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Rob Ford pushes TTC fare hike, job cuts and longer wait times

Rob Ford is cutting back on funding for the TTC and it spells dire news for anyone using transit.

According to a draft of a new TTC report, the proposals include reducing the frequency of transit vehicles; raising the price of tokens by 10 cents; eliminating 422 jobs and reviewing 500 others for possible outsourcing; delaying the arrival of dozens of new vehicles; and making dialysis patients without mobility devices ineligible to use Wheel-Trans.

The proposals are intended to address the city’s demand for a 10 per cent cut to the TTC’s $1.4 billion operating budget and to reduce a $1.5 billion long-term shortfall in its capital budget. They will be debated at a special Friday meeting of the TTC’s councillor commissioners.

“TTC management has worked very hard to respond to the fiscal challenges of the city,” said the TTC chair, Councillor Karen Stintz. “And we’ll have to make some difficult decisions on Friday.”

The TTC report is separate from the one released Monday by city manager Joe Pennachetti. His report suggested eliminating the late-night Blue Night bus service, “or making it a premium service by raising fares.”

Faced with a public outcry and squeamish councillors, the TTC softened a proposal earlier this year to save $7 million through cuts to routes with low ridership. Its officials have now attempted to slash TTC spending while leaving routes intact. But they did put forth another idea that will almost certainly prove contentious: lengthening the intervals between vehicles.

“We just wanted to make sure that we continued to offer the same service, that we weren’t cutting back on routes,” Stintz said. “So we may decrease the number of buses that go by in any given hour, but people would be able to rely on the service being there.”

Their buses, however, would be even more crowded, and passengers would have to wait longer for them to arrive. The TTC projects another all-time ridership record for 2012: 502 million rides, a 3 per cent increase.

“It was claimed that we would squeeze gravy from the system,” said Councillor Maria Augimeri, the only critic of Mayor Rob Ford on the nine-member commission. “These recommendations show the only thing getting squeezed will be the riders on packed buses, streetcars and subways.”

In another potential blow to passenger comfort, TTC officials recommended delaying delivery of 15 of the 204 large low-floor streetcars already on order with Bombardier.

They also recommended deferring 134 new buses expected to arrive between 2013 and 2016. And they said the city should buy 10 fewer new Toronto Rocket subway trains than had been considered.

The 10-cent fare hike, which would apply only to tokens, may be another tough sell. A 10-cent hike was abandoned a day after it was threatened in January, and Mayor Ford has since conveyed to TTC officials that he is opposed to any increase.

The TTC has about 12,000 employees, about 10,000 of which are unionized. Of the 422 jobs targeted for elimination in an attempt to save $32 million per year, 171 would be union positions, 251 management positions. The cutbacks would probably involve both buyouts and layoffs of managers, who will receive the details Tuesday.

The cutbacks would target all or nearly all managers at the TTC-owned Toronto Coach Terminal, raising questions about how the facility will function.

Up to 500 additional union jobs may be targeted for contracting-out. These include jobs in maintenance and in trades such as woodworking and welding. “There are some jobs that can be outsourced easier than others,” Stintz said.

Only about 1,800 of Wheel-Trans’ 45,000 customers are dialysis patients. But they make frequent trips — 210,000 per year — and they are the only people permitted to use the service who do not use mobility devices. Rendering them ineligible would save about $5 million per year.

Stintz hinted that the TTC would first ask the provincial government to pick up the cost of serving them. “I think the Ministry of Health would acknowledge that dialysis patients have unique needs, and that they do rely on Wheel-Trans,” she said.

2,000 child-care subsidies to be axed

If you are a low-income parent of young children hoping to return to work or school in the next year, your chance of getting one of the city’s 24,0000 child-care subsidies is about to get tougher.

Toronto city council is about to take an axe to 2,000 subsidies in an effort to slash its chronic operating deficit. (Such an action will mean many low income parents will be force to quit their jobs and stay home with their kids thus hurting Toronto's economy and putting more stress on the welfare system.)

The subsidies are funded through a city reserve that will be depleted in early 2013, says a report by the city manager who recommends the subsidies be “suspended” at that time.

The only way the city can afford those subsidies is for a new infusion of cash from Queen’s Park, Joe Pennachetti says in his report released Monday.

So far, none of the provincial party platforms are promising any new money for child care.

If city council approves Pennachetti’s report later this month, Toronto would be returning to mid-1990s levels of child-care service to low-income families, advocates say.

“This is such a betrayal of the families and the children of this city,” said Councillor Janet Davis, vice-chair of the city’s community development and recreation committee.

“The recommendations of the mayor and his consultants target the most vulnerable and it is a shameful way to try to balance the budget on the backs of those who are least able to defend themselves,” she said in an interview.

More than 20,000 families are already on the city’s daycare subsidy waiting list, and some never get a spot, she added.

City staff has been warning politicians of the impending child-care cash crunch for more than a year, said Elaine Baxter-Trahair, the city’s general manager of children’s services.

“This is no different from what we have been saying all along,” she said. “Unless our funding pressures are addressed (by Queen’s Park) when the reserve fund is depleted, we’ll have to start reducing incrementally.”

The cuts would begin through attrition next summer and fall, as children leave the system or grow up, she said.

Each Toronto child-care subsidy costs about $10,000 a year. The 2,000 subsidies at risk carry a price tag of about $20 million annually and are currently being funded through the city’s child-care expansion reserve fund.

About $16 million annually in new money from Queen’s Park would be needed to save those spaces, assuming the city agreed to kick in its 20 per cent, or $4-million annual share.

The loss of those subsidies will mean some centres won’t be able to fill vacancies because area parents can’t afford full fees, which can run as high as $1,600 a month for an infant and $1,000 a month for a pre-schooler.

The subsidy cuts come at a time when centres are already scrambling to deal with the loss of 4- and 5-year-olds to all-day kindergarten.

“It adds to centres’ fiscal pressures, no question,” Baxter-Trahair said.

In addition to cutting the 2,000 daycare subsidies, the city manager’s report recommends a broader review of Toronto’s child-care system to further reduce costs.

The review, which would be part of the city’s child-care task force, struck earlier this summer and headed by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, will look at the possibility of transferring some or all of its 55 directly operated child-care centres to non-profit or commercial operators.

It will also consider scrapping the city’s quality ratings system and services for children with special needs and will look into setting a maximum per diem rate based on the average cost of non-profit daycares, instead of paying centres their actual costs.

Rob Ford's budget mess

First, Rob Ford hired a corporate assassin in KPMG to do his dirty work, a futile attempt to distance himself from the planned sacking of Toronto.

End subsidized daycare. Close libraries. Sell the zoos. Padlock museums.

“Don’t blame us,” Rob Ford's cronies protest. “These are just recommendations from the consultants.”

Pulling a Pontius Pilate and washing its hands, KPMG said, “These are not recommendations; they are a list of opportunities….”

The carefully crafted image is one of positive ventures; investments. Instead, by the end of the month, Toronto could face:

Fewer medical calls from fire fighters. A smaller police force. Reduced TTC service. Death of the “Hardship Fund” that provides medical services for the city’s poor.

City manager Joe Pennachetti came clean Monday and dipped his hands into the blood. When he pulled them out, few city services remained untouched by the axe. Ah, yes, Joe P is recommending many of the very cuts, er, opportunities, KPMG listed in July.

Now, the bleeding mess has been dumped in Mayor Rob Ford’s hands, where it belongs.

It is the same mayor who looked voters in the eye a year ago and swore on their votes that he could find close to $2 billion in savings at city hall without chopping a single service. Waste, he said, littered the city hall corridors like the leaves of autumn.

Rob Ford, of course, found teaspoons of “gravy” where he pointed to vats of supposed waste. So, next Monday his hand-picked executive committee of 12 sycophants must vote on Pennachetti’s recommendations and advise city council where to cut:

End the very popular community environment days. New “minimum standards” for snow removal, grass cutting. Chop $6 million from community and arts grants — affecting TIFF, AGO, ROM, and tiny community groups.

Caught, hoisted on his own petard, as they say, the penny-pinching mayor must preside over the destruction of the city so many built to become one of the most livable places in the world.

Those heady days are gone — as we’ll discover years hence, when the ranking agencies discover a deteriorating city.

