A comment on this 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:
– Paula Fletcher screaming at a citizen who had the temerity to ask a question;
– City Council awarding the Tuggs restaurant contract with a competitive tender
– The Toronto garbage strike in the summer of 2009
– The amount they pay in taxes against how Toronto City Councillors spend their money.
And finally, as a result:
– 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org