Friday, February 25, 2011

Why We Need to Banish Adam Giambrone

Definition of BANISH
transitive verb

1: to require by authority to leave a country

2: to drive out or remove from a home or place of usual resort or continuance

3: to clear away : dispel

— ban·ish·er noun
— ban·ish·ment \-nish-mənt\ noun
Examples of BANISH  He was banished for life. The dictator banished anyone who opposed him.
Here we are about a year after Mr. Selfish Raw Ambition, ADAM GIAMBRONE, self-destructed (caught in his self-serving public lies by a city who couldn't care less about his sex life) in his bid to run for Mayor of Toronto. He soon thereafter publicly stated he would not run again for ward 18 Davenport City Councillor (much to the delight of most of his constituents) ..... and still we keep hearing of his brazen actions to bilk the city of every possible dime, jetsetting around the world pumped up by his own inflated ego, like some middle east dictator-for-life.
Hip Hop and Squeals From "BOOM" to....
"BUST" - Career nosedives: Lessons from Adam Giambrone Feb 12 2010 Globe and Mail
A link to Adam Giambrone's Apology and also a Toronto Sun story

Caught by His Own Deceits
The latest?

  Giambrone ran up $135,504 tab before quitting TTC weblink Toronto Sun
"Outgoing chairman Adam Giambrone racked up $135,504 in travel, staff, phone, texting, and self-promotion costs on the TTC dime before he stepped down from his duties at the Red Rocket last November, say documents obtained by the Toronto Sun.,,,In actual fact, Giambrone went over his chairman’s little-known budget of $125,000 by $3,344.92 — a concern pointed out by chief general manager Gary Webster in a Feb. 23 memo to the current slate of commissioners...All of that travel occurred during Giambrone’s final four months in office. He also left his duties as councillor with a $58,111 severance cheque:
 And the Toronto Star story on this in which new TTC Chair Karen Stintz (probably in vain) hopes to recover some portion of his overspending.
What a comfort to those few still blindly Giambrone acolytes that he was not suffering financially while he tweeted from exotic locations about how the new city council should fix the TTC - which he drove into the ground in many ways himself with his blind love of technology and deaf ears to customer service concerns.
Angry? Yes I am. I campaigned for this bozo in his first election because I thought that his coming from an NDP background meant he might have some sympathy and compassion for the many people on low income in his relatively poor ward. I was wrong - so very, very wrong. In the next election, having experienced his total lack of concern for low voting areas of his ward and his office's non-response to mundane concerns like garbage collection - I asked him why I should vote for him.
"Because Miller will make me Chair of the TTC", was his verbatim response to me.
Incredulous, I asked how that would help me or his constituents in the ward. He babbled on about how great David Miller was and didn't answer the question. (A clue: The man might hear but does not listen, he was often called someone with a 'tin ear' by others).
Following that election in which he won easily over a poor campaigner in Simon Wookey ("Let the Wookey Win" slogan was the only highlight of that disasterous campaign), Adam became - if possible - even more inflated with himself. I went to seek help in bylaws related to feral cats and animal control. His answer:
"That's not my area. I'm the TTC". Actual fact. Verbatim.

Then, as most of Toronto who was paying attention, there was the Lansdowne narrowing fiasco in which Adam just did what he pleased with no consultation. Fact. I live there. Despite hordes of local constituents who, probably or the first time in their lives, took to the street to protest - It didn't faze him in the least. Later several of these constituents took the bold and ultimately fruitless step of taking the city to the courts in an attempt to get someone to listen to concerns. With limited constituent financial resources versus a multi-billion dollar city set of lawyers, it was hopeless. Yet, residents did get a last kick of the can at an "after the fact" consultation meeting of sorts.

And let's not forget the other Giambrone created disaster in ward18 - Taking away Dundas Street parking, which damaged people and businesses in the area. It was only recently restored by new ward18 City Councillor Ana Bailao, who got on board a little late on the issue - announcing she would do this September, 2010 in the last days ofthe election campaign. (Better late than never and the right thing to do)
Weblink to story

Later on, similar to the "As Rome burned, Nero fiddled" analogy, when the ire of the general public about poor TTC customer service and reliability came up, Adam spent his time crooning over technology and travelling around the world to learn about transit (Again: why is the TTC still seen as a place to can put your political friends who have zero transit experience?... but I digress).
To the point: INTEGRITY is a quality of character and a word Adam Gambrone clearly does not understand. When anyone with an ounce of respect for others knows he or she is not going to continue in the job, they stop bilking the system and making significant plans with impacts and consequences that others will have to deal with. You don't poison the well after you've had your fill.

Yet that is what Adam (and David Miller) did  in the final days of their reign of power. Contracts with expensive cancellation fees that committed the city to a course of action that was still being debated in an election campaign were signed. The city was left on the hook for the Giambrone-Miller wishlists.
TTC Lease "...leaving the transit agency on the hook for up to $2-million to break the deal"
Stintz trying to renegotiate deal (Another's comment: Personally, I feel it was unethical and akin to "scuttling the ship" when the departing TTC Chair (Adam Gee-I-am-a-boner) inked this deal.

Now Adam is on sabbatical in various exotic locales across the planet (not entirely true as he is doing his archeologist job no doubt drawing pay for that to go along with his City of Toronto Cash Windfall), and some political pundits say he will yet make a comeback, perhaps at another level of government.
Where in the World is Adam Giambrone Dec 2010 Toronto Star article.

Oh, how I wish we could pass an old style banishment decree for this dangerously deluded man.
Something I blogged in March 2010: Given that our current councillor has had his judgement called into question numerous times now on a whole range of issues (lies to the media and public, expensing taxi rides when as TTC Chair he should be promoting public transit, getting caught expensing a personal taxi ride as council business, utilizing city resources to put on his own "On The Rocket" show (is it a campaign on the city dime?*), failure to focus on addressing enormous customer dissatisfaction about TTC service... what am I missing? ... why should his abandoned constituents support any bid for his re-election?
And Free French lesson for Giamborne paid by taxpayer Over $6,000 news story
And November 8, 2010 this came out Quit Early Still get paid
Another example of Adam Giambrone's total lack of respect and his couldn't care less nature: His website is still active, even today, saying he is still the ward18 City Councillor. I and others have sent him emails asking him to take it down or change it, with no response. Perhaps this is a matter for the city integrity commissioner or ombudsman or city lawyers?
No doubt I am missing some other examples of Adam Giambrone's total disregard for constituents (like his using TTC resources as his own self-promotional TV show or his overuse of taxis to confirm the TTC slogan "Take The Car"), but his biggest legacy is how he set the stage for the return of the conservative right to city hall with the Fordites and "Respect for the Taxpayer" that pretty much echoes what Giambrone did not have.