Urban observers already know this: Small grants to community groups are the seeds of peace, social harmony, economic development, and a sense of belonging.

K’naan, he of “Wavin’ Flag” fame, is now a world-scale ambassador. But it was a small city grant that helped him put down roots in Rexdale, germinate, and find his place in the music universe.

Kill those grants and no one knows the dreams that are rendered stillborn in our priority neighbourhoods.

City council is the only buffer against such a future. Many councillors delude themselves into thinking the current ruinous exercise is a careful examination of the city’s fiscal condition. It is not. It is a deceitful exercise devised by a mayor who cares nothing about the collateral damage of his rampage against city services and programs he never needed and never took the time to understand.

Pennachetti has served in all the regions around Toronto. He believes that one way to relieve Toronto’s cash crunch is to reduce service to the levels of its neighbours in York, Durham and Peel.

Another way is to increase Toronto property taxes to the level of its neighbours. Ahh, that, of course, is not on the table in this exhaustive fiscal review.

Instead, we have a mayor who killed a vehicle tax source that delivered $64 million a year and plans to kill a land transfer tax that nets up to $250 million annually.

And to pay for these Rob Ford sinks the city into a divisive debate that, even if every recommendation were approved, gets us just $100 million this year.

Which means Rob Ford will still have to raise taxes by at least 3% by December 2011 just to make ends meet.

Its no wonder Rob Ford is getting death threats. He's axing jobs and raising taxes at the same time.

Graffiti Artists fight back against Rob Ford

A new Toronto Rocket subway train was temporarily out of commission Tuesday after a graffiti-loving vandal spray painted “Fuck Rob Ford” in the interior.

The vandal noticed the security camera and spray painted the lens as well, says TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

The train — one of two new Toronto Rocket subway trains — was taken out of service briefly while TTC staff removed the graffiti.

“We don’t know if there are any witnesses,” said Ross, noting that images from the camera have been retrieved as part of an ongoing investigation.

Since his campaign, Mayor Rob Ford has pledged to completely eliminate graffiti around the city, including legitimate artwork and murals. Graffiti artists have shot back with various works including stencils depicting a caricature of Ford devouring a TTC vehicle or a bicycle.

If anything graffiti artists have never been bolder. Protesting Rob Ford using graffiti is now in vogue and the artists have become smarter, using stencils and mass production.


How to Contact People in City Hall

Annoyed at people in Toronto city hall???

Easy way to contact them all... CC or BCC all of them at once. Including their staff.

mayor_ford@toronto.ca, councillor_ainslie@toronto.ca, adinovo@toronto.ca, cradfor2@toronto.ca, aamelin@toronto.ca, councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca, sserran@toronto.ca, mdsouza3@toronto.ca, amammon@toronto.ca, vmarsha@toronto.ca, councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca, mwilson5@toronto.ca, astefan4@toronto.ca, amoncri@toronto.ca, councillor_moeser@toronto.ca, shenders@toronto.ca, cmacmil@toronto.ca, pvander2@toronto.ca, councillor_dford@toronto.ca, amassou@toronto.ca, avescio@toronto.ca, sdaniel3@toronto.ca, councillor_augimeri@toronto.ca, randrea2@toronto.ca, atroini@toronto.ca, lmartel@toronto.ca, councillor_bailao@toronto.ca, brootmc@toronto.ca, mvieira2@toronto.ca, dmaria@toronto.ca, councillor_fragedakis@toronto.ca, dfinlay@toronto.ca, msfitz@toronto.ca, padams2@toronto.ca, aweinbe@toronto.ca, councillor_nunziata@toronto.ca, jcicche@toronto.ca, kousovi@toronto.ca, councillor_berardinetti@toronto.ca, dcavaco2@toronto.ca, jfusill@toronto.ca, achang@toronto.ca, cbrooks@toronto.ca, councillor_grimes@toronto.ca, spaxton@toronto.ca, kedgar@toronto.ca, cjohnst@toronto.ca, councillor_palacio@toronto.ca, mmakrig@toronto.ca, adipros@toronto.ca, sford2@toronto.ca, aferrar@toronto.ca, alupo@toronto.ca, councillor_carroll@toronto.ca, steper2@toronto.ca, jdaws@toronto.ca, emanata@toronto.ca, mohonsi@toronto.ca, councillor_holyday@toronto.ca, shender3@toronto.ca, dlachap@toronto.ca, mkells@toronto.ca, councillor_parker@toronto.ca, ivelshi@toronto.ca, jballin@toronto.ca, jhenry3@toronto.ca, councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca, lmarang@toronto.ca, nzaslav@toronto.ca, ifyfe@toronto.ca, councillor_kelly@toronto.ca, lbowerm@toronto.ca, tborovi@toronto.ca, pgoncal@toronto.ca, jnasr@toronto.ca, councillor_cho@toronto.ca, gfernan3@toronto.ca, councillor_colle@toronto.ca, smolloy@toronto.ca, aconte2@toronto.ca, atornam2@toronto.ca, atornam2@toronto.ca, mhay@toronto.ca, mbianch@toronto.ca, tliu2@toronto.ca, asurdi2@toronto.ca, councillor_perks@toronto.ca, duffyk@toronto.ca, mnewton@toronto.ca, mninalo@toronto.ca, councillor_crawford@toronto.ca, councillor_lee@toronto.ca, gchambe@toronto.ca, pyeung@toronto.ca, calfred@toronto.ca, councillor_perruzza@toronto.ca, mbeato@toronto.ca, trakoce@toronto.ca, mdedovi@toronto.ca, councillor_crisanti@toronto.ca, jhane@toronto.ca, lhunt2@toronto.ca, councillor_lindsay_luby@toronto.ca, ppearce@toronto.ca, jburnet1@toronto.ca, rsgro@toronto.ca, councillor_robinson@toronto.ca, lburlie@toronto.ca, cbuda@toronto.ca, jczajka@toronto.ca, councillor_davis@toronto.ca, councillor_mammoliti@toronto.ca, tmacgre@toronto.ca, mpallad@toronto.ca, larnone@toronto.ca, councillor_shiner@toronto.ca, kwood@toronto.ca, jbrown4@toronto.ca, rhebert@toronto.ca, councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca, councillor_matlow@toronto.ca, aathana@toronto.ca, bwebb@toronto.ca, khancoc@toronto.ca, councillor_stintz@toronto.ca, apettin@toronto.ca, mcsardy@toronto.ca, abodrug@toronto.ca, ageorge@toronto.ca, jboutro@toronto.ca, jboutro@toronto.ca, jcoutin@toronto.ca, cmcdonald@toronto.ca, fng2@toronto.ca, ltao@toronto.ca, councillor_mcconnell@toronto.ca, ggustaf@toronto.ca, slotz@toronto.ca, smcinty@toronto.ca, tdavids2@toronto.ca, councillor_thompson@toronto.ca, iwons@toronto.ca, jzinder@toronto.ca, dgedz@toronto.ca, jso3@toronto.ca, councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca, JMele@toronto.ca, mcatalano@toronto.ca, vgallo2@toronto.ca, councillor_mcmahon@toronto.ca, bnagy@toronto.ca, cbehan@toronto.ca, lsmithc@toronto.ca, councillor_vaughan@toronto.ca, akinnear@toronto.ca, mscotla@toronto.ca, jchan@toronto.ca, rhewitt@toronto.ca, councillor_doucette@toronto.ca, councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca, lhanson@toronto.ca, ldeluca@toronto.ca, bgosnel@toronto.ca, gwright6@toronto.ca, councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca, kbeauli2@toronto.ca, dgavank@toronto.ca, jnellig@toronto.ca, mwongb@toronto.ca, councillor_filion@toronto.ca, vdeacuti@toronto.ca, adrenna@toronto.ca, mbuhagi@toronto.ca, awerner@toronto.ca, councillor_milczyn@toronto.ca, soconno@toronto.ca, kmicucc@toronto.ca, ksurma@toronto.ca

Note: Some of them may be on vacation. If you notice any email addresses that no longer exist, please find their new email address and post it in the comment section below.

Real communists consider complaint against Mammoliti

The Communist Party of Canada is thinking about filing a human rights complaint against Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, the party’s Ontario leader said Sunday.

