As David Miller reaches the mid way point this week in his first term as mayor, a strange calm has fallen over City Hall.
With the rabid right reduced to a mere annoyance, Miller seems under very little pressure to pick up the pace on implementing the agenda he presented to voters less than two years ago.
This may help explain why the cornerstone of his 2003 campaign platform - rejuvenation of the city's moribund waterfront - has seen interminable intergovernmental wrangling rather than tangible progress.
That broom Miller proudly brandished on election night as a symbol of his readiness to clean up the bureaucracy has been belittled in some quarters as little more than a feather duster. Critics rightly point out that the person calling the bureaucratic shots under Lastman, city manager Shirley Hoy, is still atop the civil service heap.
And while Miller has doubtless made progress toward getting Toronto that critical "new deal" from the Liberals at Queen's Park, the city is still in very rough shape financially.
Unless the new City Of Toronto Act provides local ratepayers with a greater share of the tax dollars the province collects, the legislation may be historic in name only, and the mayor's promise of a Clean And Beautiful City will be unattainable without perpetual increases in property taxes.
The mayor can point to one unassailable accomplishment, though: the near total destruction of the right-wing machine that dominated local politics for decades.
For proof of this major demolition, one need look no further than the chairs council selected last week for its influential standing committees. With the exception of Councillor Doug Holyday as head of the audit committee, the key selections are all ward reps who've come to share Miller's vision.
Also unsurprising was the exile of two politicians whom Miller had eased into committee chairs when this council term began. Michael Walker, the maverick councillor from Ward 22 (St. Paul's), was no sooner put in charge of the administration committee than he started critiquing Miller. He's off admin altogether now, and Ward 14 (Parkdale-High Park) Councillor Sylvia Watson has assumed the chair.
Even worse off than Walker is Jane Pitfield. First, the councillor for Ward 26 (Don Valley West) was dropped as chair of the works committee. Then she was deleted from the roster of the budget advisory committee, where she'd been a vice-chair to budget chief David Soknacki.
Pitfield's recent claims that council hid budget surpluses while raising property taxes this year, and her musings about possibly challenging Miller for his job next year may have played a role in her banishment to the relative obscurity of the community services committee. In the meantime, Shelley Carroll, councillor for Ward 33 (Don Valley East) takes over as chair of works. And Watson gets the vice-chair position on the budget committee, where Conservative bean-counter Soknacki remains in charge.
Renowned right-wingers who played prominent roles in the Lastman administration took it on the chin as well. As expected, Ward 29 Councillor Case Ootes (Toronto-Danforth) was dumped from the police services board, where he'd done his damnedest to thwart the ouster of former chief Julian Fantino. Ootes's replacement? Miller himself.
Over at the TTC, one-time Lastman budget chief David Shiner was given the heave-ho to make room for Olivia Chow, who relinquished the chair of council's community services committee in anticipation of a federal election.
Then there's the elevation of Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby to chair of the economic development and parks committee. Although she usually allied herself with the Lastmanites (and didn't support Miller's mayoral bid in 2003), Lindsay Luby has been generally supportive of the direction in which the current chief magistrate is moving. In fact, so complete has the Ward 4 (Etobicoke Centre) councillor's turnaround been that she was acknowledged as a shoo-in to succeed Councillor Brian Ashton atop econ-development long before the actual votes were taken.
That council's right wing is now a nuisance instead of a force to be reckoned with was made abundantly clear when members of the newly selected planning and transportation committee were called to the chamber floor to select their chair.
Peter Milczyn, an architect by profession, was favoured to get the post after serving as deputy chair. It was thought the right-leaning councillor for Ward 5 (Etobicoke Lakeshore) would be acceptable to Tories like Ootes and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.
But the fact that Milczyn has worked well with the mayor and had Miller's support for the chair worked against him, and Ootes and Minnan-Wong made a bid to get conservative Karen Stintz the job. That gambit failed, however, when Councillor Cliff Jenkins - a Tory who saw Milczyn as too pro-developer - was convinced to support John Filion, a key Miller ally, over Stintz.
Adversarial politics have a way of producing good government policy whether it's at the federal, provincial or municipal level.
Hopefully, Miller's success in reducing his ideological rivals to an ineffective rump won't come back to bite us all on the ass.