As I posted back in early 2010 about Adam:

Former TTC chair Adam Giambrone is slamming as “politically driven” the transit agency’s move to make him pay back the $3,300 by which he overspent his $125,000 budget last year.

“I’m not in Toronto and do not expect to have further comment … on the politically driven decision by elected officials on the Board of the Commission,” Mr. Giambrone said by e-mail.

Mr. Giambrone didn’t answer a question about whether he intends to reimburse the transit agency in his message, which came from his old City of Toronto e-mail account. His signature still says he is chair of the TTC and councillor for Ward 18, despite his not standing for re-election last fall after lying about an affair."

... Seems to me he is continuing to play the system. Why hasn't city hall shut down his accounts and done something about his still claiming to be Ward 18 City Councillor? Is this guy delusional (still) ?

So maddening thisis!
"Mr. Giambrone had three different pots from which to draw money: The $125,000 TTC budget he overspent; his $50,445 councillor budget; and a separate budget for TTC corporate travel."

Pigs at the trough come from the NDP too I guess.

* Update: TTC to formally ask Giambrone to pay for going over budget "The Toronto Transit Commission is writing to its former chair, Adam Giambrone, asking him to repay the $3,344.92 he overspent on his annual $125,000 office budget....It shows that the former city councillor for Davenport spent $71,917 on staffing, $9,152 on his voice and data plans on his BlackBerry, $2,891.75 on ground transportation and $2,097 on renting an office at City Hall. He also spent $20,807.64 on his glossy “Chair’s Report” and $16,175 on an accompanying video. Mr. Giambrone spent more. than $5,000 on other items, such as newspaper subscriptions and hosting a delegation from Milwaukee...Mr. Giambrone, who did not seek re-election, spent an additional $7,159 on business travel, including a trip to San Antonio for the American Public Transportation Association three weeks before the election. "

Thursday, February 24, 2011

#TOCouncil Twitterverse

Engaged Democracy for the Select Few
... on Twitter

Anyone with a computer can link to to watch Toronto City Council live when it is in session.

To find out when council and the various committees and community councils meet, just click on which is the city's snazzy new official website.

In the 'olden days' (pre-internet) pretty much all of what happened at city council was only available through interpretative mainstream media reports, usually by pretty politically biased viewpoints (Toronto Star or Toronto Sun or Globe and Mail or National Post). No doubt, many of the professional journalists were limited by their editors and paper's political ideology in what they could print - and what the public saw.

(RogersTV did as community programming televise a narrow lens view of council (you don't see the whole room most of the time) but I would guess it was pretty much unfollowed as it only had interest to political geeks and not the general public who found it confusing and mostly boring.)

Now, those same jounalists sit in Council Chamber with their Blackberries twittering moment by moment, publishing pretty much unedited first person viewpoints of what is happening (and often ignoring their colleagues speaking. The free press is even more free and it is entertaining, informative and you get the feel of being in the room seeing all the little unconnected bits that allow you as a follower to see like an insider.

The politicians themselves pay close attention to the 'Twitterverse' in real tiume, moment by moment, even as debates and council business goes on. They pay serious attention to Twitter, probably more than any other inputs they get. In fact you can see in council debates they refer to twitter... example: Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti made an audible heckle about how "Twitter is laughing" as the bizarre antics of Feb23 meeting went on (see this). Also, you can see on twitter people like Shelley Carroll, Paul Ainslie and others actively holding a dialogue with ordinary citizens and journalists on the fly.

Some might say THIS IS GREAT! because it seems to be increasing civic engagement.

However, it is misleading. Only the elite few who have computer savvy, have the resources (funds, training support, etc) and the time to be part of this great increase in access. What of the great majority of the population who do not have these benefits? What of those many, many Torontonians who do not have English as a first or second language skill?

(There are still very, very few seniors who are 'computer savvy')

Democracy is supposed to be the will of the majority.
The internet/Twitterverse right now is the minority. (although that is changing - with slow generational speed)

I would suggest that this wonderful technological development, like others in the past, tends to enable the few and disable the many in terms of democratic power. In addition, like those with technological power have the ability to manipulate and direct the debate.

I really, really hope our politicians realize this and engage with those who are NOT technologically savvy and balance the inputs they receive to truly reflect the will of the majority - DEMOCRACY.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who's Who on Ford's Right

Getting to Know the Inner Power Circle

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

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

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

Mayor Rob Ford Ward 2 Etobicoke North His Own Website

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

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

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

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

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

Giorgio Mammoliti Ward 7 York West weblink

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

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

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

Ditto Denzil Minnan-Wong.

Denzil Minnan-Wong Ward 34 Don Valley East weblink

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

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

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

Paul Ainslie Ward 34 Scarborough East weblink
His own website

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

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

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

Michelle Berardinetti Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest weblink

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

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

Peter Milczyn Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore weblink

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

Norm Kelly Ward 40 Scarborough-Agincourt weblink

Cesar Palacio Ward 17 Davenport (north) weblink

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

Mike del Grande Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt weblink

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

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Respect for Democracy?

Mayor Rob Ford Should Be Able to Veto Council

...says American presidential stylist brother Doug Ford

Alarming news story in today's Globe and Mail

"If they had their way, the Ford brothers would be able to override the wishes of a council that didn’t vote the way they wanted." I guess convincing 23 ward councillors is too hard to do, since there's not a lot of logic to the ideas being brought forward.

“I believe in a strong mayor system, like they have in the States. The mayor should have veto power ... so he has enough power to stop council,” Mr. Ford said. “The mayor should be the mayor. At the end of the day ... the mayor’s responsible for everything.”

Forget the budget, service cutbacks and the TTC. This is the single scariest thing about the Ford brothers reign.

Here is a Torontoist article " The Brothers Ford Are Concerned About Democracy "More distressing than the lament about the perils of voting and Council debate, however, was when Doug Ford went on to object to the recent OCAP protest at City Hall—not the fact that it disrupted a meeting, but that the protesters apparently were considered a legitimate part of public debate in the first place. “Some of those folks are actually getting grants from the city to lobby against the government...I just don’t understand.”... That's what we do in a democracy, Doug: we fund our opponents. Ensuring opponents have a voice is, roughly speaking, the whole point.

Will we someday need to take to the streets like in Egypt to ensure we have a democracy?

Councillor Doug Ford:   416-397-9255

Duly Quoted: Doug Ford  "The mayor should have veto he has enough power to stop council...At the end of the day, he has more skin in the game than anyone."