Mammoliti, a prominent ally of Mayor Rob Ford with a long history of provocative remarks, has gleefully escalated his red-baiting rhetoric over the last week. On Tuesday, he said he would ban “communists,” whom he creatively defined as citizens who spoke against budget cuts at City Hall, from his new Facebook group. By Friday, he had progressed to alleging, without any evidence, that six or seven sitting councillors are communists who want the municipal government to seize all private property and control the minds of Toronto residents.

“We are considering putting in a complaint about your behaviour and your attacks,” Elizabeth Rowley said on the NewsTalk 1010 radio show hosted by Councillor Josh Matlow.

It is not clear what provision of the Ontario Human Rights Code Rowley believes Mammoliti has violated. Political affiliation is not one of the grounds on which the code prohibits discrimination. Further, the code covers discrimination in employment, housing, union membership, and the provision of goods and services; Mammoliti discriminated, or attempted to, only on his Facebook group.

“If anyone should complain, it's me,” he responded. “Because it's them who attacked my Facebook, with their comments and with their logos and with their ‘comrade’ suggestions.”

Rowley compared Mammoliti's statements to those of former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, who alleged in the 1940s and 1950s that communists had infiltrated the American government. “McCarthyism is not appropriate,” she said, “and pretty ugly.”

Mammoliti was unrepentant. In language mirroring that of the McCarthy-era House Un-American Activities Committee, which infamously asked Hollywood screenwriters and directors whether they were or had ever been members of the Communist Party, he asked Matlow: “How many of those councillors at City Hall does she have a relationship with — a speaking relationship, an email relationship, a relationship of communication in one form or another?”

When Rowley said the last email she had sent to councillors was to oppose the closure of libraries, he said: “So you have no ongoing relationship, you don't write to any particular councillor, you haven't ever spoken, had dinner with, had lunches with, any of those councillors that I'm suggesting that you have?”

Rowley said, “You're asking me if I ‘am or ever have had lunch with’ — no, I haven't.”

Councillor Paula Fletcher led the Communist Party in Manitoba in the 1980s before becoming a supporter of the NDP. Mammoliti has not demonstrated that any other councillor has ties to the party.

Said Rowley: “What is really egregious here is that anybody who objects apparently to the proposals that are coming from the Ford administration is being attacked as a communist by prominent members of that administration.”

Rowley said “some” of the 166 people who spoke against cuts at a marathon executive committee meeting in July were party members. But she also said, “We certainly don't have as many members as would be implied by Councillor Mammoliti.”

Rob Ford locks out theatre workers at St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts

Toronto makes money off its theatre industry. It creates jobs, brings in extra tourists and they spend their money in Toronto.

But according to Rob Ford local support for theatre is "gravy" even though Toronto makes money off of it. Specifically rental money because the city owns the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, a city-owned facility where stage workers were locked out a minute after midnight, Saturday.

The not-for-profit theatre and entertainment facility is home to six major arts organizations and also features independent groups that stage affordable performances for the public. Saturday afternoon, the entire building behind its large windows along Front St., just east of Yonge St. was dark and its front door was padlocked. The ticket counter, normally open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., was closed.

Unionized stage workers, who handle everything from lighting to set design and construction, have been without a contract since the end of 2010. After negotiations failed they were legally locked out by the city Saturday.

A letter taped to the front door, addressed to the union president, stated: “St. Lawrence Centre regrets having to take this step and is open to resuming bargaining as soon as possible. It is our sincere belief that operating efficiencies can be negotiated in order to meet the budget requirements . . .”

Only hours before the lockout, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford went on a TV talk show Friday and stated he would like to sell one or more of the three city-owned theatres, even though they are profitable for the city.

Highly-publicized KPMG reports addressed by the city this summer suggested as part of Toronto’s possible cost-cutting measures, three city-run theatres could be either sold or consolidated — the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, the Sony Centre and the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Arts groups have feared Ford would demand deep cuts to arts funding as part of his commitment to lowering costs.

Shows at the popular St. Lawrence Centre may be in jeopardy. But the centre’s general manager, Jim Roe, who wrote the letter, told the Star that a deal would hopefully be reached before the next scheduled show, a private performance in early September. According to the facility’s website, the next public show, Mamaloshen, starring iconic Broadway performer Mandy Patinkin, is scheduled for Sept. 17.

“We’re going to look at ways to put it on (if staff are still locked out) — hiring staff, using management in certain roles.”

Toronto city councillor Gary Crawford, who sits on the centre’s board, said the lockout is largely due to high costs and the city’s recent commitment to finding efficiencies.

“I am a practising artist,” Crawford told the Star after the lockout. “I am a painter, a visual artist by profession and a musician. I support the arts. But as a city councillor and a board member I am very much in support of management on this decision. It’s crucial for the long-term viability.”

Crawford says the key issue is the size of the union, IATSE local 58 (International Alliance Theatrical Stage Employees), which he believes ties the facility to too many crew members. Crawford says because the St. Lawrence Centre is often rented out to independent theatre groups, many cannot afford to book it because of the excessive number of stage staff the union attaches to each booking.

“You have some shows that only need two or three stage crew, instead of the number the union hires.”

The theatre is booked for an average of 35 weeks a year even though the previous contract guaranteed unionized staff would be paid for 42 to 47 weeks of work, with up to five weeks vacation.

Another area the St. Lawrence Centre wants to revisit is a clause in the contracts that requires staff receive an extra 50 per cent increase in pay when events are videotaped.

IATSE 58 officials did not return repeated calls requesting comment. It is unclear how many workers are affected.

The St. Lawrence Centre is home to Canadian Stage, Opera in Concert, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Music Toronto, the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company and the Hannaford Street Silver Band. It has two auditoriums, the 868-seat Bluma Appel Theatre and the 497-seat Jane Mallett Theatre.

The St. Lawrence Centre has featured almost every type of stage show produced since it was opened in 1970.

Theatre fans in the city are now wondering if their corner of the arts is the first focus of possible Ford cuts targeting the city’s culture scene.

But while Crawford admits the incentive to cut costs at the St. Lawrence Centre is part of the overall climate at city hall, he insisted that where the theatre is concerned, cuts might actually improve service.

“If we kept costs down more theatre groups could afford the facility,” he said.

Crawford says the much needed cost-cutting dovetails with the city’s goals across the board. “We’re looking at everything. All the boards and agencies have been asked to look at their costs and how they’re running things.”

“Of course there is an element to what is happening across the city and what’s happening with the theatre,” he said. “We do not want to cut this out.”

Rob Ford says schools should have advertising in gyms and walls

A comment by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford suggesting advertising be allowed inside school buildings is causing some controversy. Speaking on a local radio station last week, Ford suggested companies could pay to advertise on gym floors and walls inside schools. (Totally besides the point that Ford has no authority over the Toronto School Board because that is provincial jurisdiction.)

In the Thursday interview on the Fan 590, Ford said it's ridiculous that school gymnasiums sit empty when they could be generating revenue.

Parent Leslie Middaugh said schools aren’t the right place for advertising. (But maybe we should post advertising inside City Hall? They have lots of walls that are good for advertising.)

“Even if you carefully choose who you allow to advertise in schools you are endorsing that company, you are endorsing that product,” she says.

Middaugh said she could never support advertising in school hallways or gyms.

A 'slippery slope,' trustee says

Trustee Chris Glover agreed, and said Toronto public schools are no place for ads. “Advertising is not a donation, it’s a business deal,” said Glover. “And what the corporations want is access to our students in exchange for money. The danger is that it’s a real slippery slope. Once you become dependent on private advertising revenue then you have no way of backing out.”

School Board trustee Howard Kaplan said Toronto school gyms are used regularly by community groups outside of school hours for minimal fees.

Rob Ford doesn't just hate cyclists, he hates everybody who gets in his way

Rob Ford doesn't just hate cyclists, he hates everybody who gets in his way.

This includes:

#1. School children crossing the street at street lights.

#2. Garbage trucks, fire trucks and ambulances. (He wants to cut garbage collection, firefighters and EMS staff.)

#3. Getting pulled over by traffic cops. (He wants to cut 750 police officers.)

#4. Mothers who point out he is talking on his cellphone while driving.

#5. And of course cyclists. He hates cyclists most of all, hence his constant ranting about cyclists. (I am guessing the feeling is mutual Mr Ford.)

