of innovation and community activism.

* ENVIRONMENT: We need to increase the tree canopy of the city to battle global warming and to increase the health of out citizens. More green strategies in every sector of city building.

* PROTECT THE WATERFRONT AND ISLANDS: Stop the condomization of the waterfront and the cutting off of the lakeshore from the rest of the city. Reclaim space as public space. No fixed link to Toronto Islands.

TRAFFIC: including 'Complete Streets'

* CANCEL VEHICLE REGISTRATION TAX: But institute Road Tolls for rush hours coming into city core. Those that use the roads should pay for them fairly.

* COMPLETE STREETS: Where the rights of all are respected: pedestrians, cyclists, cars, transit, disabled, seniors, families, children, etc. Smarter design with separate bike lanes in a network that is connected city wide. Support and extend the BIXI initiative to a larger area.

* PEOPLE ORIENTED DESIGN: Think ahead. Design streets for our aging population with rest stops, benches and proper safety lighting.

* SMART DELIVERY OF GOODS: Encourage rail delivery inter-city with satellite hubs where goods are offloaded to smaller trucks. Restrict truck size in inner city. Institute Just in Time delivery so that deliveries are not happening during rush hours.

* ELECTRIC! not Diesel Trains: For the Georgetown corridor. Let's not build the transportation of the past or some unknown future. Electric is proven safe for our health. Do not cut costs by risking citizens' health.

*Update: Some good press on THE major election issue in Ward 18:

* SMART PARKING: Create parking hubs in business communities such as Dundas West BIA, Green 'P' Parking, multi-level buildings or underground. Parking is not for the main streets but is still needed in key locations.


* TTC an ESSENTIAL SERVICE: Getting around the city is the lifeblood of our economy. We cannot allow service disruptions on such catastrophic levels.

* TRANSIT CITY: Not the 'perfect' solution, but there is no time nor sense in debating further. We need it now. Build it!

* SUBWAY BUILDING: We should have been doing a few kilometers a year every year since the 1980's. Too expensive to catch up too quickly, but we must commit to building subways on an annual basis.

* FREE TTC TRANSIT: We need a vision now to see free transit within 25 years, funded by all levels of government

* SEPARATE ELECTED TTC CHAIR: Given the enormous portfolio of this position, both in terms of budget and the vision expected, we should have a separate elected position for the TTC CHAIR, which requires skills and experience going into the job, similar to how the USA electes Sherriff or Judge positions. No more handing out plum appointments to rookies. We cannot afford this.

As you can see, "Full Platform Jackets" are complex and comprehensive. Laying out a platform like this is almost impossible in an election campaign where the media want 30 seconds sound bytes, but we live in a big, complex city and society.

Voters should expect no less information on a candidate, because...