Scarey.... very...scarey.

* Update: Now Mayor Rob Ford says I was always happy with the power I have and distances himself from brother Doug's comments: " I think my brother might be spending too much time in Chicago,” Rob Ford said with a laugh". Perhaps the Twitterverse sent the message (see BlogTO )

* Update: Even though Rob distanced himself from brother Doug's comments, it is still concerning that the province goes out of its way to say 'Yes, we might allow mayoral veto' Globe and Mail link

* Update: Some councillors get it that our City Council should focus on being a team for us:
Councillors Want More Teamwork at City Hall...Posted By: Katie Franzios
Those at city hall say council needs to work together as a team, now more than ever. This comes after remarks from Councillor Doug Ford made public yesterday, proclaiming the mayor needs more power on council in order to push his ideas through. The mayor says he's comfortable with the amount of power he has tight now. Councillor Maria Augimeri says Doug Ford needs to realise things are different than the private sector and he's talking about an elected body. Teamwork is the key, according to Councillor Joe Mihevc he says councillors need to figure out a way to reestablish control of council so there is good dialogue and transparency."

Food Prices Going Up

Food Security is a Toronto Issue

...Did you know that February 7th was
 National Hunger Awareness Day ?

Globe and Mail article "Food inflation: It’s all about what’s on your plate" "Official numbers may show that food prices are up a scant 1.7 per cent from a year ago, but that hasn’t been the experience of many people looking at their grocery bills in horror."
Too true. I am fortunate to be able to shop at a No Frills only 2 blocks away, where there were frequent 'Dollar Days' for low cost, semi-nutritious food. Many people on low income or families with many children shop here. The Daily Bread Food Bank donation boxes I set up a few years ago are continually refilled by a generous community who donate more than the usual cheapest Kraft dinners - things like baby formula and pet food and even once imported dried Salmon from B.C. (I suspect some law firm also regularly delivers boxed donations of select foods).

However, ever since the inklings of food prices going up in the mainstream media, I've noticed significant increases in food costs even there (as much as 10-15% in my experience

How then will other communities in Toronto, many of whom do not have the accessibility of a No Frills, be able to cope with the now expected 5-10% increases over the next several months? (At least it is not as bad as food in the far north: $29 Cheez Whiz?)

How will those on fixed, low income cope? Minimum wage is not being increased beyond the $10.25/hour by the Province and social assistance reform is still a pipe dream, relegated to discussions by big name experts for yet another report, all whill the province ignores the reality of increasing poverty amongst its citizens.

The poor “often cannot access supermarkets, sometimes don’t have access to secure cooking facilities, adequate freezing and refrigeration space,” says John Stapleton, who holds the innovation fellowship at the Toronto-based Metcalf Foundation...high-calorie items, which include fast food, are advancing the most.

Poor Hit Hardest by Rising Food Prices "Although social assistance in Canada has more or less kept pace with inflation in recent years, it has not kept up with the speed at which food prices have increased, making it more and more expensive for poor Canadians to eat healthy....The percentage of income needed to purchase a healthy basket of food for a single person on social assistance rose by 10 percentage points between 2005 and 2009 alone, highlighting the mounting pressure faced by social assistance recipients to afford a nutritious diet...It's also often cheaper to purchase unhealthy foods. Two litres of pop, for example, is usually cheaper than one litre of milk.... If almost 20 per cent of Ontarians living in poverty state that they cannot afford to eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day, this signals a failure to properly nourish our most vulnerable residents. Much needs to be done to overcome this problem."

The other thing I've noticed is that food packages are getting smaller while prices stay the same or increase. This is confirmed by this story. So, we will be paying more for less.

Stories I've seen on tv news say that one of the reasons food prices are going up is the weather. In China, they are experiencing droughts that affect wheat production. In Florida, there have been cold weather catastrophes. In the USA,  there is concern that corn crops are being used for fuel rather than food!

Food Banks constantly have trouble meeting the demand with supply. Even with good intentions, like today's "Lunch Money Day" it isn't enough to solve the current hunger problems.

What can we do as a city to address the food issue?

Did you know that the City of Toronto has an official FOOD CHARTER ? or that there exists a Toronto Food Policy Council ? (Link) Wayne Roberts, Project Co-ordinator:\ is also a regular writer on food issues in NOW magazine (bio link ... or that Ryerson University has a Centre for Studies in Food Security ?

There are advocates for smarter food security like Nick Saul at The Stop Community Food Centre, who often espouse a partial solution is more community gardens to grow food in urban settings. In my view, it will never be enough to ensure true food security in big cities, who still have to rely on rural farmland production. They say "Farmers Feed Cities" which is very true, and I am concerned that there is a lot of development that steals farmland with urban agendas trumping rural ones.

Many people falsely believe that there is a secure fall back system that works: the Food Bank, which started as a temporary stop gap measure some 30 years ago and is now a poverty industry institution. Not a lot is changing with food banks in my view. Here is an article I wrote in 2003 that still applies: Food Banks Failing Us ... very little has changed except that it has become increasingly the job of charities and not governments to feed the people.

This is all so very, very wrong.

* Update: Inflation rate edges down to 2.3% in January says StatsCan in a  CBC story "The agency says rises in energy prices (particularly the cost of gasoline), as well as car insurance, home replacement costs and restaurant meals, contributed to keeping inflation above the Bank of Canada's ideal two per cent level." Note: This seems to totally ignore food prices.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning for a New Toronto

Toronto Has Planning?
Link to City Website About Official Plan

"Toronto’s official plan is up for a mandated review in 2011, but it’s not yet clear whether the city plans to tweak the five-year-old document or pursue major changes....Some planning experts feel council should ditch the official plan and radically recast Toronto’s approach to growth. John Van Nostrand, founding principal with planning Alliance, says some of the world’s leading cities have abandoned “aspirational” OPs in favour of long-term strategic plans that identify major urban goals and lay out plans for achieving them."(Globe and Mail article from Feb 4:  What's Up With Toronto's Official Plan? )

Ford's Critical 100 Year Decisions Toronto Star article by Paul Bedford, former City of Toronto Chief Planner "Is progressive city planning possible under Mayor Rob Ford and the current Toronto City Council?"..."After decades of inaction, Toronto urgently needs to get on with building transit of all types. Ford and the new council will be making 100-year decisions that will shape our future. Now is not the time to get cynical; the future success of Toronto and the region is far too important."