And basically anyone who slows him down on his daily commute in his car. He hasn't clued in yet that Toronto's congestion problems are only getting worse and that cycling downtown is the answer to Toronto's congestion problems downtown. (Seriously, you have to be some kind of moron to drive a car downtown in the traffic...)

Commie Pinko Witchhunt at City Hall

Go get your pitchfork, its time to round up some Commie Pinkos and burn 'em at the stake!

People who want to join Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s new Facebook group may want to avoid wearing a Che Guevara shirt in your profile picture. Also don't mention any communist or hippie things, like Das Kapital as one of your Favourite Books.

Giorgio Mammoliti (a big time Ford supporter) has gone down the road of Joseph McCarthy and is endorsing a witchhunt of 'Commie Pinkos' at City Hall.

He isn't alone either. Don Cherry went after “pinkos” at Rob Ford’s mayoral inauguration. Now Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, the conservative and controversial right hand man of Rob Ford, is going after people he sees as reds. His new Facebook group “Save the City..Support the Ford Administration” has a rule. No one who looks like a communist is allowed in.

“I’m really sick and tired of hearing from the communists in this city,” Mammoliti said in an interview. “I don’t want anything to do with them. I don’t want to listen to them. I don’t want to listen to their griping and their whining. I want to listen to people who are clearly working for a living, and wanting their tax dollars to be used in a particular way. I’m clearly trying to wean out the typical communist thinker who will be doing nothing but whining.”

In other words he only wants sheep to join.

What is ironic is that Mammoliti was a union leader in the 1980s before making a sharp turn to the right in the late 1990s. He has frequently referred to citizens who have spoken against budget cuts at committee meetings as “socialists.” “Communists” appears to be new word of choice.

The group had 347 members as of noon on Tuesday.

“But I will be monitoring their comments,” says Mammoliti, “and if I get a smell of communism, they’re off the page.”

According to Mammoliti only 3 of the 169 citizens who spoke to Ford’s executive committee at an all-night meeting two weeks ago are not communists. The other 166 people opposed any kind of cuts to city programs and services. But Mammoliti and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, another member of Ford’s executive, have dismissed the 166 out of 169 people as unrepresentative of the broader population of Toronto.

At this point most of the people in Mammoliti's group seems to be personal friends of Mammoliti or Rob Ford. Preaching to their own choir.

Other group members, however, have criticized Ford and Mammoliti. One complained that “an entire discussion thread” which included criticism had been deleted. He wrote, “It's distressing that a member of city council. . . would elect to delete the voice of the people — any people — when they express their opinions after being invited to do so. It's called discourse.”

But Mammoliti doesn't like discourse. He just wants sheep who do and say what he allows them to say. Its called propaganda and censorship, two of the cornerstones of a dictatorship.

Thankfully Rob Ford and Mammoliti are minorities in City Hall. Calling the other city councillors "communists" on a regular basis has only jaded city councillors into refusing to cooperate with these bigots.

One man's gravy is another's essentials

As City Hall fights to meet a budget shortfall, residents cannot reach a consensus on what should be cut

On the streets of midtown Toronto, under a light drizzle and gloomy skies, it smells like fall.
It sounds like it, too, as resident after resident brings up the issues that have been burning inside City Hall lately, and will again come September when city council deliberates over what services the municipal government should be providing, and, later, the upcoming budget.

Libraries. Services for seniors. Funding for the arts. Margaret Atwood. Councillor Josh Matlow's St. Paul's constituents have been following the news and most people have an opinion.

The first-time city councillor went out door knocking this week, part of a periodic "check-in" but also to get people's thoughts on the financial drama that has been playing out at City Hall.

"I get the sense that people are feeling a little anxious," said Councillor Ana Bailao, on a similar pulse-ofthe-people mission. She is canvassing her Davenport ward all month.

A core-service review conducted by consultants has listed a raft of programs the city could cut back on or stop providing, because it deems them not to be "core." Suggestions such as shuttering the Riverdale Farm, closing library branches and cutting daycare spaces have been met with outrage.

Mayor Rob Ford is adamant that the city has long been spending beyond its means, and it has to separate the need-to-have services from the nice-to-have services. Just how deep the city will have to cut to balance its books remains to be seen, with political critics saying the estimated $774-million budget shortfall is inflated, and the Mayor allowing for a property tax increase of no more than 3%.

But it's going to be a battle on council over what stays and what goes. Councillors Frances Nunziata and Karen Stintz, both Ford allies, say they oppose closing libraries. Where unaligned or centrist councillors such as Mr. Matlow and Ms. Bailao stand on possible cutbacks could make all the difference.
Mr. Matlow, a former school trustee, bounds up the steps of a constituent's porch near Davisville and Bayview, a mixed-income neighbourhood.

A Toronto resident who did not want to give her name called last month's overnight meeting to give the public its say on cuts "an exercise in 'we're listening to you' but we're not really listening." City council should never have cancelled the vehicle registration tax, she said. Mr. Matlow, who voted to scrap it, said given the chance now, he would vote to reinstate it. "I really am trying to find solutions and don't want to see hasty, arbitrary cuts to our city," he told her.

Even if Rob Ford's cuts go through, he will still have to raise taxes 3% to make up for the shortfall caused by cutting the vehicle registration fee.

The city isn't allowed to have a budget deficit. Push comes to shove, Rob Ford will have to raise taxes.

"I just think it's all very interesting, this whole Margaret Atwood thing," said a woman in the Brentwood Towers, over by Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue. "I'm sorry, who is that?" Mr. Matlow joked, playing on Councillor Doug Ford's infamous comments about not recognizing the celebrated Canadian writer on the street.

The residents Mr. Matlow spoke with during a canvass earlier this week were overwhelmingly against Mayor Ford's apparent tack on budget issues. But spend some time in Forest Hill and people will tell you not to raise their taxes, said Mr. Matlow. Too bad, taxes will be going up at least 3% regardless. The longer Ford waits, the higher the tax rate increase will have to be.

Likewise, most of the constituents Ms. Bailao spoke to near Col-lege Street and Lansdowne Avenue want to preserve services, while two people the previous day told her to cut everything. (Two people who evidently don't care about whether their garbage is picked up, their streets cleaned, police are on duty, firefighters are out there responding to calls, etc.)

"The question we've been asking everyone is, if you had to choose between a tax increase or cuts, what would you choose?" posits Ms. Bailao on Robert Kennedy's doorstep. He doesn't like what he's been hearing, and he thinks the Mayor has "created the problem" by getting rid of a tax. "I don't think anybody objects to cutting gravy, but it seems to me he's cutting services," said the real estate investor. Down the street, Ken, a "jack of all trades," had another thought. "You know what I think? David Miller made everything bad in the city before he left," he told Ms. Bailao. Mr. Ford "is trying to help but he's gonna kill a lot of people because he's playing with people's jobs."

Sharon Latchana, a law clerk, believes some proposed cuts would hurt lower-income families. Katherine Needham's suggestion: "You hunker down and you say, how many more years?"

Ms. Bailao takes it all in. She believes the city has to seek out more "efficiencies." Perhaps some services should be outsourced, but there is no guarantee outsourcing will be cheaper or adequate. And she supports an inflationary tax increase. "People know there's gravy, but we're not talking about gravy when we're talking about daycare spots and libraries. And that's why people are so upset."

Rob Ford isn't cutting the gravy. He's cutting the meat and potatoes.

Rob Ford kisses Stephen Harper's ass

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise appearance at a barbecue hosted by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Tuesday evening.

At which point you might ask, who is kissing who's ass here? Heck, it might even be a 69.

Private remarks from the invitation-only event became public when some in attendance posted videos on the video-sharing website YouTube. The excerpts available suggest a warm and close relationship between the two leaders.

The mayor introduced the prime minister as the evening's special guest.

"He's my new fishing partner," Ford told the friendly crowd. "He took me up north a couple of weeks ago and I love to fish." The mayor good-naturedly bragged of killing a bigger fish than Harper did, a 39-cm smallmouth bass.

Harper paid tribute to the past political help his federal party had received from Rob Ford.

"Rob endorsed us in the election. That helped a lot," Harper said, amid warm bursts of applause from a partisan crowd that included some 700 Conservative campaign volunteers from the Toronto area.

