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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?

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