More Gridlock ?
Census Move Hurts Toronto Planning (CBC) talks about how federal moves to kill long form census affects local urban planning. There are numerous tools available to planners now, thanks to technology, like satellite images from space that give instant up to the minute maps with great detail. That should mean planning would benefit. BUT - the biggest obstacle to good, sensible planning is still PEOPLE.: Political partisanship, short term focus, turf wars, personality conflicts.

What is needed from this current Toronto City Council is VISION and COOPERATION. The things that individual councillors decide today will affect us for generations to come. Particularly in the area of TRANSIT, this is a watershed moment in the life of our city. We desperately need calm, cool and logical discussions and debates. At least locally,  the election campaign is over and the time for blame game rhetoric is over.

Let's hope City Council takes this message to heart when discussing long term planning. Because...
. Toronto Deserves Better from its political leaders.


* Update: Ryerson Wants Developer to Join Project Yonge-Dundas-Gerrard "...steering clear of an ambitious effort by the local councillor (Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam ) to create a high-minded plan for a rundown retail strip where fire destroyed a landmark heritage building last month."

* Update: Is Dundas West Ready for Eight Stories?  "Maple Leaf Lumber, at Dundas and Manning Avenue have applied to the City of Toronto to rezone the site, knock down the venerable building supply yard and put up a 98-unit, eight-storey condo tower, with eight four-storey townhouses on the back end where the lumber warehouse now stands. The building would have 62 underground parking spots. A preliminary report on the rezoning comes to Toronto and East York Community Council on Wednesday."

* Update: The Bloordale Pantry in Ward 18 at Lansdowne and Bloor at 1285 Bloor Street West used to be an establishment with a very long history that provided low cost meals for low income people and a place for them to gether an talk. It has now been successfully "GENTRIFIED"  Now when you go there, you'll see it is very upscale with trendy youth filling the place for creative dishes and yuppie talk. No more 'smelly old low income people' (see the link for the rabid comments about how most people think its a good thing those types have been forced out). Here is a BlogTO article about the place.

Gentrification and urban gentrification are terms referring to the socio-cultural displacement that results when wealthier people acquire property in low income and working class communities. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases in the community, which sometimes results in the eviction of lower-income residents because of increased rents, house prices, and property taxes. This type of population change reduces industrial land use when it is redeveloped for commerce and housing. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, tend to move into formerly blighted areas, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to less wealthy natives. (Source: Wikipedia )

Question: Should urban city official planning take into account poor people, or is it all about creating a rich environment that caters only to those that have money?

* Update Feb 16: Rob Ford Pitches Private Financing Plan for Sheppard Subway Expansion "Mr. Ford’s staff submitted the proposal to the regional transportation authority, Metrolinx, on Tuesday as part of ongoing efforts to craft a successor to Transit City, the light-rail network Mr. Ford declared “over” the day he took office." Estimate: $3.6 billion versus the Sheppard Transit City LRT $1.1 billion

* Update: Feb 17 Councillors Approve Controversial Ravine Development "A plea by Bussin’s successor — Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon — to have the city oppose the development of a six-storey Kingston Rd. condo building — located on the Glen Davis Ravine — was shot down 6-5....Councillor Gord Perks, chair of the community council, said the city would get the “best outcome” on the issue if city legal and planning officials went to the OMB in support of the development — as they’d recommended — along with a list of 43 conditions that must be met to significantly improve the building....Councillor Janet Davis agreed with Perks, saying the property owner has a “right to develop the site and it is going to be developed.”


* Update: Feb 17 Eye Weekly Hyping Condominiums in Toronto "Some 18,000 new condominium units were completed in the Greater Toronto Area last year, according to the market research firm Urbanation. Another 17,000 will pop up this year, and 20,000 will rise next year—meaning Toronto will have more condo units for sale than any other city on the continent"... Condominiums are most often marketted as the exclusive purview of the "Discriminating Few", for those with the right 'Lifestyle', glamorous and 'Exclusive'. In Mayor Rob Ford's Toronto business, they love that you can cram as many taxpayers vertically as possible.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Day at Toronto Western Hospital

Ontario Healthcare is Still an Issue

Not quite a local politics thing, but local enough to me.

About a month ago I had a slip and fall accident in my apartment because of a wet floor. It was extremely painful as I did a cartoonish split in my narrow basement apartment hallway. Of course it had to be on the weekend too. Not wanting to burden the system by calling an ambulance or even going into to the hospital for the dreaded hours long wait to be seen, I instead hoped for the best and waited 2 days to see if it healed.

With massive brusing, pain and still limping on Monday, I called my family doctor who happens to be in a Family Clinic at another downtown hospital (Mount Sinai) and made an appointment. I still thought I was making sure I was not abusing Ontario's overburdened healthcare system. I should mention 'family doctor' is a stretch, as it is a teaching hospital with a rapidly revolving door of what I call 'baby doctors' - those learning. So pretty much every time I need medical services, I start from scratch with a new trainee.

So - I see the rookie doctor (mine was on leave somewhere else), who takes 10 minutes to talk to and examine me.... then he sends me to Emergency anyways, saying they could do nothing there.
After about 4 hours, most spent waiting to be shuffled from one room and person to another, I am told that it is a torn hamstring that will just take months to heal and it's not even worth getting an xray on. Sent home with a prescription for some pain meds (which I could have used 3 days ago), I am also told to buy a cane, since OHIP doesn't cover crutches or other useful things for my injury. When I later ran out of pain meds, I called and was told I would have to come in for an appointment again to get them as they don't phone them in anymore. No thanks. I just stocked up on super large aspirins that I took frequently.

I should mention I am already on disability for mental health issues (depression) and thus am on a very low income, below the poverty line. Fortunately, I later found a cheap $30 cane at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Not the end of the story....
Today (Valentine's day), thanks to a persistent every spring thaw water leak that happens in my cheapish basement apartment, I had yet another slip and fall in the same hallway. Similar doing the splits and amazing pain.

This time, I go straight to Toronto Western Hospital emergency where I am greeted by a bored looking security guard who asks why I'm there. The grimace on my face and the pronounced limp wasn't enough I guess. He tells me to sit down in the "Triage Area" (a set of broken down chairs) and wait. Only 3 people are ahead of me. The wait is extended by a few more patients brought in by EMS paramedics on stretchers who are always seen first, no matter their condition. (Likely to free up expensive ambulances).... next time, I tell myself to hell with it, I'll call an ambulance!
After about 45 minutes waiting - during which time no one gives me a second look or checks even to see that I am breathing - I see a bored administrative person who is ensconced behind a security glass enclosure. She takes my healthcard (the standard Ontario green provincial one, and for some silly reason a separate TWH blue card... why does every hospital have to have its own cards?), checks my blood pressure and temperature asks why I am there.... then tells me to wait in a second waiting area.