Harper didn't stop there, putting in a campaign plug for Ontario's provincial Conservatives in this fall's election.

So yeah, lots of ass kissing in circles here.

Ford loyalist speaks out against library cuts

Another councillor in Mayor Rob Ford’s inner circle is backing away from a proposal to close libraries.

When asked Wednesday if she would support library closures to save money, Councillor Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston) said “no, of course not” and that if anything, branches should be better utilized to host more city programs.

“I don’t think there’s a will on council to close libraries,” said Nunziata. “I think we have to make better use of what we have… these are great facilities for programming.”

First it was right-winger James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre). Then TTC chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence). Now Nunziata, who is the council speaker and one of Ford’s longest and most loyal supporters.

Nunziata’s split is the clearest sign yet that libraries will likely be safe come fall when council is left to consider the service cut recommendations proposed by KPMG during the core service review.

The library system has long been an annoyance of the mayor’s office, particularly its board, which has openly defied a belligerent Rob Ford. But it was comments by the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), who said Toronto has too many libraries, which launched a public panic.

Last week the mayor’s brother said he would close libraries in his Etobicoke ward in “a heartbeat” and that his constituents wouldn’t even mind.

Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood, who had been leading a Twitter campaign to oppose library cuts, Doug Ford said: “I don’t even know her. She could walk right by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is… tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected.”

Stintz was the first prominent right-winger on council to break rank. After receiving more than 300 upset emails, Stintz issued an open letter to her Eglinton-Lawrence constituents stating “these are not the type of cuts I support.”

But there has been increasing friction between Stintz and the mayor’s office in the last few months over the direction of Toronto transit. There are some in the Ford administration working behind the scenes to undermine Stintz and even have her removed as chair.

For this reason, the opposition by Pasternak, who has consistently voted with the mayor at council, and now Nunziata’s is more significant.

Toronto’s library system, which boasts 98 branches, is among the largest in the world. In comparison, Montreal has 44, Chicago 78, and Boston 26. HOWEVER library staff notes that on a per person basis, Toronto has fewer libraries than Ottawa and Vancouver.

Rob Ford attacking unions, not gravy train

For Mayor Rob Ford, no matter what he says, this painful budget exercise is not about slaying Toronto’s annual deficit.

Ford’s actions and words, to the public and those around him, are not those of a bean counter trying to solve a financial puzzle. While real, the hefty “structural deficit” is his ammunition, not his target.

The colourful gut-led ideologue is on a mission to radically reduce the size and cost of city government — amputating services, grants and agencies. In doing so, he wants to erase most or all the 5,000 mostly unionized jobs added under his predecessor, David Miller.

In carefully chosen words before the start of Thursday’s epic executive meeting, Ford decreed that “must have” services stay and the “nice to haves” go. In his mind-the-shop view, cities don’t hand out arts grants, bolster poor student’s meals, spur environmental research or own a zoo.

(And yet he is also seeking to slash libraries, firefighters and 750 police jobs too.)

The public consultation process that included deputations to the executive committee is an elaborate sham, something apparent to most of the long line of Torontonians who passionately pleaded for Ford to keep his election promise not to reduce services.

After hearing thousands of words, and seeing some tears, the 13 executive members voted with lightning speed to refer all of KPMG’s suggested cuts to their Sept. 19 meeting. Ford and his policy chief Mark Towhey are weighing what and how much they can cut. The plan will be predetermined.

The challenge for them isn’t erasing the deficit, but convincing city councillors and the public they need to keep slicing after it’s gone.

The budget surplus from 2010 and other monies, including an expected 10-cent TTC hike, bring the 2012 operating deficit from $774 million to $443 million. In addition, the administration is looking at forgoing a traditional annual transfer of $200 million from the operating budget to capital. Efficiencies will be found, user fees hiked.

Still, Ford’s staff are priming his right-leaning council allies and centrists, saying they are serious about high-risk moves — including shedding nine of the city’s 10 long-term care homes — even as the administration wobbles.

Rob Ford and his councillor brother Doug are committing gaffes; the marathon meeting has energized their opponents; and a hasty, ham-handed budget process is alienating centrists and fraying the Fords’ hold on at least two inner circle members. (And to make matters worse, Rob Ford fell asleep during the meeting and was caught on camera sleeping on the job.)

Some say Ford won’t overreach because he doesn’t have the votes. But this is the mayor who, despite the urging of all around him, needlessly snubbed Toronto’s gay community. His deficit-fighting rhetoric targets even money-makers for the city such as the parking authorities. Ford’s gut rules even when his brain tells him he should do something different.

Force of will and tactical tricks have got him this far. The mayor’s true test lies ahead, when he invites 22 councillors to follow him into choppy, untested waters, propelled by zeal and a certainty that Torontonians need leaner, meaner government, not a fiscal fix.

But what happens when he pisses off the unions and causes a massive strike?

Margaret Atwood for Mayor

A tiny note on a coffee house tip jar has a big message for Doug Ford.

It's the same message that's written on sidewalk chalkboards on Queen St. W. and social networks dedicated to the cause.

“Margaret Atwood for mayor of Toronto.”

No, we're not in the midst of an election. And the award-winning author has expressed no interest in running for office. The cheeky campaign, which seems to have no central force, is about protecting city libraries and poking fun at the city councillor who said he would not recognize a literary icon.

Perhaps the greatest purpose of the campaign is to make sure the public has a say in how their taxpayer dollars are spent.

Atwood rallied Torontonians to fight for their libraries, after city-hired consultants KPMG suggested closing branches to save money. The avid Tweeter promoted a petition to save the city's libraries to her 225,200 followers on the social networking site, which crashed the server hosting it.

In response, Mayor Rob Ford's older brother suggested Atwood should seek elected office if she wants to influence policy.

“She's not dealing with the problem. Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected. And we'd be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood,” Doug Ford said last Tuesday.
He also said he didn't know the novelist.

“If she walked by me, I wouldn't have a clue who she is,” he said.

A note went up on the tip jar at Red Rocket Coffee on Wellesley St. the next day, said barista Michael Scott.
“It's a strange statement to make. I don't think I would have finished high school without knowing Margaret Atwood,” Scott said. “Not even to say that, but to proclaim it with pride, as if it would damage her reputation somehow.”

More than 5,000 people have “liked” a Facebook page encouraging Atwood to run for mayor.

“So, apparently, you need to be elected to be heard,” Julia Vyse posted on the page.

“This would be brilliant! And a good way to solve a lot of our problems as a city,” wrote Heather Danter.

The Twitterverse is also encouraging the author to run for mayor. Users are Tweeting signs endorsing her future as a politician, including sidewalk chalkboards at a French bistro in Parkdale and a café on Queen St. W.

The “Atwood for Mayor” movement includes a greater discussion about the value of libraries, and that's evident on the author's Twitter feed.

“The local public library was the only place in the area that had AC in the summer. Fondly remember reading 3 books a visit,” Lily Callahan wrote to Atwood.

Chapters Indigo is supporting the author, too. The chain is offering 30 per cent off her books across the country for any public library card holder.

“It was a tongue-in-cheek way to contribute to the dialogue and in the process it also allowed us to express our support for Canada's municipal libraries and one of Canada's most iconic writers,” said Janet Eger, the chain's vice-president of public relations.

Rob Ford given death threat via 311

Mayor Rob Ford says he isn’t worried about a man charged with making death threats against him.

Anthony Vella, 56, called 311 on July 14 and made threats against Mayor Rob Ford. Officers at 52 Division, which covers City Hall, launched an investigation.

Mayor Rob Ford told a news conference Thursday morning he had been the victim of a death threat. “I don’t take it that seriously,” says Rob Ford.

Anthony Vella has been charged with threatening death. He has no prior record, according to court staff.

Vella was released on $500 bail. The terms of his release included conditions that he not come within 200 metres of City Hall (except to attend court dates nearby), and that he “abstain from communicating directly or indirectly with Mayor Robert Ford.”

His next court appearance is August 18th.

DISCLAIMER: This blog does not condone any sort of violence or threats of violence. We're pacifists.

Ford wants to fire TTC Chief

Gary Webster, the TTC’s top executive, is caught in the crosshairs of Mayor Rob Ford’s administration, prompting fears that the TTC could be headed on a disastrous course if he’s fired.

