James: Opponents lit the fuse on Rob Ford

A comment on  this article:

“Great article!

The rise  of Rob Ford is an interesting story but the reasons are incredibly simple.

It’s not  so much the popularity of  Ford as it as the contempt  for Toronto City Council.

The fact is that Toronto City Council  engages  all 5 senses:

Torontonians hear:

Paula Fletcher screaming at a citizen who had the temerity to ask a question;

Torontonians see:

– City Council awarding the Tuggs restaurant contract with a competitive tender

Torontonians smell:

– The Toronto  garbage strike in the summer of 2009

Torontonians balance:

– The amount they pay in taxes against how Toronto City Councillors spend their  money.

And finally, as a result:

Torontonians taste:

– The opportunity to have a Toronto Mayor and City Council that works for them and not for themselves!

On October 26, 2010 (unless  the others smarten up fast!) Toronto will wake  up to  “Mayor  Ford”.

John Richardson – Independent Candidate – Toronto Ward 29

___________________________________________________________

June 14, 2010

Royson James

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontomayoralrace/article/823525–james-opponents-lit-the-fuse-on-rob-ford#article

If penny-pinching Councillor Rob Ford does the improbable and wins the race for mayor of Toronto, he can expect strident opposition from his own council.

And the irony is, those very city councillors, almost manic in their hatred of Ford, will be most responsible for his miracle victory, should it happen.

Last week provided several examples.

In one, city council failed to reconsider the vote granting a restaurant owner exclusive rights to concessions and business on the waterfront for 20 years — without putting it up for tender and competitive bids.

Worse, this new deal is worse than one negotiated in 2007 with the same restaurant owner. And it perpetuates an earlier 20-year lease that council awarded to the same guy without tender. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice . . .

City staff advised against the deal. The local councillor, Sandra Bussin, an insider in the current regime, backed it. Council refused a request to reconsider, even though reports surfaced that questioned the political relationship of Bussin and the restaurateur, including thousands of dollars he contributed to her election campaigns.

In another, Councillor Kyle Rae gave himself a send-off party and billed taxpayers $12,000 for it. Rae won’t be seeking re-election and, apparently, such an expenditure is perfectly legal under the council’s loose spending policy. Legal, yes, but moral and appropriate, no.

Rae, an insider of the current regime and one rarely moved by pleas to exercise spending restraint, brushed aside criticism and said those who questioned the cost were “without grace.”

Ford demanded that Rae pay back the money or resign. And he started an online petition to effect the same.

Talk about handing Ford an election campaign issue on a platter. After staging a lonely, often one-man kamikaze mission against council spending, Ford is the poster child for citizens fed up with city hall spending.

There is not a single insider in the current regime — from the mayor to newcomers like Gord Perks or Glen DeBaeremaeker to veterans like Joe Pantalone or Howard Moscoe — who take a stand on such issues. Fiscal restraint, something most citizens face every day, seems absent from city hall.

When the mayor froze the salaries of non-unionized staff just before the municipal strike last summer — a good move that sent a message of restraint — he destroyed the action by refusing to freeze councillors’ salaries as well. Why should the politicians escape the belt-tightening if workers were being asked to sacrifice and citizens were being asked to pay more in taxes to cover salary increases?

This was a major failure that stuck in the craw of citizens and strikers and the non-unionized workers. And while the mayor was apparently willing to freeze councillors’ salaries (he froze his own), his team of lefties privately lobbied strongly against it. And won. In fact, some specifically pointed to Ford as a reason not to freeze their salaries, arguing that he would be emboldened by the victory and return for more cuts.

Well, they can all go out to their wards now and spread the word of how dangerous Ford will be for the city, that he is a buffoon, that he hasn’t accomplished anything, that he is Mike Harris remix, that he’s the barbarian that will come in and smash everything that a progressive Toronto stands for.

But before they go on the hustings, blasting Ford, they should remember this: The protest movement that could deliver their worst enemy to the mayor’s chair started right at city hall. And they lit the fuse.

Royson James usually appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Email: rjames@thestar.ca

2 thoughts on “James: Opponents lit the fuse on Rob Ford

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontomayoralrace/article/823479–rob-ford-and-sarah-palin-political-mates

    Rob Ford and Sarah Palin: political mates?

