Damned if we haven't been so pre occupied counting all the federal gas tax money that we almost overlooked another recent landmark event at City Hall: the legislative midway point in the three-year term of our current crop of local politicians.
By this time next year, lowly voters will be wondering what, if anything, the incumbent candidates did to deserve another 36 months of premium pay for work at 100 Queen West.
We're here to hand out some awards for accomplishments (or the lack thereof) during the first half of this term. The envelopes, please.
Biggest loser: Denzil Minnan-Wong. Attempts by the councillor from Ward 34 (Don Valley East) to cast himself as the leader of right-wing opposition to Mayor David Miller were doomed by his organizational ineptitude. He's clearly lost whatever political fire he had.
Biggest disappointment: Bas Balkissoon. The councillor for Ward 41 (Scarborough-Rouge River) was a real force during the last council term, when he kept pushing to uncover the dirty dealings that led to the MFP inquiry. But his contribution to the "bigger picture" has slipped badly, and Balkissoon seems content to tend almost exclusively to his suburban constituency. Too bad.
Biggest surprise: The state of labour relations at City Hall. The election of an NDP mayor was supposed to mean sweetness and light for civic unions. Alas, this hasn't been the case. First, there was the near walkout at the TTC. Now, CUPE Local 416, representing 6,000 outside workers, has asked the provincial labour minister for a "no board report" that will put garbage collectors and parks employees (among others) in a legal strike position July 8.
Most spectacular fall from grace: Jane Pitfield. The ambitious councillor for Ward 26 (Don Valley West) had everything going for her. Chair of works committee. Vice-chair of budget committee. But her contrarian ways put her at odds with both Miller and conservative budget chief David Soknacki. Last week, she finally got special permission from council to sit as an extra member of audit committee. It will be hard to mount a challenge for the mayor's chair from there.
Best save: David Soknacki for rescuing this year's municipal operating budget. When the province came up way short of meeting its financial obligations, the councillor for Ward 43 (Scarborough East) did some creative accounting to bridge the gap and avoid bigger property tax increases. A few power poles sold here, a Science Centre parking lot exchanged for cash there and a major crisis was averted. Eddie Belfour, eat your heart out.
Most unlikely alliance: Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) and Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) were sworn enemies during the last council term, and Mammoliti went so far as to launch a human rights complaint against Ford for allegedly calling him "Gino boy." But their mutual opposition to the police services board's refusal to renew former chief Julian Fantino's contract brought the two men together. Next thing you knew, Mammoliti was demanding the mayor toss a journalist out of the press gallery for allegedly using a profanity to describe his pal Ford.
Worst kept secret: The "in camera" police services board vote that sent Fantino packing.
It's the strangest thing: Norm Kelly's efforts to get some attention. The Ward 40 (Scarborough-Agincourt) councillor has taken to issuing bizarre news releases to make the public aware of his "outside-the-box" thinking, including one heralding his attempts to create a fairer tax system. "BHAG," he called it, for Bigger, Hairy Audacious Goal. There's more, but you get the picture.
He should have known better: Mike Del Grande. The councillor for Ward 39 (Scarborough-Agincourt) gets talking to a newspaper reporter and says, "A lot of the white people are moving out" of his ward because of an influx of Chinese refugees. Del Grande later claims the journalist "betrayed" him by publishing his comments. This outburst also won the councillor the award for biggest crybaby.
Better late than never: Mayor Miller finally takes a seat on the police services board after spending the first half of the term on the Toronto Transit Commission.
Crazy from the heat: Frances Nunziata. The councillor for Ward 11 (York South-Weston) demands that staff turn down the council chamber thermostat to help her deal with hot flashes.
Biggest no show: Case Ootes. The councillor for Ward 29 (Toronto-Danforth) had a way of making himself scarce for critical police services board meetings to thwart the dumping of Fantino. The gambit didn't work, and Ootes has now been dumped from the cop board.
Best dressed: Gloria Lindsay Luby. It wasn't for nothing that Lindsay Luby was named to the city's fashion industry liaison committee.
The councillor for Ward 4 (Etobicoke Centre) has even been known to do modelling gigs at charity fashion shows.
Mel would have been proud: David Miller, for asking the visiting Lord Mayor of London if his police force was in jail. "Mine is," he confessed, referring to the crowd of cops hit by more than 100 corruption-related charges last year.
Put a cork in it: Frank Di Giorgio. The councillor for Ward 12 (York South-Weston) has a habit of going on and on, about what nobody is quite sure.
Biggest winner: Mayor Miller. He's rid of Fantino and has made considerable headway in getting a better financial arrangement with both the province and the feds. There are also those new municipal powers coming down from Queen's Park.
The more things change the more they stay the same: In 2001, Toronto loses the 2008 Olympics to Beijing. In 2005, Toronto loses the Live 8 concert to Barrie. At least the losses are starting to hit a little closer to home.