Maybe one of Giorgio Mammoliti's right-wing council buddies should drag the York West ward rep to a shrink and find out what's at the root of his increasingly bizarre behaviour. If something isn't done soon to get Mammoliti under control, the guy's going to completely destroy what precious little political credibility Mayor David Miller's so-called opposition has left at City Hall.
It's no secret that the one-time provincial NDP backbencher turned free-spending Liberal turned John Tory mayoral backer suffers from delusions of grandeur. He's been going on for some time now about his recurring visions of sitting in the chief magistrate's chair. And it may well be that these vivid hallucinations are triggering other psychological phenomena in Mammoliti's mind. Like the strange voices he's been hearing with alarming regularity of late.
Last week, for instance, some unseen creature apparently took up position on the Ward 7 politician's shoulder and filled his ear with a tale about respected human rights advocate Alok Mukherjee securing a spot on the Toronto Police Services Board with a $300 donation to Miller's successful mayoralty campaign. Without a moment's hesitation, Mammoliti prepared a news release that claimed a $300 investment by the former vice-chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and past member of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services netted him an annual stipend of $8,791, with the potential to earn $90,963 a year "if our mayor ever makes him chair of the board."
Never mind that Mukherjee's appointment was supported by a 29-to-12 council vote and that members of the police services board, not the mayor, choose the chair. The most ludicrous aspect of Mammoliti's charge is his suggestion that someone in his or her right mind would actually cough up cash to get a spot on the TPSB. Perhaps Mammoliti is unaware that the position Mukherjee is filling came open when lawyer Alan Heisey quit the board because he could no longer tolerate all the abuse members are subjected to if they try to provide legitimate civilian oversight to the local police force.
The $90,000-plus Heisey was paid to chair the body did nothing to change his mind about leaving the post. Yet Mammoliti, who's been leading the losing battle to get the board to reconsider its decision not to extend Chief Julian Fantino's contract when it expires in March, has no qualms about accusing Miller of "dirty deals and shady business" because someone Mammoliti doesn't like got an appointment very few people were even interested in.
Oh, that Mammoliti had been so quick to voice his outrage back when Melvin Douglas Lastman was stacking the deck at City Hall and making Jungle Giorgio zoo board chair, with a sizable budget for travel abroad. But back then, the damned voices didn't seem to be getting to him as they are now. Except for the time in 2002 when Mammoliti said he heard Councillor Rob Ford, the North Etobicoan from Ward 2, call him "Gino Boy" during the heat of debate. It took a year and $30,000 in staff time to settle the dispute. Ford apologized, but still insisted he never uttered those words.
Ironically, Ford's name came up again when some unseen spirit entered the council chamber to whisper in Mammoliti's ear this past June. On this occasion, Mammoliti advised Ford that he'd heard a newspaper columnist call Ford a "fat fuck." The pol from York West demanded that the mayor order another human rights investigation and bar the journalist in question from City Hall.
But a subsequent probe by both the mayor's office and the columnist's employer determined that no verbal offence had been committed.
But did Mammoliti seek treatment for his hearing problem? Apparently not. By early August the voices were back, telling him that Toronto's next police chief would be a high-ranking officer from Vancouver. Never mind that the same tie vote that had nixed the renewal of Fantino's contract also prevented the police services board from starting the search for his successor.
"The mayor's office has talked to her and pretty much hired her without going through the board," Mammoliti told the Toronto Star. He cited anonymous voices as his source.
There were denials from both Miller's office and police headquarters in Lotusland. "I don't know what Mr. Mammoliti is talking about, quite frankly," said one of the two female cops in BC with qualifications for the Toronto chief's job. The other woman said she, too, has no intention of leaving the West Coast.
The real losers in all this will be the council right-wingers who have allowed Mammoliti to become the face of opposition to the mayor while they wallow in feckless frustration. Miller's detractors were on the losing end of virtually every important issue that came to council for a decision last week - starting with Mukherjee's appointment and continuing through election finance reform, approval of the streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair West and the adoption of a harmonized tree bylaw.
This trend is going to continue for as long as the main opposition - including the likes of Case Ootes, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata and Norm Kelly - remains almost exclusively reactionary in its dealings with the mayor and his allies. Instead of staking out political ground and making their case on issues where Miller is potentially vulnerable (one need look no further than John Tory's mayoralty platform for an agenda that had considerable resonance with the local electorate less than 12 months ago), the dysfunctional right resorts to blatant obstructionism. This tactic only serves to emphasize their lack of ideas and stifles meaningful debate.
Too bad Mammoliti hasn't heard these truths whispered in his ear. Damned voices.