A 30-year TTC veteran, the 60-year-old chief general manager has drawn the ire of the Fords over his refusal to support the Sheppard subway extension the mayor wants to build, say sources.

Webster could not be reached for comment, but TTC spokesman Brad Ross issued a statement Thursday saying, “The TTC will not speculate on Mr. Webster’s future. The chief general manager is working hard with staff on the 2012 budget, as well as ongoing customer service improvement initiatives. This is a large, complex organization. His continued leadership has never been more important.”

Transit experts, including former TTC boss David Gunn, consider Ford's subway plan a joke because there's no clue where Ford will get the money from.

The Ford Brothers (Rob and Doug) are so intent on Webster’s removal, sources say, they won’t let him hire a new chief operating officer — an internationally advertised position that is attracting top applicants from London and Sydney, Australia.

TTC chair Karen Stintz has expressed frustration about the slow speed at which improvements in customer service are taking place. But she has so far refused to be part of a plan to oust Webster, drawing speculation that her own time on the commission could be limited, according to some sources.

Sources say Stintz won’t even talk about Webster leaving unless the Fords come up with an orderly transition plan that doesn’t include appointing one of their political cronies to the top job. (Nepotism in the Ford camp runs deep.)

The plan to get rid of Webster “is in play now,” said former TTC vice-chair Joe Mihevc.

“(The Fords) are so committed to Sheppard they are actively contemplating getting rid of the entire streetcar system in Toronto,” he said, adding that the cost of the new streetcars could be applied to the subway.

“If Doug Ford bullies his way through on this, it truly will be the victory of extreme authoritarian ideology over good public transit policy and good business management,” Mihevc said.

Replacing Webster with someone who has no engineering background or transit operations experience would be a disaster, say some councillors and transit experts.

Rob Ford opposes traffic lights beside schools

Mayor Rob Ford may need to woo council’s six centrist swing voters if he is going to win the looming budget battle. So he puzzled many councillors two weeks ago when he made a calculated decision to alienate one of the centrists — over, of all things, a traffic light.

Traffic light projects usually sail through council without a discussion or a vote. The mayor almost never tries to stop them. But at council’s July meeting, Ford placed an unusual “hold” on a proposed new Dufferin St. light near an elementary school in the Davenport ward of centrist Councillor Ana Bailão.

Then, according to another centrist, Councillor Josh Colle, his allies lobbied other councillors to vote to kill the project.

“I think a lot of councillors were surprised that a local issue was being so heavily lobbied on,” Colle said.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said Ford was simply being the principled and prudent guardian of taxpayer money he has always been. The city’s expert traffic planners had deemed the light to cost $150,000 to protect the lives of school children.

Seems like money well spent, protecting school children.

But Bailão thinks Ford may have been attempting to send her a message.

She has frequently opposed him. By trying to thwart a strictly local project she had fought for, he signaled to her and other centrists, intentionally or not, that he can make their lives difficult if he chooses to play hardball.

Whatever Ford was trying to convey, his plan may have backfired. He lost the vote 25-9 — with every centrist present, and five members of his hand-picked executive committee, voting against him. And, in defeat, he soured his relationship with Bailão.

Asked whether Ford’s effort to deny the Dufferin St. and Gordon St. light, Bailão said: “It obviously didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.”

“You have hundreds of letters from parents, you had community meetings. It’s not something that I brought to council without doing my homework in my community,” she said. “And when you have to fight so hard to get something that’s so important to your community — something that, usually, people understand — it makes you question why.”

The vote outcome demonstrated that independent-minded councillors will not be cowed into voting with the mayor.

Ford’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Ford placed another hold on the Lawrence Heights revitalization plan. Ford released the hold after Colle joined him in voting to remove the Jarvis St. bike lanes, prompting speculation that he had placed the hold as a veiled threat.

Ford lost the Lawrence Heights vote 38-1.

The Rob Ford Fat Fuck Video

Rob Ford is a bully and he doesn't like people making fun of his weight because then the tables are turned on him. But he doesn't let it end there. He doesn't turn the other cheek. Instead he chases after people, shouting at them like an insane lunatic.

Why the Rob Ford “fat fuck” video was put online

By Jonathan Goldsbie of Spacing Toronto.

On Tuesday, March 11, 2008, the anonymous Ceyla16 uploaded the video "Councillor Rob Ford in action" to YouTube.  Originally devoid of any contextual information, it sat there for two and a half weeks before being discovered by Toronto Life's short-lived Preville on Politics blog.  Two days later, it was posted here.  And then a day after that, I tracked down both its origin (the documentary Hogtown: The Politics of Policing) as well as the specifics of the argument at its centre (the details of the in camera Police Board vote on whether to renew then–Chief Julian Fantino's contract).

In the course of my digging, I also uncovered the identity of the user who posted the clip on YouTube and emailed him to ask if there was any particular reason he put it online; at this point, my Torontoist piece had already gone up, and I was just considering adding an update.  The fellow did in fact get back to me the next day, but I never got around to appending his explanation, and then kind of forgot about it. (I also later learned that the person I referred to as "Unidentified reporter" was in fact the Star's Catherine Porter.)

But as the clip has not only gotten renewed play in recent months but has also inspired a sitcom, I've found myself wanting to tell the last little bit of the story, which in turn resurrects another long-past Ford controversy:

I posted the clip on behalf of my friend [, Hogtown director] Min Sook Lee, that was the primary reason. but I also wanted to put more out about Councillor Ford in light of his "Orientals" comment. I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and find it incredibly hard to believe that a goon like Ford who tries to pass his hate off as ignorance and skirts issues when he's under fire can be an elected official (then again the US has the ultimate in GWBush). I've observed that Ford has a reputation for being outrageous but it's dangerous if that becomes accepted— especially out of an elected official, I'd like to think that in Toronto we'd have higher standards. Furthermore, after his "apology" yesterday it's clear this guy doesn't get it and it's because he doesn't think he has to be accountable and that's scary.
So, thanks to Smitherman and Dieter D-H, everyone remembers the AIDS remarks, but who remembers the details of Ford's "Orientals" remarks?  Raise your hands.

On Wednesday, March 5, 2008, City Council was debating the perennial subject of holiday shopping.  Ford was of the opinion that the concepts of holidays and rest are a competitive disadvantage in a globalized world.  The National Post transcribed his comments thus:
Go to the Orient. Go to Hong Kong. I've been there. You want to see workaholics? Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They sleep beside their machines. That's why they're successful in life.... Oriental people, they're slowly taking over. There's no excuses for [them]. They're hard, hard workers.
The Globe noted he added, "This is capitalism, ladies and gentlemen. ... This is what we need."
Mayor Miller, who wasn't present at the time, soon after demanded Ford apologize on the floor of Council at the next meeting.  Ford refused, and insisted his remarks were intended as a compliment; he was genuinely perplexed as to why people might be offended.  Ford is not so much malicious, you see, as he is unfathomably ignorant, and seemingly lacking the capacity to possess empathy for people he has not directly met in person.

The next day, he clarified to the Star "that by 'taking over' he meant Asians are further advanced in business than a century ago." But although he bristled at the suggestion of a public apology, he told the Post that same day that he was open to saying sorry to individual Asian Canadians who were hurt.
And further down in the Post's article (written by Kelly Grant, now the Globe's City Hall bureau chief) we see the genesis of his mayoral ambitions:
Yesterday, Mr. Ford showed off a stack of e-mails from supporters calling his Oriental speech harmless. Several of the messages entreated Mr. Ford to run for mayor.
"People have asked me, a ton of people have," said the Etobicoke councillor, who earlier mused about running for the top job before his inebriated turn at the Leafs' game in 2006.
"Now I'm definitely considering it."
If Mr. Ford does run, speeches such as the one he made this week could hurt his chances, some councillors said.
"Anybody could run for mayor, but as long as he makes this kind of remark, his chance of getting elected mayor is very slim," said Raymond Cho, a Scarborough councillor originally from Korea.

But the shit really hit the fan for Ford the following week, when on March 14th, ten Asian Canadians protested outside his office by lying on the floor next to a prop sewing machine.  The group, led by Kristyn Wong-Tam — a previous president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter — demanded a public apology.  (Wong-Tam is currently the Adam Vaughan–backed candidate in the ward 27 race to replace Kyle Rae.)

