“I am apologizing. If I’ve offended the medical officer of health, Doug Ford apologizes to him,” Ford said.
“Who is going to apologize to the taxpayers when they go out and spend $60,000 on a transportation study?”
Help me out here, Dougie. Why should anyone, least of all David McKeown, apologize for a traffic study?
Well, Doug, thanks for asking. (Remember! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. But if there were, this would be one of them.)
Ed Keenan. FTW, as the young folks say these days.
Yet as these increasingly damaging episodes pile up, it is reasonable to ask why his closest political advisors – starting with chief of staff Mark Towhey – have done so little to persuade their boss to front small but politically resonant initiatives that would re-cast his mayoralty. They are, of course, in a murderously difficult situation, because their counsel is routinely thwarted by brother Doug, who only believes it’s been a good week if he’s poured more gasoline on the fire.
Via @JohnLorinc …
Colle stopped short of calling for an integrity commissioner investigation. “I’m not going to ask for one,” he said. “I think my biggest concern is that there is another distraction. We’ve got half a term left and tonne of work to do.
Yeah, well. We’ve seen how much attention he pays to the integrity commissioner.
Some quick thoughts about #OneCity | #TOpoli #transit
Juggling live-blogging, tweeting, and this, so nothing profound, but a couple of things:
1. I wouldn’t assume that “the mayor is back in charge of transit” just yet. Just because OneCity didn’t fly doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly got anything more than shouting “subways subways subways” until our ears bleed.
2. Whatever OneCity is or was, at least it contemplated tying transit expansion to public revenue. You want infrastructure? You gotta pay for it. If nothing else, that’s the beginning of an adult conversation. Beats the shit out of “I can’t support taxing the taxpayer.”
I prefer policymakers who use evidence to support their positions, govern by consensus, use positive rhetoric as much as possible, and don’t govern as if acting out a revenge fantasy.
Adorable, isn’t he?
Time for a #TransitCity happy dance? | #TOpoli #TeamFord
Last summer I wrote a short post about Jack Layton’s legacy of generosity.
There are many elements to citizenship — respect, engagement, critical thinking — but of all those elements, it’s hard to top generosity of spirit. It’s something we can all aspire to, even if we fall short. I’m going to give props, yet again, to Hamutal Dotan’s marvellous piece in that regard on Torontoist.
Just so my own biases are clear, I’ll set out my definition once again: Generosity of spirit does not look for external validation or reward. It is extended without any expectation of a quid pro quo. And it is extended to those who do not deserve it precisely because they do not deserve it. That is what makes it what it is.
It’s a high bar to clear, and I’ll admit right now that I don’t often meet it. I wish I could. I’d be a better person if I did, but today I just can’t.
Transit City is officially back from the dead. #TOpoli— Neville Park (@neville_park) February 9, 2012
We’ve seen the results of today’s vote at City Council. Whether it means we can truly move forward with the development of public transit remains to be seen, but if it does nothing else, at least it will serve as an unambiguous repudiation of Team Ford’s approach to government and to the conduct of public affairs.
Doug Ford is being abusive with Gary Webster. Any other speaker would step in.— Jonathan Goldsbie (@goldsbie) February 8, 2012
It’s hard to pick the three stars of Team Ford from today, but perhaps we might start with Doug’s hectoring of Gary Webster. (Whatever we’re paying Mr. Webster, he more than earned it today.) Add to that his bullshit about the St. Clair ROW being a disaster, and his coarse, vulgar talk about the TTC needing an enema, and you have to wonder — just what does this guy add to public life in Toronto? What good is he accomplishing?
And then there’s Giorgio Mammoliti’s idiotic posturing about a Finch subway and unmoral (h/t Ivor Tossell) attempts to torque the downtown-suburban divide yet again. (I know, I know, I’m breaking my own rule by talking about him.)
Mammoliti sincerely believes that a private sector partner would totally jump at the chance to build a subway along Finch Ave.— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) February 8, 2012
“Have you considered a subway on Finch?” “Yes.” “But have you considered a subway on Finch?”— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) February 8, 2012
And then there’s this classy bit:
Ohhh. Mammoliti says this is a Giambrone proposal. Then refers to leather couch.— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) February 8, 2012
If anyone wants to nominate a third star, I’m all ears.
In the larger picture, perhaps it’s time to start fashioning a definitive rejection of the entire Fordist philosophy. I can’t give a comprehensive list of what that will entail, but we can start, I’d submit, by affirming support for well-paying unionized public-sector jobs, both as a critical element of our community’s economic base and as an example for private-sector employers to follow. We can flesh that out in the days to come.
In sum, maybe — just maybe — we’ve finally come to see the limits of resentment as a governing philosophy. It’s what put Team Ford in control, but take it away and they’ve really got nothing else. And as we learn more about the gulf between campaigning and governing, its shortcomings become more and more apparent. It’s the easy path — it requires no critical thinking, no empathy and no engagement beyond the predictable hissy-fits of tabloid screed-writers — but it diminishes us all.