This time I realize I can hardly stand, so limp rather awkwardly over to the other area.  After about another 30 minute wait, I am called to the 'Registration Desk', where they simply want to confirm my address yet again and give me a paper wrist band. The pain index I am feeling is at least 7 out of 10 and I can move about 3 feet a minute. Then I am sent back to sit and wait again.

During the next 30 minute or so wait, I notice that on this Monday morning suddenly there are 20 people waiting in the Triage Area! I notice a couple come in and hear the man say to the security man/greeter, my partner's on welfare and needs to see her social worker upstairs, can we go through here? The guard tells them no, they have to walk around (even though the hallway clearly connects to the main lobby). Then I am called in to see a real nurse.... limping very poorly, until she finally decides maybe a wheelcahir is in order.

Then I wait another 15-20 minutes to see a nurse who asks a few questions, tells me to put on a hospital gown and wait again. Within a relatively quick 5-10 minutes wait to see a real doctor, I hear a fed up nurse explain to other ER staff that she is the only one on duty and can't 'do everything by herself'.

The doctor comes in, very briskly examines me and explains I will have to come back tomorrow for an ultrasound as they are too busy today. She-  finally! - gives me some pain meds and a prescription. So, about two hours later and I still have to come back tomorrow.

I am told I need 2 crutches and a leg brace that looks like something police swat teams would wear - BUT - it is not covered by OHIP and would cost about $70. Finally they say they could send me a bill to sort out later (I hope to get my landlord to pay it, and the $26 cab fare there and back). Years ago, I remember when you 'rented' crutches and got your money back when you returned them.
While waiting, I overheard what sounded like students? or some healthcare group discussing how the admissions procedures needed to change. Exactly my point is raised by one of them who says that while waiting someone could literally stop breathing and not be noticed until the 'first in first out' queue reached them.

I recall several years ago (20?) when a much younger me had a torn ligament. I went to emergency where I was seen by a nurse the moment I walked in the door and my vital signs were checked. I waited perhaps 20 minutes to see a doctor and get treated promptly. Surgery was booked that day for within 2 weeks and I was in and out.
So, when I hear all the press about the Ontario government doing so much to reduce wait times and improved the healthcare system... forgive me if I believe it is all a crock of you know what.

Our vaunted Ontario Healthcare System is in critical condition!

* Update: Next day I spent another 3 1/2 hours getting an ultrasound and X-Ray that tells me I have damaged soft tissue. Good news: No surgery, Bad News: Will take a few months to heal. Thankfully I have a decent landlord who paid for my crutches and cab fare to/from hospital. The water leak? Cannot be fixed until spring and snow is gone. I'll just have to hope for not too many sudden thaws.

Side note: There was only one doctor specialist on duty at the hospital, when I left there were 40 people waiting to see him. Lots of angry people who thought appointments meant appointments and found out it was a rough idea, meaning 3-4 hour waits.

* Update: Feb 16 McGuinty Says More to be Done to Help Crowded Hospitals "Premier Dalton McGuinty says there's "more to be done" to help hospitals in a Liberal stronghold that are so crowded officials have declared a crisis."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is Toronto Council Pro-Poverty?

        Shades of Harris Era OCAP Protests
There Will Be More to Come as long as Poverty is ignored

Haven't we seen this movie before? A few... no, dozens... no, hundreds of OCAP protesters, attack...City Hall. Protest stopped by, police... no, it's a 'riot'.

Ramping Up the Rhetoric is what takes the place of accurate media journalism reporting these days. Quite often with OCAP we see the 'Ignore the message and shoot the messenger' knee jerk reactions by much of the right wing press. Some just jump to demonizing the protestors and don't bother with the context.

What do OCAP and the Toronto Sun have in common? They both thrive on emotional overload drama, not always facts. They also love it when they get media attention from the public at large. Both employ questionable and sometimes offensive tactics to get their message across.

Yesterday, February 10, 2011, Protesters Put City Hall On Notice: There Willl Be More. "The dozens of protesters who derailed the city’s budget committee and turned City Hall’s normally staid second floor into a loud, near-violent scuffle with police have a message for Mayor Rob Ford’s administration: Get used to this, because there will be more."

Not to be believed Toronto Sun reports the incident this way: Revolution At City Hall Short Lived. Protest leader John Clarke said "Ford is just a front man for an “international version of austerity,”  “Behind his dull-witted intransigence stands an organized movement.”.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, right wing radio station CFRB 1010 talk show host Jerry Agar dismissed them as 'stupid' (John Clarke is far from stupid and could give lessons in public speaking), then later labelled them as 'terrorists'. Later, he dismisses OCAP anger as "typical wacko left winger idiocy". Doug Ford then says on CFRB about OCAP "They're all nuts".  Other talk shows had the scrambling to sound fair rookie City Councillor Josh Matlow walking a tightrope between not agreeing with their methods, to wishing they had waited in queue to make submissions to Council like everyone else, to trying to say that he is concerned with poverty, although not exactly how. (Josh doesn't get that hungry frustrated powerless people think they have no other avenue to be heard, based on their own past experience)

"Toronto St. Paul’s Ward 22 City Councillor Josh Matlow briefly spoke on the matter and questioned the methods protestors were using. “They’re attacking police, but some of the messages they’re saying have some merit. I think their voices would be heard better if they just came to us and spoke.”

The National Post take on the story was: Two Arrested as OCAP Shuts Down Budget Meeting "Thursday’s protesters raised concerns about this year’s plans to cut back evening and weekend bus service, and shelter bed reductions, and blasted the city government for failing to oppose federal cuts to immigrant settlement services"..."One city councillor sympathized with the message of the protesters, though not the approach. “I don’t agree with the tactics of disrupting council. I don’t agree with the methods that OCAP uses, but they have a message and that message is that there are families and vulnerable people in this city that are suffering, and that there are cuts in this budget that will affect them,” said Councillor Janet Davis (Beaches-East York)."

CTV news reports the fracas this way: Two Charged After an Anti-Poverty Protest at City Hall "About 50 members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty were confronted by police and security guards after they forced the suspension of a budget committee meeting while demanding more support for the city's impoverished"

 Get a Job Doug Ford Tells OCAP Protester "The radio station 680 News captured Doug Ford’s comment on tape. Asked about it during the budget committee’s lunch break, Ford said, “I didn’t say ‘Get a job,’ not at all. Show me on tape when I said that.” Told that reporters had listened to the tape, he did not respond; a security guard then escorted him out of the committee room....When OCAP protesters stormed a council meeting in 2005, then-councillor Rob Ford said, “I’m working. Why don’t you get a job?”...In 2002, he told an OCAP protester, “Do you have a job, sir? I’ll give you a newspaper to find a job, like everyone else has to do between 9 and 5.”