Ford wasn't in his office that day, but by this time, he had more or less clued in that he'd done something wrong — even if he didn't fully grasp what that was.  "I have publicly apologized to the newspapers, on the radio," he told the Globe.  "I will publicly apologize to you if I have offended anybody by my comment.  I did not know [the word] Oriental was a racist word and I did not know [the phrase] working like a dog was a derogatory statement."

The next Council meeting was Monday, March 31st, and came less than a week after Ford was charged with assault and uttering death threats in a dispute with his wife.  (The charges were dropped two months later.)
There were dueling petitions submitted to the City Clerk: on one side was Adam Vaughan, with 260 signatures calling for an apology from Ford.  On the other was Ford himself, with 151 of something.  The Star and Globe said he had a 151-name petition from the Asian community asking that he not apologize; the official meeting minutes, on the other hand, recorded it as "151 e-mail communications he had received from individuals, expressing their support" [PDF, page 3].

Not only did Ford maintain that "Asian people do work very hard, and are very, very aggressive," he also produced a No Frills flyer advertising "Oriental flavour 100% pure cornstarch." Oh yes he did. (If I had been his adviser, I would also have suggested he brandish the sheet music for "A Hard Day's Night," in order to justify his use of "working like a dog.")
Let's go to the minutes for the subsequent comedy:
Peter Kuitenbrouwer described: "...Mr. Ford stood up and, in the manner of a schoolkid whose teacher has ordered him to say something he does not believe, he said, in a tiny voice: 'Sorry.'"

Toronto needs to be thinking bigger, not smaller

At a time when leaders at city hall are talking about cutting social programs, arts funding and environmental initiatives to save money, a comprehensive report prepared by a coalition of Toronto region’s leading minds is calling for the opposite.

The GTA should develop a “regional strategy to reduce and divert commercial waste,” expand conservation programs and improve storm water and flood risk management, according to a report by the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, formerly the Toronto City Summit Alliance.

Among the other recommendations in the report, released this morning and entitled “Breaking Boundaries: Time to Think and Act Like a Region,” governments must: work better to attract and settle immigrants; do more to help those living in poverty find work; invest in community revitalization; and help entrepreneurs get the help they need.

Many of the recommendations come in stark contrast to the cost-cutting scenarios being debated at city hall over the past two weeks as part of the core service review debate.

Recommendations included in the KPMG review include: scaling back recycling, which is more expensive; reducing community grants; and ending programs to assist entrepreneurs. Last week, councilor Giorgio Mammoliti — Mayor Rob Ford’s ‘quarterback’ — suggested Toronto stop funding all immigrant and refugee settlement programs.

But John Tory, who chairs the CivicAction board, said his group’s findings are not totally at odds with the desire for cutting costs. A lot of the report talks about better coordination with other levels of government and stakeholders to manage issues with more efficiency, rather than have five different groups doing the same thing.

“I think what’s taken over at city hall is political theatre. It appears there are only two choices: do away with funding or keep it exactly the same. And I think that’s false — there’s a middle ground,” said Tory. “Politics and the political process sometimes make it very difficult to have those discussions, and I say that regretfully. It shouldn’t be a choice between no arts funding and leaving it the exact same.”

This is especially true concerning housing, jobs and poverty strategies, he said, but it’s also relevant from an economic development side.

For example, one of the report’s key recommendations is to develop a regional business brand. That way, one entity could travel abroad to promote Toronto, Pickering, Markham, etc., which would be more effective and it would save money, said Tory.

The CivicAction report was put together after a year of consultations and feedback from a February summit, where 1,000 business, political, academic and community leaders spent two days brainstorming about issues impacting the Toronto region.

The final report highlights 10 areas: the Economy; Jobs and Income; Transportation; Immigration; Diversity; Environment; Housing; Neighbourhoods; Arts and Culture; and the Pan Am Games. Tory said CivicAction will be focusing its efforts on the first four, working to bring municipal leaders together and injecting politically unpopular but practical solutions — like road tolls or parking surcharges to pay for transit expansion — to the challenges.

Cutting $1 from arts funding hurts city coffers $17

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s cultural adviser Jeff Melanson says eliminating or reducing funding to the arts would be a big mistake, and plans to deliver that message to the city’s executive committee Thursday.

“It would be a misdirection to reduce those (grants),’’ Melanson, executive director of the National Ballet School, said in an interview Wednesday.

The city’s executive committee is set to pore over a lengthy KPMG report that presents “options’’ to the city to trim spending. The city faces a whopping shortfall in its 2012 budget of up to $774 million.

Arts and cultural groups in the city receive about $19 million from the city’s Community Partnership Investment Program (CPIP), according to the KPMG report. The report suggests the city would see a “high level’’ of savings eliminating or reducing CPIP.

But the consulting report also notes that groups receiving funding from CPIP could see their programs “compromised.’’

Other services such as libraries, policing and snow removal are also facing potential cuts, and well over 150 individuals and groups have signed up to speak at Thursday’s meeting to defend those services.

Melanson, who will be leaving Toronto soon to become president of Alberta’s prestigious Banff Centre starting Jan. 1, said “every $1 saved in arts grants is going to end up costing the city $17.’’

Cuts to arts funding would see the city lose money in the end because its reputation as a creative leader would be damaged, Melanson argues.

“It’s both a business draw and important to the quality of life in the city,’’ he added.

Another arts-related option identified in the KPMG report is for Toronto to sell or lease one or more of its three city-run theatres in 2013 to save money.

The city gives just under $3 million to the theatres – the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, and the Toronto Centre for the Arts, which is in North York.

Any cuts to CPIP would mean less for performing arts groups that use those theatres, groups such as Canadian Stage and the Toronto Operetta Theatre.

Jacoba Knaapen, executive director of the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, says while everyone in the arts community is deeply concerned about the potential cutbacks, she is buoyed by the belief that city councillors “recognize and understand the positive impact culture has on our city.’’

Based on that “it follows they (councillors) will not undervalue the contribution culture plays,’’ Knaapen added.

Dan Brambilla, CEO of the Sony Centre, took a somewhat different tack. In a letter to Thursday’s executive committee meeting, he said management at the centre agrees with the options presented in the KPMG report – while at the same time holding to the belief Toronto will suffer without a vibrant artistic centre.

In an interview Brambilla said he is not opposed to the idea of the sale or lease of one or more of the city-run theatres, as long as the theatres maintain their mandates. St. Lawrence, for instance, rents space to as many non-profit performing arts groups as possible, and Sony puts on a broad range of shows that cater to many of Toronto’s cultural communities.

“If a sale or lease maintains those goals, I’m fine with it,’’ he said.

Rob Ford implies people who hate him are unemployed losers

Rob Ford says there is a good reason why “Ford Nation” — the nickname for the Fords’ support base — hasn’t been turning out for the public meetings.

“Ford Nation is too busy working, paying taxes, creating jobs, that’s what they’re doing,” says Rob Ford.

Which implies that the people who do show up at public meetings don't have jobs, don't pay taxes and aren't helping the economy. Absolute nonsense. (I'm the CEO of my own firm. I pay my taxes, I'm hard working and I am helping the economy. And I am the creator of this blog... Evidently this is another situation of Rob Ford's foot-in-mouth syndrome.)

Rob Ford also says he is working to privatize 311 call centres. 311 handles city services like removing hazardous waste, rabid animals, non-emergency services, etc. There is no guarantee this will be cheaper outsourced.

Ford said the search for a call centre alternative shouldn’t include India or China but could be located anywhere in North America. Instead he wants to hire an American firm because they're cheaper.

Who wants to clean up blood and feces for $10.25 / hour?

Two City of Toronto employees whose job is to clean cells at police stations gave city councillors an eye-opener on what the job entails.

“I clean HIV blood off the walls, I clean feces off the walls,” said Trish O’Brien. “I clean bedbugs. I clean scabies. Are you going to get somebody to do that for $10.25 an hour?”

O’Brien, 34, and co-worker Christopher Idrovo, 30, appeared before council’s government management committee which is reviewing consultants suggestions to save money, including contracting out police station cleaning.

A recent city report said police station cleaners make an average of $30.32 an hour including benefits, versus supposedly cheaper rates for private-sector cleaners.

