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?