So, what exactly were ther protesting about? Poverty. “Many of us work in communities where there's extreme poverty and we've seen nothing from this council or this budget committee that's going to address it,” said veteran OCAP activist Gaetan Heroux." Standing on a hallway desk, OCAP leader John Clarke denounced council’s proposed cuts to bus routes and Mayor Ford’s privatization plans, saying Ford was advocating a “re-run of the Mike Harris agenda....Other protesters criticized federal cuts to immigration settlement services — council voted not to write a letter to the federal government protesting those cuts — and an alleged shortage of beds in homeless shelters. City spokesperson Rob Andrusevich said no such shortage exists....“This year they’re only delivering the first blow,” Clarke said. “Much worse is to come. The vision that Ford has of this city is a police force and a few privatized services operated by non-unionized cheap labour. If we’re gonna stop that, we better fight . . . if you don’t fight back, they will crush you.”

I heard on another video to which I've lost a link that a protestor pointed out that "Not one bureaucrat at City Hall has spoken out or done anything for the poor'. Having watched Council debates closely, I would have to agree. It does seem that despite a cantankerous left-right ideolkogical split on council, the Ford brothers are having their way with the city, so far at least. It would be hard to point to any significant motion that has not been delayed, killed, referred to the Fords for final disposition. During last year's city elections, poverty was hardly mentioned as an issue in this city.

Only one thing is certain - more unrest in our city, and more media promotion of the emotional rhetoric, without facts.

*Update: Tweeted on Friday Feb11 - Joe Mihevc At the GTA summit session on Income Security: why is urban poverty still so persistent but not on any real political agenda?

Perhaps because City Councillors are not doing enough as a group?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Copycat Thoughts and Observations

Nice That Others See Toronto City Council Like I Do

How interesting that OPENFILE did the same approach as I did on the recent two days of Toronto City Council meetings in an attempt to capture what I did with the Blow by Blow detail on Feb 7 and the Drudgery of Day 2 Feb 8....

Here is city hall paid media follower Jonathan Goldsbie's article on his version of the minutes of the lengthy meetings.

Great line he has that I totally agree with:

"After enough hours at a given City meeting, you fall into a trance... and then you realize that councillors make most decisions in that state."

Photo, of Being Erica being filmed in the Annex, by *Lemur* from OpenFile Toronto's Flickr pool.

What To Do With the TTC

TTC Problems Bigger Than All Of Us
So Why Isn't Management Being Looked At?

In my daily life, I continue to be frustrated by some TTC front line staff. Streetcar drivers that I still see chatting on cell phones while driving, ignoring and being rude to riders, constant unpredictable delays and so on. Like 95% of Toronto, I am mad at what I have to put up with just to get around.

At my corner of the world, which includes the streetcar 'short turn' turnaround at the intersections of College Street, Dundas West and Lansdowne, we have a popular and busy Tim Horton's that is frequented by a lot of TTC and Police people. So, even when I am having a coffee break, I hear the TTC union people complaining about passenger behaviours or how they themselves are treated by TTC management. In fairness, the 'War on the TTC'-'War on the Riders' does go both ways.

Laughably - if it wasn't so important - the TTC management's response to indisputable caellphone snaps of bad behaviour and safety hazards by their staff, is to chastize the PUBLIC warning them not to escalate things.... Well, things DO need escalating, but perhaps not in that manner, to get something done! The TTC has long been deaf to the idea of customer service, since it is run by engineers and die-hard unionists.

Look at most any media and you will find stories ferreted out by journalists on Toronto's pet TTC peeve, like these:  Screaming TTC Worker Shoved Me, TTC Finally Finds a Shovel to Clear Sidewalk, TTC Drivers Kick Courtesy to the Curb,. On Twitter, @TTCChair Karen Stintz invites public input at #TTC, which I think is just to make it look like they are listening.

There are glaring hints that the decades ago much praised TTC safety record has crumbled.  (I posted about this last December and passed it on to TTC Chair Karen Stintz: Link but I still see almost no one concerned with the disasterous TTC safety record. )

It feels like almost daily we hear of TTC vehicle crashes, poedestrians and riders being injured and even killed. Yet, new (a rookie once again) TTC Chair Karen Stintz' priorities are the easy fix perceptual ones: Cleanliness. So, if you get hurt or injured or killed by the TTC, at least they will have clean underwear?

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Witnesses   (Eye Weekly) "Is an army of camera-wielding citizen vigilantes really our best public service monitor?...There’s a problem with this system, though, and it’s not just the legit and often-voiced worry that we’re heading towards some sort of upside-down-Orwell surveillance society. It’s that a fix-by-pics process highlights specific individual cases and deals with them in very public fashion, which might lead to the impression that the persistent larger problems they represent are being dealt with. Firing texting drivers and charging an aggressive cop gives us something concrete to grasp. But is it really possible that the persistent and widespread dissatisfaction with the behaviour of drivers on the TTC comes down to a sick sleeper and a trio of texters? Or that the whole of the police department’s misconduct during the G20 can be laid at the feet of a single officer swinging for the fences?....No. The problems are management-scale, and system-wide. We should be wary of photo spreads detailing how we’ve found the bad apples, lest they distract us from the truth that the bushel basket itself is slowly rotting away."
.... I totally agree. Let's not just lynch a few rule-breakers at the lower levels. Let's go after the bosses who permit this to happen.

I think it is a good thing that the TTC Stalls 103 New Hires to Cut Costs. TTC chair Karen Stintz said “If we can find efficiencies in other areas then we can redeploy those resources and we don’t have to hire externally,”

Great! Then how about going after MANAGEMENT with the same fervour? Kill the ridiculous  subway Station Masters idea and hiring a special customer service guru for example. Those are very highly paid positions and in my view duplicate what the whole organization should be doing already. Instead of bringing in people with a customer service focus on the management/supervisory side - get rid of those already there who have not been showing that focus for years, and likely will not change their style.

The TTC is like an old, hard to steer oil tanker with a current top heavy management crew who will still try to do things in the old ways. After all, they are used to bizarre changes in political masters, most of whom have been transit rookies who had to be taught by them. Adam Giambrone even spent years jetting around the world on the taxpayer dime to learn his job from other systems, yet is the TTC any better for his extended training period? Why doesn't Toronto Council consider making the TTC Chair position a separate, elected position that requires the appropriate skill set and experience going into the job, much like how the USA electes Sheriff or judges?