Idrovo recounted a recent case of an inmate injuring himself and smearing blood all over, then being taken to hospital only to return to do it again in another cell.

“People that have HIV cut their wrists, paint the walls,” O’Brien said. “What if I caught something? Do you think I’m not entitled to benefits? I think I am.”

Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, supports contracting-out cleaning jobs to save money. He didn’t respond to the cleaners’ submissions.

City cleaners perform hard work and work hard on the city’s behalf, Tim Maguire, first vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 79, told the city hall committee.

Maybe if there were more libraries in Doug Ford's ward he would know who the Governor General's Award-winning author is

Doug Ford, the Toronto city councillor and brother/brains of Mayor Rob Ford, said he didn't know who Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood is when responding to questions about the author's role in campaigning to keep public libraries off the city's budgetary chopping block. Atwood has leant her name and considerable notoriety to an Internet campaign launched in the wake of Doug Ford's claim that there were more libraries than Tim Horton's restaurants in his ward, and that the city could afford to shut some down.

Ford said he “wouldn't have a clue” who Atwood is if she walked by him, and that she should run for city council if she was so concerned about libraries. Ford then reiterated his willingness to close one of three libraries in his ward, because as any good small-government supporter knows, the last thing a city needs is free books, Internet connections, and entertainment accessible for all families.

Ford ally Stintz opposes library cuts

Karen Stintz, a key member of Rob Ford’s administration, has come out in opposition to cutbacks to Toronto libraries. In a tweet this morning (July 27th 2011), Ms. Stintz, who represents Eglinton-Lawrence and is chairwoman of the Toronto Transit Commission, wrote "I value the Toronto Public Library… these are not the types of cuts I will support."

The threat of funding reductions to Toronto libraries has emerged as one of the more controversial suggestions in a consultants’ report, raising the rancour of many Torontonians, including celebrated author Margaret Atwood who has been waging an online battle to protect public libraries.

Councillor Doug Ford dismissed Ms. Atwood’s opposition on yesterday but the argument isn't over.

For Ms. Stintz, that’s clearly a non-starter in her ward. In comments posted to her blog, Ms. Stintz described libraries “an integral part of our community.” Obviously Ms. Stintz recognizes that libraries is a valuable part of education, job creation and crime prevention (areas with more libraries have lower crime rates).

Stintz gave a shout out to the three branches in Ward 16 — Armour Heights, Locke Library and the Northern District Branch — noting that they “serve the local community, are a part of our history and support the City’s literary talent.” Northern District underwent renovations, and recently welcome Terry Fallis, author of the book The Best Laid Plans, she wrote. “My kids have also benefited from the services of the libraries in the community. They each have library cards and love the library.” She assured her constituents “these are not the types of cuts I will support.”

Facebook Groups against Rob Ford

(Statistics below as of July 29th 2011.)
24 people like this.

12,170 people like this.
488 people like this.
Student Groups
421 members
365 people like this.
165 people like this.
119 members.
70 people like this.
5 people like this.

Rob Ford's history of bad conduct

Rob Ford gives mother and daughter the finger

Mayor Rob Ford is denying allegations that he gave the finger to a mother who told him to stop talking on his cellphone while driving. (An act which is illegal in Ontario and he should be arrested for it to set an example.)

“There has been a story published that while I was on the phone I made a rude gesture to a fellow driver. This is not accurate and it’s unfortunate this misunderstanding occurred,” Rob Ford says on his Facebook page. He doesn't deny driving while talking on his cellphone and he doesn't deny giving the finger... so apparently the finger was meant for someone else???

Ford’s press secretary, Adrienne Batra, says that the mayor admits to talking on his cellphone while driving, but did not give the other driver the finger.

When asked by a reporter “what happened with flipping the bird” Ford laughed and then refused to comment further.

Ottilie Mason, the woman who was given the finger, was unimpressed with Rob Ford's Facebook retort. “That doesn’t make any sense at all,” she says. “I misunderstand that I gave her the finger? It’s a very political, non-committal response.”

Mason says that, to be perfectly accurate, he hung up the phone, then gave her the finger.

It was apparently pretty obvious he was giving her the finger. Nothing to be misunderstood at all.

Mason, her 6-year-old daughter and her daughter’s babysitter were idling next to Ford at the intersection at Dundas and Spadina when she spotted the mayor talking on his cellphone behind the wheel.

She and her daughter gave him a thumbs-down, and she rolled down her window and told him to stop talking on the phone.

He responded by getting off the phone and then looking straight at her while giving her the finger.

According to Toronto Police Traffic Services they are unsure if police would pursue charges on the issue of driving while using a cellphone, but confirmed that Mark Pugash, director of corporate communications for the police, has been in contact with the mayor’s office about the incident.

And we all know Rob Ford is a liar and a drug addict, so him lying to the police is nothing new.

Doug Ford angry at Margaret Atwood for calling him a liar

On July 19th Maureen O'Reilly proved he lied about libraries in Etobicoke. See Doug Ford Vs Etobicoke Libraries.

Margaret Atwood, the famous Canadian author, then criticized Doug Ford on Twitter and his inaccurate view of local libraries and his goal of cutting libraries.

Councillor Doug Ford has now fired back at Margaret Atwood for her criticism of suggested library cuts, telling reporters: “I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”

(Why does he not know what Margaret Atwood looks like? Because Doug Ford is a moron who likes to stick his foot in his mouth. I know what she looks like and I haven't read a single one of her books.)

Ford also says Margaret Atwood should get herself elected to office or pipe down. (In other words he is telling her to censor herself. Evidently Doug Ford doesn't get the idea of Twitter...)

“Well good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don’t even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is,” says Doug Ford, the "brains" behind Mayor Rob Ford.

“She’s not down here, she’s not dealing with the problem. Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected. And we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.”

Margaret Atwood, an activist on literary and human rights causes, only briefly mentioned Doug Ford on a Twitter message. (See how things get blown out of scale?)

Initially it wasn't even Margaret Atwood's Tweet. She retweeted a Twitter message asking people to sign an online petition, started by the library workers’ union, telling city hall to ignore consultant KPMG’s suggestion to “rationalize the footprint of libraries to reduce service levels, closing some branches.”

Many of Atwood’s more than 250,000 Twitter followers complied and told their friends about the petition, promptly crashing the server hosting the petition.

Margaret Atwood then started tweeting about the library fight, mocking Doug Ford’s Tim Hortons comment on talk radio, and saying that Toronto’s libraries are “astonishing. I’ve done research in them.”

She tweeted Friday: “Twin Fordmayor seems to think those who eat Timbits (like me) don’t read, can’t count, & are stupid eh?” and later asked her followers to check out library books, hold a book club meeting in Tim Hortons and submit their names to win a visit from her and possibly other authors.

Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) says that some of Toronto’s 99 libraries should close, adding he would shut down one of the three in his Ward 2, Etobicoke North ward “in a heartbeat.”

Here are some statistics about one particular library branch Etobicoke Councillor Doug Ford said is unnecessary. Evidently its a lot more popular than he thinks. Doug Ford says nobody uses it at all.

Annual circulation: 96,328
In library use: 16,550
Information requests: 17,825
Holds placed: 15,557
Programs: 129
Program attendance: 1,692
Visitors: 39,775
Active users: 2,746
New users: 533

(Source: Toronto Public Library, 2010)

Doug Ford Vs Etobicoke Libraries

By Maureen O'Reilly on July 19, 2011

Council Doug Ford says:

“We have more libraries per person than any other city in the world. I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Horton’s.”

In fact:

When the Urban Affairs branch closes, Toronto will have 3.9 libraries per 100,000 people, which is what Vancouver has. Halifax has 4.3 libraries per 100,000 people, more than Toronto. In the U.S., the entire state of Vermont, which has only one-quarter of the population of Toronto, has 30 libraries per 100,000 people, which is 7-1/2 times the library density of Toronto.

In Etobicoke (Mr. Ford’s area), there are 13 library branches there, and 39 Tim Horton’s shops, not to mention all the other donut shops. In fact, on a per capita basis, the people in Etobicoke have fewer libraries than Toronto as a whole. They have one for every 27,000 people whereas in Toronto as a whole it’s about one for every 25,000 people.

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