Is city bureaucracy stifling innovation?
Re Bureaucratic Blowback (NOW, October 11-17). Someday when your editorial board is sitting, you might suggest that someone do a story on the city bureaucracy underneath the political one.
You might find a more frightening bully emerge in systems and management policy that completely stifle any potential free spirit and innovation exhibited by the individual city worker.
A plan for "untaxing" the working class
Increased transfer payments are not the best way to address Toronto's grotesque income disparity, as Wayne Roberts suggests (NOW, October 4-10).
Transfer payments are financed by taxing jobs, businesses and sales, which damages the economy by killing jobs, punishing successful businesses and raising the cost of products we all need.
Sales taxes are the main tax that the poor pay. It hurts them disproportionately. Instead, governments should narrow the gap between the 1 per cent and the rest of us by untaxing working people and the poor, and taxing wealth, not incomes.
Most wealth in Toronto is locked up in real estate. People who own land in this city are sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars of unearned wealth.
In lieu of other taxes, governments (municipal, provincial and federal) should finance programs through a land value tax, collecting capital gains as they accrue.
Frank de Jong
President, Earthsharing Canada
Uneducated critique of The Master
After seeing the movie The Master, I was compelled to read its review in your magazine (NOW, September 20-26). What I found was not only misrepresentation, but fraudulent and uneducated criticism.
Norman Wilner calls Joaquin Phoenix's character, Freddie Quell, "unstable." I wonder if this is because of how Phoenix portrayed his character, or just Wilner's outdated judgment of what "unstable" actually means. Did he notice any of the scenes where Philip Seymour Hoffman's character couldn't keep his cool? Could Dodd himself have been "unstable," or is this simply irrelevant?
In Wilner's opinion, it is obviously the latter, which negates a very central theme of the entire film.
On the film's stylistic choices, Wilner did not enjoy the ride so much, and made this known by throwing out criticism of the film's "long, discursive structure." I can only guess this to be a result of Wilner's laziness.
I wonder if Wilner has ever imagined himself the subject of a film? I highly doubt it, as this would make him incredibly vulnerable; sort of like Phoenix's "unstable... prematurely grizzled" Freddie Quell.
Hate e-bikes, but they're not going away
I resent that e-bikers want all the privileges of riding a bike (like access to trails and bike lanes) without offering many of the benefits (exercise, human-powered propulsion, etc) which come from riding a pedal bicycle (NOW Daily, October 11).
I also resent that this bunch of johnny-come-latelies have not been seen with the rest us advocating for safe spaces to ride on our streets.
And I further resent that anyone over 16 can buy what is essentially a motorized vehicle and take it out on our streets right away without any prior training or experience.
However, we really should be designing facilities that can be used by both e-bikes and pedal bikes from the get-go.
Yeah, yeah, you still hate e-bikes. Me, too. But they're not going away, and we're not being fair if we work to exclude them outright. I suggest we all (pedal and electric riders) work for more, and better, infrastructure that we can all benefit from and share.
The real measure of our mayor
Yes, as Rob Ford apologist Colin Taylor suggests in his letter (NOW, October 11-17), let's judge the mayor on what he's accomplished.
Ford has illegally used city resources for personal projects, failed to read, let alone understand, conflict-of-interest rules, interfered with appointment processes, lost crucial votes on major projects, lost control of the city council agenda and never articulated a compelling vision of what Toronto might become.
Bullheadedly incompetent, Ford has repeatedly embarrassed the dignity of the mayoral office. Now, that's accomplishment!
Can Rob Ford pull a Mike Harris?
Re The Rise And Fall Of Rob Ford (NOW, October 4-10 ). Rob Ford remains Rob Ford. Seemingly incapable of understanding his job as mayor, he follows his earlier pattern of 10 years as a penny-pinching, pothole-filling suburban councillor.
Supported by polls, he knows his Ford Nation fans will blindly follow him into the next election. Will he accomplish re-election after his sadly tumultuous first term?
For concerned citizens, there is the disturbing example of former Ontario premier Mike Harris's re-election after his Common Sense Revolution had lost any sense.
Bumbling distracts from real damage
We all know our mayor is an idiot (NOW, October 4-10), but I worry that all the focus on his gaffes distracts from the real damage being done by council.
For instance, when everyone was fussing because Ford had skipped executive committee to coach football, the story of what executive did in his absence was completely ignored. The revised City Anti-Discrimination Policy was blocked and sent back to city staff for further revision, with instructions to "go beyond provincial and federal statutes and legislation" and to include "anything which shows a lack of respect for all persons." Executive further instructed staff to impose as a condition of funding for Pride 2013 "that the term ‘Israeli apartheid' not be permitted to be used as part of the event."
These motions trivialize the real discrimination faced by designated groups. I think that's even more to worry about than our bumbling mayor.
Parks head clears air on Peas Garden
Regarding the People's Peas Garden at Queen's Park (NOW, October 4-10).
The city of Toronto has a very successful and much-appreciated Community Garden Program, Allotment Garden Program and Children's Gardening Program. Thousands of people participate in the many sites across the city each year. These programs make training and education available to participants and collectively produce tens of thousands of kilograms of food annually.
Despite these programs, unfortunately, the garden in Queen's Park was installed without contact with Parks, Forestry and Recreation community garden or operations staff. Parks staff were aware of the garden and advised persons seen tending the garden that the garden should be moved to an approved community garden location in consultation with Parks staff.
On September 28, 2012, Parks staff removed the garden as part of its annual fall cleanup of the park. The city was unable to notify gardeners about the park cleanup because it did not have contact information for the organizers. Due to the lateness in the growing season, less than 5 kilograms of produce were removed with the plants.
It was unfortunate that the removal of the garden happened right before the harvest event, but the city was unaware of the event that garden supporters had planned for the next day.
The city will be glad to work with gardeners to find an appropriate space for a community vegetable garden through its Community Garden Program.
It is important that activities in public parks comply with city policies and process to ensure the safety and pleasant park access by all people. Without communication established through community garden or parks permit channels, it is not possible for staff to know who to contact about events or park use. These channels are an excellent method to avoid confusion as in this unfortunate situation.
Director, Parks, City of Toronto