    June 14, 2010

    Robyn Doolittle

    Rob Ford appears to have become the Sarah Palin of Toronto’s mayoral race.

    Is Rob Ford the Sarah Palin of Toronto’s mayoral race? From his own campaign: You betcha.

    Comparisons between Etobicoke’s straight-talkin’ city councillor and Alaska’s folksy former governor are abundant.

    Like Palin, Ford has been largely dismissed by the political mainstream. His frequent blunders are fodder for critics who say he is incompetent and unfit to lead. Yet his message of fiscal responsibility and smaller government clearly resonates with voters, much to the annoyance of colleagues on council and mayoral opponents.

    Two polls released this week show Ford in a dead heat with former frontrunner George Smitherman. The bombastic gaffe-machine is now trouncing both the current deputy mayor and former director of the national Liberal party.

    As the David Miller years come to an end, so too does Toronto’s appetite for a city hall that governs left-of-centre. And at the halfway mark of the campaign, it seems clear voters are listening closely to Ford’s conservative message.

    “People are tired of all these slick, fast-talking politicians,” said Doug Ford, who is managing his brother’s campaign. “The elitists of Toronto, or the establishment, are not voting for Rob, (but) the liberals are.”

    Ford’s team has been frustrated with how the “left-wing” media has covered the campaign so far, said the elder Ford brother.

    “It’s the same way Sarah Palin was treated” during the presidential election, he said.

    When asked whether he saw similarities between his appeal and Palin’s, the candidate responded in typical Ford fashion.

    “I’ve never really followed Sarah Palin — my heart is in municipal politics. I know she’s attractive. So all right, if I’m as good looking as she is, then all right, I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said with a good-natured chuckle.

    Was that the most politically correct response? No. But this variety of Average Joe charm has been the secret to his success.

    Though he’s been a city councillor for 10 years, Ford has managed to position himself as the anti-politician. You may not agree with what he has to say, but at least you can believe he means it.

    And although Ford is a well-off businessman — he and his brothers run Deco Labels & Tags, a business they inherited from their late father, a Conservative MPP — Ford is largely viewed as a champion of the working class.

    His political sins, including a drunken tirade at a Maple Leaf game that he initially lied about, disparaging comments made to the gay community, and a declaration that “Oriental people work like dogs,” are often overshadowed by his dogged determination to rein in city spending, his habit of going after colleagues for abusing their expense accounts, and his devotion to his Ward 2 constituents.

    In May, on the advice of the integrity commissioner, city council voted to officially reprimand Ford for a confidentiality breach dating back to August 2009. During a regular radio spot on AM640, Ford said the city was planning to buy a house for $750,000 — potentially interfering in a deal that was still in process and officially confidential.

    It was the fourth time he violated the code of conduct since 2006.

    “He has no respect for the quality of service we deliver to the people of Toronto. He makes it clear almost every time he opens his mouth,” said Councillor Gord Perks, one of many who stood up to denounce Ford before the vote.

    “Rob Ford is our Sarah Palin. He has tapped into the anger out there and is now throwing his very own little Tea Party,” Councillor Adam Vaughan said afterwards.

    But if council’s intent was to punish or embarrass Ford in front of voters, the tactic probably backfired, said Nelson Wiseman, a politics professor at the University of Toronto.

    “It’s a nuanced issue. Most people on the street would say everything should be public. It’s of course reasonable for council to be upset, but the average person doesn’t understand,” he said. “It feeds into the Ford narrative.”

    For Wiseman, who specializes in provincial and federal politics, the interesting thing about the looming election is how Toronto, among the country’s most left-leaning electorates, has moved so far to the right.

    “The answer of course is that the people who are most engaged with municipal politics are property owners (concerned with taxes). And the people who are most engaged in federal and provincial politics are engaged on broader issues, such as immigration and social programs,” he said.

    Doug Ford says his brother is, ideologically, a social liberal who plans to redirect savings from cutting back waste to social programs. Media attempts to link Ford to the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement or any of Palin’s policies are just another example of the bias against him, he added.

    “I compare Rob to grassroots, blue-collar workers. He’s out there for the little guy, the working-class person who is tired of overpaying the high taxes and not getting any services,” he said.

    It’s exactly the kind of thing Palin would say.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Liberals enter race for Toronto mayor | Vote John Richardson – Independent Judgment For Toronto Danforth – Ward 29!

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