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.