(From my election campaign platform when I ran for local ward18 City Councillor: 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)

In addition, Mayor Rob Ford can seem to talk tough and make promises not based on facts, but there are contracts, unions, arbitrators and years of union experience ready to fight off the boastful challenges.

Unless someone goes after MANAGEMENT, the core of the TTC will continue to rot as the old guard comforts themselves with the phrase "This too shall pass"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8 Council Meeting Day 2

Day 2 of Toronto Council Meeting Drudgery

This will not be a blow by blow log like yesterday as frankly - it is exhausting to do it or try to follow it. I'm glad I tried it as it shows in detail the confusing shifting of councillors speaking or voting and some of the background noise they all have to deal with.

It is evident (so far) to me that the real decisions and deal making are done behind closed doors. Why else would Ana Bailao not bother to even be there to vote on restoring the Dundas West parking yesterday?

There seems to be a few isolated cases of Councillors trying to sway colleagues with their 2 or 5 minute speeches, like Gord Perks. Much of the rest is just confusion, noise and partisan shots at the 'other side'. We still have to hear from many of the supposed neutral independent rookies, but by their votes they are opting to be on the bandwagon. Perhaps voting with the Mayor's direction is just  safe bet for now.

The place is packed with audience in the galleries.

-Tweet: Goldsbie Vaughan has a motion to rename the Dupont Parkette (on Avenue Road) after Sgt. Ryan Russell.
- Tweet: Shelley Carroll Council Chambers full of community members losing Federal Funding for their Settlement Service Agencies. Council moves condemnation of cuts
Shelley Carroll's snap of Rob Ford NOT paying attention

- Tweet: Toronto City Clerk Toronto City Council is debating Item CD1.9 Citizenship&Immigration Funding Link
-Tweet: Joe Mihevc At Council: we are debating the $18 million cut to toronto agencies serving new immigrants. Toronto IS a city of immigrants. These cuts hurt
-Tweet: Goldsbie Council is debating whether symbolically condemning the feds' cuts to settlement agencies should be sent to the Exec Committee for study.

10:05am Gord Perks gets staff answer  that 13% cut to settlement services in Toronto ($18 million)  is happening. (He is really good at getting proof of what the consequences are in any situation)

11:20am Shelley Carroll making a passionate speech asking everyone to write letters to the feds to ensure the cuts to immigration settlement, followed by Adam Vaughan... interrupted by Mammoliti who takes offence against negative comments against  Mayor Rob Ford,  who is strangley silent on the whole issue.

-Tweet: Goldsbie Vaughan says the City is still fighting the 2006 census in the courts because it underrepresented low-income/high-rise populations.

11:23am Josh Matlow speaks up on the side of the lefties, by trying to play the middle road - he is begging the righties to do the right thing.

11:25am Norm Kelly is offended - nobody here is anti-immigrant. ? wants informed debate but at Executive - not logical to assume Executive is any more informed.

11:27am Frank di Giorgio speaks up on the side of the righties - big surprise.

Side note: Ironic comments by the right protest that people are making the issue political.... umm, yes?

11:32am Always entertaining Anthony Peruzza winds up into a rant about the silliness of the debate. "Hey Council: You are simply being asked to be an advocate for the people... all it costs is a stamp and a letter?  Tons of audience applause.

11:34am Kristyn Wong-Tam supports the letter and not referring (ie killing) by sending to Executive.

11:36am Cesar Palacio goes on about his immigrant experience, only Spanish speaking councillor, a minority - then goes on to support his rightist Fordite buddies. Tweet: Goldsbie Rightwinger Palacio tries to establish his immigrant cred: "As the only Spanish-speaking councillor..." Mihevc, gently: "I speak Spanish
side note: There should be 'Best Suckup' awards at Council. Nominees: Giorgio Mammoliti, Cesar Palacio, Norm Kelly, Doug Holyday

11:38am Janet Davis speaks then Michael Thompson makes nasty remark about Janet's motivations is to get media attention. Yelling.... upset....Nunziata ignores points of order others are tryingto make while Thompson rants in the style of Anthony Peruzza....  FIREWORKS !!!
-Tweet: Goldsbie Thompson accuses Davis of using this issue for her own selfish grandstanding. This is getting ugly. Then holds up Doug Saunders's book. (about immigration)

Update: No doubt it is this article that got Michael Thompson so upset.

11:42am Councillor Doucette gets up to speak, visibly upset that some rightist councillors are not supporting the people.


** Worrisome: the technology breaks down again and they have to cancel the vote a few times before going to stand all in favour all opposed old style... Tweet: Goldsbie Now they're having problems with the electronic voting system. They have to do a manual head count instead....I like that councillors are being forced to literally stand up for their principles....Councillors standing in favour of the referral getting cold stare1 - Holyday's delay motion to wait for stats about Vancouver and Montreal for comparison.

Doug Holyday's amendment to delay by waiting for stats comparison to Vancouver and Montreal Passes 30-13..... new nickname? Holyday-Delay

Main Motion: Refer to Executive:  Passes 22-21  (so who were the 2 who were not there to vote?... Gloria Lindsay-Luby and Pam McConnell)

Tweet Goldsbie: Referral carries 22-21. (Screw you, brown poors.)...Davis says there same hundreds of people will pack the Exec Committee on Feb. 17.

Tweet: Sattva Namaste @ @goldsbie u have little experience with the "poors". It is not just limited to "browns". Your comment is stereotypical if not racist
Tweet: Doucette Councillor Davis motion to write a letter today to the Fed Gov. to declare Councils opposition to funding cuts failed 22-21.

Note: ANA BAILAO voted NO on both. Guess coming from an immigrant ward she could do no less.
Then again, is it that she has to support her friends in the federal Liberal position on saying no to Stephen Harper on immigration funding cuts? Remember, she was current MP Mario Silva's Executive Assistant and owes a lot to him for the Liberal machine election support..... hmmmm.... Has she been 'whipped' too from the other side? See Tweet below *

Noon Now Mike del Grande is questioning staff on driveway parking limits. Upset with bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, lots of media scrums on the settlement funding issue happening.

Tweet: Goldsbie After the scrums, Davis coolly confronts Mammoliti: "What more information do you need, Giorgio?" He responds it's an NDP plot.
* Goldsbie Perks tells me this was the only vote this week that the Ford team has whipped. He's confident Harper's staff contacted the mayor's staff.
Tweet: Jon Medow Ontario gov has been resoundingly critical of the federal cuts. Why would the city dither on this?