Team Ford goes Godzilla on the waterfront: this ain’t your grandpa’s conservatism
I’ve tried to avoid the easy snark in reaction to Doug Ford’s musings about turning what’s left of Toronto’s waterfront into a megamall-themed, monorail-adorned, Ferris-wheel-festooned amusement park. It doesn’t do any good, after all, to get all riled up and turn into indignant sputtering caricatures of Left-Wing Kooks every time Brother Doug has a brain fart.
But it turns out it wasn’t just a brain fart. Turns out it was something that arose out of a series of private meetings with real estate developers and mall operators. Over at his place, my friend Cityslikr has already raised the pointed question: whatever happened to that transparency Rob Ford was promising? Isn’t this very much like the corruption and backroom dealing he used to rail against and promise to do away with? You know, respect for taxpayers and all that?
There’s not much point in spending a lot of detail on the obvious political arguments. “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” is the easy question. He doesn’t have the mandate to singlehandedly tear up years of planning and consultation, flushing millions of tax dollars down the drain. An easy criticism, and not likely to dissuade anything.
It’s also pretty easy to point out that pawning off capital assets in a one-time fire sale in a half-assed effort to make up an operating deficit isn’t exactly prudent management. Weren’t these guys supposed to be the antidote to years of socialist fiscal ineptitude?
One could also ask why this is getting fast-tracked to Executive Committee so easily, but again − easy question. That’s how this bunch operates. Spring it on us with almost no warning and give us less than a week to absorb and discuss. No surprise there either.
No. There’s a much larger and more overarching issue here: whence this pathological compulsion to tear things apart? First Transit City, and now this? Years of planning, study, consultation, remediation, standard-setting, consensus-building, and Team Ford wants to attack it with sledgehammers, tear it to shreds, and set fire to it – and for what? How does this benefit the public? There’s got to be something deeper and more disturbing here than mere impatience with process or the childish desire for payback against David Miller and the nefarious downtown elites.
Once again, it’s worth taking a step back and trying to view this in a larger historical context. While I’m usually reluctant to categorize things in terms of labels, I’m willing to make an exception here, if only because on the surface there seems to be such a correlation between people who identify as “conservative” and support for Team Ford.
But is there? An open letter to the city’s Executive Committee from the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance is urging caution on the Port Lands proposals for pretty much the same reasons: it’s not prudent to make wholesale and irrevocable changes to a large body of existing work and tear up years of planning without undertaking a rigorous and transparent process of public consultation:
The proposed changes to be discussed at your next meeting are very significant, are not well understood and were not the subject of any substantive debate or discussion in the last municipal election campaign.
Despite the imprimatur of noted local Trotskyite John Tory, this doesn’t sound like wild-eyed revolutionary zeal; it sounds more like an attempt to stop it, or at least slow it down.
Back to the historical context. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution was reverberating throughout Europe. The established social and political order was facing its most fundamental challenge since the Protestant Reformation. In England, the statesman and orator Edmund Burke was reflecting upon the French Revolution:
Remind you of anyone?
Burke’s words resonate here because he’s frequently cited as one of the fathers of modern conservatism. It’s worth taking some time here to reflect upon the meaning of the word; to the extent that I understand it, it carries connotations of care, civility, preservation of tradition, honouring the most worthwhile aspects of our collective past, learning from our mistakes, and trying to leave things as clean and orderly as possible for the people who come after us. It means identifying and retaining the best parts of our history and the lessons it’s taught us. We have a body of intellectual and political tradition that’s been cultivated and developed over decades, over generations, over centuries even. Sweeping it all away with a dismissive wave of the arm is not the hallmark of responsible or careful governance.
You don’t have to identify as a conservative to acknowledge that it’s an honourable tradition – one that’s stood the test of time and has much to teach us. In that light, it’s hard to see the Ford “plans” for the waterfront as anything but antithetical to genuine conservatism.
So where is this coming from? Given what we’ve seen from this bunch, I fear that it’s not “conservatism” as we understand it at all, but something more sinister: atavistic autocratic bullshit, aided by a sophomorically gleeful narrative encouraging the bull-in-the-china-shop approach because … well, just because. It’s not an ideology or a collection of ideas and tradition at all. It’s rule by fiat. Might makes right. We’re doing this because we have money and power and you don’t, so step out of the way, peasant. We don’t even have to pretend this makes sense from a financial or infrastructural point of view, and we don’t have to address your insolent questions. When was it that people used to act this way? Oh, that’s right. Medieval times. Or perhaps under the feudal system.
It’s not as if this started with Team Ford. It’s just particularly blatant because it’s served up with such an overwhelming air of triumphalism and belligerent ignorance. It’s not a pleasant realization, but the first step in confronting it is recognizing it for what it is.
As the Civic Action letter makes clear, this is going to have ramifications that go well beyond the mandate of the Ford administration and its successors. Screw this up and the damage could be irreparable. Executive Committee members and city councillors contemplating whether to get on board should keep this in mind.