Each week, we round up the latest news, views, and rumours from City Hall.
Webster gets the axe
The very public firing TTC general manager Gary Webster topped the news this week. Webster's dismissal had been predicted ever since he recommended against Rob Ford's underground transit plans at a city council meeting earlier this month. The mayor's critics called the move vindictive and petty, but Webster can take comfort in the fact he's walking away with a $560,000 payout for being terminated without cause.
Rob Ford radio
Finding themselves bored every Sunday afternoon now that the NFL season is over, the mayor and his brother Councillor Doug Ford have decided to host a weekly radio show. The Fords have been stymied lately by a rebellious city council and a press gallery that, er, does its job, and they're hoping to have better luck taking their message directly to the public. The head of the Organization of News Ombudsmen slammed the show and says it "smacks of state broadcasting."
- Contract negotiations between the library workers and the city have reached an impasse and the union has requested a no board report from the province
- A judge has dismissed Rob Ford's request for a new hearing on an audit of his campaign finances, but the mayor can launch another appeal before he's forced to open his books
- Apparently spurred on by Giorgio Mammoliti's wildly unrealistic promises of a subway on Finch Ave., a local business improvement association is rejecting the council-approved light rail plan
- After riding to office on a platform of ending the "war on the car," in a Globe and Mail op-ed Ford opened the door to a parking tax in order to fund his flagging subway plan
If you've got some time and an introductory urban planning textbook on your hands, sift through transit expert Steve Munro's analysis of the secret Sheppard subway report that Ford kept under wraps for the past year. Munro's blog post is a bit confusing for the average TTC rider, but the upshot (we think) is that, contrary to subway proponents' arguments, simply building a subway line into one part of a city does not cause development to spring up around it.
MEETINGS, MOTIONS, AND MINUTES
At a meeting of the economic development committee Tuesday, staff were asked to preoare a report on how to turn Toronto into "a leading live music tourist destination." The effort is being spearheaded by Councillor Mike Layton and is inspired by Austin, TX, which long ago figured out how to harness the economic value of all that feedback and twang. Looks like our Hard Rock Café isn't doing the trick.
Votes of note
The only noteworthy vote this week was at the special meeting of the TTC board. Councillors on the commission voted 5-4 in favour of a motion firing Gary Webster.
For: Denzil Minnan-Wong, Norm Kelly, Cesar Palacio, Frank Di Giorgio, Vincent Crisanti
Against: Chair Karen Stintz, vice-chair Peter Milczyn, John Parker, Maria Augimeri
COUNCILLOR OF THE WEEK
No stand-out performances this week, but we'll go with Maria Augimeri, who delivered a speech that tore a strip off her fellow TTC commissioners as they prepared to pull the plug on Webster's career.
CITY SOUND BITE
"They did the nasty."
- Councillor Joe Mihevc may have been referring to Ford's TTC commissioners, but here's hoping "doing the nasty" becomes the next dance craze at City Hall. See more reaction from council here.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
The TTC board convenes for its regularly scheduled meeting on February 29, and it could be the last time we see it in its current Ford-friendly form. After the events of this week, councillors have signaled they will try to reshape the board (likely by subtracting or adding members) in order to dilute the mayor's influence.
For the full meeting schedule at City Hall, click here.