Results of votes already posted HERE

Here is the FORDITE voting block: Leader? Mammoliti, Doug Ford, others
Paul Ainslie, Michelle Berardinetti, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, John Parker, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson  (22) ... possibly also Gloria Lindsay Luby who was absent from the vote.
Here is the Lefty Pinko Voting Block: Gord Perks is Leader
Maria Augimeri, Ana Bailăo, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Josh Matlow, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, James Pasternak, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Adam Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam .(21)... possibly also Pam McConnell who was absent from the vote

Of course several councillors can swing left or right depending on local issues and hopes of getting power by pleasing colleagues - but looks like an evenly split council on key issues.
Tweet: Matt Elliott So Jaye Robinson is still on Team Ford but Mary-Margaret McMahon is not? I need a score card
Tweet: City Slikr Councillors in the middle should vote against the mayor in enough numbers to defeat him once. See how it feels. Might be freeing. ---

Aside on the IMMIGRATION hot button issue: Much like racism or gays in the USA, this topic in Canada is getting really scary. Just to illustrate the nasty vitriol that goes on in comments by 'joe-anonymous-public' look at this one in The Sun:

The rush of immigration and the "open arms" of the government is stripping us 3,4 and 5th generation Canadians of our identity, we allow them to come to OUR country, we cater to THEM, they demand we stop using Christmas Tree becauser it offends them, they have taken away our bible in the schools because it offends THEM, well what about us?? Ther beliefs and ways OFFEND ME! Immigration is like a huge tidal wave coming in and pushing us generation Canadians out, this has to stop..When are the bleeding heart, vote seeking, money grabbing politicians going to grow some balls and finally stand up and say THIS IS CANADA, we speak ENGLISH and FRENCH, we celebrate Christmas and have a Christmas Trees! we read the bible and sing the National Anthem

....  I guess I'd have to say that this is an issue that Canadians across the country and politicians at every level desperately try to ignore and not get involved in. In truth, the Federal level has needed to handle the issue for decades - and has not. So, perhaps congratulations for courage is in order for those Toronto Councillors who chose to try to address the issue today!
Tweet: GoldsbieCouncil is resuming shortly. Toronto Ombudsman Fiona Crean is sitting front-row centre in the public gallery, ready to cast judgment.2:16pm Council back in session, Ana Bailao is not there but 35 other councillors are (10 missing). Handle Notices of Motion, Community Council items.... ooo. Councillor Karen Stintz finally showed up.
Tweet 16mins ago: Ana Bailao Calling all teens! YMCA Teen Nights: Saturdays starting February 19, 7:30 - 10 pm, West End YMCA, 931 College St, #fb
Tweet:: David Nickle Democracy is still alive at City Hall. Members elected David Rider VP and yrs. trly President of the City Hall Press Gallery.
Tweet: Goldsbie Council has voted 25-7 to waive referral on the Del Grande/Ford pay freeze motion, meaning they'll debate it today. Ugh....Side Note: Josh Matlow was on AM740 radio talk show with Dale Goldhawk over lunch talking about his conflict of interest in voting on his own salary.
The following is tweets on what I missed when I decided to go out for a walk and see the world...

- Goldsbie Vaughan is alleging that the mayor's office has improperly interfered with the Ombudsman's report, but is being maddeningly vague as to how.
- Goldsbie (That is, the report on the treatment of residents with dementia.)
- Shelley Carroll Someone's having lunch with Jeff Lyons next week and it ain't me.
- Toronto City Clerk:Toronto City Council is now debating ItemCC3.4: Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Project: Link
- Toronto City Clerk: Toronto City Council is now debating Item MM3.2 2011 Salary Freeze for Mayor & Councillors Link
- Goldsbie The pay freeze debate kicks off, and suddenly all the TV cameras turn on. I hate TV news.
- Denzil Minnan-Wong The debate begins on a Councillor Salary Freeze. Let's call the question and get it over with. Is there anything that hasn't been said?
- Goldsbie  Mihevc reminds everyone of that time Royson James suggested that councillors who accept a pay increase be lynched in Nathan Phillips Square
- Goldsbie Nick Kouvalis just walked in. I wonder what the inflationary increase on a $1 salary is.
- David Nickle “I have the moral support of the public at large and I have the moral support of the media as well.” - Mike Del Grande, on salary freeze.
- Goldsbie Matlow argues that because the Star editorial board and Rob Ford agree on this issue, it might have merit. Flawless logic! Goldsbie Matlow clarifies that his line about Ford and the Star ed. board was intended as a joke.
- Joe Mihevc I just moved a motion at Council to direct the $$$ saved by cutting of the salary increase of Council to the Student Nutrition program
- David Nickle Cnclr. Pasternak may cut daughter's allowance if salary freeze passes. "Trickle down theory of retraint" at work, he says.
- Goldsbie Councillor Pasternak: "Torontonians are not overly gullible." Just regular gullible, then?
- Goldsbie Mihevc motion referred 23-19. Total cancellation of pay increase item passes 39-3.
- Kelly Grant Mihevc, Moeser and Filion are the only councillors who voted against pay freeze for mayor and councillors.
- Toronto City Clerk Toronto City Council is now debating Item MM3.8 Link
- Goldsbie Judging by her interview with Omni, Councillor Augimeri's Italian isn't quite as fluent as I'd assumed.
- Torontoist City Council members just voted 39-3 for a 2011 freeze on their salaries. Symbolic or practical? Debate it here:----- Link

Globe and Mail story on Council pay freeze is here "Members voted 39 to 3 in favour Tuesday of rejecting the automatic 2011 increase to their $99,619 salaries."

Toronto Star story here As a result, they will continue to receive the 2010 rate of $99,619. The mayor’s salary was also frozen at $167,770.

? Strange motion by Mary Margret McMahon "That Council excuse the absence of Councillor Lindsay-Luby from the Feb 7 and 8 City Council meetings" Carries unanimous (39-0) even though McMahon says "I have no idea why she's not here"......... weird.

5:35pm Motion to adjourn council carried.

* Update: Here is something Johhnathan Goldsbie caught that I missed because I took a break from the boredom:
"3:25 p.m.: Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) tweets, "Someone's having lunch with Jeff Lyons next week and it ain't me," signalling that the infamous lobbyist (a key figure in the MFP scandal and the uncle of Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy) is looking to get back into the City Hall game. Turns out he recently recruited veteran strategist Sean Hill, a former assistant to Joe Mihevc, to his firm."